How Mercenaries Are Used; German Far-Right Extremism

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From NPR and WB YOU are. I'm Tanya Moseley. I'm Jeremy Hobson. It's here now at is day two of public impeachment hearings on Capitol Hill. This morning has been dramatic today. So witness Marie Ivanovich the former. US Ambassador to Ukraine career. Foreign Service officer who was fired in April as the trump administration tried to get Ukraine to investigate president trump's political rival Joe Biden today. She told the House intelligence committee she was the victim of a smear campaign and as she was speaking president trump trump disparaged her tweeting that everywhere. Maria Vich went turned bad democratic chairman. Adam Schiff asked her to respond. I I mean I don't I don't think I have such powers not Mogadishu's Somali Miss Malaya not in other places. I actually think that Where I've served over over the years I and others have demonstrably Made things better joining us now is NPR diplomatic correspondent. Michelle Kelemen has been watching the hearings today Michelle. That was an extraordinary moment. That unfolded in real time. Walk us through what happened there. And what the response has been well. The Republicans are are trying to downplay. This you know that tweet could be that important. But the Democrats see this as a sign of witness intimidation. I mean you. You have to remember that you went through. What what she's described as a campaign of disinformation and that's why she was ousted And and it was interesting Jeremy Because her opening statement she really went through her background as a way to show that diplomats aren't just going to cocktail parties. They're the they're the tip of the spirit. is she called them and important in national security interests so she talked about how her first tour was in Mogadishu Somalia. She talked about Serving in Moscow during the in Nineteen ninety-three attempted coup. Russia caught in crossfire. She talked about how her time in Ukraine that she went to the front lines ten in times during the war in the east to show that the US is supporting Ukraine and to see how US aid was being put to use their and she said she felt shocked shocked and devastated when president trump disparaged her in that July. Phone call with Ukraine's president. How is her testimony coming across? Well I mean pretty. She's he's pretty dramatic in in retailing. It I mean and very credible I should say she talked about how You know she knew that there was this campaign against her led led by trump's private lawyer Rudy Giuliani. She doesn't know why what his interests were Though she's learning more about that In real time but she also said that when she she didn't know until she read that call transcript July call but it didn't come out until September That you you know. The president was talking to the new Ukrainian president and saying that we have out of which was bad news and that she was going to go through some things and she said that one of her friends who was watching her read. It said that she turned white as she was looking at this and that she really felt very threatened by it does she have anything more to offer for about what the Democrats are trying to prove in this impeachment inquiry which is that president trump abused his power by asking Ukraine to investigate a political rival. Well well you know she. She wasn't there during the time when the US aid was held up so she's not talking about that part of it but the Democrats do seem to be Using this case her ouster as an abuse of power in and of itself all ambassador serve at the pleasure of the president. She said that again in her testimony but she also that it's difficult to understand that foreign and private interests were able to undermine her and US interest us in that way you know. She was as I said she was. The target of a lot of distant formation False rumors about her. That seemed to be coming from corrupt Ukrainians To Rudy Giuliani the private lawyer and then made it on. Its Way to Fox News and into conservative media media into president trump's twitter account and into his sons twitter account. Let's listen to the ranking Republican member of the Committee Devon Nunez in his opening statement. Today he said Democrats are just trying to topple a president. They don't like in fact. Democrats have been vowing to oust president trump. Since the day he was elected so Americans can rightly suspect that his phone call with President. Zilenski was used as an excuse for the Democrats to fulfil there Watergate fantasies now Nunez turned over most of his questioning time to the outside counsel for the Republicans today a what has been the Republican strategy in this hearing. Well I mean first of all I should say that you know you're GonNa Veg and the others that have come before her are public public servants at serve both Democrats and Republicans and that they were carrying out stated. US policy They've also Backed president trump's uh-huh foreign policy. The stated one I should say so For instance the the Republicans were just questioning her about Trump's decision to WHO Sell Javelin Antitank missiles to Ukraine something. The Obama Administration did not do IANOVICH Bill Taylor the current aren't acting ambassador. All supported that idea and supported what president trump was doing As the stated goals which was supporting Ukraine and pushing back from from Russian aggression. The questions are about this. You know. Side the shadow diplomacy going on with Rudy Giuliani and others. As we've been listening adding to the hearing today there was some other big news. which is that the former advisor to president trump? Roger Stone was found guilty in his trial of witness tampering and lying to Congress. That's that's big news all by itself show right and it does Kinda fit in with this because the other thing that the republic that you know that the trump administration and just tried to do is just to kind of shift the blame from Russia to Ukraine in two thousand sixteen election. Meddling this case against Roger Stone grew out the Robert Mueller investigation And Stone was found guilty on all counts including obstruction witness tampering and lying to Congress. And and you know this was about his contacts with wikileaks which published emails by Clinton aides during the two thousand sixteen campaign. Drawl comes at the same time I guess. Yes when the news rains it pours Michelle Kellerman. NPR diplomatic correspondent as we continue to follow the events on Capitol Hill where former ambassador to Ukraine crane. Marie Ivanovich has been testifying in the impeachment inquiry before the House Intelligence Committee Michelle. Thanks a lot thank you and as Jeremy said we will continue to follow that that story throughout the day. But let's take a minute to get an update on yesterday's deadly school. Shooting here in southern California Saugus High School in Santa Clarita is closed. Today A is. The community grieves a teenage girl and boy were killed and three others were wounded after a fellow student opened fire early yesterday morning before turning the gun on himself police say he was taken to the hospital in critical condition. Joining us now is KPCC's Kyle. Stokes Hi Kyle. Hi Tania. I can hear that. You're you're out in Santa Clarita. Tell us more about how people are doing. We know that there were vigils last night. And they're more plan this weekend and you were able to speak speak to parents and students as they reunited yesterday. Yes so I'm standing in the place where those reunifications took place. It's this large park called Central Park. which is nearby to the school? And this is where students were bused after they were evacuated from the campus and reunited with their parents It was a scene very orderly saint scene but obviously a lot of parents were anxious to Put hands back on their children again after a really you know sort of traumatic experience here. There's no visible signs that this place was the scene of these emotional reunifications but there is one fight. Poll where are there have been balloons tied to a little railing around the flagpole prayer candles flowers teddy bear lying here not a lot of people here around it it but one visible reminder that all is not normal in this community yeah. Police have not shared the shooter's name but they did say that yesterday day when he carried out the shooting it was his sixteenth birthday. What else do we know about him? That is really as much as we know about the the shooter and his identity entity we have heard a little bit about The fact that there was a threat according to sheriff's investigators that was posted to an instagram account tied to the shooter. We don't know whether that's the shooter making the threat. It's possible that the account may have been hacked. Investigators can't rule that out but Investigators investigators don't have much as to the motive and they still haven't released of the shooter's name a so many of us were watching on television. Vision the scenes where armed guards were taking out students from the school and so many of the students seemed so calm and collected. How did with these students respond to all of this in terms of being prepared for something as horrific as a shooting? I think a lot of the students and parents that I talked to said had this is the last thing they expected to happen in their community and a community that they perceived as safe and we hear that so often in these instances of on campus got incidence. This was schools but it was also clear talking to a lot of the students and parents yesterday that they knew exactly what to do. One student described of barricading barricading herself in the classroom using a computer cart shoving it against the door Another student like took a fire extinguisher out of the hallway. And you know two uses is a potential weapon for self defence His Dad told me that he texted with his son is sunset. I'm turning off my ringer. Now I don't want to be able to to tip off the shooter that anyone's in here and so I think it's clear that the the students while it was the last thing expected to happen at their school. It was something that obey once it did happen. They did know what to do. I know that you'll be following this throughout the day. I appreciate your time in this Kyle. STOKES is an education reporter quarter for. KPCC thank you so much. Thanks on your Amtrak is on pace to break. Even for the first time in the railroads roads nearly fifty year history. Ridership is at record highs. Revenue is up and a company. That's known more for losing money than making money appears to be on the cusp of a turnaround turnaround. Amtrak's president and Chief Executive Richard Anderson joins us now he's also the former. CEO of Delta Airlines. Richard Anderson. Welcome to here now. Thank thank you so much Germany so these are good headlines record ridership and losses. Well below your target. You're headed to the break even point though we should note that doesn't include money spent on maintaining some Amtrak's physical infrastructure but what's your takeaway from these numbers. Well the numbers are good numbers and I think they're a reflection action on the good employees. That Amtrak who take their mission and the statutory obligations that we have at Amtrak very seriously We did improve to the best operating performance in history. We had an operating loss which is essentially excludes. non-cash depreciation are operating loss was Twenty nine point eight million dollars which was an eighty two percent improvement over last year here and I think over the past five years we've reduced the operating loss Close to four hundred million dollars so where we WANNA be. The as America's railroad is to cover all of our operating costs through our revenues and then use is the grant that we received from our owners. The United States government to invest in the infrastructure the rail infrastructure across America could Amtrak ever be profitable. Do you think it's difficult for to be profitable given that we have such a backlog of infrastructure investment the Hudson tunnels the portal bridge. There's just not been real investment in rail in America or sufficient investment in Amtrak Amtrak so that to get to a state of good repair. Has We probably have a thirty to forty billion dollar backlog like much of the infrastructure in our country. Well a lot of the gains in ridership. The you saw came from the northeast corridor of Amtrak especially the Washington. DC To Boston route. Meanwhile all the long distance routes saw a much smaller increase in ridership. You have said you wanted to prioritize these urban quarters over the cross country routes Do you think think that is happening. And and fast as you'd like It's not happening as fast as we would like or as fast as the country needs needs it because what we do see at Amtrak is in. Those routes where highways have reached such a congestion congestion. Point Amtrak grows significantly. That would be San Diego to La Milwaukee to Chicago and of course in many many stops on the corridor and we define the corner. Pretty broadly from Richmond. Virginia all the way up to Maine main All of the I ninety five quarters now so congested that every community along that corridor wants a wants a rail stop well. Is there anything that's ever going to stop that. Because that's always going to be the case right if you're GONNA take the train through place they're going to want you to stop there. which makes it slower for everybody else? Well but that's where product differentiation is really important in. That's where you see us moving at Amtrak with the Acela nonstop on stop and the you know this. This idea was not invented Amtrak. We see it in Europe we see it in in Asia in much more developed well operated passenger rail systems which is the same track system can have multiple product offerings a nonstop Acela. Uh from Boston to New York a regular Acela that has a handful of stops the northeast regional that stops it almost every the station and then ultimately we want to be in a position as we acquire new European style. Train set equipment to opening virtually every station that we can up and down the quarter so that we basically have four products in the marketplace that are differentiated offerings in. Have you know different price points but provide maximum level of services to the maximum number of of people in the quarter you were the CEO of Delta before coming coming to Amtrak and as we know when you get on a plane the first thing that the pilot says you know safety is our number one concern. I know that you've made safety a very important part of your time. Time at an Amtrak and safety improvements there have been some high profile. Train crashes How is that going at this point? you know. That is the most important thing it. It's more important than the financial results. And we have made tremendous progress where the first railroad road in America to implement a safety management system which is modeled after aviation. I was fortunate enough to be able to recruit. Probably the leading. So from aviation can't highlander and We installed an SMS we put in through that SMS mm safety metric system Internal Evaluation Program Risk Reduction Program and importantly the use of data to determine how we're performing. I'm pleased to report that in the last year. We had no employer customer fatalities in our last fiscal fiscal year no. NTSB accidents are customer. Incident rate was down twenty six percent. We had seventy two percent reduction in serious employees. The injuries in our effort to a reportable injuries for employees injuries was down ten percent and so on virtually all of our metrics We have have sustained really strong performance. Most importantly we have accomplished the installation of positive train control. And that is a really big event for Amtrak that's been One of the things that every time there has been one of the train. Crashes People have been talking talking about positive train control which is kind of an automated system right to make sure that the train doesn't go too fast around corners and things like that precisely you described it perfectly really. What is the biggest challenge facing Amtrak this next fiscal year? Two big challenges one is we pretty much operate on host railroads that's freight railroads and the freight railroads do not run us on time. And that's really a challenge Allen Jr for a business that sells reliability and sell saving time and we have a number of efforts underway But bottom line is we have to have enforcement of the statutory obligation that was created in nineteen seventy when Amtrak took over responsibility for intercity passenger transportation on rail. We were given a preference over freight train traffic to run on time in that his been by and large ignored So number one in order for us to be a reliable service provider to people people all over the country. We have to be able to run on time and then number two is as we think about the future of of surface transportation in America. It's getting the flexibility both from a funding perspective and from a design perspective to be able to put in new services that will meet the demand for our services in dense urban quarters in right now between a complex legal eagle structure under section two nine to twelve of Preah which is the The statute we operate under We're constrained and we need thought leadership in Congress we thought leadership in dot we thought leaderships in the state governments to help us plot. What we want the future of rail to be you know in Boston you know in New York you know in Washington? DC The critical role. All that rail plays in dense urban areas. We are only going to have more road congestion. The interstate highway system is not gonNA be able to be expanded and we can't afford to expand it really and our population between now and twenty fifty is projected to grow somewhere between between seventy five to a hundred million people. We can't put all those cars on the road in Amtrak is the best environmental answer. Our biggest challenges oranges. I go testify in Congress and all we talk about his French toast on on on dining cars or food. We aren't talking talking about the really big infrastructure issues and transportation congestion issues that all the people in this country one solution for for that is Richard Anderson the president and CEO of Amtrak. We talked about a lot. More including competition from private. Rail will bring that conversation to you soon. Germany is struggling to contain the rise of far-right extremist violence. This week week. A member of the right wing. AFDC party was stripped of his leadership role in parliament for making anti-semitic comments and late last month. The government proposed new rules that would restrict gun purchases and for social media companies to remove and report hate speech here and now's Peter. o'dowd was in Berlin recently and spoke with frenzy. Enzi Scott Rattener. She's a member of parliament and the the centre-left Green Party. They meant to talk about Brexit but Peter also asked her if the proposed domestic terrorism Ariza rules went far enough. Finally we believe it's far too late and it's little we believe that we have to have stricter took regulation still in the social media. We need more transparency. We need more responsibility and we also need to have more the clarity when it comes to the right networks within our own security services to police the army etc so there we believe more needs to be done. You know it's interesting. The nationalist movement in this country is very much a kind of a mirror image in some ways of what tipped the United Kingdom towards brexit. What what do you make of the rise of the far right across Europe? I think to be honest that the brexit tears in the UK and not all racist. But you Have of course part of that. Brexit movement is a nationalist movement of going out but it's not necessarily in tirelessly racist movement and the fall right in Germany's racist there ultra-nationalists but of all they are racist. But I think that we have to on the one side addressed Associated Economic Omic. Please ends if they exist behind the grievances and on the other side to start having very open discussions and honest discussions about the fears slaying behind the cultural war. These are some of the same as you have in the US or in other countries this sort of fear am am. I GONNA be in a minority in the future. Sure I've always been part of majority and what comes next. There's this fear because everybody remembers how badly the majority tweeted the minority in in the past. If I speak to people and then they say yeah but you know I remember how terribly we treated the one black guy in the class and how we terribly tweeted the one Turkish guy in our class. Ask and I'm afraid my kid is going to be treated the same way in the class. And you can start another discussion but it starts you know going to the real l.. Fears talking about them and trying. You know on the other side to say this no excuse for being racist. I'm taking a look at how the rise is your party over the last couple of months a year or so in Germany doing quite well in elections and also the rise of some far right parties. AFDC Eh what do you make of that that those two things are happening simultaneously. He knew we have been putting so much effort in building bridges and going out to polarization. And it's it's quite interesting because of course when you look just from tactical purposes for us it would often pay off to go into more polarization but we onto it because we fundamentally believe it will not help society we have to Start Building Bridges. Go Away from polarization so I also sometimes sometimes believed at our election. Results are re compensation for building those bridges that was German. MP Frenzy SCUFF rattener. The Green Party speaking with here. Now's Peter o'dowd in Berlin. Russia said this week that it has set up a new airbase airbase in a city in northern Syria abandoned by US forces when Turkey invaded last month. That invasion was done by order of the Turkish president. But there's reporting that many any of the fighters both from Turkey and Russia were actually mercenaries outside contractors the US has also relied on mercenaries in Iraq and Afghanistan. And Sean McVeigh has worked as a private military contractor. He's also a former army officer and he writes about the use of contractors in his book. The new rules of War Sean. Welcome to here now. It's great to be with you. Well first of all. Let's define our terms here. Explain what the difference between a mercenary and military contractor is or is there a difference. It's well volumes of ink. Experts have been spilt on this topic but the bottom line is there's really not much of a difference if you can be one you can be the other and it really comes down to labels. and which countries are using them right now well The US use them heavily in Iraq and Afghanistan right now. They're are being used heavily by Russia and the UAE and Saudi Arabia and UAE. There's a lot of reasons why people would hire mercenaries one. The main reason in is that they give you plausible deniability so modern warfare is getting sneakier. It's not about who has more F thirty five's or aircraft carriers it's about sneaky nece And so special forces mercenaries little green men propaganda. This is what turns the tide of war for now and mercenaries are extremely good at giving plausible deniability. And why do you want that. Because we live in a global information age and a global information age plausible deniability eclipses firepower look at how Russia took Ukraine and sort of the old ways of war. They would have marched in with tanks like they did in Hungary and Czechoslovakia during the Cold War. In the new way of war they use these tools of plausible deniability have a ghost occupation occupation So it's a fait accompli. By the time the first tank shows up and mercenaries again like the Wagner Group which is a Russian mercenary group. They're being used everywhere anywhere in the Middle East and Africa now not just Ukraine and rumored to be in Venezuela to so they can just say if something goes wrong. That wasn't us that was these other people. We have nothing to do with them. That's right even though the intelligence community has a pretty good idea it was them. But here's an example. I mean first of all mercenaries we think of mercenaries as I cur Tunisia nashvillehomes from Hollywood. That's not who they are. These days there are pretty sophisticated so in February of two thousand eighteen the Russian mercenary group the Wagner a group about had five hundred mercenaries. Go up against some of our best troops in aviation in eastern Syria is a secret battle and our troops were Delta Force Rangers Green Berets and they called in B. Fifty Twos F. Fifteens A. C.. One thirty gun ships Apache helicopters talkers. Drones you name it to fight off these five hundred mercenaries now. They wiped out the mercenaries but it took them four hours hours to do that and the militarist had as a big win. But it's really not because what happens if you're facing five thousand mercenaries it's not Delta Force. It's one of the National Guard. Units as we have many in Iraq before some mercenaries are pretty sophisticated in pre lethal these days and are most of them like you former army. The people for came out of the official military and then decided to become a contractor afterwards. Yeah almost all the Mar- so I spent several years in in the industry And I I got out when I realized that there are no old people in my industry. the the way that that the mercer world is organized. It's sort of an illicit economy. This was organized around language groups. The big ones are russian-speakers English speakers in Spanish speakers. There's some others french-speakers too but those are the three big ones and they all come from usually some version of special forces or something like that Sometimes national police units or paramilitary units. But the all come from someplace there's no sort of. There's no organic basic training for mercenaries. Now let's talk about the United States. You've reported during World War. Two ten percent of America's armed forces were contractors that was up to fifty percent in Iraq and Afghanistan what about today with the US and contractors. Yeah so the. US has pulled Out of Iraq and Afghanistan but still. There's a huge footprint of contractors so in Afghanistan today there's a three to one ratio of contractors to troops use but only a fraction of those are armed contractors. I mean most contractors are just making food or repairing vehicles but about two thousand or three thousand or armed or trigger pullers colors And this is sort of what prompted or resurrected the mercenary trade which is let's face it the second oldest profession but it went underground for a couple a couple of hundred years. And now it's it's raging back to life and when we think about the negative headlines when it comes to the. US contractors employees of the private security firm Blackwater water were convicted for civilian deaths in the Iraq war. What would you say are the biggest drawbacks of using mercenaries for any country? Whether it's quite a few drawbacks one one. It's a way to circumvent democratic accountability of the Armed Forces. 'cause the White House doesn't really have to report them It's a way also to lower the barriers of entry. Treat a war so of for example the reason we ended up with so many contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan is that the Iraq and Afghanistan wars were not short wars contrary to the promises of Rumsfeld and other neo cons and we either had to sort of leave Iraq and Afghanistan and concede defeat. We'd have to have a Vietnam get non-life draft to fill all volunteer force at didn't WanNA volunteer or use contractors and so using contractors allows you to sort of go to war without having to have your own people bleed and that creates problems. They also probably changed the nature of the conflict that they're fighting just by being there. That's right so mercenaries modify warfare and make it a market activity so we're supply and demand are now strategies that replaced traditional channel ways of of warfare and mercenaries come into a plastic that Middle East or Africa. These are continents conflict profit motive demands that they start start or a long gate wars for profit and a world awash and mercenaries a world with more conflict and suffering. Now you worked as a mercenary until around in two thousand seven. You've said you've got out of it after being asked to do morally questionable things. Do you think mercenaries are asked to do things that they shouldn't be they do but And so our soldiers I I would like to to make a distinction here First of all. It's it's amusing. That people in the industry they call private military contractors not mercenaries but it's a a bit of a euphemism Mercenaries can make. They may have moral choices they can. They can engage in and that was in the industry. There's all sorts of reasons why people would join the industry. Some do do it for money. Some do it for adventurism. Some say they're they want to kill people to be frank about it but there are other reasons too. They do they do it because they're curious they they do it. Because they see their soldiers who come back and they don't WanNa be. UPS truck driver anymore and they want to go back to places like Iraq to help the Peshmerga Hash. Murga go after Isis. I mean there's all sorts of reasons why people do it and at some of us Find that there are moral litmus tests and for me. It was time to get out when my I was asked to question my little loyalty. Essentially it's the United States of America and I was unwilling to do that when you look at the conflict now now in northern Syria and it is calmed down somewhat but The idea that you have mercenaries doing the battle for various countries there. What do you think that means? I think that serious a case study of modern warfare. Modern warfare is a form of shadow warfare. It's all under the table. And if you see it bubble up and you know it's it's It's reached a crisis. Point I think we have a lot of warriors in places like Syria and now Libya Congo and we don't know who they represent they're all masked and we don't know who they fight for it and it's not just governments. That could fight for you know. Oil companies or oligarchy ARCS even megachurches. We think that they are doing that or are you just making that as a hypothetical. It's a hypothetical but based on some my own background I didn't always work for the US government. That's a contractor. I saw things in the field that the extractive industry for example even some NGOs are looking increasingly at private forces mostly for or defensive purposes unlike the Wagner Group which are offensive. But we're that has been a moving goalposts. The last twenty years and I believe I would not happy surprised if we saw for example. A Mega Church or movie star do a humanitarian intervention in a place like Syria or northern Iraq should Isis Isis. Two Point Zero rear its head again. That is Sean Mc fate who is a former army officer and former private military contractor author of the new rules of war. Sean thanks for joining us. Thank you very much Louisiana. Voters go to the polls this weekend to finally elect a governor. This is a runoff between the incumbent. Democrat John Bel Edwards and Republican businessman Eddy responding the racist tight and president trump is watching closely. He was actually in the state on Thursday urging Louisiana voters to elect the Republican candidate trump also so linked to the ongoing impeachment inquiry to the state's election for more. We're joined by Paul Braun State Politics reporter for member station W. R. K. F. F. in Baton Rouge Paul. Thanks for joining us for having me so John Bel Edwards. He's been governor since two thousand sixteen and he's trying to hang onto his seat seat here. He is speaking in the gubernatorial debate. And I get along well with presidents of both parties. I've done that with President Obama and with President Trump nine times. I've met with the president to discuss things like infrastructure opioid epidemic and criminal justice reform. He's considered a prime gop target and he's also pretty moderate right. That's right he has to be in a state like Louisiana not just an election years but in office as well well so to get anything done he's got to do it with. Bipartisan support. A quick couple of examples. He passed a major criminal justice reform in his first term Any raise taxes axes with the budget shortfall which he gets hit pretty hard for on the campaign trail but he's quick to remind voters that two thirds of the Republican controlled legislature voted for that. He's stanchly progun on and back in. May He signed into law one of the strictest abortion restrictions in the country that would prohibit abortions as early as six weeks. There's a lot of money. Any pouring in from Republicans as well though The Republican National Committee has spent about two million dollars and deployed sixty. Paid staffers to try to unseat at words. Tell us more about the guy. They're pulling a four and putting all of their money behind his name's Eddie responding. He's never held political office. But it's also important to note there. Responding has loaned his campaign twelve million dollars of his own money and has been really sort what of bootstrapping his campaign with his own finances. Since the beginning yeah and responding has been making this race All about trump here are his first words from the debate eight. I think the thing that I see is almost supporter of trump and what trump has done for. Our country has been phenomenal. You know we have a Democratic Party. That's going after impeachment. which is a sidetracking everything we're trying to do? On a national level we know trump was therefore a second time yesterday for a rally what has been his impact on on this race. So far I think it'd be fair to say that from his perspective. Trump is the race His first introduction to voters was in a campaign ad out on the tailgate of his truck pointing into a trump bumper sticker. He has been kind of quiet on specific policies that he didn't act as governor so he's pretty much entirely linked his campaign to president trump and his popularity in the state. You know it's a lot of people say it's not fair really to say that. The governor's races are bellwethers of the president's support because they really are are so specific to each state Edwards has been a democratic governor and a very red state as you said but is this different though because the president. Let's put so much energy into this campaign. Do you think it's hard to say at Louisiana has been trending Republican for for a while now. Governor Edwards is the only only Democratic governor in the deep South but his two thousand fifteen election was based very largely on politics and the characters who were running and now with a lot of experience under his belt. Edwards is campaigning for a second term. And I think this would be a pretty good indicator of you know how far are partisan politics have seeped into Louisiana local politics if efforts were lose his bid for reelection. Yeah here's trump on one of his visits to the state last week and Monroe and soon the people of Louisiana will head to the polls. You know I'm really here for a little different reason. It's called surly voting. You believe it that much. I like Eddie. Tell us a little bit about early voting What what have we seen so far from turn out there? Early voting has has been a big focus for the Edwards campaign in particular since they had relatively poor showing in the primary in early voting. This go around thirty one percent of early voters in early voting runoff where African American. That's an increase from twenty five percent total from the first round of voting in October. That is a huge demographic for Edwards. And if he can do well there. His chances of winning reelection are quite good but Turnout is key going back to the start of our conversation. Given Edwards record as a moderate and the fact that Louisiana state legislature is dominated by Republicans. I'm just wondering if a change in leadership would make a real difference in the lives of Louisiana residents or is this race just important because it's become a national ideological battleground. It's an interesting question I mean I think people will are quick to look to states where Republican supermajority existed in the legislature. And the governor's office Even if Edwards wins the Republicans may gain crossed the threshold into having a super majority in the legislature. Which would be I for Louisiana and that could really take the teeth out of the governor's role which has traditionally been a pretty strong role in Louisiana politics? That's Paul Bron W. R. K. F. State Politics Reporter. Thank you again thanks so much.

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