MSNBC’s Jackson Hits DNC Chair From the Left: Are Dems ‘Woke Enough?’

In a interview with Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez during Tuesday’s 10 a.m. ET hour, MSNBC anchor Hallie Jackson pressed the party leader on whether Democrats should move even farther to the left: “There’s been a lot of discussion about how the DNC is working on a message of unity when there is a wing of the party that wants to see a more forceful move to the left. How do you reconcile that?”

After asking about the upcoming special congressional election in Georgia, Jackson observed that Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff “is not exactly one these sort of Bernie Sanders-esque candidates.” She touted Sanders ally and former Ohio State Senator Nina Turner talking to The New York Times and complaining “that Democrats risk slumbering through this revolution. She says the slogan for you and the party should be #NotWokeYet.”

Perez replied by hailing the Democratic Party’s left-wing platform. Jackson still feared: “But is it, in the words of Nina Turner, woke enough?”

At the top of the exchange, Jackson wondered if Democrats would go full socialist on health care: “I want to talk specifically about single-payer health care getting some traction in the party. I know you don’t set policy, but do think this a smart idea for Democrats to run on next year?” Perez acquiesced: “It could be improved. And there are many who are talking about single-payer health care. It may be that in some campaigns there are candidates who run on them [sic].”

While declaring that “our focus is on making sure we save the Affordable Care Act,” Perez referenced a woman in Youngstown, Ohio who was “scared to death, because she finally has access to health care...and she has no idea whether she’s going to be able to continue to have her health care.”

Jackson actually pointed out the failures of ObamaCare: “Of course, Ohio, a place that Aetna just pulled out of, the markets there.” However, rather than demand Perez answers for those policy failures, Jackson was more worried about Democrats pushing for a complete government takeover of the health care system: “It sounds like you’re saying is race by race when it comes to how Democrats should frame this health care battle.”

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Later in the segment, Jackson asked: “More and more Democrats calling for impeachment. Is that the right move for the party this early?” Notice that she didn’t question the extreme talk of removing the President from office, but simply thought it might be too “early.”   

Jackson at least challenged Perez on all of the structural problems facing the DNC:

> The DNC – you’ve talked about doubling the budget from $50 million and $100 million this year – the DNC had its worst fund raising in April since 2009, just posted. Where is the extra $50 million gonna come from?

> And this is the turn-around that you talked about when you were responding to what Hillary Clinton said. She bashed the DNC from 2016. You acknowledge work has to be done. How do you get there?

Here is a transcript of Jackson’s questions to Perez in the June 13 interview:

10:40 AM ET

HALLIE JACKSON: In the meantime, more news now, this from the Democratic side, as Dems keep their message focused not on what’s happening with Russia necessarily, but on that Republican plan to scrap the Affordable Care Act. And joining me now is Tom Perez, chair of the Democratic National Committee. Former Labor Secretary under President Obama. Thank you for joining us here on set.

TOM PEREZ: Oh, pleasure to be with you.

JACKSON: Lots to discuss. Let’s start with health care and then let’s go from there.

PEREZ: Sure.

JACKSON: I want to talk specifically about single-payer health care getting some traction in the party. I know you don’t set policy, but do think this a smart idea for Democrats to run on next year?

(...)

PEREZ: It could be improved. And there are many who are talking about single-payer health care. It may be that in some campaigns there are candidates who run on them [sic]. Right now our focus is on making sure we save the Affordable Care Act.

Because I was in Ohio last week, and you know, talking to someone in Youngstown who’s diabetic. She’s scared to death, because she finally has access to health care, and now they’re meeting in private, and she has no idea whether she’s going to be able to continue to have her health care. And that’s where our focus is right now.

JACKSON: Of course, Ohio, a place that Aetna just pulled out of, the markets there. It sounds like you’re saying is race by race when it comes to how Democrats should frame this health care battle.

(...)

JACKSON: Speaking of races, I’ve gotta ask you about the big one coming up, I think in just one week from now, Georgia, in the Sixth. The DNC is targeting 80,000 voters there. Why do you think your pitch is going to end up being the one that’s successful?

(...)

PEREZ: We believe that underdogs can win, and there’s a remarkable energy down there because people want –

JACKSON: And an eye-popping amount of money, frankly.

(...)

JACKSON: But there’s also been a lot of talk, though, when you look more broadly at the party, about the idea of sort of the revolution, if you will. Jon Ossoff is not exactly one these sort of Bernie Sanders-esque candidates on the Democratic side. Nina Turner was in The New York Times, I think today or yesterday, saying that Democrats risk slumbering through this revolution. She says the slogan for you and the party should be #NotWokeYet. There’s been a lot of discussion about how the DNC is working on a message of unity when there is a wing of the party that wants to see a more forceful move to the left. How do you reconcile that?

(...)

JACKSON: But is it, in the words of Nina Turner, woke enough?

(...)

JACKSON: A couple quick ones for you before I have to let you go. More and more Democrats calling for impeachment. Is that the right move for the party this early?

(...)

JACKSON: A couple more quick ones for you here. The DNC – you’ve talked about doubling the budget from $50 million and $100 million this year – the DNC had its worst fund raising in April since 2009, just posted. Where is the extra $50 million gonna come from?

PEREZ: Well, again, I got there on March 1. And so – and then I was the first to say, we have a lot of rebuilding to do.

JACKSON: So you’re saying give it some time.  

(...)

JACKSON: And this is the turn-around that you talked about when you were responding to what Hillary Clinton said. She bashed the DNC from 2016. You acknowledge work has to be done. How do you get there?

(...)

JACKSON: Last one for you, headline New York Times today, Bernie Sanders talking about, “How old is too old to run for president?,” essentially. Is he too old? How old is too old?

PEREZ: Well, that’ll be up to the voters.

JACKSON: Okay, we’ll leave it there. Tom Perez, thank you very much for coming on set with us on a very busy news day. We appreciate it.

PEREZ: My pleasure.  

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