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Northam Says Isn't in Racist Photo, Refuses to Resign; 10 Democrats Have Announced Candidacy or Exploratory Committee; State of the Union Paralyzed by Border Wall Fight; Majority of Democrats Now Identify Themselves as Liberal; Countdown to Super Bowl LIII. Aired 8- 9a ET

Aired February 3, 2019 - 08:00   ET


[08:00:17] JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Welcome to INSIDE POLITICS. I'm John king. To our viewers in the United States and around the world, thank you for sharing your Sunday.

Virginia's Democratic governor is fighting bipartisan demands that he resign. Ralph Northam says he's not in the racist photo that appears on his medical school yearbook page, but the governor acknowledges he did appear once in blackface 35 years ago.


GOV. RALPH NORTHAM (D), VIRGINIA: I am far from perfect. And I can always strive to do more.

But I have devoted my entire life, my career in the Army, as a pediatrician and in public service to making life better for all people, no matter who they are.

Right now, I am simply asking for the opportunity to demonstrate beyond a shadow of a doubt that the person I was is not the man I am today. I am asking for the opportunity to earn your forgiveness.


KING: Plus, the Democratic 2020 presidential field grows again. It is already historically diverse. And one year to the day before Iowa opens the voting, it's already a debate about whether the country is ready to embrace its long list of liberal ideas.


SEN. CORY BOOKER (D), NEW JERSEY: We need leadership in this country that understands what patriotism means. And patriotism is love of country. You can't love your country unless you love your fellow countrymen and women. Doesn't mean we're going to always agree or some days always like each other, but we've got to extend each other grace, less judgment. We're a nation that leads, and we've got to get back to doing that together.


KING: And the State of Our Union is polarized and paralyzed. President Trump addresses the nation Tuesday night, determined to build a border wall that Congress and the American people don't want.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If you go to Tijuana and you take down that wall, you will have so many people coming into our country that Nancy Pelosi will be begging for a wall. She'll be begging for a wall. She will say, Mr. President, please, please give us a wall.

On February 15th, the committee will come back. And if they don't have a wall, I don't even want to waste my time reading what they have because it's a waste of time. Because the only thing that works for security and safety for our country is a wall.


KING: With us this Sunday to share their reporting and their insights: Julie Pace of "The Associated Press", Jonathan Martin of "The New York Times," Toluse Olorunnipa of "The Washington Post", and Jennifer Jacobs of "Bloomberg".

We begin this Sunday with a volatile intersection of politics and race and the isolation and defiance of Virginia's governor, as the state's senior Democratic leader say he must resign.

Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, two former governors who are now senators say Ralph Northam can no longer lead the Commonwealth. Bobby Scott, the state's senior African-American in Congress, says the same. Add in Doug Wilder, Virginia and America's first African-American governor. President Trump, a leader many Democrats label racist, took pleasure in criticizing Northam which only added to the Democrats' urgency of convincing the governor to yield power.

Governor Northam tried to save his job Saturday, speaking in Richmond, the one-time capital of the Confederacy, the governor said he's now certain he is not in this racist photo from his 1984 medical school yearbook page. One man in blackface, the other in a KKK robe and hood.

But as the governor explained how he was certain, he said this.


NORTHAM: My belief that I did not wear that costume or attend that party stems in part from my clear memory of other mistakes I made in the same period of my life. That same year, I did participate in a dance contest in San Antonio in which I darkened my face as part of a Michael Jackson costume.


KING: The governor was 25 at the time and in the Army. He now knows that was offensive and unacceptable, but he says it's not the same as the heinous yearbook photo.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) NORTHAM: If I were to listen to the voices calling on me to resign my office today, I could spare myself from the difficult path that lies ahead. I could avoid an honest conversation about harmful actions from my past. I cannot, in good conscience, choose the path that would be easier for me in an effort to duck my responsibility to reconcile.


KING: It was immediately clear the governor's effort to calm the uproar failed. Quite failed. Losing Warner, Kaine, Scott and Wilder leaves the governor now with no shelter and his African-American Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax said he could not condone the government's past actions and it was time for, quote, decisions in the best interest of the Commonwealth of Virginia.

So, as we have this Sunday morning, the governor is alone, isolated.

[08:05:01] This is the hometown newspaper, resisting of the calls to go.

You spent your day back in Richmond yesterday.


KING: Can he hold on? He's clearly digging in, but he has no support.

MARTIN: Right. He's lost the entire state party apparatus, the very people who helped elect him less than two years ago.

Look, I think if he wants to stay, it's going to be tough for Democrats to dislodge him short of impeachment which they may have to pursue. But, clearly, at a practical level, John, it's going to be hard for him to govern.

Look, they are in session right now. How do you walk over to the capitol and push through your agenda when your entire party has walked away from you? How do you court businesses?

A key part of being governor is to basically be the recruiter in chief. How you bring in business to your state. If you are tarnished like that, how do you bring in business to the commonwealth?

And lastly, this is an election year in Virginia. Every year is. And the fact is the entire house and Senate is on the ballot in Virginia. He is the fund-raiser in chief as well. How is he going to raise money for candidates who are going to be on the ballot this year and Democrats are that close to taking back the House and Senate?

So, look, I think Democrats are deeply concerned in the state and beyond the state. They are even more concerned, in part because they want to have clean hands when it comes to this president, whether it's on gender or race. Al Franken found that out. And they want to be able to prosecute the case against Trump without the Trump folks saying hypocrite, hypocrite.

KING: Timing is everything.

MARTIN: Zero tolerance.

KING: Timing is everything in politics. There may have been a time, especially in this Michael Jackson episode, if he disclosed it himself in some previous campaign, maybe you can get through it. But you mentioned the state politics issue. Democrats think they can make important gains.

Then there's the national moment. Trump in the White House. Many Democrats call him a racist. This historically diverse Democratic field for president coming out of the 2018 midterms. Just look at the list. It's going to be easy to tell you who is not calling for Ralph Northam to resign. This list of national Democrats, state Democrats, you see it play out here including there's state dynamic which matters most to any governor, but the national dynamic.

This is the chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus saying: Governor, go.


REP. KAREN BASS (D), CHAIRWOMAN, CONGRESSIONAL BLACK CAUCUS: He just made it worse. The idea that he's going to come out yesterday and say that he was in the picture today deny it and then on top of it to say that he hopes that people would make a distinction between wearing blackface and imitating Michael Jackson, and because he wasn't standing next to someone in the Klan, he is completely tone deaf.


KING: In this moment, this is -- I see it as impossible for him to explain his way out. Is there a path?

TOLUSE OLORUNNIPA, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: There was probably a very narrow path after these photos first emerged if he would have handled this sort of -- with the top level of political savvy to sort of narrowly escape this.

But he definitely did not do this. He talked about being in the photo the first day. He put out a statement, he put out a video. The next day, he said, you know, I checked my memory and I so vividly don't remember this and it wasn't me and it sort of left everyone's head scratching about whether this was him in the photo.

And then he dropped this bombshell that I was doing the moonwalk and trying to pretend to be Michael Jackson and I participated in blackface then. It really just left a lot of people's head scratching. Even the people who did not call for his resignation after the first few hours after the photos came out decided to call for that after the press conference.

So, he's done himself no favors. He's sort of a man without a party at this point. I don't know if there's a way for him to kind of claw back from what was sort of a botched explanation of these photos.



To J-Mart's point, if he manages to stay in office, what would he do over the next two years? The way Virginia politics is set up, he can't run for re-election. He's in for one term.

But still Virginia, even though it's definitely moved toward Democrats in presidential elections, you'll still see candidates on the ground trying to build support. He won't be able to stand next to those candidates. He'll not be any help. If anything, he'll just be a distraction and he'll be someone that Trump can point to.

There is very little way to see him being a productive part of the Democratic Party in this office right now.

JENNIFER JACOBS, SENIOR NATIONAL REPORTER, BLOOMBERG: As we talk about politics and history, there's a quick historic footnote. Keep in mind, Norfolk is a city that still has a Confederate monument in its downtown and there's zero popular support for removing it. They consider it a memorial to their Confederate dead, and this statute is about two miles from this medical school that the governor went to.

Norfolk has a long history. This monument is erected on the site of what was formerly the center of the slave trade in that area. So, there's definitely some context there.

KING: Right, there's no question that the national history and Virginia's history is incredibly complicated on this issue which again the governor could have made a point if he would have disclosed the Michael Jackson thing in one of his campaigns and he put it out, you know, I grew up in this state and want to talk about something I deeply regret from my youth.

[08:10:00] Instead, I was watching the press conference and it was stunning, because he came out and he said he was certain it's not me in the photo. He's trying to save his job but then adds this description of San Antonio in 1984.


NORTHAM: I had the shoes. I had a glove. And I used just a little bit of shoe polish to put on my cheeks. And the reason I used a very little bit is because I don't know if anybody has ever tried that, but you cannot get shoe polish off, but it was a dance contest.

I had always liked Michael Jackson. I actually won the contest because I had learned how to do the moonwalk.


MARTIN: Yes, I mean --

KING: You listen to that, and not only that, number one, 1984, not 1784. 1984. He does this. Number one. And number two, he realized this was offensive during his campaign for governor driving around the state with an African-American aide who he described this episode to. So, just in recent years realizing how offensive that is, that is tone deaf.

MARTIN: What's fascinating if you talk to people who know him and who like him, they'll tell you, certainly before this and sort of sweet terms that he's from an earlier era. That has a different resonance now but he comes from an earlier time and place, from the eastern shore of Virginia, a very rural, isolated part of the state. You know, he's 59, but in some ways, he's a little more dated than that.

And I think he's trying to save himself there. And he just sort of talks himself into more of a hole by talking about Michael Jackson in that fashion. And, by the way, in that room yesterday, his staff was desperately trying to cut off the questions. They wanted him to take three or four questions and move out of the room.

He was determined, I think, to clear his name. And he wanted to stand there and take every possible question and went for our 40 minutes. And I think the longer in this case, not the better.

KING: He made it worse in the sense that Senator Warner, Senator Kaine and Congressman Scott wanted him to go, but essentially not to call for him to go and let him try to find his way for himself. And after the press conference, it was just done.

PACE: Well, one of the other reasons Democrats are comfortable with the idea of trying to push him out of office is that Justin Fairfax, who is his lieutenant governor, who would take office is actually seen as quite a rising star in the party. And so, that they -- he's African-American, younger. The idea of being able to elevate him would help soothe this situation.

MARTIN: And he's a Democrat.

PACE: A Democrat.

KING: He's a Democrat and he himself stayed quiet, supportive of his boss, the governor, but the statement issued yesterday was a pretty clear --


JACOBS: No one is going to defend him but just watch for this. I can almost guarantee the topic of, is something that happened 35 years ago disqualifying as we take into context? It's always a matter of case- by-case basis, of course, but expect 2020 candidates to be asked about this as we talk about re-enfranchising felons, giving felons the chance to vote again.

KING: It's a great point. I mean, it shouldn't necessarily be disqualifying but how you handle it, how you handle it, this was not well played. At a minimum, we'll watch this play out throughout the day and see if the governor has anything to say. He was silent last night after those new demands that he resign. Up next, 365 days and counting. Iowa starts the 2020 voting one year from today. A historically diverse Democratic field keeps growing.


REP. TULSI GABBARD (D-HI), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We must stand up. Stand up against powerful politicians from both parties who sit in their ivory towers, thinking up new wars to wage, new places for people to die, wasting trillions of our taxpayer dollars, hundreds of thousands of lives and undermining our economy and our security and destroying our middle class.




[08:17:48] BARACK OBAMA, THEN-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: They said our sights were set too high. They said this country was too divided, too disillusioned to ever come together around a common purpose. But on this January night, at this defining moment in history, you have done what the cynics said we couldn't do.



KING: Iowa votes one year from today. And that Barack Obama flashback is a reminder Iowa's kickoff caucuses can turn an underdog into a heavyweight contender.

This cycle's Democratic field is crowded. Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey, the latest big-name entry.


SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know, love ain't easy. The people I admire are the people that lead by calling out the best of who we are and not the worst. So I'm running for president because I believe in us. I believe in these values. I'm going fought them before the American people.

Hey, and if that's not what they want, then I won't be the next president of the United States. But I know my country.


KING: It is already a historically diverse field. Ten candidates in or officially exploring including five women, one Latino Americans, two African-Americans, and an openly gay man and at least 16 others saying they might run.

Michael Bloomberg, look at that long list of people there. Michael Bloomberg and Sherrod Brown from that list were busy in Iowa and New Hampshire this week. Senator Brown making the case his blue collar Ohio roots would apply to heartland Trump voters.


SEN. SHERROD BROWN (D), OHIO: I'm wary of Democrats that say you only talk to progressives to win and excite the base. Our party needs to nominate somebody that can win the Industrial Midwest, the Heartland, the Great Lakes states, the Plains States from Pennsylvania to Iowa, and we'll see how the voters decide that.


KING: I'll go first to the veteran of Iowa, the most veteran of Iowa. And he says, one year from today, you think, that's a long way off. When you've got 10, maybe 15 or 18 candidates running, this is wild.

JACOBS: It is. And I -- the most chatter I hear about right now is about Senator Harris, Senator Booker and Beto O'Rourke. I was with some Iowans yesterday who said their 15-year-old granddaughter falls asleep watching YouTube videos of Beto O'Rourke giving speeches.

[08:20:04] But it's going to be a matter of --


JACOBS: Can any of these candidates who are on fire right now sustain -- can they remain the front-runner for a full 12 months. Another question is, how do all these Senate candidates, a very similar donor base, sustain that. Can anyone win Iowa with under $20 million? Maybe somebody who is riding a crest of excitement right now, like Senator Harris or Senator Booker probably could.

But I also heard surprisingly from several Democratic activists who I spoke to in the last week or so. Amy Klobuchar is somebody they're interested in. She's been viewed as almost one of Iowa's senators because she spent so much time in Iowa and does so much for the Democratic base there, experienced, a former prosecutor, et cetera. So, they really like her.

Those are the names --

MARTIN: The hot dish connection. And an easy drive from MSP and her hometown just down across the state border.

Iowa is so fascinating because you can think back to more wide open races in the history of campaigns there and, obviously, anything can happen. But, guys, even in races where we thought we knew who the candidates were going to be, Iowa can surprise us. Think about the last two Democratic races there. You go into '08 and the assumption was John Edwards from '04 and Hillary Clinton, the former first lady, are going to be the candidates to beat in Iowa.

Guess what? Neither one. Obama did. You flash forward eight years. Hillary goes in with an enormous lead and she barely beats Bernie Sanders ultimately.

So, even in races where we think there's an obvious front-runner, they can still get clipped in Iowa. So, we don't know what's going to happen there. It is wide open race in Iowa, probably at least since '04, I would guess. And there's just this great uncertainty over what's going to happen.

And I think one of the fascinating parts of this election is who are the candidates who are going to camp out in Iowa and try to sort of plant a flag there, a la Mike Huckabee on the Republican side, put all your chips there and who are the folks who are going to be there but also try to have a foot in California, a foot in Nevada, a foot in South Carolina.

KING: The calendar has changed on early voting. It kicks in California the day Iowa votes a year from now.

MARTIN: Right.

KING: Here's another dynamic, I don't know how it will play out. This president, very rare for an incumbent president to try to meddle in the other team's game, if you will. In his Super Bowl interview tonight, listen to President Trump, remember, a man from Manhattan, his take on Cory Booker, former Newark mayor and now senator from New Jersey.


TRUMP: He's got no chance.


TRUMP: I say no chance.


TRUMP: Because I know him. I don't think he has a chance.

ITNERVIEWER: Who has a chance?

TRUMP: So far I don't see anybody. I am not impressed with their group.


KING: He could say, you know, let the Democrats do their thing. He can't help himself. He doesn't want to help himself, such as he can.

OLURUNNIPA: He's not going to resist the urge to get involved in the Democratic primary. This is a president who loves politics, who loves campaigning, loves being out there on the campaign trail, and one of the things he does at his rallies is sort of recount his election night victories. So, he's going to be a commentator. He's going to be sort of over the shoulders of all of these Democrats whispering sort of in their ear, tweeting about them and questioning whether or not they can fight him in the general election.

And I think that's something that all these candidates have to balance, sort of making a name for themselves on the Democratic side, but also showing voters they can take on President Trump, that they are deft enough politically to take on a president who brands people by nicknames and attacks them on Twitter and doesn't follow the normal political rules. These new candidates have to figure out a way not only to stand out in the Democratic field but show they can take on Trump.

PACE: And he knows what he's doing. I mean, part of this is he's going to be trying to goad them. They're going to talk about issues and they're going to try to be talking about sort of high-minded issues and he's going to be throughout on Twitter and interviews at the podium and White House trying to take jabs at them and test their ability to stay on message. And that's a huge test when you have a president with a big megaphone weighing in every day.

KING: Just ask Elizabeth Warren. The president has shown --

MARTIN: She is now largely ignoring his jives because I think she realized it wasn't worth it after vowing every time, early on, every time he comes after me, I'm going to hit back. She's now taking a more relaxed demeanor.

But that said, I kind of wonder if some of these candidates, if he does attack, who do want to get better known if some of them don't try to pick a fight.

PACE: Jump in.

MARTIN: Right?

KING: Some of the lesser knowns -- please, Mr. President, find me.

MARTIN: They'd love it.

KING: Up next, wall or nothing. The president delivers the State of the Union Address on Tuesday, and dangles an emergency border wall plan even most Republicans think is a bad idea.


[08:28:31] KING: The state of our union is, in a word, paralyzed. The fight over the border wall is the reason Washington is stuck for weeks now in a wall or nothing debate that's drowned out everything else and even pushed the president's big annual speech back a week.

The White House says the big theme Tuesday night will be national unity. This is a speech excerpt released in advance.

Together we can break decades of political stalemate. We can bridge old divisions, heal old wounds, build new coalitions, forge new solutions and unlock the extraordinary promise of America's future, the president will say. The decision is ours to make.

Now that sounds great but the president from day one made the decision to cater to his base and to his whims and two years in, he's done almost nothing to heal old wounds, build new coalitions or reach out to those who didn't vote for him. The Democrats now in power in the House have made their decision, too.

To give the president little or nothing that he wants -- the border wall being only the first of many policy confrontations.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: There's not going to be any wall money in the legislation. However, if they have some suggestions about certain localities where technology, some infrastructure as I said about the ports of entry, we may need more ports of entry, some roads, that's part of the negotiation.


[08:29:50] KING: Listen to that, listen to the President -- it's going to be hard to sell unity in today's even more polarized Washington with the President now on the record saying he's likely to soon declare a national emergency and try to build his wall regardless of what Congress or the voters thing.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Have you Mr. President decided whether or not you will declare a national emergency? Can you clarify --

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Have I privately, you know, what's in my mind?

I'm certainly thinking about it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you think you're going to have --

TRUMP: I think there's a good chance that we'll have to do that.


KING: Yes. CNN"s Manu Raju joins our conversation.

I've been in this town a long time. I don't remember you come of a midterm election, the incumbent president ramping up for re-election, a new party in control in the House. Usually there's a lot happening - a lot of different things happening. Wall, wall, wall for the last month-plus.

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and he's not going to get the wall certainly out of this Congress. Pelosi made pretty clear that nothing in this negotiation that is happening right now is going to result in wall money. And everybody in the Capitol Hill believes that.

You know, Republicans acknowledge that, too, because it's not going to get out of the house. So what will they agree to?

The big question is, what will the President ultimately accept? He keeps saying he's going to declare a national emergency. Ok. So if he declares a national emergency, then will he accept a product out of this House/Senate conference committee that does not touch the wall because he thinks he can do that administratively?

He has not been clear on that and he continued to say even in this interview that's coming out today that he's going to still demand the wall and he's not ruling out a shutdown.

KING: Right. Here's what he says -- here's what he is. This is his Super Bowl interview with CBS. "Would you shut down the government again?" "We're going to have to see what happens on February 15th". That's the deadline for the bill.

"You're not taking it off the table." "I don't take anything off the table. I don't like to take things off the table. It's that alternative. It's national emergency. It's other things."

Again, in a normal political environment, with players who played by the normal rules, you'd think someone would look for a circuit breaker here.


KING: That the President would want to change the subject. The President would want to move on to another issue especially as he ramps up for re-election. This is it.

PACE: Well, for him, this is the re-election issue.

KING: Right.

PACE: I mean he knows that he either has to get a wall or show that he is fighting for it which I think is why national emergency is still on the table. Even if he does that and reopens the government, it's likely the national emergency declaration would get tied up in the courts. It wouldn't actually produce a wall in the short term --


PACE: -- but he has to show his core supporters that he's fighting for this.

But the big group that he does not have on his side if he's going to push for another shutdown is congressional Republicans. They thought that this was a big loser for them, for the President and for their own political prospects. And they're just not going to be with him.

KING: They don't like -- most Republicans don't like national emergencies. Listen --

PACE: Right.

KING: -- this is the Senate Majority Leader, Republican Mitch McConnell who held the party together during the shutdown but has pretty much told the President, I'm out of gas here.


SENATOR MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: I'm for whatever works, which means avoiding a shutdown and avoiding the President feeling he should declare a national emergency. I'm for whatever works that prevents the level of dysfunction we've seen on full display here the last month, and also doesn't bring about a view on the President's part that he has declared a national emergency.


KING: There are some Republicans who say, "Go ahead, Mr. President -- do it to build the wall." But McConnell is taking the longer view there to A, respect the Congress, this is our job to appropriate money --


KING: -- and B, what happens when you have a Democratic president.

JACOBS: I can tell you, the White House is trying to game this out. If they do declare a national emergency, what happens? I talked to one operative yesterday who was talking about, well if we -- if he does declare the emergency, does that set a precedent for Democrats in the future? Can Democrats declare a national emergency for gun control or climate change or whatever and they don't want that.

They just want to make sure that whatever they do that Nancy Pelosi does not get another win out of declaring a national emergency.

RAJU: And also the risk is that there will be a vote in Congress to go after, to target, to stop the President from going forward on national emergency. And this is -- what's known as a privileged measure. That means it must come up for a vote in the Senate if it passes the House.

And McConnell is flatly concerned that Republicans will join Democrats to block this. And it would be an embarrassment for the President if Congress were to come back and push back this way.

KING: -- which is why a lot of Republicans want the President to move on. You know, accept something -- accept some compromise. Don't do the national emergency.

You have Peggy Noonan writing in the "Wall Street Journal", clever as she always is. And the headline of her piece is "Mr. President, tear down that word" -- meaning drop the "wall" word.

The -- one of the interesting dynamics here, of course, is the new relationship between a Speaker Pelosi and a President Trump. And he's been generally kind to her, actually cheered her on. Some people, you know, read sarcasm into that when she was running for speaker but his tone changed this past week including he had an event at the White House on Friday where you could see his anger at Pelosi in his eyes. And this is in the CBS interview.


TRUMP: I think that she was very rigid, which I would expect, but I think she's very bad for our country. She knows that you need a barrier. She knows that we need border security.

What's happening is when you have a porous border and when you have drugs pouring in and when you have people dying all over the country because of people like Nancy Pelosi who don't want to give proper border security for political reasons.


KING: She is stronger after this last month of shutdown and wall debate. He is weaker. I noticed in his tone about her, he seems to have gotten the lesson.

[08:35:00] PACE: I think so. I mean he came into this new Congress, I think, with some hope that Pelosi might look for ways to work with him. They actually have had a pretty decent personal relationship. And I think he just misunderstood her politics thinking that she would need to show that she could compromise with the White House, thinking that Democrats would need to show that they could step into the House majority and have some results.

What he didn't understand is that the energy in the Democratic caucus is not there with these lawmakers who have come into office to oppose Trump and pretty much to do that alone. And Pelosi has in this last month has really managed to unify her caucus around that idea.

She's stronger now. Her caucus is more unified as a result of this shutdown than it was when she took back the Speaker's gavel.

RAJU: He totally miscalculated how Nancy Pelosi governs and thought that when she -- she's playing talking tough because she didn't have the votes to become Speaker in this way. That was not the case at all. Now she's in a much stronger position.

And you know, Pelosi and the President aren't really speaking much at all. They had one conversation in the aftermath of the State of the Union snafu and pulling the plane so she couldn't go to Afghanistan.

They talked about things they could do like infrastructure. But it was not a really high level. They didn't get into the details. They're certainly not talking about the wall which is the big issue in the next couple of weeks.

KING: It's going to be a fascinating Tuesday to see the President delivering what is his second official State of the Union. Won't be Paul Ryan behind him. It will be Nancy Pelosi and Mike Pence. Not Paul Ryan and Mike Pence -- fascinating moment. Big week ahead.

Up next -- is the country ready to support Medicare for all? Tax hikes on the rich? The Democrats move left, but not without a fight.



HOWARD SCHULTZ, FORMER STARBUCKS CEO: That's not correct. That's not American. What's next? What industry are we going to abolish next? The coffee industry?

To think we should get rid of the insurance industry -- again, this is exactly the situation. It's far too extremes on both sides, and the silent majority of America does not have a voice.


KING: The former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz there, potential Independent presidential candidate Howard Schultz there -- taking after Democrats who favor Medicare for all. His case is there's room for a centrist Independent for president. It's anchored in the belief that America is done with President Trump but worried Democrats are moving too far to the left. Let's take a peek.

The Democratic Party without a doubt is moving to the left. Look at this Gallup polling here. You want to take this over. Half as many Democrats describe themselves as conservative now than did in 1994. Twice as many Democrats describe themselves as liberal -- a majority as did in 1994.

And you see the percentage of those who describe themselves as moderates, now a third of the Democratic Party -- it used to be close to a half of the Democratic Party. So the party no doubt is moving to the left.

And so you get from the candidates for president Medicare for all, free college tuition or at least debt forgiveness, the green new deal, tax hikes on the rich, new gun control -- things that were dangerous for Democrats to propose in presidential elections are now on the table for many of the candidates.

A half dozen, for example, have supported Bernie Sanders, the most ambitious, the most liberal Medicare for all plan -- at least a half dozen candidates for President on the Democratic side support that.

Here's how this works out. They support it because 81 percent of Democrats support it. Independents, a majority. Republicans don't like this idea. If you say do you want a national health care plan you now get in this Kaiser poll majority support.

The issue is when you get into the weeds and into the specifics. Take a peek.

Do you want a plan that gives you universal coverage? Test off the chart. Do you want a plan that eliminates premiums, reduces your out of pocket costs like Medicare for all would? Their supporters say -- tests off the charts.

Would you like a plan that eliminates private insurance? Then you get into the danger zone. How about a plan that requires you to pay higher taxes? Again, support drops precipitously. Or what about a plan that you might have some delays in getting your treatment? Then it drops off the table there.

So it's popular with Democrats. It's popular broadly. Into the weeds it gets hard to explain as Kamala Harris, California Senator, Democratic presidential candiate found out in our CNN town hall this week.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: I believe it will totally eliminate private insurance. So for people out there who like their insurance, they don't get to keep it?

SENATOR KAMALA HARRIS (D), CALIFORNI: Well, listen, the idea is that everyone gets access to medical care. And you don't have to go through the process of going through an insurance company, having them give you approval, going through the paperwork, all of the delay that may require.

Who of us has not had that situation where you have to wait for approval and the doctor says, well, I don't know if your insurance company is going to cover this. Let's eliminate all of that. Let's move on.


KING: Let's eliminate all of that. Let's move on. If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor.

MARTIN: You can't overstate --


KING: There are troubles when you get into the details.

MARTIN: You can't overstate the impact of that comment on the rest of the field and watching that and realizing, oh, my gosh, I'm not going to walk into that trap.

We have a story today in the paper about just how that comment has echoed, and it really does get at one of the central points of tension in this primary -- John. Candidates like Bernie Sanders have set the pace in the party for the last few years. And in an effort to sort of keep pace with Bernie, candidates like Senator Harris have embraced some of his policies.

Well guess what, the policies are popular at first blush but, of course, when you dig deeper and you tell Americans, by the way, this would be losing private insurance, well, nearly 60 percent of people in this country get their insurance from either their employer or their spouse's employer. And a lot of them kind of like it.

I talked to Zeke Emmanuel, former Obama adviser on healthcare, he said it's kind of like Congress, right. People say that they hate Congress but they kind of like their congressmen. And so I think, you know, that's the challenge for Democrats here is, how do you sort of keep pace with the shifting leftward nature of your base but at the same time not scare off the broader electorate that doesn't like President Trump but also kind of likes their insurance.

[08:44:59] KING: And you mentioned -- you mentioned Kamala Harris. You know, the party's other candidates looked at that and says listen, here's Cory Booker and Elizabeth Warren. Basically the same question. Do you support a plan that would wipe out the private health insurance industry?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you become president, will you do away with private health care?

SENATOR CORY BOOKER (D), NEW JERSEY: Even countries that have vast access to publicly offered health care still have private health care. So, no.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is there room for private health insurance in your vision of the ideal American health care system?

SENATOR ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Our obligation is to make sure that everybody gets coverage at the lowest possible cost to all of us. There are different ways we can get there.


PACE: Well, that's the exact response.


PACE: -- in talking about that. The other thing that I think is interesting I think is going to be a real part of the debate is the pay for question here. You know, Bernie Sanders was pushing a lot of these same issues in 2016 and the pushback from the Clinton campaign that never really gained traction was how are you going to pay for all of this?

I think you're going to see lot more attention there. What I do think is interesting is that one of the ways that these candidates are talking about pay for it is to increase taxes on the wealthy. And that actually is something that Democrats largely have avoided in presidential campaigns, even though there is broad public support for that concept.

They don't like to be seen talking about raising taxes on anybody in presidential campaigns, but I do think you're going to see that be more of a discussion here as well. Simply to answer the question.

KING: And Bill Clinton in 1992 said I'm going to cut taxes on the middle class by raising taxes on the rich. And if you're right, if you look at that -- the Medicare for all one is dicey when you get into the details. And it's a complicated sell for these candidates. That's why this race is going to be so fascinating to see if they can solve.

You look at taxing the rich, tax hikes on families earning more than $10 million year -- there's the Fox News poll -- you just see the numbers. That is safer ground.

RAJU: Oh yes. No question about it. It's interesting the Booker and Warren response, I asked them directly, right after the -- Harris saying that she'd be open to eliminating private health care. Neither of them would comment to me the day after these remarks. They took some time to ensure that they had their remarks down pat because that's the kind of thing that's going to come back and haunt Kamala Harris if she will becomes the general election nominee for the Democratic Party.

There's a lot -- this presidential field is still forming, and as we dig into the details of these proposals, there are going to be a lot of land mines that these candidates are going to jump in.

And I think for the Harris -- Harris' mistake there has shaken a lot of confidence in her among some Democrats you talk to. And, you know, the scrutiny is only going to intensify.

JACOBS: Yes. I can tell you there were some Democratic activists were confused about her answer and the pushback from her campaign trying to clarify it.

MARTIN: But not walk it back at the same time.


JACOBS: Yes, Exactly. They had some questions about whether she's pandering or where she's at exactly. It's definitely raised more questions than it answered.

KING: All candidates fall down. All candidates fall down. All candidates scrape up the car. The question is how do you get back on the track?

MARTIN: But real fast. Most campaigns don't start off on national TV with town halls. You start off in a small room in Iowa and New Hampshire and kind of build your way up to (INAUDIBLE) makes them some sort of miscues on the way.

But usually there's not a camera there that is showing your comments to the world like you're on CNN.

KING: That's a true fact.

MARTIN: Good plug for CNN. Right here on CNN.

RAJU: We'll force candidates to do that?

KING: Who wants to do the next town hall?

MARTIN: I've killed the branding. Sorry -- John.

KING: Up next, it's a great day in America. Super Bowl Sunday. Much of the country it seems is tired of the Patriots winning -- not me.


KING: Super Bowl LIII kick offs just hours from now. Get ready a little early out, if you don't mind.

Our Andy Scholes is outside the Mercedes-Benz dome out in Atlanta. Andy --- I know you can't do what I'm doing right now. You can't, you know, be publicly not objective.

What are we going to get today besides a close game? All the Patriots Super Bowls are close.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: They are. They're always great. Tom Brady has been in -- this is going to be his Tom Brady's ninth. All eight of the ones he's played in previously have been decided by one score. So you know you're going to get a good game with Tom Brady in it.

Well, you know, John -- the Super Bowl is being billed the old veterans in the Patriots versus the new kids on the block in the Rams.

This is going to be, like I said, Brady's ninth Super Bowl. He's trying to win his sixth. He's 41 years old now. He would be the oldest quarterback ever to win a Super Bowl. The Rams Jared Goff meanwhile just 24. He was seven years old when Brady won his first title back in 2002.

Super Bowl LIII also going to make history for the largest age gap ever between the two coaches. Sean McVay only 33 years old, youngest coach ever to lead a team to the Super Bowl. Bill Belichick meanwhile, twice his age -- he's 66.

Now one guy even older than Belichick -- his boss. Patriots owner Robert Kraft, he's 77 but as you can see he still has some moves. Check him out dancing with hip-hop artist Cardi B yesterday At the Fanatics party yesterday.

I actually got lucky enough to witness that in person and I also chatted with some of the celebrities in attendance to get their predictions for the game.


PEYTON MANNING, FORMER NFL PLAYER: I think you'll kind of know early how it's going to be.

DR. MEHMET OZ, TV HOST: We're making a house call. We have to collect a co-pay but this one time I'll give away a free recommendation. I'm going with the Pats to cover the spread.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi. I'm going for the Rams. That's it. That's all I can say.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tom Brady is so good. You know what, wouldn't mind seeing him win another championship.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh no. I'm looking for the Patriots to blow the Rams out.

MANNING: I see it being close one way or the other. That's all I know.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And don't bet against Brady.

KEVIN HART, COMEDIAN: Prediction -- Eagles will win, 37-16. That's my predictions.

SCHOLES: That was last year.

HART: Eagles 37-16. That's my prediction.


SCHOLES: You know, Kevin Hart -- a big Eagles fan. Always the comedian.

But John -- you know, so many people are picking your Patriots to win this game. It almost makes me think we all can't be right, right? It makes me think the Rams might actually pull off this upset.

KING: No, no, no, no, no. All right, Andy. I still like you anyway. I like you anyway.

Have a great day at the Super Bowl. Have one of those big Sam Adams with the goat on it for me, will you.

Let's bring it back into the room here. I want to show you a map. Most of the country apparently is tired of the Patriots winning. This is based on Twitter data from the states. And you see so many states voting for the Rams there.

[08:55:00] If this were a presidential year, I'd say the Patriots have no path to 270. What is this hate?

PACE: It's because we are sick and tired of being here. This has become -- as a beleaguered Bills fan this has become a really unfortunate tradition for me to be on your show on another Super Bowl Sunday when the Patriots are in the big game.

The only upside is that it gives you an opportunity to learn all kinds of stuff about other teams.

RAJU: I actually end up doing this show almost every Super Bowl Sunday, too. But it also reminds me --

MARTIN: If your Bears had a kicker, we might be having a different conversation.

RAJU: That's definitely true.


RAJU: Exactly. But it actually reminds me of the greatest Super Bowl ever which was Super Bowl XX when the Bears beat the Patriots 46 to 10.


RAJU: It was a classic --

KING: That was old school. I brought old school too for good luck.

RAJU: Best team ever.

JACOBS: What's the saying though?

RAJU: And you know, the same score may replicate itself today.

MARTIN: Two fast points. First of all, any images of Bob Kraft dancing should have a sort of warning before they're aired on national television for of our health.

And second of all, in honor of my wife and Who Dat Nation, I just want to say, there should be an asterisk on this Super Bowl because the Saints were robbed in the superdome.

KING: It should be --

MARTIN: A day that shall live in infamy in south Louisiana.

KING: It should be Brady/Brees. I agree with you 100 percent.

That's it for INSIDE POLITICS. Again -- thanks for sharing your Super Bowl Sunday morning with us. Hope you can catch us weekdays as well noon Eastern.

Up next, don't go anywhere. "STATE OF THE UNION WITH JAKE TAPPER". Important guest include the former Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe and Republican Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama.

Have a great Sunday. Go -- Pats.