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Democrats Promise Action on Guns when Congress Returns; Biden, Warren, Sanders Take Center Stage at Next Debate; Trump Obsesses over Where Hurricane Dorian Didn't Hit; 2020 Candidates Slam Trump at New Hampshire Dem Convention; Trump Cancels Secret Camp David Meeting with Taliban; House Democrats Gear Up for Impeachment Inquiry. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired September 8, 2019 - 08:00   ET




DANA BASH, CNN HOST (voice-over): 2020 candidates descend on the Granite State.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Trump wants to divide us up. We're going to bring our people together.

SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This election is not just about our plans. It's about our heart and our gut.

BASH: Who's got the right strategy to win the first in the nation primary?

Plus, Democrats demand action on guns, the president's still wavering.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: A lot of people are working on different scenarios. And we're going to see how it all comes about and what happens.

BASH: And Hurricane Dorian wrecks havoc in the Bahamas and the Carolinas, yet President Trump is obsessed with where it didn't hit?

TRUMP: I know that Alabama was in the original forecast.

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



BASH: Welcome to INSIDE POLITICS. I'm Dana Bash, in this morning for John King.

There is a lot of news this morning, including President Trump's surprise announcement by tweet that he cancelled a secret Camp David summit with Afghanistan's president and representatives of the Taliban that was planned for today. We're going to get to that. But we begin with the 2020 race and the critical primary state of New

Hampshire. Nineteen presidential hopefuls campaigned there this weekend, bringing their 2020 pitches to the state Democratic Party convention. There was, of course, the competition to out-attack President Trump.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We cannot and I will not let this man be re-elected president of the United States of America.

PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Americans are looking to prescription drug prices and wondering how they're going to be able to buy groceries, and the president's got us arguing over whether to buy Greenland.

JULIAN CASTRO (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The motto of this great state is "live free or die". I want you to help us live free from Donald Trump starting on January 20th, 2021.


BASH: And also calls for the Democratic Party to get back to its roots.


SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We win when we call out what is broken, when we show how to fix it, and when we build a grass roots movement to get it done.

BOOKER: Time for us as Democrats to remember who we are. The party that says no matter who you are, what your background is, when we stand together and work together, we rise together.

BETO O'ROURKE (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Show up everywhere for everyone, write no one out, take no one for granted, count everyone in. That's how we defeat Donald Trump.


BASH: New Hampshire, of course, hosts the first primary in the nation and is historically a critical stop for anyone seeking the White House. So far this cycle, however, it's been a bit overshadowed by the focus on two other early voting states, Iowa and South Carolina. Only three major candidates have visited the state more than ten times this year with front-runner Joe Biden far behind.

But with Labor Day behind us now and five months left until New Hampshire goes to the polls, that's probably going to change.

Joining me now with their reporting and their insight, Lisa Lerer from "The New York Times", Sahil Kapur from Bloomberg News", "The Washington Post's" Rachael Bade, and Michael Bender from "The Wall Street Journal".

Let me start with you, Sahil, because you just came back from New Hampshire. You were there. What did it feel like on the ground?

SAHIL KAPUR, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, BLOOMBERG: Well, the energy seems certainly to be with Elizabeth Warren. She filled the crowd. Her campaign filled the crowd with her supporters. They were waiving placards, they were chanting her name. They said, 2 cents, 2 cents for her wealth tax.

They were shouting at the beginning of her speech, so she could barely talk. So, her campaign is doing something right in terms --

BASH: She got a two-minute standing ovation, right?

KAPUR: Exactly. She had a long standing ovation at the beginning. She had some of that at the end as well.

Now, the question is, do these enthusiastic votes translate to number of votes. We know an unenthusiastic vote counts the same amount.

Joe Biden at the beginning of the night had a relatively tame response, part of that might have been his speaking slot. But the polls in Iowa and New Hampshire are much tighter than they are nationally. Joe Biden leads comfortably by double digits in most polls nationally, but it's much narrower in New Hampshire and Iowa.

So, if he doesn't do well there, and his campaign is downplaying expectations there. That could change the state of the entire race.

BASH: Well, speaking of down playing expectations, the vice president, former vice president's campaign downplayed expectations in a very overt way this past week, with kind of a surprising conference call that they did with reporters that got maybe because of the hurricane got a little underreported.

But let me just show you what he said. This is a senior Biden campaign aide.

Do we think we have to win Iowa?


No. Do we want to win Iowa, yes, we do. We think we're going to win. We know it's going to be a dog fight.

The same thing is true in New Hampshire. We are now ramping up not just for Super Tuesday, but Super Tuesday and beyond. We have no expectation nor should we for anyone that this is going to end quickly after the first four nor should it.

LISA LERER, NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Yes, that was particularly striking because I've had people close to Biden tell me privately that they think he could blow everybody out of the water or they thought, several months, we could blow everybody out of the water, get the momentum, march to the nomination.

So, I think there is a recognition now that this could be a longer fight. Not only could it be a longer fight, also what they're trying to do is part of Iowa is an expectations game. There is the person who wins and then there are the people who beat expectations.

So, they are clearly trying to lower expectations. So, even if he comes in second or third, we all at this table don't write it like a loss.

But the reality is, he's the front-runner. He's held a fairly commanding lead for the entirety of this race. So I think expectations will be high.

BASH: But it's one thing to say that about Iowa. It's another thing to say it about New Hampshire and the other early states. And just back on New Hampshire since everybody was there last night, you mentioned you were there that warren got rousing applause. Sanders actually won there in 2016.


BASH: Both Warren and Sanders are from neighboring states. That's no small thing if you look at the history.

BADE: Yes, and one of the key messages that both of them made actually yesterday was the electability argument. Obviously, Biden kicked off his campaign saying, I'm the most likely campaign to actually beat Donald Trump. We have seen Warren has struggled to sort of make that case to people who even like her and would vote for her but worries she couldn't stack up against Trump.

But both of them touched on this speeches yesterday. And, obviously, they had loud applause, more so than Biden. My colleague said the same thing. That Bernie and Warren both had really strong applause lines, and they have neighboring states so their supporters are close.

But here's what Warren said. She said: We can't choose to be -- we can't choose a candidate we don't believe in because we're scared.

And Bernie said something similar about how I'm stacking up against Trump. I'm beating Trump in every single poll.

So, they're really trying to chip away at that electability argument.

MICHAEL BENDER, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: You mentioned Bernie's 22-point win there and there's a certain amount of pressure on him to repeat, but it seems to me the pressure is going to be on Warren. She is -- has a much bigger reach into New Hampshire with the Boston media market than Burlington.

There is history here, right? Kerry between a Massachusetts and a Vermont candidates in New Hampshire when Kerry beat Dean in '04.

And Warren is -- has all the momentum. We have been talking about Warren's position in the Democratic race, her ability to take over from Biden all summer long, how things sort of lined up. She's everyone's second choice. Sanders is really no one's second choice.

So, anyone is going to take over Biden, it looks like it's going to be Warren, but at some point she's going to have to do that. And the longer Biden can hold her off, the better.

I do think on your earlier question, everyone I think agrees with that Biden campaign aide that this will be a long race. There's a lot of money in this race. All these candidates have money to go a long ways, but Biden has turned this into electability. That's his sole reason and rational for winning. If he loses, it's going to be very hard to explain.

BASH: We have new polling out "The Washington Post" on electability, but before we get to that because you mentioned the history of New Hampshire as all of us at the table are history buffs, let's just look at New Hampshire versus Iowa over the years. I mean, Obviously as I mentioned Bernie Sanders crushed Hillary Clinton and Hillary Clinton won in 2008.

I mean, there are not -- except for Kerry and Gore and Dukakis and Carter, it's a mixed bag in terms of winning New Hampshire versus winning the primary. Never mind, never mind Iowa.

Just want to actually point out something about the current race. So, "The Washington Post" has a new poll out, national poll, and there were two things that struck us here. And you guys both alluded to this in terms of electability versus who to go with based on the voter's gut.

So, who would be the best president for the country? On this, Joe Biden wins, but it's within the margin of error at 24 percent. Elizabeth Warren is right behind him at 20. Bernie Sanders, 16, and then you see Kamala Harris and Pete Buttigieg down at 5.

If the question is asked differently, who has the best chance to defeat Trump, that is where Joe Biden is crushing the other candidates now 45 percent. Bernie Sanders is so far behind at 14, and Elizabeth Warren, 12, and Kamala Harris, 2 percent.

LERER: Right. I mean, Joe Biden has been very successful being able to make the case that he is the most electable, strongest candidate. Now, if that calculus starts to shift and he starts to look like a riskier bet for whatever reason, then I think those numbers will start to turn.

I also think it's really important to remember who is paying attention the race at this point. Yes, it feels like it's right upon us for us but we're still five months away from Iowa. A lot of people are giving all the chaos in Washington a little tired of politics, don't want to tune in. And the people that are tuned in tend to be older and they tend to be -- that's really Biden's stronghold.

So, the question becomes what starts to happen as more people tune into race people that might not necessarily be -- you know, is Biden's base or Biden's natural base and whether those numbers start to change.

BADE: I think CNN poll recently captured this sort of change we're seeing and that is Democrats say they prioritize first of all somebody who could beat Trump over say somebody who has a perfect record supporting what they want to see in terms of policy, but there are a couple of CNN polls that actually showed narrowing in the percentage of people who prioritize somebody they know can beat Trump versus those policy positions and actually seeing more and more people care about those policy positions.

So, if that continues that means this electability argument while still Biden's strength potentially won't be in a few months, right?

KAPUR: The word I hear all the time is comfort -- comfort, comfort, comfort. Biden is the comfort zone. And it's not so much progressive moderate with him.

It's not so much ideologically driven, is that they know him. They believe he can win. They call him a statesman. And with Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, there's a conflict waiting to happen.

BASH: So, he's like the chicken noodle soup of the Democratic candidates, right?.

LERER: He reminds me a little bit of Hillary Clinton.


BASH: Yes.

LERER: It's not that they necessarily in love with him. It's that they know him.

BASH: All right. Everybody stand by.

We're just days away from the anniversary of the September 11th terror attacks. President Trump late last night called off secret planned summit. It was supposed to be for today at Camp David talks that would have involved the Taliban.

We're going to talk about that after a break.



BASH: Now to this morning's other big story. In a series of tweets last night, President Trump revealed there was going to be a secret meeting today at Camp David involving himself, the Taliban and Afghanistan's president. The president says that meeting and peace talks in general with the Taliban are now off because the Taliban claimed responsibility for Thursday's car bombing that killed a U.S. serviceman and nearly a dozen civilians at a check point near NATO headquarters and the U.S. embassy in Kabul.

In one of his tweets, the president wrote of the Taliban if they cannot agree to a cease fire during these very important peace talks and would even kill 12 innocent people, then they probably don't have the power to negotiate a meaningful agreement any way. And then he went on to say how many more decades are they willing to fight? Well, that is an important question. This coming Wednesday is

September 11th, the 18th anniversary of the terror attacks plotted by al Qaeda in Afghanistan while the Taliban ruled. The attacks resulted in the invasion of Afghanistan and the U.S. still has about 14,000 service members there alongside NATO troops.

And as we discuss this, the reaction is coming in, most notably from senior and influential Republicans, the president's fellow Republicans.

Liz Cheney, who's a member of the House Republican leadership, obviously her father was vice president on 9/11 said: Camp David is where America's leaders met to plan a response after al Qaeda, supported by the Taliban killed 3,000 Americans in 9/11.

No member of the Taliban should set foot there ever.

The Taliban still harbors al Qaeda. The president is right to end talks.

And this from Adam Kinzinger is active duty. He served in Afghanistan. Never should leaders of a terrorist organization that hasn't renounced 9/11 and continues in evil be allowed in our great country. Never, full stop.


BENDER: It's puzzling. I mean, the tweet last night is puzzling and there's still a lot to be puzzled out from what Trump was up to here. As you mentioned to bring in the Taliban, just days ahead of the 9/11 is one thing.

Also, the reason he called it off is unclear, too. The Taliban is responsible for thousands of American deaths. And the president, who has said Americans have wasted their lives Americans died in vain in Afghanistan supposedly called this off because of the death of one more, last week a car bomb in Afghanistan.

It was Army Sergeant First Class Elis Ortiz, a 34-year-old from Puerto Rico. That's important. It's hard to comprehend how that would be this president's rationale for calling it off 11th hour talks.

BASH: And doing it, we should emphasize, by tweet. Surprised everybody because they were supposed to be secret talks today and he just announced that they were going to happen and they were cancelled by tweet on a Saturday night.

BADE: Yes, very unconventional but this is what Trump has been doing for two years. I wonder if behind the scenes he was getting pressure from Republicans like Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, who are Republicans who are very different side of the GOP spectrum.

Kinzinger is a very moderate Republican. Just the other day, he was tweeting that Trump was silly to fight with the media over this hurricane tweet about Alabama. And Liz Cheney is conservative and a top Trump ally but both were saying, what are you doing? But I think this speaks to Trump wanting to fulfill a campaign promise

which is get out of wars in the Middle East. And, initially, you know, we have reported, my colleagues on the White House team, that he was unhappy with this tentative deal they struck because it would still leave 8,000 American troops in Afghanistan, even as it withdrew 5,000 troops. So he wanted more people out.

So, it shows how desperate he is to actually get us out of Afghanistan.

BASH: And Afghanistan is by far the longest American war. We have a list on the screen, 17 years 11 months, so almost 18 years. Vietnam is now well behind that and the list goes on.

LERER: Yes, whether he succeeds at fulfilling that campaign promise, this tweet makes it look like he's doing something to fulfill that campaign promise and sort of trying to work on the issue, which I think is important for his re-election ambitions.


Also, I think it's important to point out what we no longer are talking about which is that doctored hurricane math. I hesitate to call it doctored because it's basically a little sharpie line, but that's -- it was doctored, and now you can never ignore the shift in the media conversation when it comes to this president because he's acutely aware of it.

BASH: All right. We're going to have to take a quick break. But before we do because there's a tweet for everything, President Trump then private citizen Trump January 13th, 2012: While @BarackObama is slashing the military, he's also negotiating with our sworn military the Taliban who facilitated 9/11.

And with that, we're going to take a break.

Up next, Congress comes back to work this week. Are House Democrats really ready to start impeachment proceedings? But, first, politicians say the darnedest things Supreme Court edition.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg describes her job interview with President Clinton way back in 1993.


JUSTICE RUTH BADER GINSBURG, SUPREME COURT: It was very easy to talk to the president.

I've had the experience with some men that they have certain discomfort talking to a woman. That was not that way with President Clinton.





BASH: Congress is back in session this week and House Democrats are already planning to expand their investigations into President Trump. The House judiciary committee may vote this week to formalize a probe that could lead to the president's impeachment.

And Democrats are turning their attention and their subpoenas to what they say are President Trump's efforts to use his office to enrich himself, such as having Vice President Pence stay at his resort at Ireland or pushing to hold next year's G7 summit at his resort in Florida.


REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): What we're confronted with now is that the president is basically converted the presidency into a money-making operation, an instrument of self enrichment. I want to start with the fact that the president is making money on a daily basis by ordering executive branch officials to stay at the Trump hotels to do business with the Trump resorts and the golf courses and so on, and he's also been collecting money from day one from foreign governments.


BASH: The president's response to questions like this --


TRUMP: I have a lot of hotels all over the place and people use them because they're the best. I mean, you know, they're the best. People like my product, what can I tell you? I can't help it.


BASH: OK. Let's talk about impeachment.

You guys are on the Hill running around there all the time. You're going to now be running around after them coming back after listening to their constituents, these House Democrats, for almost five weeks. Do you think that the dynamic has changed?

KAPUR: Well, it has changed somewhat in that more and more Democrats have come out for it. We have seen over the last month or so Democrats in swing districts where you wouldn't necessarily expect them to want to put the president front and center on their target list have come out for it and Democrats have to now define this.

The key thing is they only have three to four months left before the end of the year then the year flips to 2020. You're going to impeach a president in an election year, that's going to create an argument for him already.

They've kind of already run out the clock here. They do clearly see an argument here and the idea of corruption and self dealing. Public opinion on Russia and that investigation has calcified. It's not moving.

But if they can portray the president as funnel taxpayer dollars to his personal properties to enrich himself, that's an explosive charge if they can make hay of it.

BASH: OK. So, you mentioned that some of the more vulnerable Democrats have come out in front of impeachment.

Our team here looked at the numbers. The DCCC, the Democrats arm -- campaign arm that helps Democrats get elected, they say that there are 44 what they call front line members, so, the most vulnerable. Of those, nine support impeachment proceedings. Those are the ones highlighted in yellow.

It's more than zero, which it was earlier but still only 9.

BADE: Yes. That's not going to be enough to get these impeachment inquiries started.

I mean, Speaker Pelosi, her top concern is keeping the House in Democratic hands. And these are the members that she's concerned worth protecting. And if you look at the 31 Democrats who are in Trump districts, districts who voted for Trump in 2016, only two of them have actually come out to support an impeachment inquiry, and that's after weeks of these outside liberal groups saying they are going to target these very 31 Democrats, only two of them moved in the past couple of weeks.

Look, I think the Judiciary Committee has a problem. They really want to impeach the president. They think they have enough to move forward but the public sentiment is not there. Voters do not support ousting Trump.

And Pelosi is looking at those numbers and the Judiciary Committee is hearing from the far left and even moderate Democrats who say it's time to do this, and there is a real collision course that we are headed for at the end of this year.

BASH: And as Sahil mentioned, the time crunch.

BADE: Right.


BASH: The House has not that many days left in session. In September, 13 days. October 12 days. November, eight days. December also eight days.

LERER: Right. This is a lot to get done in a very short period of time with a divided party. I also think that there's much more unanimity around the idea of attacking the president on this idea of corruption, self dealing is a much more powerful argument. I mean, that's something you hear certainly on the presidential campaign side of things from people on the more liberal end of the Democratic spectrum and the more moderate end of the spectrum, they think that could be a potent attack. So, that's why you see the committees taking up these additional questions about his properties and things like that.

BASH: But I can tell you, just from talking to people in Trump world, they also think that -- worry that it is a more potent attack on the president than anything else that's going on that he's enriching himself with the White House.

Let's turn to guns and the question of, will they do it? Will they get anything done finally after this summer which was incredibly, incredibly bloody?


Listen to what the president said at the White House this past week about it.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're working with Congress. I can tell you a lot of people are working on different scenarios. And we're going to see how it all comes about and what happens.

We're in touch with a lot of different people. There are many proposals put forward. I heard 29 different proposals. So, there's no lack of proposal. We'll have to see what happens.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you support?

TRUMP: I support safety for our citizens. I support keeping guns out of the hands of sick people, mentally-ill people.


MICHAEL BENDER, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: I mean -- this is going to -- your answer of whether or not anything is going to get done sort of starts and ends with the President there.

BASH: Absolutely.

BENDER: And we've heard from Republicans repeatedly say this President needs to take this on his back to push it through if he's the only one that has the political capital to do that.

And inside the White House they're saying that they want to do that; that they plan to do that; that they want to have their own legislation and get co-sponsors and get their arms around this and move it forward.

The problem is, what is another example of them doing that in the past three years? What legislative victory have they pulled over the finish line on their own without Mitch McConnell taking the lead on it? So that's going to be the first opportunity -- I don't think the last opportunity -- but the first opportunity will be at the Tuesday lunches, the normal Tuesday lunches this week, with Senate Republicans.


BASH: And Mitch McConnell has made it clear, to your point, Mitch McConnell has made it clear he's not doing anything because they've gotten the rug pulled out from them on other much less controversial issues by the President. So they need presidential leadership.

The other difference is that we're closer to an election. I'm told, that's why -- by, you know, some Republicans I'm talking to -- that's why this so much less likely even though the public opinion might be shifting, the calendar is against them.

LISA LERER, NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER, "NEW YORK TIMES": Look -- and know the President's own polling shows THAT this doesn't move his base. This is a president who is very focused on his base and sees this, you know, motivating his base as his key part of the strategy.

But I think the question of whether they even have the ability to do this is a really and powerful legitimate one. I mean look we saw for Sandy Hook where kindergarteners were gunned down in their classroom the White House threw their full force behind that measure, it still didn't pass.

There is a question about whether the politics have changed in the Republican Party on this issue. I'm not sure they'll change an --


BASH: Exactly. But that was, of course, a Democratic White House.

LERER: Right.

BASH: If Republican White House did it, it would be a whole different ball game.

Ok. Everybody stand by.

Up next -- with the Democratic debate just a few days away, can Kamala Harris use it to reverse her slide in the polls?


SENATOR KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If I listen to polls, I would have never run for my first office and I wouldn't have won my first office if I listened to those polls. Everybody else and the pundits can ride polls, I'm not on that roller coaster.




BASH: There will be ten candidates on the Democratic debate stage Thursday night. Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren will be center stage. Now the latest national poll out just this morning from "Washington Post" shows why they form a clear top tier with their seven rivals lagging far behind.

So let's take a look at what the debate stage is going to look like. As we have seen before, Joe Biden is going to be in the middle, but we have never seen before Elizabeth Warren on the stage with Joe Biden, never mind with Bernie Sanders. So, this is going to be -- this dynamic here is going to be absolutely new and fascinating to watch.

I didn't mean to go over Kamala Harris' face there but she is important also because she was next to Joe Biden in the last two debates. So the dynamic there will be quite different.

LERER: Right. I mean I think the question will be whether this becomes a fight over sort of the direction the liberals want to push the party against Joe Biden's position of more of a restoration of the Obama administration.

My guess would be we don't see Warren and Sanders going after each other. They have been fairly --

BASH: How about Biden -- going after Biden?

LERER: Yes. That's the question. They team up on Biden? Does anyone go after Elizabeth Warren? We haven't seen that before. But she's been on a steady rise through the polls.

BASH: Yes.

Ok. So you had an interesting story in which you were trying to figure out the Kamala Harris situation and you talked to Alex Conant who was Marco Rubio's communications director in 2016. And he made an analogy between the Republican candidate he worked for and Kamala Harris now.

"Harris is trying to run in a lane very similar to what rubio tried to do in 2016. They're both new faces running as next generation candidates against candidates that in many ways represent the past. They came into the campaign with ideological credentials but a message that would play well in the general. It's a good strategy for coming in second if you're acceptable to everyone you're not necessarily loved by anyone."


SAHIL KAPUR, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, BLOOMBERG: This is the fork in the road for Kamala Harris right now. She can go down this path similar to where rubio ended up where you're well liked by all segments of the base. You have ideological credentials where, you know, in Kamala Harris' case some progressives like her.

You're well liked by the establishment and many of the establishment figures in the party see her as a very strong, formidable candidate but you can't translate that on the ground because not enough people view you as the first choice.

The other side of that fork is the Barack Obama arc. He also was struggling at this point and he grew, he became much better at this. And at the very end he made it happen when it mattered. And that's where you saw Kamala Harris downplay the polls at the moments. She wants this to be the latter arc and not former.

BASH: Very well said.

Ok. Everybody stand by because up next, a full week after wrongly warning that Alabama was in Hurricane Dorian's path, President Trump just can't let it go.



BASH: We need to start this segment with a caveat, we really, really do not want to be doing this story, but Donald Trump is the President of the United States. And a full week after he first told residents in Alabama to watch out for Hurricane Dorian, even though the storm had turned away by then, he just can't let it go. He's even forced important government officials and agencies who should be focused on the hurricane itself to back up his erroneous warnings about Alabama.

His tweet was wrong, or at least out of date. Earlier forecasts put a small sliver of Alabama at risk, but by the time the President sent out his warning, Dorian was veering northeast. Now, instead of moving on, the reason we're talking about it is because he keeps tweeting about it, more than a dozen times. And Wednesday he, of course, now famously showed reporters a doctored map in the Oval Office with the hand drawn line extending the cone of uncertainty to Alabama.

And there was also this extraordinary statement from the non-partisan federal agency that oversees the nation's weather forecasting saying "The information provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Hurricane Center to President Trump and wider public demonstrated that tropical storm-force winds from Hurricane Dorian could impact Alabama."

That statement even condemned a tweet put out by the government's own meteorologist in Birmingham who dared to contradict the President and tell their neighbors the truth that Alabama had nothing to worry about.


So, why does this matter? Because we are talking about the safety of Americans and the concern, real concern, of Americans who thought they were potentially in the path of a devastating hurricane.

And the "Washington Post" has a story about this this morning specifically about what happened at NOAA that NOAA's staff warned on September 1st a directive there against contradicting Trump. The Birmingham office sent the tweet after receiving a flurry of phone calls from concerned residents following Trump's message. That's why they did it because they were trying to help and to stop the confusion of the people living in that state.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. BENDER: Yes. I mean there were some early projections that showed it

going towards Alabama. But the problem is by the time the President said that, the maps had changed. And sort of ironically when Trump first started talking about Alabama, he was at the FEMA headquarters. I think it was his first visit to FEMA, he brought the entire cabinet. It was a very -- it was a show of strength and a show of confidence in this arm of government.

The Secretary of Defense was at FEMA. I don't know the last time the Secretary of Defense ever went to FEMA for this sort of thing. But that's where Trump started talking about Alabama. The folks in Alabama did their job by calming residents. The President hasn't been able to put a period on this one.

BASH: No, he absolutely hasn't. and here -- so we talked about why it matters in terms of people's lives and their concern about a very real storm.

Let's talk about why it matters politically, this is INSIDE POLITICS. This kind of chaos people in and around Republican circles say is one of the main things that contributes to the President bleeding support among women, suburban women.

If you take a look at this, the President versus a woman in 2016 won white women by 9 points. Look at where he is -- so that's plus 9. Look at where he is against Biden and Sanders. He is down 18 points among white women among those two and also double digits among the three contenders below. That is a huge potential problem for the President.

LERER: Right. And it's a problem that he certainly has not been making any better this week. We know that these white suburban women, as you point out, they don't like the chaos. They don't like the President's tone.

Some of them may like some of the things he's accomplished like, you know, getting conservative judges on the Supreme Court, they just want politics to go back to not being such a dominant force in their life.

BENDER: They don't want to be embarrassed. I mean Trump started this summer. He's so focused on making Democrats unpalatable that he waded into racist attacks. He can't get his hand around the kind of trade talks that's rattling the market, putting on a roller coaster. And now this strange sharpie-gate and the Alabama issue.

BASH: Exactly. And we're going to have a test of the votes in the suburban areas this coming week. There's a special election in North Carolina and it is largely in the suburbs of charlotte.

So we're going to see whether or not this area, which the President in this district, the President won by 11 points in his election in 2016, whether or not the Republican candidate will basically fall prey to the problems that the President is having with these voters.

RACHAEL BADE, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, "WASHINGTON POST": Yes. I mean this is going to be a first test to see if the Democratic wave that flipped the House in 2018, is it continuing? Are Republicans still bleeding in the suburbs?

And you know, this is going to be a big test for Republicans and for Trump. I mean Trump very much has been speaking to his base, you know, talking about immigration and using sort of divisive rhetoric when it comes to these four congresswomen -- minority congresswomen -- females who he keeps attacking over and over again.

Look, I mean that might work for him, but this is going to be another sign of, you know, what is this going to look like for House Republicans and as they are running in their own re-elections in 2020.

KAPUR: This is a blue wave bellwether. That's absolutely right. Republicans have been swearing up and down the recruits to donors -- to their allies that 2020 is not going to look like 2018. And if they lose this, then that won't be true.

BASH: All right, everybody. Thank you so much.

Up next, our reporters are going to share from their notebooks including President Trump's plan to hold a rally in a state he lost but thinks he can flip in 2020.



BASH: Time now for our reporters to share a page from their notebooks to get you out in front of the week ahead.


LERER: So we spent a lot of time talking about who will be on the debate stage. I'm keeping a little bit of an eye on those who won't make the cut. Now, this third tier of candidates getting to the top tier race will be exceedingly difficult. But they do have some power to influence, intentionally weaken the front-runners.

Take something Congressman Tim Ryan, the attack he launched this past weekend where he went after former vice president Joe Biden on his age and his agility. That's something the top-tier candidates have been unwilling to say but it's something on voters' minds and the question is whether any of these attacks from the bottom tier can influence the race.

KAPUR: Dana -- I spent much of the week in New Hampshire asking the Democratic presidential candidates about a bold new idea on gun control, mandatory buyback of assault weapons, also known as confiscation with compensation. As I would call it.

And a number of Democratic candidates are in favor of in favor of it. Kamala Harris says she's in favor of it. Cory Booker said he's in favor of it. Beto O'Rourke made an impassioned case to the audience at the New Hampshire Democratic convention and drew tears and applause. Julio Castro said he's open to it.

This is a risky idea but it reflects the growing appetite among Democrats to take far-reaching steps to control guns and not only new sales but take existing guns, military style weapons off the street.

BASH: Very interesting and it is pretty risky politically.

BADE: As House Republicans convene this week for their biennial retreat that they have every other year, we're starting to see an exodus of these lawmakers from Washington actually with 15 House Republicans have now announced that they're not going to be running again in 2020. Two, yes, last week (INAUDIBLE) of Wisconsin who had been there for 40 years.

And, you know, It's interesting, because these guys are in the minority so they don't have power and perhaps that is one reason they're leaving. But there's this deeper sense when you talk to them, this pessimism about the party and the future of their party and the ability of Republicans to actually flip the House any time that Trump is going to be leading their party because he's talking to the far right and conservative base and not reaching out to the suburbs.

So they are saying I'm just going to get out. I'm going to retire I'm going to make some money.

BASH: Yes. Especially in the red state -- currently red state of Texas.

BADE: Right.


BENDER: Trump is in North Carolina tomorrow. It's his second campaign rally there in as many months. He's trying to tilt the congressional race there. But the campaign has also announced its next rally a week from Monday in New Mexico.

That's only the second time in almost a year that Trump has held a campaign rally in a state he lost in 2016. That's important because the campaign is desperate to send a message that it doesn't have to rely on the 2016 map to win re-election.

But the problem is it's hard to find anyone else in the campaign that thinks they can win New Mexico. Trump lost there by 8 points in 2016. Democrats won there by double digits in 2012 and 2008.

The one person who thinks that they have a shot, campaign manager Brad Parscale. Now Brad Parscale was also the one who was the kind of lone, singular, loudest voice to expand the map in 2016 into Michigan. We'll see if he can strikes lightning twice there.

BASH: That's right. Michigan and Wisconsin.


BASH: All right. Well, everybody -- two years ago actress Alyssa Milano galvanized female victims with sexual harassment and assault with her # MeToo Tweets. Well this week, she's going to on Capitol Hill advocating for a different issue -- gun control. And she will meet with the unlikeliest of Senators on the issue -- Texas Republican and gun rights advocate Ted Cruz. The meeting was born, where else, on Twitter after Milano asked where in the bible does it say guns are a God given right and Cruz responded "the right to life and liberty".

Well, Cruz, whose state of Texas suffered another mass shooting last weekend says a positive civil discussion could go a long way helping heal our divided nation. And Milano for her part says she's approaching her meeting with Cruz this week with an open heart, ears, and mind.

That's it for INSIDE POLITICS. Hope you can catch us on weekdays as well at noon Eastern.

Up next "STATE OF THE UNION" with Jake Tapper. His guests include Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, along with presidential candidates Amy Klobuchar and Julian Castro.

Thanks again for sharing your Sunday morning with us.