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GOP Georgia Governor Who Stood Up To Trump Poised To Win Primary; Democrats Look To Their Next Generation Of Politicians; Biden Challenges Piling Up With Five Months Until Midterms; Judge Halts Biden Effort To End Title 42; Oklahoma Moves To Restrict Abortion From Fertilization; Biden In Buffalo: White Supremacy Is A Poison. Aired 8- 9a ET

Aired May 22, 2022 - 08:00   ET





ABBY PHILLIP, CNN HOST (voice-over): President Biden's challenges pile up. A formula shortage, a COVID spike, prices rising and a plunging stock market.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): He is willing to make the American people suffer because of his political agenda.

PHILLIP: Have Democrats given up on turning the tide before November?

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): We are happy to have the election be a referendum between what Democrats stand for and what the MAGA Republicans stand for.

PHILLIP: Plus, is Trump poised for a major defeat in Georgia? He bet big on taking down Brian Kemp. But Republicans are shrugging it off.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Trump's endorsement did not make any difference to me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Even though I totally respect President Trump, I'm a Georgian and I have my own opinions, too.

PHILLIP: And two years after the murder of George Floyd, a massacre in Buffalo shakes the country.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: White supremacy is a poison. It's a poison.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No evil, racist, bigoted person is going to scare me out of my community.

PHILLIP: Did America's so-called racial reckoning actually change anything?

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


PHILLIP: Good morning and welcome to INSIDE POLITICS SUNDAY, I'm Abby Phillip.

Two of the biggest primary contests of the year are playing out this week in Georgia and Pennsylvania. And if the polls are right, Georgia Republicans are about to deal former President Donald Trump his biggest political defeat of the year.

Governor Brian Kemp is on his way to what looks like a landslide victory despite 18 months of Trump attacking him for not helping him steal the 2020 election. And Trump even recruited an opponent, ex- Senator David Perdue, who echoed those attacks.


GOV. BRIAN KEMP (R), GEORGIA: And, really, what matters is Georgians, you know? That's what I'm running on. I've been doing that the whole time. I'm not concerned with what other people that don't live in our state or, you know, what the national news media might think. I'm focused on good and hardworking Georgians first.

DAVID PERDUE (R), GEORGIA GOVENERO CANDIDATE: He has divided our party. He allowed them to steal the election. He denied it. He is now covering it up and he is suppressing evidence.


PHILLIP: Meanwhile, Trump has a lot riding on Pennsylvania as well. The GOP primary is heading for a recount.

Right now, TV personality Mehmet is leading CEO Dave McCormick by about 1,000 votes with some ballots that are yet to be counted. Both men ran on this idea of the MAGA agenda. But Oz was the one who Trump picked in the race.

Joining me now with their reporting and insights is Toluse Olorunnipa of "The Washington Post", and coauthor of a new book "His Name is George Floyd"; "Politico's" Rachael Bade; Marianna Sotomayor of "The Washington Post"; and CNN's own Jeff Zeleny.

So, Jeff, you are just in Georgia, and what is unfolding there is really Republican voters saying hey, we have a mind of our own. Take a listen to some of them talking about how they are looking at this race.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think looking back at the election itself or trying to litigate it further does any benefit to anybody, Republicans or the country in general.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think Trump is a little bit of a baby. He's mad at him, so he's got to support the other guy. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am Trump supporter all the way. But he needs to

get a Band-Aid, and put it over his lips.


PHILLIP: I think a lot of politicians in Washington would agree with that last voter there, but there is something happening here in Georgia.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Without a doubt, and that last voter is a Kermit Moody (ph), who I met on Thursday in Greensboro, Georgia, and he had a lot to say. And he is a Trump supporter. He said he was not sure if he would vote for him again, but he said he likes them.

But he basically told him to stay out of Georgia. He's not interested in his view on this. We found that everywhere we went. What is happening on the ground is pretty interesting.

What Brian Kemp is doing is talking about his record, everything he has done for Georgia, he is talking about a new plant that was just going to be announced this week in Savannah, Georgia. He is talking about the gas tax holiday, other things. He is not talking about Trump.

We asked him, he said I'm not interested in what someone from out of state saying. He doesn't even say his name.

So the challenge here though is, after this primary is over, is the Republican Party going to unify behind him. My sense is that a probably is. We have David Perdue campaign being a complete embarrassment. He is not spending any money on TV, in the final week of the campaign.

Republican Governors Association is spending a lot of money for Brian Kemp.


Truly fascinating.

PHILLIP: And that alone is a really fascinating thing. Establishment Republicans feeling really comfortable, especially in this race weighing in a primary, pushing back on Trump.

You are seeing Pence and other governors, Republican governors, former and current going down to Georgia. They are willing to say, hey, Trump, we will push back when we feel like you are pushing candidates that we don't think should win.

RACHAEL BADE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I mean, part of that they can see the writing on the wall with polling, and so --

PHILLIP: It's easy for them.

BADE: So, it's easy for them to do this, to push back on Trump. I think the, the step back here is really interesting. We are starting

to see how Trump endorsement really have their limits. There is no doubt that Trump is still the center of the party, every candidate wants his endorsement, every candidate wants him to come to the state. Republican candidates just come to the state or district to campaign with them.

But, clearly, MAGA has a life of its own now. You're starting to see that across these primaries. Former President Trump has had winds in Ohio with JD Vance and Ted Budd in North Carolina, but there's a lot of losses to, from Nebraska, Idaho, Pennsylvania, we saw the surge when we totally different candidate Kathy Barnette at the last minute when he was trying to get Oz into that pit.

And then he's going to have these losses this week specifically in Georgia. It's going to be a big investment for him.

TOLUSE OLORUNNIPA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: There's also in the mid to the power of election denial as a political operation. People don't want to be talking about 2020. There's so many things happening in 2022.

And when you look at Governor Kemp, he has his own record. If you don't focus on the part about elections, election in 2020, he has a MAGA history of governing in the way that would be supported by Trump supporters. That is part of the reason why his forehead, because people don't care that much happened in 2020. He has limited political power.

PHILLIP: That is an interesting point because there, is I mean there is probably a lot of Republicans who don't care, but many Republicans around the country are in fact running on the big lie. You know, take a look at just this little sampling of what is going on, you have Doug Mastriano, the Pennsylvania governor nominee, Kari Lake, Arizona candidate for governor, Rebecca Kleefisch, Mark Finchem in Arizona, you have in Michigan and Georgia.

You have candidates all over the country running on this big lie. There was a report this weekend showing hundreds of them from the state legislature all the way up. So, it is part of the dynamic here, and Democrats have to decide are they going to run against that.

MARIANNA SOTOMAYOR, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, WASHINGTON POST: Yeah, no, he has been interesting to talk about how -- in the swing districts, in the swing states, they don't necessarily want to talk about democracy, but if you are running against one of these people, and ultra super MAGA as the president has now come to call them, then it makes the argument a little bit easier.

You are already seeing it for example in the Pennsylvania governor race with Josh Shapiro, tweeting and saying democracy is on the ballot, here's what is going to happen if especially if Trump runs in '24, and you have these Republican governors, you have these Republican secretary of states who may be able to flip the election.

That raises the alarm a little bit, but it doesn't always work in some of these more swing districts. It just depends.

PHILLIP: I do want to bring up, just go back a little bit of the Pennsylvania race because we are waiting for voters to continue to be counted, but we are talking about here by and large are absentee ballots, this is caused a fissure in that race between Oz and McCormick.

Oz putting out a statement this weekend chiding McCormick for wanting to cast ballots that a judge said could be counted even though they didn't, they were received after election day.

Oz says, David McCormack has been a formidable opponent, but is becoming obvious that is likely going to come up short. Unfortunately, the McCormack legal team is following the Democrats playbook in this case.

He has not done what Trump has said he should which is just to say these votes are illegal, we won, but he's getting right up against that line.

ZELENY: He's coming up to it and I think this coming week is going to be a test of that. With they are talking about, there was an unrelated court ruling that was announced on Friday about a previous election saying that undated absentee ballots should be counted, so the McCormick owner seizing on.

That they were hoping at this point that going into next week to be just a few hundred votes behind. There's still more than a 1,000 behind, so it's going to be a challenge. But it is going to be fascinating to watch the Oz campaign, to see if they do follow the Trump playbook and declare victory, so these votes shouldn't be counted and move on.

But the challenges, they need some of these absentee ballots. And Dr. Oz has actually done --

PHILLIP: Oz needs them too.

ZELENY: Exactly, so it is hard to delegitimized the process, one that is going on and that is so close here. But that is something to keep an eye on, how long is the Oz campaign going to sort of play on the up and up, or when they are going to follow the Trump playbook.

PHILLIP: Just a note, some of the same people backing McCormick who cast doubt on the absentee ballots in 2020 are now saying it is all perfectly legal and fine, it's been perfectly legal and fine.


But I do want to ask McCormick and ours, does it really matter, Rachel, who and it ends up being if you are a Republican right now?

BADE: They are very similar in terms of their politics and Republicans who you wouldn't have thought of as MAGA candidates just a few years ago, but obviously try to just themselves up in that regard, there's not a huge difference. I think just to go back to you know, what Trump has been telling us to do, just to declare victory, stop counting these male invalid, et cetera, the interesting thing on this is for the first time we are seeing Republicans do this against other Republicans. So the Republican votes should not be counted.

And you have to wonder, if they start doing this in primaries across the country, how does this sort of water down this sort of big lie that a lot of Republican still believe in, because now they are going to be the victims of seeing their own voices not heard which is striking.

PHILLIP: It is all about undermining elections and democracy for political gain, that it was all about from the very beginning. But we will have more on this, and all these other races this week, CNN will have live coverage of the Tuesday night primaries in Georgia and in four other states. I will be there, so join us for live coverage on Tuesday starting at 7:00 p.m. Eastern Time.

But coming up for next -- coming up next for us here at the table, more populist than polish, why some Democrats say John Fetterman could be the future of the Democratic Party.



PHILLIP: A bald 6'8" man who campaigns in hoodies and wants to legalize marijuana, a black Woman who helped turn Georgia purple, a pastor at Martin Luther King's church who was the first Democratic black senator elected from a former confederate state, all three of these Democrats have been labeled by some as the future.


JOHN FETTERMAN (D), GEORGIE SENATE CANDIDATE: If you are not willing to sacrifice your career to do what's right to enact that kind of transformative legislation, then why are you in this business in the first place?

STACEY ABRAMAS (D), GEORGIA GOVERNOR CANDIDATE: When Brian Kemp refused to expand Medicaid, I paid off the medical debt of 68,000 Georgians.

SEN. RAPHAEL WARNOCK (D-GA): Seniors shouldn't have to choose between buying groceries and getting medications that they need.


PHILLIP: So, as we are looking to find out how Democrats run in this environment, these are going to be three of the top places that we're going to look because the stakes are so high.

Rachael, what is the kind of playbook that we get from watching these races? How are Democrats going to do this?

BADE: Yeah, look no further than the John Fetterman win a few days ago, as you pointed out. It's interesting because he defeated a candidate that for a long time Democrats were sort of looking to as the framework, the strategy to win in the midterms, to win in elections. That's going for a more centrist candidate who has a military candidate who can defeat a Republican, et cetera.

Now, they are looking for folks who have these diverse backgrounds, who can speak to voters and bring Democrats out and get excited. And To see the fall of someone like Conor Lamb to John Fetterman, when Conor Lamb was this golden boy in Congress, and the person everybody said, everybody should run like this candidate, it shows the big change that Democrats have in terms of what they want to see in a candidate.

PHILLIP: I want to put up a couple of headlines from recent times. Showing how this has gone. Fetterman is the future of the Democratic Party. Stacey Abrams is the future of the Democratic Party. Then this weekend, national Democrats are calling in a new communications expert, Eric Adams.

What is the commonality here? Is it a kind of populism? What is it?

ZELENY: I think it's a populism. It's a bit of a political celebrity, if you will. John Fetterman is a character. He's an absolute character. He embraces and embodies and loves what he is doing.

He is out campaigning. He became sort of this pop cult figure, if you will, in progressive politics. So, I think it's that as much as anything.

I still think the challenge goes forward for all of these candidates is they are part of the bigger Democratic brand, the Joe Biden Democratic brand. That's what's going to be a challenge for them in November, regardless of what they believe on separate issues.

The brand of the party overall is not very good. The central question, can the president get his approval rating up slightly enough to help these candidates in the fall regardless of who they are? They're still Democrats, big-D Democrats.

PHILLIP: Meanwhile, redistricting and these congressional districts are looming over all of this. This week, Democrats had kind of a mini- freak-out over the New York redistricting map in which it could have pitted several members against each other. It could have pitted the head of the Democratic Congressional Committee against one of these new, kind of fresh black faces, and it didn't ultimately.

But take a listen to this ad that was basically a warning shot about this very issue.


REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D-NY): Shirley Chisholm one said, if they deny you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.

Well, in 2020, we brought our chairs, thousands of them, and elected the most Black candidates to Congress in New York state history. So, now, they're trying to move the table, drawing a congressional map that robs us of power and takes a sledgehammer to Black districts.


PHILLIP: It's pretty extraordinary, really a messaging ad more than anything else. But also, you have this dynamic of the progressives, the young lawmakers of color speaking up and pushing back on the establishment in a lot of ways.

SOTOMAYOR: Yeah, I'm told that's something you should continue to expect.


They really do, Democrats, want to actually still look at ways to launch a lawsuit in New York, arguing that it is a violation of the Voting Rights Act. And they acknowledge that it's probably not going to change the map for the 2022 congressional races, but it could change for '24.

And so, even though the New York interparty battles which got pretty heated on Capitol Hill this past week may have passed, a number of Democrats telling me that it's likely that the argument to try and get rid of the DCCC chairman Sean Patrick Maloney has quieted down a little bit, that this is still an argument they're going to be making in New York, and potentially, in Florida, too, where we also have now seen a predominantly Black district once again disappear after court rulings.

BADE: And just -- I mean, talking about Democrats saying that their own leader of the campaign arm in a midterm year, that they are facing an uphill battle, should step aside for running against one of the fresher faces instead of picking another district, that's incredible. You don't ever see something like that happen on Capitol Hill.

It really speaks to how heated this fight is in Congress right now where people are saying, step aside. You know, don't mess with candidates of color who -- well, not a candidate, he is a lawmaker. And it was pretty -- it was pretty striking.

PHILLIP: Yeah, in Texas, there's going to be another big fight. You have an incumbent Cuellar being challenged again by a progressive kind of backed by Bernie Sanders and AOC in Cisneros. That's another -- that's going to be another test of this sort of progressives really flexing their muscles against kind of moderate establishment politics within the Democratic Party.

OLORUNNIPA: Yeah, and this is the fight that's been ongoing for a while. This actual match up has happened a few times in the past. It's clear that this is an ongoing battle between the progressive wing of the Democratic Party and moderate wing. In some places that progressives are ascendant and they're doing well. In other places, especially in Texas, there should not as much of a record of victory.

So, there's going to be a very close watch as how well these progressives do in different parts of the country to get a sense for who the future of the Democratic Party should be and how the Democrats should put their message together for the future, especially for 2024.

PHILLIP: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, they face a lot of challenges this year, but that's not tamping down this intraparty battle about what direction is the party headed in.

But coming up next, a military jet full of baby formula is going to land in the United States later this morning. How long will it actually take to restock those shelves?



PHILLIP: President Biden is in Asia this weekend meeting with allies, working on strengthening relationships to take on Russia and China. But back here at home, the White House is hoping that today will mark the beginning of the end for the baby formula crisis.

A military flight is carrying a 1.5 million bottles of formula from Europe that will land in a few hours in Indianapolis. And it will be -- it will still be a few weeks before things are back to normal. But President Biden is hoping that this is, of course, the beginning of the end.

He came into office promising a return to normalcy. But just this last week, it reminded us we are far from that. Financial experts are warning of air recession. Health experts are warning of a new COVID spike. There could be widespread power outages this summer.

And if you didn't have enough to worry about, now there is monkeypox.


BIDEN: But it is something that everybody should be concerned about. We're working on it hard. Figure out what we do and what vaccine, if any, may be available. It is a concern in a sense that if it were to spread, it's consequential.


PHILLIP: Seriously, monkeypox. But the baby formula shortage, this has been kind of a huge stressor, not just for the White House, but also for Democrats, front line Democrats.

Listen to Catherine Cortez Masto talking about what went wrong here.


SEN. CATHERINE CORTEZ MASTO (D-NV): It is in dire need. We've got to take action. We've got to make sure we're taking care of those families and those babies that need the formula.

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: But should Biden have invoked the Defense Production Act sooner?

CORTEZ MASTO: Well, they did now. I will tell you. I sent a letter prior saying they should act because we needed immediate action.

RAJU: But that wasn't immediate enough?

CORTEZ MASTO: Well, I could tell you, I sent a letter for a reason.


PHILLIP: She's a little annoyed there. Manu is just on the receiving end of it. But there's a lot of tension over this issue.

BADE: Yeah. I mean, Democrats are frustrated right now and in part because they can't -- they have an agenda that they haven't been able to pass, they have all these ideas, voters are sort of breathing down their necks about all these problems they are seeing across the country, and they are having a real hard time fixing it. I mean, inflation, supply chain issues, these are not issues that are easy to address.

But when it comes to baby for -- infant formula problem here, this is something that I think Democrats feel like they can actually do something about.


And so they wanted to see action quickly and with the White House taking this move to sort of milk the Defense Production Act to try to help alleviate this problem, you see a lot of these frontline Democrats trying to sort of seize on that and say, look, I'm getting something done because they're not able to do that right now with voters from what they're doing on Capitol Hill.

So you have people saying look, I have been bugging the White House on this for weeks. I wrote a letter, as we just saw here. And they are just hoping to get some sort of credit for doing something, alleviating at least one of these problems that they are facing right now.

PHILLIP: The problem with incumbency is that you actually have to do something. The benefit of being, you know, the challenger, as Republicans are, is that they can make baby formula, COVID, inflation -- they can make all of those things political issues but not necessarily offer solutions.

And in fact, if you go looking around in some of these candidates for policy proposals, you will probably come up short for the vast majority of them.

They are pressing this advantage. I mean how does this play out on the campaign trail?

SOTOMAYOR: Well, a number of Republicans, like you said, very much taking aim at anything that will basically say ok, Democrats aren't preparing for this. Or Democrats are late to respond to this.

You kind of heard that from the senator, too, even though she didn't necessarily say, you know, the administration is being reactionary. Well, Republicans are very much saying that, especially on the baby formula issue.

A couple of weeks ago, Republicans when they came back into session, especially on the House side, they made baby formula their issue. They were talking about Ukraine. Well, why aren't we funding or putting money towards the baby formula issue?

So it caused Democrats to have to respond quickly. And yes House Democrats, Senate Democrats were able to pass a bill to help, especially low income parents on that issue. And they also kind of tossed it back to Republicans and put a funding bill on the floor for baby formula to kind of win that argument, because a number of Republicans that actually voted against it.

ZELENY: It's become Exhibit A of competence. I mean when you step back -- I mean this was never on anyone's radar that baby formula would be something that was a challenge for the White House.

But what it has become is just, you know, a metaphor for all of these challenges that the White House is not necessarily in charge of, but it's his turn, his watch, so it's their problem.

And I think that, you know, when you talk to voters -- I've spend a lot of time out in the country -- that's what they are concerned about. They are not concerned about, you know, if Build Back Better has passed, et cetera. They're not concerned about, you know, the Joe Manchin fights.

Baby formula. So this is something that the president and the White House, it's a challenge for them to try and show that he is in command and control. He was elected to sort of make things better for people and they're not.

PHILLIP: The White House got a little bit of a break this week. The judge ruled that Title 42 has to remain in place. What does that do for them? Immigration actually is one of those issues -- I mean I shouldn't call it a sleeper issue. But it is more important, especially in some of these purple states, than I think Democrats would like to admit.

OLORUNNIPA: Yes. And it's been a headache for the Biden administration figuring out what to do about Title 42. Because you have some Democrats that say, we should keep it. And we have some Democrats that say it's a racist policy and it's discriminatory and we should get rid of it.

You have progressives that are on one side. You have moderates who are looking at their races, looking at the polling and saying something very different. So maybe the judge may have taken this off of Biden's plate for now.

But it is one of those many issues that he did not want to be focusing on when he thought he was going to be focusing on his agenda, Build Back Better. And instead, he is having to deal with all of these crises and all of these problems that are coming across his plate, because he is the president and the buck stops with him. And it makes it very difficult for him to have a message going forward for the midterms.

PHILLIP: Job number one for Democrats over the next several months is going to be figuring out, what do we do? Can we do anything?

Jonathan Chait wrote in "New York Magazine", the headline of this is, "Is the Democratic Party giving up already?" He writes, "They are going to lose control of Congress without having even passed any significant social reforms. Simply coasting into November as if the plan might still work out is foolhardy. Democrats should instead be acting as if their party is on a course for disaster because it is."

And he names a few things. Tariffs that he says can, you know, alleviate inflation. Prescription drug reform. Anything? Is anything going to happen?

SOTOMAYOR: Yes. You know, I have talked to a number of House Democrats. Privately they tell me the things that they are talking about nowadays is how badly are we going to lose and who is going to be part of their leadership team next year. That is what is the conversation of the problem (ph) --

BADE: Yes.

SOTOMAYOR: On Capitol Hill. Not to say that there aren't some legislative agendas. They want to pass this Global Competitiveness Bill. That's likely going to pass both chambers in a bipartisan manner. But they are talking about prescription drugs.

They also are now thinking about subsidies in the Affordable Care Act that are set to expire at the end of this year. And voters are probably going to be notified in October that their premiums are going to go up. That is just another high price, high inflation argument that Democrats don't want to be having. So things like that may start to actually mobilize them a little bit to get a smaller social deal done.

BADE: In this mood of sort of this feeling of we're not going to get anything done, woe is me, it's across, you know, the ideological spectrum, not only people who are running in these front line districts but you know, progressives who really wanted to pass Build Back Better and are now like, this is not going to happen.

I mean just last week, Chuck Schumer sat down with Joe Manchin to see, is there anything they can iron out to do a more narrow bill?


BADE: And at the same day, I think Dick Durbin, who's the number two Senate Democrat was saying, you know, I spent a good year of my legislative life working on trying to pass immigration reform. I wish them luck, but I'm focused elsewhere. And I think a lot of Democrats on the Hill feel like that right now.

PHILLIP: Yes. And that's exactly, saying the very quiet part out loud.

BADE: Right. PHILLIP: Coming up Oklahoma is on the way to banning nearly all abortions from the moment of fertilization.


PHILLIP: This week the Oklahoma state legislature passed a bill that prohibits nearly all abortions starting at the moment of fertilization. That bill is now in the hands of Republican Governor Kevin Stitt who has previously pledged to sign every piece of legislation limiting abortion that reaches his desk.


PHILLIP: This makes Oklahoma the state with the nation's strictest abortion ban, and it is the third set of restrictions that Stitt has signed just in this spring. So it marks a rapid escalation in the politics of abortion ahead of the Supreme Court decision that we are expecting to gut Roe versus Wade later this summer.

Oklahoma is becoming the poster child for where this is all headed next. What is the impact? I mean there's some obvious impacts to women. But what's the political impact of this move that they are making?

SOTOMAYOR: Yes. It's interesting because Republicans for a long time have been saying, whatever happens on abortion could be the thing that may affect turnout in the election. Democrats are seeing it that way, too. Finally, our base has something to kind of rev them up a little bit. And we saw that almost right after that draft of Roe v. Wade potentially being rolled back, really reignited a lot of Democrats.

The question is, does that hold? And one of the things that Democrats, including vulnerable ones, were very quick to say is, ok, this is just the start of one right being taken away, what about others?

And Oklahoma's ruling or potential law is essentially bringing up the question of, well can you get access to birth control, can you get access to Plan B, what more are Republicans going to take away? And that's kind of the argument Democrats are trying to make.

PHILLIP: Yes. I mean where is this all headed for Republicans? I mean I'm not sure -- you know, I mean Oklahoma is doing this and several other states are but Republicans nationally have been trying to downplay what could be coming on this issue.

ZELENY: Without a doubt. I mean Mitch McConnell, you know, who would like in six months to be the majority leader again of the Senate, does not want his candidates or members talking about this necessarily.

But we are basically in uncharted waters in terms of the summer and fall for abortion politics ahead. It has never been the motivating factor on the left that it has been on the right. This has been a generational movement and wish for conservative Republicans, which it seems like it's about to be realized if the Supreme Court decision is as we think. But for Democrats, there are millions and millions and tens of millions of people who have never lived under this moment. So for Democrats, can it be a motivating factor for them? It perhaps can be I think in midterm election years where younger voters and others don't necessarily participate as much.

But once this ruling comes out, probably by the end of June, but it could come out at any day between now and then, it's you know, uncharted waters, like you said. We're not sure where it's going to go.


PHILLIP: Yes. It's going to be -- it's going to be a political earthquake.

Rachel, I wanted to ask you about this. Because Speaker Pelosi was basically just told by the Archdiocese of San Francisco, she can no longer receive communion over this issue of abortion. That I mean -- this is a percolating issue and also potentially it affects President Biden as well. What does it all mean?

BADE: Yes. I mean that's, again, uncharted territory, uncharted waters. Can we say it right now?

Specifically, that is incredible because the Pope himself, Pope Francis just last fall met with Speaker Pelosi and specifically told the conservative bishops in the United States specifically back off from this idea. They were talking about do not use the Eucharist as a political weapon.

And yet they went ahead anyway. And also, you have to look at, you know, the teachings of the Catholic Church. Speaking as a Catholic and a political reporter, you know, Pope Francis' agenda is often focused on things like taking care of the poor, climate change, sympathy for immigrants.

These are things that Pelosi herself is often talking about and yet a lot of Republicans are not. And yet you see the church sort of narrowing in and targeting Nancy Pelosi, which could extend to President Biden because he is obviously for abortion rights, you could see other Democrats. It's going to have huge political and religious ramifications here in the country.

PHILLIP: I want to --

ZELENY: The church politics is much more complicated than we can even discuss.


BADE: Right.

PHILLIP: For sure.

ZELENY: -- as a Catholic and a political reporter as well. PHILLIP: Yes.

ZELENY: There's a lot of that going on here out in San Francisco.

PHILLIP: I want to just touch on the Supreme Court because this week Clarence Thomas made some comments that were widely seen as a swipe at the Chief Justice John Roberts.


JUSTICE CLARENCE THOMAS, SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES: The court that was together 11 years was a fabulous court. It was one you looked forward to being a part of. We actually trusted -- it was -- we may have been a dysfunctional family but we were family. And we loved it.


PHILLIP: Just to be clear, the 11 years he is talking about, that's before John Roberts was on the court chief justice. Is he trying to, you know, take a swipe at the guy who is supposed to be leading the charge here?

OLORUNNIPA: It is definitely a public swipe. And it does bring to mind the fact that this opinion has not come out yet. There are still some things that need to be determined.

PHILLIP: And politics happening on the court.

OLORUNNIPA: Politics are happening on the court in a way we haven't seen in the past. We will have to wait to see what the opinion actually says. It's clearly still a jump ball.

PHILLIP: Yes. And some questions about whether John Roberts is still trying to bring conservatives over to a moderate position on the issue of abortion.

Coming up next, when racial reckoning isn't enough, what will it take to spark real change in America?



PHILLIP: Two years after George Floyd's murder, President Joe Biden says "never again" after a white supremacist killed ten black people at a grocery store in Buffalo.



JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: White supremacy is a poison. It's a poison. Running through our -- it really is -- running through our body politic and it's been allowed to fester and grow right in front of our eyes. No more. I mean, no more.


PHILLIP: A new poll conducted since the massacre finds that 65 percent of Black Americans now say that it's a bad time to be a black person in this country, and in Buffalo, residents there wonder when they will feel safe again.


PHYLLICIA DOVE, BUFFALO RESIDENT: For something this horrific, to expect people to just walk back in if you put new paint up and new shelves, to me would be unacceptable. I think some real heavy work needs to be done to address this issue, especially in this community for people to feel safe again.


PHILLIP: Toluse Olorunnipa is back with us to discuss his new book "His Name is George Floyd" which he coauthored with our friend Robert Samuel.

So Toluse, President Biden this week had strong words about white supremacy, but he also made a lot of promises when he ran for office. And yet Black Americans really do feel like it's a lot of talk, not a whole lot of action.

OLORUNNIPA: Yes, one of the things we did in writing this book was rewind the tape back to 2020, the summer of 2020 when it seemed like everyone was coming together around the idea that we needed to stamp out racial injustice. That what happened to George Floyd was a grave injustice and we needed to stop it.

Part of the reason Biden ran for president was because of what happened in Charlottesville and he made much of his campaign about racial justice. He chose the first vice president who was an African American woman.

But looking back two years from now, there's a lot of angst and a lot of anxiety about what has not been accomplished. Obviously we're still seeing some of the reverberations and the backlash against the George Floyd summer movement with some of the white supremacists and people who are not happy with the idea that we were going to be talking about our country's history. Now having this major backlash and politicians also jumping in on it as well.

So Biden has a lot of work to do in terms of not only the rhetoric but also the actions that he campaigned on.

PHILLIP: You spoke to him for the book and you wrote here, "Biden had thought the biggest challenge was to persuade white Americans that they should not be threatened by addressing inequalities that exist between them and other races." He said to you, "At our best, the American deal wins out. It's never a route, it's always a fight and the battle is never fully won. That's because hate never goes away. It only hides."

He has a realistic view, I think, in some ways of what's going on with race in America, but also an optimistic view of it all, too. Tell us about just how he approaches race as a political figure. It's kind of a -- Biden is an interesting person when it comes to race in America.

OLORUNNIPA: Yes. That is really interesting that this interview that happened last year, way before Buffalo, way before some of this backlash. He said hate only goes away. It doesn't go away. It only hides.

And this is a sense that there's an ongoing struggle between the better angels of our nature and the hate that is part of our country's history. And he said there's always going to be a struggle. There's always going to be this fight going on.

And he feels like he has an historic role in this fight as the vice president to the first African-American president, as the president who Kamala Harris as his vice president that he wants to show that he can be a bridge between the African American community and moderate whites or white Americans who may need a little bit of hand holding to understand what Black Americans are going through.


OLORUNNIPA: And he feels like he's uniquely positioned to do that.

PHILLIP: Yes. I think that comes across in a lot of the way that he talks about this. One interesting thing though, in the last couple of years is the backlash to the racial backlash.

And in the "Washington Post" poll out this weekend, 59 percent of Americans said in 2020, in June of 2020, that they thought that the George Floyd killing would increase white Americans' concern about racial discrimination by police. Now that number is 30 percent.

You yourself as a black man, Robert Samuels your coauthor also a black man, writing about this issue. Tell us about what that experience was like. What did you learn?

OLORUNNIPA: Yes. Robert and I were reporting this live. We didn't know when we started reporting this book that Derek Chauvin was going to be convicted. We didn't know what was going to happen with the racial justice movement.

There was this hope in the summer of 2020 that everyone would come together, the there would be new legislation on civil rights. But as we saw that hope really fade and we saw this major backlash to the idea of even discussing this country's path and critical race theory became this flash point. It really was distressing to see how this issue had become so polarized and became just like any other issue, like gun control, or any other issue that becomes polarized and there's no movement when it comes to politics --


PHILLIP: Yes. And that poll that I just discussed, that was the feelings of black Americans. Do you think having dived way into this stuff, are they right? I mean

are they right that ultimately none of this is really actually changing how white Americans view race in America?

OLORUNNIPA: Well, progress in this country has always been in fits and starts. It's always been something that starts and there's the backlash and it moves over time. And there's been a 400-year experience where we've not seen progress happen swiftly.

So there is some progress taking place and there is some hope. And we ended this book with a chapter called "American Hope". There is some hope that things will change but it just takes time and, unfortunately, it also involves dealing with the major backlash that we're seeing.


PHILLIP: Yes. And I think what is distressing for so many black Americans is that in the meantime, people are being killed because of hate. And that's what's so tragic about it all.

Toluse, thank you so much for being with us. I hope you all go and pick up his new book, "His Name is George Floyd".

But that is it for INSIDE POLITICS SUNDAY. Don't forget you can also listen to our podcast. Download INSIDE POLITICS wherever you get your podcast. Just scan the QR code at the bottom of your screen.

But coming up next on CNN, "STATE OF THE UNION" with Jake Tapper and Dana Bash. Dana is in the chair this morning with guests that include White House economic adviser Brian Deese and Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate Josh Shapiro, also Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson.

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