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INSIDE POLITICS

Moore Withdrew From Federal Reserve Consideration; Trump on 2020: I Think Biden Would Be Easier Opponent; Likely Voters Choose Multiple 2020 Democrats Over Trump; Trump Administration Makes Its Case for Killing ObamaCare. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired May 2, 2019 - 12:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:30:41] JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: A new high mark for President Trump today in our new CNN polling and one aide hope he studies as we move forward here. Just look at this number right here.

The president's overall job approval, 44 percent approve, 53 percent disapprove. That's not so good, but for this president, that's not a bad poll number. Here's where the president has very encouraging news heading into 2020. Look on the economy. Fifty-six percent approve of his performance, 41 percent disapprove of his performance. A big number for the president as the economy improves.

Look at independents. Key in any close presidential election. Overall independents are split evenly, 46-46, approve, disapprove of the president's overall job performance. But look at the economy, more than six in 10 independents approve of the president's handling of the economy. That is an area the president can focus on heading into 2020.

Let's look at the issue scorecard. Off the charts, the president is doing very well on the economy. A majority think he's kept his promises. Here's where the president is under water, immigration, foreign affairs, race relations, and health care, not the president's strengths. This is which is why aides wish the president would talk more and more like this.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have a very low unemployment rate. We have the lowest rate we've had in 51 years. We're going to soon set the record, and all of that is good, but we do have to be able to, you know, power up these companies that are coming in. They're not going to be able to come in if they are not going to be able to get people.

We just did 3.2 and, frankly if we would have had the Obama interest rate, you know, where they kept them very low which is not necessarily good, but if we would have had those low-interest rates we could have been much higher than that.

(END AUDIO CLIP) KING: You see the president there talking about the economy, but some breaking news just in from the president's Twitter account. Steve Moore, someone the president wanted to appoint to the Federal Reserve Board, now president tweeting this, "Steve Moore, a great pro-growth economist and a truly fine person has decided to withdraw from the Fed process. Steve won the battle of ideas including tax cuts and deregulation which have produced non-inflationary prosperity for all Americans. I've asked Steve to work with me toward future economic growth in our county."

A long tweet from the president there. Feels like it might have been written by somebody. That's not his language all of the time. But this is significant in the sense that the president two picks for the Fed, Herman Cain pulled out because he was clear he was not going to get Senate confirmation. Now Steve Moore pulling out because it's also clear he was not going to get Senate confirmation.

Remember, the Senate is controlled by Republicans. The Senate Republicans in recent days have sent words because of things Steve Moore has written over the years about women that don't even try this, Mr. President, and clearly, at the White House, they listened.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: And that's what Republican lawmakers have been saying that the White House should do a better job vetting these people before the president just floats their names because these people are out there. They haven't even been formally nominated for these jobs then they get criticized for things they've said in the past, things that they've done in the past and then they get kind of left hanging out to dry. It's happened with some of the people the president has picked before, and Republicans are complaining that before they have to go through this and answer all these questions about someone who hasn't even been formally nominated, the White House should probably do a better job vetting before they (INAUDIBLE).

KING: And Steve Moore complained about a smear campaign. There were 25 years of writings in which he criticized women athletes, he said women had no place doing this. There was an interview I saw a clip the other day where he said the biggest problem in the economy is declining male wages.

MICHAEL BENDER, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: Yes. I mean, he has said that a lot of this was unjust. I mean, what we've been hearing from the Senate is that they don't think it's very funny. You know, they -- and like you said, there's -- this is now the second pick in a row that walked away from a very high-profile nomination and a very important job, particularly in this administration, particularly heading into this election, and it raises a couple of things.

One of -- it raises new questions I think about the process inside the White House. Sort of there have been questions all along the way but Trump has lost a lot of people. I mean, these are the kind of nominations that John Kelly would have said, well, wait a second. Here -- here's the paperwork. Here's what the Senate is going to see. Do you really want to do this? There are not that many figures like that left in the White House, not just John Kelly but others who have left post-midterms. And, you know, Herman Cain said that this was about, you know, the pay, and he just realized that he wasn't going to get paid a lot less than he thought he was.

[12:35:00] You know, maybe he told Moore what that salary was, and this is all (INAUDIBLE).

KING: This is also to the vetting point, it's people in the White House who understand the institutional history here in Washington in the sense that Steve Moore had another problem. The reason that Mitch McConnell and John Thune, members of the leadership have told the White House we cannot get Lisa Murkowski, Joni Ernst, she's on the ballot next year in Iowa, Susan Collins is on the ballot next year in Maine, we're not going to get their votes given all that he's written about, but this is inside, INSIDE POLITICS if you will.

Steve Moore also a founder of the Club for Growth, which is a conservative group that often runs ads and campaign against the establishment Republican candidates including a lot of Mitch McConnell's friends. And so there's no reservoir of goodwill for Steve Moore for Mitch McConnell to go to those female senators and other senators who don't like these writings and say, look, I need you to take one for the team here because Mitch McConnell is no fan of Steve Moore and what he calls the club for dopes.

PAUL KANE, SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yes. That's -- the politics here were always bad, and for people like Joni Ernst who are constantly getting questioned back home by liberal activists, why don't you stand up to Trump for what he has done or said he has done towards women. This is their chance to do that. It's a smaller version of it but it's their chance to sort of stand up, particularly on this issue, and it makes it an easy no vote.

COLLINS: And we should note really quickly that actually, Senator Mike Lee of Utah invited Stephen Moore to come to the Senate Republican lunch yesterday on Capitol Hill, he wanted him to be able to defend himself from these people who have been calling the White House saying do not formally nominate this guy because we're not going to be able to back him and we don't want to have to answer questions about him. And when the White House heard about it, they scuttled that invitation, they told him not to go up there and they were advising him to keep a low profile instead of coming out and commenting on these stories that were surfacing. But he was doing the opposite and actually did two interviews today with outlets.

KING: To me (INAUDIBLE) so Stephen Moore out, now the president has two picks. Two picks. I suspect we're going to wait a little bit, I suspect they're going to do a little better vetting this time at the White House.

Stay with us, we'll come back with some more politics including in our new poll, some interesting matchups. How does the president fair against the 2020 Democrats? It's interesting.

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(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[12:41:28] TRUMP: I think Biden would be easier from the standpoint that you will have so much dissension in the party because you're going to -- it'll make four years ago look like baby stuff because, you know, they are looking to see -- what they want to do is they want to see if we -- you know, they want to get in. They want the radical left. They want the left movement and he probably isn't there, and I think you're going to have to have tremendous dissension like Hillary did. She had tremendous dissension with the Bernie people.

You know, a lot of the Bernie people, Trish, voted for me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: That's the noted political analyst president Donald Trump talking on Fox Business channel about the 2020 race and Joe Biden (INAUDIBLE) a lot of the president's aides are not happy that he's constantly been tweeting in recent days about Joe Biden. They think he's elevating Joe Biden.

In our new CNN poll, some interesting numbers, and let me say this clearly, it is May 2019. Do not run off to Vegas with these poll numbers, but they do give us a baseline for what the race looks like and they show us some of the president's problems and some other things.

So let's look at these polls. Trump versus 2020 candidates. Beto O'Rourke beats the president by 10points, 52-42. Joe Biden 51-45, Bernie Sanders, 50-44. Let's flip over to the other graphic, Kamala Harris beats the president in this poll by a little bit, that's the margin of error land. Pete Buttigieg same thing, only against Elizabeth Warren among the candidates we tested does the president win there, and that's a statistical tie 48-47.

But I want to go back to something there and just show something here. Forty-two percent, 45 percent, 44 percent. Switch over here, 45 percent, 44 percent, 48 percent. It is likely at this point, and the president has to prepare for a campaign, another campaign in which he loses the popular vote. The question is can he pull off the Electoral College again?

You don't approach a normal presidential race thinking I'm going to lose the popular vote, how do I get the Electoral College. But this president -- that's what happened last time, and if you look at the numbers, that's the big takeaway to me is that they have to plan a strategy where he is likely to lose the popular vote.

KANE: He has to run the same inside straight basically that he ran in 2016. He has to go through Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. And that's why he and some of his advisers are looking at Biden because Biden would be his toughest matchup in those three states.

KING: And here's one other thing I want to show you and come back to this graphic if we can, Scott and bring it up. I'm going to circle this here, 48-47. Can we bring this one back up on the screen here? Elizabeth Warren is the one candidate the president statistically tied but he's ahead of here. So they're trying to tell the president, stop attacking Biden, you elevate him.

You're the president of the United States, you think, huh, all the Pocahontas stuff worked. Who fairs weakest against me in this poll? Elizabeth Warren. So you tell the president, he's going to look at that number and say what I'm doing is working. Thanks again, smart people, and he's going to keep doing it his way, right?

COLLINS: And doing it his way has worked for so long when people have criticized what he's done. What he said in the Fox interview was interesting when he said all the Bernie Sanders supporters voted for the president, that's because they didn't want to vote for fill Hillary Clinton. Hillary Clinton is not running in this election for what we've heard so that's going to make things very different if it's Trump versus Bernie Sanders. Those Sanders supporters would not likely support the president again just based on what they said before.

So that's the question here but obviously, the president is sweating Joe Biden. You can see it from his Twitter feed, what he's been saying even though advisers they were telling him don't attack him that much because you're elevating him. The president doesn't see it that way, and instead, he's going after him because he does feel sensitive about Joe Biden because he knows they have the same appeal in similar states.

KING: It will be interesting to watch again. These are early numbers but they tell you a little bit about where they start there. The Biden numbers there if you want to look at them, why is the president thinking about Joe Biden a lot.

[12:45:03] It's a fascinating race. It's still early. Stay with us. We'll be right back.

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KING: We're getting our first glimpse of how the Trump administration plans to make its case in court to end ObamaCare. Last night, the Department of Justice officially escalating its fight against the healthcare law, now arguing for it to be struck down entirely according to new court filings. The move comes ahead of arguments to be heard in July before the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals that could potentially lead to another Supreme Court showdown next term raising the 2020 stakes even higher for Republicans and Democrats alike.

Our Supreme Court Reporter Ariane de Vogue joins the conversation. Take us through the arguments the Trump administration deciding to go forward for the full-throttled repeal. What's their legal case?

ARIANE DE VOGUE, CNN SUPREME COURT REPORTER: Well, we saw yesterday what they did is they said, look, we think the whole -- not just the individual mandate, but these provisions that go past it.

[12:50:05] Medicare, Medicaid, even that provision that lets you put your kid on your insurance program. They now think that that whole thing should fall, and that is a big reversal because hey, remember, that this law was upheld twice at the Supreme Court. John Roberts said that the individual mandate, it's OK under the taxing power. Well, flash to 2017, Congress got rid of it, they brought that down to zero.

So Texas and a bunch of these states went right to court and said, look, the individual mandate is no longer constitutional, the whole thing should fall. And at that time Jeff Sessions, he didn't agree that the whole law should fall. He said, right, the individual mandate, these key provisions. But then that federal district court judge in November said nope, the whole thing.

That caused the Department of Justice to rethink its strategy. They came back and they said yes, we think he's right. Last night in this 50-page filing they said, look, you know, courts can't just pick and choose various provisions are cut down. So we think that the whole thing should go and Congress should act which is pretty ironic right because Congress hasn't acted.

KING: Congress hasn't acted and the current Congress isn't likely to act again on healthcare with the divide in government. But this is, look, whether you agree or disagree with the decision, it's a pretty bold decision by the president and by his Justice Department knowing what just happened. In 2018 the Democrats took back the House by essentially running on healthcare and saying President Trump is a threat to ObamaCare. We will fix it and fortify it.

Now President Trump is saying get rid of the whole thing. So in an odd way, we always say he's not ideological, he doesn't -- it's all about him. This is a risky stand.

BENDER: Yes, absolutely. I mean, this is -- or maybe he was right that 2020 campaign is going -- after all going to be all about healthcare if this sort of -- if the administration is going to have success with this argument. But as soon as he started talking about that a few weeks ago, all of his political advisers -- I mean, to a person said what are you talking about? We don't want this to be about Biden.

KANE: Party of healthcare.

BENDER: We don't want this to be about healthcare, and here we are.

KING: To that point, this is Ronna McDaniel, the Republican National Committee chairwoman, the president keep saying Republicans have this wonderful healthcare plan and everyone is going to love it and they'll show it eventually, eventually. Neil Cavuto pressing the Republican National Committee chairwoman, where is it?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NEIL CAVUTO, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Do Republicans have a healthcare plan yet?

RONNA MCDANIEL, CHAIRWOMAN, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: Republicans are putting forward a healthcare plan. The president is talking about this.

CAVUTO: When is that going to happen because I don't see it?

MCDANIEL: I'm not a policy-maker but I will say this. We want to make sure that the doctor/patient relationship is restored. We do not want bureaucrats in Washington making medical decisions for families --

CAVUTO: No Ronna, I didn't say (INAUDIBLE) but if you're going to criticize your predecessor and say that his plans sucked or whatever you're saying, and you don't have a plan to substitute -- but you don't have a plan to substitute it --

MCDANIEL: Well, we had Graham/Cassidy. We did.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Kudos to Neil Cavuto for asking the right questions saying where is it. I think for Republicans are putting forward is the new version, it depends on your definition of is. You know, can they be in court saying invalidate ObamaCare with the goal being mean to throw it out without having a political alternative on the table saying, we want to throw it out because we're going to give you this? They have nothing right now, right?

COLLINS: Yes, not even a few pieces of paper to put forward. And Ronna McDaniel was saying she's not a policy-maker but even the policy-makers here don't know where they're going. And back when they decided to do this so many people were advising the president against it for different reasons but Alex Acosta, one of his reasons was we don't have anyone else -- or excuse me, he said we don't have any backup plan if this succeeds so what are we doing there. And even the Attorney General Bill Barr wasn't sure if it was going to be successful. So that what makes all of these interesting, that hearing yesterday and all of this talk about him being on Capitol Hill. He actually is playing a pretty big role in this and their decision to move forward with it.

KING: Lay out the timetable here, how does this work?

DE VOGUE: Well, so it goes to the Fifth Circuit early July and then we think it doesn't have to but we think it probably will go to the Supreme Court, back in front of Chief Justice John Roberts maybe next term. And guess what, an opinion would be rendered by the end of the spring right in the heart of this presidential campaign.

KING: Right in the heart of --

DE VOGUE: Once more.

KING: -- debate season.

OK. Before we go, Colorado Senator Michael Bennet made it official this morning becoming the 21st Democrat running for president. Fifty- four-year-old Bennet entered the Senate back in 2009 after years in the private sector and as the superintendent of Denver's public school system. Bennet was diagnosed with prostate cancer just in March but says he's been given a clean bill of health and he's all in and making his pitch to voters.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MICHAEL BENNET (D-CO), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think this country faces two enormous challenges among others. One is a lack of economic mobility and opportunity for most Americans, and the other is the need to restore integrity to our government. I think we need to do both of those things. But if we keep going down this road, we're going to be the first generation of Americans to leave less opportunity, not more, to the next generation. And I just need to do everything I can do to make sure that we don't do that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[12:55:00] KING: Bennett joins six other senators in the race. You see them there alongside governors, mayors, members of Congress, as well as candidates with no political background. It is a fascinating Democratic race.

Thanks for joining today on the INSIDE POLITICS. Busy news day. Don't go anywhere. Brianna Keilar will be with you after a quick break. Have a good afternoon.

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BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Brianna Keilar live from CNN's Washington headquarters.

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