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House Dem: Trump Attacks on Dems Are "Politically Brilliant; Growing Number of Influential Dems Favor Impeachment; Rand Paul Blocks 9/11 First Responders Health Fund Bill; Mnuchin: WH & Congress Nearing Deal on Debt Ceiling; Washington Post: Trump Campaign to Launch "Trump App"; What to Expect From Tonight's Live Debate Drawing on CNN. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired July 18, 2019 - 12:30   ET


[12:30:00] LISA LERER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: -- you have to run the race you're in. You can't run -- win by, you know, running and fighting the last war certainly.

ELIANA JOHNSON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think the reason that there's concern about the focus on these four is pretty simple. Donald Trump won in 2016 because although voters didn't like him, they liked Hillary Clinton even less. And these four congresswomen, when you look at their approval ratings, even among Democrats, they're extremely low. So Trump's approval rating is quite low, but the approval ratings of these four happen to be lower than his, even among Democratic voters. And I think that's where you see a lot of the concern coming from.

JOHN KING, CNN HOST: And it's the half-full/half-empty debate in the sense that President Trump did win an electoral victory but he lost the popular vote by quite a bit. So some Democrats say wait a minute, you know, to your point, if we mobilized -- and to (INAUDIBLE) point, if we mobilized, you know, 70,000 more people or 80,000 more people in three states, we'd be in a different world now.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and I think what's interesting in the story that you're referring to, you know, in talking to a lot of some of the (INAUDIBLE) in that story, it's less about 2016, it's less about the national party, it's more about their districts. It's more about the fact that they're there because they -- a lot of them are there because they won in 2018. And in 2018 they never talked about the president, they talked about healthcare, they talked about wages, they talked about those types of issues and the frustration.

And this part of it is not necessarily new. Throughout the course of the kind of the majority makers, the reason Speaker Nancy Pelosi is speaker of the House is they have been frustrated that nobody pays attention to the work that they're doing which is very kind of nose to the grindstone, do what you're doing to keep your seat but also to deliver for your constituents. Everyone is paying attention to the people with the big social media followings and have proposals that a lot of these folks don't believe are realistic. But more narrowly or at least over the course of the last couple of days, it's the fact that they continually get dragged into these very, very divisive fights, whether it's voting on a resolution of condemnation, whether it's a rogue effort on impeachment when there wasn't why they were brought here.

I literally had a freshman, kind of more moderate, swing state or swing district congressman tell me two days ago, this isn't why I came here. And I think that's the frustration right now. That they feel like the progressives are dragging them repeatedly into these types of fights, these types of debates, these types of votes. And that's problematic for them and it's also problematic for the Democratic majority.

KING: And you mentioned the impeachment. Al Green, the Democratic congressman from Texas insisted on filing a motion that had to be voted on because of the rules. The Democratic vote was 137 to kill it, 95 in favor of it. Interesting though if you look, a lot of leadership members and committee chairmen voted against the speaker, if you will, and with Congressman Green. Four members of the Democratic leadership, you see them right there, and more than a half dozen chairmen of committee voting against.

What does that tell us about the internal tensions in the party which are real? Democrats like to say, yes, sure, we're a big family. The president doesn't like debate in the Republican Party. The president won't tolerate dissent in the Republican Party. We think it's a good thing. Is it?

TOLUSE OLORUNNIPA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, we have seen a lot of the debate and dissension within the Democratic Party over a number of different issues, how far left to go on various issues, whether or not to move forward with impeachment. It is a big tent and Nancy Pelosi is finding the difficulties of trying to manage a party that is now in the majority for the first time in 10 years and trying to figure out how to manage a very diverse party not only racially and agewise but also when it comes to philosophy and ideology.

And it's becoming much more difficult to rein in some of the tensions that have been bubbling up under the surface for quite a while. And the vote last night was one opportunity for people who wanted to vote for impeachment to let that steam out. Nancy Pelosi hasn't taken it fully off the table yet but she says that it's a little bit premature to vote for impeachment now. We haven't even heard from Robert Mueller yet. So there are still a majority of the Democratic caucus that wants to continue with the investigations and move forward, and not move forward with impeachment right away.

KING: That's next Thursday, we hear from Robert Mueller and we'll see how this cycles up again.

Before we go to break, just moments ago, Wednesday, I'm told, I'm sorry, the House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy answering critics who say the president should have stopped that rally chant last night of "send her back".


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): The president moved on with his speech. He said it was a small group off to the side. What the president did, the president did not join in, the president moved on. She never joined in, in it, and you want to try to hold him accountable for what something in a big audience? He moved on to make them stop in the process.



[12:38:28] KING: A lot of interesting political stories bubbling up today, so let's try a little lightning round starting with the junior senator from Kentucky. Senator Rand Paul blocking an attempt to unanimously pass a bill that would fund the 9/11 first responders' healthcare through 2090. The bill had already cleared the House, and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell saying he wants to have a vote out in the Senate. But Rand Paul says without a plan to offset the cost of the September 11th victim compensation fund, the senator says it would only add to the national debt.


SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY): We're adding debt at about a trillion dollars a year. And therefore, any new spending that we are approaching, any new program that's going to have the longevity of 70, 80 years should be offset by cutting spending that's less valuable. We need to at the very least have this debate. I will be offering up an amendment if the bill should come to the floor, but until then I would object.


KING: A lot of incoming ire from Jon Stewart, from the first responders. Jon Stewart has been an advocate for the first responders. Senator Paul not blinking, though, right?

JOHNSON: No. He is steadfast taking a lot of -- taking a lot of incoming fire on that. But Rand Paul no stranger to controversy. Also, this weekend lobbying the president, putting himself at the center of foreign policy and lobbying the president over a game of golf to be his emissary to the Iranians, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif in New York this weekend. Rand Paul got the president's permission to head to New York. We don't know for a fact that Senator Paul is meeting with him, but that's the suspicion.

[12:40:03] KING: Secretary Pompeo, call in if you have any reaction to that one. We'd love to hear.

Here's another one for you. No debt ceiling deal yet but the Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says the administration has agreed on, quote, top-line numbers with House and Senate leaders for a two-year budget deal along with a long-term debt ceiling increase. Mnuchin says the two sides still discussing some offsets to cover the increase as well as some other structural issues. That's his word. They hope to finalize things before the August recess.

Meaning, they have to sort of have an outline of a deal by tomorrow more or less, wouldn't they? MATTINGLY: Basically, yes. I'd like to welcome everybody to my 30- minute Ted talk on offsets and the budget plus. This can be good.

Look, here's the bottom line right now. Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Steven Mnuchin have engaged in numerous phone calls over the course of the last 15 days. I understand there's new urgency because the debt ceiling could be hit in early September. That's why they want to do it before August.

They have been making very good progress. The offset piece is difficult. They've been trading proposals back and forth. Another difficulty to keep a very close eye on, not everybody in the White House wants this deal. There's an element of the White House led by Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and Russell Vought, the acting OMB director that aren't too keen on giving the Democrats the spending increases they want. Steve Mnuchin is the point person on this. By design, Mitch McConnell asked for that to happen, Democrats are more comfortable with him.

But the big concern right now is that Steve Mnuchin and Nancy Pelosi could agree to the deal that the president might not actually sign off on. I asked Speaker Pelosi this morning does she trust that Steve Mnuchin speaks for the administration right now. She said rather bluntly, yes.

We'll see.

KING: And McConnell on Fox Business today saying they have to listen to the House, essentially conceding he's a lesser player. They better cut a deal with the speaker there.

All right, the Trump campaign planning to roll out a new mobile app aimed at targeting the president's most ardent supporters. The Washington Post reporting the app part of an effort by the Trump 2020 campaign manager, Brad Parscale, will allow voters to register to vote, to recruit more Trump supporters, and to stay up to date with the president's schedule and other campaign happenings. There will also be rewards, including perks for those who volunteer or organize campaign watch parties. All part of the president's efforts to replicate his 2016 map which of

course included winning some big traditionally Democratic states.

The New York Times also noting today, however, that unlike 2016, Democrats are increasingly more energized in those states like Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. One Democratic donor in Detroit noting, "I was one of Hillary Clinton's finance chairs and unfortunately she didn't come into Michigan enough." That's Barry Goodman. A Biden bundler telling the New York Times adding, quote, they're not ignoring us now.

Toluse and Lisa are part of this reporting. The app is interesting in the sense that Brad Parscale, number one, has the luxury, the president doesn't have a serious primary challenge right now. Number two, he has the luxury of a ton of money. And so number three, he is trying to work on the margins, if you will, to change the electorate. OLORUNNIPA: Right. They raised a record $108 million in the second quarter and they're putting that money to good use. They're spending on ads on Facebook and whatnot but they're also trying to professionalize the operation of the campaign. They want to win in the same places they won in 2016. They talk about expanding the map. When you really talk to them behind the scenes, they're really worried about Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, those main states that took Trump over the top in 2016.

They're trying to professionalize the operation with some digital spending and also trying to put together this app to juice the president's base and make sure they're really engaged so the people who maybe didn't turn out during the midterms in 2018, to stay engaged all the way through 2020 and turn out in large numbers in November of 2020.

KING: You can't overstate the luxury of being able -- so they can try and fail at some things if you will. They can test the apps, they can test things, you can do some (INAUDIBLE) while the Democrats are fighting it out.

But to your point in your piece today, can -- Democrats seem to be convinced that everybody has at least learned what happened, right? That at least you better be present in Wisconsin, you better be present in Pennsylvania, you better be present in Michigan. Are they sure about that?

LERER: Well, I think they may have learned it to a fault. The amount of time that the primary candidates are spending in those three states, which I've taken to calling the Bermuda Triangle of Democratic politics, is really pretty striking given that none of them actually give you any delegates in the primary process until way after Super Tuesday, by which point it could be severely narrowed down if not locked up. But this is about dealing with and embracing the Democratic Party electorate's sense of PTSD from this race. And the Democratic primary voters want to see that these candidates are in those places even if they're casting their ballots in, you know, Iowa. They want to know that they are not going to take these states for granted.

Of course, you know, you talk to some in the party and they'll say, well, it depends who the ticket is. Maybe Democrats should be playing in Arizona. Maybe they should be spending more money in Texas or -- but it is clear those three states are part of this blue wall and they will have to play there and, you know, they want to -- voters want to see that candidates get that.

KING: I like that Bermuda Triangle meets Electoral College. One of those states is Michigan, Detroit is where the second round of Democratic debates are right here on CNN. Tonight, the draw to get the lineups.


[12:49:33] KING: We know the 20 candidates who are qualified for the next Democratic presidential debates. I can show you their faces right here. Tonight, we'll know the lineup.

CNN is holding a live draw to determine which candidates debate on which night of the two-night event. The draw is live so that you can see the process. And the process is designed to make the debates a balanced matchup.

Let's go through it again. These are the 20 candidates. They will debate over two nights, July 30th and 31st. Tonight, we'll determine who's on which date, which night.

[12:50:00] Here is how that process is going to play out.

Splitting the candidates to balance the debates into three groups. The first draw, the candidates who are at the low end of the polls right now. One, two percent, maybe a little bit higher in some of these cases. Those 10 candidates, their names will be drawn first. One candidate then a date.

Then the middle of the pack in the polls, these six candidates here. Then the third draw, the final draw will be the four candidates at the top of the pack right now, the leaders of the Democratic race if you will.

So, only two of these candidates will be on the stage with each other. These four cannot appear together because they'll be evenly split. Again, the process will work like this. In each round, the names of the candidates in one box, the dates in another box. You pick a candidate, then you pick a date. Done

Go back and go through the process until all the candidates in each round are dealt with. These debates are critical for all of the candidates. But let's just remind ourselves, before the first debate, this was your stack of the top five candidates in the Democratic race in a Monmouth poll. Heading into the second debate, this is the current stack in an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll.

Joe Biden has suffered since the first debate. Kamala Harris has gained since the first debate. So too has Elizabeth Warren. Bernie Sanders is relatively stable. Pete Buttigieg may be up a little, that's within the margin of error.

But these are the top five heading into debate round two. Senator Harris asked last night, any worry this is getting maybe a little too brutal?


JIMMY KIMMEL, "JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE" HOST: Is there a danger that the Democrats will cannibalize and really hurt each other going into, you know, the big prize?

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I hope not. And I think that most of us are of like mind, that this should be -- on that debate stage, to debate about issues but not personal attacks. It should be about, you know, pointing out the differences, obviously, between us so that Democrats can make a decision, but it should not be about cannibalizing anybody.


KING: Does the draw, meaning who is on the stage which night, how much of a difference does that make?

LERER: Well, we saw that it made a big difference last time around because it gave Kamala Harris a chance to take a shot at Joe Biden. I think generally politicians are fairly uncreative so when they see something that works they try to just replicate it for themselves. And I -- so I suspect we'll see a lot of people trying to set up their attacks and get -- because they've seen how much that has benefitted Senator Harris' campaign, she's risen in the polls, she's risen in fundraising after her success on the first debate.

JOHNSON: It also matters I think that the last time around Elizabeth Warren was sort of the one candidate who was polling strongly and she had many other of the second and third-tier candidates on the stage with her and none of those candidates sort of took advantage of the opportunity to really take a shot at her. She emerged relatively unscathed and that's allowed her to continue in that position. Where you had a bunch of the top polling candidates on the stage together in the second debate. So it can matter, just the luck of the draw, I think in terms of setting the dynamics for the debate.

KING: I think that's true without a doubt. And to your point, I just want you to listen to Senator Cory Booker here, he's watched Senator Harris score. Challenging the vice president, remarks that he gave that seemed to speak favorably about segregationist senators, his record on forced busing. Senator Cory Booker making clear to him that still fair game.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you feel disrespected?

SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Of course I did. How many times have we all in our lives who are some kind of other dealt with mansplaining or dealt with condemning remarks? And I'm not holding it against vice president Biden for saying something bone- headed, we all have.

But come forward. Why have we created this culture where you can't say you made a mistake?


KING: It's clear he sees it as still an opportunity. And also clear, he's sort of stuck in the middle. And as we go into late in the year, it's a long way until people vote, but these candidates have to make the next round of debates, they need to raise more money. It's hard to keep a presidential campaign going. Is he going to come in more aggressive having learned the lesson of Senator Harris?

MATTINGLY: I don't think there's any question about that. I just -- it's so offensive, you would say politicians are uncreative. It's very personal of you. I'm a politician, I'm going to stick up for the politicians. But I would also -- I would say just about every candidate not named Joe Biden probably wants to be on stage with Joe Biden because they saw the effect you can have. I would also note, however, that I would imagine Joe Biden is going to be more prepared.

KING: All right.

MATTINGLY: And isn't going --

KING: He better be.

MATTINGLY: He better be for sure, because people are going to come after him. And he better be in a different place or at least has a different posture than he did the first time around. I do think though that there are candidates, not just Joe Biden that wants specific people on that stage to drive the differences.

If you're Michael Bennet and you're in the lower tier of the race, you want to be on stage with Bernie Sanders because while he's been attacking Bernie Sanders and his Medicare for All plan, doing it on stage when everybody is watching is very different than doing it in New Hampshire and hope somebody picks up the sound. I think that extends across the board. People have now seen that there is a tangible effect to having a successful attack even it's a set-piece based on that first debate, and they are all going to try and replicate that.

KING: And since you mentioned Senator Sanders, he also has a decision to make here, he's now pushing, you know, his fundraising stuff, you know, don't take money from pharma, don't take money from drug companies and the like.

[12:55:05] But he's stagnant in the polls. This crowded race has been very different for him, and it'll be interesting to see in debate round two if he looks for something different.

OLORUNNIPA: I wouldn't be surprised if he does, and we expect there'll be a lot of candidates sort of talking about how they differ from the field. I think the Democrats at large would rather have this be about their ideological differences and not so much about the personal biographical and demographic differences that we saw during that first debate. Because talking to members of the Trump campaign, they love when the Democrats get into identify politics and start attacking each other over race and over age and over their backgrounds.

So, I think the Democrats would welcome a policy discussion where it's more about ideology.

KING: I think we're going to see a lot of healthcare in this next one. Again, the draw tonight here on CNN. Don't miss it.

Thanks for joining us in the INSIDE POLITICS. See you back here this time tomorrow. We'll know the lineups. Brianna Keilar with you after a quick break. Have a good afternoon.