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The Chris Wallace Show
Donald Trump Leading Nikki Haley and Ron DeSantis in Republican Party Presidential Primary Polls; Approval Ratings for President Biden Reach New Lows; U.S. Funding for Ukrainian and Israeli Militaries for Their Ongoing Wars against Russia and Hamas Stall in Congress. Aired 10-11a ET
Aired December 30, 2023 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRIS WALLACE, CNN ANCHOR: Hello again, and welcome. It's time to get together with some smart people to break down the biggest stories. Today, we're looking ahead to the new year and asking, in the Republican presidential race, who will be Donald Trump's biggest threat, Nikki Haley or Ron DeSantis?
Then an issue affecting many of you watching right now, to bundle or not to bundle? What does the future of streaming look like?
And take out your funny hats and glasses. We're giving the yea or nay to the biggest New Year's traditions.
The panel is here and raring to go. So sit back, relax and let's talk about it.
Up first, what's likely to be the story of 2024, the race for president. If you believe the polls, we're looking at a Biden-Trump rematch. But in a world where people say and do pretty much anything and can still get elected, we're left asking, is a surprise still possible? The next few weeks may answer that.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
WALLACE: In politics, the new year means, after months of candidates talking, voters finally get their say. Donald Trump is still the clear leader, with Nikki Haley and Ron DeSantis vying to become the main challenger. Voting kicks off in Iowa.
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: On Monday, January 15th, we're going to win the Iowa caucuses.
WALLACE: Where Trump is way ahead in recent polls.
GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): We have a mission. January 15th. We are going to win the Iowa caucus.
WALLACE: It could be make or break for DeSantis who spent heavily there on TV and a ground game.
Eight days later, it's New Hampshire where polls show Haley's numbers growing.
GOV. CHRIS SUNUNU (R-NH): The next president of the United States, Nikki Haley.
WALLACE: As she hopes Governor Chris Sununu's endorsement will propel her to an upset win.
A month later, Republicans head to Haley's home state of South Carolina where Trump wants to end the race on her turf.
TRUMP: With your help, we're going to win the South Carolina primary by a lot.
WALLACE: While Haley looks for a home win to keep the race going.
NIKKI HALEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: God bless you, South Carolina. Thank you so much.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
WALLACE (on camera): Here with me today, Catherine Rampell, opinion columnist for "The Washington Post," Reihan Salam, president of the Manhattan Institute and "National Review" contributing editor, "New York Times" contributing writer Jane Coaston, and author and conservative pollster, Kristen Soltis Anderson. Welcome to all of you.
So Kristen, let me begin with you. Who is the bigger threat to Donald Trump, to the degree that there is one, DeSantis or Haley?
KRISTEN SOLTIS ANDERSON, FOUNDING PARTNER, ECHELON INSIGHTS: Haley. DeSantis has had a very rough 2023. He came into this race as the presumed strongest challenger to Donald Trump, and yet his numbers have really only ticked downward. And whether it is inside baseball, operational failures, super PAC, et cetera, he just has not proven that he has the strategy to take on Trump.
Now, Haley has a very big uphill climb ahead of her. But right now, there is at least a path, if you squint your eyes, you can see a way she might pull this off. It's very hard to see.
WALLACE: I'm going to tick down on that. Trump's campaign projects that he will formally clinch the Republican nomination by the primaries on March 19th which include Florida. But take a look at this. This is a, if there's a crack in his run to the nomination, the first sign of it could be in New Hampshire, where Nikki Haley has just up to 29 percent, closer, but still 15 points behind Trump. Catherine, if Haley were to win or finish a close second in New Hampshire, and then go on to win her home state of South Carolina in February, as the "Dumb and Dumber" joke goes, is there a chance?
CATHERINE RAMPELL, CNN ECONOMICS AND POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: So you're saying there's a chance. Yes, I think there could be a tiny, tiny, tiny chance. I mean, she definitely presents a more credible alternative to Trump in a way that I don't think DeSantis does. For example, DeSantis I think of as sort of a Trump-lite type figure. Nikki Haley, although obviously had served in the Trump administration, does feel like she could present a more competitive alternative platform, both because she is viewed as more moderate, and because there are a lot of suburban moms out there who maybe see -- suburban independent moms out there who see her as a more competitive alternative to Biden, in fact.
WALLACE: Of course, there's another factor in all of this, and that is the fact that Donald Trump faces four criminal indictments on 91 felony counts. But so far, that only seems to have boosted him, not to have hurt him. But take a look at this poll in "The New York Times" this week, which found that 24 percent of Trump supporters say he should not be the nominee if he's convicted of a crime.
Jane, if these cases get to trial, and a bigger riff, if Donald Trump is convicted of any of these, what do you think the impact would be on his standing if it were to happen during the primaries to get the Republican nomination, or if it were to happen later in the general election in the fall?
JANE COASTON, CONTRIBUTING OPINION WRITER, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": I think it would be catastrophic. I think that we keep doing this thing where we pretend that anything bad for anyone else is actually good for Trump. If Trump got hit by a car, there would be reports, oh, this will only help Trump win the nomination. It's not good to be indicted, and it's not good to be convicted.
WALLACE: But let me just say, the fact is in the polls, he has gone up since he's been indicted.
COASTON: He's gone up with the people who already support him, who view all of these charges as being part of the deep state's actions against him. But let's keep in mind that most people are not following politics closely. Most people who are going to be voting in the general election do not follow politics closely. And most of those people will look at the person who has been convicted of a criminal offense and say, seems bad.
I think that we really have managed to excise the normie vote from this conversation. We focus so much on the base, so much on the people who have supported Trump since 2016, so many who have put so much emotional emphasis on their relationship with Donald Trump. Most people who even voted for him aren't like that. They voted for him in 2016 because of judges, or they voted for him in 2020 because of abortion. In 2024, it is going to be a little bit different, especially if he is convicted. That's how most people view politics.
WALLACE: Reihan, is Jane right? Or do you think that a Trump conviction, and again, this is an if, a Trump conviction would hurt him and change things in terms of his viability either for the Republican nomination or in the fall, or what doesn't kill him, does it make him stronger?
REIHAN SALAM, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, "NATIONAL REVIEW": I certainly find it realistic that it would hurt him. I also think that you need to pay attention to the larger playing field. Keep in mind that Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is looming out there. You have a variety of other potential minor party presidential bids throughout there. And when it's a question of which candidate has the largest, most solid base of support in what could be a series of plurality contests in swing states I think that looks pretty good for Donald Trump even in the event that he does face a conviction.
WALLACE: Then there is the rematch that most people don't want but still seems to be moving around and likely. And here is the latest Monmouth poll that shows that Joe Biden has the lowest approval rating so far, 34 percent. One-third of voters nationally in this poll approve of the job he is doing, almost two-thirds disapprove. I am going to ask you a question I have asked you before, and I am going to ask you a question I'm sure I am going to ask you throughout 2024. What are the chances that Joe Biden drops out of the race, either on his own volition or because what's left of the Democratic Party elders come to him and say enough?
ANDERSON: I think that the time for this has almost already passed. Unless there is a very tough conversation between Joe Biden and his family, or Joe Biden and his doctors, those are the only two things that I think at this point will get him out of the race, because I think even if the grand poobahs of the Democratic Party come to him and say we need a plan b, the fact of the matter is there is not a really great plan b sitting out there. And that would be the necessary condition --
WALLACE: I guess the question is, if you're at 34 percent, isn't anything, any plan b better? I mean we don't really know what a Gretchen Whitmer or a Gavin Newsom would do in a race.
ANDERSON: That's right. And so when you poll a generic Democrat against Donald Trump, generic Democrat does really great. But there is no such thing as a generic Democrat, and Joe Biden may be as close as you can get to generic Democrat. So that's why I'm skeptical that the Democrats had a better plan than Joe Biden except to make Donald Trump even more noxious to voters than he already is. To try to say to voters who think that Joe Biden, hey, you didn't deliver on the unity and the calm and stability you promised, to say, you think I'm bad, this other guy is going to be even worse.
WALLACE: It is going to be an interesting 2024.
No matter who wins the White House, they will have a full plate of global concerns for the Middle East, to Europe, to China.
Up next, which international hotspots will cool off and which ones will get even hotter.
Then, if you think A.I. is big now, just wait until the new year. But should we still be scared of the growing technology? And later, is Elon Musk the year's biggest flop? These guys give us their top winners and losers of 2023.
WALLACE: Two big stories sure to dominate the headlines in 2024 are the wars in Israel and Ukraine. While both countries entered their conflicts with broad international support, their starting this new year finding themselves increasingly isolated.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
WALLACE: A soaring civilian death toll in Gaza sharply eroding what used to be global support for Israel's war on Hamas.
CROWD: Free Palestine!
WALLACE: Most countries now asking for a ceasefire.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One-hundred-and-fifty-three in favor.
WALLACE: Israel's closest ally, the U.S., still by its side, but President Biden starting to show patience is wearing thin.
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I want them to be focused on how to save civilian lives, not stop going after Hamas, but be more careful.
WALLACE: Then there is Ukraine, which has been deadlocked with Russia for months. One of its generals recently describing the conflict as a stalemate.
VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): This winter is different. It has its challenges, unfortunately.
WALLACE: The lack of progress leading to funding fatigue among western allies.
SEN. J.D. VANCE, (R-OH): I don't know why we would write another blank check.
WALLACE: But with the White House saying aid will run out by the new year, Biden is pushing for new funding.
BIDEN: We can't let Putin win.
WALLACE: With no end in sight, both conflicts remain tinderboxes for wider regional wars.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
WALLACE (on camera): So Catherine, how does the Israel-Hamas war end? Will Israel just keep bombing until they destroy Hamas? Or at some point will they bow to international pressure? RAMPELL: What makes you think this war can end? It's been going on, in
some sense, for thousands of years, and the latest iteration, arguably 70, 75 years. I think even if there is an end in a very narrow sense, even if Israel keeps bombing until they think they have completely crushed Hamas, my fear is that some proto-Hamas type will rise from the issues just as we have seen before. But I think Israel will keep destroying as much as they can, understandably in some sense. They want to defend their citizenry until they think the threat is crushed, but I just don't think realistically the threat will ever be dead.
WALLACE: In terms of the immediate war, and I take Catherine's point, I kind of called that the conflict, how do this war end? And what about the anger inside Israel at Netanyahu, especially because of what happened on October 7th and what is perceived as his failure to protect the country? In a sense, does he have to keep waging war to keep staying in power?
ANDERSON: So I think that the internal pressure is a much bigger factor here than external international pressure. Israel has never been beloved by the rest of the world necessarily. But inside of Israel, questions about, are you doing everything possible to get hostages out? What about the safety of hostages that are inside of Gaza right now? To what extent were there security failures or warnings ahead of time? These sorts of things -- in the immediate fog of tragedy, people will sort of rally around their leader a little bit, but I expect Netanyahu to face increasing pressure domestically. And that, more than anything internationally, will be what will change his strategy.
WALLACE: And Reihan, what happens the day after the war, in its most immediate limited sense ends? Who is going to be in charge of Gaza?
SALAM: An important thing to keep in mind is that publicly you have various Arab governments that are condemning Israel. Privately, you have the Egyptians, the Jordanians and others who want Israel to prosecute this war successfully because they are deeply concerned about the Hamas represents and the Muslim Brotherhood represents to their regimes. So my sense is that you will eventually get some kind of settlement. It's likely not going to be the Palestinian Authority, but you're going to get some sort of Arab entity that will cooperate in governing Gaza post-war.
WALLACE: Do you think it ends up being a Palestinian Authority? Do you think -- what about the possibility that we hear about, which I don't think they want to do, other Arab countries getting involved in some kind of administration?
SALAM: It's going to have to be some kind of combination, in part because you have governments like Qatar which have actually helped fuel Hamas in the first place. If they do not want to become rogue states, if they don't want to become pariahs, they're going to need to be a part of the solution, and I think that that is something that is a realistic prospect.
WALLACE: Jane, let's turn to the other conflict. What about Ukraine? How does that end? COASTON: Well, I'm awful at chess, but if you play me in chess, it
will take three-and-a-half hours for you to beat me, and you will hate it, and you'll hate yourself, and you will hate the game of chess. That's this conflict. I think, let's go back to the beginning of this conflict, to Russia's initial invasion, where some realists were talking about how the war would be over in three months. That's not what happened. They are now in a stalemate.
I don't think that Ukraine will win this war, but I also don't think that they're going to lose it. I think that at this point, we're stuck. I don't really see a future in which Ukraine decides that, actually, they're just going to give up territory to Russia, especially because Russia has for a long time now, they've been bringing out people who are imprisoned for murdering their spouses to fight in this war.
And now you're seeing Ukraine starting to recruit people who are in their 50s and early 60s to fight in this war. We're in a stalemate. And historically, a long, grueling conflict on the eastern front doesn't end well for anyone. But I think that this is a point in which whatever victory looks like for either side will not be what they wanted it to look like two years ago.
WALLACE: You know, it's interesting, if you take a World War One analogy, the basic front line, the trenches were formed by the end of 1914 --
COASTON: And they never moved, they never moved.
WALLACE: They never moved in, what, four years.
COASTON: And the deaths of thousands in World War One, millions of people. And I think that that's what we're seeing here. It's interesting that someone who has spent a lot of time studying the eastern front of the Second World War in which you see the kind of grinding brutality of tank warfare, even the same experience of getting stuck in the mud of these steppes. And so I think that what we're seeing is this is not war fought in 2023-2024. This is war fought like 1944, where it is just --
WALLACE: Or 1918.
COASTON: Right, it is grinding back and forth. Yes, with the aid of technology, but it is a grinding, grueling back and forth, where neither side can be truly satisfied.
WALLACE: Catherine, let me ask you, as our economic expert, about money. People drop out of presidential campaigns not because they're not still interested in being president. They don't have the money to keep running. And there is the question do these countries have the money to keep fighting. Putin clearly was counting from the very start on the west at some point getting tired, and weary of funding Ukraine, and funding this war. You're already seeing that happening in the west, especially here in the U.S. How much trouble is Ukraine in? And doesn't Putin have his own economic problems?
RAMPELL: Absolutely. So Jane talked about human resources. But there are other kinds of resources that both countries involved in this conflict are also desperately in need of. So in the case of Ukraine, the fact that they have been trying and trying and trying to squeeze just a few more pennies out of the United States, and we can't find it within our budget to do so, or at least we've been very much dragging our feet, that obviously degrades their ability to defend themselves. And if we do not get them the resources, I fear it will not be a stalemate. It will be a much worse outcome for the Ukrainians who are trying to defend their homeland.
On the other side of the ledger, you also have Russia, which is basically a gas station attached to a state, and natural gas prices, oil prices have been declining. That's very bad for Russia's war chest. But Putin has been good at shaking out some other -- shaking down some foreign companies as they leave the country.
WALLACE: But could economics end up making it impossible for Putin to continue prosecuting this war?
RAMPELL: At some point if he runs out of funds, yes, it could be very difficult for him.
WALLACE: All right, from global concerns to economic ones. Up next, what's your spending to stream your favorite shows and how that could change next year.
Plus, our panel gives us the biggest winners and losers of the year. And you aren't going to want to miss who's making the list.
WALLACE: 2023 saw rapid advances and lots of changes in the world of technology. We're going to focus on three of the hottest areas, artificial intelligence, streaming, and electric vehicles. Let's start with A.I. This time last year, everyone was talking about ChatGPT, the A.I. platform that can answer almost any question. Now that's just one of several options as the technology has grown, and with it, the public's concern. A recent poll found 52 percent of Americans feel more concerned than excited about the increased use of A.I.
So, Catherine, are we going to learn to love A.I. or are we going to still be more concerned than excited about it?
RAMPELL: I think Americans, I think people the world over will continue to be freaked out by A.I. until it is part of the fabric of our daily lives. This is the history of human existence. Every time there is a new disruptive technology that is introduced, whether it's the automated looms that the luddites, the literal luddites fought against. People are freaked out by it. They're very afraid of it, understandably so. It is disruptive. It does affect people's livelihoods. But then eventually we get used to it, new economic opportunities are created. It is the definition of creative destruction. And so I think that transition will not be fully complete by the end of next year. So I think people are still going to be worried.
WALLACE: We hear, Kristen, that A.I. will make our lives more efficient. We also hear, not so much, but that the A.I. overlords are going to crush us. What do you think we're going to focus on more in 2024, the promise of the A.I. or the paradigm?
ANDERSON: I think it will be more focused the promise, but it is true that every capability that you get from A.I. can be used for good or for ill. I think of this a lot like the moment when the Internet became more integrated in average people's homes. It wasn't just like a DARPA thing. There is good stuff that has come from the Internet, and there has also been some bad stuff. And I think we're going to see the same thing with A.I. I do think over the next year, people's level of concern may drop a little as it begins finding its way into their daily lives in little, perhaps more benign ways.
WALLACE: I remember when I went on the Worldwide Web in the 90s for the first time, that I felt like I was Han Solo in the Millennium Falcon and I thought it was going to take me into hyperspace. But didn't happen.
Let's turn to streaming where consumers now have more options than ever and higher prices. Take a look. The total cost of all of these streaming services, almost $100 a month, which is pretty much the same as basic cable. So what's a consumer to do? If you like more than one series on more than one platform?
Reihan, are people going to keep streaming on all of these services, which ends up costing a lot of money? Or are you going to see the streamers, the big corporations decide that the only efficient way for this to work is just to start bundling, as we see now with ad- supported Netflix and Max?
SALAM: There is a rapid scramble for consolidation. For example, Max is looking to acquire Paramount. If you look to Disney, they're looking to bring all of their assets and bring them under a single umbrella. I think that that is going to intensify, and it's going to represent a challenge for creatives, folks who have had this economic bonanza in which the streamers were spending money like drunken sailors. Those days are over.
WALLACE: Jane, what happens to streaming? You saw an interesting case this past year with Disney, where Disney+ bundled with Hulu and ESPN+, and they really dramatically reduced their churn rate. The churn rate for all three together was much less than the churn rate for each of the individuals. Are we going to see bundling and streaming at the same time that we see de-bundling in cable?
COASTON: I think so. And I also think that it is important to remember that this all comes down to what consumers wish to do and what consumers are willing to pay. I have most of these services. And if the price keeps increasing, I will probably keep them because those services are worth it to me. I need to watch sports and I need to watch my nonsense British television. So I think that it is worth thinking about this not from the perspective of the people who are making the content, from the people who are consuming it. What is it worth to you? What is it worth that now, say, Peacock has every episode of "Law and Order, Criminal Intent," the best of the "Law and Orders"? What is it worth to you that you can get ESPN live and now you're able to watch NFL games out of market? What does that mean to you as a consumer? Because consumers are going to be making those decisions.
And I look at those prices and I still think, this is still to me, cheaper than what my cable bill looked like. So I think that it is worth thinking about it from the perspective of consumers. I am concerned about what this means for creatives, who is going to spend money on what, how many more "Game of Thrones" can we possibly have? But I'm also thinking about this from consumers who are saying, actually, all of these offers, this bulk of content, that's old. Max has, say, every episode of "Arliss," if you happen to remember that show. So what does this mean to consumers that also should be considered.
WALLACE: I'm going to hook you up with the studio bosses, because they love you.
Finally, electric vehicles. The shift away from gas cars is happening at a much smaller pace than automakers or the White House predicted. As companies scale back production and E.V.s sit on the lots, politics is just as important as horsepower. A recent poll found almost half of Americans preferred a gas car no matter the cost. And interestingly enough, more than two-thirds of Republicans go with gas, compared to just one quarter of Democrats. So Catherine, are you buying or selling the future of E.V.s in this country?
RAMPELL: Depends where the stock price is and this exact moment, but E.V.s are going to take over. At some point, electrification of all sorts of things wins on pure economics alone. We're not there yet. But it's just going to be so much cheaper in the long run to get as much of our power, whether it's for cars or heat or anything else, from free renewables, because again, when you build the solar plant, when you build the wind plant, there is an upfront cost, but at some point the additional cost is free. The wind and the sunshine are free. That's what is going to power the cars.
WALLACE: But what about the infrastructure, you can go 150 or 200 or whatever miles, and then you have got to plan for where you will get your recharge.
RAMPELL: That is absolutely the challenge, and that's part of the pain of the initial transition. And I think the real question is not if the transition to electric vehicles, to heat pumps, to all of these other renewable-based technologies, but if we do it quickly enough to outpace climate change that is associated with all of these types of --
WALLACE: Reihan, briefly, are you as bullish on the future of E.V.s? SALAM: Absolutely not. The former CEO of Toyota, he caused a huge
furor by stating the obvious truth, which is that if you went to hybrid electric vehicles rather than battery electric vehicles, we would achieve way bigger gains in achieving carbon emissions than otherwise. But battery electric vehicles, it is not that these are fundamentally cheaper. It's that you're actually putting it all in the battery. And China dominates that battery technology. They're dismantling an ICE industry in a way that is going to be very costly and dangerous.
So I think this is a big, big mistake, and we're going to see the reaction.
WALLACE: Well, OK. You're on your own, folks.
Coming up, our New Year's edition of yea or nay, including staying up to watch the ball drop in Times Square. Find out who on our panel is still up at midnight and who isn't.
WALLACE: We're back with our group's yeas or nays, on some New Year's traditions. First, staying up to midnight to watch the ball drop and ring in the new year. New York City expects 1 million people to crowd into Times Square, with tens of millions more watching on TV. Shameless plug. Be sure to watch Anderson and Andy here on CNN.
Catherine, will you be staying up late to ring in 2024?
RAMPELL: Absolutely. Will I be going to Times Square? No. No self- respecting New Yorker would ever do that. But will I watch it on TV? Yes.
WALLACE: I did go to Times Square once when I was 14 years old, and once is enough.
RAMPELL: And what bathroom did you use?
RAMPELL: That's the real risk.
WALLACE: I didn't need to use a bathroom.
Reihan, will you be watching the ball drop on New Year's Eve or will you be sound asleep?
SALAM: So my favorite tradition is watching a "Twilight Zone" marathon. This was on WPIX, channel 11 when I was a kid growing up in Brooklyn.
WALLACE: In New York City. SALAM: In New York City. And I still love to watch those old episodes.
The ball drop, come on. It is just a ball drop. No thanks.
WALLACE: Let me say, if I'm still up at midnight, something has gone terribly wrong on December 31st.
Next, for many Americans, the calendar change means it's time to change their lives with the help of New Year's resolutions. A recent "Forbes" survey found the most popular resolutions for this year were about fitness, finances, and your mental health. Kristen, are you yea or nay on making a New Year's resolution?
ANDERSON: I am a yea on making a resolution. Even if it is something that by the end of January you haven't really kept it, I think it is nice to try to take stock at the end of the year, what do I want to try to do a little bit more.
WALLACE: So what is your New Year's resolution?
ANDERSON: Mine is going to be less screen time, less looking at my phone. I find myself just scrolling mindlessly through social media looking for new posts. I would be much better off reading a book, being present, not doing that. That's my goal.
WALLACE: Jane, New Year's resolution?
COASTON: I like resolutions, but I actually want people to do them. So often, if you spend a lot of time in the gym, you know the first two weeks in January, you can't get a seat or tread mill for the life of you. So I want people to not just resolve but do. I think that resolutions are really important. But make a plan for how you actually want to do it.
WALLACE: So do you have one for 2024?
COASTON: My resolution would also be for less screen time. And that's why I have installed on a lot of my apps on my phone a time countdown to tell me how much more time I have yet to use it that day.
WALLACE: Finally, some people are hoping to break the ice with this New Year's tradition. Dating back more than 100 years, the polar plunge is still very popular with people happily jumping into ice cold waters. This looks like agony to me. Some do it to raise money for charity while others just want to start the year with a shock. Jane, will you be making the plunge?
COASTON: Yes, I enjoy terrible things that are good for you, and cold water plunging is excellent for your health.
COASTON: Because it's good for your immune system.
WALLACE: Is that true?
COASTON: And it's good for you spiritually. Terrible things that feel bad are good for you.
WALLACE: Just in general?
COASTON: Just in general.
WALLACE: OK, let's all go to the dentist. Kristen, will you be joining Jane for a polar plunge?
ANDERSON: Absolutely not. But I am a born and bred Florida girl. If you even ask me to get in a normal swimming pool that is not heated, I'm a little bit skeptical, so this is just not for me. Good for you. Not for me.
WALLACE: Do you believe that it is actually good for your health?
ANDERSON: I'm willing to believe that it is possible, but it defies the logic of what I feel like I know about being cold and wet.
WALLACE: Coming up, the panel's take on the year's biggest winners and losers.
WALLACE: Time to look back on what was an eventful year and year and ask who came up on top and who was a flop. Catherine, let's start with your biggest winner for 2023.
RAMPELL: My biggest winner is Federal Reserve Chair Jay Powell. If he has gotten us out of 2023 without being scathed by either a recession on the one hand or re-escalating inflation on the other hand, I think he deserves a medal.
WALLACE: Do you think he is going to stick the soft landing?
RAMPELL: I certainly hope so, knock on wood. The odds for all of this look a lot better than they used to be.
WALLACE: Biggest loser?
RAMPELL: Rudy Giuliani. I cannot think of anyone who has fallen further from his prior heights, either financially or in public esteem, than the former mayor of New York who has recently declared bankruptcy after a judgment against him.
WALLACE: It has been a bad year for Rudy Giuliani.
WALLACE: Reihan, biggest winner?
SALAM: Biggest winner is a company called Invidia, a company that as recently as 2022, even if you were an avid reader of the business pages, you might not have heard of. But in 2023 they became kind of the Levi Strauss of the A.I. gold rush. They are the ones selling the overalls and the pickaxes, which is to say the chips that actually power these big large language models. And so that company was founded in a Denny's about 20 years ago that is now a company that is one of the so-called call magnificent seven that's been driving the stock market revival. So kudos to this American entrepreneurial success story.
WALLACE: Biggest loser?
SALAM: The biggest loser is Xi Jinping, the party chairman of China, who really has presided over a steep economic decline in China. This was supposed to be a year when China was growing at five times the rate of the United States, and instead they have been limping along, barely growing at all. And that actually makes them perhaps more dangerous, but it still makes Xi Jinping a loser.
WALLACE: On the other hand, he was named president for life this year, so it wasn't entirely a loss.
SALAM: That's fair enough.
WALLACE: Jane, biggest winner?
COASTON: Remember "The Barbie Movie" was announced in 2019, and everyone was like ha, ha, ha, what a funny joke? Well, it became one of the standout films of the year, has been nominated for multiple Golden Globes, and turned out to be an actually pretty good movie. I think that that is a pretty impressive showing for a movie that is actually about a doll.
WALLACE: I have to say, I finally saw it, free, on Max, shameless plug. I agree. It was really good.
WALLACE: Biggest loser?
COASTON: Billionaires who think that they should talk about things besides the thing that made them billionaires. I don't care about their opinions.
WALLACE: You're talking specifically about --
COASTON: About Sam Bankman-Fried, who decided that not only should we discuss his effective altruism, which was purportedly his purpose, but we shouldn't discuss the fact that he was basically committing a massive Ponzi scheme. So often we look at people who have created immense wealth, or are performing that they have created immense wealth, and think that they must know something. Often, they don't. And now he is going to prison.
WALLACE: That's kind of a schadenfreude thing, right? We can enjoy -
Biggest winner and loser?
SOLTIS ANDERSON: Biggest winner, Sam Altman of OpenAI. Imagine being someone who is leading one of the most exciting companies on the cusp of world-changing technology, the board comes for you, and you beat the board. Ultimately, he prevailed in the conflict over who would lead OpenAI, and in the process proved that he had the loyalty to his employees, interest from big companies like Microsoft. He's the winner.
WALLACE: And biggest loser?
ANDERSON: Biggest loser, Republicans who don't want Donald Trump to be their nominee. They had their shot about a year ago. Trump was lower down in the polls. He could have been taken out. It didn't happen. Now he is flying high. Very low chance he doesn't win the Republican nomination.
WALLACE: Up next, the panel's big predictions. What to look for in 2024.
WALLACE: Welcome back. It's time for our panel's biggest and boldest predictions for the new year. So Jane, hit me with your best shot.
COASTON: Did you go to a public university or not go to university at all? Do you watch sports? Do you not really care about politics? 2024 is your year. Normal people always get to have their say in election years. Normal people who don't care much about politics, don't really follow culture war issues, but still vote in November, this is your time. Texas Tech graduates, American heroes who don't really care about politics too much, this is for you. Go vote.
WALLACE: So it's going to be a really bad year for all of us because we're not normies.
WALLACE: Reihan, what do you see for 2024?
SALAM: 2024 is going to be a really big, exciting year for space exploration. China, like it or not, is going to launch a lunar mission. India is getting into the game with an orbiter that's going to be visiting Venus. And Jeff Bezos is going to try to catch up with Elon Musk in the realm of commercial space. So it's going to be a lot of really exciting developments that could pave the way for more space exploration still in the years to come.
WALLACE: And is Bezos going to catch up with Musk? He's way ahead.
SALAM: So I do not believe he's going to catch up, but you need to have more entrepreneurial folks burning billions of dollars if we're actually going to make the progress we need to make.
WALLACE: Kristen, what is in your crystal ball for 2024?
ANDERSON: We have a presidential election that is going to be in many ways anything but normal, and I think a casualty of that will be the presidential debates. I don't think that either Trump or Biden will see any advantage in standing on a stage with a moderator asking them questions. I think we may be seeing the end of that tradition, at least in the short run.
WALLACE: As somebody who did it the last two cycles, that would be a shame, but I'm not sure you're wrong. I think there are, I would think it is less than 50-50 that there will be presidential debates.
Catherine, best shot?
RAMPELL: My prediction for next year is the use of Ozempic and other GLP-1 drugs is going to skyrocket. We have already seen a huge increase in this past year, but from a very small base. Next year going forward, there is going to be a lot more people demanding these drugs from their doctors and mini spas and various other things.
WALLACE: And both from the health side, does that seem like a good bet? Or are we getting over our skis in the ideas that these are solutions, long-term solutions to obesity problems?
RAMPELL: We haven't seen the long term consequences of taking these drugs, to be clear. But in the short term, it does seem like it reduces a lot of health problems, right? Obesity is associated with a lot of other kind of health complication. The drugs also have been associated with reductions in other kinds of compulsive or obsessive behaviors, things like drinking problems, gambling problem, et cetera. So for the individuals right now, it looks like it will be beneficial. From what we know, again we don't know the long term consequence, economically I would guess that it is going to have a huge effect on the economy, potentially even more than A.I. in the long run.
WALLACE: Explain that. How does it reshape the economy in addition to reshaping our bodies?
RAMPELL: It reshapes what people consume. I mean we can already see in the data that people who are on these drugs, particularly for weight loss, are buying a lot less junk food, they're buying less spirits and hard alcohol. They're buying a lot less of what makes up a typical grocery basket amongst other types of consumption, so I think it is going to shift what people --
WALLACE: Is it just food or is it other things? I assume clothes it is going to make a big difference?
RAMPELL: That's a good point. I hadn't even thought about that. Yes, you get to size down, potentially. Look, I think in the near run, we're not going to see as much of an impact. At the household level we'll see a lot. But in the macroeconomic perspective, I think we won't see it immediately, but eventually, yes, it is going to reshape a lot of consumer behavior.
WALLACE: Well, one of the things we do on this show is we keep track of all of your predictions. We will see who is right, who is wrong. We'll probably bring you all back at the end of the year and celebrate the winners and make fun of the losers.
Thank you all for being here. We wish all of you a happy and safe new year. And we'll see you right back here in 2024.