Return to Transcripts main page

STATE OF THE UNION

Interview With Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL); Interview With Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO); Interview With Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN). Aired 9- 10a ET

Aired December 22, 2019 - 09:00   ET

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


[09:00:14]

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DANA BASH, CNN HOST (voice-over): Signed, sealed, undelivered. The House votes to impeach Donald Trump, setting off an angry presidential response.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You're declaring open war on American democracy.

BASH: And now, critical of the Senate process, House Democrats throw the president's trial into limbo.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): Frankly, I don't care what the Republicans say.

BASH: A member of each party's leadership, Republican Senator Roy Blunt and Democratic Senator Dick Durbin, coming up.

And ticket to ride. Angling for a top finish in Iowa, the 2020 Democrats make their case by drawing contrasts.

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have the experience of actually getting the things done that he talks about.

BASH: Will it work? Presidential candidate Amy Klobuchar joins us next.

Plus: Strike a pose, candidates' modern way of connecting with voters.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Selfies.

BASH: How the art of the selfie is changing the way presidential hopefuls campaign.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BASH: Hello. I'm Dana Bash, in for Jake Tapper in Washington, where the state of our union is at a stalemate.

President Trump impeached by the House of Representatives for abuse of power and obstruction of justice -- obstruction of Congress, rather, but the process is still at a standstill. Congress went home for the holiday break, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is still holding the articles of impeachment and will, she says, until the Senate agrees on what the trial will look like.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says, no skin off my back. He's in no rush for an impeachment trial, and he's holding off Senate Democrats, who are demanding a pre-trial deal to call witnesses.

As for the president, he is eager to mount a strong defense. Assuming a Senate trial does happen, the Democratic senators also running for president will have to balance serving as impeachment jurors with precious time on the campaign trail. The Iowa caucuses are around the corner.

With me this morning, one of those senators working hard in Iowa, hoping her buzzy debate performance this week helps draw more support there.

So, Amy Klobuchar, you see there, is a Democratic candidate for president, also a member of the Judiciary Committee in the Senate.

So, Senator, you have said that you and your fellow Democrats should do whatever it takes to push for witnesses in a Senate trial. But, as you know, the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, he isn't on board.

So, would you vote to start a Senate trial without an agreement to call witnesses, or is that a deal-breaker?

KLOBUCHAR: I think that there will be an agreement and this trial will go forward.

I think what is shocking to me is, right now, despite the president claiming his innocence, claiming that he wants to present witnesses, he's the one blocking the witnesses, Dana. He's the one -- he could have his acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, testify.

We just found out this weekend that someone who works for Mulvaney, Michael Duffey, had sent an e-mail 90 minutes after the president made that critical call to the Ukrainian president. This guy sent an e- mail. I have it here. We just found it.

It says: "Given the sensitive nature of the request, I appreciate your keeping this information closely held." And he said, don't release any of the funds.

This man should testify.

And I will add one more thing. When Richard Nixon -- when those hearings were held, Richard Nixon had all the president's men testify. He had major people testify from his administration.

BASH: But...

KLOBUCHAR: And they're being blocked.

And don't be surprised. The polls show 64 percent of Republicans think these witnesses should testify.

BASH: So, just to follow up quickly, you think that there will be an agreement soon, but it sounds like there will probably be votes on whether these witnesses will be asked to come forward?

KLOBUCHAR: You know, I don't know exactly how this will go down.

I simply know that we have a constitutional duty to take on this very important case.

BASH: OK.

KLOBUCHAR: The president betrayed the trust of the American people.

And I have been even saying the same thing as I say in public behind closed doors with our leadership in the Senate. I'm in the leadership team. And I'm being very clear. We should do whatever it takes. And I can still run for president. I'm a mom. I can do two things at once.

BASH: All right. So let's talk about that, running for president.

At this week's debate, one of the biggest moments was your criticism of Mayor Pete Buttigieg over what you said was his lack of experience.

Listen to how he responded on CNN afterwards.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I think the suggestion is that I don't understand the ways of Washington.

The reality is, I understand them. I just don't accept them. The American people are fed up with the way things are going in Washington. And I think we need to bring change.

[09:05:03]

It might just be a good idea for that change to come from outside the Beltway.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: So, he's basically saying, he's an outsider, you're an insider.

Your response?

KLOBUCHAR: My response is what I said on that stage, is that he basically had condemned the experience, he said 100 years of experience on this stage, in the previous debate.

And I pointed out to him that experience does matter. That is how we got the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, because of Elizabeth's work, or two people that weren't on that stage this last time, Cory Booker's work on the FIRST STEP Act, which is going to help get a lot of people out of prison that shouldn't have been there, or Kamala Harris' work helping consumers in California.

I just think the fact that someone has experience can be a really good thing right now, when we have a president who went in there with no experience, and has done nothing when it comes to helping regular people.

What do I hear in Iowa? I hear about people who are struggling to pay for insulin, people who are struggling to send their kids to college. And when he passed that tax bill, he could have helped regular people. Instead, he went down to Mar-a-Lago and said to his friends, hey, we just made you a lot richer.

And guess what? None of the people from Iowa were sitting in that room.

BASH: So, Senator, also at the debate, you were asked a question about your vote to confirm a Trump-appointed federal judge who further dismantled Obamacare this week.

You acknowledged that -- quote -- there are some of these judges that you think are going to be OK. And they aren't.

So, you have actually voted for dozens of Trump-nominated judges. Was that a mistake?

KLOBUCHAR: I have actually voted against dozens of those judges.

(CROSSTALK)

BASH: It's about half and half. We looked it up.

KLOBUCHAR: And I have a pretty good record. Yes, OK. You can, yes.

But I am somewhere in the middle of our caucus on these judge votes. And I think everyone tries to make their best determination.

I think what I pointed out is, the person that actually wrote that decision was a judge that had been supported by President Obama and Ted Kennedy and Bernie Sanders and many other people, including myself.

So, my point here is, what's really going on is that the Trump administration brought this case. They're trying to dismantle the Affordable Care Act.

And some of my colleagues on that debate stage want to actually start over with Medicare for all.

BASH: So, last year...

KLOBUCHAR: And, as I said, I -- go ahead.

BASH: Just to button up, I just want to ask the original question, which is on the Trump judges.

You -- yes, you voted against a lot, but you also voted yea on 29 of the judges. Other -- and 26 others were approved by voice vote. So you gave tacit approval. Do you regret that now?

KLOBUCHAR: I would have to look at each of those judges.

I don't carte blanche make a decision about each judge based on whether or not Trump nominated them. I think most of my -- if it went by voice vote, then every other presidential candidate up there that's in the Senate right now voted for them as well.

So, you make your best judgment.

I think the bigger case is, as president, I will be able to appoint the kind of judges that we see right now that I admire, like Elena Kagan, and like Sonia Sotomayor, and like Justice Breyer, and like Justice Ginsburg.

My track record of recommending judges to Barack Obama -- and he took every recommendation I made -- have been some excellent, excellent judges. And I think that's what you look at, as well as my experience.

I'm the one that, when Justice Kavanaugh, then nominee Kavanaugh, took me on at the Judiciary Committee, I didn't back down. I strongly opposed him and made a point to the American people.

BASH: So, we have been talking about the debate and what happened there.

Looking ahead to the debate in January, you say you have already qualified for that debate.

KLOBUCHAR: Yes.

BASH: So far, only five white candidates have qualified. Why do you think that is?

KLOBUCHAR: You have to look at each individual campaign.

I'm hopeful that that won't be the end. My friend Cory Booker's out here in Iowa campaigning as well. I know that Andrew Yang has qualified, at least partway, toward making that debate.

And so we will see what happens as this campaign keeps going. There's been a lot of twists and turns. All I know is this, Dana. We have a huge momentum going on right now.

Every one of our events in tiny, tiny towns -- we have just done 15 counties -- have record crowds. We raised over a million dollars from regular people at AmyKlobuchar.com in just 24 hours after that debate.

We have doubled our offices in Iowa, doubled our staff in New Hampshire, added people in North Carolina and South Carolina...

BASH: And you know what else?

KLOBUCHAR: And, as well, South Carolina and Nevada. We are working so hard.

BASH: So, you know what else you have? You have a doppelganger on "SNL."

I'm not sure if you watched last night, but take a look.

(LAUGHTER)

KLOBUCHAR: Yes. Yes. No, I...

(LAUGHTER)

[09:10:02]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE")

RACHEL DRATCH, ACTRESS: The only cave I ever go to is a man cave.

(LAUGHTER)

DRATCH: I call it the Senate.

(LAUGHTER)

DRATCH: For more of these classic zingers, please check out my stand- up special, "Land of 10,000 Laughs," only on Costco+ streaming service.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(LAUGHTER)

BASH: Stand-up Amy Klobuchar special coming soon?

KLOBUCHAR: That's pretty good.

Yes, well, that was a pretty fun part of that debate, actually, when I pointed out there -- that discussion that gone so long, so I suggested that maybe we should go to the Wind Cave in South Dakota, which is a national park.

And what you would like to know, Dana, is, now I have a number of spelunkers, right...

BASH: OK.

KLOBUCHAR: ... that are now really excited about my candidacy.

So, you know, in a close primary like this...

BASH: You never know.

KLOBUCHAR: ... you just have to keep reaching out to these groups. BASH: One constituency at a time.

Senator, thank you so much.

KLOBUCHAR: That is exactly how I'm going to win this.

Thanks, Dana.

BASH: Thank you. Thanks for joining me. Appreciate it.

And Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she won't hand over the articles of impeachment until the Senate outlines its plan for a trial. Will that work?

Top Republican Senator Roy Blunt joins me next.

And can you even be a true political junkie if you don't post a selfie with your candidate?

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:15:08]

BASH: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Dana Bash.

The Senate is headed into the holidays in limbo over the president's impeachment trial, as the parties square off over calling potential witnesses to testify.

Joining me now is a member of the Republican leadership, Senator Roy Blunt.

Thank you so much for coming in this morning.

You have been in Congress a long time.

SEN. ROY BLUNT (R-MO): I have.

BASH: You have relationships across the aisle.

So, what is your sense? Are you going to come up with a deal, so that this trial is going to start early January?

BLUNT: You know, I think -- I think a deal is easy to come up with.

And we have even got the plan in place from what happened in the Clinton impeachment. And I think that's ultimately where we wind up, where we start down this path, let both sides make their case, let the House impeachment managers make their case, let the president, for what I would argue is the first time, have a chance to make his case publicly, for his defenders to do that, and then see where we are.

That's what happened with Clinton. I think that's the best way to approach this. And my guess is, that's what we do. Otherwise, we just sort of start down a path where 51 senators decide every issue as it comes up.

I don't know that anybody wants to either have that happen or take the time that would take on either side for us to get this -- this out before the American people, both sides having a chance to present their case.

BASH: So, as you well know, the standoff right now is that the speaker is holding the articles of impeachment at the House until the parameters of the trial are done.

"The Wall Street Journal" editorial board said that the Senate should and even could hold a trial even if they don't get the articles. You're the chair of the Rules Committee. Is that possible? Have you even looked into that?

BLUNT: You know, I don't know that that's possible. I think it's very unlikely.

I, frankly, don't think the speaker has the right to do this or the power to do this. The speaker has a lot of power. But once the House has spoken, the speaker doesn't get the decision as to whether or not she transmits that decision to the Senate, in my view.

I think we will have this all handled by the time we get back in January. I'm sure everybody is beginning to figure out how to present their case.

Frankly, I think it's a mistake on the speaker's part. I think this has looked pretty political anyway, and this is sort of the icing on the political cake, where, at the end, the speaker still can't let go of this as an issue to try to wring the last vestige of politics out of.

I mean, the outcome here is virtually certain. As I have been saying, for weeks, a partisan vote in the House would almost certainly result in a partisan vote in the Senate.

BASH: So...

BLUNT: So, the outcome is certain. Trying to get that last thing out of it, rather than move on, as the speaker appeared to want to do one day last week, and then suddenly she decides to involve herself in what the Senate should do.

BASH: So, you say that the outcome is almost certain.

I want you to listen to what a couple of your Republican colleagues have said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): I'm not an impartial juror. This is a political process. There is not anything judicial about it. Impeachment is a political decision.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): I am trying to give a pretty clear signal I have made up my mind.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: Have you made up your mind?

BLUNT: Well, based on what I know right now, I just don't think they made the case. I don't think they came close to making the case.

And this is called a trial because there was really in the Constitution, I think, no better thing to call it. But it's a very political process.

Five of the so-called jurors running for president, not a single Republican in the House convinced that they should vote for either the articles of impeachment, and a couple of Democrats convinced that they shouldn't vote for the article of impeachment.

So, it's not a classic -- I was talking to a federal judge one day this week, and he said, how could you call this really a trial -- he was a federal judge for a decade or more -- where half of the jurors can overrule what the judge decides that ought to happen next?

It's not a trial in any classic sense. It is a political decision to do it. And, at the end of the day, every single member of the Senate has considerations that are pretty obvious.

BASH: OK. So you don't think that the House made its case.

But let's just talk about some of -- one of the basic things, which is the president asking a foreign country, the leader of a foreign country, to investigate a man who is a political rival of his. Is that appropriate?

BLUNT: Well, at the same time, you had the attorney general asking leaders of other countries to help them look into the 2016 elections.

Whether it is appropriate or not...

BASH: Which is to benefit the United States.

This is a specific ask specifically about his political opponent. So do you feel that that's appropriate?

BLUNT: Well, the president and the secretary of state and the retired lieutenant general who's a foreign policy adviser all feel like that call was within the bounds of normal...

[09:20:09]

BASH: What do you think? What does Roy Blunt think?

BLUNT: You know, I -- I think I have never been very happy with any of the Ukraine decisions since the Russians invaded Crimea.

We told President Obama in December of 2015 to provide lethal aid, which he never did. I have never been happy with the way any of this has been handled regarding Ukraine. And we're trying to do what we can now to be helpful.

BASH: So, your colleagues -- Ben Sasse called it very troubling, the call, asking for -- to help dig up dirt on Joe Biden. Lamar Alexander said it was inappropriate. Marco Rubio said he shouldn't have done it. And the list goes on.

BLUNT: Any other president would have said, I will have the attorney general call you about what -- some things we're looking into. This one didn't.

BASH: So, did he make a mistake?

BLUNT: But presidents make mistakes. I don't know that this call was a mistake.

But, again, I think there are plenty of mistakes have been made by both President Obama and President Trump regarding Ukraine and how to deal with the Russian aggression in Ukraine, just like how to deal with the Russian aggression in our elections.

BASH: So let's talk about potential witnesses in the Senate trial.

Some key figures, like former National Security Adviser John Bolton, haven't testified. Bolton's lawyer said that Bolton was involved in -- quote -- "many relevant meetings and conversations that have not yet been discussed in the testimonies thus far."

As a juror, don't you want to hear from him?

BLUNT: You know, as a senator, and as a person who believes the Constitution is there for a purpose, I think it is the job of the House to make the case.

Only a majority of the House can send a case over to the Senate. For 180 years, we only dealt -- we only one time touched the idea of presidential impeachment. Here now, three times in 46 years, the Congress has moved through the process of impeaching a president.

I don't think you want to make that so easy that the House that is of a different party can send over the vaguest set of charges and expect the Senate then to do the House's job.

I think they should have gone to court, just like the House did with Clinton, just like the House did with Nixon. It would have taken some time. But that's the -- they had plenty of time. They have been wanting to impeach the president, many of them, since January of 2017.

BASH: So, it was the House's job, and you don't -- you will not vote to hear from any witnesses?

(CROSSTALK)

BLUNT: Well, let's let them present their case, and then see if we need to hear from witnesses. That's the way it was done in 2000 -- in 1999. I think that's the way

we should do it this...

(CROSSTALK)

BASH: Senator, I want to ask you about a really interesting article this week from the editor of "Christianity Today," which is a prominent evangelical magazine.

He called for the president's removal from office.

And here's what he wrote: "None of the president's positives can balance the moral and political danger we face under a leader of such grossly immoral character," going on to say: "That he should be removed, we believe, is not a matter of partisan loyalties, but loyalty to the creator of the Ten Commandments."

So, he's saying that he can't reconcile his Christian faith and values, kindness, generosity, integrity, with the president's -- quote -- "immoral actions in business, relationships with women, and habitual string of mischaracterizations, lies and slanders."

I know your Christian faith is important to you. And I'm wondering, especially since, like, I think it's almost six in 10 of your constituents are white Christians, when you read this, is this something that is familiar? Do you wrestle with this?

BLUNT: Well, I think that person looking at the president vs. what the president's done as president has got to be an outlier in everything I hear from the Christian community.

The faith-based community generally is very supportive of this president because he's been very supportive of them. What the president has done to allow faith-based institutions to get back as one of the potential options in adoption, something I care a lot about, what the president has done to try to assert religious freedom all over the world, really important.

BASH: Again, what about you, Roy Blunt? Do you struggle personally with the kinds of things he described?

BLUNT: If you look at the president's actions, if Roy Blunt looks at the president's actions, no president in my lifetime has been as aggressive in trying to achieve the goals that faith-based voters have set out than this one has.

BASH: Thank you so much. I really appreciate you coming in this morning.

BLUNT: Good. Great to be with you.

BASH: Thanks. Thank you.

And the latest on Democrats' impeachment strategy. The number two Senate Democrat, Dick Durbin, joins me next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:28:56]

BASH: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION.

The stalemate over impeachment raises a key question for Democrats.

With Republicans in control of the Senate, can Democrats accomplish anything by holding onto the articles of impeachment in the House and potentially delay a Senate trial?

Joining me now is the number two Senate Democrat, Dick Durbin, who was there 21 years ago during the impeachment trial of Bill Clinton.

Thank you so much for joining me this morning.

Several of your fellow Democrats, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders, have said, based on the evidence that they have seen, they would vote to convict President Trump. Will you?

SEN. RICHARD DURBIN (D-IL): Well, I'm going to take an oath of office when it comes to this impeachment on the floor of the Senate, as I did 20, 21 years ago with President Clinton's impeachment.

And in that, I promise impartial justice, so help me God.

And I want to stick by that. I basically want to hear the evidence, read the documents, make a decision that's right for America.

BASH: So, is it a mistake for your fellow senators on both sides of the aisle, frankly, to say how they're going to vote before the trial starts?

[09:30:05]

DURBIN: Thanks, Dana. Happy holidays.

BASH: And six weeks until Iowa when voters finally weigh in and the Democrats are throwing around their elbows so if you are down in your wine cave you may want to come out and hear the latest. Stay tuned.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:40:50]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Billionaires in wine caves should not pick the next president of the United States.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Mayor, your response?

MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG (D-IN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know, according to "Forbes" magazine, I'm the literally the only person on this stage who is not a millionaire or a billionaire. So if --

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

BUTTIGIEG: This is important. This is the problem with issuing purity tests you cannot yourself pass.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: Shimmering feud between Senator Elizabeth Warren and Mayor Pete Buttigieg spills over on to the debate stage. Let's discuss.

I'll start with the Democrats here. Mayor Gillum, what was your sense of how effective all of that sort of fighting and elbowing was?

ANDREW GILLUM, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. I mean -- well, the important point here is to say we have got to change the way money impacts politics. I think that was the broad theme of it all.

The problem is is that Senator Warren has also raised money in a very similar fashion. Maybe not in a wine cave but certainly with wealthy donors. She has piloted in this race for president the idea that small money put together could actually power forward a campaign. And that is a good thing. But I wouldn't draw the conclusion that wealthy people who give contributions to candidates are bad or sinister or are corrupt. And the people who receive them, I wouldn't draw that conclusion either.

So this will have resonance only because most of us have not been in a wine cave and so there's something sort of illusive about that and I think it will probably continue to be an attack.

JOE TRIPPI, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I agree with Andrew but everything here -- this is a disaster for both of them.

BASH: Why?

TRIPPI: Having come through the Dean-Gephardt murder suicide pact of 2004 where the two co-front-runners at the time got into this kind of a battle, it never works in a multi candidate field. They're hurting each other and right now I think the rest of the field is going to benefit from that, particularly Amy Klobuchar and maybe Joe Biden.

RICK SANTORUM, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. Look, I --

BASH: You're the only one at this table to win an Iowa caucus maybe not in a Democratic caucus --

SANTORUM: Just give you may sense of what's happening there. I agree with Joe. I think fighting about an issue that most people don't care about and being nasty about it doesn't help either one of these people.

I think Pete has seen his day. I think I've seen this in so many races where you sort of peak a little too early and not saying that he's a bad candidate but he's just -- the flaws of his candidacy are now being shown. I think the person who did well in that debate, you heard it in your -- afterwards in your focus groups and someone who I think is poised because everybody likes her. And I was there in Iowa. And I was low in the polls. Everybody liked me but no one would vote for me? Why? Because I couldn't win, because my poll numbers are low.

Well, her poll numbers are low. Everybody likes Amy but her poll numbers are low. But guess what? Her poll numbers aren't as low as it used to be and they're coming up a little bit. And as Buttigieg goes down Amy is going to come up. Some will go to Joe Biden but she's going to get some of those votes and all of a sudden some will go say, hey, you know what? I like her and she can win. That is what you have to look for.

LINDA CHAVEZ, FORMER REAGAN ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: But you know what was fascinating about that debate is just a couple of months ago we were talking about how left-wing the Democratic Party has been. They're all tacking to the center, including Elizabeth Warren.

And I agree with Rick on this. I think Amy Klobuchar did well but clearly Joe Biden benefits as well.

TRIPPI: He did well on that debate.

BASH: I'm glad you brought that up. Because let's listen to part of the debate that made people say exactly what you're both saying.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: As you've noticed, the first number of debates I'm the guy who had the target on my back from every single person on the stage and I was able to be able to just state my position clearly and move on. My whole purpose in the beginning is to make the case not why other people aren't qualified but why I'm the most qualified person to defeat Donald Trump.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: OK. That was obviously not Joe Biden at the debate but assessing his own performance.

TRIPPI: He did very well in the debate though. He has a very -- probably the best debate he's had throughout. And so when you look at what the dynamics of this race are right now, he's been resilient.

[09:45:05]

I thought he was -- been much stronger than what a lot of people were giving him credit for from the very beginning. And now as people in Iowa focus on the field, what happens is the doubts they have about the people they're with, so if they have doubts about Mayor Pete, if they have doubts about Warren and doubts about Biden, it is the person who actually is moving at the time, who had a really good debate performance or has stayed out of that fray as Amy Klobuchar has that benefits and that is why I think getting into this fight with Mayor Pete more (ph) that (ph) going after each other --

(CROSSTALK) BASH: She got into a fight with the mayor also.

TRIPPI: She did too. But she's below the fray -- as Rick said, she's sort of not in the front-runner top tier right now. She can move. She can benefit. I think Joe Biden will benefit as well.

GILLUM: But her engaging here was actually important for her to set herself apart. She knows that some of the reasons why she's not doing as well particularly in the moderate lane is frankly because Pete has taken away a good deal of that support. She needed engage them.

By the way, these are all big adults. They've been in politics. Debates are about drawing differences and contrasts. So I actually don't have as problem with that so long as they stay out of, you know, sort of the personal attack range largely and I thought this pretty much did that.

BASH: What about Biden?

GILLUM: Well, I mean, I thought Biden did a solid job. The truth is that he actually didn't have to do a great deal to walk away from that debate having kind of the glowing reviews that he has. Why? Because he is the front-runner without a doubt.

There is a little bit of this expectations thing and for me what a lot of folks on the Democratic side want is they want to choose a winner. Someone who could go up against Donald Trump and win. And some of what has created the ability for rise for some of these other candidates has been some doubts about whether or not Joe could be consistently steady.

He showed steadiness. He was direct. He was short. He made his points. I think he had the fifth lowest or highest talking time. So he benefited from that and I think that is a good thing.

SANTORUM: Joe has benefited from the fact that his prior performances were not very good at all and so this by comparison looks good. And, look, that's -- that's the perception. The perception is, wow, he was so much crisper, he was much more direct --

BASH: And perception is everything.

SANTORUM: And perception is everything. So he did a good job. I think if people want to take a step back and look -- whether this is the kind of guy who can -- who can take on Donald Trump I think they're overestimating --

(CROSSTALK)

BASH: So I want to ask you all about -- quickly about this article that came out in the evangelical magazine and -- where the editor called for the president's removal from office. And it said in part -- Trump tweeted back to it and he said, "I guess the magazine, Christianity Today, is looking for Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, or those of the socialist/communist bent, to guard their religion. How about Sleepy Joe? The fact is no President has ever done what I have for Evangelicals, or religion itself."

And, Linda, you heard Roy Blunt -- Senator Blunt say exactly that here and not talk about what the editor said was that the president offends his Christian sensibilities.

CHAVEZ: Well, and that is the problem that I have. I agree with a lot of what President Trump has done. I'm a conservative. I'm still a Republican. But he is an immoral man.

And the fact that you will not ever hear Republicans -- I mean, during this whole House impeachment debate when Will Hurd came to the floor and gave his speech, the worst thing he could say is that foreign policy was a shambles but he could not say that it was wrong. That what the president did was wrong. And the fact that no Republicans seem to be able to get out there and make that distinction.

SANTORUM: Well, first off a lot of Republicans have. I mean, you quoted three or four of them earlier (INAUDIBLE) Marco Rubio. There are several who said what he did was wrong, what he did was wise (ph).

I've said it. A lot of Republicans have said it. And a lot of Republicans say publicly and privately that they don't like a lot of the things this president says and that they are -- they're very problematic. The bottom line though is what's he doing? And what's he doing for the evangelical Christian world -- the Christian world, the religious world generally is he's protecting religious --

(CROSSTALK)

BASH: But it's not difficult way to go -- but that's not a difficult choice in your heart?

SANTORUM: Of course, there's -- there's no perfect candidate out there. I mean, there's no perfect politician. And you've got to take the bad with the good.

GILLUM: This has clearly been a marriage of convenience, however. This has been about the courts. And so they have abided a lot.

This op-ed is coming but we had the video from "Access Hollywood." We had his going after people with disabilities.

This has been his character. This is who he is. And I'm just surprised that it has taken this long to call it out.

SANTORUM: It's what he does that matters. It does.

BASH: Thank you all for this really interesting discussion. Happy holidays all of you.

(CROSSTALK)

GILLUM: Happy holidays. Merry Christmas.

TRIPPI: Merry Christmas. BASH: And up next, voters do it for Instagram. Elizabeth Warren does it for votes. So, how the selfie is a defining feature of the 2020 campaign.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:54:26]

BASH: On the campaign trail autographs are out. Selfies are in.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WARREN: I love that you have a tattoo. Let's do a selfie.

BASH (voice-over): It's a critical stop on Senator Elizabeth Warren's campaign trail. Her selfie line. Hundreds of thousands of informal photos with her supporters.

WARREN: Then we get to the most important part of democracy, and that is selfies.

I'm crowding in on 100,000 selfies.

BASH: Her selfie status update on the debate stage this week was enough to get the attention of a top opponent.

BIDEN: You're not the only one who does selfies, Senator.

[09:55:02]

I've done thousands of them.

BASH: Candidate selfies are the new campaign currency more memorable than an autograph and a key way for candidates to connect with voters who then build buzz on social media. And it's not just Democrats.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So, a woman said, I've been here, Mr. Trump, in the rain for four hours. Could I have a selfie? And my people said, no, no, no. I said, absolutely you can. Absolutely.

BASH: One sticking point is over the word selfie itself. An apparent parody Twitter account of former Senator Orrin Hatch points out a selfie is when you're holding the camera as well as posing for the picture. Writing there is an entire industry of fact checkers who are letting Elizabeth Warren get away with calling these selfies, and I won't stand for it.

Classic selfie or not, these snaps are here to stay.

WARREN: I'm going to keep doing town halls like this and selfie lines like this.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BASH: Thanks so much for watching. "FAREED ZAKARIA, GPS" starts next.