Earlier this week, during an online forum hosted by USA Today editor Susan Page on behalf of the Aspen Institute, Washington Post columnist George Will revealed he planned for the first time to vote for a Democrat in this year’s presidential election.
Tuesday on MSNBC’s “The Last Word,” Will explained his decision to show host Lawrence O’Donnell. He urged Democrats to be “nervous” to prevent the unexpected, as it had in 2016 for Trump.
Transcript as follows:
O’DONNELL: Joining us now is George F. Will, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and MSNBC analyst.
And, George, this being your first 24 hours of publicly declaring your willing to vote for a Democrat, I thought you might need a friendly embrace from a place where that is welcome news. Tell us how you have gotten to this point and why your vote for Biden is important to you.
WILL: Well, the most important thing is to clear the ground so we can start over with American normal politics. On the 3rd of June, 2016, I stopped being a Republican I did not stop being a conservative. I’m still proud of having voted for Goldwater in ’64 and Reagan in ’80 and ’84. It’s just that it seems it’s time to get something like normal political arguments.
The day after, I will be in the corner saying, oh, gosh, we’ve got to stop some of these Biden policies. That’s the job of a normal loyal opposition, but what’s happened is Donald Trump has vice of presidential fastidiousness. I used to say. I can’t root for this guy because he is wrong on the capital gains tax. I can’t vote for him because he is wrong on the tax marginal tax rate.
I don’t care right now. Let’s just get back, as I say, to something like normal politics. And if your party, Lawrence, had in the 1980s had nominated Pat Moynihan, they nominated Scoop Jackson, I would had had a record of voting for a Democrat before.
O’DONNELL: That is fascinating I saw in your discussion with Susan, you mentioned Pat Moynihan and made the point that everyone knows, of course, everyone in Washington knows, that you have Democratic friends, you had liberal friends.
Pat Moynihan, a New York liberal, was your best friend, and it made me wonder if you have been registered to vote in New York, would you have voted for your friend Daniel Patrick Moynihan for Senate?
WILL: Yes, even though in 1976, when he first ran, he was running against another friend of mine, the incumbent senator, Jim Buckley, Bill Buckley’s brother. They don’t come along like that. That when they come along, grab the brass ring.
O’DONNELL: So, as you see this election, do you — you’re saying — you said to Susan yesterday, you believe that by 11:00 p.m. on election right there night, there are going to be so many George Wills, so many former Republican voters moving over voting for Joe Biden, that we will be calling this for Joe Biden at 11:00 p.m. on election night.
WILL: Eastern and Central Time Zone, that’s right. Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Florida, and the Eastern Time Zones, Florida, the largest swing state, North Carolina, another swing state. I’m not counting out Georgia at this point, or Texas for that matter.
The polls, Lawrence, have been remarkably stable this year. I don’t think in any poll since January in a horse race between Trump and Biden, has Trump won. And it keeps widening.
Now, I understand the polls. But who in America after three and half years of this is undecided. Let’s have the election tomorrow and get on with things.
O’DONNELL: You mentioned to Susan yesterday that you don’t like getting engaged in predictions like this, election night predictions like this. You called it risky but fun.
How much fun is it now — do you approach this with confidence because most Democrats I know are terribly worried that the magician Trump is going to pull some rabbit out of the hat and somehow pull out another Electoral College win?
WILL: Well, I think a nervous Democrat is a good Democrat in 2020 because a Democrat has shown they can do really weird things like failing to campaign in Wisconsin in 2016. But I think even Democrats are educable and they learned their lesson, and they will run a wiser campaign this year.
O’DONNELL: George F. Will, always a pleasure to have you with us, and welcome to the enlightenment, George. It’s nice to you have on this side.
WILL: It’s temporary loitering, I must say.
O’DONNELL: I understand completely. Thank you very much, George. I really appreciate it.
WILL: Glad to be with you.
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