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Buttigieg: Inflation Is Biden's "Top Economic Priority"; Fetterman Reveals He "Almost Died" Days Before The Primary; Soon: British Prime Minister Johnson Faces No-Confidence Vote. Aired 12:30- 1p ET

Aired June 06, 2022 - 12:30   ET



CLEVE WOOTSON, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: You know, support for the President's policies, support for people lower on the ballot that they're just simply not going to get that. I think if you look at Biden in a historical perspective, as somebody who ran as you know, I can uplift minorities, I'm going to help specific groups of people. I think that also takes a personal thing sort of at how Biden looks in the grand scheme of things.

JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Right. And part of it is the Democrats are paying a price for being so bold in their expectations with a pretty narrow House majority, a 50-50 Senate, they said they were going to do all these things, and they didn't deliver. So now they're trying to figure out what the Biden team spreading out along with the President to travel the country to say we're on top of this inflation thing, we're going to fix it, there was an op-ed piece last week by Congressman progressive Ro Khanna, essentially saying the President needs to do more, to which the Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said this.


PETE BUTTIGIEG, TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY: The President has made clear that inflation is his top economic priority. And he's laid out a very clear strategy for doing that. I'm sure additional ideas will be welcomed, especially when their ideas that come in good faith. But right now, the President has a very clear plan.


KING: That's the in good faith path. It's in the good faith part just when you go through campaigns. And, you know, I've been through them with Republicans as president. You have the same dynamics. Now you have a Democratic president, where a lot of members of his own party understanding how difficult that dynamic out there are trying to essentially put the president at arm's length.

JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: And in part, I mean, you made this point. I mean, it was what how he won the presidency, right, by energizing progressives, by energizing black voters because of what was possible. And now that some of the -- that they're being told these things are not only -- not going to be in reach anymore, but we've got all these other problems that are affecting their pocketbooks. That's going to be problematic in the midterms, potentially.

MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: and also the idea that he was going to return the country to normal.


ZANONA: And, you know, the pandemic continued. We've seen all these other crises emerge, and yes, some of it is out of his control. But that has also worked against him, I think, in a big way.

KING: And so you see, again, and again, I've watched Presidents of both parties go through this. It's like, what can we do, what can we do, what can we do? This is a headline from POLITICO today. Biden wants to get out more seething, that his standing is now worse than Trump's. The Biden wants to get out more is like a recurring theme. The question is, will he finally get out more?

WOOTSON: Yes, I've -- I think I've been hearing Biden wants to get out more since he was elected, like over and over again, Biden says that he wants to get out more. And over and over again, he just, you know, he doesn't. This week, he's going to the Summit of the Americas. He's taking what -- he was, you know, in Japan and South Korea last week.

But there's also a question of like, when Biden gets out and when he talks and when he has goggles and all of that stuff, does he, is it actually helping the case? You know, he can be gaffe prone at times. And he sometimes he can be off topic. And so even, you know, though he wants to get out more, I don't know if that's going to be an effective strategy.

KING: And how welcome is he out there?

ZANONA: Right. That's the other question. And that's something we've been asking Democrats consistently. I think you will start to see them try to keep him at arm's length. But that's hard. He's going to be, you know, having an impact on these dumbbells.

KING: And history says it's often counterproductive. You get it. You look at the President's polls and you say push him away. But then you create dissatisfaction among Democrats and enthusiasm. You have the key word enthusiasm, not enthusiastic to vote that makes for a bad midterm year.


Up next to that point, we go live to Pennsylvania home and one of this year's biggest Senate races, the Democratic candidate John Fetterman is still off the trail recovering from a stroke and a heart procedure and now we know he ignored his doctor's advice for years.


KING: Pennsylvania Democrat John Fetterman now admits he almost died just days before he won the May 17th Senate primary. Fetterman had a stroke then surgery to attach a defibrillator to his heart. And he's been off the campaign trail ever since. And we finally now have a more detailed look not fully detailed, detailed look but a more detailed look at his health history and how he ignored his doctor's advice and did not take recommended medications for, get this, five years.

Fetterman now concedes his health scare was quote, completely preventable. The question now is, does this matter to voters. CNN's Jeff Zeleny is in Braddock, Pennsylvania exploring that question. Braddock, Pennsylvania happens to be where Lieutenant Governor Fetterman lives and was mayor.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Indeed, John. And of course many supporters here of John Fetterman, many people hoping that he will continue his recovery and go on to win that Senate contest against Dr. Mehmet Oz. But a lot has to happen between now and then the election in November is just a little over five months away. But this is the 25th day in a row that John Fetterman has been off the campaign trail after suffering that stroke and being a treated on May 13th.

But finally on Friday, after much pressure from Democrats and some rising alarm, quite frankly, from here to Washington, about whether he would be able to run, what his strength would be. He finally came a little bit more full circle and released some more information but take a look at a few of the words he said where he was very blunt. He said as my doctor said, I should have taken my health more seriously. The stroke I suffered on May 13th didn't come out of nowhere, like so many others and so many men in particular, I avoided going to the doctor even though I knew it didn't feel well. As a result I almost died. I want to encourage others not to make the same mistake.

So certainly that gets a lot of have sympathy, no question. People here on both sides are pulling for him. His friends say he's recovering. But again, John, there's a transparency issue here. Was he fully transparent after his stroke and the fact that he had a defibrillator implanted on Election Day? Of course, he went on to win all 67 counties in the Pennsylvania primary. So he certainly has a strong brand, a strong political strength here.


But Republicans already accusing him of not being transparent, and about lying about his health, so that will be his challenge going forward. First and foremost, of course, recovering from this. Second of all, you know, convincing voters that he was transparent, and that he is healthy enough for this contest. So John, again, five months before Election Day in November, we have the heart patient, running against the heart surgeon in Dr. Mehmet Oz.

KING: It is a fascinating race. And this adds an interesting dynamic to it. Jeff 70, grateful you're on the ground force in Pennsylvania. Let's bring the conversation back into the room. There's politics, and then there's transparency, which becomes part of the politics. So Dr. Jonathan Reiner, whose famous patients include the former vice president states, Dick Cheney. Dr. Reiner is a cardiologist here in Washington. He's a CNN medical contributor. He says this about Fetterman's doctor did put out a statement that said he ignored my advice for five years. And he says if he follows it now, he'll be OK. But Dr. Reiner wants to know more. He says it's a horrible note, totally insufficient the campaign should make available the doctors who treated him during the stroke. Why are they hiding them?

Hiding is his judgment. You know, we'll see how this plays out if they do it in the future. But is this just our business, we're in the business of transparency, we should demand full transparency. Do voters care about things like this?

KUCINICH: I think it depends on how much the -- his opponent makes this an issue. And if it starts to catch, I think that that will be, I mean I think that is going to be one of the things of whether this actually, and whether he's able to recover because I mean, people love a recovery story if he's able to come back from this, and he can use that, as you know, fodder for his campaign. But I think there's a lot of unknowns right now. And we'll have to see.

WOOTSON: I think it also gets to even if it even if his opponent doesn't capitalize on it, I think it also, all this stuff goes into this miasma of how we think about a candidate or how voters think about a candidate. Are you honest? Are you transparent? Are you honest and transparent when it's not politically expedient? So I do think even if, you know, nothing else comes out which something else might you know, there is this bigger question about just straight up honest.

ZANONA: Because actually he built his brand as sort of like, you know, a straight shooter --

KING: -- there's this roll call, roll call obtain this campaign memo that's from May 25th, so not that long ago. John isn't authentic, straight-talking no BS populace to style defies conventional labels, yes, and so.

ZANONA: Yes, I mean, this could this could be a problem for him in a couple of ways. I mean, to Jackie's point, can you get back on the trail quickly? That's something that Democrats are really anxious about. They want to pivot to the general election, haven't had a real chance to do that yet. And does he look and sound the same way? Is he fitted? Can he go full speed? I mean that's a genuine concern. And then the other question is, if and how Republicans use this against him, especially with Dr. Oz being a doctor and a cardiologist?

KUCINICH: Well, and he -- it has been, I mean, it was a gift that the Republican race wasn't settled for, you know, several weeks. And now that there is a candidate who was going to be on the trail, who was going to be talking in --

ZANONA: Who's the doctor?

KUCINICH: Who was the doctor? It is, I mean, it does change the dynamic certainly, because he's had these weeks kind of convalesce while the Republicans get their -- got their house sorted. KING: Right. And so now you're in the stage of a campaign where, you know, the two nominees and it's let's define each other, right, that's the campaigns go through. And that Pennsylvania race could, it a reason we focus attention on it. It could decide control of the Senate, the 50-50 Senate, Democrats are hoping to take that state away from the Republican incumbent is not running for reelection.

And so the Republicans out of the box are trying to define while John Fetterman cannot be out campaigning, this is a brand new ad from the National Republican Senatorial Committee saying this guy is way too far left.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Fetterman sided with socialists back to government takeover of health care, embrace parts of the Green New Deal that it costs you 50,000 bucks a year. Fetterman said Democrats need to be ruthless. Bernie Sanders calls Fetterman an outstanding progressive.


KING: So welcome to the fight that will be for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. You know, Fetterman will make their case against Oz. But Republicans do see out of the box. We want to push him to the left.

WOOTSON: Yes, 100 percent. And you can see, you know, you can insert any Democrats name for Fetterman and see the Republican playbook. And then, you know, in addition, he's also sort of given Republicans this gift of this being not completely transparent about his health.

ZANONA: Yes, I mean, I also think, again, this is going to be a battleground race. There was a lot of, I guess, concern in the Democratic Party about is it going to be Oz or is it going to be McCormick that emerges from this, who's the easier candidate to beat? But you just don't know it's going to be so down to the wire that anyone could really win? So everything matters in a race like this?

KING: And McCormick conceded in the middle of the recount which was interesting. He just decided to concede so it will be Oz in the race and a lot of money that'd be spent that's why Jeff Zeleny beat us all in Pennsylvania --



KING: -- doing some smart reporting.

When we come back, Judgment Day, important judgment day for Britain's Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister faces and no-confidence. Why? Because of boozy parties that violated the U.K.'s COVID locked down. We go live to London, next.



KING: The British Prime Minister Boris Johnson could be out of a job this afternoon. In less than one hour, the embattled leader will face a no-confidence vote within his own Conservative Party. Johnson, of course has been plagued for weeks and weeks by the so called party gate scandal. Investigators found his office repeatedly ignored COVID restrictions. CNN's Bianca Nobilo is live outside of 10 Downing Street. Bianca, tell us what's about to happen.

BIANCA NOBILO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So John, because 15 percent of the Prime Minister's own Conservative Party wrote letters of no- confidence, that's about 54 of his lawmakers. This has been triggered. And so what's happening in about half an hour's time for the next two hours is Boris Johnson's own MPs will vote whether or not they want him to stay in post, or they want to oust him. He needs 180 of his own MPs to vote for him. That's just a simple majority in order to remain as prime minister. That's because he has 359 MPs.

Now, even if he survived that vote, and that's currently the expectation in Westminster in Parliament, the MPs that I've been speaking to, if he survived that vote, he will still be in dire political danger. That's because no conservative leader who's had a vote of confidence against them, even if they win can stagger on very much longer. It drains them of their authority and their political power. And this is particularly dangerous for Boris Johnson, John, because the discontent for the prime minister doesn't come from a faction or a wing of the party.

This is quite unique in all the leadership contests that I've studied or experience, because it comes from the far right of his party and the progressive wing of his party. It is broad and disparate and nebulous, so he can't address it by doing any one particular political thing. It is a much bigger problem than that and even more fundamentally.

MPs I speak to who are not idealistic and who were quite pro Boris Johnson for some time, are saying to me that the Prime Minister has done deep damage to the standards of politicians and how politicians are regarded by the public and democracy in general. He's made changes to the so called ministerial code here in Parliament, which suggests that ministers who break rules or break the code should resign.

Boris Johnson has taken that out. He's also removed any references to ministers behaving with honesty, integrity, or transparency. So there is a deep worry that he's actually causing damage to democracy and to trust in public officials as well. So he's in immediate danger, but even if he survives tonight, John, he's in a very difficult spot that he may well never be able to recover from politically.

KING: A fascinating day. We'll stay on top of it in the hour and hours ahead. Bianca Nobilo outside of 10 Downing, grateful for the live report, thank you.

Some other international news now, Russian President Vladimir Putin threatening to escalate attacks if the West keeps delivering now new long range missiles to Ukraine. Russia just launched some new missile attacks on Kyiv yesterday. British officials say the aim is to disrupt the supply of Western weapons to the front lines. In the East Ukraine said it had regained parts of Severodonetsk but the situation there worsening, more civilians fleeing the devastated area.

The United States and South Korea launching eight missiles Sunday in response to North Korea's missile launch. Seven missiles were fired by South Korea and one by the United States. Those missiles fired into waters off the coast of the Korean Peninsula. U.S. officials called North Korea's move for a serious provocation to the international community. It was North Korea's 17 missile tests this year. And it comes amid concerns that North Korea is preparing for a nuclear test.


Ahead for us and brand new reporting, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp and other top Republicans are urging Donald Trump to put the party ahead of his personal grievances.


KING: Topping our political radar today, Georgia Republicans now reaching out to Donald Trump's advisors to see if the former president can be persuaded to quote, go easy on Republican Governor Brian Kemp. Trump, of course campaigned vigorously against the incumbent in the peach state's Republican primary last month.

Trump has also said Democrat Stacey Abrams, quote might very well be better than Kemp as the chief executive. Trump's one time Georgia Campaign Director though putting it this way. Honestly, at this point, I think Jesus Christ could tell us not to vote for Kemp and Republicans are still going to vote for him.

Donald Trump now also urging California voters to send top House Republican Kevin McCarthy back to Congress in November. The former President endorsed McCarthy's reelection bid on Saturday. McCarthy of course helps Republicans win a House majority and that he then rises to speaker. But Trump's statement did not address the speaker question. Remember, leaked audio tapes back in April revealed McCarthy thought Trump should resign because of his role of the Capitol riot but for now the two seem to be at peace. In the statement on his social media website, trump praised McCarthy's tireless work.

This first on CNN, six different climate groups, now banding together to make a $100 million push towards the midterm election. The newly formed climate votes project will fund ad campaigns and on the ground organizing in key battleground states like Georgia, Arizona, and Pennsylvania. The groups are worried a lack of action on climate policies could end up being a drag on voter turnout in November, especially among younger voters.

Just moments ago, the U.S. Postal Service unveiling a brand new stamp honoring the former First Lady Nancy Reagan. Nancy Reagan now the 61st lady with her own stamp it is based on her official White House portrait. It will be issued July 6th on what would have been Mrs. Reagan 101st birthday. First Lady Jill Biden may host for that important ceremony. [13:00:01]

This quick programming note, join some of the biggest stars as they lift their voices for Juneteenth: A Global Celebration for Freedom. That's live Sunday June 19th 8:00 p.m. Eastern only here on CNN. Thanks for your time today on INSIDE POLITICS. We'll see you back here this time tomorrow. Ana Cabrera picks up our coverage right now.