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California Gov. Jerry Brown On The Power Of Outsider Politics

California Gov. Jerry Brown speaks at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia on Wednesday.
Bill Clark
CQ Roll Call via Getty Images
California Gov. Jerry Brown speaks at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia on Wednesday.

California Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, has been in politics since the 1960s, and launched multiple runs for president himself.

In 1992, he ran as the outsider candidate — chastising the incumbent parties that had "failed their duty."

"They've placed their own interest about the national interest," he said during the speech that kicked off his campaign. They've allowed themselves to be trapped and in some cases corrupted by the powerful forces of greed. It's time for them go!"

Today, Brown says that anti-establishment energy is central to the current presidential campaign — not just for Bernie Sanders, he argues, but Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump as well.

"Everybody who's running for office in some way has to capture the mood of discontent and skepticism about the incumbent party," he tells NPR's Audie Cornish.

"Certainly Mr. Trump is gonna try to capture as much of that as he can. But if you look at the two of them, Trump is the fellow who stiffed his subcontractors, went through bankruptcy and has focused his whole life on making money, or having a television show, or running a beauty pageant," Brown says. "When you contrast that with Hillary's vast experience, the choice couldn't be clearer."

Although Clinton supporters have repeatedly made that argument, she still needs to present herself in a way that convinces more skeptical voters, Brown acknowledges.

Looking ahead, Brown says Democrats must engage in "creative intervention" — in areas such as the minimum wage, family leave, childcare and education — to ensure the party doesn't lose working-class voters forever.

Use the audio link above to hear the full conversation.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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