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CNN/Des Moines Register Iowa Poll: Biden 24 Percent, Sanders 16 Percent; Trump Drops Tariff Threat After Deal with Mexico Reached; Biden Reverses Long-Held Position on Fed Funds for Abortion. Aired 8- 9a ET
Aired June 9, 2019 - 08:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[08:00:16] JOHN KING, CNN HOST (voice-over): A tariff threat brings an immigration deal.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: A lot of people, senators included, they have no idea what they're talking about when it comes to tariffs.
KING: Plus, a big flip-flop.
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: For many years, I've supported the Hyde Amendment. But circumstances have changed.
KING: By a front-runner under fire.
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't want to be the America of ten years back, 20 years back or 30 years back.
KING: And the speaker says forget impeachment. She wants the president in prison.
TRUMP: I think she's a disgrace. She is a terrible person.
KING: INSIDE POLITICS, the biggest stories sourced by the best reporters, now.
KING: 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.
We have a busy hour ahead including a last-minute immigration deal between the Trump administration and Mexico, and a major flip-flop on abortion policy by the Democratic front-runner, Joe Biden.
But we begin this Sunday with a new look at the landscape in the state that gets the first say in American presidential politics. That state is Iowa. Most of the Democratic contenders are there for events this weekend. And while the caucuses are still 239 days, that's 34 weeks, our new poll has fascinating data on the state of play and the difficult challenge breaking through in this crowded field of 23 candidates.
Importantly, our CNN/"Des Moines Register"/Mediacom survey is the first public poll to factor in the new rules Iowa Democrats plan for next year's caucuses. Ninety percent of the delegates at stake will be awarded based on the traditional in-person caucus process. But 10 percent will be divvied up based on results of a new virtual caucus system that allows Iowa Democrats to participate online.
Let's take a look at the numbers. Your overall leader combining both in virtual and in person is front-runner Joe Biden. But look at that. That's a smaller lead than Joe Biden has in national polls. He tends to be above 30 percent. In Iowa, he's at 24.
Senator Bernie Sanders in second place, Elizabeth Warren right there, that's a statistical tie. So, as this Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Kamala Harris rounding out the top five at 7 percent. This is your overall Iowa state of play today.
Now, let's break it down between those who will be there at a caucus site or those who say they're prepared to participate online through the virtual process. In person, Biden with a lead, Sanders, Warren, Buttigieg, Harris. Look at the difference here, for those who want to show up at a caucus site or participate online, a bigger lead for Biden here, 33 percent to 10, 14, 9, 10.
So, the same top five. A little difference when you look at those who say they'll do it the old-fashioned way and show up, and those who say, let's try this new way. This is a fascinating test for candidates, try to get these people to show up and the like. We'll talk about that in a minute.
Let's break it down ideologically. Elizabeth Warren has been gaining slowly in the polls. Among Iowa liberals, she's your leader, 22 percent to Mayor Pete Buttigieg, the vice president, Bernie Sanders down here. Look at this, Bernie Sanders last cycle liberal candidate in a pack. That's a problem for Sanders as Warren pulls ahead, again same top five.
Let's break this down this way, moderate to conservative voters, a healthier lead for Joe Biden. Sanders, Buttigieg, Warren and Harris round it out.
Senator Sanders, another poll in which you see compared to 2016, he seems to be struggling a bit. He says hang on, I'll be fine.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I believe I am best suited to defeat Donald Trump. I know all the polls out there say Trump is going to be beaten. They have me ahead of him in Michigan and Pennsylvania or in Wisconsin, battleground states. But let me tell you, I think Donald Trump is going to be a very tough opponent because I think he's a pathological liar, I think he will say anything, he will do anything. So, it's not going to be an easy campaign and I hope everybody understands this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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," CNN's Manu Raju, and Annie Linskey of "The Washington Post."
Right off the top, I want to compliment Ann Selzer, the Iowa pollster who's trying to figure this out. It's a hard new world where you have a split process. You can show up in person like it's been done for years or you can participate online somehow. The online stake is a smaller percentage of how they count the delegates.
But this is the first look at this terrain. All the candidates except for Biden are there this week. He'll be there next week.
What's the biggest takeaway when you look at the numbers?
JULIE PACE, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, ASSOCIATED PRESS: I think the biggest takeaway right now is that Joe Biden is the front-runner, but there is a lot of room for other people in this field to close that gap over the next several months. I think my other takeaway, if you don't close the gap relatively soon, there's not going to be a lot of opportunities.
[08:05:00] That group of candidates bunched at that 1 percent, the really bottom end of the field, someone is going to have to start moving soon. There's just not going to be that much room if you have a Biden, Warren, Harris, Buttigieg, in there.
So, I think we're going to see some of those candidates having to potentially make some hard decisions through the summer and into early fall.
KING: To that point, let's start there in the sense that you have 23 candidates. I was talking to Ann the other day. She used old school of psychology, seven plus or minus two. That's the human brain, processes. How do you process 23 candidates?
If you look at the poll here, who are you actively considering? If you look at the number, 61 percent of Iowa Democrats say they're actively Joe Biden. Fifty-two percent say they're actively considering Kamala Harris. Down to just 32 percent for Amy Klobuchar, 39 percent.
These are the candidates on the list. You might have a first choice, a second choice. Then you have this list.
But then you move to the lesser-known candidates, trying to get the technology to work here and move it over. Here is the problem. How do you break through, if you're, you know, Marianne Williamson who is considered a long shot anyway, Mayor Messam?
But this is Senator Michael Bennett. This is Governor Steve Bullock. This is Governor Jay Inslee, Mayor Bill de Blasio. You have Congresswoman, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand only two in ten Iowans say they're considering. These debates will be huge for a breakthrough. JONATHAN MARTIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It was smart of you guys to
do a poll the way you did, asking people who you're considering, because it reflects what is the reality in June of 2019. This is an eight-person race in Iowa with the possibility that somebody from that next tier could break out because most will be in the first two debates this month and next month.
So, basically you've got two different fields right now. You've got the top here and that undercard with the possibility nah that one of them can make a move. I don't know if more than one or two who can emerge from that lesser tier.
Here's the more striking thing I take away from that poll. The fluidity of this race, flash back to May of 2015, John, Hillary Clinton had a 41 point lead over Bernie Sanders, 41 points. And guess what? She won by less than a percentage point on caucus night.
So, if you look at these numbers, Biden with a very fragile advantage, it shows how fluid this race is. The fact that, look, it's going to be hugely wide open, and the ideological gap is an important thing to keep in mind. You see two wings of the party in contention there.
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And you're seeing not as much enthusiasm for Biden compared to other people in the field. This poll showing 29 percent were extremely enthusiastic for Joe Biden. That is down 10 percent compared to some other people in the field. Yes, that's right.
So this shows an eight-point advantage at this time in this race is not insurmountable.
KING: It leads you to believe, a lot of it was based on, he was vice president for eight years. Democrats like him, no question. To get to extremely enthusiastic, you've got to love him. That's the challenge.
ANNIE LINSKEY, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: And other tough things for the poll is Beto O'Rourke, it's just devastating for him. Because here is a person polling pretty well in Iowa before he had ever gone to the state, back before he announced. Now he's -- his campaign has made a real effort in the last few weeks to spend a lot of time there. They'll tell you he's the candidate that has had the most events there in the last few weeks and he's just not moving.
KING: And I just look at - go through the breakdown. We showed you the liberal, moderate, conservative, let's look at it from an age perspective here.
It's interesting -- Bernie Sanders leads among voters who are under age 35. Vice President Biden's strength is voters who are older. You see a bit of a split.
This competition for Sanders in here, again, back in 2016, a one-on- one race against Hillary Clinton, that was his slice. If you want something new, something different, something anti establishment, there's a fierce competition this time.
PACE: That Warren number is really fascinating. It's very clear over the past two months that she's solidified support, she's improving, she's growing. You're trying to figure out where her pocket pockets will be as the race starts to solidify. I don't think a lot of people have said young voters would be one of Warren's strength. That poll shows she has a lot of gaining opportunity.
KING: And how does this game out, in the sense that you have 90 percent of the delegates, that's what actually at stake. We do this as a horse race, but at the Iowa caucuses, the first step in the process, 90 percent get awarded based on those who show up in person. That's what they'll focus on, more delegates in place.
Ten percent by those who participated online, even if more people participated online and showed up at caucus sites, they're only 10 percent of the delegates' strength. If you look at Biden, for example, leads among virtual caucusgoers, you'd think they're older voters who don't want to show up.
[08:10:01] But they're not. The polls show it's an interesting mix. Some are first-time caucus-goers, some are younger people.
How if you're Biden, you get those people to show up, and will a candidate decide I'm struggling but I'll funnel my resources to people showing up online, so that I can say on the caucus night, I won the virtual caucus? You won't get delegates -- a lot of delegates out of it, but can you generate buzz out of a virtual victory?
LINSKEY: I think that's kind of hard. I think that's tough. I think a win is a win and coming out of Iowa, we know what we're looking for, which is the victor.
RAJU: It shows how hard it will be to measure where this race actually is because people could decide ultimately to do this virtually rather than showing up in person even if they're telling the pollster they may show up in person because maybe the weather will be nice that day and they may not want to leave, change their mind and that can ultimately impact the outcome of this race.
So, this is going to continue to shift based on voters' own decisions. It's very complicated. But it gives opportunities for other people to move up in this poll.
KING: A test of resources and organization, the caucuses always are. The caucuses always are. And now, you have to track your supporters and make the calculation. Most people will want to get them out, but we'll see. Use that as a base line as we go forward.
RAJU: Up next, the president tells his Republican critics, I told you so. Mexico is promising a crackdown on illegal immigration, and the president says his threat of tariffs is what made it happen.
First, politicians say the darndest things, royal edition.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: We had a really great time. There are those that say they have never seen the queen have a better time, a more animated time. She is a spectacular time, incredible woman.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: President Trump is claiming a big victory today and bragging he has again proven wrong those who criticize his unorthodox and disruptive ways. Off the table, for now anyway, the president's threat to impose, beginning tomorrow, new tariffs on all Mexican goods sent to the United States.
[08:15:07] Instead Mexico has agreed to several new steps designed to stop the flow of illegal immigrants and asylum seekers into the United States. The biggest promises are deploying Mexican National Guard troops to deter illegal migration and agreeing more that apply for asylum at the U.S. border can be returned to Mexico while their claims are being processed.
The president's re-election campaign sees this as a chance to raise money, rushing out a text praising the deal and asking for donations. That's the politics. The scope of the policy win, however, is in dispute.
"The New York Times" claiming these new initiatives were agreed to months ago and Mexican officials say they did not, as President Trump claimed in a tweet, also agree to make giant new purchases of U.S. farm goods. So brace, brace for debate about whether the president won or whether he blinked.
But for now, a reprieve from tariffs that would have sent shockwaves for both the U.S. and Mexican companies. And the reprieve from a fight pitting the president against senators in his own party who don't like tariffs to begin with and especially don't like them being used as a weapon in an immigration dispute.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): Let me just say there's a lack of enthusiasm among Senate Republicans for what would amount to a tax increase frankly on working class people.
SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY): Tariffs are simply a tax on the American people and I've been generally opposed to new taxes on the American people.
SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R-TX): Tariffs, on the other hand, would be a massive tax.
SEN. CORY GARDNER (R-CO): Tariffs are bad policy. They're tax on the American consumer and affect disproportionately middle income earners.
TRUMP: A lot of people, senators included, they have no idea what they're talking about when it comes to tariffs. They have absolutely no idea.
(END VIDOE CLIP)
KING: Tomorrow will be a more peaceful day, both in the U.S. and the Mexican economy because there will be no 5 percent tariffs. The question now is, did the president get a big policy win here? Has Mexico agreed to do something significant to stop the flow of migrants?
PACE: This is a classic Trump play. You create a crisis and then you look like you solved it.
Most of the things that were laid out were things that Mexico decided to dorks moving national guard to their southern border or things that were already in the works, which was ramping up the remain in Mexico asylum policy. So, overall, no. It's not as though the president got huge new concessions.
At the same time, he can paint this as a political win. For him, that matters quite a bit. The Mexicans, also, can claim that they were able to avoid giving big concessions. So, both parties here walk away feeling OK about the situation which is a bit odd because it was largely a self-created crisis.
RAJU: The first Trump-Kim summit. Afterwards they came out with the statement saying they agreed to all this, all these great things were going to happen?
MARTIN: It hasn't happened yet?
RAJU: Trump said that, you know, no more nuclear threat --
MARTIN: Peace in our time.
RAJU: -- from North Korea. That didn't quite happen.
Similar to what we'll see here. We'll see. Perhaps this will change everything when it comes down to what's happening at the southern border. Maybe not.
KING: Let me take a contrarian view for a second and raise the possibility that maybe Mexico did agree this to do it before but weren't doing it with earnestly. Maybe the threat of tariffs will get them to do it.
This is what drives the president crazy, monthly updates on apprehensions at the U.S. border. Look at the red line. There's 2019. There's other recent years and there is 2019.
So, if this starts to go down a little bit, maybe the president can claim, hey, look, they're doing a better job. It's working. If that stays up there, we're going to be back in this in a month or three as we head deeper into the election season.
LINSKEY: Right, I mean, the president did not take these tariffs completely off the table and he moved them to the edge. He made it very clear that this threat is still a live in his mind. That means we absolutely could find ourselves after a few more days of those numbers, we could find ourselves in the exact same spot we're in right now.
PACE: The question about that chart is what is driving that. Is it the fact that apprehensions are up and you're seeing this surge across the border because Mexico is lax in its policy? That's the president's theory of the case.
There's another theory of the case that some of this is because of what the president is doing on his own, where he's sending a message that we're going to have this major crackdown, so people are trying to come across it now to avoid tougher laws.
KING: And you have the problems that are getting worse in Venezuela, Guatemala and elsewhere.
MARTIN: He's had staff members and lawmakers for two-plus years stopping him from the precipice of tariffs, holding him back. He wants to levy tariffs.
This is the one consistent principle he's had in public life going back 30, 35 years.
[08:20:03] He believes tariffs work. You saw him there on the tarmac. I'm not sure how much longer he'll be able to withstand that.
You raise a good point, John. At the very least it's possible this threat flushed out the agreement that the Mexicans apparently cut with us in private, and sort of exposed the public light what they committed to in private in recent month. Two past points, though. This is a president that cares most of all about the perception of victory and perception of success.
That's tantamount to victory itself. That's what he has. He has perception of a victory which he can sell. Secondly, he's very sensitive to the markets and the market fluctuations. He's always tweeting about the Dow Jones. If these tariffs had gone into effect Monday, could you imagine the market this week? I think that was probably in the back of his mind, too.
KING: And there's a bigger, longer range issue. Number one, we'll see the performance and the numbers and see if the tariffs come back in the context of Mexico, as you get closer and closer to the election.
His political advisers will say please, Mr. President, don't disrupt the economy.
MARTIN: That's right.
KING: There are also conversations with China coming up. "The Wall Street Journal" putting it this way in an op-ed piece: the May jobs report is a flashing yellow light, president Trump needs to get back to promoting growth, and just show you the average job growth. This is what they're talking about. And, again, if you had a tariff fight with Mexico, if you had escalation of ongoing tariff fight with China, look at that time job growth during the Trump presidency. And, you're looking here, 2019, obviously, the effect of the tax cuts has weaned off a little bit. Job growth is starting to slow. Some economists see the perception of recession.
And the political team is telling the president: don't mess with the economy. But to Jonathan's point, this is one of his most consistent issues. He thinks the tariffs are a good bludgeon.
RAJU: And he also thinks when people make those warnings they're oftentimes warn. They warn the economy is going to implode when the government had the longest shutdown in American history. Well, the economy sustained that.
So he thinks he knows best, so he can very well be back in this in a few months. Not only could it hurt the economy, hurt his re-election prospects and his resolve, but create the fight again with his own party heading into the 2020 elections, something, of course, his political advisers want to avoid. Does the president want to avoid that? I'm not so sure.
KING: Well, we will not answer the question, though, had these tariffs gone into effect, would they have actually stood up to him on Capitol Hill or just talked about it? I was waiting to see how that one played out.
Up next, inside the front runner's big flip-flop and what it tells us about Joe Biden and about today's Democratic Party.
[08:25:37] KING: For three decades, Joe Biden cast his position against using taxpayer dollars to pay for abortions as an important matter of principle. On Thursday, he cast it away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: I make no apologies for my last position. And I make no apologies for what I'm about to say.
We now see so many Republican governors denying health care to millions of the poorest and most vulnerable Americans by refusing even Medicaid expansion. I can't justify leaving millions of women without access to the care they need and the ability to exercise their constitutionally protected right. If I believe health care is the right as I do, I can no longer support an amendment that makes that right dependent on someone's zip code.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: As flip-flops go, score that a 12 on a scale of one to ten. We know African-American on Biden's staff were among those who urged him to change his position. And with the first debates now in sight, there's no doubt this had something to do with it. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BETO O'ROURKE (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He's absolutely wrong on this one.
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Women of means will still have access to abortions. Who won't will be poor women.
SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: That is an assault on African-American women, too.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: How this was handled and the timing are raising very familiar questions about Biden's political instincts and the quality of his campaign team. This, nicely put in "The New York Times," is the bottom line as to the why.
For all his reluctance to abandon his long held position on federal funding for abortion, he shifted to meet the mood of emergency within his party's electoral base.
Handled poorly which raises long-term questions about the candidate and his team. From a policy position, gets him to a safer place in the primary, right?
PACE: Certainly a safer place in the primary.
I do think -- Jonathan wrote nicely about this this week. There is a theory of the case that Biden had getting into this race which was essentially that the Democratic primary electorate is more moderate than it looks on cable television or on Twitter, so he was going to play in that space. He was going to be comfortable playing in that space.
This raises a question about whether he is questioning his own strategy. To be doing that this early in the race and in this sort of public of a way, I think should be a little unnerving.
KING: That's a great point in the sense that this is one particular issue, and it's a big one, federal funding for abortion is a big issue. But also, if you have a candidate constantly second-guessing himself, constantly second guess his team, if you have a candidate or party -- if his whole argument is I'm best to beat Trump, and there have no hard time, what does that tell you?
LINSKEY: It tells you, does he have core convictions? I mean, it just makes it seem like he's absolutely convictionless on an issue that's not a tricky one. Yes, it's tricky but not a new one for this party.
PACE: Or for Biden.
LINSKEY: Or for Biden. And so, you know, to watch him flip-flop, it makes it look like you'll see the wind surfer because you're going to see that John Kerry ad going back. KING: Wait, John Kerry made it back, and wind surfing made it back.
Here's if you look at this latest CNN poll in abortion, this is why you get it if you study the numbers. The question is, are you trying to go with the party or do you have a core conviction? He said as recently as Wednesday night, the vice president believes this, he's going to hold firm. The next day he flipped.
Candidate must share my view on abortion. In 2004, 17 percent said that's the case. Now 37 percent say that. That's what Joe Biden is looking at, the Iowa caucuses, the New Hampshire primary, the Democratic electorate, the activists that turn out, and the blowback when he travels to these events.
MARTIN: Yes. Look, I think it was the blowback that overwhelmed him from a variety of liberal figures and also from the field. He knew he was going to get hit hard on this in the weeks and month ahead, especially with these two debates looming. I think he also heard from people like Senator Chris Coons who he's close to who have also tried to straddle the issue, supportive of abortion rights but tried to be more moderate.
Coons conveyed to Biden and his campaign, look, this moment is different. Given Trump, given his appointees to the court, given the state laws, it's not tenable any longer to keep with Hyde. Hyde was the longstanding compromise between opposite sides on the issue and they have stuck with now for decades.
And what people like Coons were saying is you can't pull this off any longer. But what's so striking about this to me is how much Biden is driving his own campaign and how much this was driven by Biden himself. You saw him --
830 [08:29:50] JONATHAN MARTIN, "NEW YORK TIMES": Keep in mind, Hyde was this sort of long-standing compromise basically between opposite sides on the issue that they have stuck with now for decades. And what people are clearly saying is you can't pull this off any longer.
But what is so striking about this to me is how much Biden is driving his own campaign. How that this was driven by Biden himself. You saw him read that speech and the reason why he's reading that speech is because there wasn't time to put it on the teleprompter.
MARTIN: He had to write it down and was reading it from his own notes. So Biden is in charge of this campaign. That is a difficult thing to do when you're running a national campaign. You have to sort of cede some control.
The question is, is he going to be willing to do that given the fact that two of his flaps so far before this were staff driven issues.
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes.
MARTIN: The middle ground thing on climate change and also the plagiarism issue earlier this week. Is he going to give the reigns over.
KING: And he's now joining -- he's now joining those Democrats who say the old rules don't apply. That the country is changing. It is safe for the Democrats to be -- Joe Biden's not -- but many Democrats say it's safe to be for Medicare for all. It is safe to be for taxpayer funding of abortions. It is safe to be for positions that 10, 15, 25 years ago were risky grounds for Democrats in national politics.
RAJU: And this is gone just a few years --
And so this is Biden's calculation as you jump in here. This is a long-term trend. This is exit polls, some other polling of ho white Catholics have voted in presidential elections.
And this -- look at Donald Trump against Hillary Clinton, 61 percent. You can't study all these numbers here. But Donald Trump doing better among white Catholics than Mitt Romney did, than George W. Bush did, than all the way back to Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan did.
And you see the Democratic number -- this has become a more Republican constituency, white Catholics. But if Hillary Clinton got 37 percent Joe Biden looks at that and says I can't win Pennsylvania. I have to take away Pennsylvania by getting above 40. I can't win Michigan without getting above 40. That was his position Wednesday. Then Thursday he said never mind.
RAJU: Yes. And look his argument then is he can win back those voters. This is why he's the candidate that is running in the best position to beat Donald Trump.
But I think it goes back to what you were saying earlier. This mistake just shows how rusty he is in politics right now. He has not really run in anything since -- basically since 2012. This party has changed dramatically since then.
And if he's running his own campaign, he's having those challenges because he's not attuned to how this party has shifted. He's not conveying --
KING: The factors he cited in his shift did not appear Wednesday. They have been around for weeks and months.
JULIE PACE, ASSOCIATED PRESS: And he has heard -- people have made those same arguments to him over the years.
PACE: It's not as though he was learning those arguments for the first time either this week.
KING: Fascinating to watch. It's interesting. All front-runners are tested.
KING: Here's the big one --
MARTIN: Some more than others.
KING: Some more than others. That's a good way to put it.
Up next for us, Kamala Harris says her prosecutor past makes her the best candidate to take on Trump.
[08:32:38] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
M1: Sunday trail mix now for a taste of the 2020 campaign. The state legislator who co-sponsored Georgia's so-called Heartbeat Law restricting abortion rights wants to move up to Congress. Republican Renee Unterman says she will run in Georgia's 7th Congressional District where the retiring incumbent won by fewer than 500 votes last year.
Democrats believe that traditionally Republican district is now in play. And they say Unterman's candidacy guarantees abortion rights will be a major focus of their efforts in 2020 to flip it.
It's a busy weekend in Iowa for Democratic presidential candidates. There's a state party event today. The weekend Des Moines Pride Fest is attracting many of the candidates and there are town halls all over the state.
Mayor Pete Buttigieg, the only openly gay candidate in the race spoke Friday at a Matthew Shepard dinner held in honor of the gay Wyoming College student killed in a hate crime back in 1998.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't even remember when it was as a young person that I began to realize that I was different. But I do remember when those news stories came out about what happened to Matthew Shepard, this terrible news from a conservative state, maybe not that different than my own state.
And the effect was that I immediately understood that hate was deadly. I suppose it means that I understood that I lived in a country where you could lose your life for being gay before I understood that I was gay.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Kamala Harris will join most of the other Democrats in Iowa later today. The California senator in South Carolina last night using a speech to the NAACP to make a direct appeal to voters who might have reservations about supporting her because of her past work as a prosecutor.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SENATOR KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There have been those who have questioned my motivations, my beliefs and what I have done. But my mother used to say you don't let people tell you who you are. You tell them who you are.
I knew that it made a difference to have the people making those decisions also be the ones who went to our church, had children in our schools, coached our little league teams and knew our neighborhoods.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Next he settles on a nickname. She says he belongs in prison.
[08:38:02] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: For as long as the soul knows of duty and honor, for as long as freedom keeps its hold on the human heart, for the men who sit behind me and to the boys who rest in the field before me, your example will never, ever grow old.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: A very touching 75-year D-Day anniversary tribute there from the President speaking Thursday on the hallowed grounds of Normandy. Moments earlier on that same hallowed ground, he finally settled on his nickname for Nancy Pelosi.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: She's a disgrace. I actually don't think she's a talented person. She's incapable of doing deals. She's a nasty, vindictive horrible person. She made a statement. It was a horrible, nasty --
LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS HOST: When you were overseas.
TRUMP: -- vicious statement while I'm overseas.
Now, if I made any statement about anybody it would be like a big headline -- why would he do that when he was overseas. She did it when -- she's a terrible person. And I'll tell you, her name is Nervous Nancy because she's a nervous wreck.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: And we'll get to the irony of that in just a moment.
But the statement at issue was delivered Wednesday by Speaker Pelosi in a private meeting of House Democrats as she yet again tried to calm talk of beginning impeachment proceedings. "Politico was first to report it and it is stunning. "I don't want to see him impeached," Speaker Pelosi said. "I want to see him in prison."
So there is the protocol, if you will, she said that when the President was overseas. He's right about that. He's sitting there in the American military cemetery, one of the most solemn -- remarkable places in the world and he says that. There's that. And then what does this do to what was already a dysfunctional relationship which now you have to just say is a non-existing relationship.
ANNIE LINSKEY, "WASHINGTON POST": One thing, she did say that behind closed doors. I mean, you know, if you're talking about, you know, making some sort of public insult to the President while he's overseas, there is a bit of a difference I think between the comment that perhaps she knew would be leaked, but it was not part of a speech or part of a sit-down interview the way the President -- I'm not sure it's apples to apples.
PACE: And it's kind of jarring actually to see him say that against that backdrop. If you've ever been there, I mean it's quite an emotional moving place to be. It really consumes you with thinking about what happened there.
To see him, after having given -- as you (INAUDIBLE) giving that speech which actually went over quite well to launch that type of insult against him, you know, in some ways I know we probably shouldn't be surprised. But it is still kind of shocking and jarring to see that.
[08:44:52] MARTIN: Yes, one more norm thrown overboard at this point we're kind of inured to but we shouldn't be when he talks about American political adversaries like that, sitting there on the -- one of the most sacred places in the world. So not terribly shocking.
But then to have Speaker Pelosi using a phrase that under any other circumstance would be a week-long story.
KING: Right. "I want to see him in prison."
MARTIN: Right. The President of the United States in prison it's sort of hard to imagine that being said under any circumstances. But this is where we are now and it's sort of every day it seems to come further and further.
LINSKEY: I'm sure she's heard from her caucus. I mean it's really, you know, the "Washington Post" today has a great story where we went and talked to I think 45 members on the record, just going through the process that they're trying -- they're wrestling with.
KING: As she keeps escalating the rhetoric. She keeps the genie --
KING: Where do you go from --
MARTIN: And that's the context of this.
KING: Has she hit the ceiling?
RAJU: The reason why she made this remark was because in that meeting with her chairman and there's a discussion about whether or not to launch an impeachment inquiry. She's facing pressure from some of the rank and file but also a very significant person, the House Judiciary chairman Jerry Nadler, who has been quietly trying to lobby her to get off of her opposition and to move forward in impeachment, has said various things to make his case.
MARTIN: Real fast.
RAJU: She's saying no. And she says because there's other ways to respond to the President.
MARTIN: Her rhetoric is now directly correlated to the amount of pressure that she's facing from her own caucus. And the more that they pressure her on this, she tries to buy herself more time and more space by amping up the rhetoric, not by taking substantive steps with the hope that maybe her base will sort of give her some more time if she just hits Trump harder.
KING: I want to sneak this THING quickly. This week has also been a lesson, shall we say. Speaker Pelosi did say something remarkable in self-awareness.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: Speaker Pelosi now apparently telling senior Democrats she'd like to see Trump behind bars, based on no actual crime. She wants a political opponent locked up in prison. That happens in banana republics, beyond despicable behavior.
Equal justice would mean Hillary goes to jail. By the way, when is Hillary going to be charged?
Real crimes were committed by Hillary.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Can't make it up.
MARTIN: The mic drop with John King, folks.
KING: You can't make it up.
Our reporters share from their notebooks next including a potential new twist on candidate fund-raising.
[08:47:26] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
KING: Let's head one last time around the "INSIDE POLITICS" table ask our great reporters to share a little something from their notebooks to help get you out ahead of the big political news just around the corner. Julie Pace?
PACE: So Democrats, of course, are already starting to think through the 2020 general election map, what their path is to beat Trump. And a lot of Democrats I have talked to lately are really confounded by one state. And that is Florida.
Even after Florida tilted to Trump in 2016, a lot of Democrats were still really rattled by the way the state performed in the governor and senate races in 2018. Democrats in the state have been conducting an autopsy trying to figure out what is going on here how they can get back on track in 2020.
But that has proven to be a really frustrating process because there aren't many solutions in Florida that don't involve simply spending more money and spending more time there. The one thing I haven't heard many Democrats talking about is not doing that.
The gains in Florida, the promise in Florida is simply too big against Trump. You could effectively knock him out if you could win there. They're just not quite sure they have a path to do it, not right now.
KING: You destroy his math if you can take it. But that's a big if.
MARTIN: Two of the candidates who began this year with much promise -- Biden and Kamala Harris -- did not get great news form this Iowa poll that we're talking about earlier.
Kamala Harris is stagnant and obviously Biden has come down a little bit. That's in part because of other candidates have had strong performances and gotten great press like Mayor Pete and Senator Warren.
But it's also -- I think it's part because they haven't put in the time there. And that's puzzled a lot of folks on the ground in Iowa. AP had an awesome story about that with Kamala Harris this week.
But I'm told that that's going to change here in the weeks to come. That both Kamala Harris and Joe Biden are going to be in Iowa much more over the course of the summer going into Labor Day. And they should be.
Here is why. Joe Biden, if he loses Iowa, it's going to be a blow to his campaign simply because he's the front-runner and you lose a state when you're on top of the polls -- that's a blow.
For Kamala Harris, it's more complex but it's still really important. She needs oxygen coming out of the early states to get to places like South Carolina where she's put a lot of time and money in. You've got to get a win or close to a win somewhere and Iowa could be her best shot to do that.
KING: 34 weeks seems like a long time. It is not.
RAJU: John -- most Republican senators including those who are up in 2020 were quick to criticize the President's tariff threat with Mexico, but not Senator Thom Tillis of North Carolina. He was a staunch defender of these tariffs. He also in the aftermath of the deal, he's one of the first persons to put out a press release defending the tariff threat.
It's really no surprise. Tillis is someone who could face a primary threat in 2020, potentially Congressman Mark Walker is not ruling out a run against him. Tillis initially, earlier this year you'll recall, came out very strongly, wrote an op-ed against the emergency declaration for the wall at the southern border but he made a flip- flop. Supported it after he got attacked by the President.
Also he strongly criticizes the subpoena that his own home state Senator Richard Burr issued for Donald Trump Jr.'s testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee. He defended Trump in the aftermath of the Mueller report even though he supported the bill to protect the special counsel.
It's all a sign, John of course, that primary politics is about who defended the President the most.
LINSKEY: Yes -- John. We're coming up on another fund-raising quarter. The second quarter has been to show the durability of some of these candidates in this giant field.
And a lot of them have been trying to go with small donors, but are learning pretty quickly that's not raising enough money. And so you've seen a change of tactics for some of these candidates.
Beto O'Rourke who initially said that he was not going to be doing big dollar fund-raisers, we've seen him starting to do that.
But Elizabeth Warren is one person who has kept her pledge not to do large dollar fund-raisers, but what we're seeing is that her donors are getting a little bit nervous about the strategy and are having -- having candidate events without the candidate.
[08:54:56] So she's not showing up to these events. There's been some asks for her to Skype in. The candidate has nixed that idea. And I was talking to one donor who's saying that they might actually just have a card board cutout of the Senator.
KING: I like that. Get some photos, raise some money, cardboard cutout. You always get the last word in those conversations. I'll close with this. It connects a bit back to what Manu was just talking about. We were reminded this past week of just how much President Trump is changing the Republican party and of how those changes are testing and straining traditional Republican alliances.
Take the Koch political network as one example. The billionaire Koch brothers and their network had spent tens of millions of dollars backing Republicans over the past two decades. But the Koch network is at odds with the President on trade, immigration and his big deficit spending. And it is angered that most in the GOP including candidates they've supported won't stand up to the President.
So the Koch network now says it's open to supporting consensus-minded Democrats come 2020. And it is a moot point now, but had there been no deal this weekend, the Chamber of Commerce, an icon of the GOP establishment was prepared to file a lawsuit tomorrow morning challenging the Republican White House and any Trump tariffs on Mexico.
We live an interesting and disruptive times.
That's it for INSIDE POLITICS.
Hope you can catch us weekdays as well. We're here at noon eastern.
Up next, Dana Bash hosting "STATE OF THE UNION" this week. Her special guest Democratic presidential candidate, Senator Bernie Sanders.
Thanks again for sharing your Sunday morning. Have a great day.
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