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Biden On 60 Minutes: "Pandemic Is Over," Still Doing "Work" On COVID; Tomorrow: Fed Decision On Interest Rate Hike; NYT: New Poll Shows Most Latino Voters "Out Of GOP's Reach". Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired September 20, 2022 - 12:30   ET



LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It isn't good for the White House, particularly when there's still I think roughly 300 people dying a day of COVID. And so that's what the White House has to be out there, you know, talking about especially as they want to be getting all this funding from Congress to keep up vaccine research to still provide all of these potential benefits and vaccines to people who are still grappling with this pandemic and dealing with it.

JOHN KING, CNN HOST: And Republicans were skeptical about the amount the White House wanted anyway. Carl, again, this is your beat. So this is John Thune, key deputy in the Senate Republican leadership today saying, if the pandemic is over, Mr. President, why are you asking for all this money?


SEN. JOHN THUNE (R-SD), MINORITY WHIP: They use the pandemic as a rationale for extending the bailout of student loans, and to the tune of blowing up about a trillion dollars in spending. But if he's going to argue the pandemic is over, I think getting additional COVID support will be a very heavy lift.


CARL HULSE, CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Yes, I mean, you're right and he's right. The President walked into this, Republicans never wanted to do more money anyway. And they were going to fight it. This just gives them a strong rationale, the President himself. I will say this, though, I do think although scientifically, you know, his comment was bad. People are thinking that, right, this is sort of reflecting what ordinary people are thinking, if there's not another variant. It's like, well, you know, everybody is kind of going back to the office. So I see where it came from. But it created a really big problem that, of course, clean up on aisle COVID now, for the next week or so.

KING: And you see that this is Axios COVID, their indicator, their tracker, if you will, index. And if you go back to the beginning of the year, 15 percent of Americans, you know, said they were back to pre-COVID life now we're up around getting close to half. So people do feel, people feel not that it's over, but that they've made the adjustments necessary to continue their day to day lives. Maybe it's testing, maybe it's medicine, certain places, maybe it's none of that. So the President, to Carl's point maybe reflecting what America thinks. But it caused him little policy problem.

SEUNG MIN KIM, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. And you do see where that what the President was trying to say like you said in the back half of his comments about the pandemic, noting that no one at the Detroit Auto Show was wearing masks and people have learned kind of how to live with the pandemic.

And the President has made similar messages before that earlier this year. He said we were kind of in a new phase. We've learned to kind of live with the Coronavirus. But certainly it creates challenges not just in terms of COVID aid. But remember, we're starting a new campaign of the second round of boosters. The administration really wants to encourage everyone that is eligible to get these boosters. And if the President is out there saying the pandemic is over I'm sure that complicates things a tad.

KING: A tad. Up next for us, the Fed meets tomorrow, today and tomorrow to raise interest rates, again, what impact might that have on inflation and what impact might it have on your midterm vote?



KING: We are at another key crossroads in the inflation fight. The Federal Reserve meets today and tomorrow is expected to announce another significant interest rate hike. The Fed's goal is to slow the economy and dampen inflationary pressures without stalling it into recession. The politics of that calculation are dicey, all the more so seven weeks until we count your midterm votes. Our CNN economics political commentator Catherine Rampell joins our conversation, substance first politics after. No doubt the Fed will raise interest rates again, the expectation is 0.75, you think it's a possibility they could even go to a full point?

CATHERINE RAMPELL, CNN ECONOMICS AND POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Markets have priced in three quarters of a percentage point but there's a one in five chance something like that, that they would go to a full percentage point which is huge. This is something we haven't seen in decades, and would really suggest if in fact, they do it. They're extremely worried.

KING: So sometimes things like that, you know, take weeks or longer to make their way into the system and have a meeting for somebody watching at home 50 interest rate hike in, what, six months, little more than six months, what's the impact of the average American consumer?

RAMPELL: You're going to see mortgage rates continue to go up, you're going to see the cost of borrowing for virtually everything go up whether we're talking about a car loan or credit card payment, for example. But that's the goal. I mean, that's not an unintended consequence. That's an intended consequence. The Fed is trying to slow down demand, as you just said, ideally, so that they can cool inflationary pressures, but not so much that it tips us into recession. But there will be some pain. The real risk, of course, is not just that it costs more to borrow and consumers pull back but there could be some job losses and that's really what the Fed is worried about.

KING: And so that gets to the politics part of it. If you start seeing headlines in your local community, there are job losses or some impact and local community, that's bad for the President, this party heading into the midterm election. The flip side of that is this if you look at gas prices, for the last month plus, two months plus now, gas prices are coming down. You see one year ago, 320, a month ago, 391, today 367. That is a trajectory that the White House has to be happy about, that American consumers should be happy about. And that's something you see every day, whether you're filling up your own tank or just driving through the neighborhood. You see those numbers?

KIM: Right, right. I mean, that's why gas prices are more than almost anything is such a visual reminder. You see the billboards plastered everywhere, which is why Ron Klain has been tweeting literally every single day about what the gas prices are. But while we're looking at gas prices going down, you're talking about food prices going up, which is a significant concern, which is why you're seeing Republican candidates. We're talking for example, Nancy Mace running for reelection in South Carolina really focusing on food prices as they campaign in the midterms. And this is something that is clearly a concern for the administration that they haven't really figured out messaging for.

KING: Right. It's a great point you mentioned, Nancy Mace, one of a number of Republicans. Let's play the ad food prices, I've said the grocery store yesterday. Yes, food prices continue to do this. Nancy Mace says it's Biden's fault.



REP. NANCY MACE (R-SC): I'm Nancy Mace. And I have had it with crazy inflation. Just think about the cost of breakfast today. Milk is $4 a gallon, a dozen eggs, almost $4.02. And a pack of bacon will cost you nearly $8. Here's what I'm going to do to Biden's tax and spend agenda.


KING: I was scrambling eggs for my son this morning. I was looking at the eggs, not the camera. But that -- if the Republicans think it's a powerful issue, but frying eggs or scrambling isn't going to solve inflation, that part seems to be missing from the ad. What are they going to do differently?

BARRON-LOPEZ: Well, they haven't really provided what they're going to do differently. The Republicans, whether they're in the House or the Senate haven't really provided any kind of, you know, policy plan for helping the country get out of inflation. But they do think it is still the number one issue to voters. And all the polls show that this is something that voters care about the most that they're worried about the most, you know, to on President Biden side, the possibility of job losses happening definitely takes a big point out of his argument, which is that so far unemployment has been going down. And that's something that the White House has really hooked on to along with the fact that gas prices are going down.

Look inside the White House, they do believe despite the fact that abortion is a big issue right now in the on the campaign trail. And so are other issues, they do very much believe that economy is the number one thing and so they are going to have the President continue to go out and talk about it as much as possible.

KING: And then New York Times/Siena College Poll a couple days ago, if you look at it, sometimes we did a party out of power, you're the opposition. Sometimes you don't have to say what you would do. You just try to make people mad at the people in power. Who do you trust to handle the economy? Democrats 38 percent, Republicans 52 percent. If you're Republicans, we talked about immigration earlier in the program, if you're Republicans, you see those numbers and you think talk about inflation.

HULSE: Yes, I mean, every Republican senator that I talked to last week about their struggles on abortion and same sex marriage would say yes, but things cost too much, things cost you much. That's really where they're going to go. If I was a congressional candidate incumbent heading into a debate, I wouldn't make sure I know what the price of milk and the price of bread is because you're going to get asked about that.

I think that the gas prices have been very beneficial to them as I traveled around the country. That's what -- that's very tangible. But you know, this is there's time left. The Democrats have enjoyed a nice run here with some of the issues. Now it's kind of taking a turn against them, maybe with the economy moving up again.

KING: And from a policy perspective, is there any one thing a president could do, or the Republicans could do if they retook the majority on day one --

RAMPELL: No, there's a reason why neither party has put forth a credible plan for dealing with inflation. It's because they can't actually do all of that much about inflation, including gas prices. I mean, the White House doesn't want blame when gas prices are go up. They want credit when gas prices are going down. I mean, either way, it's unfair for voters to hold them responsible either way, but they don't actually control it. There are some things that they could do on the margins, like removing tariffs that they don't want to do either.


KING: Politics are funny business. Up next, the Latino vote in the midterms, the racist, and the places that matter most.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KING: Latino voters will have a giant say in many of the most significant midterm races and questions we count your votes seven weeks from today. This is a map of the 50-50 Senate, Latino voters absolutely essential as Democrats try to hold a Senate seat in Nevada, Latinos a huge slice of the population there, the voting electorate as well.

Arizona too, even in Colorado Latinos not as big a slice as they are in Nevada or in Arizona but if that race gets competitive Latinos, often a swing vote in Colorado statewide politics. And just to mention out in Nevada and Arizona, you have key elections for governor as well Secretary of State in Arizona, then even think about the Democrats trying to hold this Senate seat in Georgia. It's a much smaller Latino population in the state of Georgia, but in a 50-50 race. It's a potential swing population. Those are big statewide races.

Now let's think about it from the prospect of Republican efforts to take back the House. Democrats have a narrow majority now you see the map of today's house pop up. One reason this majority is smaller for the Democrats as Republicans had success. In 2020, back in the presidential year, surprising gains down here in South Florida, Republicans need to hold those seats if they want to then take away Democratic seats elsewhere and get the majority, a special election earlier this year. Republicans take a district in South Texas.

They are hoping they can hold on to that seat, again, all with the impact of trying to build their majority. Let's discuss this deeper with us to share his insights. Nathan Gonzales of inside elections, Laura Barron-Lopez with the PBS NewsHour, stay with us. Nathan, let's start with the House in Republicans trying to keep what they have, and then take away from Democrats. How important well, we look at South Florida and South Texas?

NATHAN GONZALES, EDITOR & PUBLISHER, INSIDE ELECTIONS: Well, first of all in South Florida with Congresswoman Salazar in the 27th district. I mean, that's one of the key races that we've been watching for this entire cycle. And right now looking at the polls, it looks like she is in pretty good shape. And so that takes, that makes it difficult for Democrats to maintain or maintain the majority if a district that used to be within reach looks out of reach.

I mean, you talked about the 34th district in Texas where Congressman Flores won Special Election Republicans, think that they're in the game there. She's now facing incumbent Democrat Vicente Gonzalez. And that's a key race. It's a Biden district it's a very Hispanic district. But now you have a new incumbent Congresswoman who is bringing an extra heft to the race that they didn't have before.


KING: In South Florida and South Texas, two of the places that after 2020 Republicans said, look, we're making significant inroads, strictly among male Latino voters voting for Trump that his numbers change, Trump still lost. And that's the point Democrats make. So if you look, we can look granular at each of those specific races. You look nationally, The New York Times/Siena poll, which candidate would you vote for. This is among an over sample of Hispanic voters, 56 percent say Democrats, 32 percent say Republicans. So Democrats argue, you know, all this talk of gloom and doom is wrong. But are those numbers strong enough?

BARRON-LOPEZ: Well, they seem to be frozen a bit in 2020 numbers, right, which is that it's Democrats aren't getting better with Latinos, particularly in areas where they want to be or where they need to be when we go beyond Texas and Florida. And you look at Arizona and Nevada. Latinos are very key to Democrats winning those states. They were key to Biden winning it in the presidential. But so they're not any better than 2020, and they're not any worse off. Young Latina women are also a big part of how Democrats are going to be able to keep their numbers there because the Latino population disproportionately skews young. And young women tend to vote more with Democrat.

GONZALES: Joe, we have to remember, it's about the margins. I mean, a 56 to 32 percent advantage for Democrats, I went back and look 2008, Obama won Latino voters with 67 percent. In 2012, Clinton was 71 percent. So the fact we're talking about 56, it's about the margins and when these races are close, the margins matter.

KING: Right, that margin is enough to flip a statewide race a little bit toward the Republicans or a district certainly. So then the question comes down to turnout. Ruben Gallego, a congressman from Arizona, colorful language they inbox about this conversation, Republicans making big inroads, he says everybody calm the F down. I won't repeat the word for lunch hour. We didn't lose the Latino vote. We didn't win by as much. He goes on to talk about that they're working on it. They're working on it part comes down to turnout and mobilizing. We just show you turnout by race in 2020, 71 percent of eligible white voters turned out, 63 percent of black voters. The Latino turnout was 54 percent. Part of the challenge here is mobilization. It's finding your voters, identifying them, and making sure they cast ballots.

BARRON-LOPEZ: And in states like Florida, which Ethan and I were just discussing in the break. And in South Texas, Democrats have not been competing, they're aggressively or trying to do aggressive outreach to Latino voters, which are different Latinos than live in Arizona, than live in Nevada. And so they focused way more in Arizona and in Nevada. But again, a lot of you know, Democratic Latino strategists will tell you that the party is often late to the game in terms of how close it gets down to the election. And that that was why Nevada was a lot closer than people expected in 2020.

KING: Right. It should be a priority from day one, not just a surge in the end for all of your voters, for all of your voters. We just look, Nathan, at this, the change, percentage change in number of Latino voters since 2016. In Arizona was up 50 percent from 2016 to 2020, Michigan up 123 percent, Texas up 53 percent, Wisconsin down a little bit. The Michigan number, you look at that and you say, wow, it's still just 3 percent, 3.3 percent of the population.

But again, you talked about the margins if you have a 50-50 race, and you can overwhelmingly do well among a constituency that's 3 percent of the vote, that can be the swing difference.

GONZALES: Right, you can compensate for losses with other demographics if you can boost it in one demographic. I think both parties are also wrestling with how to communicate with Latino voters and it's not just about used to be just take an English ad translate into Spanish but that's not how it works. And I know that some strategists are looking at finding third party validators to appear in ads in order to convince Latino voters, it's OK to vote against the party you've been voting for in the past.

KING: And if you look at the ads now you see, you see abortion, inflation, economics, it's across such as it used to be just immigration as well, too. And you see the broader, more respectful conversation. We'll see how it plays out come Election Day.


Up next, remember Ronny Jackson, Trump's one time doctor turned Republican congressman, eyeing a possible primary challenge to a veteran Senate incumbent.


KING: Topping our political radar today this afternoon, President Biden heads to New York for the first fully in person United Nations General Assembly since the COVID pandemic, U.N. Secretary General today calling it a time of great peril specifically, because of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Ukraine's president will be the only world leader to make his address virtually, among President Biden's plan meetings, U.K.'s new Prime Minister Liz Truss.

Mehmet Oz taking a very unusual step on the campaign trail yesterday. He offered to take people struggling with addiction in the Philadelphia area to detox.


DR. MEHMET OZ (R-PA), SENATE CANDIDATE: -- hospital, they can get you in detox, just five days.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I really want to go. I really do.

OZ: Well, we got -- you might have a partner at arms here. He's going today, I'll drop you off too. We got room.


KING: The Pennsylvania Republican Senate nominee tying that moment to a key Republican talking point, the prime issue.

Donald Trump's former doctor and current Republican Congressman Ronny Jackson says he's open to challenging Texas Republican Senator John Cornyn in 2026. Congressman Jackson says it's not a top priority right now, but he might be laying the groundwork already. He's taken out Spanish language ads to boost his profile among Latino voters. Music legend Elton John is playing a return engagement at the White House on Friday. The tent is already up on the South Lawn. It celebratory event is called quote, a night of hope, when hope and history rhyme. John played at the White House back in 1998 during a state dinner for them British Prime Minister Tony Blair. He also happens to be playing at Nats Park here in D.C. on his farewell tour, Saturday night.


Thanks for your time in INSIDE POLITICS today. We'll see you tomorrow. Ana Cabrera picks up our coverage right now.