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Blockbuster Supreme Court Decision Reshapes Abortion Right; Confusion About Boosters After Administration's Mixed Messages; Biden Approval Falls To Lowest Point Since Taking Office; U.S. Will Mark 20th Of 9/11 With Taliban Back In Power; Democrats Divided Over Biden's Spending Plans; Does Melania Want A Return To The White House. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired September 05, 2021 - 08:00   ET




KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: The Supreme Court transforms the abortion debate. Will "Roe v. Wade" survive?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We don't want women to be without healthcare. This is a level of subjugation that cannot stand.

COLLINS: Plus, President Biden's plans for a Labor Day reset after a terrible month at home and abroad.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're going to create millions of good-paying jobs that's going to transform America and propel us into the future.

COLLINS: And wildfires in the West, hurricanes in the South, flooding in the East.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is a nightmare. I've lost everything in here.

COLLINS: Democrats say their plan to fight climate change is more essential than ever.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): Global warming is upon us, and it's going to get worse and worse unless we do something about it.

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


COLLINS: And welcome to INSIDE POLITICS SUNDAY. I'm Kaitlan Collins, in for Abby Philip.

The Supreme Court has transformed the political landscape by putting one of the most divisive issues at the forefront. In a middle-of-the- night ruling, the court declined to block the strictest anti-abortion law that this nation has seen since "Roe v. Wade."


LT. GOV. DAN PATRICK (R), TEXAS: We want to get that little Texan in the womb who has a heartbeat a chance to see their full potential.


COLLINS: The Texas law bans abortion after six weeks with no exceptions for cases of rape or incest. Private citizens can sue those who performed the procedure or, quote, "aided and abetted," meaning anyone from the doctor to the driver who brings the patient to the clinic can be held liable. Plaintiffs could even receive as $10,000 bounty. Democrats are pushing back on the Supreme Court's decision but there may be little that they can do.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): The Supreme Court making a decision that it did not only disrespected women but disrespected the Supreme Court and its former decision, its precedent that has established "Roe v. Wade." When we go back to Washington, we will be putting "Roe v. Wade" codification on the floor of the House.


COLLINS: Meanwhile, other Republican-led states are now considering passing their own Texas style anti-abortion laws.

Joining me now with their reporting and their insights is Jackie Kucinich of "The Daily Beast," CNN's Kevin Liptack, Molly Ball of "TIME" magazine and CNN's Joan Biskupic.

Joan, I want you to just put this in perspective for us, of this monumental decision that we got from the Supreme Court this week.

JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN SUPREME COURT ANALYST: It was. I don't think we can overstate how big this was. With this new court, we saw that "Roe v. Wade" was definitely going to be diminished but we didn't think it was going to happen this fast. I did not think a majority of this court would want to be gained as much as it was. But for want of one single vote, this law took effect. And this law is patently unconstitutional based on "Roe v. Wade."

"Roe v. Wade" so that government could not interfere with a woman who wanted to end a pregnancy in the early months before a fetus was viable. That's at about 22 or 23 weeks. This is six weeks. So it clear violates "Roe v. Wade." And Chief Justice John Roberts, who dissented with the three liberals, that in and of itself was stunning for a man who's always opposed abortion rights, said, this law is so bad, it's unprecedented.

It delegates enforcement to private citizens which is why it made it tricky for the court to handle it. We had very strong dissents. In fact the dissents all of four of them wrote, which reminded me of "Bush v. Gore." You know, another defining moment. This isn't as big as "Bush v. Gore" but it's certainly a turning point for this court.

And the other thing I would mention is that all made possible by what happened one year ago this month when Ruth Bader Ginsburg suddenly passed away and Donald Trump was able to name Amy Coney Barrett to this court. And for her to vote as she did really said something because she had earlier signaled during the term that possibly she would be a little more cautious. But this was not a cautious order.

The majority said that even if there are legal questions here, it will not harm the clinics for women in Texas to have this take effect. And we know what's happened. People are driving elsewhere.

COLLINS: Yes. Well, and I think that raises the question now that we're getting a look at what this court looks like with an Amy Coney Barrett on it is what happens when they're expected to rule soon on the Mississippi law that bans most abortions after 15 weeks.

BISKUPIC: Right. You're right to bring that one up because that's the case where they've actually accepted a challenge to a 15-week ban and they're going to have full briefing and oral arguments. Everyone will be able to make his or her case in this one, where as opposed to Texas where it was all done within 72 hours. So that case will be argued later this year with the decision likely in June.


And the court will then say what the fate of "Roe v. Wade" is in terms of, as I said, that viability line, which I believe especially after what we saw what happened this week, that they will just dissolve that line. So --


BISKUPIC: It's big.

COLLINS: It's huge.

And Kevin, we heard from President Biden this week, he had issued some paper statements and then he did comment publicly, pushing back saying that it creates a sort of vigilante system.


BIDEN: It just seems -- I know this sounds ridiculous -- almost un- American, what we're talking about. Not the debate about -- I respect people who think that who don't support "Roe v. Wade." I respect their views. I respect those who believe life begins in the moment of conception, I respect that, I don't agree but I respect that.


COLLINS: I'm not sure he even said the word abortion, though, in those comments? What do you think he's doing with this?

KEVIN LIPTAK, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: No. He hasn't -- and President Biden has never actually said the word abortion as president and this week was the first time that we saw it even used in a statement from the president when the Supreme Court declined the rule initially on Wednesday. And I think that really shows you this hasn't necessarily been at the forefront for the president over the last six months as president, even though states across the country were passing these restrictions on abortions.

I think there were something like 100 restrictions in states around the country. Through all of that, the president wasn't necessarily saying all that much about it. And it did cause some angst among activists who said that the president should have been a little more out front of it. Now the president says he's devised this whole-of- government approach that's being run from the White House. He's asking the Department of Health and Human Services, the Justice Department to look at ways that people might still be able to get abortions in Texas but their options are so limited. There really is not a lot that the president can do.

COLLINS: Yes. What can DOJ, HSS really do? And if they can't do anything, you know, you saw how Speaker Pelosi saying they'll bring legislation to the floor. But it's not going to get passed in the Senate.

JACKIE KUCINICH, DAILY BEAST WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF: Well, right. Short -- that is what you can see done in Washington is the codification of "Roe v. Wade" which there is not the votes in the Senate for. So they are sort of stuck, they can move things around and look like they're doing something. But at this point, and Pelosi is going to push this but there isn't a whole lot that can be done unless and -- I mean, they can try to turn this into a campaign issue in 2022.

I'm sure they're going to try. But that's a long time away. And so you don't know what's going to happen between now and then to see if this can actually move the needle politically.

COLLINS: Well, and I think the question of whether or not it can galvanize voters is a big one. And we do know public polling shows from last month that a majority of people do support that abortion should be always or mostly always legal. So what do you think the public reaction is this and this is going to be in? Will Democrats be able to use this effectively when they're campaigning given typically they have not been spurred on by judicial nominations in the way that Republican voters have?

MOLLY BALL, TIME MAGAZINE NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: No. But they certainly have a long history of reminding particularly women voters of the threat that they have always said that Republicans posed to abortion rights and now they have a very strong example of that. So, you know, I do think that for a long time we've seen the American public in the sort of mushy middle of the abortion issue and "Roe v. Wade" was sort of right in that space, saying there could be some restrictions but there was a constitutional right.

And so to have this sort of status quo of abortion politics blown up in this way I think is going to have a lot of potentially unpredictable fallout. It certainly is the case, the Democrats seem more advantaged politically in what's happening now than Republicans do, and you do hear a lot of Republicans, particularly sort of establishment types, having profound qualms about this politically because of the opportunity to galvanize voters on the left.

COLLINS: Yes. Republicans have not been very vocal about this.

BALL: They have not. You see them not wanting to talk about it in large part and saying, you know, maybe that they think that, you know, too much has been made of this or we still don't know how it's going to play out in actual fact whether you're talking about on the court's docket or in actual practice on the ground in Texas and other places. And I think that's true and the fact that it may be a live issue before the court well into next year also increases the chances that it's a campaign issue.

COLLINS: Yes. And we've seen Democrats already taking advantage of it. Terry McAuliffe tweeted about this, "If Glenn Youngkin wins this race, he will try to ban abortion here in Virginia," saying the conservative Supreme Court has shown that they're behind him and reproductive rights are on the ballot."

BISKUPIC: Well, that's it. And you saw some conservatives who did speak out like the "Wall Street Journal" editorial page says let's not have this. This is something that shouldn't have been done. It will probably be struck down. In fact people who proposed this law and supporters of it all acknowledged that it's unconstitutional. But it changed the debate and now if they uphold the Mississippi 15-week ban, some people will say, oh, this seems more moderate but it won't be because for nearly 50 years the line has been at viability, when a fetus as I said can live outside the woman.


So this really has changed individual rights for women across the country.

COLLINS: Yes, it's changed so much. Do you think we're going to see other Republican-led trying to enact similar legislation?

KUCINICH: Absolutely. You've seen that with voting rights. You've seen it with Second Amendment issues around the country for years. But I would be remised if I didn't mention. One place you have also, the silence has been deafening is corporate America which has shown a willingness to hop into these political debates albeit from social justice issues, voting rights is also wrapped into that. LBGTQ rights, they have -- you've seen corporations pull out of certain states because of some of these issues.

Nothing. Smaller companies have weighed in and perhaps issued a press release and said that -- on the Texas law but for the major corporations that taken a stand is nothing.

LIPTACK: The one exception I think is Uber and Lyft. And they have --


KUCINICH: Right. And it's a great point.

LIPTACK: -- both said because of the way that this law is structured, a driver who takes a woman to an abortion clinic could be sued under this law. Those companies have said that their driver shouldn't change anything about what they're doing and they've established some legal defense funds. But I think that the way that the vigilante system of the law is what a lot of conservatives are worried about in all of this.

In a way the conservative movement has been building up to this moment for a long time. Mitch McConnell, when he deprived President Obama of a Supreme Court justice, when he pushed through President Trump's second Supreme Court justice, and when he pushed to have that last Supreme Court justice approved at the very last days of Trumps' term, like this is what they were all leading up to is a big Supreme Court ruling. But now that the dogs seem to have caught the car, they aren't necessarily comfortable with the law that they have got because it has this very almost dystopian vigilante sense of how it's enforced, and that's not necessarily something that they're comfortable with.

COLLINS: Yes. President Biden called it pernicious.

We'll keep up on that, but up next, we are going to talk about whether or not the White House got ahead of the science on vaccine boosters.



COLLINS: The White House is now being cautioned by federal health agencies that it may have to slow its planned rollout for booster shots later this month. Just three weeks ago President Biden said this about the timeline.


BIDEN: Plan is for every adult to get a booster shot eight months after you got your second shot. Pending approval from the Food and Drug Administration, the CDC's committee of outside experts will be ready to start this booster program during the week of September 20th.


COLLINS: We're just over two weeks away from that date and the FDA and the CDC still have not signed off. They are on track to approve boosters for those who got the Pfizer shot. But those who got Moderna and J&J may have to wait for more data.

The delay could be minimal but it is raising some concerns about the White House influence over scientific decisions. The "Wall Street Journal's" Joshua Jamerson joins our panel now. And let's also bring in Brown University's Dr. Megan Ranney.

Dr. Ranney, simply put, did the White House get ahead of the science on this?

All right, we're going to check on Dr. Ranney's audio. We'll bring her right back. But let's go to the panel now.

Josh, what do you think? Did the White House get ahead of the science? But the president said yes, this hinges on the FDA and the CDC, but he did put this date of September 20th in people's mind.

JOSHUA JAMERSON, WALL STREET JOURNAL NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER: Exactly. And I think the point of whether he did or didn't get ahead of the science, the perception is already going to be out there. Here is the White House announcement coming ahead of what the scientists are saying public health policy should be. But I will say two things that struck me is talking to voters recently is clear that COVID is still something that people care about.

It's also clear that they are very frustrated by what seemed to be changing goal posts, about the get vaccinated, you don't have to wear a mask, now we'll be having these boosters on September 20th, now maybe we won't. So that is where the White House need of appearing this incompetent about COVID and needs a challenge about how do they stay in lockstep with the science that he campaigned on, without making people feel unconfident.

COLLINS: Yes. Because he wanted to set a different example than what former President Trump did.

JAMERSON: Exactly.

COLLINS: But we did see two FDA vaccine regulators this week very high in their posts say that they'll be stepping down this fall, which of course is going to be a critical period for the agency as they're making these decisions on boosters, vaccines for children. What have you heard is behind their decision to retire at this time?

LIPTACK: Well, I mean, there are some internal frustration at the FDA over how the booster process was handled. They feel like the science should have been out front on this and that the president was clearly looking for a way to remind Americans that they have things under control, that they had bought all these booster shots and that they are prepared to hand them out. But I am really struck where at this holiday weekend it's so different from the last federal holiday when the president was out on the Fourth of July, on the South Lawn, essentially saying that we're nearing freedom from the virus.

And of course he had all the caveats. He said that there could be a second wave. But now that we've come to this Labor Day weekend, kids are going back to school. This is the date that a lot of offices have said that employees should be coming back to the office. They're not going back to the office. All that got pushed back.

This is an issue that the president knows is going to define his presidency. This is what he will be judged on politically more than anything else, more than Afghanistan, more than all the other issues that are sort of bubbling under the surface. And it's also the issue that he really has the least control over.

[08:20:04] COLLINS: Yes. And his approval rating, what we saw from one poll has dropped about 10 percent since he made that announcement at the end of June from what it looks like now because people are so uncertain about what is happening with COVID.

And Dr. Paul Offit, Molly, advises the FDA on vaccine decisions. This is what he said about how he thinks the Biden administration has been handling all of this.


DR. PAUL OFFIT, MEMBER, FDA VACCINES ADVISORY COMMITTEE: I think that there's enormous frustration that the administration basically just pronounced that we are going to have a vaccine, as a three-dose vaccine for the general public by September 20th without doing it the right way. So this is what we didn't like about the last administration when they were just proclaim things like hydroxychloroquine or convalescent plasma or Clorox chewables or whatever they were doing.


COLLINS: OK. This isn't exactly Clorox chewables but does he have a larger point?

BALL: Yes, absolutely. Look, I think there is no question that people feel jerked around. And I think everyone understands that conditions have changed a lot. Everyone understands what the administration is dealing with, what the world is dealing with in terms of variants and so on. But at the same time there has been a clear inability to communicate clearly and consistently with the American people and particularly when so many people, A, were so excited that we seem to be coming out of this, and then that was sort of jerked away again. Not the administration's fault.

But were people prepared for that? Did people know what they were supposed to do next? Was there a clear sort of national standard set? And I think pretty clearly the administration has been scrambling to deal with all of these unexpected situations in a way that has not inspired confidence.

COLLINS: Yes, and I want to bring back in Dr. Ranney on this and whether or not this is affecting the confidence of the American people when it comes to things like booster shots.

And, Dr. Ranney, have you seen the data that does show that boosters are likely for mostly everyone?

DR. MEGAN RANNEY, BROWN UNIVERSITY ER DOCTOR: So the data that I have seen shows that immunity wanes overtime after particularly that Pfizer shot and particularity against the Delta variant. But remember the folks who got the vaccine first in Israel or the U.K. were the elderly, so this doesn't yet say that the average young healthy person is going to need a booster at six or eight months after their initial series of doses. I think it would have been so appropriate for the White House to say,

look, we're looking forward, we're seeing that we're going to have to get boosters without putting a particular date and without saying that it was going to apply to everyone in the United States.

COLLINS: Dr. Ranney, thank you for joining us, and we're glad we reestablished your connection this morning.

RANNEY: Thank you.

COLLINS: Up next, President Biden's standing has plummeted among independent voters. We'll talk about the White House's plan to recover from a very rough August.



COLLINS: President Biden is spending the holiday weekend at home in Delaware with his family after a punishing month for his administration. The chaos in Afghanistan and a surge in COVID cases are taking a toll on his presidency. He says the Delta variant is to blame for the week jobs report which showed that the economy created 235,000 new jobs last month, the lowest number since January.


BIDEN: I know some wanted to see a larger number today and so did I. What we've seen this year is a continued growth month after month in jobs creation. This is the kind of growth that makes our economy stronger and consistent. Progress and not the boom or bust.


COLLINS: His approval rating is down to 44 percent in a new poll out this morning from the "Washington Post" and ABC News. His standing with independents dropped 10 points in the last two months to 36 percent. To put that in perspective, it's virtually the same as former President Trump's approval among independents before leaving office.

Josh, of course, this has not been the best month for the administration. They have been dealing with a lot of unforeseen crisis or some unforeseen issues around crisis that may be predictable. And with Afghanistan specifically, we know that we're looking at this poll that came out today, a majority of voters like the White House has said do support his idea, his plan, and his actual following through with ending the war.


COLLINS: But they don't like the way that that drawdown happened. Only 26 percent approved the president's handling of that.

JAMERSON: Exactly. I mean, for a lot of Americans who probably tuned out of the war in Afghanistan for quite some time, to look up and see these type of chaotic images coming out of Middle East, a place where people know we invested so much money. We did a story last week talking to people on the ground about how they felt about it. It was disoriented for them and there was a lot of people who felt really strongly that President Biden could have done a better job with it.

At the same time, we were talking about his approval rating especially among independents earlier when the poll this morning, in a prior poll, I mean, it showed the same thing that his approval rating among independents gone down. But at the same time, like you were mentioning earlier about COVID, his approval rating specifically on how he's handled COVID has dropped 16 points from April.


JAMERSON: And so while there is this disorientation that a lot of people feel about the withdrawal from Afghanistan, like you said earlier, I do think COVID is probably going to be what defines his presidency for a lot of people.

COLLINS: I do. And of course now that U.S. troops are out of Afghanistan, that could make -- take the pressure off of him. Even though there are still Americans we know in Afghanistan and this will be once again brought up this coming Saturday on the anniversary of 9/11 when the president is visiting all three sites of the attacks. And so how do you think that they will handle that as the days go by and moving on?

LIPTACK: Yes. And there was actually one other interesting number in that ABC poll. When people were asked if they felt more or less safe after the withdrawal from Afghanistan, only 8 percent said they felt more or less safe after the withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Only 8 percent said they felt more safe; 44 percent said the country is less safe and the rest said it was about the same. And I think that that is one of sort of the lingering effects of this withdrawal.

What White House officials believe is that over time more Americans will come to believe that the president did the right thing in withdrawing from Afghanistan. The images have cast will kind of fade and help you remember this is the guy who sort of ripped the Band-aid off and did what at least the last few presidents wanted to and couldn't.

But when these concerns about terrorism and safety still linger, that's something that will persist. And I think it's something that the president knows and we'll probably hear from the president more about this counter terrorism issue just because it is something that concerns Americans who think we went into the war because of a terrorist attack.

And when this war ended with a terrorist attack committed by ISIS-K in Kabul, that's not something that people like to look at and feel safe about and feel comfortable with.

JACKIE KUCINICH, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEFR, DAILY BEAST: And it's something Republicans are going to try to make a campaign issue. That the further we get -- (CROSSTALK)

COLLINS: Yes. Will they be successful with that when they are back here in Washington and they try to still talk about it? Do you think tat they will still be able to be effective with that?

KUCINICH: I think only time will tell. There will be -- we know there are going to be congressional investigations into the withdrawal. And these are Democratic-led investigations.

You are not going to see this drop fire Republicans certainly. But it's is hard to say, right? Because of there are so many unforeseen issues.

I still believe that COVID is what Biden will -- is largely going to be (INAUDIBLE) but this administration you have to imagine is going to focused on legislative wins the next couple of weeks.

Once Congress comes back, it is going to be all infrastructure all the time and getting some Ws on the floor.

COLLINS: But of course, coronavirus is what's so unexpected here. As we were talking earlier about what President Biden was saying back on July 4th about the state of the pandemic to where we are now. And as we were saying in this poll his approval has dropped 10 percent when it comes to coronavirus.

And he has said that is what matters the most about shaping his presidency is how they handle this. So shat is their plan do you think? Because we know he's supposed to speak this week on plans to combat the delta variant. It's something he's talked talks about a lot. It's still a big issue for them.

MOLLY BALL, NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, TIME MAGAZINE: Well because it still doesn't feel fully under control to people. And I think there's no mystery about -- I think the COVID approval is sort of like the economy at this point.

The president gets blamed for it whether he has any control over it or not.


BALL: And the administration knows that this is sort of their new stock market is that case number. And they have got to find a way to at least appear to have a plan for it because there has been this feeling that, you know, conflicting guidance, confusing guidance -- people don't really know what the message is out of this administration in terms of where we expect to be over the long-term.

And so I think that's what we can expect to hear more about as they try to convince the American people that they are in control.

COLLINS: Yes. And they've tied so much of this back to their domestic agenda and that's helping them. Senator Joe Manchin, of course, this week has added another thing to the president's already full to-do list.

KUCINICH: He's back.

COLLINS: He is back. And if you haven't read his op-ed in the "Wall Street Journal", he said that Democrats should hit "pause" on their $3.5 trillion bill that would overhaul the economy and social safety net. Instead just pass a smaller bipartisan bill.

Is he actually going to stand in the way of the president's carefully crafted economic agenda here?

KUCINICH: If not him, there are -- I mean Senator Sinema has also said many times she's not going to support the $3.5 billion number. I think we're looking at something that's going to come in a little smaller.

But Manchin has shown a willingness to flex his muscles. And I don't think that the next couple of weeks are going to be any different.

LIPTAK: I think what's frustrating for White House officials at least is that Manchin comes out with these dictates and says he wants to pause on the bill but he doesn't necessarily say what in it that he wants changed.

And I think for him it's a lot more about making this bill seem more moderate and trying to make it seem as if it's not -- it will just be Democrats or trying to make it seems as if he didn't sort of instill some of his career trademark moderation into a bill.

What's frustrating for the White House is that they don't necessarily know what that means and they only have a few weeks before this bill is supposed to be put together and voted on.

COLLINS: Yes, they have a deadline coming up. But what Bernie Sanders tweeted, quote, "No in infrastructure bill without the $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill.

What do Democrats say privately about Senator Joe Manchin?


KUCINICH: What does Bernie Sanders think --


JOSHUA JAMERSON, NATIONAL POLITICS EDITOR, WALL STREET JOURNAL: I mean look, I think like you said that frustration is shared by a lot of his Senate colleagues that he will kind of set out these edicts without saying exactly what it is he wants. He did the same thing on the bipartisan infrastructure negotiations.


JAMERSON: And so I think when he gets back, I mean when they get back, the number one question everybody is going to be asking running around the Hill is like is $2 trillion -- is that low enough or $3 trillion, you know? And so you will see more pressure on him to actually say what he actually wants here.

COLLINS: Do Democrats think that Manchin is gettable ultimately?

BALL: Yes, they do. I think the fact that, you know, that they had the vote on the framework before they left town after that exhausting series of 4:00 a.m. votes on the bipartisan infrastructure bill. The fact that Manchin played ball on the bipartisan infrastructure bill, the fact that Manchin played ball before that -- on the voting rights issue he came around and on the American Rescue Plane.

So you know, I just wrote a profile of Senate Majority Chuck Schumer and I talked to a lot of Senate -- particularly Senate Democrats for that piece. And there was a feeling that ok, we figured -- we know there's a negotiation happening there.

What they have been told by leadership is don't draw any red lines at this point. And what all of them were mostly telling me is that that top line number is going to be what most people talk about. But what they are more concerned about is what it represents. What is actually in the bill.

And that's what the committees are working on now. And that is what we're going to hear more about as they start coming back into town over the next week.

COLLINS: And Senator Joe Manchin will be at the center of all of this --

KUCINICH: That he will.

COLLINS: -- right when they get back.

JAMERSON: Lots of big gaggles.

COLLINS: A lot of gaggles.


COLLINS: Up next, extreme weather is devastating Americans from coast to coast. Is the country finally ready for major action on climate change?



COLLINS: Extreme weather is affecting nearly every part of the United States.

In the west, the Calder Fire is tearing through northern California and menacing Lake Tahoe.

In the south, wide swaths of coastal Louisiana are heavily damaged and without power a week after Hurricane made landfall.

And in the northeast, rescue workers are still searching for two people believed to have been swept away in a storm drain after the region was blindsided by the remnants of Hurricane Ida.

Biden will visit hard hit areas in New Jersey and New York on Tuesday where the death toll is at least 50.


MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D), NEW YORK CITY: Tragically these extreme incidents are now the new normal. And so we're going to have to have an entirely different (ph) set of tools but also profoundly different set of responses.


COLLINS: Bill de Blasio says we need a different set of tools. Is this actually going to change the conversation around climate change and being prepared for it?

KUCINICH: It certainly makes it more urgent. And I think you're going to hear that particularly on the Hill when Congress comes back. And it will add fuel to the fire of Democrats trying to push through funding, extra funding for -- in this reconciliation bill to address climate issues.

COLLINS: And the polling on this is really interesting. Going back to 1997, seeing the view of people that were worried about the effects of global warming. Republicans are at 46 percent; Democrats are at 46 percent. Speed to 2021, 29 percent of Republicans and 82 percent of Democrats.

LIPTAK: Yes. And I do think it is striking to see how quickly President Biden made the link between these storms and climate change. That was not always the case particularly with Republicans.


LIPTAK: And now soon he made the case to pass his legislative agenda. These bills that are making their way parallel through Congress contain a lot of funding for climate change both infrastructure and when you see a whole electrical grid go out in Louisiana and when you see subway tunnels flood in New York. I mean it's hard to argue that the nation's infrastructure does not need improving.

The more substantial amounts are in the reconciliation package including this major provision that would subsidize and incentivize clean power. And that's something that Democrats have been pushing for a long time.

And you already start to see people who are on the fence about the reconciliation bill and the infrastructure bill come out in support of the climate change provisions of it and saying that those parts of it don't necessarily have to be fully-funded.


LIPTAK: And so I do think it is pushing this agenda forward. In a way these storms make it a lot easier for the president to make those arguments.

COLLINS: And they were doing it. We were in New York the morning after remnants of Hurricane Ida had hit. It was already -- you were hearing it from the borough presidents to the new Governor Kathy Hochul.

Josh, you do a lot of reporting throughout the country and this isn't just a red or blue issue. A lot of these red states are being affected by this. So what are you hearing from officials in those states and from voters in those state about their concerns?

JAMERSON: Well, one thing you hear from voters especially when you ask like the open-ended question when you do the thing and say what matters most to you -- climate change never comes up --

COLLINS: Really?

JAMERSON: -- except for among some of the more die-hard liberal type of voter you might talk to. Most people actually bring up education when you do the open-ended question. A lot of people do bring up COVID when you do the open-ended question.

And so, you know, I do think there is a chance that this has a lot of movement among some people. But it remains to be seen and especially in Washington, you talk about the reconciliation bill.

I think it's important to note that the only reason why we are even talking about doing some climate funding through reconciliation is because there's steadfast Republican opposition to doing it.

And so, you showed that graph earlier about Republicans actually getting less convinced that this is a (INAUDIBLE) issue.



JAMERSON: I think that's the challenge for climate going forward.

COLLINS: But it is going to be a big conversation going forward at this fall. There are a lot of summits based around this. It's been a big pusher, big talker by the administration when it comes to John Kerry talking about this as well.

So how are they going to navigate this and try to use this momentum because of course, in a few weeks it could change things.

BALL: I think what's changed about the climate issue is it is now something that Democrats agree on pretty universally. And that did not necessarily used be the case. I mean think of Joe Manchin for example, taking a shotgun to the climate bill.


BALL: And I am not saying that Joe Manchin has suddenly become a climate warrior but it is a case that you have a lot of consensus, a lot of momentum among the Democratic Party from the moderates to the liberals.

Progressives, of course, would like to see a lot more done on climate and that has been one of the complaints with the action in the Senate, some of the liberals in the House.

But I think we do see Democrats in broad agreement about this issue. And I do find that when I ask voters, particularly younger voters, not necessarily liberal activists. The younger voters are very concerned about the climate issue.

I think the administration's aware of that, something I heard a lot about at the beginning of the administration from voters that there was a lot of awareness of the re-entry into the Paris agreement.

So I think the administration sees this as a, you know, an issue they want to do something about and they hope that they can message it to people particularly on something like the infrastructure bill to try to convince voters that that is part of what they are doing.

COLLINS: Yes. We know Gina McCarthy has climate advisers and very busy on all of this.

Coming up, the former president is teasing another presidential bid. But what does the former first lady think? We've got some exclusive CNN reporting.



COLLINS: Former President Donald Trump says he's already made a decision about whether to run again in 2024. He won't say what that decision is, only that his supporters will, quote, "be very, very happy".

But sources tell CNN that one person who won't be happy if he runs again is the former first lady, Melania Trump. CNN's Kate Bennett joins the panel now with her exclusive reporting. So, Kate, what did you learn?

KATE BENNETT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well I mean not unlike 2016 Melania Trump has no intention really of joining the campaign or being a prolific presence. And I spoke to people who said that she's not really even interested in being in the White House again going through being first lady again.

We know she's an extremely private person and that being in the public eye wasn't necessarily something she wanted to do in the first place. She's retreated now back to Mar-A-Lago being a mom, et cetera.

And she really has no interest in helping her husband with his perceived, as we all know, his next step political ambitions.

COLLINS: We often see politicians say they consulted their spouse before they announce that they're running for office again, certainly if they're running for president. BENNETT: Right. Sure.

COLLINS: Is this not something a conversation that's happening?

BENNETT: Of course not. I mean I don't think that's how they operate. You know, people are under the misconception that this is a couple that don't spend time together, they don't talk. It's really not true.

They have very independent lives, but they do consult one another. However, you know, in 2016 when she was asked to do events, asked to go on campaign events and rallies, the answer was no so often that people on Trump's campaign just stopped asking her because it was always going to be a no. And we'll see that again this time around.

COLLINS: And what has she been doing. Because we haven't really seen her make any public appearances like you would maybe expect a former first lady to do.

BENNETT: Right. Very much unlike her predecessors she has not really taken advantage of the breadth and scope of the platform that a former first lady has. Many of them are inspired by the work they do in the White House. They continue doing foundations.

You know, Michelle Obama, even Laura Bush have work to do every day from their time as first lady.

It's been about seven months since she left the White House. She established an office but there has not been a public event. There has not been an initiative, a platform. Any of the things they commonly expected. You see that's very typical Melania Trump.

Not good or bad, she's just broken the mold. But I do think it is a challenge when you lower that platform for this amazing opportunity you have to influence the world with messaging. But like her husband, she is an anomaly of American politics.

COLLINS: But unlike her husband, you know, he has definitely been out there, very public, giving a lot of interviews.

And Molly, his former adviser Jason Miller says that he hasn't outright said he's going to run. But he's strongly hinting at it.


JASON MILLER, FORMER TRUMP ADVISER: I would say somewhere between 99 and 100 percent. I think he's definitely running in 2024. I had a good conversation with him last night. I'm going to go see him in another couple of days here.

He has not said the magical words to me, but if you talk to him for a few minutes it's pretty clear that he's running.


COLLINS: Do you think it's clear that the former president is going to run again? BALL: I think that's a different thing than he is running right now. I

think it is clear that he is running right now in the sense that he's keeping his hat in the ring, he's trying to keep everybody interested.

I mean it seems very clear that his need right now is for attention above everything. And so by saying things like this and having people around him say things like this, and I'm not saying they're not true, I'm sure that they are.

I mean it's clear that his head is still very much in the political process. And specifically in the presidential campaign. Does that translate to him actually being on the ballot in 2024? I don't think anybody could know that at this point.

KUCINICH: But it's attention and influence as well, right. Because if he continues to raise money, he continues to have the influence over the Republican field and the Republican Party that he enjoys so much. And he's getting his way and steering things at places he wants them to be.

COLLINS: And when it comes to that influence, we know that he is getting involved in these congressional races. Even though some Republican leaders want him to stay out of these races, he is still getting in and endorsing people.

What are you seeing and do you think he's going to continue doing that?

JAMERSON: Right, I remember back in CPAC in, like, February, Rick Scott was down there and basically was like let's stay in this role as much as possible. And here he is with these endorsements.

But I think what's clear is that, you know, as much as maybe the GOP primaries that we think might be referendums on Trump, maybe Liz Cheney's primary next year.


JAMERSON: What we see on the ground from Ohio to North Carolina and those Senate races to the Virginia governor's race in the purple to trending blue state, that the base of the party is still with Trump, the candidates are still trying to be Trumpian. And the template for the primary is who is the most like Trump.

And so when it comes to those endorsements, I mean Rick Scott might just have to endure with them for the time being.

COLLINS: Yes. Whether he gets in or not, he is still looming over it all.

JAMERSON: Exactly.

COLLINS: That's it for INSIDE POLITICS SUNDAY. Join us back here every Sunday at 8:00 a.m. Eastern time and the weekday show as well at noon eastern. Up next is 'STATE OF THE UNION" with Jake Tapper and Dana Bash. Dana's guests today include White House chief of staff Ron Klain and Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger.

Thanks again for sharing your Sunday morning with us.