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Trump-Endorsed Candidate To Face Democrat Healey for Massachusetts Governor; Obamas Return To The White House For The Unveiling Of Their Official Portraits; Lori Lightfoot Spars With Greg Abbott On Illegal Immigration. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired September 07, 2022 - 12:30   ET



JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Republicans would say that means you're going to definitely have a new Democratic governor of Massachusetts, you're going to have a Democratic governor in Maryland, and you're likely to have a Democratic governor reelected in Pennsylvania. Is winning in the primaries for Trumpism hurting the Republicans come November?

DAVID URBAN, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN ADVISER: So, John, you're exactly correct. Right. The Republican primary electorate is much more Trumpy, much more MAGA than the general election voters in the States, especially Maryland, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania, at least purple, Maryland and Massachusetts are really blue states.

And so they've defied political gravity by having, you know, two governors, two Republican governors who were, you know, they were they would be called rhinos by Donald Trump and, you know, but you know, that's a you need to have one of those states. You're not going to have a ruby red governor, a MAGA Republican when in Massachusetts or Maryland or just not politically realistic.

KING: Both of you have deep campaign experience in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. David, it's your birthday, Paul, you've worked presidential campaigns, but also the KC campaign way back in the day when we met Governor Casey, not Senator Casey, we're going back in time here.

I want to focus on the Senate race there. It's a race now between the democratic Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman and another Trump-backed candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz in this race. I want you to listen, you know, Mr. Fetterman suffered a stroke back during the primary season. He is slowly getting back up to speed on the campaign trail. But this has been a big issue. In part, listen to Dr. Oz. They're trying to schedule debate. Dr. Oz says Fetterman won't debate. And he says he wants to know why.


MEHMET OZ (R) PENNSYLVANIA SENATE CANDIDATE: John Fetterman is either healthy. And he's dodging the debates because he does not want to answer for his radical left positions. Or he's too sick to participate in the debate.


KING: Where are we in this one, Paul? And is that a legitimate question raised by Dr. Oz right there?

PAUL BEGALA, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Yes, I think they're gonna have debates. I think he's going to be very careful. Oz is a terrible candidate. You know, you're going to have to somebody's health. A lot of people have had health setbacks, right. A lot of people don't have 10 mansions including a couple of Turkey and a bunch of New Jersey.

So his problem -- Oz's problem is real. I would point out my old boss Bob Casey, who mentioned the governor of Pennsylvania, as governor had a heart and liver transplant and still served successfully for two more years. Urban's old boss, Arlen Specter, legendary senator from Pennsylvania Republican, he served five years at least after he was diagnosed with cancer. There's a lot more seriously what Fetterman is going through.

So Pennsylvania, particularly, I think, is not going to like somebody who's so ham handed and hateful about somebody who's had a health setback because we've all had health setbacks.

KING: Go on, David. But there's a difference. Yes, there's a difference there, Paul. And what John Fetterman lacks that bought that Bob Casey senior and my old boss Arlen Specter had was integrity and transparency about their health issues. Arlen Specter, his health issues played out in the public domain. They saw it.

John Fetterman did not -- was not truthful to the Pennsylvania people about his stroke. He didn't tell anybody in Pennsylvania. He's a sitting lieutenant governor. He didn't let anybody know he had a stroke for the first 72 hours including the governor, the Democratic governor. He has misrepresented Oz's position on abortion repeatedly and no one's calling for it.

So transparency and honesty are going to be really knocking here on John Fetterman. As we come up to this the next 60 days and the only way Fetterman is going to answer this is by debating standing for. You know, Paul, I'm not -- he had he had a stroke. That's very unfortunate. I think that if he was honest about it, and came forward with his doctors and made them available, the Pennsylvania voters would be very forgiving. Unfortunately, he's not and that just makes it seem like he's hiding something.

KING: If you were in the room, Paul, what would you tell the lieutenant governor to do?

BEGALA: No debate. I'm not worried about that. And I would not fixate on it, don't rise debate. The Emerson College poll which by the way shows that only a four point lead for John Fetterman, which is half of the average, right. So it's a good poll for the Republicans.

68 percent of Pennsylvania say that it does not matter to them that Fetterman had this health set. But by the way, the majority of Pennsylvania said it matters a lot that Mehmet Oz is from New Jersey and Urban's doing a good job here. But he back to the right candidate in the primary McClintock.

And during that primary --

URBAN: McCormick. McCormick.

KING: McCormick.

BEGALA: This is Trump Secretary of State said that he was troubled by Oz's connections to Turkey. This guy voted in Turkey before he ever voted in Pennsylvania. I don't spend a lot of time in Pennsylvania. What county is Ankara, Turkey, Urban?

URBAN: Gallows (ph) good.

KING: Both of you are good as the son of Beaver County and the son of Texas going out of here. Appreciate the insights, gentlemen. It is a conversation. A lot of fascinating races to cover in these last eight and a half weeks.

URBAN: Thanks, John.

KING: Up next for us.

URBAN: Thanks, Paul.

KING: Thank you both. Up next. It's a big day at the White House. The Obamas are back next hour for the unveiling of their official portraits. It's a reminder Presidents and Vice Presidents almost always have a rivalry and a reminder sometimes it's OK to mix politics and fun.



BILL CLINTON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: President Bush if I looked half as good as you do when I leave office, I'll be a happy man.

GEROGE W. BUSH, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: When you are wandering these halls as you wrestle with tough decisions, you will now be able to gaze at this portrait and ask, What would yours do?



KING: Next hour, a reunion of friends and yes sometimes rivals. The Bidens are welcoming the Obamas back to the White House for the official unveiling of their White House portraits. It is Michelle Obama's first time back since she moved out back in January of 2017.


Tradition went by the wayside, of course, in the Trump years, the Obamas portrait event should have happened, then, instead, the president who was Barack Obama's Vice President will do the honors today. And today's Washington Post reminds us they're very, very real friendship also includes yes, real moments of tension and rivalry.

President Obama gave us a lighthearted reminder to when he visited the White House back in April for a health care event.


BARACK OBAMA, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Thank you, everybody. Have a seat. Have a seat. Thank you, Vice President Biden, Vice President. That was a joke.


KING: It is a moment to have fun.


KING: And it's a moment not to overstate this idea of tension and rivalry, but to recognize that it's very real. Most presidents and vice presidents don't come from different bands as a party, they have some kind of there's always some tension, especially if you're the vice president, you think I want to be president something that's right.

HENDERSON: And listen, I'm just going to call him vice president, vice. President Biden has a bit of a chip on his shoulder, right. And if you think about Obama, he's the Harvard guy. He's much more cerebral, Biden is much more of a hurt kind of feeling person. And that's why they made a good team, right, when they ran in 2008.

I enlist focus on sort of the tension in the background and excited about what these photos look like, right? Or these portraits look like. What does Michelle Obama wear? Is she sleeveless? You know, you this is one of the most visited places in the White House when you go in the White House. And you see these portraits of the presidents in the first ladies. People linger at these photos, or these portraits, or they want to take pictures near them. So that's when I'm --

ASMA KHALID, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, NPR: I'm with you, because I think it's so easy to forget at this point that we've never had a president's portrait who is not white building on those walls, and to just symbolically be able to that, it seems I think, rather mundane to us now, maybe I don't know. But I think that to me, I'm with you. That's the symbolism of that. I think it's easy to overlook.

KING: It's a great point. And we're told that following tradition, which again, went by the wayside in the previous administration, both presidents will speak and both first ladies will speak. We haven't heard from Michelle Obama in a row. She hasn't been back in a long time.

So let's deal with this. It's largely staff driven. I'm not saying the two principals, President, Vice President don't have attention. Of course they do rival (ph), but this isn't the whole story today. There's still some resentment in Biden's camp about the former Obama White House officials who saw that then vice president as a potential political liability. Many remember, some Obama aides tried to argue Biden should be dropped from the ticket in 2012. And then there's bitterness toward the Obama staffers who work to keep Biden from running for president in 2016. So Hillary would have a path to the nomination.

I mean, this is total inside Washington staff drama, but there are just grudges sometimes people never leave it. Let it go.

DANA BASH, CNN CO-ANCHOR, STATE OF THE UNION: Yes, I mean, we all know this, because we've been covering a politics for a long time, it there tends to be more passion, more anger, more frustration among the camps than the principles. And in this particular case, we do know that maybe they've had some issues, but Barack Obama and Joe Biden were pretty darn close when it comes to a president and a vice president, which, historically speaking, they can be very, very fraud.

Given that, they had and by all reporting, and all intents and purposes have -- still have a very, very close personal relationship. I mean, you think about some of the stories like when then-Vice President Biden's son Beau got sick, the then President offered to give him money to help pay for his health care. I mean, that's very human and very personal. And it speaks to their personal relationships.

KING: And it'll be great to see the back of the White House for the reasons you noted the historic reasons, which I think are very important. Also, just to remember, look, where 60 days from a very contentious midterm election climate the country is polarized, there's a lot of big issues, contentious, divisive issues before us. Every now and then you need to have a laugh, which demonstrated as we showed you in the tease to the segment, when George W. Bush came back to the White House, Bill Clinton, not exactly a friend. You know what, there's tradition in this country. We are one America, we have one president of time, have some fun.


BUSH: I'm also pleased, Mr. President, that when you are wandering these halls, as you wrestle with tough decisions, you will now be able to gaze at this portrait and ask, What would yours do?


KING: Days like this help us remember history. And again, George W. Bush, the son of a president, he revered that house. He revered the tradition, whether it was a Democratic president in the house or Republican president at the house at the time. That's important. It should be but -- maybe it should be more important.

BASH: Well, it should be more important. The fact that this is happening with a president in between these two men, says it all the fact that it wasn't the successor to President Obama that made this happen, which is the tradition speaks volumes.

KING: We'll watch great event next hour. Up next for us, crackling immigration politics. Chicago's mayor says Texas Governor Greg Abbott treats migrants quote like freight. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


KING: A testy back and forth between the Texas governor and a big city mayor puts the immigration debate in a heated midterm spotlight. Governor Greg Abbott is busing migrants who illegally crossed into Texas sending them to cities like New York and Chicago, Washington DC as well. Chicago's mayor says she is fed up both with the governor's lack of collaboration and with a style she says treats the migrants as less than human.



MAYOR LORI LIGHTFOOT (D) CHICAGO: I'd love to have a conversation with Governor Abbott, let's treat the people who are traveling across our country with respect. This is not a governor who wants to collaborate and cooperate with us. There's a way to do it. It's real simple. Pick up the phone, send me an email, work through third parties. I'd love to see that. Because that to me would show that he's importantly, that is regarding these folks, as human beings who are deserving of respect and dignity and not treating them just like freight to be shipped across the country.


KING: Great reporters are back with us, now treating them like freight to be shipped across the country. That is the mayor's view. The governor, if you look at the Texas governor's office 7,000, more than 7,600 sent to Washington DC in 180 buses, to New York City 1,900 35 buses, Chicago so far 95 migrants on two buses.

Governor Abbott says Texas is not bearing the full brunt of this migration problem. He also happens to be running for reelection this year. I don't think those two are disconnected.

KHALID: Yes. I mean, Republicans have often turned I think to immigration routinely during election cycles. We saw this during the midterms and President -- former President Trump was in office. But I will say, John, I mean I think it's notable to me that some of the Republican language around immigration has actually become palpable and believable to the public, given some of the falsehoods around immigration.

And we had NPR ran a poll last month, I believe that showed, you know majority of Americans believe there is a quote, invasion happening at the southern border. A large number of Republicans believe the borders are open entirely. That's not actually true.

And so some of the language we're hearing from Republican politicians, whether or not it actually translates into votes, I'm not sure but it is translating into what people genuinely believe, around the immigration debate right now. KING: And if you look, again, 60 days from the midterm election, what will be your top issue, Democrats are hoping it's abortion rights or tolerance. But if you look at the immigration issue, which Republicans are using in a number of key races, secure the border, Republicans have a huge advantage, fix the immigration system, Republicans have a huge advantage, which gets to the politics of it, but also the frustration of many Democrats that they don't think this White House has done enough to improve its policies or explain their policies.

BASH: Well, you know, that's an important point that one of the things in a perfect world and we are far from a perfect world where you can solve or at least address the issues of Texans and other border states saying, wait a minute, why should we bear the brunt of an immigration situation?

Why not have sort of inner inside interior cities deal with it as well. The federal government should be able to kind of help manage that. That's not the reality of where we are right now. Greg Abbott isn't going to like listen to Joe Biden or anybody on his team, when they try to police that, that's unfortunate.

Because the truth is, if you listen to what Greg Abbott is saying, and if you listen to what Lori Lightfoot and other democratic mayors are saying, they all have points. Yes, these human beings are being treated like freight, that is not OK. Yes, these border communities are overwhelmed at some points by this issue. That's also not OK.

So why not actually, you know, goodness forbid, get together and have a conversation and try to fix it. Because the goal is to treat these people with dignity and respect and all the things that they deserve as humans looking for a better life.

KING: But that that conversation the mayor calls the collaboration not going to happen in the next 60 days. The question is, we've been talking about this for 20 something years. The immigration issue has been the quicksand of American politics for 20 something years. Is there any prospect that after the election, there's a circuit breaker or is that just pollyannish?

HENDERSON: No, I think it's pollyannish. If you look back to 2016, Donald Trump used sort of the fear of immigration, the fear of immigrants to great effect talking about build the wall. You have some Republicans sort of running on the same thing. Greg Abbott, obviously wants to elevate this issue because it has worked really, really well for Republican candidates and Democrats haven't really figured out a language around immigration.

Neither side has figured out how to fix the problem. It has languished for many, many years. I mean, we covered it for a while when it looked like maybe you could cobble together enough Democrats, enough Republicans to get something through the Senate, but we all saw that fall apart as well. It looks like there isn't a lot of movement on either side to fix this problem. So here we are, again.

KING: Here we are, again. Well put. Up next for us, a key senator says the chamber is quote darn close to codifying same sex marriage. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


KING: Topping our political radar today, word of progress on making same sex marriage federal law. Listen here to the Democrat tasked with getting 10 Republicans to support the measure. She says getting close.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You got 60 votes to get it?

SEN. TAMMY BALDWIN (D-WI): We were darn close.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) before the elections on your view.

BALDWIN: Oh absolutely. Newly


KING: Newly released documents show Republican Senator Richard Burr reported losing about $87,000 in stock back in 2020. The Justice Department launched an investigation into Burr after he sold his stock just weeks before COVID-19 hit the United States. Justice Department closed that investigation back in January 2021 without charging the Senator.

The North Carolina Republican also sold more than 95 percent of his retirement holdings just six days before the stock market took a dramatic downfall.

Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping expected to come face to face for the first time since Russian's invasion of Ukraine.


Russia's state news agency reports Putin and his Chinese counterpart will meet on the sidelines of a summit in Uzbekistan next week.

This quick programming note: CNN celebrates Serena Williams, exploring the moments that have shaped her. "Serena Williams: On Her Terms" airs Sunday night 8:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN.

Thanks for your time today on INSIDE POLITICS. We will see you tomorrow.

Ana Cabrera picks up our coverage right now.