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Police: 10 People Killed in Buffalo Supermarket Shooting; Surging GOP Candidate Kathy Barnette Shakes Up Pennsylvania Senate Race; White House on Defensive Amid Baby Formula Shortage; Finland Will Apply to Join NATO; Thousands Rally Nationwide for Abortion Rights. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired May 15, 2022 - 08:00   ET





ABBY PHILLIP, CNN HOST (voice-over): Tragedy in Buffalo. A mass shooting, a manifesto, and white replacement theory. How can racially motivated shootings like this be stopped?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These mass shootings have to end. There has to be sensible gun control, and we cannot have another incident like this in America where lawmakers in Washington fail to act. Enough is enough.

PHILLIP: The Pennsylvania primaries, a critical battle for control of the Senate, and a test of the MAGA wing of the Republican Party. Will the Trump endorsed candidate or the Trumpiest candidate win?

KATHY BARNETTE (R-PA), U.S. SENATE CANDIDATE: MAGA does not belong to President Trump. MAGA -- although he coined the word, MAGA, it actually belongs to the people.

PHILLIP: A nationwide shortage of baby formula sending the White House scrambling.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's terrifying -- it's terrifying when that's the only true source of nutrition your baby gets.

PHILLIP: Will voters blame President Biden if back to normal is still beyond their reach?

Putin's worst nightmare, an expanded NATO. Will Finland and Sweden joining the alliance spur a wider war?

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


PHILLIP (on camera): Good morning, and welcome to INSIDE POLITICS SUNDAY. I'm Abby Phillip. Racially motivated violent extremism, that is what the Department of

Justice is calling Saturday's mass shooting in Buffalo, New York, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland.

Police say an 18-year-old man who was dressed in tactical gear and protective armor drove for hours to reach a predominantly Black area of Buffalo before opening fire on shoppers at a grocery store yesterday. Ten people killed, and three others were wounded. Police say most of the victims were Black.


GOV. KATHY HOCHUL (D), NEW YORK: That's what white supremacist terrorism is all about. That's what we witnessed here today, on the streets of Buffalo, New York. And it has to end right here.


PHILLIP: Two federal law enforcement sources are telling CNN that investigators are reviewing a 180-page purported manifesto that was posted online in connection with the Buffalo mass shooting probe. And the documents reveals the alleged gunman's fixation with a white supremacist theory that claims that whites are being culturally replaced by non-white groups and by immigrants.

In the document, the government talks about his perceptions about the dwindling size of the white population. Now, it's the latest deadly attack that is linked and inspired by this white replacement theory. President Biden said in a statement that he's grieving for the victims' families and he vowed to combat white supremacist terror, writing, quote, any act of domestic terrorism including an act perpetrated in the name of a repugnant white nationalist ideology is antithetical to everything we stand for in America. Hate must have no safe harbor, we must do everything in our power to end hate fueled domestic terrorism.

Joining me now to discuss all of this with their reporting and insights is journalist Wes Lowery, Astead Herndon of the "New York Times," and Alex Burns "The New York Times" as well, and Asma Khalid of NPR News.

Wes, this shooting is just one of a string of mass shootings that have been motivated by racism, motivated by this ideology that white people are under threat in this country. What do you make of what we saw this weekend?

WESLEY LOWERY, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I think that so often when we look at white supremacist violence, we have an inclination, all of us in our politics and our society, an inclination to think of these as individual back water racists, people who you can't explain away their feelings or their beliefs, how could this happen?

But I think we have to be honest and be willing to look at these ideologies. White supremacy in the United States of America is a particular and specific ideology. When you look at the shooter in Buffalo, when you look at the shooter in Pittsburgh, the tree of life, that targeted a synagogue, Jewish people, you look at the shooter in El Paso, who's targeting immigrants, they were acting from what is a coherent, if baseless ideology. And it's an ideology that preaches an urgency around saving what they consider to be the white race.

I think what's important is this tension, this frustration, this fear sits not that far from our mainstream politics.


LOWERY: You look at the last few decades of American politics, there's been no more salient wedge issue than immigration, than questions about migrants and questions about the border. And so, very often the thing we have to grapple with, I mean soon in the hours after a shooting like this, we quickly start having this political discussion of who is to blame and who's condemning.


But one thing that is unquestionably true is that very often, the rhetoric in our politics sits uncomfortably close to the rhetoric that these types of people would expose.

PHILLIP: It is absolutely, when you're talking about racist violence that is a political act, it's an act of terrorism, but I do wonder, you also covered law enforcement issues. Why is it so hard for law enforcement to get a handle on this problem?

LOWERY: Well, first and foremost, again, these views are not that many steps away from a lot of our mainstream political rhetoric. But secondarily here in the United States of America, terrorists, people who commit acts like this, are American citizens.

And at what point do you monitor them? At what point can you take a step until someone's actually committed a crime? Until the day this shooter stepped into that grocery store yesterday and pulled the trigger, he had not, to our knowledge, committed any crime, right?

And so that adds a level of difficulty unlike, say, an international terrorist who might be in communication with a terrorist group, ISIS or al Qaeda, or Hezbollah, right?

And so, it's a totally different law enforcement question, it is not illegal. In fact, there's the First Amendment right to be a racist white guy espousing these beliefs.

PHILLIP: And yet our approach to domestic terrorism is just fundamentally different from how, for example, we've approached, you know, what people call Islamic terrorism in the rest of the world.

ASMA KHALID, NPR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I can see that for a long time, if we had been having this conversation 20 years ago, there was no abdication on the law enforcement's, you know, role of monitoring Muslim communities, mosques were monitored, many Muslim people, personally that I know had the FBI show up on their doorstep. They were American citizens. And I would say that law enforcement had no shame in regularly,

routinely monitoring a domestic population when it was viewed as an other. I think that, you know, to some degree they have abdicated their responsibility, perhaps because, you know, these crimes are being committed by white folks and many folks in law enforcement feel sort of an affinity, on a racial level with them.

PHILLIP: I do want to get to something that Wes brought up, the permeation of this ideology into modern mainstream politics. So, over the weekend Adam Kinzinger highlighted the number 3 Republican in the House, Elise Stefanik's use of the white replacement theory.

In an ad, he wrote, did you know that Elise Stefanik pushes white replacement theory? The number three in the House GOP, Liz Cheney got removed for demanding the truth, the Republican leader should be asked about this.

It's not just Elise Stefanik, if you watch Fox News, this is the mainstay of their primetime hours. Tucker Carlson discusses it sometimes in euphemistic form, but not really that all that euphemistic.

What does this country do about the way in which this idea of white replacement has just become part of our politics?

ALEX BURNS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It's a really, really tough question, because we don't have, you know, legal instruments in this country to restrain radical speech in that way, and I'm not saying that we should. I don't think the government should be, you know, sort of knocking on Tucker Carlson's door at 2:00 in the morning because of the stuff he says on the show, but it's a cultural problem when our political leaders and the leaders of big institutions in this country have decided that they are either going to look the other way when mainstream political figures use that kind of rhetoric, or even indulge them and engage in it themselves.

It's one of the -- to me, it's one of the most disturbing things that has happened since I have been a political reporter is this cultural shift, where this stuff is not just sort of spouted on, you know, minor talk radio stations, by fringe, state legislators, but where, you know, prominent people in Washington, and on national television, say this stuff, and there is no penalty for it, and I don't know what that penalty ought to be, but I think we can all agree that there ought to be some kind of cultural guardrail that says when you veer into that area you pay a price for it.

ASTEAD HERNDON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think we should be honest here that white -- while white replacement theory is a conspiracy theory, a racist baseline from where these folks are working off of, white anxiety is a potent form of politics. You know, telling kind of the white voter that there is -- that there is a fear that is justified, that they should act on, is a main form of our politics, that people have been acting on.

And so I think, you know, I did a set of stories about this in 2019, particularly about white motivation in Republican politics, that took me from Pennsylvania to North Arizona to St. Cloud, Minnesota. I mean, this is across the country phenomenon where the grassroots folks are really feeling a sense of anxiety.

And that, I've got to say, is not something they have made up, right?


That is something that has been imposed from media, but also is true about a cultural changing nature of this country.

We do have more black and brown people having voice. We do have a literal change in this country, and I don't think that justifies violence, obviously. That does not justify hate. But that does fuel the anxiety we are seeing politicians try to capitalize on.

PHILLIP: Yeah. I do think that also there's a through-line here. I mean, Charlottesville was not that long ago, but just the strong connection, those people in Charlottesville chanting, you know, Jews will not replace us. This alleged gunman was a devote anti-Semite, in addition to being a racist, there is a through-line here in American politics, no question.

LOWERY: Unquestionably. I mean, again, I think we have to look at what the ideology of white supremacy teaches, it's conspiracy theory, right? But they believe -- people like this believe there's a cabal of Jewish people who are purposely sabotaging the white race, bringing immigrants in, bringing migrants in to exterminate their race.

And so, when we understand that, it starts to underscore how dangerous so much of the rhetoric is in our politics as we see how closely it veers towards these conversations that are happening, often in the fringes, but increasingly in our mainstream politics.

PHILLIP: Right, there is, you know, there's a question about how much should this be regulated, but I think just from a decency perspective, there's an expectation, I think, that our political leaders will step up and say something about this.

Coming up next for us, we'll focus on this week's midterm primary context, and what they will tell us about the deep divisions that we are seeing in both political parties.

Stick with us.



PHILLIP: It's been a chaotic final stretch, to say the least, in the Pennsylvania primary races as two right candidates are surging now. The stakes couldn't be higher in this critical battleground that could decide control of the United States Senate and yesterday former President Trump endorsed State Senator Doug Mastriano.

Now, Mastriano led the failed efforts to overturn Pennsylvania's election results in 2020, and he was actually at the capital on January 6th.

Meanwhile, a political newcomer and Mastriano ally, Kathy Barnette is gaining momentum. Her past comments are gaining a critical look.


REPORTER: Pedophilia is a cornerstone of Islam.

BARNETTE: Yeah, no, I don't think that's me. I would have never said that.


PHILLIP: Now, top Republicans are spending the last days before this election on Tuesday, warning that Barnette could actually lose the election in November. And it's not just Barnette, Mastriano, too, is causing a lot of headaches.

Margaret Talev is also joining our panel from "Axios".

Now, this is really -- it's a fascinating situation because you have a candidate, especially in Kathy Barnette who is literally trying to steal Trumpism out of the jaws of Trump himself by basically saying don't listen to what Trump's saying about who you should vote for. I'm the Trump candidate.

How is that going to go down?

BURNS: You know, to be a little bit grand about this, this is a classic revolutionary politics, where at some point the revolution overtakes other revolutionaries. The fact you have Kathy Barnette saying it doesn't belong to Donald Trump, MAGA is a movement on its own, is really telling about the extent to which it's become a brush fire in the Republican Party. That Trump can be out there backing the candidates he wants, with some significant success.

But the mood and tone and style of politics he has pioneered is dominating the Republican Party, goes so far beyond what just one man can control. It's worth noting in that race Trump has literally endorsed a different candidate for Senate, and he goes to the state to rally support for Dr. Oz.

People in the crowd are there to see Trump. Many of them are going to vote for Kathy Barnette.

PHILLIP: The scene of the rally was kind of extraordinary. Some people turning their backs and just a lack of interest in Oz. But the thing about Barnette, also, she is coming onto stage at a particular moment. Her biography as come to center stage at a time when we're talking about Roe versus Wade and abortion.

Listen to this for Club for Growth which introduced her, by the way. Listen to their ad introducing her to Pennsylvania voters.


BARNETTE: I grew up on a pig farm in southern Alabama, no insulation, no running water.

This country allowed a little black girl to claw her way from underneath a rock.

But that America, with all those opportunities, is fast coming to a close.


PHILLIP: She almost seems like her rise is coming at the opportune moment when she's basically making the case I could have been -- not alive. I could have been aborted by my mother, et cetera, and that is working in her favor.

MARGARET TALEV, AXIOS MANAGING EDITOR: It's a tremendously powerful ad, if you haven't seen the ad before. And if that were the entirety of the record that she were running on, it would be very difficult for anyone to stop her, not just in the primary, but perhaps heading into November depending on who turns out to vote.

PHILLIP: But, of course, it's not, there's a lot more there.

TALEV: It's not. The challenges from Islamophobia, but a number of past positions, statements like she will run at some point on the entirety of her record, and many Republicans believe that she would be a massive liability for their party in a general election.

And so you do have, now, this kind of ultimate test of what is the lasting power of Donald Trump's legacy? Is it about people still rallying around him in the Republican Party, the base still very much rallies around him, but not necessarily what he says.


And I think there are -- and not necessarily the candidate that he's backing, and whether it is Mastriano in the governor's race, to David Perdue in the Georgia primary contest, to this Senate primary in Pennsylvania. There are real, real questions about even if -- even if he is still a very potent force, about whether the base will do what he says.

HERNDON: Yeah, I mean, look, if I can speak with a broad swath, I think a lot of Republican voters have taken a lesson both from 2012 and 2016, that they shouldn't be scared by that type of general election fear arguments, right? Donald Trump had those same arguments and these are voters who are really just individually passionate about him. And they think that they know him even more so than he might publicly project.

TALEV: Your point is they could get elected --

HERNDON: Right, they don't believe it will be a problem.

PHILLIP: Trump is proof perhaps that they could get elected, but if you were a Democrat, nationally or in the state of Pennsylvania looking at this race, you know, Mike Micah is a Pennsylvania Democratic strategist told "The New York Times" this week, lots of Democrats -- like lots of Democrats, I'm schizophrenic on this. Rooting for the crazy person because it gives us the best chance to win but at the same time it could give us a crazy senator or a crazy governor, or both.

I think that it's a little bit more on the side of -- they want the candidate that has the most baggage in these races.

BURNS: Wouldn't that be something if we had a crazy senator?

In all seriousness, look, like I think there are states where if Republicans nominated somebody with Kathy Barnette's profile they would stand a pretty good chance of winning. I think Pennsylvania is a pretty closely divided state. And I think that the fact it's happening in the governor's race is what's so alarming to Republicans because Pennsylvania is not a right wing state, it's not a left wing state either, but it's a place where Republicans ought to be able to win at least one, and maybe both of those races this year.

And you're looking at a very plausible scenario where on Wednesday morning they wake up deep in the hole in both races going into -- the governor's race is going to have major implications for 2024. If Democrats win that race in a walk, that's a giant, giant blow to whoever the eventual Republican presidential candidate is.

KHALID: And I think, nationally, Republicans also have concerns if there is supposed to be a counter to President Trump and to the MAGA Philosophy, if it cannot exist in the state of Pennsylvania, then really where -- where can it exist?

PHILLIP: Yeah. I do want to raise on the Democratic side, there is a Senate competitive Senate race. But it looks like, you know, John Fetterman, the current lieutenant governor, who is the sort of anti- politician in terms of how he carries himself, is doing well there, and it might be summed up by this Pittsburgh union worker who told "The Times" that I feel like I could get a beer with Fetterman and we'd hit it off.

Conor Lamb who seemed to be the guy to beat there is really struggling. I mean, why is that?

HERNDON: I mean, that we're looking at authenticity in both of these primaries, right? You have a Republican surging who embodies the MAGA Philosophy, maybe even more so than the candidate Donald Trump endorsed. But on the Democratic side, you have what we think of as moderate policies, embodied by someone who necessarily isn't as ideologically maybe calibrated, as moderate as Conor Lamb is, but feels Pennsylvania, but s relating to voters, is doing the grassroots, kind of touchstone politics, and in larger ways, embodying that they of populism that's really connecting the people.

I think that this is a real thing that should latch on for Democrats to say not only is it just about having the right policy actually coming in calibrated in the centrist way for a swing state, but also embodying something that reflects Pennsylvania, that reflects --

PHILLIP: A bit of an anti-establishment type --

HERNDON: Right, exactly. It's about more than just the ideology.

TALEV: I bumped into a liberal Democratic senator from Pennsylvania within the last few days and we're talking about this race, and he said he was very excited about Fetterman because he thought that he could win, OK, and that's what we're talking about here is electability.

PHILLIP: Right. I mean, at the end of the day it's a question of, can you win? I mean, perhaps some Democrats have concerns about Fetterman, but he's clearly resonating with Pennsylvania voters at the moment. We'll see how it turns out. I should note Conor lamb says he thinks you should not believe the polls and I will tell you, we take polls, especially on the eve of elections, with a grain of salt.

But coming up a baby formula shortage has many parents around the country scrambling. What is the White House's plan to restock those shelves?



PHILLIP: A shortage of baby formula nationwide has become a very real reminder to many families that things in America are not back to normal. The White House is aware of how enormous this problem is from a practical and from a political perspective. But President Joe Biden this week dismissed the idea that he reacted too slowly.


JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Would you have taken those steps sooner before parents got to these shelves and couldn't find to formula/

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If we'd been better mind readers, I guess we could have. But we moved as quickly as the problem became apparent to us.


PHILLIP: But the stories of desperate families searching for formula dominated the news this week, the White House did spring into action, cutting red tape to get more formula to the stores, calling on the FTC to crack down on price gouging, and increasing import.

One Democratic lawmaker says that using the Defense Production Act has also been discussed.

And as a parent of a formula-drinking baby, I can tell you that I've known about this, and it is one of those, you know, like soul-kind of like clenching things for parents where when you're really thinking about, ok, how am I going to feed my baby, this is really scary stuff.

And for the White House they recognize that this is just one example, that maybe has become emblematic of this idea that you go places to the stores and you're looking for things that you need and you can't find them. It's a viscerally emblematic example of this problem.

TALEV: It's one thing to say my new refrigerator is on back order. It won't be here for three months. It's another thing to say I don't know how I'm going to feed my child.

And one of the real challenges for Biden with inflation is that it's very hard to spin your way out of inflation. Every time you put the gas pump in your car and you pay for it, you're aware of it. Every time you go to the grocery store and you check out, the groceries cost 30 percent more, you're aware of it. And now the baby formula.

And I think we saw the president try to thread a needle this past week, when it came to acknowledging inflation, saying he's going to try to get ahead of it and then try to figure out how to bring other people into the blame game.

At first it was the Republicans, then it was Vladimir Putin, now it's Rick Scott's plan that the Republicans haven't even embraced.

He is coming to terms with the fact that he has to acknowledge it, deal with it, and try to explain it in a broader context. And I think the other thing that I'm watching is for Democrats to try to bring health care back into the mix. It gives them a strength that they can -- a historical strength that they can try to run on in 2022.

There's not that much he can immediately do to inflation that he isn't already doing where they can try to say we're going to try to help you in other ways, cover other costs, including health care.

Yes. But I will say, you know, baby formula to me is kind of a distinct case. Like it is tied to some of these broader inflation and supply chain issues, right. And I think the Republicans are very eager to tie this all together.

KHALID: But I do think it's important to realize that the baby formula shortage is distinctly connected to Abbott, which is one of the largest baby formula manufacturers having to have a voluntary recall in February due to some, you know, children who got sick and that led to a crazy shortage going on in the country. I think that the challenge --

PHILLIP: And also a lot of market consolidation in those places --

KHALID: Yes. Yes, right. And I think the challenge for Biden and the Democrats is, you mentioned this as a mom of a young child. But moms' groups have been like blabbering about formula shortages for a little while before the Biden administration actually got on this.

PHILLIP: Oh yes. Yes.

KHALID: And there are steps that I hear from talks that they wish the administration took. For example, removing tariffs on importing formula from abroad or for example, you know, using the Defense Production Act. And I don think that some of the steps we saw from the Biden administration this week, they may help on the margins but there are folks who feel like there is more they could do given the urgency.

PHILLIP: Politically Republicans are also predictively tying this together with all of the other stuff. But they're also making this argument about the border that the formula that is being used to feed babies at the border is somehow connected to this crisis.


TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS HOST: Once they get here, the Biden administration will give them food supplies that you can't buy. Those would include baby formula. So how much more are those people going to take, you wonder? It's too humiliating.

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: These are not people that respected our borders, our laws and our sovereignty. Why wouldn't all the pallets go to American families first.


PHILLIP: I mean I just want to remind you, first of all, these issues are actually not connected. But also, we're talking about babies here, human beings here. Is this the political argument that's being made?

I mean, the number 3 Republican, Elise Stefanik mentioned it as well.

HERNDON: Yes. I mean this is the political argument that's being made, and I think partly this is because when you're the opposition party, you are going to try to wrap in, even an issue that may not be specifically related to Biden and immigration, to all of the kind of hot buzz words if you want to win the midterms on.

I mean it is both -- it is both callous, and inhumane right. Like we should be clear here, they're talking about not only checking the immigration status of a baby who would need feeding either way, I'm saying.

And so it's become a point specifically for Republicans where they're trying to wrap in anything that they can get into an argument against Biden, but we should also say it's kind of working, too.

I mean, we are seeing -- we are seeing poll after poll after poll that says that this kind of catch-all strategy that Republicans are employing here, before the midterms, is one that's serving them.

And so they're going to continue to do that, until they really get a response from the Biden administration that feels cohesive, and feels motivating for Democrats. Because right now this kind of grab-all, you know, insult-all strategy is actually working fine.


PHILLIP: The Biden administration did try out this new message. The ultra MAGA message that has been poll tested to the hilt to suggest that voters, they just have a negative connotation to the word MAGA. And if you label Republicans as that, it will transfer the negativity.

Do you think that that's a strategy that will work?

BURNS: So I don't know about the label ultra MAGA but I do think that the perception that Republicans are an extreme party with offensive ideas is going to be a burden for them.

It may be that the general political atmosphere up to the midterms is so strongly in their favor it won't stop them from gaining a whole lot of ground this year.

But I think that the issue of baby formula is so emblematic of this dynamic we're talking about. We have a binary political system. You have two choices, right.

When things are bad you vote for the opposition party. And when there's no baby formula you blame the person in power. You don't actually need to bring in this sort of grotesque xenophobic racist stuff.

PHILLIP: Yet they do anyway. And yet they do anyway.

BURNS: Right. So there are going to be voters -- I mean I don't know how many, but there are going to be voters who are upset about baby formula, upset that the economy and the availability and price of consumers has not returned to normal, we may hear some stuff like that and think, I don't know about those guys.

PHILLIP: Yes. I mean I think it really does kind of play into the Democrats' hands in some ways, but there's a reason I think they believe that it will actually work.

But coming up next for us, another Russian neighbor is actually poised to join the NATO alliance.



PHILLIP: The fallout from Vladimir Putin's war in Ukraine is expanding this morning. Not long ago Finland's prime minister confirmed that her country, which shares an 800 mile border with Russia will be applying for NATO membership.


SANNA MARIN, FINLAND'S PRIME MINISTER: We have reached today an important position in good cooperation between the government and the president of the republic. We hope that the parliament will confirm the decision to apply for NATO membership during the coming days.


PHILLIP: Moscow says that during the phone call on Saturday, Putin warned Finland's president that abandoning the country's decades of neutrality to join NATO would be a mistake, and have a negative impact on Russian/Finnish relations.

This conversation about NATO and Sweden is maybe just the most clear example of how all of this is backfiring on Putin. He launched this war in Ukraine, saying that it was about NATO expanding too much and now NATO is expanding. He's getting exactly what perhaps he asked for.

DAVID SANGER, NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT, NEW YORK TIME: It's exactly right. I mean, the core of the expansion here is that Putin made everyone nervous, and he made the Finns most nervous of all.

In January, the Finnish ambassador to the United States was going around Capitol Hill telling everybody we're not applying to NATO, we've got this sort of under control. We know what it's like to go deal with -- to go deal with Putin.

By May 1st, they were applying. And the message to Putin is, this was all your doing. Now, that said, we're going to have to go live with both the short-term and long-term backlash, Abby. The short-term one, is it's going to take eight months to a year to get both Finland and Sweden into NATO to go through the whole ratification process.

During that time, they are not covered by the NATO treaty, which is an attack on one is an attack on all. So they're going to need, and they're beginning to get from Britain and from the U.S., security guarantees about who would come to their defense if Putin did something to them, even short of a full scale attack. And then there's the long-term concern.

PHILLIP: I mean that security guarantee is at the heart of it all. I mean is the United States and Europe and NATO, as an entity, just inching closer and closer to actual conflict?

SANGER: I think that's the big fear right now. I think the concern is that we are doing things 12 weeks into this war that we wouldn't have conceived of doing one or two weeks in. The heavy artillery that's going into the Ukrainians. The degree of intelligence sharing.

You saw the administration's reaction two weeks ago to the revelation that the U.S. played a significant role in helping with intelligence on the sinking of the Moskva, the flagship of the Russian fleet off in the Black Sea and of the targeting of these command posts that resulted in the deaths of the generals.

They were sensitive about it, because it's all evidence that the U.S. is more deeply involved than president Biden would like to go publicly acknowledge because he doesn't want to bait Putin.

TALEV: Well, I have to say like in the early weeks of the invasion, there was so much, not just behind the scenes, but public acknowledgment of concerns about escalating, and they -- the U.S. didn't want to do anything and western allies didn't want to do anything that would sort of trigger Putin.

And Putin ended up creating all this humanitarian disaster anyhow. Mariupol, Kharkiv, bombing cancer children under a bridge, you know.

PHILLIP: None of that caution resulted in, you know, really lives --

TALEV: It didn't hold anything back, that's correct. I think that's -- certainly both politically and morally part of what's driving some of these decisions. But if you look at Finland's application, this would more than double the length of the NATO border, which Russia and for Ukraine it must be tremendously frustrating because, of course, all of this -- they're not going to get into NATO anymore easily.

PHILLIP: Exactly.

TALEV: And David has written about that as well. But part of the problem is that Article 5 guarantee. Were Ukraine to pass the democracy test that they haven't passed yet, sort of Sweden and Finland are different countries but Ukraine is the target of this invasion now, that Article 5 guarantee that a war against one is a war against all, would force every NATO country into a much more direct --


SANGER: Which is exactly why they're not going to get in --

PHILLIP: Which is exactly and why it's probably off the table for the time being.


PHILLIP: I do want to note, this weekend, you saw a delegation of Republicans led by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell heading to Ukraine, to meet with President Zelenskyy. This meeting was significant for a lot of reasons, high level government officials in the United States.

But also it is coming at a time when Republicans are starting to push back on that, you know, $30 something billion in Ukraine aid that president Biden is asking for. What is McConnell saying here by being there?

TALEV: I see McConnell as staking out a pretty firm line that says, hey, the Republican Party, at least as long as I'm leading it in the U.S. Senate, the Republican Party still believes in, you know, defensive democracies, and a strong posture in the world.

It comes against this breakaway vote by a large number of House Republicans to oppose the Ukraine funding, and statements by former President Trump trying to make this about shortages of baby formula. And the idea, he says, that Democrats shouldn't be spending billions of dollars helping Ukraine when babies in the U.S. can't get food.

That's a massive, massive shift in what, for decades, post World War II we understood the Republican Party to be about.

SANGER: You know, the split came clear to me, Abby, when the Heritage Foundation, the group that began as the core of Reagan Republicanism, the sort of tear down this wall branch of the Republican Party, came out with a statement, wondering why it was that we were contributing this much to Ukraine, and not spending the money at home. It had sort of made a shift from the Reagan approach which also was the George W. Bush approach. Remember, George W. Bush's second inaugural address was about spreading democracy around the world, to saying let's not get involved.

PHILLIP: Yes. I mean it's a seismic shift in Republican politics on this issue of intervention in foreign conflicts.

David Sanger, thanks for joining us at the table. Margaret, thank you as well.

Coming up next for us, thousands rallied nationwide in protests for abortion rights on Saturday. But do Democrats in Washington have a plan for the post Roe v. Wade America?



PHILLIP: This Saturday there were demonstrations of support for abortion rights from Texas to Minneapolis to just outside of the Supreme Court. Tens of thousands used the events to express their anger and outrage after a leaked Supreme Court draft opinion indicated that Roe versus Wade could be overturned in a matter of weeks. Democrats say they're going to fight to protect abortion rights nationwide.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're now going to be denied the right to make decisions about our own bodies.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There are Republican legislators clamoring to criminalize abortion.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: We fully intend to protect Roe v. Wade, and we will be doing it every single day.


PHILLIP: But this week the Senate held a vote to codify Roe and it failed. And it's unclear exactly what lawmakers in Washington can get done. This issue now potentially goes to the states if Roe is, in fact, overturned.

And from a political perspective, there are just some real questions about whether or not this is actually advantage Democrat.

Alex, you have a story in "The Times" this week talking to some voters about this issue. And it seems that a lot of voters are coming to terms with it themselves. A woman named Sandra says, I'm a Republican but I still can't believe it's a woman's -- I still can't believe that it's a woman's right to choose. And then another voter, Rose, says, I cannot believe what they're trying to do. This is about our rights and what kind of country we want to live in.

What do you think is the reality out there in the country? Is this a potential problem for Republicans and a boon for Democrats?

BURNS: Look, I think as a policy matter, Republicans are going to be on offense in the states passing restrictions on abortion rights that they've wanted to enact for decades but have been unable to do so because of Roe.

As a political matter, I think it's much, much more complicated for Republicans. There's a big population in key states and key districts, particularly suburban areas, particularly moderate voters, particularly women, particularly white women, who have been able to vote Republican on and off for decades, despite basically being pro- choice, right? And they've been able to do that because, you know, you can vote for Republicans for taxes and crimes, and rest assured that Roe is going to keep abortion rights more or less safe.

And that may not be the case anymore. And if we find ourselves in a place this fall where Roe really is on the ballot, then these voters who have been trending away from Democrats because of issues like inflation and crime and education, suddenly have this whole other factor to consider.

PHILLIP: Yes, it used to be kind of a given that abortion rights existed in America. Now, not so much.

TALEV: That's right. Although I do think there's a question about turnout and to what extent it will propel turnout in a midterm year. We did swing voter focus groups in Georgia this past week. And it is certainly one thing to say you can motivate a base that's been disaffected by whether Biden acted too centrist or didn't move fast enough on voting rights or people are upset about inflation.

Young voters can be turned out on abortion; liberal, college educated women, some voters of color may be able to turn out on abortion rights. But what this particular group of swing voters told us was they all -- this is a panel of 13 people -- they all supported abortion rights. Zero of 13 said it would be the decisive reason why they voted.

PHILLIP: This brings up a really interesting fact. I mean for 50 years Republicans have mobilized really effectively on this issue. Why haven't Democrats? I mean is that going to change? Does it need to change?

KHALID: I don't think Democrats were prepared to mobilize. I mean the case in point I think of is Texas. So you look at Sb-8 (ph), and I talked to my colleagues in Texas who say that for months abortion rights have essentially not been present in Texas and they have not seen Democrats been able to effectively mobilize there and this beats out months ahead of this draft decision being leaked from the Supreme Court.


HERNDON: I mean let's be honest. Democrats were on the defensive crouch about abortion for a long time. They were kind of worried to embrace the kind of offensive political language that's saying that this is a thing that they should be advocating for.

We've seen that slightly change particularly with some progressive women candidates in the last election.

But that has not become a full party embrace. I mean, case in point, the president himself, who is yet to say the words abortion as president. You know, he'll say it in a text, he'll say it in a kind of written document, but won't say it in his actual language.

I think that that kind of is representative of where Democrats have been on this issue for a long time. Where, you know, they're still coming out from the legacy of safe, legal and rare from the Clintons. And I think that that is where -- that is kind of where the party is wrestling where it should be.

Should it be that kind of marginal advocating for abortion and its legality or should it become a full-throated approach like you see as a party kind of wrestling with that question right now. And I think that's an open thing about where they're going to land.

KHALID: And you mentioned the president. I mean that's in part because the president's own views on abortion over a long career have evolved over time.


PHILLIP: Exactly. And I think this will be a test of whether Democrats can shift the focus from a national effort to state by state effort where this is all headed.

That's it for INSIDE POLITICS SUNDAY. Don't forget, you can also listen to our podcast, download INSIDE POLITICS wherever you get your podcasts and scan the QR code at the bottom of your screen for more.

Coming up next, "STATE OF THE UNION" with Jake Tapper and Dana Bash. Dana's guest this morning include New York Governor is Kathy Hochul.

Thank you again for sharing your Sunday morning with us. Thanks and have a great day.