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Inside Politics

January 6 Committee Subpoenas Former President Trump; Biden Sells His Agenda in Oregon, Stumps for Democrats; Georgia Senate Debate Showdown; Buttigieg: Most Requested Surrogate On Campaign Trail; Kansas Midterm Political Landscape After Abortion Referendum. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired October 16, 2022 - 08:00   ET





ABBY PHILLIP, CNN HOST (voice-over): A shocking subpoena.

REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): We are obligated to seek answers directly from the man who set this all in motion.

PHILLIP: And extraordinary behind the scenes footage.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): I'm going to punch him out, I'm going to go to jail, and I'm going to be happy.

PHILLIP: The January 6 Committee holds what could be its final hearing. But will the man at the center of it all be held accountable?

Plus, President Biden heads West.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I gave the infrastructure decade -- this is for 10 years.

PHILLIP: As the crucial last inflation numbers before the midterms are released, showing punishingly high prices.

And, toe-to-toe --

HERSCHEL WALKER (R), GEORGIA SENATE CANDIDATE: That was a lie and I'm not backing down.

PHILLIP: The first debate between the Georgia Senate candidates gets personal.

REP. RAPHAEL WARNOCK (D-GA): My opponent has a problem with the truth.

PHILLIP: Is it enough to tip the scales in these highest of stakes race?

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



PHILLIP (on camera): Welcome to INSIDE POLITICS SUNDAY. I'm Abby Philip.

The January 6 Committee ended what could be its final hearing with a bang -- a vote to subpoena former President Donald Trump.


CHENEY: This afternoon, I am offering this resolution, that the committee direct the chairman to issue a subpoena for relevant documents and testimony under oath from Donald John Trump in connection with the January 6th attack on the United States Capitol.


PHILLIP: The committee also unveiled extraordinary, never before seen footage of congressional leaders hiding from the mob.


PELOSI: I worry about you being in the Capitol building. Don't let anyone know where you are. We are told it could take days to clear the Capitol, and that we should be more bringing everyone here to get the job done.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): D.C. has requested the National Guard, and it's been denied by DOD. I would like to know a good goddamn reason why it's been denied.

Answer my question, does that include asking the president to get these people, who are followers of his, to leave the Capitol?


PHILLIP: And the panel also aimed to prove the then-President Donald Trump knew, but refused to publicly admit, that he lost the election.


ALYSSA FARAH GRIFFIN, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: I remember maybe a week after the election was called, I popped into the oval just to give the president the headline, see how he was doing. He was looking at the TV and said, can you believe I lost to this f'ing guy?

CASSIDY HUTCHINSON, FORMER AIDE TO WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF MARK MEADOWS: Something to the effect of, I don't want people to know we lost, Mark. This is embarrassing. Figure it out, we need to figure it out. I don't want people to know that we lost.

(END VIDEO CLIP) PHILLIP: Now, over the course of the last six months, the committee has presented hours and hours of damning evidence. But to what end? Sixty-seven percent of Republicans still want Trump to be the nominee in 2024, and 61 percent of them believe that the election was stolen.

The hearings, of course, are an important moment for history, and also for the truth. But the question is, did Trump ultimately gain, too?

Let's discuss all of this and more with Tolouse Olorunnipa of "The Washington Post". Republican strategist and pollster, Kristen Soltis Anderson, and Peter Baker and Susan Glasser, authors of the compelling new book, "The Divider: Trump in the White House 2017-2021".

And, Peter, I guess I'll put that question to you. As you know, Trump is, and I think he really revels in being the ultimate survivor, but the question for the country is, what are the consequences for what we have seen evidence of as a result of January 6?

PETER BAKER, CO-AUTHOR, "THE DIVIDER": Yeah, it's remarkable how much of January 6th committee put out there, right? A very compelling narrative way with a lot of testimony, testimony all by the way from Trump's own advisers, from Republicans, for the most part, public servants, and military people.

And yet, here we are in October and the polls suggest basically where we started -- basically where we were in June in terms of public views of January 6, in terms of public views of President Trump, former President Trump. His numbers are roughly the same. The numbers of Republicans who believe the lie of the election is roughly the same.

And what it says is just how much our politics have classified. We are in our tribal camps. We are not really interested in listening to other people, present information no matter how compelling it might be.


PHILLIP: It makes to your point about the number of election deniers. I mean, this has become an article of faith in the Republican Party. I don't care how you slice up. And a lot of these campaigns, if you don't believe the big lie, you can't get on the ballot.

And there was recently a "Cook Political Report"/"The Times" did a survey of this, 318 people on the ballot questioned the result of the 2020 election. And more than half of them, 204 of them are favored to win. Those people are going to be running the government very soon. That isn't actually scary thing.

TOLUSE OLORUNNIPA, WHITE HOUSE BUREAU CHIEF, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yeah, I don't think that's been enough attention pay that these are going to be people in positions of power who are going to have the ability to change elections in 2024 and beyond if they so choose. That is something that a number of these Republicans have tried to not really talk about in the campaign trail, in part because they won the primary on the big lie. They are now trying to appeal to a moderate and independent, middle of the road voter. But I think once a number of these candidates get into office, they're

going to have a lot of pressure on them. They're going to have pressure from the people who endorse them, including the former President Donald Trump to push forward a different election laws, or different movements on an election, even after the voters. That's something we haven't reckoned with.

PHILLIP: Yeah. I mean, I think we as a country probably need to grapple with how we got to this point, right? How something so flagrantly untrue, that Trump knew is untrue, as proven in the hearings over the last several months, could end up being an article of faith.

And, Susan Peter, you guys wrote in your book that after years of experience, Trump knew how to sell a big lie. He had done it many times before. As a real estate developer, he claimed his buildings were taller than they were, which is amazing. As a reality television star, he had made it conflicts between contestants to induce his ratings. As a political provocateur, he claimed without a lick of truth that the nation's first Black president was secretly born in Africa.

The trick with conspiracy theories was repetition and conviction, and there's no amount, it seems, of real, obvious proof that's right there in front of their faces, that can change people's willingness to just accept it.

SUSAN GLASSER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: You know, Abby, I think this is so important. Remember, one of the more compelling things I thought this week at the January 6 hearing was their effort to point out that it was premeditated, that Donald Trump doesn't just spontaneously walk out on election night in 2020 and say, frankly, I did win this election, but in fact, had planned to do so.

And actually in our book, we point out that his very first tweet, calling the 2020 election rigged came at the end of May in 2020. So, he was for months preparing in a very calculated way. And in fact, he told the public again and again, any outcome of the 2020 election, which I am not the winner, I will contest. I will not concede, I will not do this.

So, it's very disingenuous. Even many of the Republicans who later broke with Donald Trump, people like Bill Barr, the former attorney general, or Mitch McConnell, the Senate at the time, majority leader, they say, oh, well, Donald Trump went crazy essentially after the 2020 election. The record is very clear that the playbook of Donald Trump was a playbook all along.

PHILLIP: Yeah, he didn't -- I mean, he was doing this before the election.

I mean, Kristen, look, you talk to a lot of Republican voters, you have seen this happen. What is going on in terms of how Trump -- it seems to me just from the non-pollster's perspective, that Trump has been able to more than perhaps any other politician in recent memory, literally change people's views on things. He changed Republicans' behavior around mail-in in a matter of like two months.

KRISTEN SOLTIS ANDERSON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, he was able to change Americans from both parties' views on things as soon as he comes out and endorses anything, even if it was something nonpartisan at the beginning. You immediately see polarization erupt.

So, he's very good, it's the title of your book, "The Divider", he's good at dividing. And so, when it comes to, you know, things like mail-in voting, for instance, before the 2020 election, there's a broad majority of Republicans and Democrats thought mail-in voting was pretty good. But as soon as the 2020 election comes around, suddenly, Republicans began backing off of it, and saying they don't think that's a good way to vote, et cetera.

So, you -- even setting aside the result of the 2020 election, we've seen that Donald Trump has really been able to shift Republican voters' views on the active voting, how do you vote. And I actually think there's a chance that this backfires a little bit on Republicans in the midterms because in states like my home state of Florida, you had a lot of Republican Party operations really built on getting voters to vote in certain ways, that Donald Trump could come out and say, no, no, no, just vote on election day a person. That's a bigger, heavier lift.

PHILLIP: There was some evidence in the committee hearings this week showing his aides were basically briefing him and saying, hey, Mr. President, mail-in voting is actually fine. But I do want to play this.


I mean, for people who have not seen this, this extraordinary clip from behind the scenes on January 6 of congressional leaders. Listen to this.


PELOSI: When he comes up, I'm going to punch him out. I've been waiting for this, for trespassing on the Capitol grounds. I'm going to punch him out, and I'm going to go to jail, I'm going to be happy.


PHILLIP: She may not have a chance to punch him out, but they do want to hear from him. He won't do it. But there's something to be said for Trump answering for himself what happened.

GLASSER: Well, you know, they're putting out this line, oh, well, he loved to do, he loved to do it, but I think history suggests that Donald Trump is probably not going to be testifying anytime soon. And, you know, of course, the big issue here for the January 6 committee is they may be voted out of business in effect in just a few weeks.

And so, when you think about the amount of legal wrangling, you know, does anybody here, we haven't been sitting down and looking at Donald Trump's tax returns anytime soon. So, I think it's highly unlikely. You know, Donald Trump can't be straightforward and honest under oath.

His lawyers, again and again, have repeatedly always advised him not to appear under oath for exactly that reason.

BAKER: Yeah. I think what's interesting is that his response to the committee has been, you guys suck. It's all a hoax, you're partisan, blah, blah, blah. He's not, really, in any way, offered a defense outside of the hearing, which he probably could if he wanted to, of what he himself did. He repeated in his letter this week a couple of false allegations that have been debunked by his own people. Beyond that, he hasn't told us his own behavior was in any way defensible.

PHILLIP: Yeah, not even an attempt to do that as well.

So, coming up next for us, President Biden heads west in an attempt to boost his fellow Democrats' chances. But how successful can he really be and the face of these scorching new inflation numbers?



PHILLIP: Westward, and that is where President Biden headed this weekend for a rare four-day multi-state trip. Not on his agenda, stumping in critical battleground states of Nevada and Arizona. On his agenda though, multiple stops in blue states, Colorado, California, and Oregon, raising millions of dollars from donors and touting his policies and achievements.


BIDEN: We're making real progress helping folks just get a little bit more breathing room. Despite the opposition in the most powerful interests, special interests, we are lowering health care costs. We're strengthening Medicare. We're fighting for folks who need our help.


PHILLIP: The number of accomplishments though may matter a lot less than another number come November 8th. A key inflation report released this week showed consumer prices rose 8.2 percent in September compared to a year ago, that is truly unwelcome news for president and a party who are desperate to keep control of Congress and stay in power.

Well, this is a story that we have been talking about for sometime now and it's just not going away. That is -- that's the story, it's that it's not going away, it's getting worse. And the Democrats can't shake it, but they still have to figure out how to run in this environment.

OLORUNNIPA: Yeah, there was a time earlier this year, earlier in the summer, where they thought they might be able to work on gas prices and overall inflation, maybe bring it down, time for the election and gas prices have come down. But the overall inflation continues to be a major problem. So, they've shifted, especially from the White House on the president, from trying to tell voters that we're bringing inflation down, that we've done it before the election, to saying the alternative is going to be much worse.

If you go to Republicans, if you allow them to come to power they're going to get rid of all of the positive things that we have done, they are going to attack things like Medicare and Social Security. And we really see in this push to go on offense as opposed to trying to defend their own records.

And one of the other things we've seen is that a number of Democratic candidates are openly saying that they disagree with President Biden on a number of different things on the economy, on inflation. He hasn't really been too he's been skinned about that with the former president was. But it's clear that Democrats are happy to say, I disagree with President Biden on XYZ, and that's how they're campaigning.

ANDERSEN: Well, Republicans are quite eager for this election to be viewed as a referendum on the president and on the bills that he has passed or the things that he has not done in their video. There's always this dynamic where political consultants are looking at veteran like this, well, is it a choice or is it referendum? Is it, in fact, those voters are given up a down vote on do I want to send more support to Joe Biden and his party in Washington or do I really want to considering what the alternative is?

There's this weird gap between the percentage of Americans who say they disapprove of how Joe Biden is doing and then what Democrat standing is in the polls. There does seem to be some element of the electorate that says, I don't love Joe Biden, I'm still willing to vote for Democrat. The problem for them is that it may not be enough.

PHILLIP: Yeah, I mean, I think if you're Democrat, nationalizing of this race is definitely a problem. I was just in Kansas last week and it could not be more of a study of that. The Republican focusing on all of these national issues, and the Democrats talking about grocery food prices. It is -- that's how you have to run if you want to survive.

GLASSER: That's right. I do think, to Christians point in any other election would say, well, the Democrats are absolutely toast here, look at how unpopular the president's, not only underwater but well over 50 percent disapproval in many of the polls that I've seen. He has improved over the last few months, which shows you how low he had sunk over the summer.

But still, you're talking about a president whose numbers in any other election year would be saying, you know, this will be a massive tide for Republicans. History suggests that's what we'd be looking at. But because there are so many other issues including the former president that we started talking about, you know, if it's Biden, you know, both Democrats and Republicans seem to think this is going to be a terrible year for Democrats.

But there is Trump, there are many other issues like the abortion case, you talked about Kansas, I think it was absolutely remarkable to see how much Democrats have rebounded sense the Dobbs decision.


You've seen young women registering in droves in many states, even many red states.

PHILLIP: Yeah, well, stick around everyone. I have a lot more on that very topic later in the show. But it's such an important point.

What's interesting though we did a poll, there are -- there is the generic ballot, right? Which I love, I love a generic ballot. But what we did with our polling this week is take a look at the most competitive districts to see what that generic ballot actually looks like. And the generic ballot in the competitive districts, the swing districts, it is pretty tight, it's within one point. That gap widens overall.

But that is really what we're talking about here, is like, the few dozens of places that could decide control of Congress and that will decide control of the United States.

BAKER: Yeah, we're coming back down to basically almost a tie game here, right? Very likely possibility the Senate ends up 50/50 all over again. And they will spend billions of dollars to get the exact same result that we had based on the handful of races, three, four, five, six races. You know, Democrats not doing well in Nevada, you know, maybe Republicans use Pennsylvania, and it all evens out in the end.

The House is a little different. House, obviously, Republicans still have an advantage, but they may win with the achingly tightest majority that they could have, which, of course, would make things difficult for them in the governing sense, more difficult for Joe Biden, of course, because they have subpoena power.

PHILLIP: President Biden this week talked about what might happen economically in the next year. He said maybe will have a small inflation. Reality is that actually would be good -- small recession, I'm sorry -- that actually would be good news because it means that maybe the Fed has succeeded in controlling inflation a little bit. But does that work with -- for voters like three weeks before the election?

OLORUNNIPA: It's a hard message to deliver to the electorate -- a slight recession is all you have to worry about. People are worried about the price of gas, the price of groceries, and realizing that they may have also to worry about jobs leaving the economy. It's a tough message for Democrats. They're hoping that it will be a soft landing where the Fed can kind of manage and control all of this and allow us to get to a more normal sense of inflation without losing a ton of jobs.

PHILLIP: And I have to say, what is also true is that inflation is actually high everywhere globally. And we are well within the norm if not a little bit better. But that also doesn't help when you are trying to sell your policies to the American voters.

But coming up next for us, Herschel Walker's campaign has faced multiple controversies in his race for the Senate. And that was before he started using the props. What impact will tumultuous debate on Friday night have on that race? Coming up next.



PHILLIP: In the first and likely only debate between Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock and Republican Herschel Walker, trustworthiness was front and center. Walker, who is staunchly anti- abortion, once again denied these accusations that he paid for an ex- girlfriend's abortion back in 2009.


WALKER: That was a lie. And I'm not backing down. We have Senator Warnock, people that would do anything and say anything for this seat, but I'm not going to back down, because the seat is too important to the Georgia people for me to back down right now.

WARNOCK: My opponent has a problem with the truth.


And just because he says something doesn't mean it is true.


PHILLIP: And when Warnock brought up Walker's false claim that he's a member of law enforcement -- well, that led to this moment.


WALKER: And now, I have to respond to this.

MODERATOR: We are moving on, gentlemen.

WALKER: No, no, no. I have to respond to that.

And you know what's so funny? I am -- worked with many police officers.

MODERATOR: Mr. Walker, you are very well aware of the rules tonight.


MODERATOR: You have a prop, that is not allowed, sir. I ask you to put that prop away.

WALKER: Well, it's not a prop, this is real.


PHILLIP: I have to say, that moderator will be welcome in many kindergarten classrooms.

But props aside, Walker did perform better than expected. But the question is, will it be enough to give him a boost in the polls in this all so critical race? I mean, I can't think of many debates the cycle that have been more anticipated than that one. But the verdict really has been that for whatever -- however low the bar was for Herschel Walker, he perhaps cleared it.

ANDERSON: I'm also not sure that there were a ton of voters who were truly undecided at this point in the game. I mean, I think these debates are important because it's one last chance for candidates to make their pitch. Of course anything can go wrong, certainly can derail a campaign.

But at this point, it is such a polarized environment, with the amount of money that's being spent in Georgia, the idea that there's a lot of voters left in that state that don't have a pretty clear view of who these candidates are pretty clear idea of what they're going to do -- I just feel like a lot of these races they are going to be very close, there is not a ton of wiggle room at this point. And the fact that the debate did not yield some moment that would dramatically blow things up probably is a win for Walker.

PHILLIP: I just want to show people where this race is right now, which is basically the same as it has been, even before these allegations. Raphael Warnock, about 52 percent, Herschel Walker, in the mid 40s, 45, 46.

But the phenomenon here, I think, that is also interesting is that there is another race in Georgia. The gubernatorial race in which the Republican is -- the numbers are basically flipped. The Republican is the leading. That is I think the problem for Herschel Walker, can he bring those Brian Kemp voters back to him if they're gettable? And if not, why not?

GLASSER: Well it, is remarkable, this gap between the two Republican candidates considering that this is such a partisan age. Ticket- splitting has largely died, actually, which is really an interesting phenomena.

When we were, you know, coming up basically in the 1980s even into the 1990s, you would have a huge proportion of the United States Senate that was elected from seats in states that went the other way at the presidential level, right. so ticket splitting.

That's almost died. And it shows you that even before these allegations that he paid for a girlfriend's abortion, Herschel Walker was a weak candidate, running much weaker than the Republican governor. But Republican officials had a chance to break with him and they went all in with him this week.

And I agree that, you know, that was in some ways the crucial thing even more than the debate, was that the Republican Party is sticking with this very flawed nominee, and banking on the idea that partisanship in the end will be enough to carry him over the line.

PHILLIP: There was a Republican -- ticket splitting Republican voter, a unicorn, if you will, who spoke to CNN and said Brian Kemp hasn't done nothing wrong as governor, but he says I don't like Herschel, something is wrong with him. I mean in some ways Herschel Walker kind of is leaning into that where

he's like, I've had problems. I've needed, you know, psychiatric care. I'm not that smart. And maybe setting that bar low for voters is good enough. But it seems like -- I mean to be honest, it's not working in Georgia.

OLORUNNIPA: Yes, I think there are a number of candidates -- or a number of voters who are going to look at these candidates and say I can see myself voting for Governor Kemp and having him lead my state. I can't see myself having Herschel Walker be the representative of Georgia in the United States Senate for whatever reason.

And that is a challenge that I don't think he was able to address during the debate despite the fact that there was a low bar and he may have cleared it. I don't think there were many voters who are -- like this voter that you just mentioned -- who saw the debate and said I'm going to vote for Herschel Walker now.

And I think one of the things that we're going to be looking at as a result of this race is the impact of the former president. He did support and helped him get the nomination. He did not support Brian Kemp. And Brian Kemp has broken with the president and he seems to be doing much better.

And I think a number of Republicans across the country are going to be looking at Georgia and seeing how a Trump acolyte performs compared to someone who decided to cross Trump and was willing to stand up for him.

PHILLIP: Speaking of a Trump endorsee, let's talk about Pennsylvania for a second because that's also been a really hot topic.

The issue of John Fetterman's health, how he is recovering from his stroke is now back on the front burner of that race. And listen to how Fetterman talked about how Oz has been attacking him, to try to flip this issue in the eyes of voters.


JOHN FETTERMAN (D-PA), SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: I certainly hope that you did not have a doctor in your life making fun of it or telling you that you aren't able to work or you're not fit to serve. But unfortunately -- but unfortunately I have a doctor in my life doing that.


PHILLIP: What do you make of that?

BAKER: Yes. No, it's extraordinary actually. You do have -- not just that his opponent is his opponent, but his opponent is a doctor and he's talking about the other candidate's medical history.

It's two narratives, right. The one narrative is that Fetterman is not well enough to be senator and he hasn't been fully honest or transparent about his condition, versus the narrative of cruelty on the part of his opponent for mocking somebody who has had, you know, clear issues and is trying, you know, his best to deal with them through whatever adaptive technology you need to deal with them.

And I think that's -- it's a really interesting moment. It's going to test voters in Pennsylvania to see which one -- you know, is it empathy versus, you know, versus the other side. And right now it's not been an empathetic country. We'll see how that plays out.

PHILLIP: Yes. But in some ways it's weird how Oz has made the fact that he's a doctor kind into a little bit of a liability. He did another interview this week where he was confronted with his campaign's attacks on Fetterman. Here is how he responded to that.


DR. MEHMET OZ (R), PENNSYLVANIA SENATE CANDIDATE: I have tremendous compassion for what John Fetterman has gone through. I mean not only do I -- as a doctor appreciate the challenges -- but I know his specific ailment because it's a specialty area of mine.


PHILLIP: The problem, though, is that this is also Dr. Oz literally the day before.


OZ: I don't think there's closed captioning on the floor of the Senate. Maybe he doesn't need closed captioning when he's actually moving around. But maybe he does. Again, a lot of question marks and voters deserve better.


PHILLIP: So Kristen, I mean do you have a view on whether, you know, the cruelty is going to win out or the, you know, meanness is going to win out over the argument that, like, don't mock voters? I don't know.


ANDERSON: Well, A lot of Americans I think has, you know, a loved one, a family member who has gone through something challenging where they know they've needed special care, they've needed extra compassion.

But the question is does that person also -- would that person be a good member of the United States Senate. And I think that's why Oz thinks that this is a potentially good message to hit on?

I think the more effective message would be to talk about the transparency side. Because I've never, in a focused group in my life, would voters say that they think that politicians are being open and honest with them or that they don't want more transparency.

And I think that's the more effective thing to say, hey, the person wants to represent you in the Senate and they're not necessarily being fully open with you about if and how they can do that job. PHILLIP: What about -- I mean what about the economy? I mean it does

seem like that race was tightening when Oz was focused on the competitive advantage. I mean he was even hitting Fetterman on crime which is not a huge priority for a lot of voters but it seemed to have the effect of tightening that race. And now we're in different territory.

OLORUNNIPA: Yes, you do see the national party coming in and trying to link Fetterman to crime and tried to look at some of policies that he's supported in the past. But this is a candidate who is -- in Oz who has been able to get to his position in part because of his personality. People are looking at him as the doctor, as someone who they saw on TV, as someone who was endorsed by Trump. And they're realizing that this is a personality-driven race.

Fetterman also has a big personality that people are focusing on. So I'm not surprised that the issues have taken a little bit of a back seat to the personalities and some of the infighting that's going on between these two candidates.

PHILLIP: And of course, the serious issue that this all brings up, politicians with disabilities. It's not a new thing. You've got Tammy Duckworth, you've got Greg Abbott in Texas. So I think that is front of mind for some voters, too. It's not exactly new that, you know, you might need accommodations while serving in office. But we'll see how that goes.

Coming up next for us, who is the most in-demand surrogate in the Biden administration on the campaign trail right now? We have some brand new CNN reporting that answers that question next.



PHILLIP: One Biden administration official is a hot commodity on the campaign trail stumping for Democratic candidates but it's -- it may not be, I should say, who you think.

According to brand new CNN reporting, it is the man who is 14th in line in the presidential line of succession, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.

CNN's Isaac Dovere writes this, "With invitations flowing into the White House and the Democratic National Committee, a relatively low ranking cabinet secretary staff has to choose between Democratic candidates trying to chase him down. There's no precedent for the winner of the Iowa caucuses becoming the transportation secretary and proving to be more agile on camera than the vice president and than Joe Biden."

Isaac is here with us now. This is very interesting reporting because as we all know, the presidential sweepstakes never really die.

But explain to us what is going on here. Why is it that Buttigieg is such a hot commodity? ISAAC DOVERE, CNN SENIOR REPORTER: Look, some of it -- and I hadn't

done the count that he's 14th in line in succession, but I'll try to (INAUDIBLE) on that.

But I think some of it is that he is good on camera and people respond to that. That's made him even more of a hero for liberals on Twitter than he was during the presidential campaign.

But some of it I think really speaks to two things that are going on here larger in the country. Number one, Joe Biden is not so popular as we know. And that means that he's bringing Kamala Harris down with him. But their agenda is more popular, especially when it comes to infrastructure which is Buttigieg's place in the world.

The other thing that's going on is that you see a hunger in the Democratic Party for a fresh face. And looking at Joe Biden, they don't have that fresh face there. Kamala Harris again gets lumped in with that, sort of unfortunate for her that she is in this way connected to President Biden and has -- takes sort of the political baggage that he has.

And Buttigieg comes forward and he is a fresh face to a lot of people. And so that benefits him in a lot of ways.

PHILLIP: And I'll prompt you on this one because this was a little new to me. There's a little bit of financials involved here. Some Democrats say it's too expensive to have the vice president come down to, you know, South Carolina or where have you.

DOVERE: Yes. I mean that's a big thing. We don't usually think about it. The footprint of Secret Service and police detail that goes when a president lands or when vice president lands.

Jim Clyburn, very influential congressman from South Carolina. I was talking to him last week and the reporting for this story and he said he was very eager to have Harris come to speak at the big Democratic dinner there in South Carolina in June.

But the Democratic Party, he said, couldn't cover it, the state party. And he had to put some of the money up himself from his campaign camp. He said to me it was money well spent. But still, that's a big factor here.

Buttigieg just travels -- I was on a plane with him and he's got one guy sitting next to him in coach on an American Airlines flight.

PHILLIP: He has been traveling, including up to New Hampshire. There was a poll in New Hampshire of likely voters in the primary. And this is what the poll says. I'm just going to say -- I mean Buttigieg is -- at 17 percent, not super high, but above all of these other boldface names in the Democratic Party including narrowly beating President Biden.

I guess the question on all of this is, I mean is this kind of presidential maneuvering for Buttigieg or for others who are trying to get him into some of these swing states? GLASSER: Absolutely. There's just no question about it. No one knows

if President Biden is going to run for re-election or not. There's a view, you know, he already is the oldest president ever. There's a view, that you know, look at how old he would be at the end of his second term.

He has not said. There's really only a few months until we're going to know whether former President Trump and Joe Biden are going to run. That's the window that we're looking at here.


GLASSER: And Buttigieg came out quite strongly from the previous -- the 2020 primaries. He won the Iowa caucuses. He did well in New Hampshire and he has used this platform, a very unlikely platform. When have we ever heard of a celebrity transportation secretary?

You know, inside --

PHILLIP: Celebrity is --


PHILLIP: -- I think the reality is -- let's just show folks. I mean the Marquette poll, so we understand what we're talking about here, 26 percent favorable, 33 percent unfavorable. That's fine. But 42 percent of people don't even know who Pete Buttigieg is.

People do know who Vice President Kamala Harris is but they have much stronger opinions about it. And in your piece, Isaac -- Isaac talks in piece about that the adviser to Harris saying there's a house that Joe Biden built, it's got a bunch of rooms. And as vice president you can choose which rooms you sit in, which is great.

But you also have to be in Joe Biden's house and that's not the most popular place to be right now.

OLORUNNIPA: Yes. If you look at all the polling, you see that Biden even as his numbers go up, continues to be under water with voters. Vice President Harris is suffering in part because of that.

And as Isaac said, Pete Buttigieg does not have that issue. He also has the benefit of being able to go across the country touting all of this infrastructure spending, and in some cases approving some of this infrastructure spending because the law gives him some authority to dole out some of these funds, tens of billions of dollars that people are looking for, he can address a numbers of different issues that different states and communities are feeling.

Obviously in his 2020 campaign he had issues with minority voters. He can now start to tout some of the equity parts of this agenda and this legislation, and he can try to improve his numbers, especially in black communities that have suffered from infrastructure policies.

BAKER: I think Harris' problems are a little beyond just being tied to Joe Biden. She's got a real problem with Democrat (INAUDIBLE) who do not think she's not lived up to her promise.

And right now that's the opening for Pete Buttigieg, right. We're not going to have -- let's assume that Joe Biden doesn't run again, It's not going to be Harris's for the taking. Pete Buttigieg is out there making it very clear he's going to contest or a lot of Democrats will too.

PHILLIP: This is like 2024 speculation. But it could really be 2028 speculation at the end of the day.

Coming up for us, how are Democrats in Kansas channeling the momentum of the abortion debate into this year's midterms?

I traveled down to Kansas to see what was happening there firsthand. We'll have that next.



PHILLIP: Kansas sent shock waves through the country with this vote back in August to preserve abortion rights. But the question is will that energy translate into a win for Democrats there come November?

I traveled over to the Sunflower State to see just how much of a role abortion is playing among voters there. And with just three weeks to go before the election.


PHILLIP: Perhaps the most vulnerable Democratic incumbent governor in the nation is here in reliably red Kansas. It's also the place where this summer voters overwhelmingly opted to protect abortion rights.

GOV. LAURA KELLY (D-KS): The vote on august 2nd made it very clear how that can be, that Kansans tend to elect to the governor's office, a very moderate, common sense, thoughtful person to run their state and to make sure that the basic services are provided for them.

PHILLIP: Governor Laura Kelly has tried to brand herself as a bipartisan leader.

KELLY: If you ask me, the middle is the best place to be.

PHILLIP: Meanwhile, her Republican opponent, attorney general Derek Schmidt has criticized her handling of COVID-19 lockdowns and has sought to tie her to national Democrats.

DEREK SCHMIDT (R-KS), ATTORNEY GENERAL: Laura Kelly won't stand up to the liberal Washington agenda, but I will.

PHILLIP: The Kansas vote in August was a political earthquake, one that prompted Democratic governors in other states to run explicitly on abortion access.

KELLY: Nearly $30 million going towards 30 new projects in 30 Kansas communities.

PHILLIP: But on the campaign trail in Kansas, Kelly is making sure to keep food costs, prescription drug prices and infrastructure funding front and center.

KELLY: What they want me as governor to do is to focus on the kitchen table issues. They want me to focus on the economy, and we have done that.

PHILLIP: Reporter: at recent debates, Kelly and Schmidt have both been pressed on their abortion positions.

SCMIDT: I prefer a Kansas that has fewer abortions, not more. Obviously Kansas voters spoke to a portion of this issue in August and made the decision that any state involvement in this area is going to have to satisfy exacting judicial scrutiny, and we have to respect that decision going forward.

PHILLIP: Derek Schmidt has said that he doesn't think you are up front with voters about where your limits are when it comes to abortion. Have you?

KELLY: I'm a firm believer that medical decisions, women's health care decisions need to be made between them, their doctor and their family and that women have the right to bodily autonomy just like men do.

PHILLIP: Retirees Jim and Linda Shutler (ph) are among Kansans who rejected attempts to change the state's constitution on abortion.

LINDA SHUTLER, KANSAS VOTER: We're both registered Republicans.

PHILLIP: And they also intend to support Kelly in November.

SHUTLER: We voted no, believing that a woman's right to her own body should be her decision.

PHILLIP: They are exactly the kind of voters, Republican voters that Kelly and Democratic Congresswoman Sharice Davids need in order to win reelection. Kansas' third district is now more conservative than it was two years ago because of redistricting, but Davids isn't shying away from abortion.

REP. SHARICE DAVIDS (D-KS): I've met with folks who the purpose of the meeting was to talk about farm bill issues. And then at the end of the meeting I've had folks say where are you at on the constitutional amendment because our family went through something, you know, that was really difficult.


PHILLIP: Now with just two weeks to go until November, Democrats in Kansas and across the country are grappling with how to capture the energy unleashed by the abortion debate while also answering voters' concerns about the economy.

TOM BONIER, CEO, TARGETSMART: The issue of choice is an economic issue to many voters when they look at that decision around their family. Kansas was the first indicator in seeing that women, younger voters and voters of color were so engaged in that election and turned out at such a high rate.

PHILLIP: Democrats know that diverse coalitions like those that came out in the primary season are critical.

CARLA RIVAS-D'AMICO, TRAINING DIRECTOR, COMMON SENSE KANSAS: We should be talking to every community.

PHILLIP: Organizers are pounding the pavement in this working class Latino neighborhood outside of Kansas City hoping to drive even better turnout in November.

RIVAS-D'AMICO: The overwhelming 60 percent win restored confidence in the idea that when we get out there and we organize and we talk to each other, we win.



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Coming up next on CNN, "STATE OF THE UNION" with Jake Tapper and Dana Bash. Dana's guests this morning include national security adviser Jake Sullivan and candidates for two of the country's most competitive midterm races. Don't miss it.

And thank you again, for sharing your Sunday morning with us. Have a great rest of your day.