Monday, January 26, 2009

Better than Chris Wallace w/Axelrod: Berkowitz w/Pete Giangreco on the Blagojevich impeachment and the Obama Administration, Cable and Streaming

Tonight's Chicago edition of "Public Affairs," features Pete Giangreco, Democratic political campaign consultant, who has worked on seven Presidential campaigns, including three winners [Clinton, Clinton and Obama], and too many other congressional, gubernatorial and assorted campaigns to list. Giangreco is a principal at The Strategy Group.

The show airs throughout the City of Chicago tonight at 8:30pm on Cable Ch. 21 (CANTV) and on cable in Aurora and surrounding areas at 7:30 pm on ACTV-10. The Aurora station, Aurora Community Television, Comcast Cable Ch. 10, reaches all of Aurora, Bristol, Big Rock and parts of Oswego, Sandwich, Sugar Grove and Montgomery. The show also will air in Rockford and surrounding areas this Thursday night at 8:00 pm on Cable Ch. 17.
You can watch the show with Pete Giangreco on your computer.
Pete Giangreco, Principal at The Strategy Group, a Democratic political consulting firm, debates and discusses the issues with show host and executive legal recruiter Jeff Berkowitz. Giangreco focuses, professionally, on direct mail, message development and developing creative, winning strategies.

In addition to his seven presidential campaigns, Pistol Pete Giangreco has worked on a large number of political campaigns throughout the country over the last quarter century, including elections involving Governor Blagojevich, Governor Warner, Governor Easley, Cong. Foster, Cong. Schakowsky, Mayor Daley, Gov. Strickland and many, many more.

Topics discussed on the show include whether or not Giangreco favors impeachment of Illinois' Gov. Rod Blagojevich, the intellectual puzzle of how Blagojevich got so much Democratic Party support in 2006 for his re-election- in light of how much Democrat Party support currently exists for impeachment, the impact of money on elections, why Obama won the Presidency, how a President Obama will govern, how a President Obama would react to news that his Commerce Secretary designate had received a subpoena to appear before a Grand Jury investigating pay to play in New Mexico, how a President Obama would respond, in real time, to a foreign policy crisis, how a President Obama might use Axelrod, Jarrett and Emanuel in time of crisis and much, much more. Please go here for more about Pete Giangreco and the expertise and background of Pete and his firm, The Strategy Group.
Were the Illinois Democratic Party leaders enablers of Rod Blagojevich?

Jeff Berkowitz: Are the Democrats guilty of tolerating inappropriate behavior? I mean “tolerating” in this sense. You worked for the guy. You’re a consultant—I understand, that’s one thing. You do that, and it’s like a lawyer, counsel. Those people don’t necessarily believe in every client, but they do it. And you may have believed in Rod—I’m not asking that.

Pete Giangreco: I did.

Jeff Berkowitz: You did.

Pete Giangreco: And look, there were millions of people in Illinois who voted him in.

Jeff Berkowitz: In 2002. You believed in him in 2006?

Pete Giangreco: Yes.

Jeff Berkowitz: And Speaker Mike Madigan believed in him in 2006 because he co-chaired his campaign. Is that an appropriate conclusion?

Pete Giangreco: I can not speak to the motives of Speaker Madigan. Never have, and never will.

Jeff Berkowitz: But, Mayor Daley, who you worked for, over different periods of time-- in 2006, he also co-chaired Rod Blagojevich’s campaign. Didn’t he?

Pete Giangreco: Yes.

Jeff Berkowitz: So, would it be safe to say that Mayor Daley believed in Rod Blagojevich?

Pete Giangreco: I think he believed in trying to cover every child with healthcare and some of the other things that Rod Blagojevich did-- tried to hold the line on taxes. Certainly, he shared the Governor’s view that our public schools are underfunded and need more money and they worked together on that. So, from the Mayor’s point of view, it was sort of a no brainer to be for this governor because he was taking care of the same kind of issues that the Mayor was dealing with.

Was Barack Obama an enabler of Rod Blagojevich?

Jeff Berkowitz: And, then state senator, now President-elect Barack Obama sat in the chair you’re sitting in now-- on June 27th, 2002, to be exact, and I asked him about whether he was running for the US Senate, and he said he couldn’t “talk about that now,” because his main focus was what?—was working hard to elect Rod Blagojevich, 2002-- Now I’ve defended him, in an interview with Bill O’Reilly, because a lot of people didn’t know, including me, and probably Barack, a lot about Rod Blagojevich in 2002-- that they know now. [Watch Obama-Berkowitz-O’Reilly here].

Pete Giangreco: Sure.

Jeff Berkowitz: But in 2006, when Barack knew more, Daley knew more, Speaker Madigan knew more, you knew more, I knew more, Barack said he was still supporting Rod Blagojevich because “he delivered for the people of Illinois.”

Pete Giangreco: Yeah.

Should the Democratic Party Leaders have championed the Blago alternative in 2006?

Jeff Berkowitz: Should Madigan and Daley and Obama and you have stood up and said, you know, you’ve got a choice here. It is Edwin Eisendrath, he’s a true reformer, Rod’s doing funky stuff here with contributions and business. Look, whether it was illegal is another matter.

Pete Giangreco: Right.

Jeff Berkowitz: But we all knew funky stuff was going on. And you had a choice. You get a dispensation because you’re a consultant, but the public officials—Obama, Daley, Madigan—should we have expected more from them in terms of saying, hey, this guy ain’t good for Illinois?

Is Giangreco arguing the Ends justify the Means?

Pete Giangreco: No, because were these close allies, bosom buddies, close advisors to the Governor? No. What they supported were the things that Rod got done. Covering every child with healthcare. Bringing an I-pass system to the tollways. Increasing education funding without raising taxes on middle-class people. These are core Democratic philosophies.

Jeff Berkowitz: As Bill O’Reilly said to me, the ends justify the means?

Can Pols fool most of the people most of the time?

Pete Giangreco: They don’t. Now, what the ends did was to give people a reason to be for Rod. And guess what? I don’t think the voters in Illinois are dumb. I think they certainly knew that there were federal investigations of Governor Blagojevich. They certainly were all over the TV; they were all over Judy Baar Topinka’s ads.

Jeff Berkowitz: What else was all over the TV? Twenty million dollars in ads, just in that campaign alone. So they saw twenty million dollars of nice, fluffy stuff—much of which you may have produced—

Pete Giangreco: I don’t think there was much fluffy about it.

Is money the Mother’s milk of politics?

Jeff Berkowitz: That’s twenty million dollars.

Pete Giangreco: There were two very clear views laid out.

Jeff Berkowitz: Judy Baar Topinka had maybe five million dollars. Twenty to five? Who’s going to win that contest?

Pete Giangreco: There were a lot of campaigns we’ve won who were underfunded. Barack Obama in 2004 being one of them. Blair Hull-

Jeff Berkowitz: But not in 2008, Obama spent 750 million dollars in 2008.

Are voters smart?

Pete Giangreco: Blair Hull spent millions of dollars more than Barack Obama, and got a heck of a lot fewer votes. Money doesn’t always dictate the outcome. Look, here’s the bottom line. People are smart. They weigh things and they say—there are some things about this guy I don’t like. I don’t like his hair, I don’t like the way he talks, I don’t like the way he does things. But in the end, I’ve got to pick one of the two of them. And, the majority of people picked Blagojevich, by ten points going away. Your supposition is that voters are dumb, and that if you just raise more money than someone else, you can buy their vote. I don’t believe that.

Jeff Berkowitz: I would never say voters are dumb.

Pete Giangreco: I can tell you a lot of campaigns that we’ve won where we’ve gotten outspent. I’ve been a part of a lot of campaigns where we had more money, and we still lost.

Jeff Berkowitz: But you can influence people. Money counts. I didn’t say people were dumb.

Does advertising count in politics? Does money count?

Pete Giangreco: Money does count.

Jeff Berkowitz: You know, and I know, and everyone watching this show knows that money counts in politics, because advertising counts.

Pete Giangreco: Sure.

Jeff Berkowitz: Not because people are dumb, but because advertising gets out information, much of it accurate, some of it inaccurate. I just want to make that point. I’m not saying anybody’s dumb.

Pete Giangreco: I agree. But, my point is that people, based on what was knowable information, even to me and you, made the right choice, because they weighed Blagojevich and maybe said, I don’t like the way he does things, or how he fights with everybody, but do I want every child covered? Do I want more money for schools? Do I want middle class people to pay more in taxes? No. In all three of those ways—taxes, education, healthcare—which were the bedrock issues of both of those campaigns—they agreed with Rod Blagojevich, and they disagreed with Judy Baar Topinka and Jim Ryan. And they knew what the score was.

Jeff Berkowitz: I would just say that message counts, having good ideas, being able to articulate those ideas.

Pete Giangreco: Sure.

Do ideas have consequences?

Jeff Berkowitz: That wasn’t Jim Ryan’s forte, and that is not Judy Baar Topinka’s forte. And Republicans, if they ever want to become competitive in the state of Illinois, they need to get people who have ideas, have programs, and who are able to articulate them. And they don’t have them yet.

Pete Giangreco: Berkowitz for Governor. Are you ready to announce for Governor? Here, on my show?

Jeff Berkowitz: Don’t butter up the host.

Pete Giangreco: It’s your show. But why don’t you run? You couldn’t be any worse than any of those mopes that they’ve put up.

Jeff Berkowitz: I’ve got my hands full trying to interview you. All right, let’s go over to Barack Obama.
Public Affairs thanks Amy Allen, one of its interns, for preparing a draft of the above transcript. The show with Pete Giangreco was taped on January 4, 2009.
Jeff Berkowitz, Show Host/Producer of "Public Affairs," and Executive Legal Recruiter doing legal search can be reached at *************************************************************
"Public Affairs," is a weekly political interview show airing in Chicago on CANTV, in the Chicago metro area, Aurora and Rockford on Comcast and also often on the Illinois Channel. You can watch the shows, including archived shows going back to 2005, here.
Recently posted shows on the Public Affairs YouTube page include shows with State Senator Kwame Raoul on impeachment(D-Chicago), Democratic political campaign consultant Pete Giangreco on Blago's impeachment and the way in which the Obama Administration will operate, a recent Bill O'Reilly segment w/Berkowitz on Obama, shows with State Rep. Julie Hamos, (D-Evanston) newly minted State Rep. Mark Walker (D-Arlington Heights), essentially the first Dem to represent his district since the Civil War, on the connection between the mess in Springfield and in Cook County government, Chicago Alderman Manuel (Manny) Flores (D-1st Ward, Wicker Park) on impeachment of Rod, Chicago issues and a possible run to replace 5th CD Cong. Emanuel, Cook County Cmsr. Tony Peraica (R-Riverside) on the mess we call Illinois politics and much more.