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Inside Politics

Daniel Cameron, Supported by Trump, Won Kentucky Republican Gubernatorial Primary; Cherelle Parker Clinched Democratic Nomination Mayoral Primary in Philadelphia; Interview with The Philadelphia Inquirer Politics Reporter Julia Terruso; Jacksonville, Florida, Democrats Take Control of Mayor's Office; Major Abortion Pill Case will be Heard by Appeals Court; Preparing for 2024 Election, Pence Visits New Hampshire; Interview with Axios Senior Contributor Margaret Talev; Interview with USA Today White House Correspondent Francesca Chambers; DeSantis Signs Bills Targeting LGBTQ Community. Aired 12:30- 13p ET

Aired May 17, 2023 - 12:30:00   ET



EVA MCKEND, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER: And the night was called so early. Some of his supporters had not even shown up yet. You know, this really illustrates how crucial the Trump endorsement is. He was endorsed by Trump real early in this race. He already previewed his lines of attack against Governor Beshear. We can expect to hear about crime, fentanyl, public schools, workforce participation.

And though Cameron is a rising star in the Republican Party, he spoke at the Republican National Convention in 2020. This is not going to be an easy road ahead for him. Governor Beshear is popular in the state, Democrats feeling really confident. I spoke to Republicans over the weekend, Trump supporters, who also support the governor.

So, that is what Daniel Cameron is going to have to contend with in the months ahead. I should also note that Cameron has earn the ire of Democrats across the country. All these lawsuits that he's participated in or brought in his capacity as attorney general, and then also his response in the Breonna Taylor case. Democrat, progressives, many others feel as though he did not adequately seek justice for Breonna Taylor. So, all of that is going to be in play in this governor's race where we will see, probably, John, a lot of money spent here in Kentucky.

JOHN KING, CNN INSIDE POLITICS HOST: A lot of that money to both candidates will come from outside of the state, I bet, because both have a national profile. Eve McKend, grateful for the reporting live from Kentucky for us.

Let's move to Pennsylvania now and more potential history in the making. Philadelphia voters are one step closer to electing their 100th mayor and their first woman mayor. Cherelle Parker clinched the Democratic nomination last night after running on a platform to hire more police and to invest in Philadelphia's working-class neighborhoods. She is all but assured to win in November because Philadelphia is such a heavily Democratic City. Julia Terruso of "The Philadelphia Inquirer" joins me now. Julia, walk us through. Who is Cherelle Parker and why does this matter?

JULIA TERRUSO, POLITICS REPORTER, THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER: Sure. Cherelle Parker is a born and bred Philadelphian. She's from the northwestern part of the city. She ran with a lot of the establishment support from the party, and she won with a lot of support from black Philadelphians. She carved out a slightly more moderate, you know, platform in the race, which like so many big cities, a big focus here was crime. But, you know, she's also talked a lot about raising her 10-year-old son and how she's advocated for police reforms.

So, likely, you know, I talked to voters who said they like the balance she struck there. And as we look ahead, she's been a strong supporter of the party. She backed President Biden in 2020 and actually hosted Vice President Kamala Harris at a Get Out the Vote rally back in 2020. So, in addition to inheriting a city with a lot of challenges, she'll certainly be looked at by the party as someone to turn out the vote in a key city for them.

KING: And so, as we look forward to 2024, you may the key point, turnout in Philadelphia. Democrats need it to be off the charts, the size it can be to offset other places. And just outside of Philadelphia, yesterday, we can show the map, the Democrats easily won a special election for a -- in the Philadelphia suburbs, Delaware County, for a State House seat. That if it flipped, it would have cost the Democrats their majority there.

Again, that's a place the Democrats won by 2020 -- 22 points yesterday. Joe Biden carried it by 25 points the last time. Those of us in Washington sometimes try to look at elections yesterday and project them into next year. I want to be careful about doing that. But does this tell us that the Democratic formula, big turnout in the cities, the African American base, and then performing well in the suburbs, that at least the -- if you're the Biden campaign, you can think -- we think our blueprint is still in place?

TERRUSO: I think that's true to an extent. I think what happened in that special election is that that was a district that leaned Democratic, that Democrats should have won, and they didn't take any chances. They, you know, really focused on it, the -- had the Biden endorsement. And I think it's another indication that the suburbs are a place where Democrats just continue to grow their numbers in really, really big ways, which you know, they certainly hope will benefit them in 2024.

KING: And we shall, obviously, watch the new mayor but we'll have to get to the election first. But I assume we'll have a new mayor head to 2024. Julia Terruso, we will check in as all of that plays out and to see if that suburban hold -- holds for the Democrats into next year. Julia, thank you.

Let's move to Jacksonville, Florida now. And a Democrat there flipped the mayor's office. It's only the second time in 30 years a Democrat has won the mayor's office in Jacksonville. Former journalist, Donna Deegan, you see here there, will become the city's first female mayor. She beat Republican Daniel Davis, who was endorsed by the Florida Republican governor, soon to be presidential candidate, Ron DeSantis.

Up next for us, an appeals court today. His argument on the question of whether medication abortion should remain wildly available.


It's a critical case in its own right and it's also an example of how the Supreme Court can shape policy, even well before the nine justices hear the merits of a big legal issue.


KING: This afternoon, a three-judge panel in New Orleans, federal court panel, will hear arguments on the abortion pill case. That ruling -- their ruling could determine the future of medication abortion in this country. Last month, you probably remember, a federal judge in Texas revoked FDA approval for mifepristone.


But the medication remains available because the Supreme Court issued a stay while the appeals process plays out. It's another example of how emergency orders or unsigned decisions from the Supreme Court can shape the country's legal landscape.

Legal experts call those decisions the shadow docket. And that's the topic and the title of a new book by our CNN Legal Analyst, University of Texas law professor, Steve Vladeck. He joins me now. It's nice to see you in person.


KING: So, reading through the book, explain first. So, we have this three-judge panel hearing this case, that's the normal process. A district judge rules, it gets appealed up to the appeals court level, but in the meantime, the Supreme Court could have issued a decision to stop the sale. They said, no, leave the drug on the market until this. But we don't know a lot about what happened in that. That's your point about the "Shadow Document", that the Supreme Court will issue emergency or temporary rulings with no fingerprints, really.

VLADECK: That's right. And you know, John, we might like the bottom line. We might dislike the bottom line. What we can't deny is that these effects have or these rulings have massive effects. The fact that the justices stepped in last month to preserve nationwide access to mifepristone, the same way that they wouldn't preserve access to abortion to Texas in September of 20201. The same way that they kept allowing President Trump to carry out policies the lower courts had blocked.

You know, folks are going to disagree about whether these rulings are right are wrong. But what's happening now more than ever is that these rulings are having massive effects and we don't know why. We don't know what the rational is. KING: And so today, three judges will hear this case not really knowing whatever they decide is going to get appealed up the chain of the Supreme Court. So, you'd think they would like some guidance. This hearing is because of what the Supreme Court did. You think they would at least like, could you give us a road map. And you write about that in the book, in deciding so much while saying so little, the justices are not only failing to provide adequate guidance for lower courts and government actors, but also exacerbating charges of political partisanship.

So, those three judges today don't understand and if again, to your point, if you have a stake on this issue, whether you want the drug banned or whether you want the drug left widely available, you're thinking, you know, are they playing games here?

VLADECK: And that's why I think it's a bit unfair of some of the defenders of the court, Justice Alito among them. To say that this is just a partisan critic, that this is progressives criticizing the conservative majority. The whole point is that even if you are happy with or unhappy the with the bottom lines, there's a better process. There's a better, healthier way for the Supreme Court to be handing down rulings they're having such massive effects on the ground.

KING: And you start the book with an anecdote from 1973. Justice Douglas, President Nixon wanting to bomb Cambodia. So, this goes back a long time. But one of the points you make, I think, that's really interesting is that the Trump team -- Trump legal team sort of saw how this was working. And they, in my term, put it on steroids. They say, we can take advantage of this. We may lose some cases in the end, but we can keep our policies in place for months if we -- or longer, if we get the Supreme Court to go along with us in the meantime.

And so, we've seen this upheld. The military trying to ban transgender Americans, reinstate federal execution, blocking New York COVID restrictions, declining to block, as you noted, the Texas abortion ban, keeping Title 42 in place. Talk about that. How the Trump people -- the solicitor general's office realized, we can do business here that was outside the norms of the way that office normally operates.

VLADECK: Yes, I mean, this is the real shift that we saw and this is why the book says 2017 is where we start to see things flip around. During the Bush and Obama administrations, two very different two term presidencies. The federal government only asks the Supreme Court for this kind of relief, a total eight times in 16 years, once every other year. And most of those are not divisive. The court doesn't have to sense, it's just one way or the other.

Trump goes 41 times in four years. And I think part of what happened is that that familiarity, that repetition made what used to be exceptional, like the Cambodia bombing case become routine from the justice's perspective where it never really occurred to them that from an institutional perspective, from separation of power perspective, this really was not a healthy way to be deciding these cases.

John, especially when without written opinions, all we can look at is who won and who lost. And it just so happens that in the mind of these cases, it's Republicans winning and Democrats losing.

KING: And so, team Biden say, we don't like what the team Trump did, but it was effective, so we're going to steal that strategy, or they said, no, we're trying to go back to more normal?

VLADECK: Somewhere in between. And the Biden administration has been subject to a number of nationwide injunctions like the ruling in the mifepristone case. But what's fascinating is the very same arguments that the Trump administration used over and over again to get the justices to step in haven't worked. Where the Biden administration keeps having these applications denied.

John, even in cases where is like the Remain in Mexico case last year, the court ultimately rules for the Biden administration. That's why this is dangerous because it looks like the best explanation for why Trump gets emergency relief and Biden doesn't is the partisan veils of the dispute. The court can ill afford to keep perpetuating that visit -- that mentality.

KING: That's worth the read. Always grateful for the insight, "The Shadow Docket", I have it right here. Steve, thanks for coming in.

VLADECK: Thanks, John.

KING: Although I miss you in your home studio where we have the bubble heads behind you, those are pretty cool. We'll do that again.

Up next for us, Mike Pence gears up to run for president and says he looks forward to public debates with his former boss.



KING: Mike Pence making clear he intends to join the 2024 Republican field. The former vice president spending time in the kick-off primary state of New Hampshire this week. Pence allies helping him by just launching a super PAC, they say, among other things will help Pence organize in the first caucus state, Iowa.


And Pence, himself, says he's eager for Republican voters to see him debate Donald Trump this time in public.


MIKE PENCE, FORMER U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: I've debated Donald Trump many times, just not with the cameras on. I'm -- you know, I'd welcome the opportunity to bring my ideas forward if I'm a candidate, and I promise to keep you posted on our plans.


KING: Our great reporter is back on the table with us. He has a little smirk on his face, the former vice president. He does, actually, seems like he's OK. I would relish the opportunity. But on the debate stage, one of the questions is likely to be, Mr. Vice President, when he told you to help him overturn the presidential election, walk us through that debate.

MARGARET TALEV, SENIOR CONTRIBUTOR, AXIOS: Right. It's not going to be Mike Pence against Donald Trump. It's going to be Mike Pence and Donald Trump in theory. Mike Pence and Donald Trump and any other candidate talking about Donald Trump to an audience, with the media filter. Like, it's impossible to predict what any -- this is actually going to look if it actually goes anywhere.

But you are seeing Mike Pence trying to emerge on, I think, three fronts right now. Number one, committed to America PAC. He's putting his foot out there. This is going forward and it appears to be. Number two, trying to reset around the idea that Ronald Reagan should really be the north star of the Republican Party, not Donald Trump, or maybe anyone but Donald Trump is maybe what he's saying. And number three, we saw him dabble a little bit in return to financial policy in the Fed and bank and what the Federal Reserve should be doing.

And I think what he's trying to do there is not just be about abortion, although that will be part of his message to the base, but try to say, hey, I could govern. I care about the economy. I'm more than just a one trip gov (ph).

KING: Yes. Former Indiana congressman, former Indiana governor, sort of a chamber of commerce, Christian conservative, traditional conservative. You look at the polls right now, the hill is steep. It just is. Donald Trump at 49 percent, Ron DeSantis at 19, Mike Pence at five. I guess, the Pence team would argue he's closer to DeSantis than DeSantis is to Trump.


KING: You can argue it that way. The challenge, I've said this before is, what's his lane, right? If you're a Trump voter, there's Trump. So, he's vice president, you have Trump. If you're a never Trumper voter, Mike Pence, you might have liked him before he was vice president but he worked for Donald Trump. Mike Pence, listen here, he says, I will make a lane, trust me.


PENCE: I just have great confidence in Republican primary voters. At the same time, I have a sense that people are looking for a new brand of leadership, at least one that has the potential of elevating the public debate, back up to a threshold of civility that we had in public life not that long ago.


KING: Let me translate not that long ago. I mean, our politicians have been porous (ph) for some time but Trump puts everything on steroids, and that's what he's trying to talk about.

MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: Yes, he's trying to put together this very Reaganesque coalition of Christian evangelicals, physical conservative, national security hawks. And these were positions, I think what he's alluding to, that were bedrocks of the Republican Party. But the problem is in this new GOP, this MAGA wing of party in particular, those views are much maligned. And I don't know that the GOPs is going to be buying what Pence is selling. I mean, we'll see.

I think the other question is how much he will use January 6th, if at all, against Trump. Our colleague, Kristen Holmes, reported that he is planning on going after him in some way in the future. But he has to be careful here because he knows that his fractured relationship with the former president is a huge liability for him in the primary.

KING: Right. It will if he's willing to play it up. In the debate stage, it will get him some attention. If he's willing to stand there, the guy who was Donald Trump's loyal vice presidents and take some issues. I guess, my question is, let's look at the poll numbers again. Donald Trump has remade the Republican Party. There are some people -- and again, a lot of moderates don't vote in primaries anyway.

The challenge for Pence is that he was a very conservative man himself. Is to try to convince conservatives but even moderate Republicans who might disagree with some issue to come back in to become primary voters again. That's the challenge. It's not so much even fighting DeSantis or fighting Trump. It's trying to change the composition of the electorate, I think.

FRANCESCA CHAMBERS, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, USA TODAY: Well, another difficulty that both he and Nikki Haley would face on the debate stage is what you touched on before. You both worked for Donald Trump. You were both in lockstep with him on all these other issues. It was just the January 6th is when you had a problem and broke with him, in Pence's case. So, that's an area, potentially, for some of this other anti-Trump Republicans to try and drive a wedge on the debate stage.

KING: First debate is in August. We'll see how many candidates we have by then outside.

CHAMBERS: Trump is there.

KING: It's -- well that's another question. Will Trump be on the public debate stage especially around (ph), that's an important observation to make there.

Next for us, Ron DeSantis signing legislation targeting the LGBTQ community. His latest bill signing as -- in Florida, as he prepares to run for president.



ANNOUNCER: This is CNN, the world's news network.

KING: Topping our "Political Radar" today, the Florida Governor, Ron DeSantis, signing off on new restrictions targeting the LGBTQ community. The new laws restrict gender affirming treatments for transgender minors, for example. They also restrict drag shows, bathroom use, and picking pronounce in schools. Governor DeSantis says, the legislation will keep Florida, "A citadel of normalcy. Activists though call it a, "All-out attack on freedom."

The secret service now investigating how an intruder snuck past agents and into the home of Biden National Security Adviser, Jake Sullivan. Sullivan told investigators he believes the person was intoxicated when they walked into his house around 3:00 in the morning last month. Sullivan confronted the person and they left without incident all while secret service agents were stationed outside the home and they did not notice. The agency says it will now review its security protocols.

Olympic gold medal figure skate, Sarah Hughes looking to get into the political arena.