7 questions with Dana Perino ahead of Colorado’s Democratic Primary
A Q&A with a Fox News anchor (and Colorado native) about Super Tuesday
This week, Coloradans from across the state are preparing to cast their votes in the Democratic Primary. This is the first year the state’s voters have participated in the Super Tuesday primaries, following two decades of picking presidential candidates through caucuses, and as such, voters will play an important role in narrowing the crowded democratic field.
One of those Coloradans is Fox News Channel’s Dana Perino, a Colorado native. Perino’s own personal history in the state, as well as her career in politics (she served as President George W. Bush’s White House press secretary) has driven her coverage of the 2020 election.
ColoradoBiz spoke to Perino to get a look at the 2020 election from the frontlines, hear her insights into how the primary could affect the state and learn more about this historic election year.
ColoradoBiz: What do you expect to see in Colorado’s results?
Dana Perino: I still remember casting my first ballot in Colorado in the 1992 presidential election. I was in college at CSU-Pueblo. Gov. Bill Clinton had come to town for a rally, and I remember the song, “Walking on Sunshine” blaring from the speakers. I saw people so excited about voting. I always planned to vote as soon as I was old enough, and I took that vote seriously. In the end, I voted for my future friend, President George H.W. Bush. I had no way of knowing then that I’d get the opportunity to work for his son, President George W. Bush, and have my life and career completely changed by his trust in me.
And now here we are in 2020 and I’ve been on the front lines covering this historic election for Fox News. Super Tuesday is likely to provide more clarity into who is on the road to becoming the Democratic presidential nominee. On Wednesday, when the dust settles, there will be fewer candidates that will focus the race on the top two or three candidates. Candidates don’t end campaigns because they want to, but because they run out of money. And if you don’t win convincingly on Super Tuesday, you’ll run out of money quickly.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is the front-runner going into the contest, while former Vice President Joe Biden is hoping that South Carolina can breathe new life into his campaign.* All of the Democrats have waited until it’s almost too late to expose weaknesses in Sanders’ electability – a choice they may live to regret.
CB: There has been a lot of talk that the primary election could end in a contested convention. What do you make of this? What will this mean for the November election?
DP: I’ve been reporting on the Democratic presidential primary the past year. There have been murmurings of a contested convention in Milwaukee in July for a while now – and that is not out of the realm of possibility. I asked our senior political analyst at Fox News, Brit Hume, what it was like to cover a contested convention and he said he didn’t know, it’s never happened in all the years he’s covered presidential elections.
Watch very carefully what all the candidates are saying when they are asked whether they think they should have a majority or a plurality to win the nomination. Right now, it looks like none of these candidates are going to get to the convention with a majority of delegates plus one. If Sen. Sanders makes a case that he should be the nominee, and the other candidates point to the party rules and they go to a second ballot, it drastically minimizes the chance that he will win. And if there’s a big fight at the convention about delegate counts and what’s rigged and what’s fair, it will make it even harder for Democrats to coalesce around the ultimate nominee.
CB: Is there anything that would surprise you to see in the results on Super Tuesday?
DP: We live in an such unpredictable times, so nothing surprises me anymore in politics. All things are possible. A huge surprise would be if Tom Steyer wins any Super Tuesday states (chances of that are…low. Very low.).
CB: What is the role that Colorado voters will play in the presidential election?
DP: As I’ve said in my book, And The Good News is…., Westerners are independent, self-reliant and patriotic — and it goes for Coloradans too. It’s in our DNA. And there’s no doubt the political makeup of the state has changed a lot since I had to move for work after college. There’s a real mix of parties — with about a third being GOP, a third Democrats and a third independent. Each of these candidates is going to have to make the case for why they can win in a state like Colorado if they want to the be Democratic nominee for President of the United States.
CB: This is the first year 17-year-olds in Colorado will be able to vote in the primary election. What effect do you think this will have not only on the primary election results, but on the election this November?
DP: I have to admit I was a bit surprised that 17-year-olds in Colorado can vote if they will turn 18 by Election Day, especially as there are movements to restrict things like purchasing tobacco to people over 21 (this recently passed in Kentucky, of all places).
According to the Colorado Secretary of State’s office, it’s estimated that about 24,000 more people will be able to vote in the primary because of the law that passed last summer. There is no doubt young people play a crucial role in politics and elections — as we have seen the past several cycles. However, I don’t think it will significantly tip the balance of the primary results this time around. If there is a close race, the backing and turnout of this group of young people could help a campaign’s momentum.
CB: How will Colorado’s Super Tuesday results impact the presidential race? [i.e. What is the importance of Colorado’s results in the bigger picture?]
DP: Your guess is as good as mine. We will have to wait and see! However, I would add this — Colorado is a wonderful, growing, smart, beautiful, lovely state — the vote there matters and it’s important that citizens in the state continue to raise their hands and make sure people know it.
CB: Do you have any other thoughts you’d like to share about Super Tuesday?
DP: Hang on to your seat and buckle up! Be sure to tune into The Daily Briefing (weekdays, 12PM/MT) on Fox News Channel for the latest as well as our wall-to-wall special live programming for Super Tuesday as the results roll in… This election is sure to be historic and perhaps unlike anything we have ever seen.
*Editor’s note: This interview was conducted prior to former Vice President Joe Biden’s win in South Carolina.