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Trump & Global Trade Tensions; Trump Admits to "Second Thoughts" About Trade War Escalation; Biden's 2020 Pitch to Voters: I'm the One Who Can Defeat Trump; 2020 Democratic Rivals Dismiss Biden's Electability Argument; Justice Ginsburg Treated for Pancreatic Cancer; Buttigieg on 2020 Strategy. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired August 25, 2019 - 08:00   ET



[08:00:22] NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN HOST (voice-over): Just another week in the Trump presidency. A feud with Denmark --

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You don't talk to the United States that way, at least under me.

HENDERSON: And a promise that he alone can beat China on trade.

TRUMP: I am the chosen one.

HENDERSON: What will this weekend's G7 Summit bring?

Plus, the Trump economy on edge. The White House says it's nothing to worry about.

LARRY KUDLOW, TOP WHITE HOUSE ECONOMIC ADVISER: We don't believe in the recession talk. I think the economy's very strong.

HENDERSON: And Team Biden admits you may not love him but insists Democrats must still vote for him.

JILL BIDEN, WIFE OF JOE BIDEN: You've got to look at who's going to win this election, and maybe you have to swallow a little bit and say, OK.

HENDERSON: INSIDE POLITICS, the biggest stories sourced by the best reporters, now.


HENDERSON: Welcome to INSIDE POLITICS. I'm Nia-Malika Henderson. John King is off today.

We begin with a week of President Donald Trump making headlines around the world. From telling Jews how they must vote to show loyalty to Israel --


TRUMP: I think any Jewish people that vote for a Democrat, I think it shows either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty.


HENDERSON: To canceling a trip to NATO ally Denmark over rejected proposal about buying Greenland.


TRUMP: I thought that the prime minister's statement that it was absurd, that it was an absurd idea was nasty. I thought it was an inappropriate statement. She's not talking to me. She's talking to the United States of America. You don't talk to the United States that way, at least under me.


HENDERSON: He also ratcheted up his trade war with China, announcing more taxes on Chinese goods and calling himself the chosen one to take on the Asian economic super power, and throughout tariff threats to European countries involving German cars and French wine.


TRUMP: Those are great American companies. Frankly, I don't want France going out and taxing our companies. Very unfair. And if they do that, we'll be taxing their wine or doing something else. We'll be taxing their wine like they've never seen before.


HENDERSON: But once President Trump got to the summit, French President Emmanuel Macron treated Trump to a private lunch before the official G7 arrivals. Despite reports of disputes with Macron, Trump characterized it as the best hour and a half I've ever spent with him.

Trump's meeting with new U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson was also very congenial with a lot of joint praise and hint at a very big U.S./U.K. trade deal.

The one thing that the two close allies, perhaps, didn't see eye to eye on, China.


REPORTER: Mr. President, do you have advice for Boris Johnson on Brexit?

TRUMP: He needs no advice. He's the right man for the job.

REPORTER: Mr. President, are your allies pressuring you to give up the trade war with China?

TRUMP: No, not at all. I haven't heard that. I think they respect the trade war.

BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: I congratulate the president on everything that the American economy is achieving, it's fantastic to see that. But just to register the faint sheep like note of our view on the trade war, we're in favor of trade peace on the whole.


HENDERSON: Joining us now with the latest from France, we've got CNN international diplomatic editor Nic Robertson.

Nic, it has been a wild, wild week of Trump style diplomacy and culminating, of course, in the G7 where you are. How is the president actually being received, particularly around the China trade war?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: You know, I think everybody wants something from the president. And you heard Boris Johnson, who wants a lot from the president. He wants support on a post-Brexit trade deal, so he needs to tread carefully where he differs from the president over the escalating tension -- trade tensions with China. He describes it as rather having trade peace than trade war.

And you really get that in his language there. He says, you know, a faint sheep-like note. I mean, who has heard of language like that before?

What that tells you he feels like he's treading on egg shells here. You get that sense with the other leaders. However, that said, President Trump also recognized the reality that some of the issues that he wants, for example, bringing Russia back into the G7, making it the G8 again. Of course, it was excluded over its annexation of Crimea and Ukraine just a few years ago.

[08:05:01] The president has to accept how things would stay as they are because he has faced pushback here. So, the other leaders are prepared to push back. It's how they do it, tempering it so that they can get what they want.

And perhaps the strongest critics, like the European Council President Donald Tusk said, rather than bringing Russia back in next time, let's bring the Ukrainian president. He doesn't have a lot of skin in the game of wanting things from the U.S. president. He represents 500 million people in the European Union.

HENDERSON: Thanks for that report, Nic.

With us this Sunday to share their reporting and insights, we've got Jonathan Martin of "The New York Times," Shawna Thomas of "Vice News", Vivian Salama of "The Wall Street Journal", and CNN's Phil Mattingly.

So much to discuss here. This last week seemed like it was a year in terms of so much going on and the president, there, of course, in France now.

Vivian, let's start with you, the White House reporter at the table. How do you see the president being received in France at this point, after this week? He's got a day of diplomacy left under his belt, had some bilats today. What have you seen? VIVIAN SALAMA, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, WALL STREET JOURNAL: Most of the

world leaders are no stranger to President Trump right now. After last year's G7, they're definitely receiving him with some caution --


SALAMA: -- because of the fact he has the tendency to sort of up-end these meetings. Last year, he picked a fight with both President Macron and Prime Minister Trudeau. But when he was before them, but then when he was in front of them, he was really cordial and tried to kind of find middle ground.

So, they expect that now from him. But, obviously, there's so many issues against the back drop of this meeting between the trade war, sanctions with Iran which a number of European allies do not condone the U.S. pulling out of the JCPOA, the Iran nuclear deal, and a number of other issues where they're trying to get president Trump on board. Not to mention any kind of support to address the Amazon rainforest fires, which are a major climate issue. President Macron, in particular, very, very keen to do something.

So, all of those issues and President Trump really not on board with doing something. That's an issue.

HENDERSON: And President macron very eager to not have a replay, as you mentioned, the dust-up last go-round with Trudeau. Here's what that looked like in 2018.


TRUMP: Tariffs are going to come way down because people cannot continue to do that. We're like the piggy bank that everybody's robbing and that ends.

JUSTIN TRUDEAU, CANADIAN PRIME MINISTER: Canadians, we're polite, reasonable but we also will not be pushed around.


HENDERSON: And so, what's your sense of how Macron is actually doing in terms of not having a replay of what we saw in 2018 and trying to focus on some of the issues he wants?

DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think it's interesting to watch the posture shift from leaders over the course, as they learn. Look, you learn to deal with personalities. You learn how to deal with world leaders. That's not exclusive to President Trump. That's exclusive to everybody dealing with international relations.

And you start off with an hour and a half lunch. Making very clear, I think Boris Johnson doing something similar in the bilat.

Nic made a really good point. A lot of these world leaders, if not all of them, need something from the United States. Whether it's economically, whether it's the JCPOA, whether it's any number of different things and it's become very clear over the last 2 1/2 years you don't get anything from the president by brow-beating him. You don't get anything from the president by making public remarks.

Frankly, congressional leaders know this as well. If you want to get a message to the president, you do it behind closed doors, you do it over the phone, and you don't attack him publicly. And I think you're seeing that play out on the world stage, whether it's a private lunch, whether it's a bilat where you effusively praise the United States economy, despite of kind of what we've seen over the last couple of weeks, they're doing that because they feel that's the best pathway to get something going.

He's a very transitional president. He's made that very clear over the course of the last two and a half years, and they're trying to put in play that strategy right now. I think the big question is, will it stick over the next 24 hours.

HENDERSON: Yes, we know he changes his mind so quickly.

SHAWNA THOMAS, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, VICE NEWS: World leaders want consistency. Like I was thinking about this, and that they want the same thing as farmers in Iowa want. They just want to know what America wants to do. And so, yes, I think -- I agree that flattery is going behind closed doors with him, being one-on-one, making sure he knows -- everyone believes he's on the same level as every other world leader. And this is the United States, and it's a superpower. But everyone is just looking for what is the one thing you want to do?

And even coming into this with the tariff issue with China, there's been no consistency over the last few days. So, it's -- it's hard to see where they're going to get with the G7 in general.

HENDERSON: He came into the summit about Russia, readmitting Russia. Obviously, other folks in the G7 like Macron, like Boris Johnson, not in agreement. Here's what he said, sort of seeming to back off.


REPORTER: Do you feel other members of the G7 would encourage Russia to join again the way you are?

TRUMP: I think it's a work in progress. We have a number of people that would like to see Russia back.

[08:10:03] I think it is advantageous. Other people agree with me. And some people don't necessarily agree.

REPORTER: How do you expect to overcome those differences?

TRUMP: Well, I don't think -- maybe we won't. Maybe we will just leave it is.




JONATHAN MARTIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: He doesn't seem terribly keen on coming down on the side of Russia coming back in or not probably because it's not really a priority of his.

But no, Phil is right. You watch the clip of his tough talk in the White House about putting tariffs on French wine. And then flash forward to a lovely lunch with Macron. Those threats against the burgundy have faded in the midst of Mediterranean.

That is the Trump way. I don't know how many times I have heard this, but he often reflects the person he's just talked last. So when he is leaving the White House, he's all fired up, he's going to come at Macron. When he is with Macron himself or some other world leader, perhaps those who don't want Russia back in the G7, he's going to reflect that, and then tomorrow, it will be a different story. So, this is the Trump show Season 3.

THOMAS: What you're saying is no consistency?

MARTIN: That's fair to say.


HENDERSON: And if you look at this week, very much a rollercoaster week. You think about, he is sort of 40-minute, all over the place question and answer session in front of reporters talking about the Danish prime minister, talking about repealing birth right citizenship.

What do you make of this? There's some reporting that suggests sort of an in stability going on with this president has to do with his nervousness around the economy.

SALAMA: Well, I mean, that's basically his best card going into the election season is that as long as the economy is strong, he has a decent shot at re-election. And so, the minute that that kind of looks wobbly for him, it is obviously a major concern. The stock market this week was on a rollercoaster because of the trade war and that is something he watches very, very closely. It is almost an opinion poll for him in terms of how he's doing.


SALAMA: So, he reacts very strongly to that.

And so, the more and more we see this sort of the trade war causing a number of negative impacts between the stock market, between farmers suffering in very key states, that is something that is going to resonate with him, even if he doesn't admit it. It's going to resonate with him.

We have been told day after day this week is that advisers keep pushing saying, you have to take this seriously. You have to do something about it. A number of them were not supportive of the last round of tariffs against China and yet he went for it anyway because he does believe that this is a way to push them in compliance.

HENDERSON: And that's what we're going to talk about next. More on President Trump ratcheting up his trade war with China, and this morning, there's some confusion in France over whether he actually regrets it.


[08:16:33] HENDERSON: President Trump triggered a major market selloff on Friday with a series of tweets threatening U.S. companies that do business there.

Here's what he had to say: We don't need China and frankly would be far better off without them. Great American companies are hereby ordered to immediately start looking for an alternative to China, including bringing your companies home and making your products in the USA.

He also vowed to raise tariffs even higher on $500 billion worth of Chinese goods. This morning at the G7 what sounded at first like a rare admission from the president, regret.


REPORTER: Mr. President, any second thoughts on escalating the trade war with China?

TRUMP: Yes, sure. Why not?

REPORTER: Second thoughts?

TRUMP: Might as well, might as well.

REPORTER: You have second thoughts about escalating the war with China?

TRUMP: I have second thoughts about everything.


HENDERSON: But just a few hours later, this clarification from press secretary Stephanie Grisham. His answer has been greatly misinterpreted. President Trump responded in the affirmative because he regrets not raising the tariffs higher.

So, everybody clear now on what the president means there?

I guess this does beg the question now, Phil, of whether or not the president is going to go forward and raise the tariffs even higher, because Grisham is saying that he regrets not doing it.

MATTINGLY: Well, there's another round of tariffs set to increase since September 1st. We have a couple days to figure it out. I kind of bum out that the clarification came out before the show, because when I saw the comments -- when I read the comments, then saw them in context I was like T minus 15 minutes, especially when he sees the news alert saying --

HENDERSON: He's watching the news here.

MATTINGLY: He's waffling. He's not sure there is 100 percent chance he was going to walk this back. I think what's most interesting right now and Vivian kind of hit on it at last black, about the importance of this is the electoral stature, and the importance just generally for him personally.

It is where this goes from here, right? It is clearly escalating, showing no signs of slowing down. The White House and his top advisers have made very clear they believe the U.S. economy is stronger than the Chinese economy, and as such they can last longer and therefore they can win. And there are structural issues that they're trying to upend.

I think the bigger question right now, everybody talks about recession. You heard the president say he believes the media is pushing for one by the headlines. There is some truth to that and the idea that they become a self-fulfilling prophecy, where the strongest tenets of the economy right now are consumer spending, things like that, as people start seeing this and pulling back. If consumer spending goes away, they're in big trouble, and I think that's the big concern.

HENDERSON: And you hear the president's allies and aides here touting this idea that it is the media pushing the recession. Here they are.


MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Despite the irresponsible rhetoric of many in the mainstream media, the American economy is strong and U.S. economic outlook remains strong as well.

LARRY KUDLOW, NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL DIRECTOR: We don't believe in the recession talk. I think the economy is very strong. I think the consumers are leading it.

KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO THE PRESIDENT: The president, first of all, disagrees with the premise you are peddling that somehow we are heading into a recession. I know we had to go from Russians to racism to recession. It's always something.


HENDERSON: Alliteration there from Kellyanne Conway.

Can you talk your way out of this and that the president is trying to do?

MARTIN: No, that's why they're floating a payroll tax cut.

HENDERSON: Float it and brought it back, right? Yes.

MARTIN: They float it again next week or float something else.

Look, Maggie Haberman, our colleague, has a great saying about Trump. Everything is incremental with Trump.

[08:20:01] Everything he says is relevant for 10 minutes. And then after that the slate is wiped clean. And I think about over and over again, as we sit here talking about this stuff, look, is he going to do tariffs next week? Maybe. Is he going to pull back? Maybe.

There is no predictability. That's part of the frustration a lot of people have, especially those whose lives are dependent upon predictability. And that's why it's so frustrating.

But as to the economy, look, that is the best thing he has going for him.


People in this country who are not partisan, one side or the other, often will say, I don't like his conduct, I don't like his behavior. The tweets are kind of euphemism for his conduct. But times are pretty good, they'll say. Well, if times aren't so good, you know, what does he had to pull back?

HENDERSON: And he frequently likes --

MARTIN: Then, his numbers fall before 40.


MARTIN: And if you're in the 30s as an incumbent president, it's pretty damn hard to win.

HENDERSON: And he frequently touts the stock market, dividends of what the economy looks like and what he has done. You see here there has been a real rise in the stock market. You go back to November 2016 and January 20th.

This is when he started the conversation about tariffs. This is where he started basically the tariffs. And you see since then the stock market has essentially flat-lined. It's a little bit lower at this point. This, of course, was a big selling point and not working out in terms of the stock market so far.

THOMAS: Exactly. One of the issues, though, is as we see the small selloffs. We saw it Friday. We have seen it last week. Will it continue to drop? And how much does that spook everybody else? And then it gets back to the headlines, and then it gets you back to the self-fulfilling prophecy of whether there is going to be a recession.

I'm not an economist. I don't know if there will be a recession. But I do think that those fears definitely play into how people, at a certain level, vote. The question is, do you stop seeing jobs being created? I mean, we were at the lowest of employment in a very, very, very, very long time for a lot of people.


THOMAS: Now, if companies stop hiring, if wages go down, though we haven't had a ton of wage growth, then people are going to feel it.

I think the thing that gets loss of it being kind of a campaign strategy for the president is when he tweets about he can pull U.S. business out of China no matter how crazy that might seem. Or when he says, I should be tougher, I should have been tougher on the tariffs, Stephanie Grisham's correction. That is a campaign strategy because, you know, I had one correspondent in New Hampshire talking to people at the Trump rally. Someone was like I love that he stands up for America. I love that he is other country's faces.

When he tweets that stuff, it plays into that narrative and helps him solidify his base, putting aside whether it's good for the economy or not.

HENDERSON: Right. It makes them feel good how he is standing up to everyone from Chairman Xi to the prime minister of Denmark over Greenland.


HENDERSON: Up next, Joe Biden makes the electability argument.

But, first, politicians day the darndest things. Michael Bennet may not make the next debate stage, he still got a chance to take the lead at least for one night.


SEN. MICHAEL BENNET (D-CO), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm Michael Bennet from Colorado. Thank you for having me. Mr. Chairman, thank you for letting me speak first. It's the first time in this race that I have been the front-runner.



[08:26:54] HENDERSON: To the 2020 race now and a look at where things stand as the summer winds down. A CNN poll out this past week continues a trend we have seen for many, many months. Former Vice President Joe Biden leading the pack in the first place, and the same five names at the top of the Democratic field have pretty much stayed the same.

Another consistent pattern, a majority of Democrats say they prefer a candidate they think they could beat Trump over what they agree with on the major issues. Biden sees that as key to his victory and made it the subject of his first Iowa campaign ad.


BIDEN CAMPAIGN AD ADVISER: We know in our bones this election is different. The stakes are higher, and the threat more serious. We have to beat Donald Trump.

And all the polls agree Joe Biden is the strongest Democrat to do the job. Battered by an erratic, vicious, bullying president, strong, stable leadership. Biden, president.


HENDERSON: It's also a message of former vice president's wife tried to convey this past week, though perhaps not as elegantly as the campaign was hoping.


JILL BIDEN, WIFE OF JOE BIDEN: If your goal -- I know my goal is to beat Donald Trump. We have to have someone who can beat him.

Your candidate might be on, I don't know, health care than Joe is. But you have to look at who is going to win this election. And maybe you have to swallow a little bit and say, OK, I sort of personally like so-and-so better. But your bottom line has to be that we have to beat Trump.


HENDERSON: And, J-Mart --


HENDERSON: -- Biden certainly leaning with those voters who think electability is the most important thing. But is that argument about electability and all the polls reflect he could beat Trump in certain states. Is that going to be enough for Joe Biden?

MARTIN: It depends on his performance. If he performs on the campaign trail and the four or five debates before the Iowa caucus in a way that reflects him as somebody who could beat Donald Trump, I think he would vindicate those assumptions and will be a formidable candidate.

If he makes mistakes, if he shows weakness and other candidates outshine him there will be questions raised about whether or not he is the guy that could be President Trump.

Look, half of the Democratic Party is moderate or conservative. And he is overwhelmingly leading among those voters right now with very little competition.

HENDERSON: And we'll put, we have a graphic here that shows that. Thank you, J-Mart.

Forty-three percent moderates, 11 percent conservatives, 42 percent are liberals. This is part of the reason why you see Joe Biden doing so well.

But you hear the other candidates in this race say, listen, this is time for big, bold change. It's not just a time for, you know, sort of bear minimum of beating Trump, Shawna.

THOMAS: Exactly, and the thing is, Joe Biden, how much is it in your poll? Thirty percent? Thirty-something percent? HENDERSON: Uh-huh.

THOMAS: But it also, as one of those things, where almost everyone recognizes who he is. He has name recognition. They know him.


They don't necessarily still don't know who Kamala Harris is. A lot of people still don't know who Kamala Harris is. A lot of people still don't know who Elizabeth Warren is. And we will get there. But other than people in Iowa, New Hampshire, who have these people in their faces and the people around this table who gets paid to literally stalk these people, there is still a lot of room for people to grow.

And I am curious as to whether there is still room for Joe Biden to grow. Because yes, there are a lot of conservatives and moderates in the Democratic Party. There's also a lot of progressives. There's a lot of progressives who showed up in major states last time around and voted for Jill Stein in Wisconsin and Michigan instead of Hillary Clinton.

There's progressive energy that we saw in 2018. And, you know, the Elizabeth Warrens and the Bernie Sanders are banking on this idea that people want to know that the progressives are fighting for them. That will be what energizes people to get to the polls.

JONATHAN MARTIN, "NEW YORK TIMES": BUT Every progressive versus moderate primary in the 2018 midterms was won by a moderate. And that progressive energy last fall was overwhelmingly in the service of left leaning moderate Democrats to the house and to governorships. So even though -- yes, that's --

THOMAS: And also the fight with Trump.

MARTIN: -- that's the driving force of the party right now. And it's inside Trump energy. But the way last year at least it came out was by electing moderate Democrats, especially to the house. The 40 freshmen are largely moderates. And I think that's what the Biden folks are banking on.

Now Biden's challenge is that his performance of late especially has not been of somebody who is seen as the "safe pick". The moment that Biden isn't the safe pick any more, I think he's in real trouble.


Well, (INAUDIBLE) of what the Democratic Party looks like and Biden of course, leading among moderates and conservatives.

We'll put up a graphic here. The issue I think the other candidates have, you were talking about, is if you look here, Biden isn't doing terribly among liberals. And he's essentially splitting all of that vote between Sanders and Warren, leading, of course, among moderates and conservatives which is the reason he is so far ahead. If you are saying there is a Warren, you have to be worried about that because you are splitting that vote among liberals with Joe Biden and with each other.


I think -- to Shawna's point -- one, I think there's still time and things are fluid. And to J Mart's point, I think there's a large -- there's a theory of the case amongst other campaigns that the second somebody punctures Joe Biden, the bottom will fall out pretty quickly.

MARTIN: Or he punctures himself.

MATTINGLY: Or he punctures himself.

HENDERSON: Right. Yes.

MATTINGLY: The bottom will fall out quickly and there will be an opportunity to capitalize and to move forward. And whether or not you're looking for a specific line, whether or not you share a vote.

MARTIN: The Steve Bullocks there, if you will.

MATTINGLY: We will go with that one. But I think there's also a possibility that if you don't puncture it that he, 34 percent and where he stands in his lane right now, if that sticks, 34 percent.

HENDERSON: That's pretty good.


MATTINGLY: And it's (INAUDIBLE) in a 20-person race is going to win -- period, end of story. And I think it's just -- what's interesting is we all look a lot one or two polls and think like all right, this is the state of the race right now.

It's August. It's summer. People are on vacation. People are not answering the phones. So it's not totally sure. People think that the race is still fluid.


MARTIN: And God love the CNN poll this week --

THOMAS: We do love it.

MARTIN: -- the CNN poll, there's no national primary. This race is an Iowa and New Hampshire race. It can't be said enough. And if Biden is 0 and two coming out of Iowa and New Hampshire, those national polls don't need a --


HENDERSON: And speaking of Iowa voters, and we'll put them up on the screen, they pretty much Joe Biden about electability. "He's the most electable. That's the whole point. Doesn't do you any good if you can't get elected."

Another guy, "If there would be a horse leading right now for me it's probably be Biden because all polls indicate he would beat Trump handily."

Another person, "Joe Biden is stability. For me stability and common sense."

Those exact words. In many ways he is parroting in that early Iowa ad.

VIVIAN SALAMA, "WALL STREET JOURNAL": A lot of those things also boil down to this Obama nostalgia that has kind of built up over time as Trump has been in office. And I think that one of the things that Joe Biden is going to have to say is yes, he can go and promote a number of the policies that the Obama administration had and a lot of those voters will respond to that because they like those policies. But then there is other -- another segment of the voters who were just inspired by who Barack Obama was as a person, what he represented in the highest office.

And so it's question of whether he can win those people over or whether other candidates are going to grab those particular voters. And I think that's going to be one of the biggest challenges.

HENDERSON: Yes. Or if that 30 percent is just enough in this vast field of 20 people. We'll see. It is still early.

Next, Supreme Court politics in the 2020 campaign.


HENDERSON: Let's turn now to some "Sunday Trail Mix" for a taste of the 2020 campaign. Former Republican Congressman Joe Walsh could announce a primary challenge to President Trump as soon as today. Walsh was elected in the Tea Party wave of 2010, lost his reelection bid in 2012. And he's now a radio talk show host. He was a strong supporter of Trump in 2016 and is apologizing for that now.


JOE WALSH, FORMER REPUBLICAN CONGRESSMAN: He's a horrible human being. He's a bad, bad guy. Trump is a bully. And he's a coward. And the only way you beat a bully and you beat a coward is to expose them, is to punch them.

The only way you primary Donald Trump and beat him is to expose him for the con man he is. And if I did it, John, that's what I would do, I'd punch him every single day.


HENDERSON: And the Supreme Court thrust back into the campaign spotlight after a court spokeswoman revealed that Ruth Baden Ginsburg had been treated once again for pancreatic cancer. The court says the tumor was quote, "treated definitively" and there is no evidence of disease elsewhere in the body.

President Trump among those sending their best wishes.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I hope she does really well. And our thoughts and prayers are with her. It is a very serious situation. I hope she's going to be fine. She's pulled through a lot. She's strong. Very tough. But we wish her well, very well.


HENDERSON: This is the 86-year-old justice's fourth bout with cancer. And Phil -- I want to go to you on this and we certainly wish RBG well as well.

You think about what Lindsey Graham has said about this in the sort of Merrick Garland precedent that has been set. He said that if an opening comes up in the last year of the President's term, and the primary process is started, we will wait until the next election, meaning not seat somebody if by chance there is a Supreme Court vacancy. What do you imagine happening if that does happen?

MATTINGLY: Yes. I mean preference was you obviously hope and pray that Ruth Bader Ginsburg is healthy. She's beaten a lot before. She's a pretty tough cookie by all accounts. They will fill the seat -- period, end of story.

Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader -- Mitch McConnell has made clear that in whatever rule or fake rule that they were trying to make up to block Merrick Garland in 2016, it doesn't apply here because the President and the Senate are controlled by the same party. They will fill the seat.

[08:40:04] And I think it will be a -- if it occurs, and you hope that it doesn't for the health of Ruth Baden Ginsburg, it would be a titanic battle that makes Kavanaugh look small to some degree.

And you look at some of the people that the administration had been considering that were runners up perhaps to Bret Kavanaugh, it would be an enormous fight. And to be frank, it would change the face of the conversation of 2020 without any question.

But make no mistake about it, Mitch McConnell would fill that seat if Mitch McConnell was given the opportunity.

HENDERSON: And we saw in 2016 that the Supreme Court, a major issue for Republican voters, not as much an issue Democratic voters. And I'm sure in 2020 that will be much different.

Next -- how Pete Buttigieg plans to reignite his campaign and why he says he's not worried about Trump nicknames.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Dealing with an insult is not a problem for me. I grew up in Indiana and I'm gay. I'm not that worried about it.

I learned how to keep my cool when the Taliban were shooting rockets at our base. I think I can keep my cool when he is sending tweets my way, too.



[08:44:48] The Democratic presidential field is finally starting to narrow. Governor Jay Inslee and Congressman Seth Moulton both dropping out of the Democratic presidential race after struggling to hit even 1 percent in most polls.

That leaves just 21 candidates, most of whom are in the same boat failing to win over enough voters to register in any national or early state surveys.

On his way out of the race, Congressman Moulton said that's a shame.


REP. SETH MOULTON (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Unfortunately it's largely become a three-way race for president. Andy that's left out a lot of important voices, you know. People like the only combat veteran in the race, the only governor from a state that Trump won are not going to be part of the next debate.

You've got Warren and Sanders at about 15 percent, Biden at about twice that but no one else are really even close.


HENDERSON: So Shawna -- is he right about that that it's basically a three-person race? We talk about the idea of it just sort of steadily (INAUDIBLE) folks in the top of the field.

THOMAS: I mean if that is how his campaign and how he sees it, that's how he sees it.


THOMAS: I think it's really hard to discount sort of the top five people at this point knowing what the map for the primary is and the fact that we have to get to California on Super Tuesday which could benefit Kamala Harris.

So I'm not sure it's three. I think it's five. But I think he has hit on if you are still at 2 percent right now in major polls, even though there is no national primary. I get it. I understand -- I want to see some Iowans and New Hampshire.

(CROSSTALKING) THOMAS: Ok. I'm there. I don't know how you start to amass enough people who want to vote for you for president. And I think what we see from Jay Inslees of the world and the Seth Moultons are like, writing on the wall. Not going to happen.

So I just -- I'm not willing to say three. I think it's hard to know.

HENDERSON: And speaking of the top five, Pete Buttigieg has consistently been in the top five. Phil -- I'm going to go to you after this sound. He's got a lot of money, struggling with black voters and we see that here.


BUTTIGIEG: We know we're in the mix. And we know also that there are a lot of people who even now haven't formed an opinion about us. Sometimes you forget that most people haven't dialed in to the nominating process. And now we've got to do the often unglamorous, often behind the scenes work of firming up the relationships that turn a lot of of sympathy and interest and goodwill into actual wins on the caucus.


HENDERSON: And that was your interview -- Phil. And here's a pastor at one of Pete's events.


REV. CHRIS HARRIS, PASTOR, BRIGHT STAR CHURCH: We were just talking just for a quick moment. I said Mayor Pete, now listen, you brought all of these white people to the black neighborhood. Clap if you agree. We need some more black faces up in here.

So you know what that mean, right? That mean next time you can't leave your black and brown friends at home. And if you got none, you need to make some.


HENDERSON: That's major shade there.

MARTIN: Somebody to campaign right there.

MATTINGLY: Yes. Look, it's the crux of this they want to last long term, that has to change. It hasn't shifted notably yet. And they have put a lot of effort into it. It hasn't shifted yet.

HENDERSON: Yes. He was zero percent in the last poll among black voters. He's up to zero percent in all these polls..

MATTINGLY: He's had policy proposals rolled out. He's made the effort to talk to the community, to meet with people. and there hasn't been a shift. Now, that, not unlike the reason I went to Iowa is I wanted to know. Like you were a rocket ship. You raised $25 million. Now what are you doing. You've been pretty steady in the polls at 4 percent, 5 percent, 6 percent. What's actually happening. What they are doing is building a campaign.

They didn't have one. They started with four people. They have more than 300 in the campaign. They're trying to build a ground operation. And there's really the case when people hear about Pete Buttigieg, when they hear his story, they will come on board.

When you go from a name ID of 76 percent people in the Iowa polls march, having know idea who he was, and that's now down to about 25 percent, they can move that even further. They believe that they will gain traction.

And perhaps that's the case in Iowa. Especially when you have u that kind of money and you're actually building an organization. And the field seems pretty fluid in August, September time period.

But the pastor and I know you have written about this. We've all talked about this. It's a key point. You don't win a Democratic primary if you don't have those voters.

HENDERSON: And J Mart -- Kamala Harris seeing some movement and not in a good way in terms of her polls. She shot up after the debate, fell back to earth, and now is even lower according to our polls than she was before. Can she recover? How does she recover?

MARTIN: It's not clear how she recovers? I think she has to find more moments like she had in that June debate. But you know, part of her challenge is she is sort of trying to figure out where she is in the race.


MARTIN: She clearly regrets coming out the star and trying to be the progressive because it's not who she is. I think she is trying to dial that back now. But as long as Joe Biden is hitting on half the party, which is the moderate and conservative. It's sort of hard to see where she goes.

But I will say this, though. Kamala Harris stays in this race through June, it is a problem for Senator Warren, because Kamala Harris takes voters that otherwise would go to Warren in the Iowa caucus uses.

I've been out there talking to these voters. I know who they are. And I think that could be a challenge for Warren going into Iowa.

[08:49:58] As far as Mayor Pete, just real fast -- it is such a great reveal about Democratic donor class and this hunger for new people, new faces in the party. And they got a glimpse of somebody who they were so impressed with, gave him a ton of money. The problem is their voters don't seem to --

HENDERSON: Yes, exactly. If only money could buy you voters at least according to these early polls. But as you say, it is still early. Our reporters share from their notebooks next, including the latest on the young Kennedy heir hoping to follow his grandfather and two grand uncles into the Senate.


HENDERSON: Time now for our great reporters to share a page from their note books to get you out ahead of this week's political news.

And we'll start with you -- J Mart.

MARTIN: I spent some time in the Bay state this week and it was striking seeing a state where the Red Sox (ph) have tried to establish (INAUDIBLE) out of contention. All of the focus have turned to politics. There's nothing else going on up there for the past ticket of this poll.

The talk there is will Joe Kennedy III challenge Ed Markey? I spent about a half hour with Ed Markey and he would not take on Joe Kennedy. But he made clear that if Kennedy does run that he was staying in the race. That would create a titanic match between two well-known figures in that state.

And increasingly people think that as long as Kennedy he keeps the door open in this state, that he's probably is going to have to run because the pullback will show weakness they think for a future race. If you don't run now, the lines aren't going to be any shorter down the road in a state full of liberals.

HENDERSON: That's right. And he saw Ayanna Pressley knock off an incumbent in the primary so PROBABLY GIVE -- .

MARTIN: And people want the numbers to run exactly, so.



THOMAS: Hey. So I'm watching Senator Bernie Sanders this weekend. Today he will be in Louisville, Kentucky. Tomorrow he will be in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Really kind of shows a larger, broader, primary strategy which I think all of the candidates other than for the most part Vice President Joe Biden kind of have to do. In 2016 Sanders, he basically tied in Kentucky with Hillary for the primary so he got a bunch of delegates there. Quite interesting.

[08:54:57] But he also has to play on the fact that he's a senator, he has to come back to Washington, D.C. He's going basically to McConnell's home town in Louisville. He gets to rail about that.

So it should be interesting to see how that politics plays out the next few days.

HENDERSON: All right. It will be interesting to watch.

Vivian? SALAMA: So my eyes are on Hong Kong. And as President Trump is at

the G-7 talking to world leaders, obviously trade with China is a major issue. But those Hong Kong protests should not be separated from this. It's going to be one of the defining moments for President Trump if he's going to pull off this trade deal.

We see today protesters are getting tear-gassed thrown at them from police. This is something that is really pressuring Beijing and the more that they get closer to these deadlines with the U.S. in terms of trade talks, are they going to meet next week? Are they not going to meet next week?

These protests could have a significant impact on that and so that's something we have to watch but also how President Trump and his administration responds to that.

It could be a really defining moment. Is he going to prioritize our economic interests or is he going to play that traditional role that the American president plays of being sort of promoting Democratic ideals? We'll see.

HENDERSON: Which we've rarely seen from him --

SALAMA: Yes. That's right.

HENDERSON: -- in these instances.


MATTINGLY: I'm keeping an close eye on where the White House lands on gun violence prevention measures. Look, prefaced with there's a lot of skepticism here for very real reasons, not just because of what we've seen in the past with these debates but also I've been talking to a lot of people who are involve din this who a, don't know where the President is going to land and b, don't think anything substantive is going to happen.

But White House officials say that in the beginning of September, they are going to introduce a package of something. I'm told it will be a little bit more minimal than what Democrats would want -- probably a lot more minimal. But Chris Murphy, a Democrat who just calls himself a hard liner on gun violence issues said over -- a couple of days ago that he believes while, there's a less than 50-50 percent chance that something gets done, it's worth having the conversation.

He's had White House discussions. They're continuing. The big thing here if the White House introduces a package like they say they're going to, the debate will come back. One of the big concerns was the debate would go away over the course of the recess.

If they put something on the table regardless of what it is, the debate comes back. Nancy Pelosi had a conference call with her members on Friday said this is the most urgent issue for them. If the debate comes back anything could happen. Where it ends up is an open question. But first the White House has to decide what they want.

HENDERSON: And Americans certainly want to have these conversations as well so we will see where that goes.

And that's it for INSIDE POLITICS. Hope you can catch us week days as well at noon Eastern.

Up next, "STATE OF THE UNION" hosted by Brianna Keilar. Her guests includes include chief economic adviser Larry Kudlow and presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.

Thanks again for sharing your Sunday morning with us.