Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NewsNight with Abby Phillip

Soon, First New Hampshire Votes As GOP Rushes To Endorse Trump; New Hampshire Couple Divided On Vote Between Trump And Haley; Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL), PACs Spent $1,500 In Ads Per Vote In Iowa; Politics Experts Discuss What Another Trump Government Could Possibly Be Like. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired January 22, 2024 - 22:00   ET



KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN HOST: Well, because of that amateur status, he doesn't get to take home the $1.5 million prize that he should be able to. Instead, that money goes to the runner up. Of course, the hope here is still that he'll have hopefully as bright of a career, a pro career as the last golfer who did exactly this back in 1991, some guy by the name of Phil Mickelson. He congratulated Nick Dunlap by posting quote, this is just the beginning.

Roll Tide for him. Thank you so much for joining us. I'll be back here tomorrow on CNN 1:00 P.M. Eastern and then later on in the evening for our special coverage of the New Hampshire primary. I hope you'll all be watching.

CNN Newsnight with Abby Phillip starts right now.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN HOST: The Republican marriage of convenience with Donald Trump has just about been saved. That's tonight on Newsnight.

Good evening. I'm Abby Phillip in Washington. In just hours from when New Hampshire votes, the grand old party looks more and more like the party of missing backbones. Tonight, Donald Trump calls for a toast and pouring the champagne.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Tuesday, I believe that New Hampshire will be the -- I would say the place on Earth, for that period of time, will speak the loudest of any other place.

Tomorrow, we're going to win New Hampshire, and then we're going to defeat Crooked Joe Biden, and we are going to make America great again.


PHILLIP: There's no more panic inside this Republican Party. Republicans who were once pacing, ready to close the door on Donald Trump just a short time ago, they're now looking at it this way. Endorse him before it's too late.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): Trump is superior to the current incumbent, Joe Biden.

He has my endorsement because we can't go back to the old Republican guard of yesteryear.


PHILLIP: You heard it there. Ron DeSantis quickly assumed the role of groomsmen clearing the field for Trump, and doing so after Trump humiliated him over and over.


TRUMP: I don't even talk about DeSantis. Whatever happened to him?

And we hit him very hard. And he's been falling out of the air like a very seriously wounded bird, right, to the ground.

Ron DeSanctimonious was walking off the stage and his feet, it's weird, because of his cowboy boots. So, they have a high heel outside, but inside, you've got a big deal going on. And he's walking.


PHILLIP: And now, Nancy Mace is making a vow to put Trump back in office, looking past years of insults and his attempts to primary her out of her seat. She tweeted this splashy Photoshop poster, her and the former president side by side. And now she says everything's been a shit show since he's been gone, that's a quote.

Now, it's the latest example of Republicans who once summoned the courage to criticize former President Trump, suddenly saying the courageous choice is to just take his hand and walk down the aisle.


REP. NANCY MACE (R-SC): We have got to rebuild our nation, and we have got to rebuild our party. This is not who we are.

Everything that he's worked for, and I'm a fiscal conservative, I appreciated the lower tax rates that we had, the economic growth, Operation Warp Speed during the pandemic, all of these were great for our country, but all of that, his entire legacy, was wiped out yesterday. And we have got to start over.

I believe we need to hold the president accountable. I hold him accountable for the events that transpired, for the attack on our Capitol.

We need to rebuild the Republican Party. We need to rebuild our country. And I'm counting on my colleagues to join us, to be that new voice for the Republican Party, to lead us out of this crisis going forward, because our country is counting on us.


PHILLIP: It all makes you wonder if we'll soon see Nikki Haley trying to limbo her way out of what looks and sounds like irreconcilable differences with Trump.


NIKKI HALEY, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He claimed that Joe Biden was going to get us into World War II. I'm assuming he meant World War III. He said that he ran against President Obama. He never ran against President Obama.

Don't be surprised if you have someone that's 80 in office, their mental stability is going to continue to decline.

He's just not at the same level he was at 2016. I think we're seeing some of that decline.


PHILLIP: Joining me now is Republican Congressman from South Carolina Ralph Norman. He's endorsed Nikki Haley. Congressman, what's your answer to that? Will Nikki Haley, if she is not successful here, turn around and do what Tim Scott has done and what Ron DeSantis has done?


Will she then take back everything she said about Donald Trump and endorse him?

REP. RALPH NORMAN (R-SC): Look, Abby, this is politics. I mean, this is politics. You know, we've had one primary to-date in Iowa, this is the second one. The media has already said that this is it. The polls show Haley getting beaten so bad, let's let the people decide. And, you know, we'll live with the consequences of the vote. You always do that.

But, you know, nobody takes it -- oh, I don't take it personally and I don't think Nikki does. And some of Donald Trump's -- things he said, to be honest, they're funny. And, you know, you can't take this seriously. And as Nikki has always said, it's not personal, and it really isn't.

PHILLIP: Nancy Mace and Tim Scott, they both have made the argument, along with Nikki Haley, that Trump has already cost the Republican Party elections and will in the future. How would you describe their decisions to abandon that belief and then suddenly now support him for the nomination?

NORMAN: Well, I think Tim Scott got out of the -- he left the race because of funding and didn't have the support. Ron DeSantis, the money dried up and he could see that it wasn't going anywhere. Nikki Haley's been on a steady rise. And, I mean, that's been true, you can't deny that. So, you know, they make their own decisions but let's let the people decide this race. Competition is good. It started out 13 candidates, is down to 2. It just got that as of Sunday. Let's let it play out and Nikki will do very well and we'll see how it is.

PHILLIP: When you say, very well, what does that mean for you? How well does she have to do in order to keep her candidacy going past New Hampshire tomorrow? Does she have to win that state?

NORMAN: I guess you don't have to win that. I mean, you know, can she suffer? Can any candidate suffer a blowout? No, but her -- you know, the donors, the people that have relied on her, the people that support her like me, I'm going to stick with her. And let's go -- we'll see how this turns out. And then, you know, we're heading to Charleston, South Carolina, I will be with her Wednesday night.

So, this race is just starting. You got, you know, South Carolina in February, we got Super Tuesday with the races in March.

PHILLIP: Does she need to get within 10 points, within single digits of Trump?

NORMAN: She would love to get as high as she can get. I'm not going to name your number, because I don't know. But let's just see how it plays out. With independents, she stacks up real high. And we'll see if that plays out at the polls. Leave it to the voters to decide. And that's not the media's place to determine who's going to win or who's going to lose. Polls shift, as we've seen.

PHILLIP: And, you know, I do agree with you on that. Voters are going to vote tomorrow. That's the best part of this process when we find out ultimately what they decide.

Congressman Ralph Norman, thank you very much for joining us tonight.

NORMAN: My pleasure.

PHILLIP: And tonight, a dirty political trick in New Hampshire.


JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: It's important that you save your vote for the November election.

Voting this Tuesday only enables the Republicans in their quest to elect Donald Trump again.


PHILLIP: Now, that sounds like a plea from Joe Biden, except that it isn't. And now it's under investigation by the New Hampshire attorney general.

And joining me now is the mayor of Boston, Michelle Wu. Mayor Wu, thank you for joining us tonight.

MAYOR MICHELLE WU (D-BOSTON): Thanks for having me. PHILLIP: Do you think that this robocall, which uses A.I. to fake President Biden's voice, will ultimately end up keeping New Hampshire voters home?

WU: You know, there's so much out there in terms of misinformation, and I think voters are used to having to question a lot of what they see and hear. I was in New Hampshire over the weekend. We brought a caravan of Boston volunteers up, and what I heard from voters in Manchester and Nashua is that they are excited. They want to show their strong support for President Biden, and they're eager to send a signal to the rest of the country tomorrow.

PHILLIP: And Democratic Congressman Dean Phillips, he is challenging President Biden and he will be on that ballot tomorrow. He's been campaigning in the state, other Democrats have as well, like Marianne Williamson. Why is President Biden unwilling to debate these candidates? That's the question that they are asking.

WU: You know, we are -- here in Boston, I'm focused on making sure that we can get our message out of what it means to be under this administration working with President Biden and putting out there the message that one person alone can't share.

And so there are lots of people speaking on his behalf and able to speak to the good work that has happened under the Biden-Harris administration. This is an administration that really values the partnership and results of working with every level of government.


PHILLIP: The critique from some in the party who want to see a more robust primary on the Democratic side is that it's anti-democratic for there to not be one. What's your response to them?

WU: We are talking about the very existence of our democracy moving forward, and there has -- you know, all across the country people are going to have the choice and the ability to cast their votes at the various primary election days.

I am urging all of our residents here in Boston and wherever we can have an influence to really think about what is at stake, and also to recognize the good work that we have seen move forward. This is about continuing the progress on the issues that matter so much.

PHILLIP: Boston Mayor Michelle Wu, thank you for joining us tonight. I appreciate it.

WU: Thank you.

PHILLIP: And up next, we'll hear from two voters in New Hampshire. One of them is a Trump supporter and the other is a Haley-backer. Here's the trick. They're married.

Plus, I will speak live with the head of -- the former head of the Ron DeSantis super PAC about what went wrong with his candidacy.

And is Nikki Haley running against Trump or Kamala Harris? The vice president herself is responding tonight.



PHILLIP: We're just hours away from the first votes being cast in the New Hampshire GOP primary, and the state's voters are split between Donald Trump and Nikki Haley, and that includes our next guests.

Amy and Robert Shaw, they're a married couple. They're both born and raised in New Hampshire. And Amy says that she plans to vote for Nikki Haley. Robert says that he plans to vote for Donald Trump. Amy and Robert join me now.

Amy, I want to start with you. You are planning to vote for Haley. Why?

AMY SHAW, NEW HAMPSHIRE VOTER FOR HALEY: I would say in the beginning I didn't know that this was the way I was going to go, but she just really speaks to me much more. She aligns a little out of my views and even the views that I don't necessarily align straight with her, like her greater understanding and respect for different views is admirable to me. It's kind of what I like to value and I live for, is loving and respecting everyone despite what they believe. So, that's kind of closely related to my personal values.

PHILLIP: What is it about Donald Trump, Amy, that you think you can't get behind this time around?

A. SHAW: It's not even what I can't get behind. It's the better options there. Also, it's kind of like Governor Sununu said, if Nikki Haley loses and Trump is the Republican candidate, Sununu will vote for Trump. But, I mean, for me and for Sununu, I guess, Nikki Haley is the best option. She is more closely aligned to what I see and what I want for our country.

PHILLIP: And, Robert, Nikki Haley has been pretty aggressively going after Trump, especially recently. She points out that Trump lost control of the House, the Senate and the presidency for Republicans. Does that move you in any way as an argument against him?

ROBERT SHAW, NEW HAMPSHIRE VOTER FOR TRUMP: No, not a bit. Donald Trump is the better candidate out of the both of these people. You've seen what he's done in his four years when he was in office, the economy was back on track, no inflation and no bias or getting our classrooms or no kids doing gender mutilation. And he's just the better candidate, in my opinion.

A. SHAW: Did he not get into our classrooms or is it because no one let him get into our classrooms?

R. SHAW: Both.

A. SHAW: Just saying.

PHILLIP: So, Amy, when you hear that, what do you think about that argument that he's making there?

A. SHAW: I mean, yes, the economy was great. There were certain aspects that were wonderful last time around. And I don't deny that I have a lot of family members that have small businesses, and for them, Trump is the better option, I guess.

But just the comment about the classrooms and stuff, I was reading up today and it was just kind of like some of the things like, he wants a pro-American education, he plans to shut down the Department of Education and have parents say the final say, wants to cut federal funding for school programs, teaching critical race theory and gender theories, like that.

R. SHAW: That's what's in the schools now is what they're saying. When Biden took office, that's when it started going off. When you start hearing about CRT, mutilations of kids, gender rearranging, no, thank you.

A. SHAW: So, like a lot of our healthy debates are about me helping him or telling him, please broaden your mind. You know what I mean? Like we don't know what's going on at anyone else's shoes.

R. SHAW: Now I just try not to judge people who open up the mind and say, look, maybe that person in front of me is doing X, Y, Z, and because they're doing something that it's more important to them than it is for me.

A. SHAW: So, I have a question for you. So, do you think that you have become more open minded since you have been married to me?

R. SHAW: Yes.

PHILLIP: You've done some work there, Amy.

I mean, Robert, I want to follow up on what you just said there, because it sounds like you generally agree with what Amy is saying about being open-minded or letting people live their lives. But Trump is a candidate, to your point, he's spoken out very strongly against his own perceived enemies. He's called other Americans basically a danger to this country. When you look at what he says he wants to do in terms of some of the cultural parts of his candidacy, do you support that stuff or do you feel --


R. SHAW: Okay. When it comes to how I support Donald Trump, the man has been through the wringer since the day he got an office. When you get him out of office, you're supposed to leave him alone and let him become a general person or a private person.

You don't go to his house and read it because he's got special documents. No, it's okay. You got documents in a locker with Joe Biden with a friggin Corvette. What's more, what is more, what's the word, safe in a safe or in a lock box inside of a container?

So, to answer your question, no. Do I align myself with Donald Trump all the way in? No, there are some things him and I disagree about. But when it comes right down to it, the man tells us the way it is. When he was running for re-election, he said Joe Biden in the radical left are going to take the do not -- defund the police department. Sure enough, what's happened in New York? You have no policemen. What's happened in Chicago? You have no policemen.

PHILLIP: I want to let you jump in and I'll give you the last word, but before you do that, I just want to point out that what Robert is referring to are classified documents that were found in Trump's Mar- a-Lago home. They were found all over the property, including in bathrooms and in public spaces, not in safes. But, Amy, you had a lot of reaction to what he was saying. I'll give you the final word on what your husband had to say.

A. SHAW: I guess it's just kind of like -- you know, I just really, really like Nikki Haley and just the things that she stands for, just even some of them, you know, just like not being so adamant that I'm right and you're wrong. Finding that middle ground, working with both parties, calling people out no matter which political party they're part of, holding people accountable for what is right, not what people want.

Like -- not people, but you know what I mean, like the other, you know, what do you want to call it, government, people who are trying to interfere and then push their agenda. Like I just -- I wouldn't want anyone to tell me, just kind of like she had said, you know, I wouldn't want anyone to tell me that I am wrong or I am bad because I believe in, you know, certain political hot topics. I don't want that. Like that is my decision. That is my personal belief.

And I don't want anyone to -- I don't judge anyone else for theirs. And that's what I really love about Nikki Haley is that, you know, she has her core beliefs and she will say them, but she also will pretty much almost end with, but I'm going to respect people's different opinions. I am going to meet in the middle ground. Yes, we can't get pro-life or pro-choice, but, hey, what can we come together and find in the middle? And that is what we need because our country is too divided.

PHILLIP: A microcosm of today's Republican party right there in one New Hampshire home. Robert Shaw, Amy Shaw, thank you both very much for joining us tonight.

A. SHAW: Thanks.

R. SHAW: Thank you.

PHILLIP: And next, even though he endorsed Trump, Ron DeSantis is taking a dig at him tonight. And we'll speak with Ed Rollins, who founded and then quit a DeSantis super PAC.



PHILLIP: As the post-mortem start to roll in, dissecting exactly what Ron DeSantis did not get right with his presidential bid, let's first follow the money all the way back to the Florida governor's official launch back in May, when the Republican entered the race with high expectations and a pretty hefty war chest.

Now, between his campaign and his main super PAC, Never Back Down, he raised $165 million just through the third quarter of 2023. And despite all of that money, the campaign entered that last quarter of the year with just $5 million of cash on hand.

Now, of course, this is not a complete picture of what happened in this race. We don't yet have that yearend spending report, but if you just look at advertising alone, the DeSantis campaign and three other super PACs threw around $60 million across the country, mostly in Iowa and New Hampshire.

And, in fact, in Iowa alone, they spent more than $34 million on ads. Now, that totals out to just under $1,500 per vote.

Now, with me now is Ed Rollins, a Republican political consultant, and he is the former Reagan chief political adviser. He also founded and then left a DeSantis super PAC. Ed, great to have you at this particular moment.


PHILLIP: You know, DeSantis has said the early ground game was an issue. He said he didn't do enough T.V. interviews. Back in July, I'll note that you called DeSantis, quote, a very flawed candidate. Is the problem at the end of the day, was it the campaign or was it the candidate?

ROLLINS: It's both. At the end of the day, there was more than sufficient resources to run a major campaign. The amount of money he's spent has never been spent in a campaign before when I ran Reagan's campaign, which was 40 years ago, but I spent $40 million, which is publicly financed, to win 50 states, 49 states.

In this particular case, they ran out of money. They laid staff off at critical times. They made changes. They didn't keep control of the budget. You have to always know where your money is. You have to know what's coming in. You have to know where to spend it.

And he himself just wasn't a charismatic candidate. And I like him. I think his policies are good policies. But at the end of the day, Trump is a bigger-than-life player, and he couldn't compete with that.

PHILLIP: What's also notable about DeSantis is that in the early months of this campaign, he was kind of a -- he had a different message. He wanted to be more anti-woke than Trump, and, ultimately, that failed.


Was that message part of the miscalculation here?

ROLLINS: Absolutely. There's no question about it. Even the name of his pack, Never Back Down. What does that mean to ordinary people? You're not the crypts in the ghetto.

The bottom line here is you need to say something's positive for people. We're going to be about the people. We're going to make things happen for the people. "Never back down" is a derogatory term.

The other problem you had is you try to use the Super PAC, which is, there's a line drawn between the super PAC and the campaign. And they tried to make the Super PAC that had all the money do a lot of the things that normally do in a campaign.

And so, they always had to watch the FEC. And there was just all kinds of chaos. It's Tallahassee people that run this governor's campaign were excluded. They're now, Susie Wiles, who's running Trump's campaign, is one of the best operatives in the country. She had a falling out with him. She's now basically doing Trump's campaign.

PHILLIP: Yeah, just moments ago.


PHILLIP: Yeah, moments ago, DeSantis jumped back into his role as governor of Florida. He actually vowed to veto efforts by other Florida Republicans who want to use taxpayer dollars to help pay for Trump's legal bills. Does that surprise you that someone who literally just endorsed Trump would come out so strongly and publicly against this effort?

ROLLINS: Nothing that he does surprises me. As I said, there's not -- there's not a big picture thinker there. And I think at the end of the day, he's now in the camp, whether he wants to be or not, he endorsed Trump today or yesterday. And the reality is he's got to run with that -- with that team, or he's going to basically pay a heavy price.

PHILLIP: Ed Rollins, we appreciate you joining us tonight. Thank you.

ROLLINS: Thank you so much, Abby. My pleasure.

PHILLIP: And Nikki Haley headed into a one-on-one primary in New Hampshire facing Donald Trump. And if she succeeds President Biden. So, why is she aiming her barbs at someone totally different? That's next.



PHILLIP: Nikki Haley has gotten her wish, a one-on-one battle with Donald Trump, but it has seemed that instead of running against Trump or even President Biden for that matter, there's been another opponent on her mind.


HALEY: I'm going to remind you a vote for Joe Biden is a vote for Kamala Harris. We do not want to ever have a President Kamala Harris. And I've got to tell you, there's nothing that sends a chill up my spine more than a President Kamala Harris. And Joe Biden could win again with Kamala Harris waiting in the wings. Lord, help us if that happens.

Let me tell you, the thought of a President Kamala Harris should send a chill up your spine. I cannot truly understand how we will survive a President Kamala Harris. There is no way that Joe Biden's going to finish his term. I think Kamala Harris is going to be the next President. A vote for Joe Biden is a vote for Kamala Harris. That's who we're actually running against.

We cannot have President Kamala Harris at the tip of the spear. Let me tell you, it's a pretty scary thing when you think of Joe Biden handling our national security. But it's more scary to think about Kamala Harris. At the end of the day, we need to make sure that President Kamala Harris is never President of the United States.


PHILLIP: And tonight, the Vice President is responding to all of that during an interview with our own Laura Coates.


LAURA COATES, CNN ANCHOR: You hear candidates suggesting that a vote for President Biden, because of his age, is somehow a vote for you, and that is hurled as an insult. It's intended to demonstrate some negative viewpoint towards you. What is your reaction to this thought that with your background in particular, with your career, that there is some thought that you are incapable?

KAMALA HARRIS, U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: Well, I think that most women who have risen in their profession, who are leaders in their profession have had similar experiences. I was the first woman to be elected District Attorney. I was the first woman to be elected Attorney General in the State of California, and I'm the first woman to be Vice President. And I love my job.


PHILLIP: And for more on this, I want to bring in former Nikki Haley Spokesperson, Rob Godfrey, CNN Political Commentators, Ashley Allison, and CNN Contributor and Host of "The New York Times" The Argument, Jane Coaston, and Senior Fellow at the Trinity Forum and Former Advisor to George W. Bush, Peter Wiener.

Rob, this attack on Kamala Harris has actually just become part of her stump speech. Is it working for her or is there a risk here that she could look like she's not taking on the people that she needs to be taking on, which is Trump and Biden?

ROB GODFREY, FORMER NIKKI HALEY SPOKESPERSON: I don't think there's a risk here. Look, I think this is a not-so-subtle way of continuing to question to, you know, the age and the mental acuity of the President. I think that you know, people vote based on who is running at the top of the ticket. People are going to vote for Joe Biden to re-elect him or not to re-

elect him. At the end of the day, Kamala Harris is more than qualified to be the Vice President. She comes from a background of service. She's held office, statewide office. She was a United States Senator. And she's more than qualified to be the vice President.


So, this is a not so subtle way of continuing to question whether Joe Biden is too old to be President. That remains a question that are on the minds of voters, both Republican and Democrat alike. And as a woman of color herself, of Nikki Haley, criticizing in this particular way the first black and South, and I should say South Asian Vice President, what do you make of that?

ASHLEY ALLISON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I agree. She is qualified to be Vice President. And if she becomes President, she could be qualified to be that, as well. I think what she -- she started that earlier on in the campaign rather than going against her top rival Donald Trump. And she used it as a dog whistle to get the base to say, oh, we don't want Kamala Harris.

Oh, Kamala Harris became the boogie woman, so to speak, in that effort. And she could just say Joe Biden is too old if that's what she wants to say. But instead she thought it was a way to play. But she needs to be really careful because the same people who would get riled up about not wanting to see the first black female president might not also want to see the first black Indian woman President.

And so the folks, if she's playing to a group that is prejudice and racist, they don't want her either. So she needs to say what she means and means what she means what she says. And I think it's a cheap way to try and get the Republican nomination that is not going to work and will backfire on her for the same reason she's using it against Kamala Harris.

PHILLIP: I want to, what she's talking about is already happening. I mean, Trump is basically running birtherism against Nikki Haley. And you wrote about this just this past week. The headline of your piece is, Donald Trump has made the Republican Party cruel, xenophobic, exclusionary, and bigoted. This is the same party that is poised to turn against Nikki Haley, as well.

PETER WEHNER, FORMER ADVISER, PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Yeah, I think that's right. I mean, you know, the Republican Party, whatever problems people had pre-Trump, it's become sort of a deranged party now. And the appeals to racism are not coded. They're explicit.

So, it's an ugly form of politics. And it's not simply that. It's not only sensibilities, but he's using fascistic rhetoric. And he's a man of sociopathic tendencies. He's at the top of the ticket. And given all of that, he has a vice grip on the Republican Party. That's the astonishing thing.

All of these people who are falling into line to support him, they know better. But it's the base of the party that reveres Donald Trump. And they're afraid, a lot of people are afraid. They know better in terms of what Trump is, what he's done, the moral depravity that he embodies, his lawlessness, his corruption.

And it doesn't matter to them. So, this is, and I say this as somebody who's been a lifelong Republican prior to Donald Trump, but it's a diseased and dangerous party and it's got to be defeated.

JANE COASTON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I will also say, I think it's interesting that Joe Biden has been President for nearly four years and he's still not taken seriously as President. We've heard this before, but it wasn't Kamala Harris as President, it's Barack Obama is still secretly President, even though Barack Obama has not been President for nearly eight years.

And it's so interesting that Biden's presidency has been one in which so many people who oppose him and the person who lost to him in 2020 are completely unable to recognize that he won the presidency in 2020. He is actually the President of the United States. He really is. It's not secretly Barack Obama. It is not going to be secretly Kamala Harris in the next -- who knows how much time.

And it's so interesting how this President seems to be so underestimated while continuing to one, win the presidency and two, be President.

PHILLIP: And what do you make -- why is that, Rob? I mean, she makes a good point that this -- back in 2020, Joe Biden -- they've tried -- Republicans, to demonize Joe Biden, and voters didn't really latch on to it. His approval ratings are really not good, and yet it seems like a lot of these candidates really want to be running against somebody else.

GODFREY: Well, Joe Biden has always been a likable person, and he's actually, you know, he's going to have a record to run on in this election. But at the end of the day, the Republican Party base we've seen is angry. There is a streak of anger.

There is a streak of grievance that Donald Trump has perfected the weaponization of over the course of the last eight years or the last, you know, decade that he's been on the scene. And that weaponization is something that he's effectively harnessed again in Iowa and it looks like he's poised to do in New Hampshire. And so, that weaponization has been focused on his primary opponents and he's ready to focus it on Joe Biden.

PHILLIP: Do you agree with Peter that this Republican Party needs to be defeated first in order to be reformed?

GODFREY: What I would say is that Donald Trump as a force in the Republican Party is going to remain the dominant party leader until he -- until this -- until he is either voted out or until his term expires.


He's not someone who appears to be, you know, on the cusp of being defeated at the ballot box.

COASTON: But he was defeated at the ballot box in 2020. And he's been defeated repeatedly, the people he has selected in 2017, in 2020, in 2018, in 2021, in 2022. He's been defeated repeatedly.

GODFREY: Sure, I was --

COASTON: And I'm so curious as to why those defeats -- and I was thinking about this earlier, that the Republican Party was looking for someone else after the mid-term losses, after the red wave didn't happen. And then Trump came back in and it's like, oh, never mind about any of that. And I'm so interested to know more about why someone who really hasn't won since 2016 keeps being seen as a winner and the only winner.

GODFREY: So, he -- without --

ALLISON: I'm not a Republican, we can end this real quick.


ALLISON: It's to the point that you were speaking to. It is because there is such a significant -- when you're running, like at the end of the day, when you're a politician and you're running for election, it's a math game, you got to get as many votes.

And for whatever reason, it's to the point of these angry Republicans that feel like something, meaning their country, that make America great part of Donald Trump, they are still aligned with him.

And so, it is part of getting Donald Trump to lose, but it's also part -- this is why it was so frustrating when Ron DeSantis wanted to strip black history out of schools because if you don't start teaching the true history of what happened in this country.

And when you don't have candidates who will actually acknowledge racism, then you think people as an angry, white male Republican, you feel like something is being taken away from you when you know that's not the truth.

And if that base is still sustained, it's hard for folks to go against Donald Trump because politicians, at the end of the day, are not really about people in this day and age. They are only about winning and for themselves.

GODFREY: Sure, and when I said he needed to be defeated to, you know, to defeat this, he absolutely was defeated in 2020 in the general election, but he has not been defeated in the Republican primary.

PHILLIP: And Peter, these defeats that Jane just mentioned, why haven't they counted?

WEHNER: Yeah, it's a good question. I think the key thing to understand is this is not politics as usual. This is more a cult of personality. Look, most of the time, if you're a one-term President and you're defeated, you're, you know, exit stage left. They kept him. And as you said, when his candidates have been on tickets, they've lost.

I think the way to understand this, and I say this from having talked to a lot of Trump supporters, is really through the prism of psychology. There is an attachment that he has, some kind of visceral response that he gets from his supporters and the Republican Party that's unlike anything we've seen in American politics, at least in our lifetime.

So, I think the usual rules don't really apply. That bond is extraordinary. Just think about this. It's a guy that every time he's indicted, 91 counts, his approval rating goes up. He's found liable of rape, of sexual assault, and his approval rating goes up. He tries to overthrow the government and his approval rating goes up in the Republican Party. He led an insurrection against the Capitol.

Nothing has shaken. It's not only that it hasn't shaken -- their trust in him and their reverence for him, it's actually deepened.

PHILLIP: Well, he's selling authoritarianism and voters are buying it.

WEHNER: Absolutely. Republican -- the base of the Republican Party is in that place right now. It's, as I said, we haven't seen anything like it in American politics. It's bad enough if it's contained in the Republican Party, but he can't become President again. If he does, then that's going to pose dangers that are unlike anything we've faced, certainly in our lifetime, probably since the Civil War.

COASTON: And I will also say that independent voters don't really like him very much. And we've seen that again and again. Everyone who has tried to be a Trump-style politician, from Corey Stewart to Ron DeSantis, has lost, because there can only really be one Trump, but also, lots of people don't like Donald Trump.

I think it's -- when we talk about the cult of personality and what I would call kind of a more of a fandom relationship, people who follow him around like he's their favorite musician, we forget about the fact that for many people, they really dislike him. And then the people who really like him will like him more in the face of the people who dislike him. And so, it's really, to me, it's more of a fan relationship than it is of politics.

PHILLIP: And there may very well be an inverse relationship between how Trump's standing with Republicans and is standing with the rest of the country, especially independents. Everybody stand by for us. Thank you very much for that conversation. Up next, the long history of politicians misquoting Winston Churchill.




RON DESANTIS, FLORIDA GOVERNOR: Winston Churchill once remarked that, success is not final, failure is not fatal, it is the courage to continue that counts. (END VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIP: Ron DeSantis becoming the latest politician to quote Winston Churchill wrongly. It turns out Churchill never said that at all, according to the International Churchill Society.


Back in 2018, Texas Governor Greg Abbott tweeted this meme with a Churchill quote about fascists. The thing is, Churchill never said that either. Abbott actually deleted that tweet, but then he defended the message behind it. And in 2022, when George Santos was accused of misconduct after being elected, his lawyer cited Churchill about why it's good to have enemies.

PolitiFact traced that quote back to its actual author, who is Victor Hugo. And even Queen Elizabeth II, who actually knew Churchill personally, she got it wrong too.


ELIZABETH II, FORMER QUEEN OF THE UNITED KINGDOM: Winston Churchill, my first Prime Minister, said that the further backward you look, the further forward you can see.


PHILLIP: The actual quote is, "The longer you can look back, the farther you can look forward." Similar, but not quite the same. Now, Churchill isn't alone in this. Abe Lincoln, Mark Twain, and Oscar Wilde have the distinction of being the most credited with fake quotes. And so, just remember, in the words of Abraham Lincoln, you can't believe everything you read online. And yes, that's a joke. Abe Lincoln never said that. And up next, more from Laura Coates' exclusive interview with the Vice President, Kamala Harris. We'll be back in a moment.