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INSIDE POLITICS

New CNN Iowa Poll: Warren, Biden Lead Democratic Field; U.S. Deploying Troops, Military Equipment to Saudi Arabia; CNN: Trump Pressed Ukraine's President to Investigate Biden's Son; Do Democrats Have an Impeachment Strategy?; Another Kennedy in the Senate. Aired 8- 9a ET

Aired September 22, 2019 - 08:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[08:00:23]

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHN KING, CNN HOST (voice-over): 2020 Democrats flock to Iowa. A new CNN poll highlights a surge and struggle.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We can make our democracy work. We're building a grassroots movement to make it happen.

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If you want to rely on polling, I would never have won any of the offices I've ran for.

KING: Plus, the president asks for foreign election help and says, so what?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It was a totally appropriate conversation. It was actually a beautiful conversation.

KING: And more troops to the Middle East as Washington and Tehran talk tough.

TRUMP: We have the most powerful military in the world.

MOHAMMAD JAVAD ZARIF, IRANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: Iran does not want war. But we won't blink to defend our territory.

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

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KING: And welcome to INSIDE POLITICS. I'm John King.

To our viewers in the United States and around the world, thank you for sharing your Sunday.

President Trump is leaving the White House for Houston any moment now. We're watching to see if he stops to talk to reporters and if he does, we'll bring you the tape ASAP. We begin, though, with a big weekend in Iowa. Seventeen of the 2020

presidential contenders there for the big annual Democratic Party steak fry. And we have new numbers that prove that the Elizabeth Warren surge is dramatically reshaping the race as we move now into the fall sprint to election year.

Let's take a look at those numbers. This is Iowa, Democrats, likely caucusgoers. Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden, that's a statistical tie, with Senator Warren on top with 22 percent, the former vice president, 20 percent. This is a big deal, he has been labeled the frontrunner. When you're the behind the polls, hard to say you're the frontrunner.

Warren and Biden in top in Iowa. Senator Sanders at 11 percent, Mayor Buttigieg at 9 percent, Senator Harris, 6 percent, Senator Booker, 3 percent, Senator Klobuchar, 3 percent. A top tier of Warren and Biden in Iowa.

Let's look at how this race has changed. Again, Warren has had a great summer, not just in Iowa but in all the polls. She's up seven in Iowa since June. Former Vice President down a little bit. Senator Sanders down 5, Mayor Buttigieg is down 6, Harris is holding steady at 6. You see a little bit of progress at the bottom of the tier here.

But, again, here's your big story up top. This is why this poll is so good for Senator Warren. When you ask people your first and second choice, when you add those up, same top five, Warren moves up to 42 percent. So, she has room to grow. She's a second choice for a lot of people as well.

Former vice president here, Sanders, Buttigieg here. If you're not candidate, obviously you're concerned senator warren is on the rise, here's what you're looking for. More than 6 in 10 Iowa Democrats and Democratic leaners who say she'll show up for the caucuses 134 days from now, more than 6 in 10, 63 percent say they could change their mind.

So, still a competitive race, Warren on the rise, a lot of Democrats, 17 of them in Iowa over the weekend, including the top two.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WARREN: When you see a government that works great for the rich and for the powerful and isn't working for anyone else, that is corruption, pure and simple, and we need to call it out for what it is.

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Eight years of Trump I believe will forever change the character and nature of the country we are. We need a president who once again values honesty, decency, treating everyone with dignity and respect, leaving no one behind, giving everyone a fair shot, and understanding that there's something bigger than our individual selves.

(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: With us this Sunday to share their reporting and their insights, Julie Pace of "The Associated Press", "The Wall Street Journal's" Michael Bender, Sahil Kapur from "Bloomberg", and Seung Min Kim of "The Washington Post".

We've watched it play out all summer long. Now you have a poll that proves it. Warren and Biden tied statistically but Warren on top in Iowa. How does that change the race?

JULIE PACE, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, ASSOCIATED PRESS: Well, it changes the race because it confirms I think what we've seen anecdotally in the early states, the energy around Warren's campaign is very real. She has improved as a candidate. She's quite on the stump.

She's not the policy wonk that I think a lot of people thought she would be. She's very warm. She's very engaging.

And it shows that Biden as a front-runner really is fragile. It's something we've been talking about for several months and I think it is a real thing.

The other thing, though, that hasn't changed is that the people below Warren and Biden, with the exception of maybe Bernie Sanders, are really struggling to find a foothold here and time is starting to run out. We are into the fall and the caucuses are within sight and one of them is going to have to find a way to make a move if they're going to try to get out of that bottom tier.

KING: On the one hand, 19 weeks is a long time and on the other hand it's not a long time. You have Halloween and you have Thanksgiving and you have Christmas, and then all of a sudden, you're going to have a blur.

So, let's look deeper at the poll. Among those who describe themselves as very liberal voters in Iowa, and Iowa has a liberal tradition, this is their strength, their greatest strength right here.

[08:05:07] Half, half of those who describe themselves as very liberal and who are caucusgoers they say they're with Warren. You see Sanders right there. We can talk about this poll shows that Biden, I haven't called him a front-runner in sometime once I saw him drop below 40, into 30s, and sometimes by 20s, but you say you can make it about Biden's struggle, also make it about Senator Sanders is struggling.

SAHIL KAPUR, NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, BLOOMBERG NEWS: Yes, that's a rough number of Bernie Sanders, no doubt. It's hard to look at that poll and not think that the candidate you want to be the Elizabeth Warren.

Now, three and a half months before the Iowa caucuses, The person who is on top does not necessarily win. But the most striking finding in the poll to me was the net favorable numbers. Since March, Elizabeth Warren's numbers went up by 15 and Joe Biden's went down by 29 points. That's a rough place to be at this point. So, he's got a lot of work to do. The importance of Iowa if Elizabeth Warren can win, it can break Joe

Biden's momentum potentially with black voters, which is his core strength. Voters in the Carolinas may take a look at the race and say she can win.

KING: Winning affects everything. And, again, if you look just like in national polls, this is from our "Des Moines Register"/CNN poll, it's the best poll in Iowa. What's most important to you, a strong chance to beat Trump or shares our issues? Sixty-three percent say strong chance to beat Trump. So, Elizabeth Warren is on top, again, only 22 percent, is a very close -- but she is among some Democrats who had the question I like her, but can she beat Trump. She's making some progress there. That has been a knock.

So, the other candidates are taking note of this. What do you do, Elizabeth Warren keeps doing this, going up throughout the summer. Mayor Pete Buttigieg says she's not very clear when it comes to health care.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Senator Warren is known for being straightforward and was extremely evasive when asked that question. And we've seen that repeatedly. I think that if you are proud of your plan and it's the right plan, you should defend it in straightforward terms. People are used to Washington politicians not giving straight answers to simple questions. At a time like this on an issue this important, that's exactly what we need.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Will it work in the sense that she has preserved some flexibility, if you will? She won't say straight up, the Bernie Sanders Medicare-for-All plan, which she is for, if you read it, would raise taxes on the middle class. Now, proponents of it, including Senators Sanders and Warren say in the end, costs will go down because you're not paying co-pays and you're not paying deductibles.

But she's been asked the question and doesn't answer it directly. Will criticism like that work?

MICHAEL BENDER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I mean, you ask -- you started in a second asking how this changes the race, and it raises obvious questions for Biden, who is whole rationale has been, I'm the front- runner. But it's also going to raise more poignant questions for Warren, if she's going to be at the top of the polls, we'll see if these questions come in sharper from the media and some of the other candidates.

I mean, you look at Warren's summer. She's had an amazing summer in the polls. Her enthusiasm has increased while some of the reservations about her candidacy have decreased among Democratic voters and she's also got a pretty good run in the press. I mean, she hasn't had a tough day in the media since, what was it may when she was on "The Breakfast Club" and kind of got ambushed about the Pocahontas stuff? So, as she rises in the polls, and there's a couple of polls in Iowa

where she's up at the top. We'll see if the heat gets turned up on her a little bit more.

SEUNG MIN KIM, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, actually Warren, very fascinating.

The other interesting thing, too, especially coming to light of what her campaign announced late last week are Kamala Harris's numbers and in the polls she's 6 percent. It's very little change from the last poll. And all that is interesting because her campaign announced late last week that they're interesting this all-in Iowa strategy. They say if she does not finish in the top three that her campaign is essentially over.

And that's a pretty risky strategy, considering where she is right now. She stayed pretty stagnant in the state if you look at the number of times she's visited Iowa, it actually ranks in the bottom half of all the candidates' visits.

Clearly, she was caught joking on Capitol Hill about how she's moving to Iowa. You can ask her staff how that worked out. But they're pretty -- that was to me another key data point to watch in this poll.

KING: Right, it's a great point, but somebody will surprise us in Iowa, somebody always does, whether it's Democrat or Republican, you always get a surprise in Iowa. To your point, Chris Dodd did this in the race and he picked up and moved his family to Iowa.

Let's show the days spent in Iowa since Memorial Day. The people at top of the pack, you don't even see them in the polls. Joe Sestak, former congressman, Montana Governor Steve Bullock -- again, Bullock has the potential to surprise us. I don't think it's going to come from Sestak, but we shall see.

And you see Harris is way down there. She's going to spend a lot of time there. The question is what is her message?

This is a town hall and she's in Iowa. She said she packed her sweaters and boots and she plans to spend as much time there as possible. When she's out on the road she says voters aren't saying are you a capitalist or socialist.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS: It's rarely a question that comes up, well, let's talk about a debate like we're in some college class, socialism versus capitalism.

[08:10:09]

That rarely comes up and I'm just going to tell you it never comes up as something that wakes people up in the middle of the night.

To address the biggest issues that face people in their real lives every day, those issues that wake people up in the middle of the night. And so, that's what this campaign is about.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: That's been her message since the beginning of the campaign, I'm the one you can trust to prosecute the case against Trump and I get health care costs wake you up, having to work two jobs wakes you up.

But she has been stagnant and static for a long time. Is moving to Iowa the solution almost effectively moving to Iowa, or does she have to change how she communicates with voters?

PACE: So, the best thing that Kamala Harris has going for her is that people want to like her. They want to vote her. They want her to be successful and they're sort of waiting for that moment where they can say, yes, thank you, I'm now with you.

But she's still trying to figure out what that message is, prosecuting the case against Trump has been at the forefront, this sort of 3:00 a.m. issues has been at the forefront, attacking Joe Biden as sort of a candidate of the past has been at the forefront.

So, she's still sort of trying to figure this out. I think the challenge for her right now is when you go all in in Iowa, that is a risky bet. If that doesn't work, that's it. There's no getting to South Carolina. There's no getting to those diverse Super Tuesday states. There's probably no getting to California, which is what she's been banking on for a while.

KING: She's been banking on that giant basket of delegates in California. We'll talk more about the 2020 race later.

Also ahead, the president asked Ukraine for political help but says he did nothing wrong. Next, though, the showdown with Iran, U.S. troops are heading to Saudi Arabia. And it's a big week ahead at the United Nations.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:15:22]

KING: The Trump administration is sending new air and missile defense units to Saudi Arabia and to the United Arab Emirates as part of its response to the attacks on Saudi oil infrastructure.

The new tensions between the United States and Iran are certain to dominate this week's United Nations General Assembly. The Iran's president saying yesterday, U.S. troops are not welcome in the region, and Iran's foreign minister already in New York for the U.N. gathering is talking tough.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

INTERVIEWER: Are you confident that you can avoid a war?

ZARIF: No. No, I'm not confident that we can avoid a war. I'm confident that we will not start one, but I'm confident that whoever starts one will not be the one who finishes it.

INTERVIEWER: What does that mean?

ZARIF: That means that there won't be a limited war.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: President Trump approved the modest new troop deployments on Friday, that after a press conference in which he pushed back against more hawkish Republicans who advocate a swift and muscular U.S. response.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Going into Iran would be a very easy decision as I said before, it would be very easy, the easiest thing. Most people thought I would go in within two seconds, but plenty of time. I think I'm showing great restraint. A lot of people respect it, some people don't.

I don't do it for anybody, I do it for what's good for the United States, what's good for our allies, and it's working out really very well.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: The president actually very honest there about his feelings, very reluctant to get involved in a military confrontation in Iran.

The question is, we have these two countries now talking past each other, how can this be resolved diplomatically? And if it isn't, then what?

BENDER: Well, this week is going to be a big week for -- to get to that exact point. Trump is going to New York to -- as part of the United Nations meetings, he has a dozen meetings with foreign leaders. But what's notable here are some of the folks he's not meeting with -- Germany, France, Jordan. These are key leaders he needs in order to exert diplomatic pressure on Iran, which seems to be the path forward that this president wants.

KING: And there's bad feelings among Europeans because he pulled out of the Iran accord. The president has repeatedly ridiculed the United Nations. He hasn't been able to cut deals with Korea or with China. So, the president's deal making skills are a question mark.

As he goes to a place he routinely belittles, and then tries to build some sort of a diplomatic coalition against Iran.

PACE: It's surprising that's not working out as the strategy. He went to New York with a lot of unfinished business on a lot of foreign fronts, and what has been striking about this president on foreign policy is that all of these fires, you know, none of them have really blown up and presidents very rarely pick it out of a four-year term with that being the case. So, there's a lot of anxiety about is it going to be with North Korea,

is this situation with the Iranians are going to be the one that really pushes the U.S. back into the Middle East in a conflict. And the president and his unpredictability is really what is fuelling those concerns. Because no one really knows what he's going to say in these meetings, no one really knows what he's going to do other than he would like to avoid a conflict. But I think he also is feeling a little bit of pressure about people are saying are you being weak, I think Lindsay Graham said something like that.

KING: Right, the credibility question comes up and the president's instinct, he looks at the Iraq war and says no way, I don't want any part of that.

But if you look at the U.S. credibility, Iran did use mines to damage tankers in the Gulf, the president sent in more troops. Shot down the drones in the Straits of Hormuz, military strikes were on the table, the president in the last minute surprising even his closest advisors by called them off and now the targeted Saudi oil facilities, the president putting in new sanctions for now, and sending some mostly modest troop deployments, air and missile defense.

"The New York Times" puts it this way, he's finds himself back where he was in June, wrestling with the consequences of using force and the consequences of avoiding it. Except now, Iran is accused of an even more brazen provocation and the stakes seem even higher.

KAPUR: Yes, the president is very clearly conflicted on this, and we've seen him get irritated repeatedly by this notion that toughness equates to more military strikes and killing more people. He had an open debate with Lindsay Graham and Liz Cheney, the hawks in his party about this. On the other side of this party is Rand Paul, who's more of an isolationist. I don't think their philosophies quite aligned, but on this one, he is closer to Rand Paul and you heard the Iranian foreign minister say a war will not be limited. That is what President Trump fears the most because one of the key reasons he won the Republican nomination and residency is because of American's weariness of the Iraq war.

It's fresh in people's minds, everyone -- many people have a family member or friend or acquaintance who either died or is living with PTSD from that.

[08:20:06] He remembers that.

KIM: He definitely tried to rationalize the world view in that last several days. When we were in the Oval Office with him on Friday, he kept reiterating to us that, like you said earlier on the show, that you could do anything to Iran in a second but it actually shows strength to show the restraint and he has rationale rationalized his tendency to meet with all the leaders that other U.S. presidents wouldn't.

Now, I think he knows unpredictability is part of the game here, but again, it comes in this very, kind of shaky and tumultuous time, and how that plays out, we'll see next week. KING: It will be interesting at the United Nations because he tends

on the public stage to try to talk tough. The question is what can be done. We'll see. It's an interesting week ahead.

Up next, the president asked for foreign help in the 2020 election, he says it's no big deal. Democrats say it's another abuse of power.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We now know key pieces of the new spy drama that gripped Washington this past week. We know, for example, the whistleblower complaint from an anonymous intelligence community official involves at least in part a July call between President Trump and the president of Ukraine and we know, as first reported by the "Wall Street Journal", that the president repeatedly asked his counterpart to investigate Joe Biden and business dealings in Ukraine by Biden's son Hunter.

[08:25:13]

Now, there's no indication that on that call, the president dangled a quid pro quo, like U.S. military aid or future high level meetings, being tied to help with Biden. And so, the president and his defenders say no big deal.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: It's a partisan whistleblower. They shouldn't even have information. I've had conversations with many leaders that are always appropriate. It's just another political hack job. That's all it is.

REPORTER: Did you mention Joe Biden during the conversation?

TRUMP: I don't want to talk about any conversation other than to say -- other than to say great conversation, totally appropriate conversation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Democrats and other Trump critics say this is very much a big deal. They want to see the full whistleblower complaint and the transcript of that July call. They also want to know more about the role of Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani who acknowledges meeting several times with Ukrainian officials and in those discussions things like a presidential summit did come up.

In a statement Friday, the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said if the president has done what has been alleged, then he is stepping into a dangerous mine field with serious repercussions for his administration and our democracy.

We will continue to follow the facts, the speaker says, and explore every possible option to ensure the American people get the truth.

For his part, former Vice President Biden trying to turn this controversy to his advantage. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BIDEN: Trump's doing this because he knows I'll beat him like a drum and he's using an abuse of power and every element of the presidency to try to do something to smear me. He abuses power everyone he can and if he sees any threat to his staying in power, he'll do whatever he has to do. But this crosses the line.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: It does cross the line for an American president, any American president, to be asking a foreign government for help. It crosses the lines of norms.

Does it cross the law?

PACE: Well, I think we don't -- I don't think we know because we haven't seen exactly what he said. I mean, it sounds like he's going to lean on this idea that there was no quid pro quo, there was no if you do this for me, I'll do this for you.

But I think it's important to think about this from the perspective of the Ukrainians, right? So, you've got a country that is feeling under threat from Russia and is really looking to the U.S. for aid and knows that President Trump is holding that up right now.

So, if the American president comes to you in a conversation that you know that that aid package is being held up right now and says do this for me, even if they don't say explicitly, and then I'll do this for you, that's, of course, in the back of your mine. That's the reality of the dynamic with Ukraine.

KING: Right, here's to that point. Here's what makes you a little suspicious. The phone call is on July 25th, if you look at the timeline here. There are public reports, this is already done, anyway, the public reports in the middle of August that the administration is thinking of blocking military aid passed by the Congress, demanded by the Congress.

Then you have the intel I.G. whistleblower complaints in August and then Congress is told here. So the administration knows Congress has been told about this complaint, aha, they released the military aid.

So, as this becomes a controversy they decide we can't be seen as holding the military aid. If you want to be suspicious, you can look at the timeline and say they realized this was going to be a big deal and they couldn't hold the money anymore.

KIM: And the White House has never given an explicit answer as to first of all why the military aid was held up in the first place and also why they released it. It came in a Senate Appropriations Committee markup and they announced that the military aid was now free again. But I think because we still don't know a lot about this story that gives Republicans who don't want to be seen as crossing the president a little bit of cover, at least for now, in terms of speaking out against the president. And we saw some of the early reactions on Capitol Hill on Friday,

particularly after we saw more and more of these revelations from the journal and from other news organizations, and they say, look, the president is right, this is a partisan whistleblower. We'll clarify the president says he does not know who the whistleblower is, so I don't know how he knows that. But right now, you're not seeing a lot of pushback from Republicans because we're saying, look, was there an explicit quid pro quo? We don't know, I don't -- I'm not sure that matters ultimately at the end of the day, but that's kind of the line Republicans are treading.

KING: And that's the same line they would repeat if this were Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama, I'm sure.

(LAUGHTER)

[08:29:44]

KING: To this point though. So we're in this climate now. We're approaching an election year. Democrats have been reluctant to impeach the President for other causes. The "Washington Post" looks at where we are this way today in a very interesting analysis piece.

"Trump's sense of himself as above the law has been reinforced throughout his time in office. As details in the Mueller report he receives help from a foreign adversary in 2016, without legal consequence. He sought to thwart the Russian investigation and possibly obstruct justice, without consequences. Through the government he has earned profits for his businesses, without consequence. He has blocked Congress' ability to conduct oversight without consequence."

And so you have some Democrats saying, enough. Here's the headline from an AP story, "Democrats Blast Latest Trump Crisis, But What Will They Do?"

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeting last night, "At this point the bigger national scandal isn't the President's law breaking behavior. It is the Democratic Party's refusal to impeach him for it. The integrity of our democracy isn't threatened when a president breaks the law, it's threatened when we do nothing about it."

SAHIL KAPUR, NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, BLOOMBERG NEWS: The intel chairman Adam Schiff has talked about, to your question, about the law and legality, talked about looking into this as a matter of potential criminal bribery that he said the President, you know, would be seriously liable for.

But what are Democrats going to do about it? They want the whistleblower complaint. They want a transcript of the President's call. If the White House stonewalls, they can subpoena but the administration can ignore the subpoena. It turns into a court battle over the subpoena.

The only real tool that Democrats have, if they don't get what they want and they think there's something seriously wrong here is impeachment. And all the sources I've spoken to in the House over the last few days suggest that the needle has not moved among Democratic leaders. They still want the front liners who won the Democrats the majority in the toughest districts to be on board before they do anything.

MICHAEL BENDER, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, WALL STREET JOURNAL: There may not be any actual consequences from this as far as from a congressional point of view. Our sources at the "Journal" who enumerated the eight different times that Trump pressured the Ukrainian president told us that there was no direct tie to this aide on that phone call.

And short of that, it's hard to see where the actual consequences from a congressional point of view come from.

KING: Unless you can prove -- forgive me for interrupting -- but unless you can prove that what Giuliani was doing.

BENDER: Right.

KEATING: But the President knows how this works. The President has the phone call -- to Julie's point, the Ukrainians understand the situation and then Giuliani says, you want to meet with the President. What have you got?

BENDER: But Giuliani's involvement here also raises the more likely scenario where this is purely political and there are I think consequences in that realm, right.. I mean that's why Biden is talking about the abuse of power.

If you can chip away at this idea of Trump using the office to go after political opponents, to enrich his company, this is in direct contrast to the drain the swamp ideal that Trump ran on. And we see him already using this as -- the Trump campaign sent out an email fundraiser on this story over the weekend. They're putting videos together using this to try to shift it back on Biden.

But right now it looks like purely a political issue and I think that's where the actual consequence for Democrats will be.

KING: And to the point about Biden -- I just want to make clear. Look, Hunter Biden's business dealings are fair game. Anything the vice president's family has done a fair game. But the Republicans are trying to say that Biden had a Ukrainian prosecutor fired to protect his son. This has been covered repeatedly and that is just bogus. Biden had a Ukrainian prosecutor fired, put pressure on the government to fire a prosecutor that all of the reformers in the country wanted fired because they viewed him as part of the problem.

BENDER: And if that is the actual issue, don't you send federal lawyers, DOJ folks to the Ukraine to figure this out, not Rudy Giuliani?

JULIE PACE, ASSOCIATED PRESS: Well and that's what Democrats say is the problem here, right. Like maybe this ultimately is just a political issue, but that this is a president who is using his office and using friends to try to help his politics.

And what Democrats have to try to figure out, is it best for them to try to beat him in 2020 and get rid of this situation or should they hold him accountable for that kind of behavior now?

SEUNG MIN KIM: And one very interesting bilat to watch will be Trump and the Ukrainian president, Wednesday.

KING: One meeting he has to have.

Up next, our "Sunday Trail Mix" and it's fascinating. Another Kennedy sets his eyes on the senate, setting off a major Democratic Party primary battle.

[08:33:45]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: A little "Sunday Trail Mix" now to get a little taste of the 2020 campaign. Joe Kennedy III, done waiting for his turn. The 38- year-old Massachusetts congressman announced yesterday he will challenge the 73-year-old incumbent Ed Markey. Kennedy's grandfather was the late Robert F. Kennedy and Markey is one of the most liberal Democrats in congress so this is not a fight over ideology.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JOE KENNEDY III (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Donald Trump has forced a reckoning in our nation without question. But to make this moment requires more than just defeating him. It requires taking on clearly a broken system, the calcified structures that have allowed him to win in the first place. The challenge is far too urgent to sit there and wait for somebody else to take it on.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Yet another, this one involving a Kennedy, which adds to the Markey value of it but generational struggle in the party. And I just want to put a chart up. This is not really ideological if you look at it. It's not a new candidate saying the other guy is not progressive enough.

This is Markey and Kennedy on issues ranked by progressive organizations. Markey actually has slightly higher grades from the left if you will, than Kennedy. So this is not about this vote or that vote, this is about I'm just impatient.

KAPUR: Kennedy sounds a lot like Pete Buttigieg there, making that same generational argument, right.

To your point, John, ideologically there's not a lot of difference between these two. They have two of the most anti-Trump voting records in Congress. They both support the Green New Deal. They both want to impeach the President. This is a generational battle.

Joe Kennedy is 38, Ed Markey is 73. That is what it's comes down to. Which way does a voter wat to go?

KING: And it's going to force some really tough choices by local politicians, by the labor unions. By people who turn out votes.

PACE: By Elizabeth Warren, who has endorsed Markey early on saying that this is her great partner in the senate but also is very close to Kennedy, taught him at Harvard Law School. She's probably going to stay with Markey, but she's saying all kinds of positive things about Kennedy as well.

KING: Right. He's been on the road for her -- Joe Kennedy's been on the road. But if you log onto the "Boston Globe", Markey on tape. You log on to the "Boston Globe" Web site, you see Elizabeth Warren saying nice things about Ed Markey.

This is going to be a fun race.

When we come back Cory Booker says I need help or else I'm gone.

{08:39:28]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We should note the President of the United States is talking to reporters before he heads to Houston. We'll bring you any news for that if the tape is with us in time.

Back to the 2020 Democratic race now. Candidates sometimes have to change their strategy. Cory Booker changing his because he says he believes he can win the race but he needs more money.

Senator Booker saying yesterday, if he doesn't raise $1.7 million by a little more than a week from now, he's gone.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SENATOR CORY BOOKER (D-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't think people should be in this race if they can't win. I'm in this race to win the nomination and beat Donald Trump. So this is a decisive moment for our campaign.

We can't continue this without more support, I won't continue this unless I can look people in the eye and say we have a chance to win it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: They say -- he says he needs $1.7 million by nine days from now. He raised about $300,000, which means he would have to raise a little more than $150,000 a day between now and then. It's an interesting play. It's essentially his own straw poll if you will, support me quickly or else I'm gone.

KAPUR: It's an honest way to do it. He's saying I'm actually going to drop out unless you give me money. Campaigns don't typically go that way, but, you know, Booker bigger picture, his struggle is he is an aspirational candidate with a message of love in a very, very angry year. I can imagine almost any other cycle he'd be , but this has been a struggle for him.

[08:44:54]

KIM: And you've seen how he's had to recalibrate that message of love strategy because he's actually gone after Biden pretty hard at a couple of the debates. You know, there was -- in the earlier debates there was a moment there where he really challenged the former vice president.

And I know Julian Castro got a lot of the focus after he questioned vice president, Biden's age. But it's actually Cory Booker in a CNN interview after the fact where he was pretty blunt about Biden --

PACE: More explicit.

KIM: -- much more explicit and pretty blunt about the former vice president. So that hasn't worked so far. Maybe this will. We'll see.

BENDER: This amount of money is about what Cory Booker has raised before so it's not out of the realm of possibility that he can't do this. But the timing is also interesting. As Seung Min was kind of alluding, there's been a lot of sort of under the ground chatter about Booker as a potential running mate for Warren. This sort of talk about dropping out of the race coming as Warren is on an upswing so it will be interesting to see how the timing plays out and how Booker increases attacks on Biden as a result.

KING: And to the point -- the point about senator Booker, he's had strong debate performances, to your point, it's like why, you always question why. It's a crowded field, so it's hard -- it's been hard but let's just look at the horse race so far.

These are national polls, we showed you an Iowa poll earlier in the show. Warren and Biden on the top. Here's the national poll. You've had these three candidates -- Biden, Sanders and Warren essentially since the race began right? Up and down, up and down but Biden on top. These are national polls, Sanders and Warren you see it.

Now I want to bring the other candidates into the race as well. Cory Booker doesn't even make. You've had the same top five or six throughout the summer and that has been the struggle.

When you have -- now we're down to 19. We had more than 20 at some point. It's hard for candidates, Kirsten Gillibrand has left the race. It's hard for candidates who you thought would at least maybe make some impact to have any, the question is again 19 weeks is a that's a long time. Can Cory Booker or somebody else at the bottom of the pack change things?

PACE: Arguments on the Booker campaign has always been that one minute they were doing differently than some of those other campaigns. They actually have a really robust organization. so in Iowa and New Hampshire they have these big teams on the ground, strong professional operations so that if he had a late moment in October or November, December, he has that breakout moment, he's got the infrastructure there to capture it, which is always one of those things for some of these candidates that pop up. They don't have and then it makes it impossible to actually have a good finish in the caucuses.

The reality is it's really expensive to do that. That's why I think there is some reality, some truth telling to this ask for the money. You know, is he going to be able to stay in long enough to fund the big campaign in the hopes that he finally has a breakout moment and that's the gamble for him right now.

KING: Right. To your point, it's expensive. It's expensive to build, -- it's potatoes people and that is to point his honesty.

I want to come back. I think we can show you the results of our new Des Moines Register/CNN, Iowa poll that has Warren and Biden 22 to 20on top. That's a remarkable change for her, growth over the summer there as you see the numbers.

Can Joe Biden, a guy who is the former vice president, wants to be viewed as the front-runner or the leading candidate, can he lose Iowa and New Hampshire?

PACE: His team says they need to win two out of the first four states. They're counting on South Carolina as one of those. But if you lose Iowa and New Hampshire, you're down to Nevada and South Carolina. That's tricky.

KING: Right. And if she wins Iowa -- again, 19 weeks is a long time, but if she wins Iowa, for Massachusetts she's been fighting with Sanders for the lead in New Hampshire. If she wins Iowa and she wins New Hampshire, there is this thing called momentum. Just look it up in the history books and either party.

Once that gets started, it gets hard. But we're entering the fascinating phase. That's what makes it interesting.

Our reporters share from their notebooks next including some promising signs for the President on this North America trade deal.

[08:48:31]

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KING: Let's head one more time around the INSIDE POLITICS table and ask our great reporters to share a little something from their notebooks, help get you out ahead of the big political news just around the corner.

Julie Pace.

PACE: So Democratic presidential candidates are rallying around the striking auto workers in Michigan over their dispute with General Motors. Elizabeth Warren is heading there later today. Bernie Sanders is expected later this week. Several others have spoken out in favor of these workers. The strike was prompted in part by the GM's plan to close an American plant and Democrats see this as a prime opportunity in a politically important state like Michigan to hammer Trump over what they say are his misleading and broken promises to American workers.

Obviously for Democrats, quite a compelling argument heading into a reelection or headed into the President's reelection. Much more complicated for Trump and it is notable that he has not spoken out forcefully in favor of these workers. He says that the dispute between the auto workers and General Motors is sad.

KING: Sad. We'll see if it is sad for him.

Michael.

BENDER: Under the radar story this week that is worth keeping in mind moving forward. President Trump parted ways with his top strategist in Florida, Susie Wiles. Susie Wiles got cross ways with Governor Ron DeSantis, never a good thing.

And as we know rarely does one person or one thing make a difference in an election. But Susie Wiles has been a central figure in some of the Republican Party's biggest victories in Florida for the past decade. Rick Scott's gubernatorial election in 2010, Trump in 2016, Ron DeSantis in 2018 -- these are all victories within a point or two.

And now we have Trump parting ways with his top strategist a year out, a proven winner. They want to down play Florida as a battleground, it is definitely a must-win for Trump.

KING: It sure is. His map doesn't work without that one.

BENDER: Exactly.

KING: Sahil.

KAPUR: John -- I've have my eyes on the President's reelection strategy against his likeliest Democratic opponent which he's been freely telegraphing at recent rallies. He'll go after Joe Biden as old and losing his grip. He'll go after Elizabeth on the Warren on the Native-American issue.

And what is so striking to me about this is here is a president who refuses to let his own age, his own verbal blunders, his own misrepresentations of his past stop him from using the same issues against his Democratic opponents.

It is a special kind of shamelessness as a political strategy and it's worked for him in the past.

KING: It sure has. I'm not going to repeat the nicknames of 2016. I was going to but I won't.

Seung Min.

KIM : While we wait and wait and wait for the President to introduce his gun proposals, there is some interesting movement on Capitol Hill among Senate Republicans when it comes to the issue of expanded background checks.

Now, it is not great movement here but there has been some discussion among Republican senators who either weren't around for the major gun debate back in 2013 or have actually changed their minds on this issue.

One of them is Lindsey Graham. He said he voted against that expanded background checks measure back in 2013. He now says he's open to it with revisions. I had an interesting conversation with Mitt Romney, now a senator but obviously the party's 2012 presidential candidate.

And he told me that he's philosophically in line with Manchin and Toomey and he also doesn't want to make it easier for people in rural states, people in rural areas to get background checks.

[08:55:01] So there is some interesting movement there but obviously it doesn't matter at the end of the day without that seal of approval from the President.

KING: There was a Washington long, long ago where the Senate would sometimes try to influence the President as opposed to waiting for the President to tell it what to do. But that's then and (INAUDIBLE) --

I'll close with this. Members of the President's trade team got a little nervous when the boss started talking about the U.S./Mexico/Canada Trade Agreement he hopes to get through Congress. Because of the sensitive negotiations with House Democrats, the USMCA backers are of the view the less the President said probably the better is the better.

But what he did say was not at all confrontational, the President making the point he would consider the passage of the deal a major bipartisan achievement. The Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer is doing the heavy lifting with House Democrats and he is making quiet progress addressing their major concerns.

It's a very small group named Speaker Nancy Pelosi in those negotiations. And that fact is causing some grumbling among other Democrats but Lighthizer and those working with him are more and more confident. Their hopes of getting USCMA on a fast track and through the House before the August recess obviously fizzled.

So they are now taking a go slow approach and they are banking on Speaker Pelosi giving the go-ahead in early November.

Keep an eye on that.

That's it for INSIDE POLITICS today. Hope you can catch us week days as well. We are here at noon eastern. Busy week ahead.

And up next, the busy hour ahead. "STATE OF THE UNION" with Jake Tapper. His guests include the House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff and the President's Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin.

Thanks again for sharing your Sunday. Have a great day.

[08:56:25]

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