Return to Transcripts main page

Inside Politics

Small Crowd Shows Up In Dc To Support January 8 Rioters; Biden Had Laid Out Plan For Everyone To Get Booster Shots; House Democrats Want To Finish Huge Spending Bill Within Days. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired September 19, 2021 - 08:00   ET




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We didn't think there was enough data to support that protection against serious illness remains high.


RAJU: Plus a new book sheds new light on Trump's final days as president, but an unexpected Republican retirement proves yet again, it's still Trump's party.


REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL): To my GOP colleagues, the time is now to speak up. The time for hiding is over, the stakes are too high.


RAJU: And Democrats hope a big win in California gives them a game plan for Virginia and the midterms. They have defeated Trump. But Trumpism is not dead in this country. Inside Politics, the biggest stories sourced by the best reporters now.

Welcome to Inside Politics Sunday, I'm Manu Raju in today for Abby Phillip. The rally in Washington yesterday to support the January 6th rioters was a bust. Only a few 100 people showed up but the man they support former President Donald Trump is still dominating his party as much as ever. A CNN poll out last week shows just two in 10 Republicans believe Joe Biden legitimately won the presidency.

And Ohio Congressman Anthony Gonzalez, one of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump and as he'd rather retired than face a Trump bad primary challenger, Gonzalez called the former president a cancer on the country. Trump's response was short into the point, one down, nine to go. And here is one of those nine.


KINZINGER: Yes, as of now, Trump is winning. Not because Anthony decided not to run but because so many in the Republican Party decided to stay silent. If you think Trump leads our party, you own his comments, we'll you must denounce them. If you think he doesn't lead our party, you must publicly say that the time for hiding is over, the stakes are too high.


RAJU: Joining me now with their reporting and their insight, Rachael Bade of POLITICO, Jonathan Martin of the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal's Sabrina Siddiqui, and Margaret Talev of Axios. Margaret, the protests yesterday smaller than expected very few incidents and handful of arrests, a lot of the leaders of that rally the far right movement, those groups said don't come because of what they suspected was a trap, the law enforcement presence, et cetera. But just the fact that even though there were just very few arrests, does it indicate anything about Trump's dominance or in the party or is he still as dominant as ever?

MARGARET TALEV, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Manu, the polling suggests he's, if not completely as dominant as ever, pretty close to it. I think what yesterday's shows is the power of social queuing and the power of the lack of social queuing. It's precisely because we didn't see everybody in the movement, leaders of the movement saying come out, join the protest that you didn't see people protest.

It also suggests to me that some of the polling on the share of Republicans who believe that the election was stolen from President Trump, maybe overinflated. I mean, I don't think most Republicans are fans of Joe Biden. I think many Republicans still support Donald Trump. But if the overwhelming majority of voters in America who identified as Republicans truly believe that the election had been stolen, and that was the real lie over the last several of the months, there would have been much more than several 100 protesters out there yesterday so.

RAJU: Yes. And you know, Jonathan, one of the dynamics here is what the Republicans who oppose Donald Trump what they do. You really were the first report about Anthony Gonzalez, one of the 10 Republicans who voted to impeach Donald Trump calling it quits, decided he didn't want to return. This is what he told you, he said, politically, the environment is so toxic, especially in our own party right now. You can fight your butt off and win this thing. But are you really going to be happy? And the answer is probably not. Were you surprised that he decided not to follow the role of say, Liz Cheney and try to fight it out with Donald Trump and try to win in November?

JONATHAN MARTIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: No, because of that answer, actually. And to me, that response was the most insightful thing. He said, during the course of almost hour long conversation. And it was insightful, because, you know, he's basically saying this is not going to change, that tomorrow, and the next day, and next month, and next year, and certainly in 23, when I would come back, this is still going to be a Trump-a-fide House GOP caucus. And I just don't want to sort of fight to come back and still be in a distinct minority of folks in my party, who think that this person isn't just unfit for the presidency. But it's a malevolent force in American politics. So I think that's the real reveal. And now watch that Kinzinger clip and you play just now coming in and talking to Gonzalez, what you realize is over the course of the last nine months is the 6th, a handful of these folks in the Republican Party they cannot believe that their colleagues don't see what they see And you hear Kinzinger's tone, you listen to Gonzalez talk, they can't understand why their colleagues are still abiding Trump and it's maddening to them.

RAJU: Yes.



RAJU: And there's so very few of them. I mean, look at the number of 10 -- there are 10 House Republicans voted to impeach Donald Trump, seven in the Senate voted to convict some of them are retiring, some of them are running for reelection. A lot of them keeping their heads down. You're seeing --

MARTIN: Exactly.

RAJU: -- you know, not saying a whole lot hoping that Trump focuses elsewhere. Rachael, are they at risk of being drummed out of the party?

RACHAEL BADE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I mean, absolutely. Trump has endorsed or is recruiting actively for basically every single one of these Republicans. And I think he's supported at least four or five opponents to these 10 Republicans who voted to impeach him. I think it's interesting, though, to see these buckets that the 10 are falling under you have the people like Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, who are really, you know, sticking it to the man, sticking with that message publicly, right?

You have people like Jaime Herrera Beutler, who really keeps her head down and is really trying to stay under the radar, doesn't want to talk about any of this stuff. And then you have some of those Republicans who voted to impeach, who are really trying to stick it to Biden to try to drum up their base and sort of get past it. People like Tom Rice, who is called for Biden to either resign or be impeached over Afghanistan, people like John Katko, who was one of the first moderate Republicans who came out against this January 6th panel and really helped Kevin McCarthy in terms of keeping the party in line against that Committee, clearly trying to win chits back from leadership and the base, and we'll see if it actually works in terms of keeping a seat.

SABRINA SIDDIQUI, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: And I think it's important to note that this isn't a new phenomenon. I think the events of January 6th were perhaps the most extreme manifestation of where support for Trump as a singular figure could culminate. But there were a number of Republican retirements when former President Trump was in office.

MARTIN: Yes. That's right. SIDDIQUI: And you think about former Senator Bob Corker, former Senator Jeff Flake, a number of moderate House Republicans who were prominent critics of Trump and simply no longer saw plays for themselves in the party. And it's because this didn't happen overnight. It's the culmination of six years in which Republicans tried to have it both ways and pretend that the incendiary rhetoric around immigration and issues of race that the culture wars, the conspiracy theories, that that wasn't actually integral to support for Trump within the base, they sort of tried to dismiss this as being about taxes and the judiciary, not recognizing that that's not what's animating the Republican base. That may be the rationale that a lot of mainstream Republicans have provided for why they're still ultimately standing by Trump.

But it's never really been about conservative policies or priorities. And that's why you're seeing a lot of these Trumpian candidates emerge now. And they can't really put the worms back in the can. I think this is something that they're going to be dealing with, not just in these midterm elections, but perhaps for several more elections to come.

RAJU: And listen to how a handful of prominent Republicans have talked about Donald Trump as they went and talked to before the Reagan Library about the way ahead for their party.


CHRIS CHRISTIE (R-NJ), FORMER GOVERNOR: We need to face the realities of the 2020 election and learn not hide from them.

MIKE PENCE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There's almost no idea more un-American than the notion that any one person could choose the American president.

PAUL RYAN (R-WI), FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER: If the conservative cause depends on the populist appeal of one personality, or a second rate invitations, then we're not going anywhere.


RAJU: That message does not seem to be taking on.

TALEV: Taking, getting traction. But, you know, I really put those three voices in two different buckets. I think Mike Pence is a distinctly different voice. This was the Vice President.

MARTIN: Right.

TALEV: This was Donald Trump's wing man. And a carefully worded one who, you know, didn't pull his punches at that. So to hear those remarks from him is demonstrably different to me than Chris Christie.

MARTIN: Well, none of those three are going to be on the ballot next year either. I think that that's an important shared attribute that each of them has. And I think this is the challenge and this is what makes '22 so fascinating, Manu, is can some of these people like Liz Cheney, like Lisa Murkowski, can they survive a primary in '22 with Trump out of office, the first election of him at, you know, trying to sort of go after these critics, can they beat back Trump and if they can, that's going to say something. If Trump wins all those races, that'll be a very loud statement, too.

RAJU: And there's a lot of discussion, of course about the final days of Trump that came out in this new book that came out from Bob Woodward, Bob Costa reporting about Donald Trump concerns about the happening in the national security apparatus towards the end. And in the end of the book, they talk about this, they say, could Trump work his will again, were there any limits to what he and his supporters might do to put him back in power? Peril remains the concerns about trying to overturn the election again, again, what's your reaction to that?

BADE: I mean, clearly, he has tried a path forward for future presidents that someone else might emulate, I think like, for Democrats, the big fear of Trump in, you know, this legacy is that, you know, could someone like a Tom Cotton or somebody who's perhaps a little more politically savvy than Trump, well, not to say as politically savvy, very popular the role of Republican base could somebody tried to emulate this and do it again. And the reality is the guardrails, you know, that sort of protected checks and balances for, you know, centuries in the American government. They very much been called into question over what happened on January 6th.


You know, you have top generals saying they were trying to sort of protect the government from the President himself. Obviously, this is scary for a lot of people. And right now, there's not a lot of accountability about what actually how they can fix this.

RAJU: And a lot of discussion, of course, Mark Milley too coming before Congress in a few weeks, a lot more discussion in the weeks ahead.

Up next for us, why not just give COVID vaccine boosters to everyone? We'll ask Dr. Ashish Jha.



RAJU: A rebuke to the Biden administration from some of the nation's top vaccine scientists, a panel FDA advisors recommended against giving COVID booster shots to everybody who's been already been vaccinated against COVID-19. Instead, the panel recommended the extra shot only for those 65 or older who have a high risk medical condition. President Biden himself announced that the plan last month to deliver boosters to everyone. And it was just two days earlier that Dr. Anthony Fauci said this, there is very little doubt that the boosters will be beneficial, and the panel disagrees with them. He said, quote, I think that would be a mistake, to be honest with you.

Dr. Ashish Jha joins us joins us now. He's the Dean of Brown University's School of Public Health. Dr. Jha, thank you so much for joining us this morning. First, you've said you agree with this recommendation, but help us understand why. What's the downside of giving everyone a booster and making sure given that they're safe, what's the harm in getting any minimal benefit to a variety of individuals?

DR. ASHISH JHA, BROWN UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH DEAN: Yes, so good morning. Thanks for having me here. I do think the panel got it right. And let me explain why. And let me also explain why I don't see it as a rebuke to the Biden ministration. First and foremost, the Biden, the sorry, the panel said, the evidence is clear for people who are at higher risk people who are older, people who have chronic diseases, the evidence suggests that the benefits clearly outweigh any risks whatsoever.

Now, what about younger people, I do think we're going to get more data, just the data's not in yet. So in general, we don't like to give out vaccines or anything else when the evidence isn't clear. I suspect over the next month or two, we're going to get more data on younger healthy people. And that data, I suspect, again, I don't want to prejudge the data. So he's probably going to suggest that it's helpful for younger people as well. And we're going to probably expand that list.

So right now, we're going to focus on high risk people. Over time, we're going to probably end up doing this for others as well.

MAJU: And Dr. Jha the messaging has been mixed here. The Biden administration made a big public push. The President said everyone should get a booster after eight months. Dr. Fauci spoke in favor of them. How -- why did the administration gets so out in front of this issue and get out in front of what the science says here, apparently?

JHA: Yes, you know, again, I don't know how the administration makes us decisions. But I will say that I thought Dr. Fauci and the administration the argument that we will need boosters eventually. I don't think that's ahead of the science. I think the science on that is clear. The question is timing, when, who do you prioritize? The FDA panel basically was saying, based on the data we have right now, we should prioritize high risk people. As I said, I do think that that the rest of the groups are coming. But we just want to wait for more data to be sure that that's really the right thing to do.

MAJU: Now, another reason some say we shouldn't do boosters is because so many other countries have so little access to vaccines at all. Listen to this from a former CDC director.


DR. TOM FRIEDEN, FORMER CDC DIRECTOR: Fundamentally, we're faced with a decision that is ethically inexcusable but politically inevitable. We do want to recommend what's best for Americans. But the fact is, we're in a zero sum situation, and there isn't nearly enough vaccine for the world.

(END VIDEO CLIP) RAJU: Now President Biden said his goal is to vaccinate 70 percent of the world in the next year, but he is down to freedom right here. Is this a zero sum game?

JHA: Yes, I see it differently. And here's why. First of all, I don't think it's ethically inexcusable to be vaccinating people in nursing homes. We're protecting our frail elders, protecting other high risk people. We absolutely have to do that. Those are not massive numbers. Look, we also still have to donate all the excess vaccines we have. And we've got to do more on expanding capacity. But I think asking the American president to sacrifice the lives of Americans, I think is not necessary, nor would I go down that road, I just think we can do both. And we have to do both.

RAJU: Now, let me ask you about the trajectory of the virus overall in the U.S., it appears we've hit an inflection point in cases and hospitalizations. So is the Delta surge over? Or should we be worried that school reopenings are about to trigger potentially another round as kids may spread the virus amongst ourselves into their families?

JHA: Yes, I would see this in two ways, Manu. First of all, I do think that the South that especially the Deep South that saw the huge surges over the summer, I do think that has peaked and is coming down. Thank goodness, I think that's going to be helpful. We're still seeing cases rise in the Midwest and in the Great Plains. Here in New England, even we're still seeing cases rise though slowly. The good news is we have all the tools now to prevent a bad surge as we head into the fall and winter.

We've got to get more people vaccinated. We have to make testing more widely available. We have to in places with high transmission wear mask indoors. If we do those things, I think the worst of the Delta surge will be behind us. Obviously if we choose not to do those things, then we can end up having a pretty tough fall and winter.

RAJU: And just a quick final question here for your Doctor for parents of children under, you know, children under 12 like myself, what can you say about when they may be able to get vaccinated?


JHA: Yes, so we're still waiting for data from Pfizer to be filed with the FDA. I expect based on everything I've seen that that will happen in the next week or two, few weeks for the FDA Advisory Committee to digest all of it and to make a determination. I'm hoping that I have a nine-year-old as well. I'm hoping he will get his first shot around Halloween. That would be a treat if that happens. I might spill out a week or two after that, but not much later than that.

RAJU: Yes, I'll take that. That will be very good news. Dr. Jha, thank you for coming on with us this morning.

And coming up for us next, will Democratic divisions torpedo President Biden's spending plans?


RAJU: It's one of the biggest pieces of legislation ever, President Biden's multitrillion dollar plan to reshape the American workforce and the social safety net. Now House Democrats want to finish work on it in days. But that will not be easy. A party is divided over the final price tag along with many specific issues like health care, taxes, clean energy. But for President Biden there is no turning back, he plans to meet with lawmakers this week at the White House, two press his case.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Big corporations of the super wealthy have to start paying their fair share of taxes. My plan benefits ordinary Americans, not those at the top who don't need the help. We can build an economy that gives working people a fair shot this time. We can restore some sanity and fairness to our tax code. We can make the investments that we know are long overdue in this nation.


RAJU: That, you know, how are they going to get this done? I mean, this is September 27th is the deadline that Nancy Pelosi agreed to cut a deal with moderates to bring over that bipartisan infrastructure bill that passed the Senate. But the problem is that the progressives are threatening to tank that bill, the infrastructure bill, if that larger $3.5 trillion bill is not out of both chambers by that that just seems impossible at this point.

BADE: I mean Manu you know this is just a mess on Capitol Hill right now. That bill is nowhere near done. They were talking over the weekend. Schumer and Pelosi were negotiating with the White House. There's no way they can get this done in the next, what, eight days by the 27th. And so what they're going to be faced with is this question of what do they do about the bipartisan infrastructure deal. The moderates are going to hold Pelosi accountable. They've already put out a letter this week saying, look, you promised us this vote. And then the progressives are warning that they have the votes to tank this thing.

I mean, I've talked to some mods on the Hill, who actually think that that's a little bit of a bluff. And they think that leadership is actually going to try to whip the votes that President Biden really needs a win right now. And that he can actually cajole enough progressives, and have enough moderate Republicans support this thing to pass the bipartisan infrastructure bill.

But look, if progressives don't hold the line on this, they're going to look like they're getting totally walked all over. And so I would be surprised if they just sort of lay down their arms to do that.

TALEV: But here's the thing, the 3.5 trillion thing is not happening. There's no $3.5 trillion bill.

MANU: Yes. And what's the price tag? That's the ultimate question. TALEV: It's two questions, is what's the price tag? Or is there a price tag?

MANU: Yes. What's in it?

TALEV: Like is that really where we are right now? And I think in 2010, what Democrats gave Obama, the Affordable Care Act, and then they lost the midterms. But it doesn't mean that the corollary would be true, it doesn't mean that if they got all the way to the five yard line, and then blinked on the ACA, the Democrats want to have the midterms, like if Democrats are going to lose the midterms anyway, they should, you know, want this, presumably.

And so I think that's the real question for the Democratic parties. This is what Biden is running on. This is what Democrats are running. They're running on the ability to solve for COVID. And the ability to break the logjam and get him infrastructure spending done after all these years. And so like they're not running on Afghanistan, right? I just don't -- it's astounding. There's so many divisions inside the party, that it seems impossible. Nothing is going to happen in the next couple of weeks.

MANU: The question is, will they be running with Joe Biden or not. Look at how his numbers have really dropped over the last several months here? It's at 46 percent now his approval rating down eight points since April. You know, he is trying to use the sway of the office. He met with Joe Manchin last week he met with Kyrsten Sinema. Is he going to be able to get moderate Democrats to fall in line behind what he wants?

SIDDIQUI: Well, that's really the challenge for someone who ran on his unique ability to negotiate with lawmakers on Capitol Hill, his decades of experience cutting deals in the U.S. Senate, and you're really seeing that experience be put to the test. I mean, as Margaret said, that's a really is at stake here. This is President Biden's agenda. This is the Democratic messaging going into midterms.

And we already know that moderates have balked at the price tag for this $3.5 trillion reconciliation package. Progressives, having said that feel like they've already compromised enough. Remember, the initial infrastructure and spending bill they were proposing was more than $6 trillion. And those divisions are colliding with the reality that Democrats really don't have the votes to spear in either chamber, we often focus a lot on the Senate because of the 50-50 split.


SIDDIQUI: But in the House, they can only afford to lose about three votes. And so I think, you know, obviously, the White House says that Biden is continuing to hold these conversations. There really are ultimately going to be two key questions here. Is this -- is this going to be a $3.5 trillion package and where is it that Democrats or the White House may be willing to compromise is it on this provision that would lower the cost of prescription drug prices for seniors the pharmaceutical industry is already running ads attacking centrist Democrats -- RAJU: Yes.


SIDDIQUI: -- over that particular provision.

RAJU: And speaking of ads being --.

SIDDIQUI: -- expanding Medicare.

RAJU: -- aiming at or it's already begun, I'm glad you mentioned that one here from the Republican Congressional Committee that trying to keep - win back the House Majority for the Republicans, going after a moderate Georgia Democrat on this issue.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's the difference between Nancy Pelosi's doormat and Congresswoman Carolyn Bourdeaux? Nothing. Bourdeaux promised she would stand up to Pelosi's reckless $3.5 trillion socialist spending spree, but she broke her promise and voted with Pelosi.


RAJU: Is this going to stick in the midterms or is the midterms going to be about cultural wars --

JONATHAN MARTIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I hear, Manu, that there's more ads coming.

RAJU: (Inaudible)

MARTIN: The Chamber of Commerce I think is going to go up here very soon (inaudible) in some House Democratic districts. No, I mean, this is going to be the tone and tenor of what we're going to see. It also raises the question of is Nancy Pelosi herself going to file for reelection next year and be on the ballot, that is still an open question. She doesn't want to talk about it for obvious reasons, but obviously that's in the back of the minds of some House Democrats.

And it also raises the question of Biden has had Manchin and Sinema on a shuttle between the Capitol and the White House, where are the House moderate Democrats? Why aren't they in the White House? We know that Biden called Stephanie Murphy who's a moderate Democrat in the House from Florida.

But this could come down to what kind of capital Joe Biden has with moderate Democrats in the House who don't get frankly, the TV time and the ink of Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema and Kurt Schrader from Oregon, Jared Golden from Maine, Ed Case from Hawaii. These are not household names, but they are pivotal House Democrats. Can Joe Biden deliver those folks, that's a key.

RAJU: And will they be scared about the messaging about taxing? You see how liberals in the House and a lot of Democrats do talk about taxing the rich and, of course, the dress that Alexandria Ocasio- Cortez wore last week, getting a lot of attention.

MARTIN: That's not Jared Golden.

RAJU: Yes. That was not Jared Golden.


RAJU: But it's really been a long time since the Congress has passed a massive tax act that we're talking about now. We have this headline from 1993, one of the last Times' --

MARTIN: Oh, look at that.

RAJU: -- Bill Clinton there heralding a time breaking vote from Al Gore in the Senate who is the vice president there. How concerned should Democrats be about the tax issue, the messaging hurting them or are they confident that they can win that argument next year?

RACHAEL BADE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I mean, it depends on which Democrats you're talking about. I mean, leadership is still gung ho that they can sell this to the American public as tax hike on the rich and that that resonates with American voters. But I mean, you talked about moderates, House moderates.


BADE: Stephanie Murphy, which you just mentioned. She voted against this tax provision in committee just now and I think anytime you vote against tax increases and this is one of the largest tax increases since like the 1960s. Republicans are absolutely going to seize on that and campaign on it.

These moderate House Democrats, I think, right now are really signaling to the White House that they have a problem.


BADE: They were promised that there would be a negotiation between the Senate and the House. They would come up with one big reconciliation bill and they would take one tough vote and only have to swallow this once. But right now, what you're seeing is a lot of votes happening in the committee level, in the House and these moderate Democrats are worried that they're going to be voting in committee on these provisions that are never going to become law and then they're going to be attacked by Republicans and lose their seats in the midterms and so there's a lot of fear right now.

RAJU: And there's also fear about what may happen and the paying the nation's bills, the debt ceiling needs to be raised by mid-October. Both sides are in a staring contest right now. Democrats believe the Republicans are going to cave. They're going to give them the votes in the Senate to do that. The Republicans saying they're not going to give Democrats the vote to that, Democrats, if they're going to do it on their own have a very labor intensive process to move it through the Senate. How concerned should people be about a possible default come mid-October? MARGARET TALEV, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. I think there's two

questions. One is what are the politics of how they're going to get it passed and the second is are they going to get passed. Somehow the nation's debts will get paid, somehow America will not default long- term. The question is, are Democrats going to have to do it themselves.

RAJU: Yes.

SIDDIQUI: I think like Rachael and I have talked a lot about this like we go through this, we've been going through this for the last decade. It seems like every year it's like, oh, it's Christmas, are we going to go over the cliff like all that stuff. Somehow, it will get worked out but the Republicans are certainly in a posture that tells Democrats you want to run immigration on a reconciliation bill, you can fix the debt on that (inaudible).

RAJU: Yes. And that's going to probably go right up to the wire, could cause a scare. A lot to monitor and the Congress comes back this week, we'll see what they say.

Coming up, what can Terry McAuliffe learn from Gavin Newsom's win?



RAJU: Early voting in the Virginia race for governor started on Friday. In a fiery debate between Democratic former Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Republican businessman Glenn Youngkin kicked off the next phase of the campaign.


TERRY MCAULIFFE, (D) VIRGINIA GOV. CANDIDATE: He talks about his day one plan. His day one plan will be to unleash COVID, because he doesn't believe we should mandate vaccinations.

GLENN YOUNGKIN, (R) VIRGINIA GOV. CANDIDATE: And here we go again, my opponent wants to mandate. I respect your ability to make decisions, because that's what leaders do.


RAJU: Just out yesterday this Washington Post poll that might concern Democrats, showing a very tight race between the two candidates. There we see MaAuliffe 50 percent, Youngkin 47 percent.

MARTIN: Yes, this is a close race.

RAJU: John, should Democrats be concerned here?

MARTIN: Yes. This is a close race. I think McAuliffe has a slight advantage, but it's slight. In an off year which is what this is, when you don't want to have presidential level turnout, Virginia becomes more purple than blue. The good news for Democrats is the last 10 years it's gotten increasingly more blue, but this is still not a gimme (ph).

You've got a self-funder (ph) in Youngkin, someone who can sort of put money of his own in the camp.


But this is a bellwether race, not just because historically, these gov races in my home state always are for the midterms, but also because of the vaccine issue this year. We saw a bit in California, Manu. California obviously is very blue state, I think this the better test in Virginia.

Can a Democrat run offensively and prosecute the case on vaccine mandates and actually win on that. That's kind of the bet McAuliffe is making that I'm going to hurt my opponent because he will not come out and join me for the mandate.

RAJU: And look at just what the voters are saying in this poll here from The Washington Post saying about the issues that animate the voters most in Virginia 25 percent the economies, coronavirus 17 percent. I mean, right up there mandates seem to be as (inaudible) was saying here, a motivating issue.

TALEV: Yes. I think a risk for the GOP is overreach and I think in the state like Virginia, tying yourself too closely to the anti-mask resistance about vaccines is an example of political overreach in a swing state like that, in a purple blue to purple state. And there are states where McAuliffe strategy could be dangerous for Democrats. I don't think Virginia is one of them, Northern Virginia, which is where the population masses are, it's high density population, it's also highly educated people and it's people who don't want their kids to get sick and it's people who don't want to get sick themselves.

RAJU: Go ahead.

SIDDIQUI: It's interesting, because you've seen Youngkin try to kind of thread this needle where he's positioned himself as being in favor of the COVID vaccine, but against the idea that it would be mandated by the government. I think you're going to see a lot of Republicans try and replicate that strategy where they're not positioning themselves as being anti-science or anti-vax, but at the same time trying to take the stance against the requirements that the Biden administration rolled out in recent weeks.

Although I will say there are a number of recent polls that have signaled that the American public is actually increasingly supportive of vaccine requirements. In fact, they show that a majority of Americans support vaccine requirements in order to return to the workplace and that a majority of Americans support masking in schools as well as vaccines in order for students to return to in-person instruction.

So I think Republicans may be potentially misreading where the American public is on a pandemic that is now stretched past a year and a half and there's simply a great deal of exhaustion with respect to pandemic, a desire to anything that can be done to overcome it. I think it really will come down to Biden's handling of COVID whether people feel like they have a sense of normalcy back and whether or not the economy is rebounding.

RAJU: And so much about COVID, of course, drove the politics of the California recall election that Gavin Newsom won handedly last week. Here's a lesson from The Washington Post's Dan Balz, this is what he took away from it. He said, "Think all politics are local? The California recall says most politics are now national." Do you think that's the case, Rachael, even in the midterms?

BADE: Yes. I mean, clearly, he's talking about not only COVID and that's obviously a national issue. But also, I mean, Newson was talking a lot about Texas in the final days, too. I mean, Texas, in this law in terms of banning all abortions after five, six weeks allowing citizens to sue women or anybody they think was participating in or facilitating an abortion. Newsom was talking about that and how he is a pro-choice and they're for women.

And so, yes, you're seeing a lot of these issues that are sort of bubbling up nationally. These folks running in these special elections saying, specifically, look, I'm going to be the person to protect your choice in terms of abortion. And so yes, you're seeing all these local politics sort of being drowned out by the nationalist --

RAJU: And you wrote about the Gavin Newsom's win last week.


RAJU: You talked to (inaudible) the last governor who got recalled, Gray Davis, who talked about the fringe candidates in the race. You asked about Larry Elder, the Republican, one of the Republican candidates. He said he was a gift from god. He conducted his entire campaign as if the electorate was conservative Republicans.

MARTIN: Right.

RAJU: I mean, do Democrats - how do they feel about facing these more conservative --

MARTIN: Well, this is the whole thing, Manu, is that Democrats are not going to have the benefit of running against incendiary talk show hosts in the midterms in every race, but we covered 2010, we remember what happened in 2010. I think this is the concern for Republicans is in an otherwise good year, are you going to lose winnable races, because the other party is able to hold on because you nominate flawed candidates.

Two words, Manu, Sharron Angle, remember her?

RAJU: Yes.

MARTIN: Harry Reid survived 2010 in a really good year for Republicans because he had a really flawed opponent. We saw it in other states beyond Nevada, too. I think that's the lesson of California is. Yes, this is probably going to be a good year for the GOP, '22, but is it going to be a good year or a great year. I think that depends on candidate quality and that's why you see these concerns in Senate races about who we're going to nominate. And I think that's the big takeaway from California.

RAJU: Georgia is a perfect example, that Senator race in Georgia, Herschel Walker, the former NFL running back, Mitch McConnell's concern is Donald Trump is behind it. We'll see these divisions in the party play out. We'll see who wins.


Up next for us, a challenging week for President Biden from foreign policy to immigration, will these setbacks risk his reset?



RAJU: It has been a tough week for President Biden. In addition to the day to day managing of the pandemic, Biden is dealing with a discovery that a U.S. drone strike killed 10 Afghan civilians and enraged Emmanuel Macron after a scuttle submarine deal with France, and over 10,000 Haitians gathered at the southern border.

In Afghanistan, Sabrina, the administration took a victory lap after that drone strike. They call the strike righteous at the time. It ended up becoming such a tragedy, tragic mistake. Seven children killed, three adult civilians, what does that tell you about the way the administration conducted the withdrawal from Afghanistan?

SIDDIQUI: Well, it's sort of the final act in what has been a chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan, although it is worth pointing out U.S. drone strikes have been a feature of the 20-year war on terror. There are thousands of U.S. drone strikes that have resulted in thousands of civilian casualties in several countries. And so, this has actually been something that's been fairly characteristic of the U.S. mission overseas.

But I will say that for the Biden administration, any day where we're talking about Afghanistan is a day that distracts from his domestic agenda and what they want to be talking about infrastructure, the economy, trying to recover the country from COVID. At the same time, foreign policy has simply not really motivated voters at the polls in recent elections. And so most Americans still support the decision to withdraw from Afghanistan, I think Republicans will try and seize on the way it'll play it out in the midterms. But it's just not clear that foreign policy has really been a motivating factor for a lot of Americans at the state.

RAJU: Yes. He, obviously, got a number of foreign policy problems. He infuriated the French over this deal that the (inaudible) essentially left them, I'm going to call it, the nuclear national security deal. This is what the President said in February about saying America is back with its allies.


Transatlantic Alliance is back and we are not looking backward. I know the past few years have strained and tested our Transatlantic relationship. The United States is determined to re engage with Europe, to consult with you, to earn back our position of trusted leadership.


RAJU: And it seems like the opposite (inaudible) now. The French Foreign Minister is saying the President acted like Trump impulsively.

TALEV: Yes. The U.S. is all for multilateralism, except when bilateralism worked better or trilateralism. I think President Biden is going to have to thread the needle on this at the UNGA assembly this week. He'll give his first sort of address, the Biden doctrine as President. But look, what happened with France is mostly about China. Yes, it was sort of ham-handed handling and the diplomacy probably - they could have tied the bow a little bit better.

But fundamentally, this is about how the U.S. views dealing with the strategic threat of China even though the public messaging is this isn't about any one country, like it is about a country, it's about China. But having said that, like I do think it's correct that the American public is much more focused on the economy or COVID, but for Biden the diplomacy stuff is actually important.

RAJU: His former Senate Foreign Relations Chairman --

MARTIN: Right, bread and butter for him, yes.

RAJU: Absolutely. And look, he's dealing with this crisis at the border. They have been dealing with it since day one. Now, we're seeing about 14,000 Haitians waiting at the southern border in the aftermath of that devastating earthquake there. But the administration says they'll be deported, but why has the administration had such a hard time getting a handle on the crisis there? I mean, Kamala Harris was supposed to be in charge of the larger diplomatic issues with the countries down there.

BADE: Yes. I mean, this is a no win situation for the President no matter what he does. I mean, right now Republicans are saying the National Guard needs to go down there. They're really seizing on this to try to turn out the base for the midterms and get the Republicans excited. But then you have progressives like Ilhan Omar, a former refugee herself who are saying, look, you have not changed the Trump era immigration policies when it comes to asylum and people showing up at our border from terrible conditions, where they left their countries, and we should be fixing that and going back to a more humane system. And so he's getting criticized right now on the right, on the left and it's just a no win situation.

RAJU: And it's the cumulative fact.

MARTIN: It's the cumulative --

RAJU: That is never really one issue, when they all add up, that's when it becomes a problem.

MARTIN: It's been a difficult stretch and there's a lot of rocks in the backpack, which is why to come back full circle, they so desperately want to get some legislative wins this fall on both infrastructure and his larger agenda. Because if those two collapse on top of everything else, that that's happened externally, that's going to create a really tough spot for Democrats going into next year.

RAJU: Yes. What do you think, do you think the President is going to be able to reverse this?

TALEV: I think Americans' focus is on domestic issues, it's on the economy and COVID. The problem is that he is the president, but he does not control the ability really to cut a deal between progressives and that Manchin-Sinema block. He just doesn't. He can try. There's probably more he can do and many folks are telling him, lean in, pull this together.

RAJU: Yes.

MARTIN: And just real fast, I asked one person in the White House last week (inaudible) tough time and now Macron and this person said to me, how many reconciliation votes can Macron deliver. The person was --


RAJU: Well, maybe he has a good relationship with Joe Manchin we don't know about.

MARTIN: Exactly. It was kind of a joke, but it kind of wasn't too, which is to say yes the French thing is not great timing, but the priority for them. They know that his presidency in a big way is going to hang on what happens this fall on Capitol Hill (inaudible) your turf.

RAJU: (Inaudible) incompetence too, we'll see how this all turns out, so much to cover. That's it for us INSIDE POLITICS here on Sunday. Join us back here every Sunday at 8 am Eastern and the weekday show as well noon Eastern.

Up next for us, STATE OF THE UNION with Jake Tapper and Dana Bash. Jake's guests include Dr. Anthony Fauci, Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves and Congressman Jim Clyburn. Thanks again for sharing your Sunday morning with us. See you later.