Return to Transcripts main page

Inside Politics

Paul Ryan: I'm A "Never Again Trumper" Because I Want To Win; Biden Renews Call For Assault Weapons Ban; GA Gov. Kemp Campaigns For Herschel Walker For First Time. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired November 21, 2022 - 12:30   ET



JOHN KING, CNN HOST: And then he says, no, I'm here.

TIA MITCHELL, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION: You know, I'm old enough to remember January 6th, 2021. And all the Republicans said, it's time to move on, we can't have this. And they all slowly came back. So the question is, is this current posture towards Donald Trump really going to have staying power? I get why they're saying it. You know, it does seem clear that he hasn't been successful in elections, and you would want to move on. But he's shown time and time again, that he keeps the base with him. And then the Republican rank and file usually come back along.

KING: Right. And so it's the fear of Trump, right? So that's why, you know, Mike Pence says, the American people will decide, Nikki Haley and Mike Pompeo, they don't directly criticize Trump so much. They just say maybe voters want something new. But you do have a small cadre of people who say, not him, not again, not ever.


PAUL RYAN, FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER: I may never again Trumper, why because I want to win. And we lose with Trump. It was really clear to us in '18, in '20 and now in 2022.

GOV. LARRY HOGAN (R-MD): Trump was saying that we'd be winning so much, we get tired of winning. I say three strikes and you're out. If you repeatedly lose to a really bad team, it's time for new leadership.

CHRIS CHRISTIE, FORMER NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR: The reason we're losing is because Donald Trump has put himself before everybody else.


KING: The challenge if you're Chris Christie or Larry Hogan or even the former speaker, Paul Ryan, who comes from a different wing of the party, is that you couldn't beat Donald Trump for the nomination probably, given that base.

MJ LEE, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And, you know, I totally agree with you in terms of just having some skepticism right now that this was the watershed moment that sort of turn the course of the conversation on Donald Trump. I just think we need more time to see. But I do think what we have is sort of the latest data point. And you have like these dots starting to emerge, and you can connect the lines, right? I mean, he lost the popular vote in 2016. He lost worse in 2020. And then he unleashed this national trauma that permanently hurt the GOP's brand. And now he's, you know, thinking about and has now announced a 2024 comeback.

And I think there are all these Republicans who for years have been holding their breath wondering, when is the right time to publicly defy Trump? Are we seeing that in a permanent matter right now? I'm just not sure. But I do think there are a lot of people who are, you know, looking at what's going on and saying to themselves, well, why not me? Why shouldn't this be my moment?

KING: And one of, when you listen to Donald Trump, but he lies a lot, he just simply does. And if you look at the January 6th Committee hearings, those are his people. These -- it's not a witch hunt. These are people who work closely with Donald Trump, which is why this is interesting today. I just don't know if it has any sway with the Republican base. Bill Barr Trump's former Attorney General, writing this this morning on Substack. It's painfully clear from his track record in both the 2020 election and the 2022 midterms that Donald Trump is neither capable of forging the winning coalition or delivering the decisive and durable victory required. Trump's willingness to destroy the party if he does not get his way is not based on principle, but his own supreme narcissism.

Again, Bill Barr may have his own interest involved here. But these are people who work closely with Donald Trump, who are saying the harshest things about him.

CARL HULSE, CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well, that's who knows what to say because they saw it firsthand. I think there's been so many watershed moments with Donald Trump. But I think I was on Capitol Hill last week after he announced and, you know, the Senate Republicans were looking around and looking around at their minority status. And here again, Trump has pushed them into minority. Politicians keep track of one thing who wins, who loses. They've now lost three times. I do think, you know, you see people going public like Chris Christie and Governor Hogan, I think that can build, that can build with something because as you said, there's data points now, it's like three times he has cost them in the elections. I think there's going to be a move to pull away from him. But whether they can do it if -- we just don't know.

KING: Right. You have to convince the voters because ambition is a funny thing. If people think he's vulnerable, that more people are likely to run. If more people run, then guess what, Donald Trump gets his 27 percent again, and this year, one of your colleagues wrote about this in "The Times" over the weekend of the glut of possible Trump rivals crisscrossing the windowless corridors of the hotel had some Republicans suffering a foreboding sense of deja vu. That a fractured Republican field in 2024 could as it did in 2016, clear the way for Mr. Trump to win the nomination because of his durable Hold on a fraction of the party base. That's the challenge. You can't get Pompeo and Pence and Nikki Haley and Larry Hogan, and everybody else in the room to say you challenge him. Ambition doesn't work that way.

LEE: When does it just stop being a headline and a Chiron whenever we see a national Republican, defying Trump in this way, right? When does it become just completely normalized for somebody to get out there on stage and say, yes, this guy is not acceptable for our party anymore?

MITCHELL: But I also think it's just going to be tough because they're saying what, in front of a friendly audience kind of criticizing him is another thing to have to debate him to have to go put up with all of his attacks, personal attacks is another thing to try to rival his ability to really have these huge campaign rallies that speak to the base and get people fired up the actual mechanics of campaigning against Donald Trump. That's what we're waiting to see who steps up and is able to do that effectively.


KING: Right. He's as weak as he has ever been. The question is, is that weak enough, it depends on who runs. We got a ways to go before we can answer that question.

Up next, back to the sadness, the deadly Colorado nightclub shooting, including President Biden's call for an assault weapons ban.



KING: New details this hour about an American horror story, five killed by a gunman at an LGBTQ nightclub. Sources telling CNN, the Colorado Springs mass shooting suspect, Anderson Lee Aldrich, purchased both the weapons he brought to the attack legally, he was able to do so despite a 2021 arrest over a bomb threat. We learned that from the Colorado Springs police chief last hour. So far, chief says they've been unable to interview the suspect. And listen here, to an update on the two heroes who stopped the shooting from being much, much worse.


CHIEF ADRIAN VASQUEZ, COLORADO SPRINGS POLICE: One of them was injured and he's in the hospital. I'm waiting for an update on him. But non- life threatening injuries is what I'm told. And I believe he is not in critical condition. And then the other individual was not injured. But they did an amazing job.


KING: Our reporters are back around the table with us. The chief laying out there what comes next in the investigation and we'll learn more facts in the hours ahead. But you spent a lot of time out in Colorado, one of the big questions both the Attorney General and the governor saying yes, we have a red flag law in place just last year, again, no charges were filed. That seems to be the loophole. There was a threat apparently allegedly against his own mother, and yet able to get guns to keep guns. HULSE: Yes, I mean, the law is only good if you enforce it. So that's an unfortunate situation. It seems -- there was a lot of hope being put on these red flag laws as a way to avoid stricter gun control, you know, get the guns out of the hands where people are dangerous. This person was clearly dangerous, and they didn't act on it. So hopefully the other police agencies learned from that and you need to be aggressive.

KING: So now you're going to watch, number one, the investigation find a motive to see if they can prove a hate crime, bring hate crime charges it. There plenty of witnesses that appears to the shooting itself plus surveillance videos. Here in Washington, the President of the United States issued a statement on Sunday, we need to enact an assault weapons ban to get weapons of war off America's streets. This was two guns involved here, one an AR15-style gun and a handgun. The President issued that statement, but we could go back in time. I don't say this to be mean. But we go back to prior shootings and see similar statements. Is there any will in Washington, especially now that House Republicans are going to take the majority in 43 days for gun control?

LEE: It's a very familiar Washington, D.C. story, there is a mass shooting. And then it, you know, prompts a renewed call for more action on gun control and the President specifically calling for an assault weapons ban, which he couldn't get done earlier this year. But I would say the only caveat to everyone saying no, this is never going to happen. There can't be more action. We already had a bill earlier this year. Is that bill earlier this year, it was prompted by a horrific tragedy. It happened after Uvalde.

So there are these rare moments when a horrific tragedy can prompt this kind of rare action in Washington. But the idea of getting something done and during the lame duck, especially when Democrats know they have to use that time to get so much else done, it seems very unlikely. But you know, I wouldn't rule anything out.

KING: Right, the only possibility there would be if Democrats could get some Republicans in the lame duck session, either Republicans who are retiring or Republicans who are staying around to think this once they would defy the will of their party leadership and the, you know, the NRA and like for it, but --

MITCHELL: Yes, it doesn't seem likely because you need 10 Senate Republicans to be willing to give Democrats what they need to overcome the filibuster. I just wonder if it might be something they'd be willing to sneak in before Republicans take control of the House. It could be one of those surprises. But again, as MJ noted, there's so much on their agenda during this lame duck session. It would be hard to add something else in. But if there's a will there's a way.

KING: We'll watch as it plays out and obviously we'll continue to track the investigation in Colorado as well.


Up next for us, the Georgia Senate runoff and some very high profile help. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: The candidates in the Georgia Senate runoff are getting some very high profile help. The Republican Governor Brian Kemp, you see there campaign with Herschel Walker this weekend. And we learned today that Barack Obama will visit Georgia in December, on December 1st to campaign for Senator Raphael Warnock. The Democrat is also up with a new ad today taking aim at allegations forcefully denied by Walker, that he pressured two women to have abortions.


SEN. RAPHAEL WARNOCK (D-GA): Character is what you do when nobody's watching. It's about doing the right thing simply because it's the right thing and doing it over and over again. It's an amazing thing for the people of your state to say that we want you to represent us. That's not simply a vote. It's a sacred trust.


KING: Our reporters are back around the table. Senator Warnock there doesn't bring up the allegations. But there's no question. That's where he's going with that ad. And it's interesting, because in the normal election season, until the very end, he was reluctant to go there.

MITCHELL: He was reluctant to go there. But he has started speaking more directly to Herschel Walker's controversies and the whole theme of his run off campaign has been character, incompetence. Those are the words he says a lot on the campaign trail. He says Herschel Walker doesn't have the character but he -- that he also was not prepared. He's not ready. He's not equipped to serve in the Senate. That's been his message.

KING: Governor Kemp was up for reelection. One handily did not do any events with Herschel Walker during the normal campaign. Now the December 6th runoff is coming. And Governor Kemp first he cut a deal with Mitch McConnell to turn over his turnout operation sort of the mechanics, how do you turn voters out in Georgia which is very important and then he did this weekend rally where he said this.



GOV. BRIAN KEMP (R-GA): Don't believe any polls. Don't believe the political pundits that are saying, oh, this race doesn't matter anymore. It matters. There's only very few United States senators, 100 of them. And they have a lot of authority and a lot of control. And it's not just about this December. It's going to be about November, two years from now.


KING: It does matter. Certainly if the Democrats win that seat, they have 51, which means they have a lot more power in the committee's they're not evenly divided. Governor Kemp not a student of Senate history, I don't think there.

HULSE: There's very few senators, a hundred. Fifty-one is a lot more powerful than 50. I don't really think you can overestimate that. I think Democrats are really going in here. You see that ad, President Obama, they really, really want to see, it changes their life dramatically on the committee's their ability has to work without, you know, having to do all these procedural hurdles. So they want this bad.

KING: $25 million spent by the Democrats so far on the runoff, 15.7 million spent by the Republicans so far. This is one Senate race, but it's called out, the stakes. I wish I had a local radio station there.

LEE: Yes, stakes are incredibly high. I think, you know, the fact that we are finally seeing the governor campaign with this candidate that he really steered clear of for so long just tells you so much. And I think as we were covering this race, we were asking the question over and over again, well, will these personal controversies really end up hurting him in the end? I think we got a pretty good answer on Election Day to the tune of some 200,000 voters, right? That was the difference between the number of votes that Kemp got and the number of votes that Herschel Walker got. And that is the group that he has to target, if he wants to have any chance at defeating Raphael Warnock.

KING: And so, you show the video again, there's one point where the governor comes out and Herschel Walker sort of takes his hand and raises it up in a salute. The governor didn't look all that happy with that right there. He stayed there. Is Governor Kemp all in here, or is Governor Kemp doing this because he understands that, you know, he just won reelection. He will be involved in national conversations. He wants to make sure that Republicans nationally and in Georgia don't blame him.

MITCHELL: Yes, I think Governor Kemp's being a good foot soldier for the Republican Party right now that was even apparent in his message. You know, he's not saying Herschel Walker is a great guy with a great resume. And he'll make a great senator. He's saying for the good of the party for blocking the Democrats agenda, we need him in that seat. But I do think for him, he's got to play by, you know, the world book, the guidebook, and he's got to help Herschel Walker, as much as is expected of him because he is considered a leader, particularly the leader of Republicans in Georgia.

KING: And the Obama event tells you that everybody's worried about turnout, right? Because you just had another election, you just had another election. Here we go.

HULSE: Right. It's always a turnout in these Georgia races. In fact, the Republicans didn't like the way it worked out for him the last time so they change his rules. And it's a little earlier, but I think that Democrats feel that they can just make this case like this seat is really important. Where's the enthusiasm for the Republicans. They're not -- they can't get the majority. And that shows you how important that Nevada race was to seal this before Georgia.

KING: Right. December 6th, we'll count the days, we'll come back to that story.


When we come back, it's a good day. Yes, a very good day for two North Carolina turkeys. There they are, Chocolate and Chip, they just don't know how lucky they are.


KING: Topping our Political Radar today, CNN has just learned the Maricopa County Supervisor, Bill Gates, was moved to an undisclosed location around Election Day because of threats to his safety. A spokesperson also says Gates is now receiving more security protection. The Republican official you might remember pushback repeatedly in recent weeks against conspiracy spread by some in his own party that there were issues with the way Arizona's largest county administered the midterm election.

Unacceptable, that's what the White House is now calling a potentially crippling rail strike. The new statement follows the nation's largest rail union rejecting a proposed deal to avert a December rail shutdown. The administration says union and industry must avoid a work stoppage at all costs, and then a December shutdown would inflict harm on families, farms, and businesses across the country.

The White House says President Biden will have a physical quote, in the coming months, adding, the President is in good health and maintains an active lifestyle. The President celebrated his 80th Birthday over the weekend.

And yes, we'll close with this. There's a luckiest turkeys in the country this holiday season. No wonder the U.S. Marine Band playing Free Bird, yes, at the White House. Meet Chocolate and Chip, one of them is a little camera shy. North Carolina natives, they just got a presidential reprieve from President Biden.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So the votes are in, They're been counted and verified. There's no ballot stuffing, there's no foul play. The only red wave this season is going to be a German Shepherd commander knocks over the cranberry sauce on our table. I hear by -- yes, I hereby pardon Chocolate and Chip.



KING: Now both get to live their lives at the North Carolina State University in Raleigh. They can thank JFK doing the first documented presidential Turkey party.

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