CBS Host to Podesta: Why Did the Russians Know to Focus on Michigan and Wisconsin When Clinton Didn't?

February 18, 2018

CBS host Nancy Cordes asked Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta Sunday why Russian operatives knew to focus on the critical battleground states of Wisconsin and Michigan when the Clinton team seemingly didn't.

One key aspect of Russia's interference campaign in the election was extensive trolling and disinformation through memes and ads on Facebook, and they particularly targeted users in Wisconsin and Michigan, two consistently blue states President Donald Trump narrowly won en route to his election victory.

Podesta said on "Face The Nation" it wasn't clear how much of an effect the Russian meddling had on the outcome but he said there was likely some impact.

"But it does beg the question, how is it that these Russian operatives knew to focus on purple states like Michigan and Wisconsin, and your campaign didn't?" Cordes asked.

"Well, of course we spent a lot of time and energy and effort in all those states," Podesta said.

"Hillary Clinton herself did not spend much time in those states," Cordes said.

"You know, we had—Tim Kaine was there. Barack Obama was in—and she spent enormous time in Pennsylvania and Michigan," Podesta said. "We spent a lot of effort. We had more staff in Wisconsin than even President Obama had in 2012."

Podesta went on to say the Russian efforts could have tilted the election in Trump's favor.

Clinton famously did not visit Wisconsin after the Democratic National Convention and became the first Democrat since Walter Mondale in 1984 to lose that state in a presidential race. She also took heat for not properly financing the campaign in Michigan to get out the vote.

Cordes' question came among discussion of special counsel Robert Mueller's announced indictment of 13 Russian nationals on Friday for various crimes related to "information warfare" in the form of identify theft, social media trolling and other methods to influence the 2016 presidential election.

The Justice Department said these particular charges didn't implicate any Americans in willing cooperation with the Russian efforts and there was no conclusion the efforts affected the election result, although Mueller's investigation is not over and still can delve into other aspects of Russian interference.