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INSIDE POLITICS

Early Voting Underway In Nevada Ahead Of Saturday's Caucuses; Bloomberg Under Fire For Record On Race Issues; Trump Defends His Legal Right To Intervene In Criminal Cases; President Trump To Attend NASCAR'S Daytona 500 Race Today; Trump, Bloomberg Trade Insults On Twitter. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired February 16, 2020 - 08:00   ET

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


[08:00:32]

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN HOST (voice-over): The Democratic race moves West.

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Nevada is a state that looks like America.

HENDERSON: With moderates worrying there's a new front-runner.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We're getting the establishment just a little bit nervous.

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have to have a candidate that brings people with her instead of shutting them out.

HENDERSON: Plus, Michael Bloomberg's record on race.

MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Stop and frisk.

I defended it for too long and for that I apologized.

HENDERSON: And Trump unleashed. The president crosses another line.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Roger Stone was treated horribly. People were hurt viciously and badly by these corrupt people.

WILLIAM BARR, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES: To have public statements and tweets make it impossible for me to do my job.

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

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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

We begin with 2020 and a Democratic nomination that remains very much up for grabs, going into the Nevada caucuses. Early voting has already begun and with CNN candidate town halls and a debate in Las Vegas this week, it could be a make or break contest for what's left of the Democratic field.

Nevada is a very, very different state from Iowa and New Hampshire and nonwhite voters will play a much larger role there. Four years ago, Latinos and African-Americans made up one-third of Democratic caucusgoers.

It's also a big union state with 28 percent of Democratic voters in 2016 coming from a union household. Bernie Sanders, he's got plenty of reasons to feel comfortable as the race enters the next stage. He won New Hampshire and finished in a virtual tie with Pete Buttigieg in Iowa. He remains a fund-raising juggernaut with a broad network of support and he's pulling ahead of one-time front-runner Joe Biden, a win in Nevada would make it hard to call him anything other than a front-runner.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SANDERS: As all of you know, we won the popular vote in Iowa. We won the New Hampshire primary. With your help we're going to win here in Nevada. We are going together to win the Democratic nomination.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HENDERSON: Here with me to share their reporting and their insights, we got Lisa Lerer with "The New York Times", CNN's Phil Mattingly, Tarini Parti with "The Wall Street Journal", and Margaret Talev with "Axios".

Thank you all. Welcome on this Sunday.

A big week we had so far. Some clarity out of New Hampshire. Some folks dropped out, of course, and now going in to Nevada, Bernie Sanders looks strong, moderates now so much.

I want to go here, Lisa, I'm going to you on this. If you think about what we saw in Iowa and New Hampshire, Sanders and Warren here, you see them -- this is their total, look at the moderates though, right? They're doing better in Iowa in terms of their total vote, basically got ten points separating them, almost 20 points here. But also, this is what we heard this last time, right?

Donald Trump was ahead, only other voters were split, the moderate lane. This seems to be Bernie Sanders to lose going into Nevada after he's consolidated that lane.

LISA LERER, NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Right, and I think the question for Bernie Sanders is always been, can he expand his base, but I'm beginning to wonder if we're asking the wrong questions.

HENDERSON: OK.

LERER: If the field remains this fractured with this many candidates, he can win without, potentially without consolidating his base, unless a few of his moderates start to drop out and you see this consolidation. And we have no indication that that's going to happen before Super Tuesday. And then, of course, on Super Tuesday, Bloomberg gets in the game. So you have the entrance of another moderate.

So that side of the Democratic Party remains so divided, Bernie Sanders can probably win it without necessarily gaining significantly more support than, you know, his base would allow him to have.

HENDERSON: And folks obviously noticing that Sanders this go round even though he had a heart attack still has some of those attributes he had in to 2016.

[08:05:06]

The fund raising prowess and the grassroots movement. So here is Biden taking a shot at him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUTTIGIEG: So, when you're in Nevada, you talk to a lot of folks including workers and organizations like the Culinary Workers Union that have fought good for good health care plans, and Senator Sanders is going to erase those plans and replace them with a single government plan for everybody is going to be a tough sell.

BIDEN: Gun manufacturers is the only industry in America that's except from being able to be sued, the only one. And they were given that exemption in 2005 and some of the people running for office voted for that exemption.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HENDERSON: Some of the people there to -- Biden is talking about that and, of course, Buttigieg too, Bernie Sanders.

TARINI PARTI, NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: That's exactly right. And we have seen for months that, you now, we know how Bernie Sanders voted on the gun votes but candidates were not going there as much in debates. They had plenty of opportunities but now that they're seeing him as a potential front-runner, they're finally sort of trying to bring this back up.

Bernie Sanders, of course, has not had that same experience. He has had no problem bringing up past votes that Biden has taken shots at other candidates. They kind of assumed that Sanders would have sort of a floor and a ceiling here that he would not be able to expand but now that he has been able, to we're seeing more candidates actually not only take shots in the moderate lane to try to differentiate themselves from each other, but also going after Bernie Sanders.

HENDERSON: In both Klobuchar, Phil, as well as Pete Buttigieg go in the race, strong showings in New Hampshire but they have had weaknesses among black and brown voters and here's a clip that may not help some of these folks in courting some of these diverse voters.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you know his name?

KLOBUCHAR: Yes. Yes. I know that he's the Mexican president.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But can you tell me his name?

KLOBUCHAR: No.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't you think it would be important if you're running for president to know who the president of Mexico -- the country to the south of the United States is?

KLOBUCHAR: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because can you tell me who the president of Mexico is?

BUTTIGIEG: Yes, President Lopez Obrador, I hope.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're the only one able to tell me that today.

BUTTIGIEG: Really?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

BUTTIGIEG: Wow.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HENDERSON: Steyer had trouble naming President Lopez Obrador.

Not on good look there. I feel like when you're running for president, I would study up on this stuff.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You would want to know the names of the international leaders particularly those on your continent, particularly those of a country that comes up quite regularly, based on who the president is.

I think to pull back a little bit, the interesting thing we have been talking about it all week, the next two contests are different from the first two, right, and it's demographics based. But it's also the fact they are organizationally and finance based.

And when you talk about Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg, their ability to compete with somebody like Bernie Sanders who has incredible organization on the ground in Nevada, he's been working particularly with the Latino vote, I think probably more so, and robust -- more robust than everybody has over the course of the last several months, while everybody was focused on Iowa and New Hampshire, you have Klobuchar who didn't have the organization past the first two days, raised a ton of money in the wake of a great showing in New Hampshire but all of a sudden, snapping her fingers and putting that on the ground to make movement. And the same goes for Pete Buttigieg who his organization in Iowa and

New Hampshire was extraordinary. They did amazing things, now how do you replicate that in a different state with different demographics and demographics for which Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg haven't had any showing for in poll after poll in the course of the last six months. I think that's the big question that needs to be answered over the course of this week and this week.

HENDERSON: And for Klobuchar, some different votes that she's had to answer for in the past, support for border fence and English as the official language.

MARGARET TALEV, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. I mean, there are several challenges for her. It's the money, it's the staffing, it's infrastructure and it's the fact that moderate I think more than the activist side of the party are very focused on who's the strongest candidate -- the electability argument, right? I mean, I'm saying that the Bernie Sanders fans aren't, but if you're a moderate, you understand right now that you have to think you have to think strategically about consolidating support as well.

The outside question has always been, because of the Michael Bloomberg candidacy, does Michael Bloomberg make it easier for Sanders by further splitting the moderate vote, or does Bernie Sanders make it easier for Michael Bloomberg by telling moderates you need someone who Republicans will vote for as well?

And so where does Amy Klobuchar fit into that? She becomes a choice of one out of four or one out of five instead of the focus being on her. I think she's got several strategic challenges going into this, yes.

HENDERSON: Yes, a big, big race that we'll see on Saturday and, of course, a big question about the debate who's going to make that final cut which will happen on Wednesday.

Up next, Bloomberg under fire and how the billionaire's unimaginable wealth could reshape the Democratic field.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:14:31]

HENDERSON: Billionaire Mike Bloomberg isn't on the ballot in New Hampshire but he's competing hard in the major Super Tuesday states as unlimited campaign war chest makes him very much a factor in this race. He's also one poll away from qualifying for the debate this week in Las Vegas. Better poll numbers mean more scrutiny of his records.

Rivals are attacking his past support of New York stop and frisk policing tactic which critics say disproportionately targeted young men of color.

Now, here's how he used to defend this policy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[08:15:03]

BLOOMBERG: It's not a disproportionate percentage of those who witnesses and victims describe as committing the murder. In that case incidentally I think we disproportionately stop whites too much, and minorities too little.

Ninety-five percent of your murders, murderers, and murder victims fit one M.O. You can just take the description, Xerox it, and pass it off to all the cops. They are male, minorities, sixteen to twenty-five.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HENDERSON: But now that he's running for president, he says he was wrong.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BLOOMBERG: I defended it looking back for too long because I didn't understand then the unintended pain it was causing to young black and brown families and their kids. I should have acted sooner and faster to stop it. I didn't. And for that I apologized.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HENDERSON: His alleged past statements about women in the workforce are also coming back to haunt him. A "Washington Post" story this weekend details his history of making sexist statements in numerous lawsuit and allegations over the years, suggesting that his company was a hostile workplace for women especially pregnant women. The Bloomberg campaign is denying most of what's in the history while admitting that, quote, his words have not always aligned with his values and the way he has led his life.

Margaret, in many ways, hard to believe that you think about Bloomberg and his past with race and gender running for the nomination in a party that takes race and gender very seriously with women and African-Americans being very much a part of the key constituency.

TALEV: I think there are two things to look at, and one is the intense desire inside the Democratic Party to defeat Donald Trump which is creating different thresholds and standards among some voters for how -- the lens through they which they view candidates and the other is the amount of time that has passed over the course of, between some of these allegations and now, and what Michael Bloomberg has done in between. I think you'll see you his campaign argue that was philanthropic investments about these being things that he's begun to apologize for and will continue talking about.

I still think they're still serious allegations that we have only begun to see the beginning of the air of. There's going to be massive oppo dumps presumably he and his team know this. But I just -- I think this is the tip of the iceberg of this and understanding how it's going to affect Democrat votes and I just think we know yet what really what the impact is going to be.

HENDERSON: And, Tarini, in the meantime, you've had prominent African- Americans, people like Muriel Bowser, mayor of D.C., Steve Benjamin, the mayor of Columbia, South Carolina, endorse him, as well as Gregory Meeks who's out of New York and a member of CBC.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. GREGORY MEEKS (D-NY): You know, one of the things that are important to the African-American community is closing that wage gap. He has a plan on closing the wage gap. There are substantial things that Michael Bloomberg has done that he can speak and in a positive way in regards to the African-American community. And he definitely has some great plans that he can do and will do as president of the United States.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HENDERSON: And, Tarini, you were with Bloomberg covering his event in North Carolina. You talked to some African-American voters there. What did they say about Bloomberg?

PARTI: They kind of brought up the similar argument. What they've said is that they have accepted Bloomberg's apology, they're willing to move on and they also compared what he said to what Trump has said over the years. They have been dealing with that in states like North Carolina and Tennessee where they know a lot of Trump supporters and they hear a lot of potentially racist comments from some of the supporters that they're around. And they said that what Bloomberg was mild compared to what they have heard from some of those supporters. That's the argument they made.

They also think that Bloomberg is the candidate that could beat Trump. That's something that comes up over and over again. What we're already seeing is Bloomberg is starting to talk about stop and frisk a little bit more than he did a few weeks. As this become more of an issue, we saw in Virginia for example he included his apology on stop and frisk in his stump speech. This is something he has not been doing, he usually answers for it when someone brings it up and questions him about them.

HENDERSON: And what we've seen is Bloomberg flooding the airwaves with ads? You look at his campaign spending $386 million, Tom Steyer another billionaire in the race, $187 million. So the image that a lot of voters are seeing in their living rooms over and over again on all manner of channels about Bloomberg is very different from some of the articles that are coming up about his past whether it's stop and frisk.

Can this money into buying him delegates in the Super Tuesday races?

LERER: Well, that's the essential question of this entire process, is can -- how much does -- will this money sway voters? Well, we know, you know, historically that spending this kind of money can narrow a gap between the opponent, can get you a couple of points in ads.

[08:20:01]

It can't really get you up in the polls. But already, we have seen Bloomberg has really risen up in the polls and we have just never seen this much money spent before.

HENDERSON: Right.

LERER: So, this is all a wild experiment.

HENDERSON: Indeed.

LERER: We don't know how it will work out but we do think the questions about the background, I really wonder how much those will matter with voters?

HENDERSON: Right.

LERER: Voters as both these very smart ladies point out, voters are very much focused on electability. So, unless his opponents can turn those arguments, the questions about stop and frisk, the questions about his treatment of women into something that makes him -- that is problem in terms of his ability to beat women, I've really wondered if they stick.

HENDERSON: And the voters he's doing well with, moderate and conservative women, we'll put this up, it's coming at Joe Biden's expense. If you look at Joe Biden overall, he's down nine and Michael up eight.

Modern conservative voters, Joe Biden, a strong of point of his, but he's down 11, Bloomberg is up 12. Black voters, Biden is down 22 points, pretty big margin of error with that. But it still you see Michael Bloomberg gaining and then 65 and over as well.

Those are Bidens voters. He's losing. Bloomberg is gaining. If you're Biden, you're nervous.

MATTINGLY: You have to be. And look this is the theory of the case of your entire campaign, and frankly, this is the theory of the case of just about every other Democratic campaign that was out there, which was Joe Biden's numbers were soft and if you started to puncture them a little bit they'll start to drop precipitously.

I think the big concern for the Biden campaign obviously has to be the African-American number, that's obviously the firewall that South Carolina, I think that's one poll. I think we're waiting to see in terms of what's going to happen going forward. But it underscores the fact that people are looking at Joe Biden right now, whether rightly or wrongly, and I think it appears to be rightly that the weakness is real.

And whether or not he's going to last beyond the next two or three weeks seems to be an open question amongst a lot of Democrats and Democratic campaigns, and that goes back to the electability argument. OK, if there's no Biden who is it, right? And if Klobuchar doesn't have the money or the organization, or if Pete Buttigieg is too you or inexperienced, then who is it?

And that's where Mike Bloomberg and Mike Bloomberg's bonkers amount of money spending around the country suddenly becomes a real option. I don't know if it sustains but a mini-panic from at least the establishment side or kind of the moderate Democratic lane, that's where they're ending up.

HENDERSON: Right, and Nancy Pelosi saying it's not quite time to panic yet when it comes to Joe Biden.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): We have come down to the winnowing process. But I see everything as an opportunity and I see -- and quite frankly with all due respect to the world for Iowa and New Hampshire, I'm not counting Joe Biden out. There's still races ahead that are much more representative of the -- of the country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HENDERSON: She brought Biden up on her own, hasn't endorsed, but that's what she had to say.

LERER: Yes, I mean, she's made the argument that Democrats don't what to move too far to the left. The same argument that we saw former President Obama make. And, of course, you know, Nancy Pelosi, Barack Obama and the rest of the Democratic establishment are not going to come out and say, please, panic, Democrats, right?

HENDERSON: Right.

LERER: But I think randomly bringing up Joe Biden in the interview in Munich --

HENDERSON: Yes.

LERER: -- is a sign that there's some panicking.

HENDERSON: And Democrats are always sort of panicking.

MATTINGLY: Kind of their thing, yes.

HENDERSON: Next, the president sends a message to the Justice Department and his attorney general sends one right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:27:54]

HENDERSON: President Trump had a message for his Justice Department last week. Take it easy on his friends like long time political adviser Roger Stone, and get tougher on those he sees as enemies.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: They treated Roger Stone very badly. They treated everybody very badly. And if you look at the Mueller investigation, it was a scam and nothing happened with all of the people that did it and -- the it was the largest scam. Where is Comey, what's happening to McCabe? Roger Stone was treated horribly so were many other people, their lives were destroyed.

In the meantime, Comey walks around making book deals to the people who launched the scam investigation and what they did is a disgrace and hopefully it will be treated fairly. Everything else will be treated fairly.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HENDERSON: After Trump's very public pressure, the Justice Department did in fact reduce its sentencing recommendation for Stone, convicted last year on seven counts of lying to investigators, witness tampering and obstructing the Russia investigation.

Attorney General Barr has also ordered a re-examination of the case against another Trump ally, former national security adviser Michael Flynn who pleaded guilty to lying to investigators about his conversations with the Russian counterparts.

But Barr's Justice Department also announced it's dropping the investigation into Trump nemesis Andrew McCabe, the former FBI deputy director, who Trump blames for launching the Russian probe in the first place, and the attorney general very publicly rebuked his boss for attempting to influence Justice Department decisions.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAM BARR, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: The president has never asked me to do anything in the criminal case. However, to have public statements and tweets made about the department, about our people in the department, our men and women here, about cases pending in the department, and about judges before whom we have cases make it impossible for me to do my job.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[08:29:55]

HENDERSONNow the President chose to respond to just the first part of that sound bite tweeting that as president, he has the legal right to order an investigation but has so far chosen not to.

Margaret -- in kind of unexpected dustup between these two -- if you think about Barr, one of the most loyal person in the President's cabinet. The President very much likes that he's got Barr and not Sessions, at this point, what's the state of this relationship?

TALEV: Yes, I still think the President's doing pretty well with Barr as his attorney general. I mean, but look, if you take it just on the merits, it's hard to argue with the point.

If you ascribe more to the idea that it's kind of more of a coordinated political strategy, Barr telling the White House, look, I need to give myself a little bit of space here -- people are dropping off of the ship and I can't run the ship. That's also true, you know.

But when you take a sort of a big picture look at how the Justice Department has supported the President's moves, the President's doing pretty well.

And I think what's important to look at is to take even a couple more steps back. The President after his acquittal is in the midst of a major personnel house cleaning, revamp. He's bringing back Hope Hicks, put at the top of his personnel office.

(CROSSTALKING)

TALEV: Yes. A young aide and is a political loyalist and is expected absolutely to help the President and his team of advisers usher in people who the President considers loyal to him in high level positions. I think the Andy McCabe conclusions also may have been predicated on the fact that if this had gone on much longer, Barr might have lost more career attorneys.

The big picture of this shows that the President is proceeding apace, doing precisely what he wants to do and making the bet that Senate Republicans and the general voting public are fine with it and he's got no indication to argue at that point.

HENDERSON: And George Conway making the point that in many ways Trump doesn't really need to tell Barr what needs to be done. Here's what he had to say in "The Washington Post" on Saturday. "Anticipating Trump's narcissistic whims and desires in just the fashion remains the key to survival in his administration.

And outside the White House proper, no one does it better than Barr. It's thus entirely believable as both Barr and Trump have said that Trump never gave Barr any instruction about Stone's case. When it came to Stone's sentence, Barr likely knew what to do without ever being told."

MATTINGLY: Yes, well the President also tweeted about it --

HENDERSON: Right. Yes, so there's that.

MATTINGLY: -- which is my understanding in every agency around Washington that he tweets immediately -- right.

HENDERSON: They could Twitter, yes.

MATTINGLY: If they don't have it on their own phone then their staff is sending it to them pretty quickly. Look, I think that the issue here -- that the Barr and Trump relationship -- I don't cover the Justice Department -- I'm watching it like everybody else, the bigger issue that I've heard about (INAUDIBLE) afar is what happens to the line prosecutors and also something else that Barr said in the clip that you played which is what happens to the judges that these prosecutors actually have to go in front of?

And I think whether or not Barr's comments were coordinated and whether or not -- I mean, the White House clearly knew what was going on.

HENDERSON: Right. He gave him a head's up, yes.

(CROSSTALKING)

MATTINGLY: The reason why he needs space right now is because he has people on the front line that are going into courtrooms every day, that are trying to make cases every single day, that are trying to get convictions every single day, who are now very almost openly I think there -- you guys had a story about this -- I know we had a story as well questioning whether or not they're going to get undercut the day after they make that case, the day after they put in recommendations, the day after they bring charges against something and having to deal with the fact that judges are listening to these prosecutors making a case or putting out recommendations and saying, well, this is -- well, is this it? Are we going to hear something tomorrow?

HENDERSON: Right. Right.

MATTINGLY: Is this a problem?

And it's extraordinarily difficult for prosecutors to do their jobs if that is the environment in which they're working under.

HENDERSON: And Steve Bannon essentially says this is the new environment that folks should get used to in terms of Trump. Here's what he had to say in "The Washington Post" on Wednesday.

"He's mad and he should be mad that Democrats and the media wasted three years of the nation's time on a witch-hunt. Now he understands how to use the full powers of the presidency. The pearl-clutchers better get used to it."

What's ahead in your estimation -- Tarini?

PARTI: I mean, we have been hearing this from Steve Bannon --

(CROSSTALKING)

PARTI: -- I think his choice (ph) for the President to use the extent of his powers for -- you know, even when he was a nominee he was trying to push -- get him to push the Republican Party as much as he could.

So I mean, who knows what Steve Bannon has in store for President Trump. But I don't think Trump needs Bannon's advice at this point. He knows what he needs to do. He knows how to use Twitter. And, you know, if Barr can say he doesn't want the President to use Twitter but obviously that's not going to change the way things are done. There's not going to be this great pivot that Republicans have been looking for since 2015.

HENDERSON: No, it's right. And GOP senators weighing in on what's been going on. And here's what a few of them had to say.

Chuck Grassley, "It doesn't bother me at all."

John Cornyn, "The President has first amendment rights, too."

[08:34:56] HENDERSON: Bill Cassidy, "I'm not somebody who's going to tell the

President what to do."

Lisa Murkowski, these are, I guess folks who are in the concerned camp, "I don't like the chain of events," Lisa Murkowski says.

Susan Collins, "The President should not have gotten involved."

John Kennedy, "When the President tweeted -- when the President tweeted out, that made the whole thing problematic."

And so that's the extent of --

TALEV: Those are the pearl-clutchers, huh?

HENDERSON: Yes, yes, yes.

LERER: There's just so much concern.

HENDERSON: Right. Right. Very concerned.

LERER: Everybody has been very concerned for what -- three years. And that concern, the norms are not coming. The President is not sort of all of a sudden going to wake up one morning and be in the mold of presidents like we've seen.

TALEV: Truman (ph).

LERER: Right. Drawing lines between, you know, the Justice Department and the executive branch, like that's --

HENDERSON: So outdated.

LERER: Yes. I mean it's just not going to happen. The President is who he is -- those Republicans know he is who he is. And they basically signaled that they're sort of ok with it, right? They did not vote to remove him from office.

So that is the message that voters are getting and voters are also seem to be fairly ok with this. His approval rating is at a record high.

We'll see how people feel as the election gets closer. But I think the idea that we would see some major change in his behavior three years in just feels -- it's the same movie over and over again.

HENDERSON: Right, yes.

LERER: We're stuck in reruns.

HENDERSON: And the President, you mentioned his approval rating, I think it's about 49 percent. And among Republicans, I think it's about 94 percent -- 95 percent, so he's pleased and these critics launching pretty soft criticism of this president.

Up next, Trump revs up the base at the Daytona 500 and gives his own (INAUDIBLE) of opinion of his potential 2020 opponents.

[08:36:38]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HENDERSON: President Donald Trump is spending his Sunday at NASCAR's biggest race, the Daytona 500. He's courting an important part of his base in the swing state of Florida. Trump will be just the second sitting president to attend the race and his campaign is also placing an ad buy during the event.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: America is great, better than ever. Under President Trump's leadership, we are racing to new heights -- millions of new jobs, rising wages, record low unemployment, securing our borders, protecting our country, and respecting our veterans.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HENDERSON: This comes a day after Trump headlined a $580,000 a couple fund-raiser -- the most expensive of his presidency. The event was expected to raise more than $10 million in a single night.

Now, the 2020 contest and his potential opponents are never far from the President's mind. Listen to what he told Geraldo Rivera this week about whether he would want to run against Senator Bernie Sanders.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I would like him. I'd like any of them. I mean I think it would be good with anybody.

I think frankly my first choice would be mini Mike. I think it would be easy.

So if a guy came in and bought the election, bought the Democratic nomination I really think that you'd have a revolution within the Democrat Party.

I think Biden is shot. He was shot from the beginning. I used to call him 1 percent Joe, remember, 1 percent.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HENDERSON: I don't remember 1 percent Joe, but that's neither here nor there.

MATTINGLY: It's entirely possible.

HENDERSON: Yes. Yes, it's possible. Who can keep track of the nicknames?

But Phil, let's talk about Bloomberg and Sanders. If you look at President Trump's tweets about the 2020 Democrats since January 1st. Bloomberg -- he's tweeted 14. Sanders -- 12 times. He's thinking a lot about Michael Bloomberg.

MATTINGLY: I think it's the amazing thing is the Bloomberg team -- their kind of two-dual track here was that Biden would be soft and that he would eventually fall off, and also that they could get under Trump's skin. And I think both at least at this point appear to be true and I think there's no question about it, how much their campaign whether it's the social media strategy, whether it's the media strategy generally, or whether it's whatever Michael Bloomberg says on the trail is trying to get Trump's attention for him to tweet about it.

And I don't know whether or not that works or whether or not that becomes a winning strategy electorally. But it is a winning strategy in terms of getting inside his head. Like it feels like to some degree, he's swimming inside his head on a pretty regular basis.

And I don't know -- people who've covered New York politics would know and New York generally would notice, how much of this is a New York thing, how much of this is a Manhattan, how much of this is who has more money thing but it's real. And I think if that's what the Bloomberg campaign was trying to do they've at least succeeded in that regard.

HENDERSON: Yes. And we know that, Bloomberg is on TV a whole heck of a lot and this president also watches TV a whole heck of a lot so he's living literally with Bloomberg in his living room in some ways.

Tarini -- what we see from both Sanders and Trump is this anti- establishment rhetoric. Take a look at some clips from Sanders and Trump.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Suddenly we have the Democratic establishment very nervous about this campaign. We've got Wall Street nervous. We are their worst nightmare. This is their "Nightmare on Elm Street".

TRUMP: We're driving the Republican establishment crazy. Crazy. Crazy.

They don't know what to do. And the reason they're going crazy is because they want to have their puppets and I'm not a puppet.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HENDERSON: And you see there this was Sanders from this campaign and Trump there from 2015. Is this kind of the secret sauce to Sanders' success so far basically being the anti-establishment non-Democrat in the Democratic primary?

PARTI: I think it's interesting that the President brought up a revolution within the Democratic Party if Bernie Sanders is the nominee. Because that is that he did when he was running for president in 2015, there was a revolution of sorts within the Republican Party.

And they both make similar arguments. They both are party outsiders. They both have the sort of populist agenda.

[08:44:57]

PARTI: You know, a general election fight between the two would be fascinating because the parties would not have as much -- you know, now obviously the Republican Party has come around to President Trump.

HENDERSON: Right.

PARTI: But these two were party outsiders who essentially have risen to power without the help of any sort of establishment support. So they would be very similar in that sense.

HENDERSON: And Sanders, Lisa -- thinks that he can eat into this white working class base that Trump has dominated over these last years.

LERER: And there may be some evidence that he can. I mean we have seen that sort of working class people have been more drawn to Senator Sanders. His base has been a little less educated than say like Senator Elizabeth Warren's base, as we have seen in the polling.

But I do think this idea of these two outsiders going at each other would be -- it would be a fascinating race to watch.

And the other similarity, of course, is that nothing seems to stick to Senator Sanders just like nothing seemed to stick to President Trump, right? He had a heart attack. His family was investigated by the FBI. He has this whole history of, you know, he's -- he hasn't been really a Democrat for much of his career. He calls himself a Democratic Socialist.

And despite all of that, voters seem to like him. At least a certain portion of the Democratic base. And what's so fascinating is when you're out there talking to voters even people who are not voting for Senator Sanders will say I like him, he has a couple of good ideas and that to me seems like a pretty significant shift.

HENDERSON: Yes. They like that -- yes, that he's been consistent.

LERER: Yes, even if they're worried about his electability --

HENDERSON: Right.

LERER: -- they like his consistency. They like that he's out there and the party has moved to the left.

HENDERSON: Yes. And his base really has an emotional attachment to his message, also the case for Donald Trump.

Up next, our reporters share from their notebooks next, including whether Nevada Democrats repeat Iowa's mistakes.

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

Lisa -- we're going to start with you.

LERER: Well, Nia -- there's one word that can strike horror in every Democrat in Nevada. And that word is Iowa.

HENDERSON: Right.

LERER: I mean Nevada Democrats have been working around the clock to try to prevent the kind of caucus catastrophe that we saw in Iowa. The first thing they did, they were supposed to use the same app to get the results, that shadow app that is now famous that they used in Iowa. The first thing they did was scrap that plan.

It is unclear if there's been enough training on the new app. There's a lot of concerns. People have a lot of worries.

The biggest difference to keep your eye on is early voting in Nevada. They already started voting. You can go in and you're your preferences and do an early caucus vote. That's not something you do in Iowa. The campaigns think that could be an asset for them, they could get results earlier but nobody quite knows how the results will be distributed yet. So this has the potential for a mess, but it's something both the national Democratic Party and the state Democratic Party are trying to avoid.

HENDERSON: Please, no more Iowa.

Phil.

MATTINGLY: Amid everything else that's going on in the world right, the Pentagon notified Congress somewhat surprisingly for members on both parties, that they will be shifting $3.8 billion more over to fund building of the wall. And all this is allowed, of course, because of the President's national emergency declaration last year.

It once again, infuriated members of both parties to say this money wasn't appropriated. The interesting element about this tranche of funds is it is not just drug interdiction money or military construction money. This is actually coming from projects like fighter jets, like vehicles, like ships -- things that members of Congress care very deeply about.

Now, there's no expectation that this is going to be blocked or if they're going to shift anything to block the administration from doing this, but this will lead to votes. And one of the votes will be once again, voting to block the national emergency. The Congress has done it twice, the Senate has passed it twice, the President has vetoed it twice.

But it is a tough vote for members to take particularly politically- endangered members, particularly politically-endangered Republican members who might care about specific projects related to fighter jets or ships or vehicles. So keep an eye on that.

I think the other thing too to keep in mind is this happened and barely anybody noticed.

HENDERSON: Yes.

MATTINGLY: And you know, the shift over the course of a year in terms of what's becoming normal and what's becoming accepted and what is becoming just par for the course in terms of how this administration operates. This is very unusual and yet now it happened -- $3.8 billion and everybody just thinks, right -- well, this is part of the deal.

HENDERSON: Yes. And the President there trying to make good on his promise to build the wall but not the part where Mexico was supposed to pay for it.

Tarini.

PARTI: As we head into these more diverse states in the Democratic primary, we're going to see a lot of candidates say that their best positioned to rebuild the Obama coalition, which means it will be interesting how tightly they start hugging President Obama.

We've seen and obviously, Joe Biden do that a lot. There's a new ad that Elizabeth Warren is airing that features President Obama and Harry Reid. We're also seeing Michael Bloomberg make that case who spent $15 million already on an ad featuring Obama.

This comes after, you know, he didn't endorse him in 2008. He barely endorsed him, last-minute in 2012. He also frequently criticized him even in his 2012 endorsement. He called him divisive and partisan and said he had a populist agenda.

So we will see if he continues to do that and how much these other candidates also do that coming up.

HENDERSON: And if it works, right. I mean we have seen plenty of people try to ride Obama's coattails and often it hasn't really worked.

Margaret.

TALEV: I'll be watching how women vote heading into Nevada and how people compete for the women's vote in that Democratic caucus. So far, Bernie Sanders is the clear preference of men inside the Democratic Party but it's not true for women. They've been split, slight edge to Pete Buttigieg but really also interested in Bernie Sanders and Amy Klobuchar.

But there are a couple of things to keep in mind. It is 200th anniversary of Susan B. Anthony's birthday, international women's month, and it's the centennial of the women's right to vote. And I think all of those factors may play into the narrative that's helping to shape whether or not women will be crucial in the Democratic contest or just in the general election.

HENDERSON: Yes. It will be interesting to watch.

Thanks -- Margaret. [08:54:56]

HENDERSON: And I will close with this. President Trump will head out west this flexing his muscles in several states just as Democrats try to do the same in Nevada, in the Silver State which Trump lost by less than three points.

The President will speak with graduates who were previously incarcerated highlighting his efforts on criminal justice reform. And in California, Trump is set to bring in one of his biggest fund- raising hauls at a donor event. The President will also appear in Arizona, a state he won by just four points, as well as Colorado where he will rally and have a joint fund-raiser for Senator Cory Gardner with a tough reelection bid this cycle.

His travels suggest that the west would very much be a battleground this cycle with both parties vying for an edge as demographics continue to shift.

And that is it for INSIDE POLITICS. Hope you can catch us weekdays as well at noon eastern.

Up next, "STATE OF THE UNION" with Dana Bash. Her guests include presidential candidates, Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar, plus South Carolina Congressman James Clyburn and Vice President Pence's chief of staff Marc Short.

Thanks again for sharing your Sunday morning.

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