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New Polls: Democratic Primary Voters' Top Choice Is Still Biden; Paul Ryan Rebukes Trump in New Book; Democrats Make Some Bold Pitches for Change in 2020. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired July 12, 2019 - 12:30   ET


[12:30:00] MARGARET TALEV, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: But to me what's interesting about the sort of threat through all of these post-debate polling is that if you look at Harris and Elizabeth Warren together as kind of a combined category, you see that among those Democrats who are responding to these polls, there is collectively more interest in one of these two women than there is in Biden. And it suggests -- to me it suggests momentum wise some difficulty for Sanders and suggests for Biden that there is a challenge if those two women can sort of stick together and tell voters to make up their mind about which way they want to go.

That seems to be one of the interesting emerging threads. Of course, President Trump is going to throw everything he can at the wall and see what sticks. All the old traditions about campaigning are out the window.

JOHN KING, CNN HOST: I think it's a great point there but if you look at it and again it's early, and again we have debates coming up here at CNN just in a little more than two weeks from now, we'll see if it changes the dynamic again. But your establishment candidate, Joe Biden, is coming down. Your anti-establishment candidate from the last cycle, Bernie Sanders, is struggling. And these new faces, elections are often, especially Democratic primaries are often what's new, what's different, what's for tomorrow, they are ascendant.

So the dynamic right now is not good for either Biden or Sanders.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. And what's also interesting just on the Trump dynamic vis-a-vis what you just said is that my reporting is that one of the main reasons why the president has been calling out Joe Biden so much is because he was just convinced that Biden was going to be the nominee. And you might as well just start to weaken him now.

He has aside from the Pocahontas moniker that we heard so many times and still hear occasionally, he hasn't touched the others who are ascendant yet. The question is whether or if that tide is going to turn. The fact that it hasn't yet is fascinating.

TALEV: He started to yesterday with Elizabeth Warren.

BASH: But not Harris.

KING: And so speaking of Harris, well-reviewed first debate performance. One of the reasons it was well-reviewed, she aggressively took it to Vice President Biden on his past record about busing, about his remarks about segregation senators that you could take as praise. The vice president said he didn't mean it that way but talking favorably.

Here she is this morning on the Breakfast Club serving notice, if you think that was a one debate theme and I'm not going come back to it, you're wrong.


SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm not going to let us engage in a debate stage who's going to be the next president of the United States. I'm not going to allow us to engage in revisionist history. I can't stand on that stage and allow certain conversations to be taking place. But I cannot be on that stage and not speak up to make sure that we are having a full accounting for American history on these issues.


KING: Now, so there is a clear -- you should not be surprised Vice President Biden if this continues in the debate round two. But here's another reason why, for all of the good numbers in the polls for her, there's a Fox News poll out in South Carolina just among African- American voters. If you look at black Democratic primary voters in South Carolina in this Fox News poll, Biden 41, Sanders 15, Harris 12, then Booker, Warren, Buttigieg, and Williamson. So that's name recognition, that's familiarity, that's eight years of Barack Obama's vice president. That's still holding there.

If you're Senator Harris you're making progress but there is a state where you're still looking for a breakthrough.

TOLUSE OLORUNNIPA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, that's exactly right. And if you look at this from a purely political point of view, her attacks on Joe Biden during the last debate made sense. She needs to cut into his support among African-Americans and he made some gaffes that allowed her to have an opening and she basically took that opening. And she was sort of telegraphing on the Breakfast Club earlier today that she's going to continue to push Joe Biden. There's a big target on Joe Biden's back in part because his numbers are still strong with black voters in South Carolina and elsewhere in part because of his long history with President Obama.

But we saw in 2007, 2008 that, you know, Hillary Clinton was leading in South Carolina with black voters. But when it became clear that then-candidate Obama was able to win in Iowa and show that he was a viable candidate that shifted very quickly. And I think that may happen if Kamala Harris is able to show that.

KING: And to that point, we showed you the horse race numbers where Biden, again, it was a long history in the African-American community, and long history as Barack Obama's vice president, he's still winning in the horse race. So look at these other numbers though, among South Carolina Democratic primary voters, who's the best candidate to handle racial issues? Biden leads at 24 percent but there's Senator Harris right there at 21 percent. So there's an opening but she's yet to grab it completely but there's a big opening right there.

OLIVIER KNOX, CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, SIRIUSXM: There are a lot of undecided Democratic voters or Democratic voters who are saying I stand with so and so but I'm still making up my mind. That's really important for Senator Harris. There's another thread in her recent remarks which is an effort to sort of sunder Obama and Biden which is going to be really interesting because, you know, more Democrats identify as Obama Democrats than any other sort of subgroups and that's one of the reasons that Biden is doing so well.

I do want to say (INAUDIBLE) that the first votes of this election are after the Super Bowl of an NFL season that hasn't started. We should probably take that into account but I do think --

BASH: You're no fun.

KING: You meant to say the first votes are after Tom Brady and the Patriots win?

BASH: Oh God.

TALEV: No, no, no.

KNOX: No, I didn't mean to say that at all.

KING: Are you sure?

KNOX: Yes.

KING: OK, all right, fine.

BASH: Are you a New Englander?

KNOX: Hush, you.

[12:35:01] KING: Rebel Vermonters, it happens every now and then.

Up next for us, the other big headlines from President Trump's pretty interesting South Lawn discussion with reporters this morning.


KING: Topping our political radar today, President Trump weighing in on several other topics at his impromptu press conference this morning. The president continued to defend his decision to back away from the census citizenship question. He said using other methods other than the census to gather that citizenship data would be more effective and, quote, actually more accurate than the census.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No. Not only didn't I back down, I backed up. [12:40:02] Because anybody else would have given this up a long time ago. The problem is we had three very unfriendly courts. They were judges that weren't exactly in love with this whole thing.

So I asked, is there another way, and somebody said there's a way that might be better. It might be more accurate. They explained it. I said then what are we wasting time? We're going to be in court for the next two years. What are we wasting time for?


KING: Oh actually that other way was recommended months ago and he said no.

President Trump confirming that ICE raids to deport undocumented migrants would start on Sunday. The president calling New York mayor and presidential candidate Bill de Blasio, quote, the worst mayor in America for being against the raids. And the president reiterating that since the migrants, quote, came in illegally, they have to go.


TRUMP: It starts on Sunday, and they're going to take people out and they're going to bring them back to their countries. Or they're going to take criminals out, put them in prison, or put them in prison in the countries they came from. We're focused on criminals as much as we can before we do anything else.


KING: Also, the president's reaction today to some tough new words from the former House Speaker Paul Ryan. The former Republican speaker earning the president's horns today on the White House North Lawn. At issue Ryan giving a candid interview for the upcoming book by Tim Alberta, "American Carnage" which included this review, "Don't call a woman a horse face, don't cheat on your wife, don't cheat on anything, be a good person. Set a good example." That all from Paul Ryan in the book.

President Trump hitting back on Twitter last night, he made to sure to hit back again in person on camera this morning.


TRUMP: Paul Ryan was a lame duck for a long time as speaker. He was unable to raise money. He lost control of the House. The only success Paul Ryan had was the time that he was with me because we got taxes cut. I got regulation cuts. I did that mostly without him. But for Paul Ryan to be complaining is pretty amazing.


KING: Also called him a baby.

KNOX: Yes, I mean, their relationship was -- there are some interesting points in there, right? So the main success being the taxes, the inability to get the wall. Like we could do a slice and dice of what Republicans didn't get done during the two years when they controlled, you know, Congress and the White House.

But to the extent that Paul Ryan is trying to sort of set a template for Republicans who have been quoted privately in a bunch of news articles the last two years, privately expressing their concerns, privately saying they don't side with the president, privately. You know, it's interesting to have Paul Ryan come out and do it with his name attached.

BASH: He's trying to reshape the history of the relationship. It seems in this book, the interviews that he gave. Because on his way out, the M.O. on him was he never stood up to the president at all? In this book, he's saying, well, not that you heard. So it's going to be interesting how detailed he gets on that.

KING: We shall see if it's a one-day feud or if it continues.

Up next, Democrats have some bold pitches for 2020 but are their ideas solidifying their own base or the president's base?

As we go to break, two 2020 Democrats defending House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. This after Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez implied Pelosi is singling out the squad because they're women of color.


HARRIS: And I've known her and worked with her for years. I've known her to be very respectful of women of color and very supportive of them so I have a different experience.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think Pelosi was right to call out the tweets? Do you think this is going to away?

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I got enough politics in the presidential race with 24 candidates. But what I do think is, first of all, Nancy Pelosi is a very strong leader and she's got a big party to unite.



[12:48:26] KING: The Democratic presidential field is pushing a long list of bold and liberal policy proposals as candidates look to break out in a very crowded field. And the competition raises this question. As they move left to appeal to the Democratic base, are the candidates also helping President Trump fortify his base? Now here are just some of the ideas being pushed by the Democratic candidates.

Providing healthcare for undocumented immigrants. Eliminating private health insurance in favor of Medicare for All. Requiring a license to buy a gun. Allowing prisoners to vote, and free college.

Now if you stay focused just on the Democratic primary, you can see why. Look at the support for these ideas among Democratic voters. Some of it is off the charts there. Only eliminating private health insurance is a tough sell even to the Democratic base. So you understand the crowded field, Democratic voters, why the candidates are doing this. Some were left to begin with, others are being pulled left with these policy proposals.

Here's my question and we'll start with this. If that's how you end up a Democratic primary, not one big bold idea but several, Medicare for All, maybe free tuition, maybe allowing felons to vote while in prison. Can you sell it here and here and here, for example? The three states that President Trump flipped from blue to red. Or are the Democrats in the appeal to their voters setting themselves up for disappointment come general election?

BASH: You just asked the $64,000 question or 300 million people question however you want to frame it for 2020. That's it. And yes, some of the more liberal candidates have made proposals because they have felt pulled that way because they're the loudest voices in the electorate and those are the people who are running.

[12:50:05] But it's also because many of them really believe it

KING: Right.

BASH: And they're true believers and they believe sort of like Donald Trump did on the other side of the political spectrum that if you stick with your policies and you stick with your positions, you're still going to ride to victory.

KING: They believe you will ramp up African-American turnout.

BASH: But we don't have the answer.

KING: You will ramp up liberal turnout. You will ramp up young turnout. We don't know it. They are making a bet that they can overcome what Trump did in 2016 by turning out more people, new people excited about this. We will see if they can. That is the big question because we can't answer it unless and until we have an election.

Because if you look at these proposals, just look at the key elements of the Trump base here on some of these proposals. Healthcare for undocumented immigrants, 66 percent of senior citizens, 65 plus, oppose that. Oppose that. They were a key part of Trump's coalition. Sixty-three percent of independents, President Trump won independents last time, oppose it. Seventy-five percent of white non-college educated opposed it.

This fortifies the Trump base if you will. Some of them who have questions about the president. Not sure if they want to vote for the president again. Free public tuition, it's a little less there but still 57 percent non-college, 53 percent of independents, 68 percent of older voters. They think they're going to end up paying for it somehow.

Support the right of prisoners to vote, 76 percent white non-college. No, bad idea. Seventy-three percent voters over the age of 65. So these Democratic proposals might appeal to the base. They appeal in a very different way. They animate in opposition, the Trump base.

OLORUNNIPA: Yes, when I talked to members of the Trump campaign they are sort of salivating over the fact that there are going to be a bunch of debates where Democrats are going to have to answer these questions and pull their party to the left. Now, when you talk to Democrats, they believe that they will be able not only get disaffected Trump voters but also energize their own base. They believe that the people who stayed home in 2016, the Obama coalition sort of plus will be energized by these new proposals.

And you do see some Democrats going full-on and full speed toward that left position but you do also see people like Joe Biden who is basically kind of laying low, saying maybe we'll have undocumented healthcare for people in emergency situations not necessarily taxpayer-funded plans. So he's sort of trying to play both sides and make sure that he can energize some of the bases but also not turn off those Trump voters that he wanted.

KING: Trying to pull it back because if you look at the last two Democratic presidents, Barack Obama won two terms, he wasn't this liberal. He was a liberal, left of center but he wasn't as liberal as these candidates are.

KNOX: He got pulled left by Hillary on healthcare, you know. I share the belief that there are two messages in American politics, change is needed and change is scary. And to some degree, things like Medicare for All are helping the Trump side maybe make that argument.

Remember, one of their core arguments to date has been, yikes, socialism is coming. You know, to the degree they can harness this stuff, maybe that serves them well. On the other hand, you know, I think the biggest thing that worries the Democrats that I talked to is the private -- doing away with worker -- employer-provided health insurance --

KING: Even their own base seems to (INAUDIBLE).

KNOX: -- without having an actual very clear plan. Because what we have to date is not actually that clear and they're concerned about selling voters on that kind of change.

TALEV: I think for the Democrats who are trying to break past the single digits numbers, some of these ideas are a way to get attention, right, and to hold the spotlight for a little while. If you're one of the top sort of five candidates and you're trying to solidify your position or you have the most realistic chance of going forward in the general, seeing how this polling shakes out and seeing what the reaction is, is kind of useful in shaping your explanation for why you're not going to be for some of these things going forward.

KING: And do you think you can create a new electorate? Do you think you can actually turn out these new people? Or if you're running the last race which most politicians do, then these things don't sell. I just want really quickly want to sneak this in. It is Cory Booker who has said we should have a license to have a gun. Interestingly that is the one proposal that tests quite well with the Trump base. Seventy-six percent of older Americans, 65 plus, 75 percent of independents, 72 percent of white non-college voters in the country says you should have a license to buy a gun.

I'm not saying it's going to happen. The (INAUDIBLE) would get in front of it. There's a Republican Senate right now that wouldn't even consider if it was a bill but it is interesting that among some of the proposals that people said are pulling the party too far to the left, that one tests pretty well.

KNOX: People who have applied for a fishing permit or hunting license (INAUDIBLE).

KING: There we go. So, we'll see.

As we go to break -- before we go to break, the latest from Dana Bash's badass women series right here. D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton with an important piece of history.


BASH: If we had a time machine and you were able to tell your great grandfather, a runaway slave, that his great-granddaughter is a representative of District of Columbia.




[12:59:23] KING: Before we go, our version of big, big, big, big, amazing breaking news. Happy news we want to share with you. We'd like to welcome the newest and the littlest member to our INSIDE POLITICS family. Look at that, Logan Joseph, our senior producer Becky Schatz' first child, born on 7/11, six pounds, five ounces, 19 inches long. If all goes Daddy Jack's way, a first-round selection of the New York Mets come 2036 or 2037.

He's adorable. Congratulations to Becky and Jack, of course, their dog Riley (ph) on this beautiful miracle.

BASH: Oh, he's so cute.

KING: He is.

BASH: Also, Becky looks like a supermodel in that picture. How did she just give birth? That was amazing. Most importantly, the baby is gorgeous. Congratulations.

TALEV: Congratulations.

KING: The baby is beautiful. Mazel tov. BASH: There she is.

KING: Mazel tov. That is awesome.