White House Correspondent Says Voters 'Want To Hear That A Politician Cares' At Democratic Debate

Jun 11, 2018

Yamiche Alcindor, White House correspondent of the PBS Newshour, grew up in South Florida. She remembers living through hurricane Andrew and debating at Fort Lauderdale and Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Since moving away to pursue a career in journalism, the native Miamian has worked as a reporter for USA Today and The New York Times, covering politics and social justice. Alcindor reported on the presidential campaigns of Donald J. Trump and Senator Bernie Sanders during the 2016 election.

This past weekend Alcindor was in Canada for the 44h G7 summit, the gathering of seven of the world’s most industrialized nations -Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the U.K. and the U.S.- and shortly after flew to Miami to co-moderate the Florida Freedom Forum’s Debate for the Gubernatorial Democratic primary. The two moderators for the event are Alcindor and the host of Sundial, Luis Hernandez.

Read more: Here's What You Need To Know Before The Florida Democratic Primary Gubernatorial Debate

Candidates Philip Levine, Gwen Graham, Andrew Gillum, and Chris King will take part in the Florida Freedom Forum for the Gubernatorial Democratic Primary. The latest poll has former Miami Beach mayor Levine ahead of all other democratic candidates with a double-digit lead. The next closest opponent is former representative Graham.The two-hour debate will start at 7 p.m. and be held at the Miramar Cultural Center.

Alcindor joined Sundial discuss the major topics of gun legislation and climate change for Monday’s debate. Below are highlights of their conversation: 

WLRN: We come into this gubernatorial race [in Florida] and I'm wondering how much do you think Trump is going to play [a role] in this race?

ALCINDOR:  I think that Donald Trump is on the ballot in all 50 states. Even though he's not going to be physically on the ballot, I think the elephant in the room is going to be on the back of people's mind. ‘Do you want someone that's in the party of Trump or do you want someone that's going to fight Trump?’ And from what I can tell from these candidates, at the end of this they are attacking Rick Scott but they're also through that vehicle attacking Donald Trump.

We look at Florida and it’s been dominated by Republicans both in the House and Senate, as well as the Governors House for a long time, but we keep hearing about a ‘blue wave’ this year. You have two Republicans and four Democrats. Is there really a blue wave or is it just what we expect in the midterms?

I'm not sure. I think that when you talk to people anecdotally there feels like there's a blue wave because so many more people are dialed in. So many of my family members, some of whom didn't vote in a swing state, in an important state like Florida, are now talking about James Comey’s testimony and know exactly all the ins and outs of the latest political book. But Florida is still-- at least Florida in terms of state politics is the solidly red place. If someone is able to win, if the Democrat are able to win the governorship, that's going to be a big sign for 2020.

In this last legislature, we saw gun control take center stage, sadly because of the Parkland tragedy. We saw this group of kids, their parents and supporters come to Tallahassee and really push lawmakers. How big a role do you think that's going to play [gun control] and how much more do you think you're going to see the NRA in this election?

I think gun control is going to be a huge issue because of those students at Parkland. I used to debate at Fort Lauderdale High School and I used to go [debate] at Stoneman Douglas High School. I can't imagine the voice that these kids have found and the power that they've been able to wield. These are kids that are obviously not playing around. These are kids who have experienced the terror of gun violence and the fact that Rick Scott is listening to them tells me that he also might be moved and wants to be on the right side of that as well. Obviously he's not running for re-election, but there's this idea that I think Republicans realize that they're going to have to approach this issue differently than they have in the past.

Going into Monday's debate...  What should they [the candidates] be showing tonight? What do you expect is going to happen?

That question makes me think of my mother, who has been working in public schools in Miami-Dade County for more than 30 years. She's someone who wants to hear that a politician cares about her, that a politician understands struggling, without making as much money as you want to make, that that person understand that there is a generational issue here in Miami-Dade County, that you're having people have kids and then having to move to other states to get jobs which is what happened with my family.

So I think that if I'm a politician, if I was someone that was preparing, I would want to be focusing on why did I run. What makes me connect to voters in a very personal way. Of course, you're going to have a platform but a lot of these candidates some of them have very similar platforms. So it's really what's going to make you stand out it's whether or not you can be genuine and if you can of course to answer questions.