Return to Transcripts main page

Inside Politics

Poll: Voters Want Different Presidential Candidates Than Trump And Biden In 2024; Special Counsel Issues New Subpoenas To State Election Officials; Abortion Advocates, Opponents Prepare For Future Battles. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired December 14, 2022 - 12:30   ET



PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: But one thing he's always clear about is, is he read the polls anymore. And then he takes through very specific data in the polls, typically with numbers that show that something is ticking upward for him.

And I think White House officials would point to the fact that now and this poll number kind of tracks along these lines, it's better than it was three months ago. It's better than it was six months ago. And they feel good about where they are on several fronts. And therefore they recognize that perhaps he -- if he wants to go, he will go one number or poll numbers are where the party really is right now, doesn't define it.

JOHN KING, CNN HOST: It is true that if you look, the President comes out of the midterm year in much better standing than Donald Trump and sense of the trajectory, which way is the arrow going to backup your point.

Should jump out and be the 2024 Democratic nominee? This is among Democrats and Democratic leaders. In December now, it's 40 percent. Back in July, it was 45 percent, way back to the beginning of the year, 45 percent. So the President ends the year in pretty good shape.

RHONDA COLVIN, SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, THE WASHINGTON POST: In pretty good shape. But I would also say the caveat is, this is really early. We're two years out, of course, anything can happen. Of course, there were many projections made about this last midterm that didn't quite pan out. So, you know, there's always room to be cautious when we think about the future and presidential races.

But I will say one thing that stood out to me in this poll, is that there was a drop in support among Republican, older Republicans 65 and older, there was support for Trump. That's a sign that Republicans may want to pay attention to, because that voting bloc is a loyal voting bloc, they will head to the polls.

They also will not usually change their mind. So if they're saying now that they do not support a Trump candidate seat, that's something certainly Republicans should watch and Democrats as well. They need to look at that older voting bloc and what they're saying.

KING: That's an important point, because the biggest takeaway from this poll is that Trump is a lesser candidate now than he was at the beginning of the year that he has -- he's still probably the most maybe the strongest force of the Republican Party, but he is weaker. To your point, you look at voters who don't want Trump to be the nominee, white voters with college degree, 84 percent do not.

Very conservative voters, 58 percent do not. Those above the age of 65, 66 percent do not or 63 percent of the graphic. I'm not sure which numbers right. I have 66 percent on my card. We'll fix that one. Should he be the nominee among Republican leaders? In December, right now, it's at 38 percent. In July, it was at 44 percent. In January, February, it was at 50 percent. So that is not the way to end the year.

SEUNG MIN KIM, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It's certainly not. And I think despite, you know, President Trump's behavior in the White House, his role in the January 6th insurrection. I mean, what's really turned off a lot of Republicans in the last several weeks is that he's kind of a proven loser, considering what we've seen in 2018 when House Democrats took back the house when he lost the presidential election in 2020. And certainly his candidates did not have a good showing in the midterms, the cycle, whether that is sustained over the next few months is yet to be seen.

But you have a lot of Republicans more -- much more speaking out about Trump's political liabilities and one of my colleagues at the AP had a really interesting interview with outgoing Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, not a household name, but as someone who is considering a potential national run. And he said a Trump bid would be the quote, worst scenario for Republicans considering that political impact.

KING: Right, Asa Hutchinson said, it will be one of the potential candidates. If some guy named just not Trump runs, that person is going to do pretty well in the Republican primary lesser in the caucuses. Look at this year, we asked this in our poll, just not Trump gets 53 percent, meaning we're looking for something different.

But then you see, Ron DeSantis is without a doubt, without a doubt. Option number two at the moment. It's actually a Wall Street Journal poll today that shows him beating Trump among Republican voters as well. But Ron DeSantis is clearly you look at Mitt Romney, who was the 2012 nominee, the former vice president there, Ted Cruz ran for Nikki Haley, the former South Carolina governor, U.N. ambassador.

So if you're Ron DeSantis, you're thinking I'm in a pretty good position, which is probably why for the Republican base, you think this helps.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): Pediatrician should be able to say that kids don't need to be wearing masks without fear of reprisal just because some of the higher ups are bent on imposing this on people. Same thing with these mRNA shots, all the stuff that we've seen, most of the people who got it right were in the minority, when it came to some of the professional opinions.


KING: He tells everybody to chill out when it comes to 2024, which is smart. It's a smart thing to say. But it is clear with just about everything he does that he sees his lane in that piece of what was the Trump -- what was the Trump base, Ron DeSantis thinks he can take it.

COLVIN: And he sounds confident in that but again, still early. I would say that this poll overall does match some reporting that I did in the midterm cycle where I talked to a lot of nonpartisan voters, and a lot of them want to be engaged in the process. They follow the process, but they're just done with both parties. And they're trying to find the middle ground.

And they want candidates who are also reflecting that middle ground. So I would also say to, you know, whether it's the RNC or the DNC, they need to look at those voters who are saying, you know what, I'm done with the divisive politics. Those don't really match my ideology anymore. And, you know, the parties need to be responsive to that.


KING: Yes. But those aren't the people who send money. So the party, the parties send --

MATTINGLY: Or vote in primaries.

KING: Yes, or vote in primary so that is the giant disconnect in American politics without a doubt.

Up next for us, the Trump's special counsels zeroes in on efforts to overturn the 2020 election, new subpoenas to election officials in battleground states, plus, efforts now to access Republican Congressman's texts.


KING: The new special counsel Jack Smith is aggressively retracing Donald Trump's efforts to flip the 2020 results in key battleground states. New subpoenas targeting Georgia, Nevada, and New Mexico. They seek any and all communications with the former president, his campaign aides and allies and they date back to more than seven months before Election Day.


We're also learning the Justice Department has tried to get access to a Republican Congressman's text messages as part of its investigation. Joining me now to break this all down, CNN's Evan Perez and our legal and national security analyst, Carrie Cordero. So the special counsel inherits an investigation. But then you get these new subpoenas, which at least tell us something either about his primary focus or acceleration, which is it?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think what it tells us is that, you know, I think there is an effort to accelerate what they're doing. But you know, for the Justice Department and then prosecutors, they already have a lot of these communications, but from the other end, right? Early this summer, they had subpoenaed some of the people who were involved in the effort to set up these fake collectors, right? And so these seven states were the key.

And so now what you're seeing is they're going to the clerks and the public officials on the other receiving on the other end of these communications, to see what matches up, to see if there's anything missing. It tells us I think that there's still a little ways to go on this investigation. But it really does give you a sense of what they're trying to cover, as they tried to get to the bottom of was this a crime in trying to prevent the transfer of power and this effort to come up with these fake electors to do it?

KING: And what does it tell us Carrie based on your experience that they is part of this trying to find out what happened, they're trying to get access to a sitting Republican member of Congress's tweets, Scott Perry, is from the state of Pennsylvania, we know he was involved in communications with the President and with his team.

And we know from the Mark Meadows text that came out, he texted for example, you know, preserve the voting machines used at the polling places where the glitch occurred, he says a glitch occurred, there's no proof of that, put them under lock and key.

Nobody touches and preserve all e-mail communications with officials responsible for sort of the technician's laptop. Now, if you just read these texts, you can say Scott Perry saying just preserve everything. If they want access to more text on his phone, what does that tell you?

CARRIE CORDERO, CNN LEGAL & NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, I think they're trying to get to the extent of, was there a conspiracy? How wide was it? Who was involved in it? I mean, with respect to the subpoenas, the subpoenas are really a basic investigative technique.

So I think part of what that speaks to me is that this investigation really has a pretty long way to go is expanding in terms of the scope of the information that they want to receive, but a subpoena can be issued just based on relevance to the investigation. So it's really like a bread and butter investigative technique, getting access to the content of communications of a congressman is more significant, both in terms of the level of evidence that the Justice Department would need to provide.

And then always there's those additional layers of approval within the Justice Department, scrutiny, care that makes sure whenever they're looking at a member of Congress. But it also shows that a member of Congress is not immune to legal process.

PEREZ: And he's key because he was involved in so many things, right? Not only these bizarre theories, like the one about Chinese satellites, and so on. But the other, you know, he was involved in trying to get the acting Attorney General replaced with Jeffrey Clark. Again, he was key, he was like a cog in the wheel, right, of this

effort to try to get trump the proof, right, such as it was that there was fraud, and that he should remain in power because the 2020 election was rigged. That's what he was after. And he was desperate to come up with any way that he could prove that.

KING: And so next week, we get the final act of the January 6th Committee. We're going to have a hearing. They're going to release the final report, how significant to you in terms of, A, there's a historical record, but B, to put more things on the record, whether it's for the congressional ethics committees or oversight committees or for the Justice Department on conduct that maybe they haven't spent as much time on in public but that they think needs to be explored?

CORDERO: Yes, well, so this business meeting, and there really are the committee is wrapping up its work. Its report, it's going to come out, it's going to have this business meeting on Monday. And so it sounds like what we're going to hear is, what criminal referrals they're going to make. When it comes to existing congressman, it's always hard to predict what's going to happen.

But when it comes to existing members of Congress, I tend to lean towards the belief that they are going to try to keep that within Congress and make referrals to ethics committees as opposed to criminal referrals because as -- and that's where the politics comes in place so much, because once things switch very soon here in the early next year, opening up members of Congress to criminal referral can come the other -- from the other direction.

But I think with respect to criminal referrals that they may make, I'm looking mostly at thinking that they'll go towards obstruction, individuals that obstructed the congressional certification and obstruction of the congressional inquiry itself. So I do wonder whether we will see maybe more contempt, referrals or referrals with respect to how the Congress was conducting its inquiry itself.

KING: Big week ahead next week, appreciate you both coming in to help tee that up.


Up next for us, new strategies in the abortion rights debate, both sides learned important lessons in this midterm campaign and now adapting for next year and beyond.


KING: The Supreme Court's Dobbs decision six months ago had a significant impact on this year's midterms. Now, both abortion rights supporters and abortion opponents are looking to apply the 2022 lessons to what comes next in 2023 and then into the 2024 campaign cycle.

A detailed account on these strategies and "The New York Times" summarizes it this way. After the midterm elections, abortion rights advocates hope to harness public support for the long term, while abortion foes look to advance new laws and sympathetic courts and legislatures.


With us to share her reporting is the author of that great story, Kate Zernike of "The New York Times." Kate, grateful for your time today. Let's start with the abortion opponents. You write in this piece, it's an incredibly well reported piece that anti-abortion groups are pulling back from ballot initiatives.

They don't see that as the way to go here. Instead, they're pushing to reinforce abortion restrictions where they've had success, sympathetic courts, Republican-controlled legislatures. Where should we watch for that to happen?

KATE ZERNIKE, NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well, I think you know, as always, in this fight, we look to Texas as the leading edge for this. So Texas is actually taking this big swing, and trying to get rid of abortion pills, which are, you know, illegal.

So abortion, there are two ways to get an abortion, you can have a surgical abortion or, or an abortion by pills. They recognize that 54 percent of abortions in this country are now done by pills. So what they're doing is they're trying to sue -- the state of Texas is suing the FDA, trying to say that these pills were improperly approved. So that's sort of the big swing.

Be, I think they're doing is really kind of sticking to what they've done before, which is to pass really strict gestational bans, saying in other states and state legislature saying you cannot have an abortion past six weeks, what they're trying to do is ultimately ban abortion entirely. But they're trying to chip away at the timeframe in which you can get an abortion.

KING: You write smartly about how abortion rights advocates, you know, believe this issue helped them in the midterm campaign in terms of turnout. But that if you go state by state and, you know, abortion restrictions, there are as many states today then back, you know, then back immediately after Dobb. So progress politically, but not policy wise, is that a fair way to put it?

ZERNIKE: Yes, I mean, I think the huge change here, the overarching change here is that the political dynamic changed, right? So abortion rights groups have been saying for years, the public is with us, the public supports us. But the reality was, when it came to the polls, the people turning out to vote on abortion, were opposed to abortion, that all changed in the midterms.

And abortion rights supporters really showed up. The biggest place they showed up was in ballot initiatives, right? So there were six ballot initiatives and the abortion rights side won all of them. So I think that's where we're going to look for that active, for the where the abortion rights side is going.

KING: Right, so we have that map up. And the language or the effect of all these initiatives was different depending on which state you're talking about. But you're right, abortion rights forces, win in all six of the ballot initiatives.

And so how does that strategy play forward as we go into 2023, and then the 2024 presidential cycle, I was saying this earlier in a meeting, that, you know, it's ironic, but if you go back just to 2004, George W. Bush reelected president, when you had those anti same sex marriage ballot initiatives in places like Ohio. Do abortion rights forces see this as significant for them, A, again on the policy fight, but B, politically in a presidential year?

ZERNIKE: So yes, I think they see it significantly for them on a policy fight, right? But they're -- first of all, there are only 10 states that where the abortion bans are really strict, and you can do a ballot initiative. So that's that kind of limits that map there. But the other thing to keep in mind is that this is not necessarily just a big boon for Democrats, right?

So there are some states where the ballot initiative got more votes than the Democratic candidates. So some people are actually coming out and supporting abortion rights on the ballot, but still supporting Republican candidates. So it's not a guaranteed slam dunk for Democrats.

KING: Kate Zernike, grateful for your time. And I urge anybody watching who's interested in the issue, go to "The New York Times" website and read this piece in full. It's a fascinating reporting. Thank you, Kate.

ZERNIKE: Thanks.


KING: Ahead for us, some members of Congress now donating the money given to them by the so called crypto king.


KING: Topping our Political Radar today. In just over an hour, the Federal Reserve expected to announce another interest rate hike. Investors anticipate a half percentage point increase, that after four straight hikes of three quarters of a percentage point, that more modest move would be welcome news for the White House after the latest Consumer Price Index report shows inflation is cooling.

The FTX founder, Sam Bankman-Fried, being held without bail after his arrest in the Bahamas. He was indicted yesterday on eight criminal charges and could face up to 115 years in prison.

On top of the fraud charges, federal officials say Bankman-Fried conspired to commit multiple campaign finance violations and some members of Congress who received that money are now donating it to charity. That includes the New House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries and Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow. Bankman-Fried expected back in court in February.

You might say the Education Department missed the mark on this assignment. And now as a massive cleanup of big mistake. Millions of Americans who apply for President Biden's student loan relief program, received e-mail saying their debt applications were approved. But in reality, those applications have not been reviewed yet. The program is on pause until the Supreme Court hears arguments, excuse me, in February.

The White House will light up green tonight in honor and in remembrance the 10-year anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. The elementary school's color is bright green. It's also the official color of the Sandy Hook promise, the nonprofit formed by family members aimed at preventing gun violence.

And to that end, please join us tonight for a very special CNN special report, Alisyn Camerota speaking with the parents of Sandy Hook victims, who turned their pain into power. Sandy Hook forever remembered begins at 10:00 p.m. Eastern.


Thanks for your time on Inside politics. We'll see you tomorrow. Ana Cabrera picks up our coverage right now.