Former Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa dismisses concerns over Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while secretary of state as “a lot of ado about not much,” and is still bullish on her chances for 2016.
Speaking to Variety‘s “PopPolitics” on SiriusXM, Villaraigosa also talked about his own recent “listening tour” of California’s Central Valley, a visit that has helped fuel speculation that he is preparing for a bid for governor in 2018.
“Well, there’s always speculation about something,” he says. “I won’t be a pundit, nor will I make any announcements.” He said that the tour was “eye-opening and a real education” for him.
“The anger is palpable. You can almost cut it with a knife,” he says. “This lack of feeling that government works for regular people is something that I hear again and again.”
Villaraigosa, who was mayor of Los Angeles from 2005 to 2013, recently hosted a fundraiser for Clinton’s campaign at his Hollywood Hills home. He campaigned for her in her 2008 bid, and in 2012 served as chairman of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte.
“I feel really good about where she is right now,” he says, adding that she is building an operation in Iowa and New Hampshire akin to the way that Obama built support in his campaign.
He said that Clinton “has made it very clear that she’s taking [the email issue] very seriously.” He thinks “that most people believe it’s a lot of ado about very little.”
“The Republicans have been doing this on Benghazi, on Troopergate, on Whitewater. That’s what they do. Instead of talking about the issues or their ideas, they go after people in a way some have coined ‘the politics of personal destruction.'”
Villaraigosa credits Sen. Bernie Sanders’ ability to draw crowds — including 27,000 to an event in Los Angeles — but says, “Campaigns that surge in August don’t do as well in January.”
Sanders, he said, has done very well speaking to a portion of the Democratic electorate, but “he doesn’t speak to a broader Democratic constituency, a more diverse one. That, I think, will ultimately be his undoing.”
As for Donald Trump, who has grabbed the GOP spotlight and remained atop the polls despite controversial comments, Villaraigosa believes he’ll be unable to secure the GOP nomination. He calls Trump “one of the most divisive and polarizing figures to run for president in a very long time,” and adds that when he has met Trump he didn’t detect that kind of bluster over issues like illegal immigration.
Villaraigosa is a big supporter of Los Angeles’ bid for the 2024 Olympics. There has been some concern that the city will ultimately be asked to bear liability for any cost overruns from the Games. He suggests that the city’s experience in 1984, when the city didn’t commit to covering overruns, should be a selling point. “I feel confident that everybody understands that we can do it a different way. … We [created] the template for how to do this and not spend taxpayer money.”
The complete interview, in which Villaraigosa talks about California’s drought and the rise of violent crime, is here.
The Late-Night Campaign
Donald Trump is dominating media coverage, but rivals may have found another way to break through — late-night TV. Jeb Bush appears Tuesday on the debut of “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” in a guest spot that holds risks for the candidate, but risks that he should be taking. That’s according to Dave Berg, producer on “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno” and author of the book “Behind the Curtain,” a memoir of his experiences booking guests, including President Obama.
More on the late-night campaign in this Variety preview of the fall flood of candidates looking for laughs.
Josh Ginsberg, CEO and co-founder of Zignal Labs, talks about why late-night TV can help candidates stand out from the pack. Chris Christie got a bounce in media mentions after he appeared on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” on Monday.
“PopPolitics,” hosted by Ted Johnson, airs Thursdays at 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT on SiriusXM’s political channel POTUS.