Dana Perino On Moderating Her First Presidential Debate

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Guy Benson: With us now is Dana Perino, co-anchor of America’s NEWSROOM, co-host of the Five New York Times, best selling author. And she is also host of the brand new podcast. PERINO On Politics, new episodes dropping every Monday. And Dana, it is great to have you here.

Dana Perino: Thank you. Guess who I interviewed today for Perino on Politics.

Guy Benson: Oh, boy. Kennedy?

Dana Perino: Mary Katharine Ham.

Guy Benson: Oh, my gosh. I mean, it was like I was picking one of my favorite ladies, and I went with Kennedy. I should have said MK. How did it go?

Dana Perino: It was wonderful. She’s just a wise and I can see why you two are our best friends.

Guy Benson: Oh, she is the best. And so that will.

Dana Perino: It’s dropping today just because of the holiday, so. Yeah, my, my idea Guy was that I. Well, I love podcasts and I like radio. Um, and you do both. So one of the reasons is because you have a little bit more time to talk more fully than you know. On America’s NEWSROOM, we do a quick segments which are great for that medium of television. But on podcasts you can talk a little bit more. So my idea was people can’t do another three hour podcast with anybody. Sometimes they have an hour long podcast that they like or 3 hours long. But what I wanted to do was just figure out a way how can I best get prepared for my week for the shows, especially in talking about politics. And what I would normally do is pick a friend once or twice a week and on my walks here or there, call them up and say, What do you think? What am I missing? Uh, what about this or that? And I figured that actually it could be something, because I think my friends are brilliant for me to do on a podcast so that people that wanted to listen in to my conversations with my friends as I get briefed on politics could do that. So. Mary Katharine Ham’s was today.

Guy Benson: So kind of just going public with something you were already doing?

Dana Perino: Yes. Although, of course, you know, I, I try to sound smarter on the on the radio.

Guy Benson: Well, but you’re I mean, you you, of course, are. And that’s why you have all of these incredible platforms to impart some of your thoughts and to ask the right questions and that sort of thing. So I cannot wait for Perino on politics, especially this edition with Mary Katharine Ham. That’s a much must listen Fox News podcast dot com wherever you get your podcasts. PERINO On politics what a treat. And Dana, one thing that I need to also mention, it wasn’t in your introduction, but it’s a big new feather in your cap within what the next few weeks you can add to your extensive resume. Presidential Debate MODERATOR You will be co moderating the September 27th debate on Fox Business network alongside Stuart Varney and then Ilia Calderon from Univision. This is a new undertaking for you and just putting myself in your shoes, it’s a big sort of raucous, high profile event to try to keep on the tracks. You haven’t done one before. So what is this learning curve like for you as you get prepared and ready for later this month?

Dana Perino: Well, I’m super honored and humbled by it, excited for it, already working hard. My brain is a little bit more organized than a pinball machine, but not much. What I’ve realized is that I have 1500 questions that  I can only probably only ask a total of 12 of our guests over the 2 hours. You know that each of us if each of us plan to have that many questions because you want the candidates to interact amongst themselves as well. We don’t know how many are going to be on the stage yet. And, you know, I. I’m not sure how you get people to be better behaved in terms of listening to the time cues and being respectful of the other candidates so that they all get a chance to speak. But that isn’t exactly totally my concern. There are producers and everything involved. I just have so many questions. But the thing I love is editing them down. You know, setting aside which ones do I really, really want and which ones are going to have to be on the cutting room floor.

Guy Benson: Yeah. And that’s I can only imagine a huge part of that sort of winnowing process as you hone them, as you get closer and closer to the date. And of course, there’s news happening. So a news event can upend the whole game plan even the day before. I’m not rooting for that on your behalf. But, you know, you have to kind of keep up with whatever’s happening in the news cycle, which, of course, you do on America’s Newsroom and The Five every day. So that wouldn’t be a huge challenge. But still, this is a very high profile gig. You said you don’t know how many people will be on stage. Some campaigns say they’ve already qualified. Others are hoping to get there. There’s also the question, you know, is the leader of the pack maybe going to show up this time? He didn’t last time. He’s indicated he doesn’t want to do it. But could there be second thoughts there? Do you prepare for multiple eventualities or do you kind of start with an assumption of roughly who will be on stage and go from there?

Dana Perino: Well, President Trump is very unpredictable, right? I truly don’t believe he plans to come. But you’re right, it could change. And so you do have to be prepared for that. I think it’s unlikely that he would come. Um, but pretty much right now, I’m thinking about questions that I would be interested in all of them answering. So, you know, there are some things that are really on my mind. Part of it is, you know, the cost of living for younger people today. It’s just really crushing for them. And then you have older Americans who are really worried and upset about inflation and what that’s done to their limited.

Guy Benson: Social.

Dana Perino: Security budgets. Yeah. So there’s that on my mind. There’s also some political questions on my mind. Also, parental rights. It’s a big issue this year. And finally, I also think there’s a couple of things that we have to just be realistic and find out from these Republicans, how do you plan to flip any of these states? You know, you still have to get to 270 electoral votes. And Biden’s numbers are just terrible. Every new poll has them in really bad shape. And I just don’t see how does Biden grow between now and then? Is he all of a sudden going to be spry and hip and helping in and really leading the country in a way that 77% of Americans won’t say he’s too old for a run for president? I find that hard to imagine. So there’s a lot of things swirling around. I’d love to know what you think, what questions you want. You can tell me now or you can send me a note.

Guy Benson: Yeah, or we can do your podcast.

Dana Perino: But I guess.

Guy Benson: I’m just going to totally invite myself. No, but.

Dana Perino: Honestly, if you have the time, I’d love to have you.

Guy Benson: Let me find it. And we can also talk offline as well, because I think there are a lot of things that Republican voters want to hear from these candidates. I think Bret and Martha asked a lot of really good questions at the first debate in Milwaukee. But as you said, there’s only so much you can do in 2 hours. There’s tons of fertile ground to cover some areas that haven’t really been touched on yet this cycle in a meaningful way. You just mentioned President Biden and his age. And I spent some time in the first hour, Dana, talking about the Wall Street Journal poll, which is just. The heinous numbers are for the incumbent on many fronts. And there’s a lot of bad stuff in there for Trump, too. I made that point. But, you know, given what Trump’s been through the last couple of months and to see some of the top lines and even some of the internal numbers that I was walking through with the audience, I think Team Trump would take it happily. If that ends up being a reflection of how the country is feeling or way early, a 14 months till the election, obviously, and we don’t have nominees yet. But the age one to me jumps out because when you have a majority, a vast majority, like a two thirds majority of Democrats saying Joe Biden is too old to run for reelection, when you have three quarters of the country saying he’s too old to serve effectively as president. And that number is way lower for Donald Trump, who isn’t much younger but reads younger. That is really, I think, a struggle for the Democrats. I don’t really know how they overcome that. I. They’re trying kind of to spin it different ways at the White House and the campaign we almost never hear from. But Karine Jean-Pierre in an interview last week, said she can barely keep up with the President. No one believes that she took a different crack at the age question from Peter Doocy. Listen to this. This is earlier today, cut 28.

(Audio Clip) Why do you think it is that in a Wall Street Journal poll, two thirds of Democrats think President Biden is too old to run again.

(Audio Clip): Look, here’s what I know. Here’s what I can speak to. I can speak to that. A president who has wisdom. I can speak to a president who has experience. I can speak to a president who has done historic, has taken historic action and has delivered in historic pieces of legislation.

Guy Benson: All right. And Biden himself was talking about the accumulation of wisdom as you get older. What do you think of that approach? I mean, they have limited options, right, in handling what is obviously a giant vulnerability for them.

Dana Perino: Well, I think it’s a better answer than we can hardly keep up with the guy.

Guy Benson: Yeah.

Dana Perino: I didn’t understand how she thought she could say that and be taken seriously. I even saw Gavin Newsom this weekend say If with age you get these kinds of results. I’m looking forward to when Biden is 85. And that might be the best spin that they can come up with. Now, who are you going to believe? Gavin Newsom, the White House press secretary or the liberal biographer that the White House invited in for the last two and a half years who heard from President Biden directly that he is tired, that he feels like the staff treats him like a baby. That’s not something coming from right wing talk radio. That’s coming from the man himself.

Guy Benson: Right.

Dana Perino: So I think that the wisdom answer is probably the best one that they could come up with. I don’t know why they didn’t lead with that, but the fact that they didn’t lead with it means that they actually had to listen to people like us to come up with that answer. That’s pretty bad.

Guy Benson: Well, and they’ve been scrambling, obviously. And the problem, of course, with the wisdom answer is that people don’t really see Joe Biden as terribly wise, and they never have, because I don’t think he is. Right. And if they’re going to say, well, if being this old gets you experience and you get these kinds of results, boy, that’s fantastic. I can’t wait for another half decade from now with all the results that will come pouring in. That might be a compelling talking point, Dana, if people were satisfied with the results of the presidency, but they’re not like the Wall Street Journal poll. He’s at under 40% on every major issue, under 50% on every single issue. They ask the question, which president has a record of accomplishment? Trump had a majority, 51% in the Wall Street Journal poll said he has a record of accomplishment. Just 40% said that about Joe Biden. So I know they’re working with pretty thin gruel here, but saying, hey, at least look at all these accomplishments. People don’t buy that either.

Dana Perino: No. And you know, there’s a saying in North Dakota, forgive me, but I think your listeners are mature enough to understand, to take it. It was I don’t know which politician it was, but it said something like, you can’t piss on somebody’s back and tell them it’s raining. And the thing is, the Biden folks are trying to tell everybody that the economy is actually very good and that their feelings are wrong. You’re in a committed relationship guy. How does that go when you say that to your party?

Guy Benson: Right. Thank you for your incorrect feelings. I’ll take them under advisement.

Dana Perino: Exactly. I mean, it just makes.

Guy Benson: not a winner

Dana Perino: It makes your partner more mad. So I don’t I don’t know what they’re going to try to do to try to revive that Bidenomics, I asked Karl Rove this morning on America’s NEWSROOM, do you see the White House pivoting to something more effective? Know the answer is probably not, no.

Guy Benson: Yeah, because I don’t know what’s there. You’ve got you’ve got the age issue. You’ve got the outcomes and disapproval, you know, on the policy level. And then one of the other at least faux high ground issues that the Biden campaign used very effectively in 2020, while sort of receding to the background, was saying, well, look at all the ethical problems of Donald Trump and all the Russia stuff and all this. Now you’ve got all sorts of scandal related issues swirling around the Biden family. So that’s another potential advantage that’s at least been mitigated or taken away from them to some extent. A long way to go here, Dana, but I know we’ll be watching carefully and we cannot wait for September 27th, Fox Business Network. He’ll be co moderating that presidential debate. Thanks, Dana.

Dana Perino: Thank you