GWEN IFILL: Hello, and welcome to the Washington Week Extra.
I'm Gwen Ifill.
We spend a lot of time talking about the two major candidates, Hillary Clinton and Donald
Trump, but less time focusing on Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson, who, much to his
chagrin, will not be on the debate stage Monday night.
I asked him about that on the NewsHour.
FORMER NEW MEXICO GOVERNOR GARY JOHNSON (L): (From video.)
Interestingly, something that
I did not know is that I am polling higher than Ross Perot was polling before he was
admitted into those debates.
GWEN IFILL: (From video.)
The rules were different.
GARY JOHNSON: (From video.)
The rules were different, and of course the rules were
really adopted to make sure that a third party would never be on the stage again.
GWEN IFILL: (From video.)
So what do you do?
GARY JOHNSON: (From video.)
Well, you just keep plugging away.
I mean, I'm representing, I think, the majority of voters in this country.
A majority of voters in this country don't know that, but you know, that's my task.
GWEN IFILL: Well, plugging away is as good a way as any to describe it.
But unlike Perot, for instance, Johnson does not have millions of dollars to spend, so
missing the debate is kind of a big deal for him, Beth.
BETH REINHARD: I mean, if he's not on the debate stage, you know, people just don't know
who he is.
So you remember the gaffe he made a couple of weeks ago, when he was asked
about Syria, "What is Aleppo?"
And it was, you know, a devastating moment, but was it
Did it hurt him?
Is he in a worse position - off than he - than he is now?
You know, he's sort of in the same anonymous place.
GWEN IFILL: You know, I talked to a voter Colorado who is going to - a Republican who
just can't bring himself to support Donald Trump, who's going to support Gary Johnson.
When I asked him about the Aleppo comment, his response to me was, well, everybody doesn't
have to know everything.
There is - people are voting for interesting reasons this year.
BETH REINHARD: Well, you hear that a lot from the Trump allies when you point out his,
you know, lack of policy knowledge: well, he hasn't been studying this for years and
reading briefing books and looking at polls.
GWEN IFILL: Exactly.
BETH REINHARD: Exactly, for decades the way Hillary Clinton is.
And that's considered an asset, that he hasn't studied and he hasn't done his homework;
he's spontaneous, he's shooting from the hip.
That's what you hear from his supporters
and allies, which is just another way of saying he's woefully unprepared.
GWEN IFILL: Yeah.
Well, Gary Johnson - the best I could get from it was that he has
decided that merely being on programs like ours would give him - raise his visibility
and allow him to get onto debate stages.
Not sure that's how it works, but I think
that's the latest higher profile theory they have.
Jennifer, I want to ask you about a story you wrote this week, which I think is as much
an indication as any that the Republican Party is attempting to get into the game on
And it's this new app that you wrote about?
JENNIFER JACOBS: Right.
So it's a social media app.
Anybody can download it on their cellphones, and it's meant to engage friends and family.
So what you can do if you have this app is you can choose to share all of the contacts in
your - in your phone contacts list with the app, and then it goes - it feeds -
GWEN IFILL: Oh, that's when they get you.
Share all your contacts.
JENNIFER JACOBS: You have to double-opt into it before that happens, but then it feeds
your contact information back into an RNC database that's tied to their absentee ballot
program and their registration - their voter registration program.
And so then the app can alert the user, hey, your friend Mike isn't registered to vote,
you should send him a little note: here's how to get registered to vote, Mike.
Or you can say, hey, Cynthia, it's absentee voting time in your - in your area, here's
how you can do that.
It also has some other, you know, social aspects to it.
You can engage with other likeminded voters and do some chatting, and it's got some other
But it's mainly a tool for recruitment and engagement and trying
to you know, narrow the gap between the GOP and the Democrats, who are a little bit ahead.
GWEN IFILL: I was smiling, because as a reporter who throws away all the political mail
that comes to my house, I can't imagine how annoyed I would be to start getting emails
from friends saying, hey, it's time for early voting.
I think they would be
off my friend list very quickly.
OK, I want to go on to Pierre.
You've been spending a lot of time this week writing about something we probably,
speaking of technology, should be as concerned about as anything that's happened this
week, and that's this hack of Yahoo.
That's, like, huge.
PIERRE THOMAS: Biggest ever, perhaps: 500 million customers worldwide, including the
U.S., of course; names, dates of birth, passwords, email addresses, gone, taken.
They think this happened in 2014.
The company says it just learned about it, according to our sources, in recent weeks.
So if you're a person that is using anything online, this should give you great pause.
GWEN IFILL: Well, and if you're Yahoo, which has had its troubles in the past several
years, including the loss of a CEO, that should give you even greater pause.
PIERRE THOMAS: Well, the key is that it's another reminder of hacking and how it's now
becoming a part of our daily lives, and - lives.
And here's the other thing: this has enormous implications because we just reported
tonight on our broadcast that guess who authorities suspect is behind this hack?
GWEN IFILL: Russia.
PIERRE THOMAS: Russia.
GWEN IFILL: As always.
Someone should - no, I'm not going to say that.
Ed, I want to
talk to you about a couple stories you had to write about - wrote about this week.
And one of the interesting ones was about the growth of Hispanics at the ballot box,
which everybody's focused on and writing about and covering and encouraging, but not the
growth of Hispanics on the ballot.
ED O'KEEFE: Right.
So roughly 17 percent of the country is Hispanic.
According to a study back in 2014, as of then, from the county level on up, only 2
percent of the nation's officeholders were Hispanic.
Among minority groups, that was the least represented or the most underrepresented.
Although you could look at it in another way: this year you could see, if they all were
to win, 13 more Hispanics elected to Congress, the House and the Senate, potentially two
Probably only one of those women has a realistic chance.
And then another 11
or so House candidates.
And of those, maybe nine or so actually have a shot.
The number to beat is 10; 10 were elected in 2012 in the same class.
There's some reason to believe that would be met or exceeded slightly this year.
The most encouraging sign if you're someone that's concerned about this kind of stuff,
you go to Nevada this year.
Harry Reid is retiring.
You have a woman named
Catherine Cortez Masto, the former attorney general, running.
And then, in a congressional district there, you have a guy named Ruben Kihuen, who is a
former Reid staffer and a Mexican immigrant who came into the country - moved to the
country legally with his - with his family back in the '80s and now is on the verge of
becoming the state's first Hispanic congressman.
And the two of them say look, you know,
we'd like to think we're ahead of a wave that is coming slowly in a lot of these states.
Reid himself said, you know, my political existence is owed to Hispanic voters who
reelected me in 2010.
This doesn't happen overnight, but eventually it's going to
start happening across the country.
GWEN IFILL: Does it matter if non-Hispanic candidates speak Spanish, like, say, Tim Kaine?
ED O'KEEFE: We don't have enough time to discuss that, Gwen.
It gets to some -
GWEN IFILL: (Laughs.)
Not speaking Spanish well, just speaking.
ED O'KEEFE: Well, and it becomes a personal obsession of mine, because I'm
And, look, there's some appreciation if you're a white guy who has
learned a language the way Tim Kaine has.
And Rob Portman this week - I think this
is what you're referring to - issued his first Spanish-language ad ever in the state
Only about 2 percent is Hispanic, but he has money to burn because -
GWEN IFILL: In which he himself is speaking.
ED O'KEEFE: And he speaks it very well.
I was reminded by a colleague this week that he actually had spent some time down in
Texas working along the border with farmers there, and that's where he started to pick it
And he continues to this day to practice it with bilingual staffers.
GWEN IFILL: That can't hurt.
I didn't know that.
OK, thank you all very much.
If you're dying to know more, read up on political debate 101 for moderators in my online
blog, Gwen's Take.
And check out WatchTheDebates.org.
It's a cool new interactive
site that takes you back through every single televised debate.
That's brought to you by the PBS NewsHour in collaboration with Microsoft.
And we'll see you here next time on the Washington Week Extra.