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Pelosi, Schumer Say Biden Should Run In 2024; Biden Speaks To Veterans About New Benefits Involving Burn Pits; Trump Days Before Midterms: "Iowa Way Of Life Is Under Siege". Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired December 16, 2022 - 12:30   ET



JOHN KING, CNN HOST: I don't think that's allowed here.

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: But I do have a fortune for you since you didn't get a fortune cookie that I think is great.

KING: There are lessons to be learned by listening to others. Tell that to T.V. anchor. Just try to tell that to a T.V. anchor. So are they genuine there? You know, Biden, because he is a creature of the Senate has great relationships with the congressional leaders because of his history there. That's not always the case. Is that what it is? Is that their long history with him? Or do they generally believe he's the strongest Democrat in 2024?

GANGEL: I think the midterms didn't hurt, right? They held the Senate, very narrow margin in the house. Everyone was surprised. I do think, look, what are they going to say? They're not going to come out and say that Joe Biden shouldn't run. He's the President right now. But I do think when they look around the party and say, who could be the person who right now is the only Republican to announce Donald Trump. They think Biden has the best shot right now.

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And the reality is, I mean, they'll get Biden space to make that decision on his own. The last thing they want to look like is they're trying to nudge him out the door, make -- let him make that decision. I mean it looks like he's moving in that direction. So they don't want to look like they're in loggerheads with them when he may announced he's going to run.

KING: Both smart as party leaders, but also respectful as veterans of the Congress. Let me just ask you lastly, Nancy Pelosi, she was the speaker. She was most powerful woman in American politics. She was a trailblazer. She's stepping out of the leadership, did she seem at peace?

GANGEL: Absolutely. I actually thought this would be much harder for her. But look, Manu can talk about this. There was not one bit of he's going to eat the dumplings. Now, I have been waiting for this moment. But Manu, wouldn't you say that it was rather remarkable, but in keeping with Nancy Pelosi, that the next group of leadership came in really unopposed, Nancy Pelosi discipline. She, this was all laid out where it was going, right? RAJU: No question about it. But it would be a messy transition. It couldn't have been smoother, which was -- that doesn't happen on Capitol Hill.

GANGEL: Classic Nancy Pelosi, right.

KING: Part of the segue. Manu just said, he transition -- I'm going to read the T's and then I'm going to have a dumpling but I'm going to read first OK, so I get it all over myself there.

Next -- up next for us, some big midterm year changes and lessons. Will dropping the Iowa caucuses hurt the Democrats in rural America and what to do the Democrats asked now about a drop in black turnout this year as we turn to the 2024 cycle. Everybody please have a bite.



KING: Live pictures here. The President of the united states in New Castle, Delaware, this is a town hall with veterans to tout the new benefits in burn pits legislation. The President signed back in August. Let's listen for a minute.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Wait a second thought, you just showed up. And was the generation represented by you Wray that doesn't look for accolades. You know, my dad when I got elected vice president he said Joey, Uncle Frank fought in the Battle of the Bulge. He was not faring very well now, not because the Battle of the Bulge but he said and he won the Purple Heart and you never received it. You never got it. You think you could help him get it? We'll surprise him.

So I got to the Purple Heart. He had won it in the Battle of Bulge. And I remember he came over the house and I came out and he said present it to him. OK, I meet the family there. I said Uncle Frank, you won this and I want to finish it. I don't want the damn thing. I'm serious. He said, I don't want it. I said what's the matter Uncle Frank, you earned it? He said, yes, but the others died. The others died. I lived. I don't want it.

It's like a generation, this generation. In Vietnam, excuse me, in Iraq. I was up in one of the points. They asked, the CO asked me if I would pin on him a Silver Star. He's a young man, I wanted these points. As one of his colleagues shot fell down about I guess equivalent. I was out there at the point.

And it was I guess, about 150 feet, not straight down but a hill. And this young man climbed down the hill, put a guy on his shoulder and brought him back up and it shot on the way up. And he got there and I want to present it to him too. And he said, I don't want it. I don't want it. He died. He died. You understand what I'm talking about?

KING: The President of the United States there, speaking to veterans in New Castle, Delaware, celebrating one of his big legislative achievements of 2022. And as we get to the end of the year, and we turn the page now from the 2022 election cycle, well that means moving on to the 2024 chapter. One big change, Democrats are poised to end Iowa's run at the top of the presidential nominating calendar.

Now backers of that change, say more diverse states like South Carolina, for example, deserve to lead the way. But Iowa's boosters say Democrats already have a big problem in rural America and they might be about to make it worse. Art Cullen is the editor and publisher of Iowa Storm Lake Times. He wrote this in "The New York Times." Discarding Iowa is not a great way to mend fences in rural America, where the Democratic brand has become virtually unmarketable.

Art Cullen joins us now to share his insights. So Art the Democrats say just time to do it differently, our party is different demographically generationally move on. Again, why do you think this is such a profound mistake?


ART CULLEN, EDITOR & PUBLISHER, STORM LAKE TIMES PILOT: Well first of all because I think Iowa has done a pretty good job of vetting candidates and winning the field. It's not our job to be a kingmaker. It's our job to win over the field. And we're pretty discerning lot. And it's been good for America, I think. And I also think there's a disconnect going on between Washington and rural America.

And I realize South Carolina has rural portions of the state as well. I was sort of definitive when it comes to rural America. And there is a problem running from, you know, the Great Plains to Appalachia, among frustrated people who feel left behind by this increasingly bicoastal economy. And this is just kind of a, I think a lot of Iowa Democrats, anyway, take it as a fact that we really are flyover the country.

KING: One of the great privileges of my life was 24 years old, I first came to Iowa in 1987, covering my first campaign. I was covering Governor Dukakis back in the day, but that -- Iowa was always been a treat. But the Democrats say it's sort of worn out, its welcome, or it's time to move on. You made a key points in your op-ed that the Republicans still want to keep it up there. The Republicans are sticking with Iowa. The Democrats considered a lost cause. Nobody organized the thousands of registered Latino voters in meatpacking towns like Storm Lake. Democrats are barely trying. The results show it.

So you actually think not only is this a mistake going forward, but looking back, the Democrats could have actually celebrated the diversity that is there in Iowa, it's not the same as South Carolina. It's not the same as Georgia, but you believe this is a missed opportunity.

CULLEN: Yes, they essentially have ignored Latinos since organizing for America, Barack Obama's organizing outfit, and Bernie Sanders in the caucus, the caucus did a great job of organizing Latinos, and then they leave and forget about it. And then they don't come back in the general election. And that's why the Iowa House, Senate, and governorship were all solidly Republican. And our entire congressional delegation will now be Republican. And, you know, if Democrats intend to win back the House, they've got to address these issues from West Virginia to Ohio to Iowa, where Tim Ryan fell down. And Joe Manchin seems to be running for his life at all times.

KING: I'm going to find a reason to come to Storm Lake anyway, for the Republicans or for some reason, I'll find a way. Art, appreciate your insights today. This debate is going to continue for some time until the calendar is final. We appreciate your perspective very much. Thank you.

CULLEN: Thanks for having me, John.

KING: Absolutely. Our pleasure. Art, thank you. Thank you. CNN Isaac Dovere joins our conversation, an interesting. So you listen to the view from rural America. You're here because you have a great piece today up on I just want to show the headline to it right here. It's, you know, black voter turnout was down in 2022. Democratic auditors are panicking about what it could mean for 2024. This is one of the reasons the Democrats and the President of the United States says put South Carolina first. We should pay more tribute to the backbone of the Democratic Party. But like everything in politics, there are tradeoffs no matter what you decide.

EDWARD-ISAAC DOVERE, CNN SENIOR REPORTER: Sure. And what's going on here in this story is talking to people not about the primary calendar that is relative what Biden's trying to reflect. But what they look at in these midterm results, and seeing that the Democratic Party has been having actually a lot of trouble getting black voters to turn out. Again, it's not that they're turning out to vote for Republicans, that's not really happening in mass numbers. But they're not showing up. And they didn't show up in the same proportions in the midterms this year as suburban voters, swing voters or white voters.

And when people are looking ahead to 2024, what they're saying is, look, if there's not a Donald Trump at the top of the ticket, or candidates who are extremists to drive, the suburban voters toward Democrats and black voters aren't showing up, that is a formula for big, big trouble, and maybe losing the presidential election as well as Senate seats, House seats, governance races, all of it.

KING: Right, so we have a bunch of reporters around the table. If you're at the Democratic National Committee or Republican National Committee, if you're at Biden's political meetings, they're doing the same thing. They're sitting around the table saying what happened in 2022? What can we learn going into 2024? And to Isaac's point, I just want to put up a black voter turnout, you look at the percentage of the population of black voters on the left of the column here in Arizona, Pennsylvania, and Nevada, and in Georgia. And in most of those states there, the actual turnout in the electorate is down a little bit.

So if you're the Democrats, you're thinking, OK, this is a foundational piece of our party. What are we doing wrong? Or maybe the question is, what do we need to do better? RAJU: Yes, I think the risk for Democrats is to misinterpret what happened in the election because they gained a seat in the Senate. They did better than expected in the House that made obscure some of the shortfalls which is key dynamics reporting that black turnout is an issue going forward and also rural voters as we were just discussing about dealing with Iowa. That is one thing that Hakeem Jeffries, the incoming Democratic leader as indicated, they want to try to get back rural voters, Midwestern in some of these key parts of the country where they have struggled. The question is how do they do that and there's really no strategy yet.


KING: And so the symbol of that was the Iowa caucuses. The question is to Art's point, which is a good point. Can Democrats prove, you know, that's just parochial Iowans, we're going to do this in Michigan, we're going to do this in Georgia, we're going to do some South Carolina, we're doing even New Hampshire, we'll do another places that have rural populations, because you look at the calendar now, it's Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada, South Carolina.

The President of the United States, this is not a done deal yet, but the President will get something close to what he wants, if not exactly, South Carolina, then Nevada, New Hampshire, then Georgia, then Michigan. So the President, his team, say more African American voters early in both South Carolina and Georgia and in Michigan, and you do get a little bit of South Carolina has rural pockets, Georgia has rural pockets, New Hampshire has rural pockets, so they say the Iowans are being parochial, but?

SABRINA RODRIGUEZ, NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: I mean, the reality is they have to do both at the same time. And I think one of the things that nationally we're going to have to see Democrats reckoning with is looking at where it worked. So for example, a lot of Democrats are pointing to Pennsylvania right now is the place where Fetterman did well in rural counties. Shapiro did well in rural counties. And then we go to Georgia, and we're seeing, you know, what did Warnock do that work with black voters. And it has to be a combination of the two when we're looking at the national map and what that outreach is going to look like.

KING: And so we talked about this. We're talking about the Democratic pieces of the puzzle, the Republicans, at least for now seem to want to leave Iowa there. There's a certain Republican who's running, who likes that.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Iowa way of life is under siege. They work the fields, they built the factories, they fought the battles, they poured out their blood, sweat, and tears to make this country into the greatest nation in the history of the world. But now we are a nation in decline. We are a failing nation.

(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: One of the things he did successfully whether you agree or disagree with him, whether you want it to run next time or not, is the grievances in small town America where they feel left behind by globalization, by technology, by things like Amazon, where, you know, main stream America, there's not as much retail anymore. Donald Trump, whether you agree with how he did it, or whatever he successfully tapped into there. The field at Washington doesn't care about me anymore. Nobody in Washington understands me anymore. That is a challenge for the Democrats. We're talking about changing the calendar, that's a process question. But there's a voter piece of this.

ZOLAN KANNO-YOUNGS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: You can imagine when that when the calendar change was went forward and was proposed that, you know, the former president was probably just ready to seize on that moment. As I said, this is the latest step and appealing to grievances in rural communities. Also, I would say many white grievances as well that, you know, many communities that have felt disgruntled, as you said, and really kind of seizing on that anger.

But one thing to note here, though, too, when it comes to this debate over kind of rural communities and appealing to a more diverse base, I was talking to a senior administration official who has been traveling around the country and really celebrating in trying to sell a lot of these legislative achievements. And he was saying that within the White House, you know, they want to they basically are reminded each day that rural communities are don't necessarily mean white communities. You can have diverse rural communities as well. And I think that's something that sometimes gets lost. You know, in these conversations as well.

KING: You've spent all your time in Washington you don't realize that. You get out in America. You see it as you go state to state, that's part of the gifts of campaigns.


Up next for us, Russia unleashes a new barrage of strikes on Ukraine, as the Pentagon plans to add a new missile system and new training to its war assistance.


KING: The Biden administration is now condemning a string of new missile attacks on major Ukrainian cities.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking in Foreign Language).


KING: The air raid alert sounding this morning in the capital of Kyiv as explosions rocked the capital city. These strikes comes as the United States is finalizing plans to add more muscle to its Ukraine aid including the patriot missile defense system. Let's get to the Pentagon, CNN's Barbara Starr joins us now live. Barbara, you see again as we head into winter Russian missile attacks from the sky. The Pentagon is trying to amp things up here though.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: They are as Ukraine settles into the coming winter months for this war and we see the endless Russian missile barrages. Look for the Patriot missile system to get the approval by President Biden. Our sources are telling us all indications are he will sign the paperwork and they will start shipping that system to Ukraine.

But if there will be complications, it's a very complex system. They need to train Ukraine forces to work to be able to operate it, work it, repair it, spare parts, maintenance, all of that, look for Ukraine forces to come out, go to Germany and get trained on it. All of that will take time. And at the same time, the U.S. is stepping up the overall training of Ukrainian forces in Germany. They're now working towards trying to be able to train some 500 troops a month, train them on more complex weapons, more complex battlefield strategy, get them to be able to shoot and move together and challenge the Russians even further in the coming weeks. John?

KING: Barbara Starr live at the Pentagon. Barbara before we go, this is the last time we're going to be like this in boxes together. Barbara is moving on for those of you who don't know this at home and I just want to say thank you. You are the ultimate pro.

STARR: That is very kind to you, John. And I want to take two seconds to let everybody know when you walk these Pentagon hallways at midday and you look at what's on T.V.s and offices, nine times out of 10, if not 10 times out of 10, it is your show. You are a must watch in these parts, John.


KING: I appreciate that. But truly, truly, you're the best, you are the best. You are the best. Thank you, Barbara.

STARR: Thank you, sir.

KING: Ana Cabrera picks up our coverage after a quick break. Have a great weekend.