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Primary Day In Arizona, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri And Washington; Trump Endorses "Eric" For Missouri Senate Race, But Which One? Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired August 02, 2022 - 12:30   ET




JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Today is primary day and you see the five states voting today, Arizona, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, and Washington. In Kansas, an important statewide vote on abortion rights, the first statewide vote since the Supreme Court throughout Roe v. Wade. We'll track that one. Some other key dynamics as we watched tonight, remember the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Donald Trump. Let me stretch this out a bit for you. Well, five of them are already out of play, if you will, in the sense that they either decided not to run or they lost their primary.

Liz Cheney's primary is later this month. David Valadao, he advanced the general election but three, three of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Donald Trump face primaries today and face candidates endorsed vengeance by Donald Trump. Two out in Washington state, one in Michigan. So we'll know much better tally by the end of tonight, the Trump effect if you will on those who voted for impeachment.

Also some other fascinating races, I mentioned that Kansas vote, the first big Roe vote. Everybody, both parties are watching that one for voter intensity. You've got some key governor's primaries. You got some key Senate primaries. Out in the state of Arizona, it is possible for Governor, for United States Senate, for attorney general and for secretary of state, Republican candidates in Arizona, one of the troubling themes in this election year election deniers.


KARI LAKE (R-AZ), GOVERNOR CANDIDATE: The only way they can win is that they load up the voter rolls with dead people, people who've moved, and imaginary friends.

MARK FINCHEM (R-AZ), SECRETARY OF STATE CANDIDATE: Somebody who is not afraid to take on the establishment crowd that tells them, you need to move on. Nothing happened. It's OK. Donald Trump lost. OK. Cheating is not winning.

ABE HAMADEH (R-AZ), ATTORNEY GENERAL CANDIDATE: And what the radical left has done by hijacking our elections, you know, cloaked it with these mail-in ballots is wrong.


KING: With me to share their reporting and their insights, Margaret Talev of Axios, Bloomberg's Mario Parker, and Heather Caygle of Punchbowl news. Too much to talk about, but let's just start there, I call it troubling. You still have even after the January 6th hearings have completely exposed Trump's lie and all the people around him knowing it was a lie.

You still have so many Republican candidates who either flat out repeat the 2020 lie or even more troubling. You heard the candidate for governor in Arizona, Republican nominee shared if I lose, there's cheating.

HEATHER CAYGLE, MANAGING EDITOR, PUNCHBOWL NEWS: Yes, I mean, this is a pretty common theme and the Republican races this year. And like you said, it is very troubling, given everything that we have seen from the January 6th hearings and putting Trump at the center of all of that.

And I think more troubling is the implications heading into 2024 if these governors, if these states -- secretaries of states, attorney generals are elected because they will be the ones that are overseeing the presidential election and accounting of those ballots and I think that's what people are really worried about right now.


KING: And if you look at the three candidates up today, the three of the 10 who voted to impeach Donald Trump, the Peter Meijer race in Michigan, Jaime Herrera Beutler and Dan Newhouse out in Washington state. So we'll get a sense earlier than I first you get the Michigan results there. The Michigan race, though is also, it's not -- it's important to watch, number one, does Trump get his vengeance against these three.

But the Democrats have put money into the Michigan race trying to help Meijer's opponent because they believe if the opponent wins, that they'll have a better chance come November to which Peter Meijer runs this ad on the radio.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nancy Pelosi is pumping nearly half a million dollars into West Michigan to buy this election for John Gibbs. Pelosi is trying to fool West Michigan conservatives into voting for Gibbs. John Gibbs, another politician bought and paid for by Nancy Pelosi.


KING: This not the only race where Democrats essentially tried to put their thumb on the scale by helping a Republican, the hope is Republican wins a primary who cannot win in November. But there's a lot of Democrats debating the wisdom of this.

MARIO PARKER, NATIONAL POLITICS TEAM LEADER, BLOOMBERG: Yes, no, absolutely. We saw some, we saw Congressman Ritchie Torres over the weekend saying that he was displeased with some of these maneuvers. And in some ways, it undercuts the Democrats message that these folks are a threat to democracy, it seeds the moral high ground for Democrats. It's a risky strategy. It's a two prong strategy that's dependent on Democrats being able to turn out their base. And right now that's an iffy situation.

KING: An iffy situation, that's the modest -- that's the polite way to put it. I appreciate the politeness. Let's look at the Arizona governor's race where you have Kari Lake who's a former T.V. broadcaster who essentially says she's repeating Trump, channeling Trump, if I lose, someone is cheating. And you have Karrin Taylor Robson, who is the establishment candidate for governor endorsed by the current Arizona governor, endorsed by -- this is a Trump-Pence divide here are.

Where are we if we're looking through if we want to call it the Republican establishment versus the Trumpy candidates as we get deeper into the primary season, who's winning?

MARGARET TALEV, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, so far, Trump is winning. And Arizona will be a big test of that. I think Liz Cheney in a couple of weeks is going to be an even bigger test. No one's even really hiding how many different money streams there are of establishment Republicans as well as Democrats, you know, trying to lift her up.

But I think when you really zoom out like democracy is hugely on the ballot today. And I just can't miss the juxtaposition of Nancy Pelosi landing in Taiwan, this historic and very controversial trip and saying in her public comments in her writings, this is about elevating a democracy, this crucial democracy and look at the test at home on the ballot.

This is not about partisanship. It's really is about what does American democracy meaning, what kind of candidates are being nominated to roles where they can have pivotal decision making over the integrity of election.

KING: Right. And I mentioned just about, you know, it's a possibility that Republicans in Arizona will have a statewide slate of people who are election deniers.

TALEV: I do think ironically, that may make it a little bit, that could hurt Republicans chances are the pivotal Senate seat in Arizona, it really Mark Kelly, it'll could all come down to who controls the Senate, that race will be so pivotal. And if Arizona gets a slate of Trump back candidates, that could ironically have the effect of helping Mark Kelly's chances of holding on to that seat. But again, that's a real high stakes gamble for both parties.

KING: Right. And again, Arizona will be crucial not only this year, but crucial again in 2024. You have the same thing, we can show you the Republican candidates for Michigan Governor Trump, very belatedly endorsed Tudor Dixon, she's the candidate you see on the left. You have Ryan Kelley there as well, who's here on January 6th, in Washington, D.C. Again, you have in a major state in the middle of America critical this year, critical again in 2024. Election lies are still a dominant theme.

CAYGLE: Yes, absolutely. And you know, this race is really interesting. I think this race is probably in my mind, the most important for Trump and in a lot of ways, Democrats today because Michigan is such a pivotal state in 2024. You need it to win the White House. And so I think what we saw here was Trump and the DeVos family, Betsy DeVos, resigned after January 6th famously, they had been at war with each other in so many other races in Michigan, up and down the ballot.

And she wrote him this letter that basically made no mention on January 6th, and was like you should endorse this candidate. She is the only one who can take on Democrats and win. And they came together on this race. So it's just such an interesting dynamic in that state. But on the Democratic side if they cannot win the governorship I mean, what does that say about their chances were 2024 too, both parties have a lot of stakes here.

KING: Right. And if we could just put up on the screen again, the scorecard of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Donald Trump, on the right of your screen there you see five who either decided not to run for reelection or lost their primaries. My question is we go through the next five, if you will, the Cheney primary later this month, three today, so there's four left, one is already advanced in the general election in the follow up (ph).

Do we see any evidence that the January 6th hearings and Trump's reemergence have changed? Do those candidates, can Cheney survive, can the three today survive is the -- are Republicans may be having second thoughts about this is one of the questions?


PARKER: Yes that's one of the things. We've all been writing about Trump's grip on the party with these primaries, right? And so now is where the rubber really hits the road now that we had the public January 6th hearings. We saw some damage to Trump's reputation and brand with some of those damning revelations that came out. And so we'll see whether or not there's a future for Republicans that oppose Trump and this Republican Party going forward.

TALEV: Candidates in Washington State may be better poised. Michigan seems a very tough for Peter Meijer.

KING: Right, that's a tough district. It's a conservative district. And I mean, not a ton of polling out of Wyoming but there's nothing good for Liz Cheney so far, but we will see, that's why we count votes and we will be counting them tonight. Join us throughout the night as we do.

Next, Donald Trump makes a mess in Missouri. A last minute set of endorsement in two candidates, yes, two candidates say, thank you.


[12:45:16] KING: One of the states holding primaries today, Missouri. All eyes there on the state's crowded Republican Senate race, all eyes even more on it after a very confusing endorsement from Donald Trump. The former president says, Eric, you see it there, Eric, has his complete and total endorsement. There's a problem. There's more than one Eric, in that race. Two of the top candidates, the former Missouri Governor Eric Greitens and the Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt, were quick to accept the endorsement. You see their tweets there, whether it was meant for them or not.

Our reporters are back with us. Number one, it just shows you that Donald Trump is just not a serious person. This is a very important race. We should not be talking about Missouri in an election year that should be favorable to Republicans. But if the Republicans mess up this primary, Democrats think they have a chance.

PARKER: No, absolutely. We've seen Trump essentially become or inject this chaos, right, that we're all very familiar with. The one cloud hanging over Republicans this year in otherwise what should be a red wave, it's just the uncertainty with the Senate, right? And a lot of that has to do with Trump's elevation of candidates who have -- who are flawed. So we're seeing some of that play out right now, essentially flirts with endorsing Eric Greitens or gives a dual endorsement, given his political baggage.

KING: Yes. If we could put the two Eric's back up there, the two tweets after, explain. Is there an explanation?

CAYGLE: Well, that's a great question. POLITICO had a great article this morning that said Trump called them both before and said, I, you know, you'll be pleased with my decision later today without failing to mention that he was also endorsing the other Eric. So I will say I asked Senator John Thune about this race last night, he's the number two Republican in the Senate.

And he was just very blunt in saying, if Eric Greitens wins, we, as a party, are going to have to spend millions of dollars in a state that we should not be spending in because this guy has a record that we cannot defend.

And I mean, that just says it all. The establishment does not want this guy to win. They thought he was lagging behind in third. They thought he was going to lose. So the question is, does this Trump quasi endorsement fuel him, you know, to the top of the pile in the end.

TALEV: And that's the politics of this. But then again, as we've been talking about democracy throughout the show, the real life implication, what difference would it make if either Eric were the nominee and then elected in the state of Missouri, these are both election deniers. It's not like Eric Schmitt has a demonstrably different view that Eric Greitens does, at least publicly and how he articulates, you know, the results of the 2020 election.

He took an active role in trying to bolster Trump's efforts to undo the election results and is proud of it and talks about it publicly. So the truth is, this nominating contest, the reason why it's important in the Republican Party is about Republican politics, can Republicans jeopardize their ability to hold on to a seat that says a lot about Trump and his hold on the party internally. But in terms of the implications for the public, for democracy, for how it impacts Americans, these two candidates both have gone out of their way to show Trump that they are loyal to him over at the process.

KING: Right. Both loyal to Trump, but if you listen to two Eric's here, Eric Greitens says I'm the only MAGA candidate, only Trumpy the candidate in the race. Eric Schmitt says, you nominate Eric Greitens, you lose.


ERIC GREITENS (R-MO), SENATE CANDIDATE: This is a very simple election. It's Eric Greitens, the MAGA candidate versus the rhinos. They're running a very dishonest campaign. And it's not just me you saying that. President Trump came in last night and said Eric Schmitt is running a very dishonest campaign.

ERIC SCHMITT (R-MO), SENATE CANDIDATE: Are you going to vote for the quitter, the former governor, who is so saddled with scandal, he will lose this seat. He will lose this seat. He abuse his wife and his kid and he's quit on the people to say. It doesn't get easier in Washington, D.C. If he quit on you before, he'll quit on you again.


KING: If you don't follow Missouri politics closely, Greitens was the governor. He resigned after allegations of sexual assault and financial misconduct. Most Republicans strategist here in Washington do believe that if Greitens is the nominee, not that it's likely but it is much more possible, much more likely the Democrats might be able to win that seat.

CAYGLE: Yes, absolutely. And I mean, this is a race, the Republican establishment tried to head this off. I mean, you had Roy Blunt, Josh Hawley, the state's two senators call for him to drop out of the race. None of the establishment would endorse him. John Thune, you know, said this guy needs to get out of here. And like Mario said a minute ago, this is just the latest in a string of races where the Trump- backed candidate has given Democrats a real chance of holding on to the Senate, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Georgia, maybe even Ohio, you know, hugely consequential.

KING: That's why we count them. It'd be fun counting the votes tonight, five states, important elections.


Ahead for us though, some brand new details just out from the White House from President Biden's health as he recovers again from COVID.


KING: Topping our Political Radar today, his health update from the Biden White House. The President continues, the White House says to test positive for COVID. And his doctor says, a loose cough is back. The President is not running a fever though and other vital signs the White House says remain normal.

The President has picked FEMA's Robert Fenton to lead the administration's response to the growing monkeypox outbreak. Dr. Demetre Daskalakis of the CDC will be his deputy. Dr. Fauci praising these appointments adding still a lot to be learned about the virus. The U.S. saw its first case of monkeypox back in May, now has more than 5,000 confirmed infections.


The latest and the seventh hearing for the WNBA star Brittney Griner ended without a verdict today in Moscow. Griner and her legal team were hopeful after the Biden administration recently proposed a prisoner swap to bring her and another American prisoner marine, Paul Whelan, back to the United States. Russian officials have hinted a willingness to negotiate a deal, but it appears that will happen only after the Griner trial is completed. Remember Griner pleaded guilty to drug charges back in July hoping, hoping that would bring her some leniency.

Thanks for your time today in INSIDE POLITICS. We'll see you back here tomorrow and tonight for our special election coverage. Ana Cabrera picks up our coverage after a break.