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Everyone loses. But some losses sting worse than others. This is a podcast about tough defeats. Hosts Sam Stein and Jason Cherkis talk to candidates who came up short in their bid for president, governor, senator and other elected office; those defined by YouTube moments and others who fell by painfully close margins. Looking back, these candidates give the listener an unvarnished, often-emotional picture of what life is really like on the campaign trail. See acast.com/privacy for privacy an ...
 
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Virginia Democrat Tom Perriello lost his congressional seat in the Tea Party wave of 2010. In 2017, he jumped back in the ring with a run for Governor, and his primary race against Ralph Northam was viewed as another skirmish in the broader Democratic party battle between the Bernie wing and the party establishment. Perriello rejects that narrative…
 
In 2006, John Edwards hired Rielle Hunter to produce a series of videos that would help lay the groundwork for his planned presidential run. That she did, but the two also carried on a affair that resulted in a child -- all of which Edwards tried desperately to keep secret. Early in his journalistic career, Candidate Confessional host Sam Stein was…
 
When Senators Kent Conrad and Dick Durbin cast their votes against the Iraq War Resolution in 2002, they knew it was unlikely they’d be able to stop the invasion. They also knew that their votes might well be the end of their senate careers. Today, that “no” vote looks like an obvious choice. But in the moment, it was a leap of faith for them to tr…
 
In 2002, Massachusetts State Treasurer Shannon O’Brien decided to throw her hat in the ring in the race for governor. Her opponent would be one Willard “Mitt” Romney, known for his failed senate run in 1994 and as president of the 2002 Winter Olympics. She went after him, after Barack Obama would do in 2012, over his time at Bain Capital. Mitt went…
 
In early 2016, the race for the 26th congressional district looked like it was shaping up to be a pretty standard Florida election, as Democrat Annette Taddeo took on incumbent Republican Carlos Curbelo. To her surprise, Taddeo attracted an unexpected opponent in the primary, a former Democratic congressman named Joe Garcia. That was bad enough. Bu…
 
In the Spring of 2010, one of the worst environmental disasters in history occurred when the Deepwater Horizon oil platform exploded in the Gulf of Mexico. Over the next few months, over 200 million gallons of oil spilled into the ocean. Today, as a new disaster -- Hurricane Harvey -- confronts the gulf coast, what lessons are there to be learned f…
 
In 1996, two of congress’s only 3 openly gay members were set to retire; only Barney Frank would be left standing. To fill the void, two new gay candidates stepped up. One of them was Rick Zbur in Southern California, and during that campaign he became an unwitting test case for how to deal with running for office while out. See acast.com/privacy f…
 
In the fall of 2008, President George W. Bush warned top political leaders that without a massive infusion of cash into the market, "this sucker" -- that is, the economy -- "could go down." Days later, the House of Representatives balked at Bush. The first failed vote for the Troubled Asset Relief Program cost the Dow 777 points. It was, perhaps, t…
 
In 1994, Bill Clinton signed a directive allowing gays to serve in the military, provided they concealed their sexual identity. That policy -- Don't Ask Don't Tell -- had many critics and few proponents. And Clinton's legacy took a hit because of it. Fifteen years later, Don't Ask Don't Tell was finally repealed. Former Congressman Barney Frank tal…
 
Jason Kander ran what was widely considered one of the best Senate campaigns of the 2016 cycle. He combined an impressive resume with youthful vigor and a clear comfort with being on the trail. Oh, he also had the best campaign ad of the cycle. But it wasn't enough to unseat Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.). And on this episode, he discusses what it might ta…
 
Trey Radel had a promising congressional career ahead of him -- before it all came crashing down one night after he attempted to purchase cocaine from an undercover agent. In that moment, he became a cautionary tale and a pariah within his party. Now removed from office, he reflects on the missteps made and has some pointed pieces of advice for fut…
 
David French never thought he'd run for office, let alone the White House. But in the spring of 2016, as the Never Trump movement was growing desperate for a candidate, his name was floated by conservative stalwart Bill Kristol. French, a writer for the National Review, took the idea seriously. But he soon discovered all the horribles that come whe…
 
When Donald Trump won the Republican presidential primary, most Democrats cheered their good fortune. Not the Clinton campaign. They worried about an unconventional opponent who had already humiliated one establishment favorite (Jeb Bush). Little did they know just how insane the campaign would be. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out info…
 
Chris Murphy never thought much about gun control when he was serving in the House. In fact, he often parroted the NRA's talking points out of political expediency. But shortly after he won election to the senate in 2012, 20 first graders were shot dead at Sandy Hook Elementary school. The tragedy took place in Murphy's old district and it fundamen…
 
When Bernie Sanders launched his presidential campaign, he needed someone to do his online fundraising. He chose the team at Revolution Messaging (or rather, they chose him), and together, they turned a candidacy that no one expected to go all that far into the biggest grassroots money machine in U.S. political history. On this first episode of Sea…
 
Sam Stein and Jason Cherkis will go back to look at some of the biggest stories from campaigns past - the scandals, the policy battles, the failures and everything in-between. Each week, Stein and Cherkis sit down with some of the biggest names in politics. Highlights from this season will include Hillary Clinton's Communications Director Jen Palmi…
 
Candidate Confessional season 2 approaches! In the meantime, host Sam Stein sits down with Huffpost's senior justice reporter Ryan Reilly and former Department of Justice spokesperson Matthew Miller to discuss recently-fired FBI director James Comey: his career, and how it came to this. Enjoy. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out informati…
 
Candidate Confessional Season 2 is on the way! But in the meantime, we assembled a panel of Huffpost healthcare reporters to chew on yesterday's legislative bombshell: the House's passage of an Obamacare repeal/replace bill. Sam is joined by Huffpost reporters Jeff Young, Jonathan Cohn, and Matt Fuller to talk about what all this means. See acast.c…
 
The 2000 presidential election was 16 years ago. But for Ron Klain, a lawyer for Vice President Al Gore, the loss still hurts. Klain sits down with Huffington Post's Sam Stein and Jason Cherkis to explain the intricate process of the Florida ballot recount. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.…
 
Gary Johnson was the governor of New Mexico before he decided to embark on a presidential run in 2012. Johnson talks to Huffington Post's Sam Stein and Jason Cherkis about his presidential bid as a libertarian, and why he separated himself from his republican counterparts. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.…
 
Tom Perriello eked out one of the closest wins in the 2008 cycle. But rather than tack to the ideological middle once in office, he chose instead to back virtually all of Obama's big priorities and then defend them vigorously back home. What he discovered is that conviction politics works. But it can still be overwhelmed by obstructionism from the …
 
In 1984, Jesse Jackson grew convinced that for black Americans to advance their political causes, they needed a black candidate for president. The problem was, no one wanted to do it. So he took on the task, running a historic campaign for the White House and doing it again four years later. Jackson faced death threats, pushback, and doubt from fel…
 
When Sandra Fluke was called a "slut" by Rush Limbaugh, simply for advocating for insurance coverage of contraception, she faced a choice: step back from the spotlight or fight back. She chose the latter, in the process launching a political career that saw her speak before the Democratic Party's convention in 2012. But when she tried to run for of…
 
Jeb Bush's campaign for the White House ended far more disastrously than many people predicted. In the latest episode, Bush's communications director, Tim Miller, offers several reasons why. He also offers unique insights and reflections on Jeb's time on the trail: from the early gaffes to the debate showdowns with Donald Trump, to the missed oppor…
 
When Clay Aiken ran for Congress in 2014, most people assumed it was a vanity project: a former American Idol star trying to hack it in politics. But the campaign became defined by incredibly sensitive issues, from being a gay man in the south to an unexpected death on the trail. Aiken relives his run on this week's episode. See acast.com/privacy f…
 
Jon Huntsman's presidential campaign never took off in 2012, despite being the candidate that President Obama feared most. Looking back, the former Utah Governor has several theories why, foremost among them that his Republican Party had grown too angry for a politician like him. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.…
 
When Karl Kassel was recruited to run for a state Senate seat in Alaska, he had no idea just how historic his race would be. Out of 10,000 votes cast, Kassel ended up losing by just four -- one of the closest losses in American electoral history. In the latest Candidate Confessional, he explained all the drama, emotion and, ultimately, heartache th…
 
Martin O'Malley brought an impressive resume to his 2016 White House run: a young, former governor with progressive results. But it never seemed to stick. He was overwhelmed by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and overshadowed by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). In his first major interview on the race, O'Malley dissects what went wrong and di…
 
When Anthony Weiner resigned from Congress in 2011, his career in politics appeared over, crushed by a scandal in which he sent lurid tweets and texts. But less than two years later, Weiner surprised many by launching a run for mayor of New York City. It was a tumultuous ride. Weiner briefly led the polls before scandal struck yet again. In the lat…
 
For years Richard Carmona resisted pleas from both parties to run for office. He was a former U.S. Surgeon General under George W. Bush, a one-time police officer and public health administrator. His reputation was sterling and he didn't want to muck it up. When he finally decided to run -- for the U.S. Senate in Arizona as a Democrat in 2012 -- he…
 
Rob Ford, the former mayor of Toronto, is known for many things: an outlandish personality, offensive language, and, of course, the times he was caught smoking crack. He is also a formidable politician who has managed to be elected to office despite these foibles. In the latest podcast, we talk to one of the candidates Ford defeated about just how …
 
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) is one of the most dramatic and divisive political figures in modern U.S. history. And when he ran for president in 2012, he didn't disappoint. In the latest Candidate Confessional, Gingrich recounts all the stumbles and triumphs that he endured on the trail. And he shared some sage advice for this year's …
 
Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) got along well with the opposition throughout his career. He had good relations with Democrats and appeared on shows like Bill Maher and The Colbert Report. But when he ran for the Senate in 2014, he quickly realized that being mild-mannered -- and even remotely interested in bipartisanship -- was a serious liability. See…
 
During his campaign for mayor of Toledo in 2009, Ben Konop delivered a speech that became Internet lore. Appearing on the street where his mom grew up, he was booed, mercilessly, by a man sitting on a nearby porch. The video went viral, viewed 850,000 times on YouTube and lampooned by South Park. In the latest episode, Konop details that excruciati…
 
Before he became an MSNBC personality; before he became chairman of the Republican National Committee, Michael Steele ran for the U.S. Senate in Maryland. One of the best known African-American Republicans in the country, he nearly won. But he was done in by a terrible cycle for his party (thanks, George W. Bush) and, he argues, some subtle and not…
 
Tim Pawlenty had everything a Republican presidential candidate should have. He was a governor with a blue-collar conservative brand and the best operatives in the business. But his campaign for the White House in 2012 is remembered now for a poor showing in a straw poll, a major debate flub, and a swift exit. In this episode, he explains why every…
 
Wendy Davis became an icon in 2013 when she stood on the floor of the Texas Senate for nearly 13 hours to beat back anti-abortion legislation. Although the legislation ultimately passed, the moment catapulted her to national stardom and paved the way for a run for governor. It didn't go as planned. Her campaign proved to be a brutal reality check f…
 
Mitt Romney's run for the White House in 2012 featured incredible highs (a boffo debate performance against Barack Obama) and excruciating lows (a widely-panned trip abroad). Behind it all was Stu Stevens, his senior strategist. In this episode, Stevens details those and other episodes as well as the pain Romney's high-profile defeat caused him. Se…
 
Former Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) was one of most provocative conservative in Congress. She parlayed that reputation into a brief stint as a frontrunner for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination. It didn't last long. In this episode, she recounts how her campaign fell apart as well as some of the more unsavory moments of life on the trai…
 
In the 2004 campaign, Howard Dean went from being a little known governor of Vermont to a leading Democratic presidential candidate, surging on his opposition to the Iraq war. And then, it all came crashing down, culminating in his infamous scream speech in Iowa. Twelve years later, Dean recounts in detail his rise and what precipitated his fall. S…
 
Everyone loses. But some losses sting worse than others. This is a podcast about tough defeats. Hosts Sam Stein and Jason Cherkis talk to candidates who came up short in their bid for president, governor, senator and other elected office; those defined by YouTube moments and others who fell by painfully close margins. Looking back, these candidates…
 
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