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The Chris Wallace Show

Florida Governor and Republican Presidential Candidate Ron DeSantis Debates California Governor Gavin Newsom; Republican Presidential Candidate Nikki Haley Endorsed by Koch Brothers Super PAC; Congress Negotiating Aid to Israel and Ukraine Tied to Increased Enforcement of U.S. Southern Border. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired December 02, 2023 - 10:00   ET




CHRIS WALLACE, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, and welcome. It's time to sit down with our group of smart people and break down the big stories in our own way.

Today we're asking, with Ron DeSantis and Nikki Haley both making a lot of news, is either of them now a serious threat to Donald Trump?

Plus, Hunter Biden's strategy shift getting aggressive with House Republicans. Did he outsmart the GOP?

And the Stones are back with some help from AARP. Our panel gives its yea or nay to rocking on in your 80s.

Everyone is here and ready, so sit back, relax, and let's talk about it.

Up first, crunch time in the Republican presidential race. The Iowa caucuses are now just six weeks away, which means the clock is ticking for top challengers to Donald Trump to start gaining ground and find some way to cut into his big league. And two of those candidates are making some noise.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The next president of the United States, Nikki Haley!

WALLACE: First, Nikki Haley. The Koch Super PAC, Americans for Prosperity Action, announced it is backing her, bringing massive resources to her campaign.

NIKKI HALEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: They like my economic plans and my plans for the future of America.

WALLACE: And JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon said he's encouraging business leaders to support Haley.

HALEY: We've got one more fella to catch up to, and the momentum is growing.

WALLACE: Then there is Ron DeSantis, who went head-to-head with California Governor Gavin Newsom in a made for TV debate.

GOV. RON DESANTIS, (R) FLORIDA: What Biden and Harris and Newsom want to do is take the California model and do that nationally.

This country must choose freedom over failure.

GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM, (D) CALIFORNIA: You're trolling folks so you can out-Trump Trump. And by the way, how is that going for you, Ron? You're down 41 points in your own home state.

WALLACE: Newsom has a point. Recent polls in the early contests show Trump still with a big lead. He's up 27 in Iowa, ahead 22 in New Hampshire, and even in Haley's home state of South Carolina, Trump leads by 35 points.


WALLACE (on camera): With me around the table, podcaster, Kara Swisher, Reihan Salam, president of the Manhattan Institute and "National Review" contributing editor, "New York Times" journalist and podcast host Lulu Garcia-Navarro, and author and conservative pollster Kristen Soltis Anderson. Welcome to all of you. Thank you for doing this again.

Lulu, let me start you with. Back to the faceoff, did DeSantis help or hurt himself in that debate on Thursday night?

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, JOURNALIST, "NEW YORK TIMES": He helped himself. There's no question about that. I think he only had to go up. I think Gavin Newsom was a disappointment. And I don't think -- he seemed a little smarmy, he seemed a little smug. And I think they were basically ganging up on Gavin Newsom, though. It was two on one. I don't think it was a fair debate, if debate it was.

WALLACE: Meaning the moderator Sean Hannity for all his protestations about I'm going to do this fair and balanced.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: For all of his protestations, fair and balanced, and all of the facts that they showed, I mean, these were facts that were very carefully selected to show California in its worst light. I am actually a native Floridian, and I can tell you that there was a lot to say about Florida that was not said there.

KARA SCANNELL, CNN REPORTER: I don't agree with her at all, I have to say. I thought DeSantis did terribly, especially that last line about neither of us is running in 2024. And it encapsulated and did the damage that needed to be done, that Trump quote, you're way behind in your own state. Neither of us is running in 2024, pointing out his lack of charm. And I get the smarmy part, but DeSantis is the opposite, which is, what's the opposite, no charm whatsoever. He is charmless.

WALLACE: Let's hear from a conservative. Kristen, did DeSantis help himself, at least to the extent that by debating a Democrat instead of other Republicans, he was able to show that he's a true conservative?

KRISTEN SOLTIS ANDERSON, FOUNDING PARTNER, ECHELON INSIGHTS: What I think it probably was this is why I should have run four years from now. He has not shown at this point that he has what it takes to take out Donald Trump, and that's the elephant in the room. That's what is driving the Republican primary. And so he can have a good debate and get some zingers in against Gavin Newsom, but it's almost as though that entire debate was happening in an alternate dimension where Donald Trump doesn't exist. And in this dimension where we all live, Donald Trump very much does exist.


And so whether it's Gavin Newsom or Ron DeSantis, both of them are people who clearly have political futures in front of them, but it seems to me that Ron DeSantis, even if he did well in a debate like this, it is still a side show. It's still the sort of B team. And I don't know that he has set himself up effectively for four years from now.

WALLACE: Reihan, let's move on to the other person we were talking about having a good week this week. That's Nikki Haley. She got support from the Kochs on the right. She got support from Jamie Dimon on the left. Is she, and I know a lot of people want to see a competition on the Republican side, is she becoming the serious threat to Donald Trump?

REIHAN SALAM, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, "NATIONAL REVIEW": I believe she has an enormous opportunity. The reason she has an enormous opportunity is a quirk of how the New Hampshire primary works. The New Hampshire primary is an open primary. If you are not affiliated with the Democratic Party, you can vote in that primary. And when you look at 2012 and 2016, those were two races where you had a huge number, over 40 percent of the folks who took part in those Republican primaries were independents. And Nikki Haley has a huge opportunity there to actually win in New Hampshire. And that would blow up the narrative about Donald Trump's inevitability.

WALLACE: But, Kara --

SWISHER: OK, sure. I don't know what planet you're living on.

WALLACE: Do you take Nikki seriously?

SWISHER: I think she is a very good candidate for another time. But Donald Trump exists. And unless they're marching him into San Quentin, I guess, I don't see it. I think he is the nominee. That's the way it's going to be. He's have to do --

ANDERSON: Here is the way this could play out. If we are entertaining the notion that this is possible, I'd like to think back to the 2000 campaign, right? You have the big Bush juggernaut, wins at Iowa, then goes to New Hampshire, and because of exactly what Reihan said, that in New Hampshire independents can participate, back in 2000, that's where McCain suddenly surprises everybody. Could Nikki Haley surprise in New Hampshire? She could, but for one thing -- the existence of Chris Christie. He is currently polling at about one out of six or so New Hampshire voters. And that's just enough where I'm very confident that Nikki Haley voters --

WALLACE: Let me bring up another part to this scenario, because I remember 2000, and yes, McCain had a great New Hampshire. And then he went to South Carolina, and everything was going to change. And Bush clobbered him in South Carolina and that was basically the end of the race. I understand Nikki Haley, it's her home state. But as I said in the piece earlier, she is trailing Trump now by 35, she is further behind Trump there than she is in Iowa or New Hampshire.

SALAM: But look, she actually has an electability argument. If you look at Ron DeSantis, it is very hard for him to make the case that he is actually more electable than Donald Trump in a general election. Donald Trump is polling better against Joe Biden than he's ever done, including back in 2020, better than he ever polled against Hillary Clinton back in 2016. He's polling very, very well. But Nikki Haley actually blows Trump out of the water. Nikki Haley would cause a massive crisis among Democrats. And I believe that there are Republican primary voters who want a winner, and they want to win big. And I think that's a pitch she can make.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Are you suggesting that some of these Republican candidates should just cede the ground to Nikki Haley? Because I actually think that that is the thing that should happen. I think Chris Christie has no chance, obviously, to win, and I think at this point Ron DeSantis has no chance to win. And so don't you think that --

WALLACE: Yes, but they don't think that.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Well, I mean, they must know that by now. I mean, they must know that by now.

WALLACE: They're not going to get out. Certainly, DeSantis is not going to get out before Iowa. He has been here a long time.

I'm going to bring up another element to this stew that we've got here, and that is Donald Trump. He has something, Lulu, very interesting to say this week. I want to put it up on the screen. Just out of the blue he said, "I don't want to terminate Obamacare. I want to replace it with much better health care. Obamacare sucks." And yes, all of the exclamation points and the capitals were those of the author.

Does it make any sense for Donald Trump to refight the Obamacare battle?

GARCIA-NAVARRO: It does, because it's Christmas and he wanted to give a gift to the Christmas. It's Christmas, and he wanted to give a gift to the Democrats, and that's what he did.

SWISHER: It really, literally doesn't matter. He is the nominee. And literally, unless he falls and breaks a hip -- maybe he will fall and break a hip. GARCIA-NAVARRO: I'm not disputing the fact that he's ahead and he'll

probably be the nomination. I've said this before. But with things like this, this is the problem with Donald Trump. He is -- Donald Trump, he is always trying to fight the last battle. This is 2017 when he was defeated in Congress with McCain giving the thumbs down famously, and he's trying to bring that back for reasons that are inexplicable because Obamacare actually polls well now.

ANDERSON: If I was advising him, the thing that I would tell him to get him to knock this off, is I would say, we are coming out of Thanksgiving, we're in a mode where we're all reheating leftovers, or maybe it's a little late for that. This is the reheated leftovers of the Republican Party you blew up, Donald Trump. Repeal and replace, that pre-dates him. Do not go back there. Republicans have advantages --


WALLACE: You are saying that because you think that this is a sure loser for him or any Republican?

ANDERSON: I think it is a sure loser for him, at least in a general election context. I think that health care is a relatively low priority right now for Republican voters relative to the economy, immigration, crime. But those are also, the economy, immigration, crime, issues where Republicans are doing well in the polls. Health care is consistently, only abortion is worse for Republicans in terms of issues. So this rhetoric will not help.

WALLACE: Reihan?

SALAM: His genius and his unique talent is his ability to discard statements like this. By the time we get to a general election, he is going to be able to run, he's going to claim to be an absolute centrist. He's going to be running on tariffs. He's going to be running on a totally different set of issues, and it's going to work.

WALLACE: Well, look at him on abortion. The guy who put three people in to overturn Roe v Wade suddenly doesn't want to come within a mile of abortion. So we'll see.

As the fight for the White House plays out, Congress is in tense talks over aid to Israel, aid to Ukraine, and border security. So is there a deal to be made?

Then, Hunter Biden on the offensive, will his gambit pay off or hurt his dad's chance for a second term.

And later, real or fake? I have a strong opinion on the big Christmas tree debate. And these guys are going to tell me why I'm wrong.



WALLACE: The war in Israel is about to enter its third month, and while there were scenes of joy this week as dozens of hostages returned home from Gaza, the temporary truces that made those moments happen are not being replicated here in Washington. Lawmakers are battling over aid to Israel just as Israeli leaders warn this war is far from over.


BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER (through translator): There is no situation in which we don't return to fighting.

WALLACE: A vow from Israel's prime minister to keep fighting as a different fight brews in Washington.

SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-CT): Poison pills should have no part in aiding Ukraine or assisting Israel.

WALLACE: Democrat wants Israel aid tied to support for Ukraine as part of a broader deal.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: Deliver aid to Israel, aid to Ukraine, humanitarian assistance to help innocent victims in Gaza, and military capabilities in the Indo-Pacific.

WALLACE: But Republicans counter the only way they'll back more money for Ukraine is in return for tougher security measures in our southern border.

SEN. ROGER MARSHALL (R-KS): Unless there is meaningful reform that secures our border, we're a hell no.

WALLACE: A bipartisan group of senators is working on a compromise.

SEN. THOM TILLIS (R-NC): Nobody gets exactly what they want, so I'll have my base mad at me, they'll have their base mad at them.

WALLACE: But some Senate Democrats say Republican demands for securing the board remember going too far.

SEN. DICK DURBIN (D-IL), SENATE MAJORITY WHIP: I want to be very, very careful because there are people whose lives are at stake here.


WALLACE: So, Reihan, should aid to Ukraine and Israel be tied to tougher border enforcement measures that the Republicans are demanding?

SALAM: I think that there is a very coherent connection here, which is if you believe, as conservatives do, that you can't have a country without a border, you have Ukraine seeking to defend its borders, you have Americans seeking to defend their borders, there is a direct connection here.

And with regard to Israel, look, we're trying to get this right. We're trying to bring this together. We're trying to give Joe Biden a win. This is a huge opportunity for the president to take an issue that is a massive political vulnerability for him off the table.

WALLACE: Lulu, you know, it was Joe Biden in his original proposal who linked together aid to Israel, aid to Ukraine, and more money for enforcement of the border. So why are Democrats squealing now at the idea that Republicans are going to try to get everything they can on the border?

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Because they're two separate issues. I don't see that there is a connection there, and neither does anybody else. The very idea that aid to Ukraine is linked to something that is happening on our southern border are two very, very separate things.

The reason the Democrats initially did it was because they wanted to give something to the Republicans, because it is a problem for the Democrats, because the Democrats do want to secure the southern border, despite what Republicans say. However, these two issues are very, very separate.

And the things that Republicans are demanding are way too much. The fact that allowing the Dreamers to be thrown off the bus here, to all of these different ideas that the Republicans have, it is not linked to the Ukraine --

SALAM: Joe Biden is making a terrible mistake. He literally has an opportunity for a major win that could demonstrate to a lot of voters, a lot of voters in swing states in the Midwest who do not trust him, a lot of voters in cities like Chicago and New York City that are being overwhelmed because of mismanagement of the crisis at the border. He can say to them, I care, this matters just as much to me as these geopolitical crises burning elsewhere. And I think that is something he badly needs, and he is about to --

WALLACE: I want to jump into this, because the bargaining here is fascinating. It was the Democrats who said, all right, you're going to get border money in return for aid to Israel, which they support, and Ukraine, which a lot of them don't support. And then when the Republicans said, well, OK, we want tough border enforcement, Democrats -- and wanted more than the Democrats were offering, they said no, no, no, that's for the Dreamers. And Republicans saying, no, no, you're getting that for Ukraine. It is a different deal now.

ANDERSON: Everything in Washington always gets entangled with one another because Congress is so dysfunctional, and it is hard to move anything through. And so as soon as any piece of legislation starts to move, everybody starts to try to hang ornaments on it like a Christmas tree.


WALLACE: Should Democrats drop the Dreamers in return for Ukraine aid?

ANDERSON: I think we should be treating these things separately, and it boggles the mind that these three things, all of which are popular independently, significant majorities of Americans want us to support Ukraine, significant majorities of Americans want us to support Israel, and significant majorities of Americans want us to support the border. And so it boggles the mind to me that -- you played those clips earlier, someone was describing some of this as a poison pill. There is nothing here that is politically poisonous.

SWISHER: So why not just link them together and get it done?

ANDERSON: I agree.

SWISHER: This is a gimme. This is the Washington two-step. And even though it makes no sense, just do it, because it will get -- you're right, it will help Biden --

WALLACE: But Kara, the Democrats, or the Republicans are saying, look, the deal in effect is aid for Ukraine for tougher border enforcement, and now --

SWISHER: Yes, I get it.

WALLACE: The Democrats are saying no, we want the Dreamers.

SWISHER: Maybe they will get that.

WALLACE: They're not going to get that.

SWISHER: We'll see. We'll see, right? They're still negotiating. As they guys said, someone is going to get something, someone is not. Everyone needs a win here in some fashion. But one thing that's clear is they've got to get aid to Ukraine and they've got to get aid to Israel, and it is not by any means necessary, but they're going to have to deal.

SALAM: We're talking about the conditions that Republicans are asking for, but what about the conditions that some progressive Democrats are asking for? They're asking for conditions to be placed on aid to Israel that are all about restraining Israel in its ability to defend itself. That is really dangerous conditionality.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: You mean human rights?

SALAM: You're going to legislate human rights in a U.S. appropriations bill as opposed to saying that we're going to support our allies?

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Can I say that every single other country that receives military aid from the United States has to abide by legislation that looks at their human rights impact and the human rights legacy of that country. And so Israel has been exempt from that for the entire time that all the aid has been given to them. But I have to say that there is a lot of questions being asked at this particular moment, when you see the amount of devastation of people being killed inside Gaza --

SALAM: There are questions --

WALLACE: Regardless of the merits of it, I think that's a bridge too far. There is no way that that's going to get it lumped into this bill. I want to get back to the politics of this, though, that Reihan

mentioned, Kristen, and that is the fact that a border is a big problem for Joe Biden. And there's a lot of questions as should he take the win. I want to put up some numbers. Encounters at the border in the last fiscal year were up 100 percent over 2019. As migrants flooded the northern cities, a poll this month found 54 percent of Democrats are very or extremely concerned about border security.

So I understand, Kristen, that leftwing Democrats aren't going to like it, but in fact, wouldn't tougher border enforcement, in effect a crackdown, which is what the Republicans are asking for, and the asylum and parole, wouldn't that benefit Joe Biden in his reelection campaign?

ANDERSON: It would absolutely take -- well, assuming this works and you actually began to see things becoming more manageable at the border, for sure. I mean, he ran four years ago on an argument, I am going to be bipartisan, I am going to try to take wins when I can find them, and he tried to talk about things like infrastructure, et cetera. But here is an example of an issue that is a very high priority for a lot of voters. You look at the data, the encounters at the border have not gone down in October like they normally -- October, November, normally they drop. They have not been. This is a crisis that is worthy of bipartisan action, and Joe Biden should absolutely take the win on this.

WALLACE: So I was going to ask, Kara, should the White House declare victory here and say, OK --

SWISHER: Yes, yes, yes.

WALLACE: Aid for Israel. Aid for Ukraine. And yes, you can help us do things that I can't do on my own.

SWISHER: That's what's going to happen. That is absolutely going to happen. I think the rest is all performative noise by all the various types, but that's exactly what's going to happen.

WALLACE: Lulu, are you OK with the idea of a crackdown on the border which is tough for some Democrats, especially in the left wing, to swallow, but in fact might help Joe Biden in November of 2024.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: I think the way we're discussing this is how it is going to help Joe Biden or not help Joe Biden and help the Democrats, and ultimately, what is being proposed at the border. The border, I've been there many times, it is a very complicated place, and the fact of the matter is that I'm not sure that what is being proposed is actually going to help solve things. There needs to be comprehensive immigration reform, which is something that the Republicans up until now have refused to do.

WALLACE: Going back 20 years.


WALLACE: All right, to be discussed further. Fighting on Capitol Hill isn't too surprising. This is. The

president's son, Hunter, this week offering to testify on the House GOP investigation into his father. There's a "but" at the end of that sentence which makes all of the difference, and we'll talk about it next.



WALLACE: Sometimes the best defense is a good offense. The president's embattled son Hunter Biden picking on House Republicans this week, agreeing to testify in their impeachment inquiry, but only if it is in public. House Republicans quick to reject the offer, calling for Hunter to testify first in private.


REP. JIM COMER (R-KY): No one is above the law, even if your last name is Biden. Our committee will first interview and depose witnesses. We then, of course, would welcome Hunter Biden to testify at a public hearing at a future date.


WALLACE: Kara, did Hunter Biden outsmart House Republicans, saying, sure, I'll testify, in public.


SWISHER: Yes. I thought it was brilliant, actually, because he's somewhat of an appealing character. People get to see him for the first time rather than the cartoon. And now they have to say no, we don't want to see you. And after all this time, we have to see Hunter Biden, we have to convict.

SALAM: This is absolutely clownish.


SALAM: So look, when President Trump was being impeached, there was a deposition first. When you had the January 6th investigations, there was a deposition first. There is a way that this is done in a thoughtful, responsible, professional way, and this is a stunt. It is nothing more than that.

WALLACE: Wait, wait, wait, because I want to point out that even hardline Republican Senator Josh Hawley, and no one would question his conservative credentials, seemed to go along with this idea, let the guy testify in public. Take a look.


SEN. JOSH HAWLEY (R-MO): My view is that the American people have a right to see. And also they should evaluate this for themselves. If you do this stuff in private, what happens is there is inevitably bunches of leaks, and then so-and-so said this and so-and-so said that. Just do it in public, and let the public see. Open the doors so you can all report on it.


WALLACE: Just open the doors, Reihan.

SALAM: Congratulations to Senator Hawley for creating an entirely new way that investigations are conducted, that is great news. But this is an entirely reasonable request of Republicans in Congress. And look, by the way, make it public, that is fine. He is going to still come across as a clown and someone who has been engaged in some pretty shady practices, that's fine. But this is a stunt. Nothing more than that.

SWISHER: Yes, and it's a good stunt. And OMG, I agree with Josh Hawley. I don't know what to do.


SALAM: Love to get you on side with Hunter Biden. Let's have a Biden- Biden campaign this time around. Let's do that.

SWISHER: All of this is, again performative, performance, this entire thing. And why shouldn't he do it? Why shouldn't he do it? This is exactly what --

SALAM: This will be good for his social media following.

WALLACE: Let me just say that even if, there's no smoking gun in this whole investigation. So far at least, that Joe Biden benefitted personally from Hunter's business deals in China and Ukraine, folks don't like it. Take a look at this. Look at this poll from October, 35 percent think the president did something illegal in his son's deals, 33 percent, including one-third of Democrats, think Joe Biden did something unethical. Lulu, how big a drag is Hunter Biden on his dad's campaign?

GARCIA-NAVARRO: We should say there is no proof of this yet, right. They have been investigating this for quite some time and there is no proof of this yet.

WALLACE: No proof of what? That he benefitted personally?

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That he benefitted personally, yes. I think he is a drag, though. I think he is like that relative that we all have in our families which we wish we didn't have and has been up to some stuff, and we kind of put them in a corner at a party and we're kind of embarrassed. I mean, Hunter Biden is no poster child here for good behavior.

That said, it remains to be seen, has he done anything criminal? But it is a problem for Joe Biden that this, that his son's behavior and that his son has tried to use his father in these business deals to sort of show that he has connections and that he has power, that's going to hurt Joe Biden. ANDERSON: And I think that Hunter Biden is in a real blind spot for

the president because he's family, because nobody wants to cast out somebody who they love dearly.

WALLACE: And who is also going through a lot of personal --

ANDERSON: There is an enormous amount of personal baggage and trauma there. But nevertheless, I think that poll finding you put up on the screen was so interesting, because only about a third of Americans think that actually laws were broken. And so by prosecuting this as an impeachment trial and an investigation, really, they're trying to make the case, were there laws broken? America is not there. But look at the huge numbers around unethical. And that's where people can say --

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Because the Republicans keep talking about the Biden crime family over and over and over again.

ANDERSON: Why can't we have, with the Trump family and the Biden family, why can't we have people in office whose families are not benefiting --

WALLACE: And the other thing it does is it muddies up the ethics issue, and obviously we know the Bidens are going to go, that Biden is going to go after Trump on his very considerable ethical problems. Well, now the Trump campaign has something to throw back.

ANDERSON: Right. And people will shout false equivalence all day long, but these stories just sound so unsavory. You got paid how much money for doing what? And you have what skills? And these are all questions that are just not easily answerable by Hunter Biden whatsoever.

WALLACE: Kara, there was talk about impeachment. It looks like that the House majority, Republicans, may vote to launch a formal impeachment inquiry next week. They have been doing it but just without any official majority brought on the floor because they think it will put them in better stead in court when they try to subpoena Hunter, or whomever. Let's assume that happens and they have the investigation. What do you think are the chances that this House will vote to impeach Joe Biden?


WALLACE: Really?




SWISHER: Because it's a waste of time. They need to do it because they need to do it. But Hunter Biden is a tale as old as time. I am old enough to remember Billy Carter. There has always been some presidential mess, and Trump has got a pile of them in his own family. I do think what the Biden people should do is push back a little more of the dad who loves his kid, blind spot, everybody has a kid like this. I think there is -- he's a liability. There is no question. He's got a drug problem, he had a drug problem. I think there's no win here. But it's not a win for the Republicans.

WALLACE: Reihan, what do you think that the chances that the House in the end, after -- and there's question they'll do the inquiry. They will find some way to get Hunter to testify, whether it's in a closed deposition or in public. What are the chances that Joe Biden will be impeached?

SALAM: I agree with Kara basically, and that the --

WALLACE: Don't say it with such pain in your voice.

SALAM: The thing that really pains me, honestly, Chris, is that Republicans should be focusing on investigating the Biden administration for its posture towards Iran. That is something I would love to see, and they've been completely asleep at the switch on that. Hunter, it's a joke.

WALLACE: All right, a subject to be discussed later, Iran.

When we come back, we'll discuss why it has been a rough year for the TSA. And 'tis the season for trees. We'll find out who in our group decorates a real or fake Christmas tree. Yea or nay is next.



WALLACE: Time now to take a look at some of the stories a lot of people are talking about this week as I ask our group once again to give us their yes or nay. First, a decision a lot of us are making this weekend, whether to go with a real Christmas tree or a fake one. And I'm going to weigh in, because there is clearly a right answer here. Artificial Christmas trees are clutter free, pre-decorated with lights, easy to set up, and they last for years. Plus, they won't pile up in a landfill after Christmas like natural trees do. So I am a strong yea on fake Christmas trees. Lulu, am I wrong?

GARCIA-NAVARRO: You're so wrong, I am like horrified that you have taken this position that I don't think I can come back here again. Christmas trees should be real. We are going to go with my husband this weekend to try and cut down a Christmas tree at a farm, in the countryside.

WALLACE: You're not just going to go somewhere --

GARCIA-NAVARRO: No, no. There's a whole thing. We will take a saw.


WALLACE: You've got to get the car.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: You've got to get the car. It's a whole thing. And my daughter loves it. And then there's the smell of pine in the house. It is a beautiful moment. WALLACE: And then there are all those needles at the end of Christmas?

SALAM: And a pine candle as well, Lulu.


WALLACE: Reihan, put me out of my misery. Real or fake Christmas tree?

SALAM: Look, absolutely fake all the way. You get that same beautiful, perfectly symmetrical tree. I have an amazing owl topper on my artificial tree. You've got the pine candle.

WALLACE: The lights are already on it.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: It never looks the same.

SALAM: Plug it in. Plug and play.

ANDERSON: All of my polling actually has it reversed, that it tends to be women who are more likely to say --

GARCIA-NAVARRO: You poll on this?

ANDERSON: Yes. I poll on everything.


ANDERSON: Women tend to be more likely to say they prefer artificial and it is moms in particular who three to one margin who say artificial.

SWISHER: I can settle this. I am, because I'm from San Francisco, bi- arboreal, and I have both.


WALLACE: I would expect nothing less.

All right, when most people think of the TSA, they usually think of long lines and annoying security measures like taking off your shoes. But this week, the agency released its 2024 canine calendar honoring TSA dogs working across the country, and the cover went there to Dina, a three-year-old German short-haired pointer who works at the Las Vegas airport. So Kristen, yea or nay to TSA's canine calendar and the idea of making a federal agency that is involved in airport security cuddly?

ANDERSON: I'm all about it, because anything involving dogs I'm all about. I'm strong yes on this, and I say this as somebody who -- I look at something like social media, with there is so much nastiness out there. I personally take it upon myself to post pictures of my dog once a day, because there is no such thing as too much cute dog content out there in the world.

WALLACE: All right, I'm going to move on to the next subject, because I know this is going to cause a lot of yeas and nays, maybe just yeas. Finally, we all know you can't always get what you want, but if you're a Rolling Stones fan, you can still get what you need. The legendary rock group announced a new tour next spring, 60 years, 60 years after their first time in the U.S. Tickets went on sale this week and due a sponsorship deal, AARP members get early access, which tells you something about their fan base and the band. Here is Mick Jagger still rocking at 80.




WALLACE: So Reihan, do the Stones still give you satisfaction?

SALAM: I have to say as the Rolling Stones were promoting moral turpitude and corrupt dancing when they were teens, and now when they're in their 80s, it's a tragedy.


SALAM: I have got to think that you are totally on board with Lulu -- stop it -- with the Stones and AARP.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: A hundred percent. To quote "When Harry Met Sally," I'll have what they're having.


This is them rocking out in their 70s and 80s, and I think this is awesome. And I also think that AARP are geniuses to jump on that bandwagon. This is what you want to show, a vital sort of aging process.

WALLACE: I'm all for vital aging processes.

OK, up next, serious question, is the American dream dying? We discuss some concerning new numbers that have gone under the radar.



WALLACE: Under the radar this week, the fading of America's national bargain.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I came to this country with nothing, and through risk and hard work, I made my own American dream come true.


WALLACE: Despite what you see in movies, the long-held belief in the American dream that anyone in this country can make it, no matter their background, is apparently dying. According to a new poll by "The Wall Street Journal," only about one in three Americans still believe in it. That's a big drop from past surveys in 2012, 53 percent said they still believed in the American dream, and 48 percent said so in 2016. So Reihan, is the American dream dying? Are people no longer able to make it despite their background?

SALAM: I believe the American dream is alive and well in some parts of the country. The big problem is places like where I'm from, New York City, coastal California, these are places where housing is so expensive and out of reach, especially for young people, that they feel like they can't get on those opening rungs of the ladder to success, and it creates a lot of hopelessness and despair. But those folks are moving to other more affordable places where they can build savings, where they can build some wealth. That is a tragedy for places like where I'm from, but it shows that there is still some room for the American dream. We need to fix that in the big cities.

WALLACE: Are you, Lulu, as qualified about the American dream as your colleague over here, or do you think if you're work hard and play by the rules, you can still make it, just not in some parts of the country?

GARCIA-NAVARRO: What I would say about this is that it broke my heart to see those numbers, because I am an immigrant myself. I became a citizen in 2017. My mother at 85 just became a citizen a month ago. So I know firsthand that many people come to this country with that dream, with the idea that they can make this country work for them. And so I do think that the American dream is still alive. And it makes me sad that Americans in this country don't see the opportunities that they have here.

WALLACE: Have you polled on this, too?

ANDERSON: There are a lot of young people who feel like the American dream is either out of reach for them or they define it very differently. It is not the 2.5 kids, the white picket fence, et cetera. For a lot of young people, it is I want the ability to choose my own adventure and build the life I want. But they also feel like that's not possible, whether it is because of student loan debt, expensive housing, et cetera. A lot of conventional ways that you might build a life toward that dream are no longer feeling accessible.

WALLACE: That is not the cheeriest way to end this segment.

ANDERSON: I'm sorry.

WALLACE: The panel is back with predictions for what's going to be the news before it's in the news. Hit me with your best shot after this quick break.



WALLACE: Welcome back. It's time for our panel's special takes on what's happening, or predictions of what we should be looking out for. So Kristen, hit me with your best shot. ANDERSON: I wish I was coming to you with better news, Chris, but this

week, the Edelman Trust Barometer came out. It's a survey they've been doing for a quarter of a century, and they found that across 28 different countries, people's trust in all kinds of institutions is way, way down. People are not feeling cheerful. They're not feeling upbeat about their futures. And while the U.S. is actually one of the most optimistic of what they call the developed countries, it's still, it's been a huge drop even just over the last year in terms of people's sense of well-being and economic optimism. So we are still headed into a really tough moment.

WALLACE: Kara, your boy Elon Musk made a lot of news this week.

SWISHER: Not my boy.

WALLACE: Hit me with your best shot.

SWISHER: Well, I'm trying to think of something so that space Karen doesn't sue me. So let me say he is troubled. I think we all saw that on display. It's something I've been saying for a long time. He's deluded. He doesn't understands that advertisers don't get an ROI, which is return on investment by advertising there, and he's trying to turn it into something else. But these advertisers are fleeing because of him and he refuses to take blame. So we'll see. He is enabled by his CEO, Linda Yaccarino, who keeps supporting this behavior.

WALLACE: Boy, you bring the receipts here.


WALLACE: Reihan, best shot?

SALAM: So a lot of folks, including Lulu, believe that the Republican nomination is all sewn up, but I've got to tell you, Governor Chris Sununu, the outgoing governor of New Hampshire, has a huge amount of sway with New Hampshire independents, and I believe he's going to endorse Nikki Haley, and that is going to have a huge effect on the race.

WALLACE: Are you making a flat prediction? Because you know we keep this. Are you saying he is going to?

SALAM: It is very dangerous, but I'll do it. I'm going to live dangerously, Chris. He is going to do it.

WALLACE: And how much impact do you think -- you sort of played down endorsements. I know Kim Reynolds in Iowa has endorsed DeSantis. How big is Chris Sununu in New Hampshire?

SALAM: So Republicans don't have folks like the Democratic Congressman Jim Clyburn who are really definitive. But I think that actually he is a rare gamechanger because this is about those independents, those cross-over voters who can make a huge difference.

WALLACE: Lulu, best shot? GARCIA-NAVARRO: Mine is, I'm dubbing this one "Seven Brides for Seven

MAGAs." "The Washington Post" wrote, I think, a very ill-advised editorial basically saying that women, young women in particular, because they lean liberal, are refusing to marry across the aisle. And so that is causing --

WALLACE: The political aisle.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: The political aisle. And that is causing an absolute crisis in the matrimonial prospects of this country. And that has, as you can imagine, created a bit of kerfuffle on the left, who, and a wonderful article in "Slate" basically asked why should young liberal women be lowering their standards?

So I have to tell you, this made me think a lot about this country. We've talked about the American dream. And I wanted to end on an optimistic note of matrimony, which is to say everyone should come together.

WALLACE: All right, thank you all for being here. Thank you for spending some time with us. And we'll see you right back here next week.