Return to Transcripts main page

Inside Politics

Obama To Campaign For McAuliffe In Virginia; Dem Campaign Vet Warns Party Of Major Senate Losses In 2022; 14 Dem, 20 GOP Senate Seats Up In 2022; Schiff Calls House GOP Leader An Insurrectionist In A Suit &Tie; Source: Trump Org Close To A Deal To Sell D.C. Hotel. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired October 12, 2021 - 12:30   ET




JOHN KING, CNN HOST: And Barak Obama to the urgent late Democratic push in the Virginia governor's race. The Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe announced today that the former president will campaign with him on October 23rd. Obama now joining a growing list of high profile Democrats heading to the Commonwealth with an eye on motivating higher Democratic turnout. The First Lady Jill Biden will stamp for McAuliffe on Friday. Stacey Abrams is due in Virginia this Sunday.

The panel is back with me. On the one hand, you say ho-hum, you know, it's a big race, Democratic candidate so you're calling your big names. That's what you do. On the other hand, if you talk to Democrats -- or Republicans in Virginia right now, they say the Democrats have a motivation problem and they need all hands on deck and they need it now.


AMY WALTER, PUBLISHER & EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, COOK POLITICAL REPORT WITH AMY WALTER: They have a very big motivation problem. Part of it is, look, Democrats have been really successful in Virginia for these last few years. And there's an assumption, I think, for many in the state that it's a blue state, it's going to be fine.


WALTER: The driving factor in 2017, in 2018, and in 2020, of course, was the person who's no longer in the White House and that was Donald Trump. With him gone, it is hard to reengage that what we call negative partisanship, right, that anger there. And Terry McAuliffe and Democrats attempt to turn Glenn Youngkin, the Republican, into Donald Trump, has not been very successful because Glenn Youngkin is not an easy person to caricature as this sort of Trump knockoff.

KING: He's running more as your old school Republican businessman. I'm not a career politician. If you look at the polling, it's a close race 48, 44. In a poll from a couple weeks ago, that's too close for comfort in a state that, again, that has been turning blue. You mentioned Trump is no longer around. Well, this is Terry McAuliffe on TV this morning saying, "Yes, he is. Please believe me."


TERRY MCAULIFFE (D), VIRGINIA GOVERNOR CANDIDATE: This is Donald Trump's comeback, and people need to wake up. And I know we have elections every year in Virginia and people get tired, but this is very important. And if we don't vote for me, I can tell you, women should understand that abortions will be outlawed in Virginia.

We will have the Texas law here. And think of this, doctors, I mean, they're going to go try and put doctors in jail. Women's lives will be put at risk.


MARTIN: You can see what's popping in their polling data because --

KING: Right.

MARTIN: -- he pivots straight from, this is Trump's comeback to abortion restrictions. Clearly, those are the two issues they believe can galvanize Democratic voters in Virginia. This is a state where a Democrat should win. And this is basically his race to lose, but he could lose it in part because it's a very different state and a non- presidential year. The turnout is different and the sort of nature of the states of voters is very different.

I was with Governor McAuliffe this morning in Alexandria (ph) just crossed the river here. He made a little bit of news with CNN's Dan Merica said President Biden himself is also coming to the Commonwealth. Look for that to be after Obama's probably end of October as well. But no, this is a very competitive race. And if Democrats cannot rouse their base, it's going to slip away from them.

KING: And McAuliffe, you know, he had to -- he tried to clean it up Sunday here on State of the Union in CNN. But he said, you know, he spoke the truth. He just -- then he had to almost apologize because you have a Democratic president that the President's dragging me down right now.


KING: President Biden's numbers are down. We're going to talk more about that later. But the fact that the President's coming, it's smart in the sense that, yes, because they haven't done much here in Washington, the President's numbers are slumping. But if you try to hide from that, you know, then you just -- then you further discourage Democratic turnout.

COURTNEY SUBRAMANIAN, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, USA TODAY: Yes. I mean, even with Obama coming to Virginia, I mean, you -- he can't go there and not mention his number former two, especially with the party struggling to pass the President's agenda. This is something that isn't a chance for him to both, you know, galvanize Democratic voters, but also, you know, stamp for President Biden. MARTIN: We're going to see Terry in the Rayburn building here pretty soon. I'm literally trying to bring together moderate and liberal Democrats to get a bill done by Halloween and sort of Build Back Better is going to be the McAuliffe mantra here all month.

KING: Up next, we're going to continue this conversation. The Democrats dilemma, the President slumping poll numbers make things hard today and the longer term trends are bleak.



KING: You can make the case that the maps look pretty good today if you're a Democrat. Look, Joe Biden is President. He won by a pretty convincing margin over Donald Trump. That's one way to look at it.

Remember, after the presidential election, you had those two Senate seats in Georgia. It's a 50-50 Senate. And switch maps here. Democrats also control the House. It's not as big as margin as they would like, but they are the majority party in the House. So, Democrats look OK, right?

Well, there are some giant warning signs for the party right now and in reports that look over the long term. The President's polling slump right now is the party's glaring worry. Take a look at this. Look at the President's approval rating and look at the trend line. Disapproval now weigh up. The approval rating down. That hurts the President's party heading into the midterm elections. It could hurt the candidate in Virginia just three weeks from now.

So the President's approval rating, number one, if that stays anywhere like that, you can come back and look at this map. Forget about it. The House majority is gone if the President's poll numbers look like that a year from now. And if you look at the Senate outlook in 2022, again, Republicans look at the President's approval rating now, and they look at this map. Yes, Republicans have more seats to defend. But if you go through the states, with the President's polling slump, and this terrain for next year, Republicans feel confident, they feel confident about 2022.

And if you look at the long-term trends, listen to David Axelrod, who works for both of the Obama campaign saying the long-term trends for the Democrats not good.


DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: The structure of our Democratic system is biased against Democrats because Democrats clustered around metropolitan areas and the rural states are becoming more and more red. We're becoming more polarized by education and class. And all this is working against Democrats.


KING: The panel is back with me. [12:45:00]

Let's start with the immediate and then we'll move into the long term because the immediate actually feeds -- fuels the long term, if you will. If you look at the President's approval rating right now, this is what drives midterm elections and 53 percent disapproval. Not a good sign for the Democrats.

Now, there's a lot of time. Not a lot of time between now the Virginia governor's race, for the New Jersey governor's race, right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sorry, Derek (ph).

KING: But there's a lot of time between now and the midterm elections for the Democrats believe do things, right? We were just talking earlier about the agenda, do things is the best way to try to move those numbers, right?

WALTER: Right. Well, but the most important thing, too, is returning people's lives to a sense of normality (ph).

KING: Totally.

WALTER: Right?

KING: Right.

WALTER: That it doesn't matter whether that is passing this agenda, for some people, that's what normal was, right? That's what they assumed life was going to be when this man was elected president. For some, it was, we weren't going to have these COVID problems anymore. That hasn't happened. For others, it's, the economy is going to kind of get up and running. That's not happening.

There's nothing that feels like we are back to a pre-COVID normal in whatever that normal meant for you in 2020, when you thought that, you know, for many who voted for Joe Biden and thought that's what you were going to get. So until that start, it's getting better. Passing a piece of legislation that nobody's talking about right now, that nobody feels invested in right now in terms of regular voters, is not going to move those numbers.

KING: Right. And you make a key point in the sense that this was the Biden calling card during the campaign. I will not be Trump. We will deal with the pandemic responsibly. We will deal with the economy quickly.

If you look, again, back to the President's approval rating, you know, this is about when Delta came to the United States.


KING: And it started to grow and grow and grow, and then you had the hospitalization, and there's the cross.

MARTIN: Yes. KING: You know, there's where you have the cross line there. And now the President finds himself here. This is just tied to COVID period.

SUBRAMANIAN: It's tied to COVID, but it's also tied to, you know, some of the struggles he's seen with on the Afghanistan withdrawals.


KING: Right.

SUBRAMANIAN: You know, with, you know, the struggle -- the congressional gridlock. This is about credibility. This is about competency. And that's a question that is back in the national debate about Joe Biden.

MARTIN: The paradox of Biden's campaign is that he ran on two very different things. One, healing the country and restoring normalcy, Allah Warren Harding, but also like a really aggressive, comprehensive and expansive policy agenda that placated the left that was never a big fan of his. And, obviously, he's trying to get this ladder done, hasn't done it yet, and that's creating challenges. But it's the former that's creating, I think, bigger problems with independent voters.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: With independent voters.

MARTIN: But like Amy said, it had to be calm (ph), by the way, on this --


MARTIN: -- as well.

KING: Yes.

MARTIN: They just want like back to normal, and they thought it was going to be that way and then Delta hits. And they say, Joe, what happened, man? What happened?

WALTER: And I think the frustration on the left is more than just about, is he going to pass this big, expansive social --

KING: Right.

WALTER: -- program? It's -- the things that we talked about forever, DACA.


KING: Right.

WALTER: Why is there not a solution to that? Policing, we spent so much of 2020 focused on that issue --

MARTIN: Totally. WALTER: -- nothing's happened. Those -- at least when I'm talking to voters, listening to them and focus groups -- those are the sorts of things that come up more so than I'm really bummed that we don't have an infrastructure package.

KING: Right. If you look at the agenda when they came to town voting rights, not going to happen.

WALTER: Right.


KING: It's not going to --

WALTER: Right, that's another one.

KING: Police reform, not going to happen. And if you look at the other, the hard -- yes, the bipartisan infrastructure plan, maybe, probably, but we don't know yet. Will they have a reconciliation package? Democrats keep saying they're going to figure it out. But --


KING: -- they're still fighting.

AYESHA RASCOE, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, NPR: And a lot of this, you have to remember when Biden was at inauguration, he said, it was, you know, thank you, or when he won the presidency, he said, it was the black vote. You got me here. I'm going to fight for you now. But the question is, what has he delivered?

So part of this, if you want to get black voters, those people who have been reliable for the Democratic Party, been the backbone of the Democratic Party, what have you done for black voters lately? That's what they're asking.

KING: And, look, it's incredibly complicated because of the shifts, the demographic shifts in the country, the growth of the Democratic Party in the cities into the suburbs, where you have when I showed you that House map, the Democrats are the party of the coast, they're huge on both coasts. But in the middle of America, as Reclined in the New York Times wrote about this based on the Democratic data analyst Daniel -- David Shor, sorry, "Democrats need to internalize that they're not like and do not understand the voters they need to win over," is the point he makes. "Swing voters in these states," this in the Midwestern industrial states, "are not liberals, not woke, do not see the world in the way that the people who staff and donate to the Democratic campaigns do."

It is an issue when you are a bigger family that you have, a, more disagreements but it's more complicated for urban Democrats to talk to you or wrote about this in this factor, different contexts.


KING: I'll show you the map, different -- separate report about the Democratic problems in factor, its states, industrial states.


KING: That this report looked at 10 states including Upstate New York, you think in New York City, where Democrats have a huge problem, because they're losing touch with -- essentially voters will work with their hands.

MARTIN: Yes. And you can look at these communities that were historically big manufacturing communities, strong presence of organized labor, and both of those things have collapsed the last one years. Organized labor is gone because a lot of the factories are gone.


And so, I think, what's left in the wake there is a real opening for Republicans to make a move on cultural issues and you don't have the kind of organizing power that organized labor brings to those communities anymore. I think that's where somebody like Trump can come in and prove very, very powerful.

That said, it's not even just an American problem, this is happening all over the West.


MARTIN: Deindustrialization is hurting center-left parties around the world, not just here.

KING: Right. But if you look at -- if you come back to this map --


KING: If you come back this map, just look at it, I mean, you know, if you took Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin --

MARTIN: Ballgame, yes.

KING: -- Minnesota, those were states, Illinois, is different. And I won't -- I'm not going to put that out there yet, because it's so Democratic right now. But these other states, they're in play. They have been in play --

MARTIN: Right.

KING: -- for Republicans. Trump won, some of them. Minnesota is close. If you look at a longer term, where are we in 10 years, where are we in 15 years. The Democrats need to figure this out.

MARTIN: And especially if Biden loses suburbanites who were with him because he wasn't Trump last time and doesn't have the kind of galvanize support in the black community because he hasn't delivered or because there is actually some marginal drift among black men away from the party, then they're in dire straits.


KING: And again, so that's the long-term data looks please (ph). One way to turn it around is to have gains in the short term, to pass your agenda, to get some wins. But if you look at the Senate battleground map, again, in the states, we were just looking at another map, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin. You know, can Democrats perform in places like that in this environment now?

WALTER: And here's the good news for Democrats. This is not the 2018 map where they were defending so many red states, or the 2014 map.

MARTIN: Right.

WALTER: Or the 2010 map. Those were all lots of red that they had to defend. They have to defend a lot of purple states. I think the bigger challenge for Democrats is Nevada, New Hampshire, right? Those are the places, Georgia, Arizona holding on to those states. That still gets you -- you got your 50, you held on. Can you get one more by picking up a Wisconsin or Pennsylvania?

But yes, we are going to look for signs in Pennsylvania. And there's a good chance you might see in this battle for those battleground states. Two extremes of this conversation we've had. One really, really left blue, one really, really Trumpy red in a swing state. And it's --

KING: And you touched on this earlier, one of the way to change minds or win voters in these places is to come to them and say, we did these things. We did these things, and they are tangible in your life both for us.

SUBRAMANIAN: Right. And so, one area that they have, you know, pointed to as a legislative win is the child tax credit, right? But there was a Politico morning console poll out this week that said 40 percent of independent women gave Democrats credit and only 30 percent gave Joe Biden credit for that, and only 24 percent of independent women think that it should be made permanent. This is something that was supposed to be, you know, as long as they ended up extending it, something they were supposed to take into next year as a win. And they're already having a messaging problem with that. So there is a disconnect between their policy and the group that it's intended to benefit.

WALTER: And I think it's more than just a messaging problem. The thing is, people are getting more money and they're spending it. It's not going as far because of the inflationary pressures. And also you're not -- these childcare centers aren't closing or they laid off so many staff, you can get your tax credit and there's nowhere to spend it.

KING: Right.


KING: It's more than complicated.

WALTER: Right.

KING: More than complicated.

Still ahead for us, yes it's cursing, as a campaign issue in New Jersey. Plus, Donald Trump apparently close to a deal to sell one of his most controversial hotel properties.



KING: Topping our political radar today, two Republicans now floating in alliance with Democrats to defeat candidates who peddle Trump's big lie.


CHRISTINE TODD WHITMAN (R), FORMER NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR: It's time that our elected officials remember they took an oath to that not to a party. And what I have seen is that, unfortunately, Donald Trump has created what I would call a -- it's just a cult.

MILES TAYLOR, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF, DEPT. OF HOMELAND SECURITY: What we're focusing on that governor and I and our organization renew America movement is those tip cases, those key races around the country where we think moderate unifying Democrats, if elected, will keep the balance of power in the hands of current congressional leaders.


KING: Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff taking direct aim at Republican colleagues who support the big lie. Schiff calls them insurrectionists in suits and ties.


REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): What angered me the most I think about that day where these insurrectionists in suits and ties who were still, even after the bloody insurrection even after all the shattered glass and the death of that day, were back on the House floor trying to overturn the election.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is Kevin McCarthy an insurrectionist in a suit and tie?

SCHIFF: Absolutely, absolutely.


KING: News Today, the Trump Organization reportedly close to selling its marquee hotel not far from the White House. A source confirming to CNN, the Trump family is in talks right now to sell the hotel rights to a Miami-based investment firm. The price tag, $370 million. The Wall Street Journal was first to report this development.

You might remember, a recent House committee report raised ethics questions about hotel business during the Trump presidency. That report also said Trump lied about big hotel profits and actually lost millions.

This is a fun story. Democrats in New Jersey making a big bet now on cursing. A new party ad attacks the Republican candidate for governor, Jack Ciattarelli. As a town council member back in 1994, Ciattarelli voted in favor of a $500 fine for cursing.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No fucking way.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's kind of nice.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is fucking New Jersey.


KING: Ciattarelli is challenging the Democratic Governor of New Jersey Phil Murphy. Jersey voters like those in Virginia go to the polls in just three weeks. We'll be counting them.

Thanks for joining us in Inside Politics. Ana Cabrera picks up right now.