America’s Great Divide: From Obama to Trump, Part One (full film) | FRONTLINE

♪ ♪>>NARRATOR: Tonight…>>This country goes into 2020
as divided as it’s ever been.>>NARRATOR: From “Frontline’s”
award-winning political team– a two-night special series. Years of reporting investigating
the conflicts and crossing the divide.>>People were angry.>>…cascade of outrage.>>Outrage machine…>>Are they going to start
storming the gates?>>NARRATOR: “Frontline” begins
its 2020 political coverage with the epic story
of how we got here.>>The nation’s first African
American president…>>NARRATOR:
A decade of division defined by Barack Obama…>>We will change the course…>>NARRATOR:
…and Donald Trump.>>Make America great again!>>The third president in U.S.
history to be impeached…>>Today there’s just a lack
of respect. To assume the other side is not
just the political opponent, but the enemy.>>And what this produces
is two Americas that are separate not only in
their partisan affiliation, but in pretty much everything.>>NARRATOR:
Tonight on “Frontline”– part one of
“America’s Great Divide.” ♪ ♪>>I remember when Barack Obama
got the call, uh, that he was going to make
the keynote speech at the Democratic Convention
in 2004. And as soon as he hung up
the phone, he turned to me and he said, “I know what I want
to say. I want to tell my story as part
of the larger American story.” (crowd cheering and applauding)>>NARRATOR: He delivered
the speech of his life.>>Thank you. Tonight is a particular honor
for me because, let’s face it, my presence on this stage
is pretty unlikely. My father was a foreign student, born and raised in a small
village in Kenya. My parents shared not only an
improbable love; they shared an abiding faith
in the possibilities of this nation.>>The idea of Barack Obama
being unique in so many ways– unique with his funny name,
unique with his skin color. Or unique with his message: “Look, I’m not a creature
of Washington. I’m new.
I’m just showing up. I’m willing to work
across the aisle.”>>There is not a liberal
America and a conservative America, there is the United States
of America! (cheering and applauding) There is not a black America
and a white America, a Latino America,
an Asian America, there’s the United States
of America!>>He was a star. That we hadn’t seen a politician
like that before, not in recent history. He’s going to tell it like it
is, and, you know, you can believe in what he says, and he doesn’t seem to be so
wrapped up in this partisan divide.>>Thank you very much,
everybody, God bless you.>>He was going to be the one
who was going to try to heal that wound.>>NARRATOR: Barack Obama
arrived with a promise of unity.>>Yes, we can heal this nation.>>NARRATOR: But his presidency
would usher in an age of unprecedented anger…>>Afro-Leninism.
>>NARRATOR: Resentment…>>I want my country back.>>NARRATOR: Political
conflict…>>The Republicans messed up so
bad…>>NARRATOR: Polarization.>>What do we want?
>>Justice!>>When do we want it?
>>Now!>>NARRATOR: A turning point… (crowd chanting
“Drain the swamp!”) …in America’s great divide.>>Presidential contenders
began their final push in Iowa today.>>And because somebody stood up
a few more stood up, and then a few thousand
stood up, and then a few million stoop up,
Iowa, I need you to stand up…>>I think what Obama
represented was generational change. Here’s a younger person
unburdened by some of the old fights
of the past. He obviously represented racial
change in a way that was very motivating
to African Americans.>>We will win this election, we will change the course
of history, and the real journey
to heal the nation and repair the world will have
truly begun. Thank you, Iowa.>>He was also just an
incredibly talented and charismatic and
inspirational politician. (crowd chanting Obama)>>Obama’s political rise came
at a time when America was increasingly
divided.>>I can hear you, the rest of
the world hears you, and…>>NARRATOR: At the end of
George W. Bush’s presidency, the nation was reeling.>>The country had been through
eight tumultuous years.>>NARRATOR: Steve Schmidt was a
Bush adviser and counselor
to Vice President Cheney.>>We saw a war fought over
weapons of mass destruction that didn’t exist.>>…disarm Iraq, to free its
people.>>We saw the United States
mired in a civil war in Iraq.>>I opposed this war
from the start…>>And what Barack Obama was
offering was widely appealing. He represented
generational change. (crowd cheering and applauding)>>We can finally bring the
change we need to Washington. We are ready to take
this country in a fundamentally new
direction.>>NARRATOR: In 2008,
as Obama ran for president, he delivered a simple message.>>The American people are
looking for change.>>There was a real ability
to project onto Obama what you wanted to see. And he encouraged that, I mean,
“hope and change” is not a– it’s not an agenda. You know, “hope and change”
doesn’t mean anything. “Hope and change” basically says
to the public, “Whatever you think
‘hope and change’ look like, that’s what I can be.” (crowd chanting “Obama”)>>And the next vice president
of the United States, Sarah Palin.>>NARRATOR: Democrats weren’t
the only ones looking for a change. For Republicans, Sarah Palin
ignited a new political force. (crowd chanting “Sarah”)>>Sarah Palin came out and
brought the house down. She electrified that G.O.P. base
like no one I had ever seen, and you recall, that was one of
the times where the prompter failed
and she just ad-libbed it.>>I love those hockey moms. You know, they say the
difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull? Lipstick. (crowd laughs) (cheering and applauding)>>And people loved it! She was almost a pre-Trump, in
the way that she just sort of had this
matter-of-fact, sort of folksy,
she wasn’t too high-brow, and so “real Americans,” you know, “regular folks”
could relate to her.>>Well, I’m not a member of the permanent political
establishment.>>She was the beginning of the
shift where the people began
to believe that they could take the power
back from the elite.>>I’ve learned quickly these
last few days that if you’re not a member
in good standing of the Washington elite, then some in the media consider
a candidate unqualified for that reason alone, but… (crowd booing)>>She tapped into a simmering
grievance in the country that’s real. There’s a rebellion
that’s taken place in this country against
the elites.>>Thank you,
and God bless America. Thank you.>>NARRATOR: For her supporters,
she was heroic.>>It’s Saturday Night Live…>>NARRATOR: But in New York
she was made into a joke.>>…Governor Sarah Palin.>>First off I just want to say
how excited I am to be in front of both
the liberal elite media as well as the liberal
regular media. I am looking forward to a
portion of your questions, so let’s get started.
Yes, you.>>You said that you like to
visit the quote, “Pro-America parts
of the country.” Are there parts of the country
that you consider un-American?>>Yes, New York, New Jersey,
Massachusetts, Connecticut, Delaware, California.>>When you started to see the
shine come off that car was the Katie Couric interview.>>What newspapers and magazines
did you regularly read before you were tapped…>>Over time, as the camera
usually does, it brings out the truth.>>Um, all of them, any of them
that have been in front of me over all these years–
I have a vast–>>Can you name a few?>>I have a vast variety
of sources where we get…>>But most Republicans,
who already disliked the media, blamed Katie for that.>>It’s kind of suggested, it
seems like, “Wow, how could you keep
in touch with what the rest of Washington
D.C. may be thinking and doing when you live up
there in Alaska?” Believe me, Alaska is like
a microcosm of America…>>Most Republicans looked at
that and said, “She was set up, that was a ‘gotcha’ question,”
and stood by Palin, and it just made them hate the
media more.>>I was reading today a copy of
the “New York Times”… (crowd booing)>>If you want to pinpoint the
moment when the right completely
rejected the left…>>We have a scarcity
of common sense…>>I think it was over the Sarah
Palin nomination.>>Now, this is not a man who
sees America as you and I see America.>>And for one brief,
shining moment, the right saw her as everything
they were looking for. Brash, tough, independent,
someone who said what they meant and meant what they said, and
wouldn’t edit it for anyone.>>She’s something else.>>Sarah Palin has completely
transformed Republican Party…>>NARRATOR: McCain and Palin
wouldn’t prevail, but the populist fervor
would grow.>>Boy, were you right about
this one, did you know how great she is?>>It’s the inauguration day of the nation’s first
African-American president.>>Hundreds of thousands of…>>NARRATOR: Barack Obama had
promised unity. Much of the country seemed to
believe he could deliver it.>>I looked out, never forget,
from the west front of the Capitol all the way down
to the monument. And I think it’s about a mile. And all you could see were
people. A sea of people. The fact that our country
elected a black president is just… it was huge in
significance. (cheering and applauding)>>The thing I remember most
about that day was an older white man turning
to me and my daughter and him saying to her, “Young lady, you could be up
there one day. You could be president of the
United States.” I will never, ever forget
that moment. (crowd chanting “Obama”)>>Even Americans who had been
skeptical of Barack Obama were giving him a look,
listening to what he was saying. I think, there was just an
enormous amount of good will toward him and toward the
possibility of what might be under this first
African-American president.>>Congratulations,
Mr. President. (crowd cheering and applauding)>>Obama led with that message
of, “We are now going to come
together, we’re going to unify
this country, even if you didn’t back me,
I’m now going to usher in this better part of your life.” (crowd chanting “Obama”)>>The first couple to arrive at
the Neighborhood Ball…>>…the first-ever
Neighborhood Ball open to the public.>>♪ At last ♪ (crowd cheering)>>He seemed like a kind
of redemptive vision for American politics. People on the national stage saw
Barack Obama as a kind of man apart
from the pettiness, the various kinds of ways in
which politics did not reflect the highest
aspirations of the United States
as a society. And he’s black. (crowd cheering and applauding) In retrospect, it’s easy to see
how that was a doomed mission from the start.>>NARRATOR: In fact, that very
evening, across Washington, Republican leaders gathered.>>A meeting, a dinner, took
place in a famous steakhouse in downtown Washington.>>The room was filled. It was a who’s who of ranking
members who had at one point been
committee chairmen, or in the majority,
who now wondered out loud whether they were
in the permanent minority.>>Many of them had attended
Obama’s inauguration. They had seen that
breathtaking spectacle and it felt like a wholesale
repudiation of the Republican Party.>>NARRATOR: As the night
wore on, they talked about
a plan of attack.>>The point I made was that we
had to be prepared to run a full-court press. And we had to see how Obama
behaved and to offer an alternative to
what he wanted to do.>>NARRATOR: They would try to
block the president, fight his agenda,
exploit the divide.>>I thought, he could be
defeated partly by his own ideology
and by his own behaviors.>>Ball gowns are on their way
to the cleaners, the party is over for both the
new president and the nation.>>Now, he is facing many
sobering challenges.>>The economy, it’s a
frustration with the economy…>>Back to the economy, then,
obviously it’s issue number one, it’s on the front pages
of every newspaper.>>The economy that Barack Obama
inherited, I think, is the defining event
of this generation, even more so than 9/11, and it profoundly reshaped
American politics.>>Anger from the U.S. public
towards bankers is high.>>NARRATOR: The economy was
collapsing.>>The growing backlash against
Wall Street…>>NARRATOR: Trillions of
dollars had been used to prop up Wall Street. Middle-class Americans were
angry.>>They took to the streets to
express their anger.>>Frustration with financial
bigwigs continues to grow.>>The way it looked from ground
level was that the big banks, the people who had created the
financial crisis, were being bailed out when the little guy
was being screwed.>>On the heels of growing
public anger aimed at banks…>>…backlash against
Wall Street…>>NARRATOR: Before he could
deliver on his promise of unity, Obama had to confront the
economic crisis.>>The banks need to be held
accountable.>>We were told by our economic
advisers that there was a one-in-three
chance that the country would slip into a second Great
Depression. We were on a ledge and we could
fall off that ledge.>>NARRATOR: His new secretary
of the treasury was overwhelmed.>>We’d already thrown trillions
and trillions of dollars at the problem. I think it was, you know,
it was a very perilous moment, a very existential moment at
that point.>>How do you respond to that? Not only how do you respond
to it in terms of getting the economy
moving again, but how do you respond to it in
holding people accountable for what happened? And that was a definition
moment.>>NARRATOR: Some of his
political advisers argued for what they called
“Old Testament justice”– punishing the banks.>>David Axelrod, Obama’s top
political adviser, very much wanted some scalps. Robert Gibbs,
who was the press secretary but also a very senior
political aide, wanted scalps.>>NARRATOR: Geithner told the
president taking on the banks could make the economic crisis
much worse.>>You had to make sure you kept
concentrated and focused on the core basic
imperative that was going to affect
the fortunes of, you know, hundreds of millions
of Americans– not get too wrapped up in trying
to design political theater.>>NARRATOR: In the end, the
president would be cautious.>>Barack Obama is inherently
very conservative. And he also wants to believe the
best in other people, and he really does believe that
everybody can ultimately find common ground and work together. I think it was a mistake, because the bankers really
got off very easy. And the public knows it.>>There was a perception that
President Obama flinched at that point. That, that in one way or
another, he was not prepared to go there,
to, to go after C.E.O.s, or to take people to court
and to charge them with, with things.>>NARRATOR: Anger and distrust
of the government would grow. (crowd chanting)>>It was deeply, deeply
unpopular. And this came at a time when
people were losing their homes, were losing their jobs, and felt
like they had been abandoned. (tambourine banging)>>The rich and the powerful get
away with anything. Oops! Oops! They F up and, and I have
to share in the losses. And every American does. I mean, that just– it just
burns up ordinary people. It is just ordinary middle-class
people thinking, “I can’t get away with that!”>>The government is promoting
bad behavior, because we…>>NARRATOR: And on cable
television, the talk had already begun of something they called
“a Tea Party.”>>…and think that they ought
to save it.>>The word “Tea Party” is born
in a CNBC moment when Rick Santelli,
a somewhat agitated– even under the best of
circumstances– reporter for CNBC in Chicago
starts to… starts an uproar.>>This is America! How many of you people want to
pay for your neighbor’s mortgage that has an extra bathroom and
can’t pay their bills? Raise their hand! (others booing) President Obama,
are you listening? We’re thinking of having a
Chicago Tea Party in July. All you capitalists that want to
show up to Lake Michigan, I’m going to start organizing.>>This created a level of anger like I haven’t seen since I got
involved in politics in the 1980s. People really, really resented
this president for siding with the rich and
powerful, and forgetting them. That was the onus where
the Tea Party was created.>>You gotta be kidding me! What are we putting up with,
America?>>Like, that will get
the economy kicking. Well, did it? No, it didn’t– $450 billion
down the crapper.>>Give us a trillion dollars and, oh, everything will be
great. Well, exactly the opposite
happened, so can we revoke
that bailout now?>>NARRATOR: Even as the
economic crisis was roiling the country, on Capitol Hill, Barack Obama wanted
to push Congress to take on another
divisive issue– overhauling healthcare.>>I was his political adviser, and I understood how much
political currency it would take to pass that law. And he said, “Well, what are we
supposed to do, put our approval rating on the
shelf and admire it for the next eight years? Or are we supposed to draw down
on it to try and solve some of these really big,
intractable problems?”>>Let there be no doubt:
healthcare reform cannot wait, it must not wait, and it will
not wait another year. (cheering and applauding) We can no longer afford to put
healthcare reform on hold. We can’t afford to do it. It’s time.>>There is nothing more fraught
than healthcare, because it is so personal
and it is so intimate. And every political party that
decides to take on healthcare in some massive, poorly
understood way, reaps both the backlash and, and
political retaliation.>>Americans are
seriously worried that this is going to destroy
the healthcare…>>This has been on the left’s
to-do list since either FDR or LBJ got it
done. They have just been waiting,
waiting, waiting. “When we have the presidency
and both houses of Congress, we are going to push this
through.”>>It’s about too much power
going to federal government.>>The whole point of this is to
get everybody enrolled in the government
healthcare plan.>>NARRATOR: From across the
divide, Sarah Palin reappeared, wielding a new political weapon.>>She was a maven on Facebook. The original politician who saw
that you could skirt the media, and you could get the message
out unfiltered, uncut to the public,
was Sarah Palin. She did that with Facebook. (keys clicking)>>As more Americans delve into
the disturbing details of the nationalized
healthcare plan, our collective jaw is dropping, and we’re saying not just no,
but hell no!>>NARRATOR: She exploited fear
with a new phrase that went viral– death panels.>>The America I know and love
is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down
syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s
“death panel.”>>NARRATOR: It wasn’t true.>>She is the first
of a generation of politicians who live in a post-truth
environment.>>NARRATOR: Steve Schmidt had
also been a top campaign aide for John McCain’s presidential
run. He had pushed McCain to select
Sarah Palin.>>She was, and there’s no
polite way to say it, but a serial liar. She would say things that are
simply not true. Or things that were picked up
from the internet. And this obliteration of fact
from fiction, of truth from lie, has become now endemic in
American politics. But it started then.>>She introduced the term
“death panel” when referring to it.>>NARRATOR: The right-wing
media ran with it.>>And we’re going to have
a government rationing body that tells women with breast
cancer, “You’re dead.”>>We now have leftist radicals
in charge of your healthcare decisions
rather than doctors. We’re hanging by a thread. ♪ ♪>>If you think this country is
great, but Obama and the tsars are
marching our country right off a cliff,
save your life. Grab the parachute, pull,
and come follow me.>>NARRATOR: Glenn Beck was a
former top-40 disc jockey. He rose to the pinnacle
of Fox News during the presidency
of Barack Obama.>>To watch the coverage
from the right-wing media of the Obama years now is
to experience true hysteria. To see Glenn Beck every day and the things he was saying
about the president…>>I’ve got my little Messiah
here, my dashboard Obama. I’m going to pray to him later, maybe get some universal
healthcare. Now, for more insanity and blood shooting out
of your eyes, Obama.>>You would have thought
the nation was collapsing.>>President Obama, why don’t
you just set us on fire? For the love of Pete,
what are you doing? This is not the America I grew
up in, or you grew up in. When we said change,
we didn’t mean this! Nobody meant this!>>It would never have happened
without Glenn Beck. Glenn Beck was the catalyst for
the uprising.>>If you want to understand
Barack Obama…>>Glenn had the perfect
phraseology that took this anger
and channeled it into an organization
that rose up from nowhere.>>NARRATOR: For Beck and Fox–
record ratings.>>Glenn Beck was the kind of
seeding of this conspiracy theory.>>NARRATOR: Ben Rhodes was one
of Obama’s closest aides.>>”Obama is seeking to control
your lives.” You know, “Obama has a secret
plan to do X or to do Y.” Or, “This shadowy figure
in the Obama administration wants to regulate every aspect
of your life.” And it kind of starts there. And then it, it gets darker
and darker.>>NARRATOR: Facebook and welcomed Beck and other angry Americans. Now they would organize.>>You had this vast outrage
machine that arose on the right. And this, this outrage machine,
you’re talking about, you know, not just the Tea Party, but talk
radio, Fox News, really changed the nature
of our politics in ways that I think we’re living with,
with today.>>We’re mad as hell and we’re
not going to take it anymore!>>NARRATOR: The outrage machine
online.>>You want to kill my
grandparents, you come through me first!>>NARRATOR:
Anger on the ground.>>You dirty thieves!>>We can’t afford it!>>Afro-Leninism!>>There is an ugliness
with these fringe people who are comparing the president
to Hitler.>>This is not simply a
disagreement about policy, this is a repudiation of Obama
and, more significantly, a repudiation of Obama’s race.>>His church was based on
racism.>>They’re depicting Obama as an
ape, you know, on, on signs that they’re carrying. There are pejorative stereotypes
about Africa and Africans.>>NARRATOR: Obama’s election
offered hope of racial harmony. But in that first year, it was clear that race was
a central part of the divide, and his presidency
was a flash point.>>Obama was a big symbol. You know, every time you turned
on your TV, you were reminded that the
country was changing in fundamental ways. I mean, we had had 200 years of
presidents. We had never had one that looked
like Barack Obama. And his just mere presence
in the White House was a daily reminder that
this is a different America than many people
had grown up with. And it scared the hell out
of a lot of people.>>Prominent African-American
Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates, Jr…>>NARRATOR: One early incident
enflamed both sides.>>Arrested in his own home.>>His arrest is prompting
outrage. The story grabbed national
headlines because the man in question is one of the nation’s most
prominent African-American scholars.>>Professor Henry Louis Gates
is arrested in his own home for trespassing. And Barack Obama says what
virtually every black person in the country thought.>>That the Cambridge Police
acted stupidly in arresting somebody when
there was already proof that they were in
their own home. Thank you, everybody.>>All of a sudden, there’s
pressure on the other side. There are people who are saying
that he’s anti-cop, there’s a concern
that he’s racist.>>This president, I think, has
exposed himself as a guy, over and over and over again,
who has a deep-seated hatred for white people
or the white culture, I don’t know what it is. This guy is, I believe,
a racist.>>People lost their minds. He had the largest drop in his
polling numbers of anything that happened in the eight years
of the Obama presidency.>>Hey. Cameo appearance.>>NARRATOR: He apologized.>>These are issues that are
still very sensitive here in America. And, you know, so, to the extent
that my choice of words didn’t illuminate but rather
contributed to more media frenzy,
I think that was unfortunate. All right? Thank you, guys.>>NARRATOR: Then he went even
further: a photo op.>>Obama did this very
awkward thing where he called in Henry Louis
Gates and the police officer, and they had this beer summit.>>He would probably say that
that was one of the most ridiculous moments
of his presidency. Not so much that he brought
a black Harvard professor and a white Cambridge cop
together, but the fact that the media
anointed it a “beer summit.”>>NARRATOR: It was a painful
lesson.>>And the lesson he took from
that is, like, “This is a loser. If I’m weighing in on these
racial issues, it’s only going to galvanize
the, the forces against me.”>>What I didn’t appreciate as
much then was just how much Obama would
become a symbol of change
in the country, a change from a, you know,
a white America to a more diverse America,
a more cosmopolitan America. I think he became a symbol for
segments of our country of change that they did not
welcome.>>Time for a little healing
over some beers, my friends. He wants you to pay attention because his poll numbers
are tanking.>>This is just– folks, it is
a lousy, lousy image to present to America.>>Now they’re using the poor
cop as a, you know, a stooge here to make believe
he did it all. We are skating on very thin ice
with this man in the White House, and you’ve
only seen the beginning of it.>>Madam Speaker.>>The President of the United
States. (crowd cheering and applauding)>>NARRATOR: Healthcare reform
was stuck. The divide with the Republicans
was widening. Obama would demand action.>>The time for bickering
is over. The time for games has passed. Now is the season for action! Now is when we must bring the
best ideas of both parties together and show the American
people that we can still do what we were sent here to do,
now is the time to deliver on healthcare!>>NARRATOR: But at that moment,
the outrage machine arrived on the floor of Congress.>>There are also those who
claim that our reform efforts would insure illegal immigrants. This, too, is false. The reforms… (members murmuring) The reforms I’m proposing would
not apply to those who are here illegally.
>>You lie! (audience exclaiming)>>It’s not true.>>A member shouted, “You lie!”>>You lie!
(audience exclaiming)>>NARRATOR: It was Republican
Representative Joe Wilson from South Carolina.>>Well, the Tea Party
experience came right into the, you know,
the House chamber, but to see that sort of
disrespect on the floor of the House
directed towards the president of the United
States, I think, caused everybody’s head to snap.>>You lie! (audience exclaiming)>>Not too many years before, he would have resigned in
disgrace from the Congress, and he would have been called
upon to do so by leaders of both parties. Instead, what happened? He raised a couple million
dollars overnight. What’s the lesson there? There’s no longer a punishment
for dishonesty, for craziness. It’s rewarded.>>NARRATOR: The president faced
an emerging reality. The Republicans’ inauguration
day pledge to oppose him was coming true. There was no way health reform
would be bipartisan.>>He wasn’t going to get a
Republican vote for anything. If you’re going to tell Barack
Obama that you can’t do anything without a Republican vote,
you’re telling him, “You cannot do a single thing
as president, that you just…
you’re just going to sit there and do nothing.” Because the Republicans weren’t
going to give him votes for anything.>>Barack Obama came
into office thinking, “Well, I can reason with them. If I’ve got good arguments,
they’re reasonable people, and we’ll come to some
reasonable conclusion.” Well, he was wrong. That was not there. The Republicans didn’t want to
give him any victory. It had nothing to do with reason
or logic, they just didn’t want to give
him a victory.>>NARRATOR:
He would fight back, rallying his Democratic
supporters– including many young, diverse
liberals.>>Do not quit!
Do not give up! We keep on going! We are going to get this done! We are going to make history! We are going to fix healthcare
in America with your help! God bless you, and God bless
the United States of America!>>Down to the wire on
healthcare reform. The House votes just hours
from now.>>After months of rancor
in the streets, the vote takes place
in just a few hours.>>NARRATOR: It had consumed the
first year of his presidency.>>Members will record their
votes by electronic device. On this vote, the yeas are 219,
the nays are 212. The motion is adopted.>>It’s 219 to 212. No votes from Republicans.>>All Democrats,
no Republicans.>>This is a huge victory
for this president.>>For decades, they’ve been
trying to do it. It has now been done.>>This legislation will not fix
everything that ails our healthcare system. But it moves us decisively in
the right direction. This is what change looks like.>>Obamacare got shoved down
our throats without majority support in the
country, which was a huge thing. And people were angry. Republicans were angry. And I don’t think Republicans
have ever forgiven him for it.>>…what many call socialized
medicine.>>It’s the most brazen assault
on a fundamental aspect of our republic…>>…every single Republican
senator votes consistently against government-run
healthcare should be a clear indication.>>This is going to be the end
of the economy as we know it.>>By passing a healthcare
program essentially on the strength of one party,
it was fated, destined to become a continuing partisan
divide, part of the issues
that would come up in election after election
from then on.>>…the perfect title,
“Lies, Damn Lies,” that’s what Obamacare was all
about.>>NARRATOR: The anger directed
at Obama was growing. There were even questions about
who he really was from across the divide. (crowd cheering and applauding) (crowd cheering and applauding)>>The birther movement was so
powerful was because it spoke to all
types of other anxieties that many white Americans had
about Barack Obama. “Well, he’s not even from here,
he’s not one of us. Prove it. Prove you were born here.”>>NARRATOR: Right-wing websites
picked it up.>>He won’t even produce a birth
certificate, don’t you love that?>>NARRATOR: Talk radio joined
in.>>Something there that the
president doesn’t want people to see on that birth
certificate.>>If you have nothing to hide,
why won’t you show…>>NARRATOR: Before long,
it caught the attention of reality TV star Donald Trump.>>He asks me about it. He says, “Have you read
this stuff? It’s very interesting, there’s
a lot of odd questions here.” But he brings the issue
into the mainstream.>>NARRATOR: Roger Stone was
a longtime political adviser to Trump. He has since been convicted of
lying to Congress.>>Trump understands among
Republicans there’s a very substantial
majority who have questions about
Obama’s origins and how he just pops up out of
nowhere to become a national figure, and
whether he was in fact eligible to serve as president.>>We thought that Trump needed
an issue that resonates with people. The birth certificate meant a
lot of different things to a lot of different people. Overall, it talked about how
Obama was different, he was a different kind
of person, he was a Manchurian-type
candidate.>>…they release the birth
certificate.>>NARRATOR: Trump was thinking
of running against Obama in 2012.>>It doesn’t matter whether
I have doubts or not.>>Please welcome my friend
Donald Trump.>>NARRATOR: He made himself the
face of the birther movement.>>Why doesn’t he show
his birth certificate? I think– I think he probably…
>>Why should he have to?>>Because I have to and
everybody else has to, Whoopi. Why wouldn’t he show… Excuse me. No, excuse me. I really believe there’s a birth
certificate. Why– look, she’s smiling. Why doesn’t he show
his birth certificate?>>I never heard any white
president asked to be shown the birth certificate.>>Everybody does.>>When you become a
president…>>You are not allowed
to be a president if you’re not born
in this country. He may not have been born in
this country…>>That was the racist
manifestation of resistance to the president. Donald Trump was at the
forefront of it. I think it, it rankled
President Obama because the birther stuff
was just a pure racism-slash-xenophobia,
and it was based in nothing.>>More than 40% of the
population still question whether he’s actually an
American or not.>>NARRATOR: Obama had already
released his birth certificate during the presidential
campaign. But the issue wouldn’t go away.
>>Obama was furious. It wasn’t Trump.
It was the media. If Trump couldn’t get booked on
all those shows, he’d just be some…
another whack job, you know, tweeting about
conspiracy theories. And maybe getting booked on Fox. He’s a– Donald Trump
is a creation of the American
political news media. And that’s what angered Obama, that’s what angered us in the
White House.>>The great part about a guy
with your resources that you were able to deploy
people to go and find out what is actually going on with Barack Obama’s birth
certificate. What did you find?>>Well, we’re looking into it
very, very strongly. Nobody knows who he is. It’s very strange. The whole thing is very strange. And she was saying he was born,
essentially, in Kenya. And if he wasn’t born
in this country, it’s one of the greatest scams
in the history of politics and in the history, period. The more I go into it, the more
suspect it is.>>NARRATOR: Obama reluctantly
released more proof of his citizenship.>>Now, as many of you have been
briefed, we provided additional
information today about the site of my birth. This thing just kept on going. Yes, in fact, I was born
in Hawaii, August 4, 1961, in Kapiolani Hospital. We’ve posted the certification that is given by
the State of Hawaii.>>NARRATOR: Three days later,
it was time for payback.>>The president uses the White
House Correspondents’ Dinner that year, with Donald Trump
in the room, to completely ridicule
Donald Trump in front of this audience
that, you know, that, you know, journalists and
lobbyists and government officials. And people who, at that time, Trump wanted to have
the respect of.>>All right, everybody,
please have a seat. (crowd cheering and applauding) Donald Trump is here tonight. (cheering and applauding) No one is happier,
no one is prouder, to put this birth certificate
matter to rest than The Donald. And that’s because he can
finally get back to focusing on the issues that matter– like, did we fake
the moon landing? (audience laughing)>>I was two tables away
from Trump. The conventional way in
Washington of absorbing a joke at the White House
Correspondents’ Dinner is to keep your chin up and at least pretend to have
a sense of humor about it, even if you go cry
into your pillow that night. Trump was steaming. His face was all locked in–
he was not having a good time.>>All kidding aside, obviously, we all know about your
credentials and breadth of experience. (audience laughing) For example… No, seriously, just recently,
in an episode of “Celebrity Apprentice,”
at the steakhouse, the men’s cooking team did not
impress the judges from Omaha Steaks. And there was a lot of blame
to go around. But you, Mr. Trump,
recognized that the real problem was a lack of leadership. And so ultimately you didn’t
blame Lil’ Jon or Meatloaf. (audience laughing) You fired Gary Busey. (audience laughing) And these are the kind
of decisions that would keep me up at night. (audience laughing) (cheering and applauding) Well handled, sir. Well handled.>>But it just kept going and
going and he just kept hammering him. And I thought, “Oh, Barack Obama
is starting something that I don’t know if he’ll be
able to finish.”>>Say what you will about
Mr. Trump, he certainly would bring some
change to the White House. Let’s see what we’ve got up
there.>>I think that is the night
that he resolves to run for president. I think that he is kind of
motivated by it. “Maybe I’ll just run. Maybe I’ll show them all.”>>Every critic, every detractor
will have to bow down to President Trump. It’s everyone who’s ever doubted
Donald, who ever disagreed, who ever challenged him,
it is the ultimate revenge to become the most powerful man
in the universe.>>God bless you and may God bless the United
States of America. (audience applauding)>>NARRATOR: Neither Trump,
nor the birther issue, were going to go away.>>Back to this birther business
for just a second.>>Obama is an unknown man,
may not be a citizen, surrounded by radicals,
surrounded by terrorists.>>If Obama were such a shoo-in, Donald Trump would not have had
any jokes told about him on Saturday night
at the White House…>>…the copy of the new fake
birth certificate. Now, we’ve looked at it, we’re
going to go over why it’s fake, how it’s a composite…>>Democrats are nursing a major
midterm hangover.>>No sense in sugarcoating
last night’s…>>NARRATOR: Out in the country
and in Washington…>>Tuesday’s election
was a game changer…>>NARRATOR: The divide was
growing. And in the midterms,
angry Republicans rose up.>>A repudiation of the
president and his policies.>>That is a very unhappy
electorate.>>NARRATOR: Democrats lost
control of the House.>>Democrats of every stripe
were voted out of office last night.>>NARRATOR: Obama called it
a “shellacking.”>>Voters, they went to the
polls tonight to send a message to Barack Obama.>>I can tell you that,
you know, some election nights are more fun than others. Some are exhilarating,
some are humbling.>>In 2010, it became an
election very much about President Obama and about how
his administration was much more liberal than what
the country wanted or had voted for. It was as if, you know,
“We’ve been betrayed, this is a president who’s going
to take us off in a crazy dangerous direction,
and we can’t let that happen.”>>And we won races in every
corner of the nation, in such a broad and
wide victory, that the outcome
is unprecedented.>>NARRATOR: 87 new Republicans
joined what became known as the “Tea Party Congress.”>>The Tea Party movement has
given life to the Republican Party.>>The Washington leadership
of the Republican Party saw energy and enthusiasm
amongst the grassroots, so the leaders sought to
capitalize on the energy of that movement.>>NARRATOR: The 87 were rebels
who had run on changing Washington. But their first challenge
was their own leader, the Washington
insider John Boehner.>>I now pass this gavel and the
sacred trust that goes with it to the new speaker. God bless you, Speaker Boehner. (members cheering)>>NARRATOR: Boehner had a
reputation as a dealmaker– someone willing to work
with Democrats.>>I didn’t need to be speaker because I needed a fancy title
or a big office. I wanted to be speaker so I
could lead an effort to deal with the serious issues
that are facing our country.>>Obama used to tell me, “John
Boehner is just like the Republicans that I worked
really well with in the Illinois State Senate, a Midwestern country club
Republican. He’s not a racist,
he’s a good and decent man.” He has serious ideological
differences with Obama, but they could get stuff done
together, right?>>I’ll be working with
a bipartisan…>>NARRATOR: And Obama believed
he knew just how to reach out to a country club Republican:
golf.>>Before the golf match
started, I told the president, I said, “Mr. President,
this is about golf, not about anything else.” And he and I were partners. We played well and we won.>>NARRATOR: Obama had more
than golf on his mind. He wanted to make a deal to solve the country’s
fiscal problems.>>I suggested to the president,
you know, “Why don’t we have
a conversation?” And he agreed.>>NARRATOR: But it would be
dangerous for Boehner. The Tea Party faction was
watching him. They would have to meet
in secret.>>Well, that was Boehner’s
decision, not ours, obviously. It’s not every day that the
speaker comes to see the president quietly
and says, “I’m willing to do a deal,” that everybody knows is going to
be dangerous for him politically.>>NARRATOR: The speaker
secretly entered the White House through a side entrance.>>Because it was so difficult
for John Boehner to be seen as working with Barack Obama, he
would be snuck in the back door of the White House. He’d come in on the weekends, or
he’d come in at night, and kind of sneak the guy
through and, like, sit there with Obama, and negotiate
or have a drink, right?>>NARRATOR: They talked
of a “grand bargain,” a once-in-a-generation deal
to reduce the deficit. Obama would agree to cut
entitlements, Boehner to raise taxes.>>The Republican leadership was
willing to make a deal. John Boehner was willing to make
a deal. And the president was able to
get Democratic leaders in Congress to sign off
on that deal.>>NARRATOR: But back at the
Capitol, Boehner was confronted by
resistance from his Tea Party members.>>There was support for what
was being discussed at the White House was not there
in the Republican conference. There was no way that a majority
of Republicans were going to support what the
president was talking about. It just wasn’t going to happen.>>It was absolutely scuttled
by Boehner’s own people. But the fact was,
he couldn’t get it done. He didn’t have the strength or
the conviction to, to have a fight about it in
his own party, and it, and it fell apart.>>It’s a bad idea
for Speaker Boehner to meet alone
with President Obama.>>Tea Party nation calling for
John Boehner to step down.>>…and the screw-up is the
leadership in the House of Representatives, rather than trashing
conservatives.>>Boehner’s a complete fraud. The Tan Man always claims to
have the pulse of the American people…>>He never had any control of
this caucus, and whenever he took anything
back to his caucus, they just tore him apart
and ate him alive. They would lose their minds. And so then, we realize there is
no “grand bargain” to be had with these people.>>I just got a call about
a half-hour ago from Speaker Boehner. It is hard to understand why
Speaker Boehner would walk away from this kind of deal, and
frankly, I think that, you know, one of the questions that the
Republican Party’s going to have to ask itself is, can they say
yes to anything? Can they say yes to anything? Thank you very much.>>The Republicans were more
than happy to take the votes
of the Tea Party members and the Tea Party
freshman class. But it changed the nature of
the caucus in fundamental ways. You now had a hard group, hard
group of congressmen and women who were really not interested
in governing. They were more interested in
taking a stand, and frustrated one legislative
procedure after another.>>The establishment part
of the Republican Party didn’t understand that
by allying themselves with the Tea Party, they were,
in a sense, writing their own death
certificate in a way that would lead to the takeover
of the Republican Party by Donald Trump.>>He has no one to blame
but himself. I’m not going to do the
waterworks of John Boehner.>>I want to salute
the Freedom Fighters in the House of Representatives,
and they’re not going to take John Boehner’s crap
sitting down anymore.>>…gone along just to get
along with President Obama, like Speaker Boehner. You know, we need to thank them
for their service, and say,
“Okay, time for new energy.” ♪ ♪>>Tonight on “Nightline.”
License to kill? It’s the shooting death that’s
sparked an explosion of outrage. Good evening, I’m Terry Moran. It’s the story that’s ignited
fierce passions across the nation, as
allegations of racism and miscarriage of justice tear
apart a small Florida town.>>NARRATOR: For Obama, once
again, the issue of race.>>Trayvon Martin was walking
back from a convenience store when he was allegedly shot
by a Neighborhood Watch…>>Police have the gun,
they’ve got the shooter, but they have not arrested him. The dead man’s grieving family
wants to know, “Why not?”>>President Obama, as the first
African-American president, had been very careful not to
talk too much about race. It was frustrating to some
African Americans. Then Trayvon Martin is killed in
Florida, and the country gasps. The country is, is really on
edge.>>Here’s a teenager walking
through the neighborhood where his father lives,
committing no crime, bothering no one,
who is followed, confronted, and ends up in a physical
altercation with a stranger where he ends up killed. And then the person
who killed him is allowed to go home that day.>>The contradiction of this
happening in the midst of a black presidency
sharpened the irony and intensified the pain I think
people felt around this.>>African Americans who had
turned out in record numbers for him, who, in some ways,
Obama owed his presidency to, felt as though he wasn’t saying
enough about race.>>People were pushing him. “Say something. Are you going to say anything? You’re a black man. A young black boy has been
murdered by a guy who’s a hyped-up, you
know, neighborhood watchman. Black America is traumatized
by this.” Silence from the White House. Nothing– no leadership,
no, no insight. (cameras clicking)>>NARRATOR: Finally…>>Good morning, everybody.>>NARRATOR: Nearly a month
after the killing, the president was publicly
confronted about it.>>Can you comment on the
Trayvon Martin case, sir?>>My main message is, is to
the parents of Trayvon Martin. Um… You know, if I had a son,
he’d look like Trayvon. And, um… You know, I think they are right
to expect that all of us as Americans are going
to take this with the seriousness it deserves and that we’re going to get to
the bottom of exactly what happened. All right, thank you.>>It showed and it underscored
the complications, the difficulties of the first
black president weighing in on issues of race. That by his very presence, by
his very willingness to discuss, he himself was bringing
the partisan guns to the fight. And suddenly, an innocuous
statement became deeply inflammatory
to half of the country.>>…the president had a son, he wouldn’t look anything
like Trayvon Martin. He’d be wearing a blazer from
his prep school. He’d be driving a Beamer.>>We have a president who has,
who has frozen racial tension in our country instead of
thawing racial tension.>>NARRATOR: It blew up on Fox.>>The president’s goal
is to heighten African-American turnout
by stoking a feeling of victimization in the
African-American community.>>NARRATOR: And it took off
on an increasingly powerful new platform: Breitbart.>>We were the blog kind of for
the Tea Party. This Tea Party energy,
you know, right after the financial collapse. We caught on with this kind of
working-class, middle-class audience.>>NARRATOR: They were the voice
of the populist outrage Sarah Palin had activated, running stories that stoked fear
and division– black-on-black crime,
Islamic terrorism, violence by immigrants,
a culture under assault.>>”Hispanic and black thugs tend to attack Asians
because …”>>”Blacks are incapable
for being responsible …”>>NARRATOR: Breitbart’s comment
sections became notorious gathering places
for extreme viewpoints.>>”The towel heads are taking
over because we’ve let them.”>>”Gayness is a cancer…”>>I mean, it reads like you’ve
walked into a hate club gathering of some kind.>>”How stupid are women?
Let’s find out.”>>They were appealing to
the segment of the population that are racist, homophobic,
anti-Semitic– really, the worst among us. Creating this congregating space
every day, where people from that worldview
can go and rally around one another to find content
that validates their worldview. And I think that’s what they
were building, ultimately.>>Think that there was a
failure to appreciate the extent to which these online
communities were forming, and these online ecosystems
were forming. That if you were someone who
spent all day in your car listening to Rush Limbaugh and
got home and watched Glenn Beck at night and then opened your
Facebook page and saw a bunch of Breitbart
links, it didn’t really matter to you “The New York Times”
and “The Washington Post” had said that birtherism
wasn’t true. Didn’t matter how many
Pinocchios that FactCheck had gotten of Donald Trump’s
latest talk show appearance.>>There’s a story on Breitbart, Republican National Committee
declares war…>>This was provided to me
by Breitbart…>>Breitbart breaking more
stories in the past few years than most journalists who like
to dust off their awards on their shelves.>>They’re going to keep the
race business alive, and it’s going to prosper during
the Obama administration, ’cause that causes more chaos.>>They want to stir up racial
hatred in the country, and you know what? I’m not afraid to talk
about race– let’s talk about it, let’s see. ♪ ♪>>President Obama is battling
for his own second term…>>…is in such difficult shape
right now…>>President Obama’s approval
ratings have hit an all-time low…>>…Obama out on the campaign
trail today, then we saw…>>NARRATOR: By the time he was
running for reelection in 2012…>>A difficult road ahead for
the president…>>NARRATOR: The divisiveness
was rampant. He had dramatically dropped in
the polls.>>President Obama faces an
uphill battle.>>NARRATOR: He was fighting to
keep his job.>>It was a much different
President Obama out on the campaign trail
today…>>We were in bad shape
politically. Nate Silver wrote a piece
on the cover of the “New York Times
Magazine,” and the headline was, “Is Obama Toast?”>>NARRATOR: A very different
Barack Obama headed out to do battle with
the Republicans. It was not a campaign
about unity.>>We knew that we had to run a very hard-edged reelection
campaign that posited the president as
someone who was battling for the middle class. (crowd applauding)>>If I said, “The sky was
blue,” they said, “No.” If I said, “There were fish
in the sea,” they said, “No.” They figured, “If Obama fails,
then we win.”>>President Obama decided, “We’re going to have an argument
in 2012. We’re going to win that argument
if we can. And if we win it, we are then
going to do what we want to do, or, or push in the directions
we want to push.” (crowd applauding)>>Because of their policies, the Republicans messed up so
bad…>>He’s a more scarred president
who has become himself frustrated by the way
Washington works, no longer quite so believing
in the idea that bipartisanship is possible. It was a different message than
it was in 2008. It was not a “Come Together”
message. It was not a “Hope and Change”
message. It was a “Stop the Other Guys”
message.>>It’s the same agenda that
they have been pushing for years.>>NARRATOR: As Obama attacked, Republicans were also at war–
with themselves. The establishment had gotten
behind one of their own, wealthy businessman Mitt Romney.>>Barack Obama has failed
America. This country we love
is in peril. (crowd cheering and applauding)>>NARRATOR: The Tea Party saw
him as out of touch.>>He verges on hysterical. Mitt Romney has never done a
single thing to favor the conservative
cause…>>I swear, every time Mitt
Romney opens his mouth, I have no… I think he’s
running against me.>>I don’t think that Romney was
somebody who understood the angst of the American
people. He didn’t understand what, what,
especially the Republicans in, throughout the United States,
were feeling, how, how disaffected they felt.>>What does Mitt Romney
believe?>>And is he truly a
conservative?>>Not exactly a person of
conviction, not even…>>NARRATOR: Romney needed
the Tea Party and its populist base. Trying to win them over,
he went to Las Vegas for an endorsement– from the
man who put the birther movement on the map. (audience applauding)>>Mitt Romney looks completely
uncomfortable. Donald Trump is totally
in his element. It’s, in a curious way,
it’s Donald Trump’s event, not Mitt Romney’s event. He, you know,
he, he commands the stage.>>It’s my honor, real honor,
and privilege to endorse Mitt Romney.>>It was literally
one of the most bizarre political scenes I’d ever seen.>>And by the way, this
is a great couple…>>Mitt and Ann Romney were
standing up there. And I kept looking at Ann
Romney, who looked like she was using every single bit of energy
she had not to start cracking up uncontrollably. At that moment, it seemed like,
you know, not unlike Sarah Palin four years earlier,
kind of a comic diversion, something that was different.>>So, Governor Romney, go out
and get ’em, you can do it.>>It was hilarious;
it was bizarre. In retrospect, I guess it
represented some kind passing of the torch.>>There are some things that
you just can’t imagine happening in your life. This is one of them. (crowd laughing) Being in Donald Trump’s
magnificent hotel and having his endorsement
is a delight. I’m, I’m so honored, and…>>It was a tacit endorsement
in the other direction of Mitt Romney to the kind of
rhetoric that Donald Trump was vociferous
in trafficking in around Obama’s birth
certificate– the, the perpetrator of a
blatantly nativist campaign against the president of the
United States. ♪ ♪>>NARRATOR: But on election
night at Romney headquarters in Boston, there was no victory
party.>>Romney was the worst
candidate.>>He got his clock cleaned.>>Today I’m pissed off,
and you should be, too!>>NARRATOR: Establishment
Republicans were reeling.>>…especially when you look
at the turnout…>>NARRATOR: And one particular
Republican was making plans for the future.>>There’s serious
soul-searching going to happen in the Republican Party,
and the…>>Donald Trump went to Boston,
in fact, to be at the victory party
that never occurred. He got on his plane,
turned around, went back to New York City,
and he started tweeting.>>”This election is a total
sham and a travesty. We are not a democracy!” (tweets) “We can’t let this happen. We should march on Washington
and stop this travesty. Our nation is totally divided!” (tweets) “We should have a revolution in
this country.” (tweets)>>NARRATOR: It was
an opening salvo in a campaign to capture
the conservative base. And just six days later, Trump signed this trademark
application for the phrase
“Make America Great Again.”>>Right after Romney lost,
we had a brief chat. “Can Hillary be beat? Who else is going to run?” He’s already handicapping. Romney’s body isn’t even cold
yet, and he’s already handicapping
this election. It was clear to me then he was
going to run.>>The president of the United
States has been reelected. Barack Obama wins…>>…defeating Mitt Romney
following an often nasty…>>NARRATOR: Obama’s coalition
had prevailed.>>Another four years for
President Barack Obama.>>NARRATOR: Now he would test
whether the election had consequences.>>Obama gets reelected, you
know, rather decisively. And, you know, he was hopeful
that this fever would break. He kept saying, like, “Hopefully, this breaks
the fever.”>>NARRATOR: To win, Obama had
energized Latino voters. Republican leaders had taken
note. Now the president hoped they
might be willing to work with him on immigration reform.>>Everybody understood
that there was an opening, a political opening, because
Republicans were ready to come to the conversation. And so the president’s marching
orders to his team were very clear:
“This is a priority. I want to get it done.”>>The Republicans did a
sobering study of where things stood,
and they realized, after 2012,
that America’s changing, and that if you wanted to win
the White House, not just Congress, you had to
appeal to younger voters, Latinos, and women.>>”We must embrace and champion comprehensive immigration
reform. If we do not, our party’s appeal
will continue to shrink.” ♪ ♪>>NARRATOR: GOP power brokers
like Majority Leader Eric Cantor laid out the party’s problem.>>Too many millennials,
minorities, and others have rejected us
at the polls because they sense that somehow
we’re not inclusive. And unless we show
the American people that conservative principles
actually help them in a real, and not just theory, we’ll never get the majority
confidence back.>>Today, a bipartisan group of
senators unveiled a plan that…>>Now Republicans and Democrats
set to announce a major compromise surrounding
immigration.>>…is one of those issues…>>NARRATOR: Republican Senator
Marco Rubio was the face of bipartisan
immigration reform.>>(speaking Spanish):>>The political class was sure
that immigration reform was going to be
like falling off a log.>>NARRATOR: Even on Fox News, support for the softer
immigration approach.>>And even people like Sean
Hannity went on the air and said, “We need to rethink
our position on immigration. I was wrong to take such a hard
line on, on immigration.”>>You create a pathway for
those people that are here. You don’t say,
“You got to go home.” And that is an… a, an, a
position that I’ve evolved on.>>NARRATOR: Sean Hannity
invited Obama’s nemesis and Fox regular onto his show. And even he seemed to favor
immigration reform.>>I think it’s getting very
tough to win as a Republican. Look, they’ve lost on
immigration. They’re going to have to do
something on immigration. Because, you know, our country
is a different place than it was 50 years ago. So we’ll see what happens.>>Mr. Trump, always a pleasure.
>>Thank you very much.>>NARRATOR: Obama’s wish in the
aftermath of his reelection– that the fever would break–
seemed like it might come true. But there was a new wrinkle.>>What was interesting is,
the fever broke among certain Republican elites,
right? The problem is, that’s not where
the Republican voters were or the majority of the
Republican House caucus.>>NARRATOR: At Breitbart,
the chairman, Steve Bannon, was sowing division,
rallying the populist base against the Republican
establishment.>>I said, “Let’s attack the
real enemy, and the real enemy’s the
Republican establishment. What we’re going to do is just
go after the House leadership, we’re going to go after
the Mitch McConnells, we’re going to go after the
donors. We’re just going to go hard at
kind of this Paul Ryan philosophy.”>>NARRATOR: Bannon and
Breitbart weaponized immigration against
the establishment.>>We spent a lot more time
talking to the public than we spent talking
to the elite.>>NARRATOR: The issue lit up
Breitbart’s already incendiary message boards.>>”Illegals kill 12-plus people
a day in this country.”>>”Torturous, murderous,
rapists. This president calls them
‘Dreamers.'”>>”Deport all of the illegal
aliens.”>>It is potentially, the threat
of an open border is pretty catastrophic. Immigration, to Republican
voters, by a mile, it’s the number-one issue,
even ahead of tax cuts.>>This was some of the
brilliance of Bannon. He recognized an anxiety that
had been building in the heartland for years. The country itself felt like it
was changing, and, “Are these people here
illegally? Did they skip a step in line? Did they follow all the rules?” Again, the, the economy for so
many Americans has still been so frustrating. So all of this is happening
while people have real questions about their own security.>>NARRATOR: Bannon decided
it was time was for a show of force,
to use immigration to take down a central figure in
the Republican establishment.>>And when they looked around,
the guy that they thought was most vulnerable
was Eric Cantor, the House majority leader.>>NARRATOR: Cantor was up for
reelection. Tea Party challenger Dave Brat
was more than 30 points behind in the primary.>>I… he definitely knew it
was coming. (stutters): That was, also
happened to be my home district, but I could feel it. I knew that, that a guy like
Brat could… they were… they were very weak.>>Cantor, can you believe
this guy? Can you believe Ryan?>>NARRATOR: Breitbart swung
behind Brat.>>Eric Cantor, he’s all in
for amnesty.>>NARRATOR: They set the agenda
for right-wing radio.>>You’re a coward, Eric Cantor.
You only…>>…Eric Cantor, who wants
amnesty; Paul Ryan, who I…>>Anything that became talking
points on conservative radio were coming from Breitbart. And you had a transformation
where conservative radio hosts weren’t clicking on Drudge
Report on what to say, they were clicking on Breitbart.>>NARRATOR: It worked.>>History-making upset– House Majority Leader Eric
Cantor lost…>>This was a seismic shift that
took all of the establishment
figures…>>NARRATOR: Cantor’s defeat
sent a message to Republicans.>>…a new Republican Party,
with fresh faces…>>NARRATOR: Bipartisan
immigration reform was dead.>>House Majority Leader Eric
Cantor’s defeat is the end of immigration
reform.>>I knew that night
when I heard. I was talking
to my Republican… they were, basically,
“There’s no reason for us to talk anymore. This is not going anywhere.”>>You can almost feel
the Capitol shake. I’ve never seen so many people
crying with long faces, all upset on Capitol Hill. I mean, that’s, I think,
the worst drubbing the establishment has had
in, in many years.>>It was the elected
Republicans and talk radio realizing that the people
who vote for them and watch their media hated
their guts. Absolutely hated their guts.>>It was clear that the voter
base was throwing out the Republican establishment’s
ideas on immigration. That’s what that represented. And it was stunning,
it was one of the biggest upsets in the history
of American politics. ♪ ♪>>NARRATOR: President Obama’s
advisers understood what it meant.>>The second that Eric Cantor
is defeated in that primary was the death knell
of immigration reform, and also was a signal that the
Republican Party was no longer just kind of
talking publicly about Obamacare and spending, and a little quietly to their
base about immigration. This was going to become what
the party was about, which is racially or ethnically
fueled grievances with immigration at the center. ♪ ♪>>NARRATOR: The divide was
widening. But outside of Washington,
in Newtown, Connecticut, in one tragic event,
shared national grief.>>What’s your emergency?>>Sandy Hook School,
I think there’s somebody who’s shooting in here.>>Sandy Hook Elementary School,
inside, I believe there’s shooting
at the front.>>Please hurry, please hurry.
>>Please. (gunshots echo over phone)>>I need assistance here
immediately.>>I still hear him shooting. (siren blaring) ♪ ♪>>Newtown was the worst moment
of the presidency. It was unfathomable to imagine
20 children, six- and seven-year-old
first-graders being gunned down in that
violent and destructive way. And then six adults who were
trying to help.>>I remember seeing Obama
several times that day, and he was, like… I’ve never seen him as much of
an emotional wreck.>>When I got a email
from the president saying, “This is the first time that
I cried in the Oval Office.”>>I mean, he was just bursting
into tears throughout the day.>>He always told me that if
something happened to one of his kids, he didn’t
think he could get out of bed. And here are all these
beautiful, young kids who were, were slaughtered. And he was, he was sad,
and he was irate. And he kept saying, like,
“All I… I, I don’t think I can talk about this publicly, because the second I start
talking about those kids, I’m just going to be thinking
about my kids.” ♪ ♪>>The majority of those
who died today were children, beautiful little kids between
the ages of five and ten years old. They had their entire lives
ahead of them: birthdays, graduations,
weddings, kids of their own. As a country, we have been
through this too many times. May God bless the memory
of the victims, and in the words of Scripture, heal the brokenhearted and bind
up their wounds.>>NARRATOR: For Obama, Newtown
was a test– whether a tragedy could bring
the country together around another contentious
issue– gun control.>>He was so moved by what
happened in Newtown, and he thought the country was,
as well, that this would be a chance
to do something that Democrats would have loved
to have done before, but never thought was possible.>>NARRATOR: The president
wanted gun legislation. But by now,
he had become so polarizing, he told Vice President Joe Biden
to take the lead.>>It was in a context
of sorrow, extreme, I mean,
anger and frustration about, “Why can’t we do something
about this?” It was, like,
“Enough is enough is enough. Put together something for me,
Joe.” ♪ ♪>>NARRATOR: Biden turned to
Democratic Senator Joe Manchin and Republican Senator
Pat Toomey to draft it.>>We have what looks to be
a model of bipartisan action. And they propose a modest change
in the gun laws, but one that would begin, at
least, to turn an issue that had gone entirely
in one direction in a somewhat different
direction.>>NARRATOR: Public support was
strong. Republicans were signing on.>>Everyone felt like the world
was going to change. Everyone felt like, “This is
going to be the mass shooting that makes America really look
at its gun laws and change something.”>>I was optimistic. Over 91% of the American people
supported expanding background checks, 80% of the households that had
an NRA member supported it.>>I’ve had enough of all these
people, all their talk…>>NARRATOR: Then, the blowback. Breitbart, talk radio.>>…always try to hide their
agendas behind women and children and most of all
victims…>>They apparently don’t believe
liberty’s on the line, they apparently don’t believe
the Constitution and the Bill of Rights are on
the line…>>NARRATOR: Fox News.>>It’s about the ideology. It’s about stripping law-abiding
American citizens from their, their legal right to
have a gun.>>And they’re very eager to use
whatever tragedy they can to advance their cause.>>Their gun, gun laws are going
to hurt the, the defense of the innocent.>>It’s got “inside job”
written all over it.>>NARRATOR: And on the fringes,
outrageous conspiracy theories, denying the shooting had
actually happened.>>Sandy Hook is a synthetic,
completely fake, with actors– in my view, manufactured.>>I have no faith in these
people, none. You would think now, if ever, that a so-called conservative
Republican in the Senate would have learned the lesson
that this president cannot be relied on to follow
the law.>>NARRATOR: One by one,
Obama watched key Republicans– and even some Democrats–
back away from the bill.>>Cutting deals over what? Over the Second Amendment? I despise these people. And the older I get,
the more I despise…>>Here was a moment where 80%,
90% of Americans, I think, would have supported some sort
of a reasonable compromise about it. And yet, nothing happened. So, this is where you have the
Republican Party held hostage by its base, and American
politics held hostage by that Republican Party.>>Mr. Inhofe, Mr. Isakson. Mr. Lautenberg, Mr. Leahy. Mr. Lee. Mr. Wyden. (gavel banging)>>The amendment is not
agreed to.>>NARRATOR: The bill fell five
votes short.>>”How could they vote
that way? Don’t they understand what
happened? How can they do that?
How can this be? ” I mean, it was disbelief
and a sense of betrayal. That was the mood. ♪ ♪>>It was an emotional setback
for the president. It was a huge political setback
for the president. And, and in some ways,
helped to set the tone, again, for what was going to come
after, in other areas.>>NARRATOR: Obama invited
the Newtown families to the White House.>>Daniel was a first-grader at
Sandy Hook Elementary School. I know that he felt, he felt a
sense of responsibility to us and, and to the nation and to
that 90% of the country that, that wanted this. You know, I think he felt a, a
strong sense of responsibility toward that, and his, his
disgust was palpable.>>It came down to politics– the worry that that vocal
minority of gun owners would come after them
in future elections. So, all in all, this was a
pretty shameful day for Washington. Thank you very much, everybody.>>Great presidents have been
able to forge compromise. President Obama was not able to
do that. And the reason may well be the
implacability of the people sitting on the other side
of the table from him. Sometimes, you can’t get
to “Yes” with someone who won’t
say anything other than “No.” ♪ ♪>>We’re supposed to believe that if only these background
checks were in place, all… Newtown wouldn’t have happened, none of this would have
happened.>>There wasn’t one part
of this bill that would have stopped what
happened at that school.>>”Won’t you just turn your
guns in for my son? Why’d you do it to him,
gun owners?” Listen, I didn’t kill your kids. ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪>>From NBC News world
headquarters in New York, this is “NBC Nightly News
with Lester Holt.”>>There is growing outrage
tonight after an unarmed
African-American teenager was shot and killed by police
in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri.>>St. Louis County police have
taken over the investigation of a shooting by a Ferguson
police officer that left a teenager dead.>>Witnesses say the teen was
not armed and had his hands up in the air
when a police officer fatally shot him.>>NARRATOR: Once again, race
would emerge and sow division.>>Ferguson becomes a tinderbox,
explodes. People want an immediate
reaction from Barack Obama and his administration.>>He ain’t armed, he don’t got
no gun, they just killed him. His blood everywhere.>>Ferguson became a metaphor
for this entire complex of relationships between
black people and police, and the criminal-justice system. And it becomes a kind
of Rorschach test. Michael Brown is unarmed. He is fired upon by the police
officer who says that he attacked him. There are varying eyewitness
accounts that dispute that. What is not in dispute is that
his body lays on the street where he was shot
in the sweltering heat for multiple hours.>>What do we want?
>>Justice!>>When do we want it?
>>Now!>>What do we want?
>>Justice!>>When do we want it?
>>Now!>>What do we want?
>>Justice!>>NARRATOR: Night after night, the streets of Ferguson
were a war zone. (fireworks exploding) (people clamoring) The president remained silent.>>When Ferguson blew,
it exploded his inability to grapple straightforwardly
with the issue of race. He was contorted and tragically
twisted when it came to, um,
to Ferguson.>>The difficulty of this
situation for Barack Obama is that it exposes him,
again and again and again, to the most inflammatory thing
about his presidency, with, you know,
the beer summit and Skip Gates, with Trayvon Martin,
and now with Ferguson, that he is brought again
and again back to this third-rail issue of
the disparities of race in this country.>>NARRATOR:
Finally, after five days…>>Good afternoon, everybody.>>NARRATOR: …he went before
the press.>>There is never an excuse for
violence against police or for those who would use this
tragedy as a cover for vandalism or looting.>>NARRATOR: He chose
a cautious route.>>…hold ourselves to a high
standard. So, now’s the time for healing, now’s the time for peace and
calm on the streets of Ferguson.>>He’s trying to thread
this needle. And it feels as though both
sides end up being disappointed
by what he does.>>Thanks very much, everybody.>>I was once interviewing Obama
in the White House, and… I asked him a question about
race. And his answer was unusually,
uh… guarded. Inconsequential, and,
for journalistic purposes, almost useless.>>NARRATOR: Later, as Remnick
was leaving the interview, Obama stopped him
in the hallway.>>He says to me,
“You got to remember, I am the president
of the United States– I’m not the president
of black America. Everybody knows who I am, ’cause
they look, they can see me. I’m black. But anything I say on race,
anything I say on race, I have to be extremely careful
and calibrated in what I say.” (clamoring, horn honking)>>NARRATOR: And as the anger in
Ferguson grew out of control, on television, Obama remained
careful and calibrated.>>To those in Ferguson, there
are ways of channeling your concerns constructively and there are ways of channeling
your concerns destructively.>>The split screen was the line
that showed his disconnect with America. One side of the screen, you’re
seeing the nation’s black president
begging that a city do not go up in flames. And the other side
of the screen, you’re seeing young black people
saying, “We’re done waiting. We’re not putting up with this
anymore.”>>We elect a black president,
and eight years later, we have this?>>I remember talking
to activists who said, “I voted for Barack Obama twice,
and Trayvon Martin’s still dead, Michael Brown’s still dead.” It was this sense that simply
having representation, even at the highest levels,
didn’t necessarily mean that these issues were going
to be addressed.>>He was really frustrated. And, you know, we would talk. And he would just say, you know, “Well, cops need to stop
shooting unarmed black kids.” Like, that’s what he thought. But he also recognized
and was very disciplined about the fact that he was president
of the United States.>>NARRATOR: The anger
transcended Ferguson. Online, Black Lives Matter
emerged– activists connecting, sharing and uploading videos
of police killings around the country. (shouting, guns firing)>>I’ve been recording… I’ve been recording.>>I can’t breathe…
>>Get out of the car!>>Get that gun off of there.>>Shots fired! (radio squawking)>>Oh, my God!>>And within moments,
the entire world could see it. And it forced white Americans to
see things that their eyes
never would have seen.>>Black lives matter! Black lives matter! Black lives matter!>>NARRATOR: Across the divide,
the blowback.>>They hate police officers.>>Well, they have strong
feelings about…>>No, they hate them–
they want them dead. They’re a hate group, and I’m
going to tell you right now, I’m going to put them out of
business.>>Their agenda is, “It’s okay
to go ahead and kill cops.”>>No, nobody said that.
>>Oh, really? “Pigs in a blanket,
fry ’em like bacon?” When they act like that,
they’re criminals, and they’re calling
for the murder of hard-working police
officers…>>I don’t believe that.>>We now have to counter this
slime, this filth coming
out of these cop-haters.>>A Black Lives Matter protest
shut down traffic in Frederick, Maryland.>>Black Lives Matter is just a
complete fraud.>>Are you going to riot, loot,
roast more pigs, what?>>Absolutely unbelievable–
all lives matter!>>See, to me, dividing lives that matter by color sounds
downright racist. No. ♪ ♪>>Republicans tore it up
at the polls– historic midterm
election victory, taking control of the Senate.>>NARRATOR: Fall 2014. Republicans had captured
the Senate and now held both houses
of Congress.>>A wave of voter frustration has all but washed off
the Democrats.>>Republicans beat the
Democrats in states that were both blue and red, including many states that
President Obama won…>>All was lost. It was our darkest moment. We found ourselves alone
in the world. Congress had gone in a different
direction, and, um, we weren’t sure if we’d
ever get them back on anything.>>The mood of the country
was nasty, and the country took most of it
out on Barack Obama.>>President Obama was heading
into a, a place where he was going to
be opposed by Congress, by the Republican majorities
in Congress, over virtually everything
he tried to do. And I think the handwriting was
on the wall that his presidency was going
to come to an end with really bitter split between
the two political parties, like nothing we had ever seen.>>NARRATOR: Over six years,
the promise of hope, change, bipartisanship, had been
confronted by fear, anger, division.>>Barack Obama said he would
try to bridge these divides. He couldn’t. It wasn’t for lack of trying. I mean, just the fact that it
was six years before he really just said,
“I’m going to stop trying.” ♪ ♪>>NARRATOR: He would go around
the Republican Congress, go his own way.>>The president is, is saying, “I’m going to do what
I’m able to do with the tools available to me. I’m never going to get,
from a Republican Congress, much progress on the things
I think are very important.”>>He wasn’t satisfied to sit
there and have people play “Hail to the Chief”
when he walked in the room. And he was determined that he
was going to use every bit of power that
he could legitimately claim.>>My fellow Americans, there
are actions I have the legal authority to take
as president. Tonight, I’m announcing
those actions.>>President Obama signed a
landmark climate-change deal on his final trip
to China today.>>Breaking right now, executive
action on gun control…>>…change the lives
of millions of undocumented immigrants,
but the move bypasses Congress.>>President Obama says the
Keystone XL Pipeline project…>>NARRATOR: Obama’s actions
energized his supporters, but provoked outrage on the
other side.>>He couldn’t get anything
through Congress, true. But the congresspeople represent
the American public. What did Obama do? “I take out my pen
and my phone.” That’s what he kept saying, “I’ll take out my pen
and my phone, I’m going to do an end around
Congress.” Meaning, “You people, I’m going
to do an end around you, the American public.”>>I’ve got a pen to take
executive actions where Congress won’t,
and I’ve got a telephone to rally folks around the
country on this mission.>>He gets shellacked. He loses the Senate, he shows
back up, he gets smoked, he calls a press conference,
and all, CNN and everybody, “New York Times,”
“Is he going to listen to what the people are saying,
the country going in a different direction,
Obama going to listen?” He gets up there and he goes,
“Okay, guys, here’s how it is. I’m president of the United
States, and you’re not.” He goes,
“Here’s ten executive orders I’m going to sign immediately.” I’m sitting there going,
“This guy’s my role model.” I said, “He just got smoked,
and he comes out and hits you right in the mouth. This is a leader!”>>The Constitution is going to
cease to exist as we know it. Obama is going to start shooting
a BB gun at it.>>Where does this end?
Does it ever end? At what point do we roll back
this homegrown tyranny?>>…executive order. What they are really are,
are imperial fiats. This is what we have to fear.>>And now he has to use
executive action, and this is a very, very
dangerous thing. I mean, I think, certainly,
he could be impeached. (“For the Love of Money”
playing) ♪ Money, money, money, money
money ♪>>Good morning.
>>Good morning.>>Everybody’s saying I should
run for president. Let me ask you a question–
Meatloaf, should I run for president?
>>Absolutely!>>Now, you would definitely
vote for me.>>I would vote for you,
in fact, I’ll, I’ll help you with
your campaign.>>What do you think…>>NARRATOR: It was Donald
Trump’s moment.>>Who would not vote for me?>>NARRATOR: The reality TV star
was making his move.>>All right, good.>>A hot hint–
don’t raise your hand.>>I would say, anybody
that raised their hand would immediately be fired,
’cause they’re stupid.>>Trump is a showman. This is TV gold, right? Who would not watch this? He’s interesting,
and he’s dynamic, and he knows how to work
the cameras. And he’s been the number-one
show on NBC for all these years
for a reason.>>Another political story
making news this morning: Donald Trump’s growing poll
numbers on a list of possible…>>Donald Trump’s serious about
a run for the White House. Will…>>…Donald Trump, who may run
for president in the Republican primaries.>>Donald actually told me
in 2013 that he was going to run for
president, and I thought he was kidding. And then he argued that it was
based on his Twitter feed and Facebook posts– that so
many people were posting on social media
that he should run, that he thought maybe he should.>>As promised, Donald Trump
speaking now in Portsmouth, New Hampshire–
let’s listen.>>You ready?
>>Yeah, we’re ready.>>You get ready– whenever
you’re ready, I’m okay.>>He says to me,
“My effective television career, me as a television star is over,
I’m running for president”– I laughed. Looked right in his face,
I laughed. (phone ringing) And then he proceeded to tell me
that he had a, a base of operations built
in the Trump Tower. That he had hired Roger Stone
and Sam Nunberg and Corey Lewandowski.>>You had a perfect storm. In almost 40 years
in American politics, I’d never seen the voters
in this bad a mood. They were sour, very suspicious
of political institutions– whether it’s Congress,
whether it’s the two parties.>>NARRATOR: Trump had used
the birther movement, and now seized another
hot-button issue for the conservative base–
immigration. A top aide, Sam Nunberg,
helped him package it.>>Nunberg had realized that
this issue of immigration has real salience with
Republican voters. The problem they had was, they
couldn’t get Trump to stay on topic–
famously short attention span. And so Sam Nunberg came up
with this idea, essentially a mnemonic device
to keep Trump focused on the issue of immigration.>>Next year…>>So, I said, “Well, why don’t
we say you’re going to build a wall, because it’s bigger? You’re going to build a wall. And we’ll, like… and you’ll
get Mexico to pay for it.”>>NARRATOR: Trump took it on
the road, testing out different versions
of the line.>>We have to build a fence,
and it’s got to be a beauty. Who can build better than Trump? I build; it’s what I do.>>He said it in Iowa that day,
and the crowd went nuts. You can watch it,
the crowd went nuts.>>If I run, I will tell you,
the king of building buildings, the king of building walls, nobody can build them
like Trump. That I can promise you. (crowd cheers and applauds) I can promise you that.>>He said to me,
“You know what? I’m talking about immigration,
I feel it. Sam, this is a movement. This is a movement. They, they get it, they get it.” (crowd cheering and applauding)>>NARRATOR: Obama had promised
unity, but as Trump announced
his intention to run, it was clear his candidacy would
be about exploiting division. (applause continues)>>If you look at Sarah Palin
talking to “real Americans”; the Tea Party talking about
taking the country back; the birther movement itself
that launched Trump; by the time he came down
that escalator, he was the obvious Republican
front-runner. He was the guy saying the same
thing that they’d all been saying
on Fox and on talk radio and on Breitbart for the last
six-and-a-half years.>>When Mexico sends its people,
they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you,
they’re not sending you. They’re sending people
that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those
problems with us.>>When he starts doing the
over-the-top stuff, and I go, I said, “You watch, they’re,
they’re going to bite hard, and they’re going to bite hard
and blow this up.”>>They’re bringing drugs,
they’re bringing crime, they’re rapists, and some,
I assume, are good people.>>Oh, my God, I said,
“This is …” I said, “He’s just, he’s just buried
every… They’re going to go nuts. CNN is literally going to
broadcast 24 hours a day.”>>Donald Trump’s comment about
Mexican immigrants has created controversy
nationwide…>>Donald Trump’s comments have
triggered outrage…>>Donald Trump not backing down
from his controversial, some say racist, language…>>I was waiting for Trump to
take it back and say, “Oh, no, no, I didn’t mean that
Mexico’s sending rapists; they’re sending Rhodes Scholars, they’re so much better
than we are.” And damned if he never took it
back! So, I had to say, “Okay,
I’m for… I’m for this guy.”>>Ann, which Republican
candidate has the best chance of winning the general election?>>Of the declared ones,
right now, Donald Trump. (audience laughing) ♪ ♪>>I said, “This is our guy. He’s a very imperfect
instrument, but he’s a armor-piercing
shell.” (crowd cheering) I tell the guys, “He’s going
to go through this thing like a scythe through grass.”>>I’ll tell you what I like
about him, he doesn’t take any crap
from Obama.>>He’s the leader right now
of the entire conservative movement
in America…>>Donald Trump has changed the
entire debate on immigration.>>He might be blunt, he might
be inartful at times, but he’s channeling the
viewpoint of, I would say, the majority of Republican
voters. ♪ ♪>>(on radio): I copy,
several victims regarding that active shooter. Give me at least four medic
units, plus two supervisors.>>All units responding,
110 Calhoun Street.>>We have breaking news. Police and emergency responders
are on the scene of what police confirm is a shooting inside a
church in downtown Charleston, South Carolina.
Dispatchers tell…>>Nine people are dead, and there’s a massive manhunt
underway…>>The shooting happened at the
historic Emmanuel A.M.E. Church–
the pastor, a…>>Charleston represented a lot
of things coming together. It was race, it was guns,
and it was the great divide. (siren blaring, radio squawking)>>NARRATOR: Eight
African-American parishioners and their minister. (siren blaring) Murdered in a church
by a white supremacist. They found the shooter’s
journal.>>”The event that truly
awakened me was the Trayvon Martin case. How could the news be blowing up
the Trayvon Martin case, while hundreds of these
black-on-white murders got ignored?”>>He is driven to violence by
the fact that– he says this. He says that black people are
taking over the world. Reverend Pinckney was dead,
in large measure, because Barack Obama
was the president. ♪ ♪>>That massacre in South
Carolina let Obama finally know that “black Americans
are the proxies for me.” And I think that he was aware
of the fact that he had to address this, he
could no longer avoid this, that this was something that we
as a nation must grapple with. ♪ ♪>>NARRATOR:
He would head for Charleston and the collective grief
at the memorial service.>>He told Valerie Jarrett on
the way down, he was thinking about singing
“Amazing Grace.”>>Well, he mentioned it to,
to me and to the First Lady, and he said,
“There’s a moment in my eulogy where I think I might sing.” Well, and I’d said,
“Don’t sing, don’t sing.” And he goes,
“I think I’m going to sing.”>>He’d built the speech around
this concept of grace. And he said, you know, “Maybe
I’ll sing ‘Amazing Grace.'”>>Here was a moment where
the nation needed its president. And for one of the first times
in the nation’s history, the president was completely
prepared to provide the comfort needed to black Americans.>>The president of the United
States of America, the honorable Barack Obama,
will come at this time… (congregation cheering) ♪ ♪>>NARRATOR: Obama would speak
about race in a way he never had as president.>>It was an act that drew on a
long history of bombs and arson and shots fired at churches.>>Amen.>>Not random,
but as a means of control.>>Amen.>>A way to terrorize
and oppress. (congregation applauding) An act that he imagined would
incite fear and recrimination. Violence and suspicion. An act that he presumed would
deepen divisions that trace back to our nation’s
original sin.>>The shooting in Charleston
was a moment for him to, to show the, the fullness of
his feelings, of his emotions, and his identification with,
with his community. And to speak for them,
um, in a way that he probably hadn’t done
in his presidency.>>As a nation, out of this
terrible tragedy, God has visited grace upon us. (congregation agreeing) For He has allowed us to see
where we’ve been blind. (congregation applauding) If we can tap that grace,
everything can change. Amazing grace. Amazing grace.>>He paused. And I remember thinking, “Is he
thinking, ‘Am I going to sing, or am I not going to sing?'”>>♪ Amazing grace ♪ ♪ How sweet the sound ♪ (congregation and organ join in) ♪ That saved a wretch like me ♪ ♪ I once ♪ ♪ Was lost ♪ ♪ But now I’m found ♪ ♪ Was blind ♪ ♪ But now I see ♪ (organ concluding)>>It was like in those notes
of “Amazing Grace,” the entire history
of the Obama presidency, all the adversity he’d faced,
all the opposition he’d faced, everything he’d repressed,
was coming out.>>Clementa Pinckney
found that grace. Cynthia Hurd found that grace. (congregation responds) Susie Jackson found that grace. (congregation responds) Ethel Lance found that grace. (congregation responds) Depayne Middleton Doctor
found that grace. Tywanza Sanders
found that grace. Daniel L. Simmons, Sr.,
found that grace. Sharonda Coleman-Singleton found
that grace. Myra Thompson found that grace.>>I remember just sitting there
and sobbing at my desk, in a way that I never did,
because it was, like, he’s finally being
his complete self in full view of the country.>>May grace now lead them home. (congregation agreeing) May God continue to shed
His grace on the United States of America. (cheering and applauding) ♪ ♪>>Having a black president
has no effect, no effect, on what’s going on
in some of our cities, zero.>>You know they’re ramping it
up for the 2016 election. Every speech they’ve given
has fanned the flame of racial enmity.>>He’s not the man of
compassion and empathy that he claims to be. ♪ ♪>>The race is well underway, with a new Republican
candidate…>>You know the race for
president is underway when Donald Trump begins
flirting…>>Trump’s campaign blitz
in Iowa, promising a “big, special
announcement.”>>Well, he says there’ll be a
big announcement at the last event…>>NARRATOR: Early days
on the campaign trail– Trump had plenty of money
and celebrity. He wanted one more thing. (“Eye of the Tiger” playing)>>Governor Sarah Palin,
special, special person. Thank you.>>Thank you so much,
it’s so great to be in Iowa. We’re here just thawing out,
lending our support for the next president of our
great United States of America, Donald J. Trump.>>For her to endorse
Donald Trump was a way for her to say…>>Heads are spinning. Media heads are spinning. This is going to be so…>>”He’s, he is doing the kinds
of things I’d wanted to do. He is saying the kinds of things
I wanted to say.” But I think most important was, “His constituency and my
constituency are, are one and the same.”>>Being here tonight,
supporting the right man who will allow you to
make America great again, God bless you, God bless
the United States of America, and our next president of the
United States, Donald J. Trump.>>Donald Trump is running
against the establishment…>>The Republican Party better
pay attention…>>If you wanted the exact
opposite of Barack Obama, it’s Donald Trump. Obama was cool, Trump is hot. Obama was cerebral
and laid-back, Trump is rough and in-your-face. Obama is Mr. Teleprompter. Donald Trump is a no card
and no limits, no boundaries, no editing.>>Obama is a tremendous
divider– you can’t get much worse. He’s been a great, great
divider. I think President Obama has been
the most ignorant president in our history. He will go down as one of the
worst presidents in the history of our country–
it is a mess. ISIS is honoring
President Obama. He is the founder of ISIS. He’s the founder of ISIS. ♪ ♪>>He just couldn’t believe
that the Republican Party would nominate Trump. The idea that the American
public would elect twice Barack Obama, first
African-American president in history, and then turn
around and pick Donald Trump, who played to racial resentment
and anxiety, it just didn’t compute
for President Obama– it just didn’t make any sense
to him. He couldn’t imagine it. ♪ ♪>>He looks at me, and he says, “You know, what if we
were wrong?” He’s, like, “You know, well,
what, what if people just want to fall back into their tribe? What if people’s identity, their kind of sense of racial
or ethnic identity, is just more powerful?”>>We just have to be honest:
it has been difficult to find agreement
over the last seven years.>>NARRATOR: In his final
State of the Union address, he said it out loud.>>It’s one of the few regrets
of my presidency– that the rancor and suspicion
between the parties has gotten worse instead
of better.>>Along the way, President
Obama tried to do things that didn’t sit well
with a chunk of the American electorate. We saw the, the
rise of the Tea Party, you had the birther movement. It all became angry. It became this sort
of angry stew that dissolved into disagreement
and, and worse, division. ♪ ♪>>Democracy grinds to a halt without a willingness
to compromise. Or when even basic facts
are contested. Or when we listen only to those
who agree with us.>>He meant, and he really,
truly believed that he could bring about
meaningful change in discourse and attitude and the politics
of politicization. He became enormously frustrated,
enormously discouraged, enormously pessimistic about his
prospects for doing just that over the course of his eight
years. So, while he started filled
with hope and filled with this enormous
desire and determination to do just that,
he acknowledged defeat, he acknowledged his collapse, his inability to bring
his country together. And that was deeply
disappointing. ♪ ♪>>NARRATOR: He left with
a warning.>>There will be voices urging
us to fall back into our respective tribes,
to scapegoat fellow citizens who don’t look like us or pray
like us or vote like we do or share the same background. We can’t afford
to go down that path. It contradicts everything that
makes us the envy of the world. ♪ ♪>>Donald Trump will be the 45th President of the United
States…>>NARRATOR: In part two,
the story continues.>>Whoa, everyone got this wrong
and this is a huge story.>>NARRATOR:
Donald Trump inherits the deeply divided country
Obama warned of…>>Trump didn’t create this, but he leaned into it and
everything he has done has deepened this trench.>>We didn’t win an election to
bring the country together.>>You are fake news.>>It’s time to take on the
elites, hit them with a blowtorch.>>I think there is blame on
both sides and I have no doubt about it.>>It’s probably the first time
where the country realizes, this is going to get bad.>>NARRATOR: The conclusion of “Frontline’s” epic
investigation.>>…a very bitterly divided
America…>>No matter who is elected
president, they are going to face
this deep divide and that it could shape their
entire presidency.>>NARRATOR: “America’s Great
Divide.”>>It’s only going to get
nastier.>>NARRATOR: Now streaming
on “Frontline.”>>Go to for the latest “Frontline”
Transparency Project. See key quotes from the film
in context.>>Obamacare got shoved down
our throats.>>This entire complex of
relationships between black people and police.>>He’s a very imperfect
instrument.>>Connect to the “Frontline”
community on Facebook and Twitter, and watch anytime
on the PBS Video App or ♪ ♪>>For more on this and other
“Frontline” programs, visit our website
at ♪ ♪ “Frontline’s”
“America’s Great Divide” is available
on Amazon Prime Video. ♪ ♪

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