Return to Transcripts main page

Inside Politics

Biden, McCarthy Have Deal "In Principle" To Avoid Default; Democrats Warn White House: Our Support Not Guaranteed; Game On: DeSantis Launches 2024 Campaign By Skewering Trump; Trump Ratchets Up His Rhetoric In Third White House Bid; Target Is Latest Brand To Become Focus Of LGBTQ Culture Wars. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired May 28, 2023 - 11:00   ET



ABBY PHILLIP, CNN HOST: Disaster averted.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): After weeks of negotiations, we have come to an agreement in principle.

PHILLIP: The President and the Speaker make a deal to raise the debt ceiling, but the hardest part may lie ahead, convincing their parties to vote for it.

Plus, game on.

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): He's been attacking me by moving left, but this is a different guy than 2016.

PHILLIP: Ron DeSantis jumps into the 2024 race and levels his toughest attacks yet on Donald Trump. But will it be enough?

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Ron DeSanctimonious and his poll numbers are dropping like a rock.

PHILLIP: And target in the crosshairs. The retail giant becomes the latest battlefield for conservatives hoping to rollback LGBTQ rights.



President Biden and Speaker McCarthy, they have a deal to raise the debt ceiling and avoid an entirely preventable economic catastrophe. It took weeks of negotiations. No one on either side, though, is thrilled.

But here's what we know about the deal this morning. It raises the debt ceiling for two years. It caps federal spending also for two years and adds tougher work requirements for food stamps, but only in limited cases. And it cuts back on President Biden's new IRS funding.

But now, Biden and McCarthy have to sell it to their parties. And in a statement last night Biden said, "The deal protects his main priorities and that the agreement represents a compromise, which means not everyone gets what they want." And McCarthy said this morning, it's a step in the right direction.


MCCARTHY: So I think people will look back and say, oh, I didn't get exactly what I wanted, but there's something in here that it shouldn't be about you, it should be about America. America believes that we've spent too much so this spends less.


PHILLIP: And CNN's Lauren Fox joins me now from Capitol Hill. Lauren, long nights over the last couple of nights. But now really the hard work starts. Where do things stand in terms of whether the votes are there for this bill?

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I mean, that is the effort that is underway right now, Abby. And we just heard again, from House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who said he is competent that he is going to get a majority of his conference to support this deal.

But we should know that there already is conservative backlash you are hearing from people like Ralph Norman, who called this deal last night in a tweet, insanity. Ken Buck saying he's appalled by the deal that was cut.

McCarthy is going to lose some conservatives. The question, of course, whether or not he still is going to be able to get a majority of his conference to back this. On the Democratic side, they also have their work cut out for them.

You heard earlier today from one of the leading progressives on Capitol Hill, Pramila Jayapal, that she was still going to review this and she was making no promises that she was going to back it. Here she is.


REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D-WA): I haven't seen the text. You know, I'm not a big fan of in principle or frameworks. That's always, you know, a problem if you can't see the exact legislative text. And we're all trying to wade through spin right now. I'm not happy with some of the things I'm hearing about, but they are not cutting the deficit, and they are not cutting spending.


FOX: And Democrats are going to get a briefing from White House officials tonight around 5:00 P.M. That is when we expect we'll get a better sense of whether or not democratic votes are going to be here.

This was always going to be a deal that was going to require those in the middle of both caucuses to get together, to come together, and pass this to avoid a default. Abby. PHILLIP: Yes, it seems likely that they're going to have to lose some folks on the left and on the right in order to get to a deal that can pass in both chambers and in the Senate. Lauren Fox, thank you very much.

And let's discuss all of this and more with CNN's Isaac Dovere, CNN's Eva McKend, Olivia Beavers of Politico, and Jackie Kucinich of The Boston Globe.

Olivia, long couple of days for you and the rest of our Capitol Hill friends --


PHILLIP: But this is the crucial moment now. Over the next couple of hours, the language is going to be hammered out. And so much of this deal is going to be fought on the implementation of some of these ideas that they basically -- I mean, there are going to be some gimmicks in here to try to get both sides to feel like they've got some wins. How do you think things are shaping up on the Hill?


BEAVERS: As you said, Republicans are waiting to see the text or Democrats, they want to see what the finalized product would be. But we're starting to get a sense some of the House conservatives are coming out, they're being pretty vicious in their -- in their criticisms. But we kind of already expected them not to support this plan anyway, that's what the rank and file Republicans expected. They thought they'd be able to pull more than moderate Democrats in.

But some of the things that you see leadership touting are things that Republicans are saying that's not really fully a win. Student loan repayment, there was a moment on a conference call yesterday where Virginia Foxx was saying she wished it went further. And Kevin McCarthy had to come back and say, well, we got Statutory PAYGO. So he's defending it.

And there's a bunch of other things like the IRS money where they got 1.9 billion, and Republicans are saying, well, wasn't there 80 billion that we want to back here?

PHILLIP: Yes. I mean, I would say that that's objectively a very small sliver of the IRS funding. And you're sort of touching on something here. What Pramila Jayapal just said in that clip that Lauren played was basically that they are not reducing spending. Military spending is not being touched. Veteran spending is not being touched.

Their spending is going to continue to increase under this bill. And I think for a lot of Republicans that's not acceptable.

JACKIE KUCINICH, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF: And they're saying as much. I mean, if you look at Twitter, they're just -- everywhere you look there are Republicans that weren't happy about this. And you can't stress enough. And Olivia knows this more than anyone, how it's going to be a fight at every single level for this bill. Russ Vought, who used -- it was Trump's OMB director, was talking about the rules committee where you have staunch conservatives like Massie from Kentucky, who could potentially gum up the works even at that level. So, you know, the hard part, as you said, starts right now.

PHILLIP: Yes. I mean, and the White House took a strategy of really not saying a whole lot. Meanwhile, let's just take a listen to -- this is prior to today what Kevin McCarthy was saying publicly.


MCCARTHY: President Biden wants the authority to borrow more money. We need an agreement worthy of the American people.

We have to spend less than we spent last year. It is not my fault that the Democrats cannot give up on their spending.

Every Democrat in the House voted against raising the debt limit, but Republicans have a bill that raised the debt limit.

We're spending more than we ever had. We've got our highest debt that we ever had. And they want to continue that path, we cannot.


PHILLIP: The imbalance in public statements was really irritating a lot of progressives. They felt like they were losing the messaging war. Now that we have a little bit of the contours of the bill, I mean, how do you think that that shook out? I mean, was the White House right to kind of remain silent?

ISAAC DOVERE, CNN SENIOR REPORTER: Right or not, this is what we see out of the Biden White House quite a bit of them not engaging in the day-to-day process bites of it of taking all the hits from the Democrats who get anxious about the messaging and about what's going on.

And then at the end of the day, delivering a deal that is much more to Biden's liking than anybody probably would have predicted. And when you look at the reactions to this, again, it's a framework, its principal agreement, we'll see what the actual text says. But while all these Republican conservatives in the House are saying they don't like it, it's terrible, you see -- Pramila Jayapal clip is her not -- the leader of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, saying, I'm leaving the door open to this, right?

And that is a shocker, I think, for all the Democrats who, even 48 hours ago, were thinking that everything was wrong and it was all terrible. And, again, it is what we see as a pattern out of this White House, a lot out of this president a lot. People saying he just doesn't know what to do, and then getting these kinds of deals.

PHILLIP: Look, I was listening to Kevin McCarthy this morning in his press conference, and really all the members who on his leadership team, they were pretty measured. There was no name calling, there was -- they were not like spiking the football. What did you make of that?

BEAVERS: Well, I think now that they have an agreement, but you -- Isaac was just talking about it, if you want to contrast, Republicans were coming out. McCarthy and his negotiating team, they were coming out messaging for 30 minutes with reporters asking questions.

Now that they have a deal, McCarthy calling it a big win on a private phone call. They're going to try to calm the waters a little bit and just make their respective cells. They still have some things to hash out with the text.

I know that they wanted to make some progress on permitting, but it looks like they were not really able to get that done with the timeframe that they have. We'll see if that changes with these talks as they continue.

But McCarthy has been more measured. He also is kind of complex, I think, from watching it over the past couple of weeks.


KUCINICH: Well, how angry his right flank gets is also in question because he could lose his job fairly easily if they are that upset about how this rolls out.

PHILLIP: Eva, I want to get you to weigh in on this because one of the big outstanding issues is going to be what happens with the work requirements for some of these social safety net programs.

Our understanding is that at least for one of the programs for SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, it's just expansion of an age, right? And then there's also another program that might be affected by work requirements. Here's a Pramila Jayapal talking about how she feels about that.


JAYAPAL: It is really unfortunate that the President opened the door to this. And while at the end of the day, you know, perhaps this will -- because of the exemptions, perhaps, it will be OK. I can't commit to that. I really don't know, in our caucus, and it's not just the progressives across the ideological spectrum, including problem solvers, by the way, people feel that this is bad policy.


PHILLIP: Still a lot of anxiety there about this.

EVA MCKEND, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER: Absolutely. And if you were the White House this morning, you should still be nervous about your left flank. I think that sometimes the prevailing sentiment from the Democratic establishment is the left will come along because they don't have a choice, but that might not be the case in this instance.

I was texting with a chief of staff or prominent progressive member this morning. And there is a lot of anger and outrage that work requirements were even on the table. And, of course, you hear some early messaging from Congresswoman Jayapal talking about how this is people who are already really suffering. And we're going to continue to hear that that we can't always measure why someone who has severely low income is not working and not part of the workforce. And that this is dollars a day.

PHILLIP: Isaac, what's interesting to me also just this whole conversation, taking it a little step of a step back. Two years ago, Democrats were talking about expanding the social safety, they were talking about a child tax credit that could be permanent. Now, the conversation really has changed in some fundamental ways.

DOVERE: It has. Although, at the beginning of this conversation, a couple of months ago, we were talking about Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid, all potentially being part of it. What I'm hearing from House leadership folks is -- Democratic House leadership posts, I should say is, this is -- those things are not part of this conversation. And there was always going to be some giveaways. This is a Republican majority in the House, right? And if this is the extent of it, then it's not as terrible maybe as they had thought it would be.

But to your point, these are the -- we can think about this as like lines on a piece of paper budgeting. These are human lives that are having an impact from all of this. And it is definitely not the Joe Biden who has FDR's [ph] portrait hanging in the center of the Oval Office, thinking about expanding the new deal, all that stuff that he came into office with.

Of course, some things have happened since then including the midterms and the Republicans taking over that.

MCKEND: And we've seen where work requirements have been instituted in the past that people lose benefits. That is just what occurs. Look at what happened in Arkansas with Medicaid.

PHILLIP: And it's coming at a time when food is the one of the biggest drivers of inflation. It's very expensive now to feed a family. But everyone standby.

Coming up next for us, Ron DeSantis makes his 2024 run official with fresh attacks on the front runner in this race.



PHILLIP: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis made his long-awaited official entrance into the 2024 race with a glitchy and much ridiculed event on Twitter. But he followed that up with what his supporters have been waiting for, making the case for why he and not Donald Trump should be the GOP nominee.


DESANTIS: I think he did great for three years. But when he turned the country over to Fauci in March of 2020, that destroyed millions of people's lives.

When he's taken Disney's side against me, I just kind of wonder like, OK, I get he wants to hit me, but don't take the side of a multinational corporation that wants to sexualize kids.

He enacted up bill basically a jailbreak bill, it's called the First Step Act. It has allowed dangerous people out of prison.

I don't know what happened to Donald Trump. This is a different guy today than when he was running in 2015 and 2016.


PHILLIP: The knives are out, but three new polls in the last week confirmed Trump's status as the undisputed front runner right now with huge leads over DeSantis. And basically everyone else breaking not even really breaking six percent. That point, counterpoint, is take a look at this. This is a little flashback for you from 2007. Hillary Clinton, 44. Barack Obama who became the nominee at 24 percent around this time -- around this time, maybe a few months down the road.

So DeSantis, maybe it was a significant misstep that he lost a couple of days of important good press, but he may be being kind of discounted a little too early in this race.

KUCINICH: Yes. And I think it's important also to know a lot of people, just normal people who aren't online, don't even know that that happened. The glitchy Twitter launch isn't even on their radar. There's -- they're waiting for him to come to their town, to come do that retail politicking that actually really matters when it comes to, you know, state by state in that primary.

How he does there and how he does in debates for a politician that really doesn't do a lot of face to face confrontation, I think will actually be a more readable metric of how he's going to do long-term.

DOVERE: That's the danger, though, of what DeSantis is doing and what he has done the last couple of years of living within this bubble, not even a conservative media bubble, but sort of a bubble within the bubble.

This week, he went on Fox News for an interview. He didn't go on with one of the Fox News journalists, he went on with Trey Gowdy, his former colleague in the House. And what that potentially sets him up for is not being prepared for that day-to-day retail politicking or the debate stage.


I mean, like, I was there in Las Vegas in February of 2020 when Mike Bloomberg, who had already put almost a billion dollars at that point into the campaign and was the mayor of New York City coming in to save the Democratic Party from itself, and he lasted about 90 seconds on the debate stage before his campaign was over, because he was not ready for what the campaign really was. DeSantis is putting himself up for that same kind of situation unless he starts branching out. PHILLIP: Yes. I mean, look, it's a training ground. It's not just about pacifying the media, it's also about getting your candidate actually ready for the real combat.

And the other part, I think, of this week that, according to some sources that people have spoken to was pretty troubling, was not just how it was glitchy on Twitter, but what they were talking about. Just take a listen to some of the content of that conversation.


DESANTIS: In Florida, I just signed the anti-ESG legislation, which said things like no ESG criteria in our pension fund. You have every right to do bitcoin. The only reason these people in Washington don't like it is because they don't control it.

To become an accreditor, how do you do that? You've got to get approved by the U.S. Department of Education. So we're going to be doing alternative accreditation regimes.

Look, I'm a blue collar kid. I just know instinctively kind of what like normal people think about all this stuff.


PHILLIP: I don't know. Something tells me that most normal people would need a dictionary to look up what ESG is.

MCKEND: I think that he is overestimating his appeal, both in reading normal -- quote-unquote, normal people. And as I've been listening to him all this week, and how he would, I think, come across to moderates and independents in a general election. He has argued essentially that Trump has hit a ceiling with his support, and that he can be more appealing.

But the policies that Governor DeSantis champions are not always mainstream. You know, when you think about the six-week abortion ban, when you think about new restrictions on the ability of undocumented immigrants to be able to move in Florida, the election police in the state.

A whole number of issues that are just not --

PHILLIP: A lot of vulnerability.

MCKEND: A lot of vulnerabilities that you would not characterize as mainstream.

BEAVERS: And, you know, primary versus general, it's a whole different ballpark. But one thing that I've watched talking from with House Republicans getting the polls, DeSantis was being hyped up as the most serious competitor for a long time.

But when he actually started leaning in, he started seeing the attacks rising against him. Does he have the skills to be a retail politician? Does he actually need those when he actually is meeting with voters in Iowa and some of the early states? But one of the big shifts that I saw was after the New York court decision with Stormy Daniels.

And it seemed like the Republicans I was talking to who were saying they were undecided, they wanted to see how Ron DeSantis was playing, put their finger up, saw where the wind was blowing. And then I started seeing those same people endorsing Donald Trump. And it's been interesting to watch this sort of how the party moves when they -- when they feel like there might be a front runner.

PHILLIP: And also DeSantis seems to be, to that point, he's firing back. I mean, he's gotten progressively more aggressive as this week has gone on. I suspect we'll probably see more.

KUCINICH: Right. And, yes, and his Super PAC also, they're spending tons of money and will continue to do so. That said, it's all fun and games until you're face-to-face with them. And it's been actually having to have an adversarial position to someone's face or to a supporter's face.

He has, to your point, insulated himself where he has not had to take criticism. That is not what this contest is about. So we'll see how he does as this progresses.

PHILLIP: I'm going to -- I want to show you something here because there's -- the other part of this is what's happening in these two very online campaigns. This is Donald Trump Jr. playing this video of -- it's kind of an AI-generated thing of Donald Trump tackling Ron DeSantis.

And the rapid response spokesperson for DeSantis saying, your dad could not even tackle the 110 pound Keebler elf known as Anthony Fauci. Just to give you a little snippet of how really nasty and maybe even a little low-level.

DOVERE: I had an article last week about how the Biden campaign and the Democrats were preparing for DeSantis' entry into the race. And one of the people that it was quote in there as a top Democrat close to the campaign who said, look, we'd prefer to have Donald Trump, but we hate Ron DeSantis just as much.

And in the meantime, we love the fact that they are devouring each other. And the person said to me makes Democrats feel as good as Democrats can feel right. This is going to go on for months. DeSantis and Trump totally trying to delegitimize each other and to say that they don't have any standing in the Republican Party of today, whatever that means to each of them.


And that is something that is dangerous for Republicans overall as -- because at the end of it, you saw it, the Republican chairman in Florida, Christian Ziegler, tweeted this week, one of them is probably going to be the nominee. And we're going to need everybody supporting that. That is where things are. A year from now, when there's a nominee, if it's one of those two, if it's somebody else, they're going to want to be together. KUCINICH: Yes. And I think the question is, does someone else start to benefit? Does a Tim Scott start to benefit from this with his positive messaging, if that can hold? That is the open question. We haven't seen that in recent contest where a third person kind of does --

DOVERE: Especially a third person who at this point, whoever would be is that two or three percent when Scott or Haley, or whatever.

PHILLIP: We're almost forgetting, I mean, this week started with Tim Scott getting into the race, and he is such a different politician. And also, interestingly, Trump basically said hands off, like, he likes Tim Scott, didn't want to really attack him.

But also Tim Scott really anchored a lot of this week in -- you know, I mean, he was talking about a View co-host saying things about his race. How does that shape up in this Republican field?

MCKEND: Well, if you speak to his supporters, and you speak to his team, they believe that not enough people know him yet. That as he makes the rounds in Iowa and New Hampshire that he can gain traction as more people hear his message. Time will tell if that's the case.

I will say from my conversations with moderate Democratic voters, they see Donald Trump and Governor DeSantis as equally as extreme. What you hear from Tim Scott is he believes that he can widen the electorate. He says that he's not only trying to appeal to base conservative voters, he visited a black church yesterday, for instance, in South Carolina. And so he is making the argument to conservative voters that he can have more of an appeal than Trump-DeSantis without naming them in a general election.

PHILLIP: Yes. We will see how that'll work in either way. I mean, this massive field, I think most people agree is still to the benefit of Donald Trump, at least for now.

But coming up next for us, as the 2024 race take shape, former president Donald Trump previews an even more radical second term. We'll show you how.



PHILLIP: Six months into Donald Trump's third presidential campaign, it's become clear that his rhetoric and his policy proposals have grown sharply more extreme. A fascinating new analysis in the Washington Post reveals what it calls his deepening radicalization, peeling back the curtain on what a second term for Trump could actually look like.

The Post compared his remarks on similar topics in 2020 and compared it to 2023, finding a much more brazen Trump on a number of issues. So take, for example, his characterization of the Capitol insurrection.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP, (R) FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: All Americans were horrified by the assault in our capitol. Political violence is an attack on everything we cherish as Americans. It can never be tolerated.

They were there proud. They were there with love in their heart. That was an unbelievable and it was a beautiful day. I am inclined to pardon many of them.


PHILLIP: And now listen to how much he's ratcheted up the rhetoric, the attacks on investigations into his conduct.


TRUMP: We've been hit by fake, fake investigations, fake scandals, fake impeachments. The Biden regime's weaponization of law enforcement against their political opponent is something straight out of the Stalinist Russian.


PHILLIP: And with this at the table is one of the Post reporters on that story, Isaac Arnsdorf. Isaac, thanks for joining us. And the rhetoric, the ratcheting up of all of this isn't just, you know, about him being defiant. A lot of it is revisionist, especially when it comes to January 6.

ISAAC ARNSDORF, WASHINGTON POST NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: That's right. Trump has this sort of pattern of almost boomerang where something happens that causes a lot of public outrage, and then he'll take those steps to try to smooth things over or walk it back a little bit. But then with the passage of time, he circles back to a position that ends up being even more extreme. And that's what you heard in the clip that we just paid. You know, he did say those words immediately after January 6. He was actually silent. And then he did say those words. He did disavow the violence. He did say it was unacceptable, but now he's talking about pardons and heroes.

PHILLIP: Yeah. I mean, it is really incredible how this has all kind of come around not just with Trump, but a lot of Republicans in the republican party.

Let's play another clip. This is -- you know, Trump, his rhetoric, I mean, I think back to the kind of burnt-out towns and his inauguration speech, but here is how his rhetoric on the campaign trail has already become a lot more apocalyptic.


TRUMP: This is the final battle. They know it. I know it. You know it. Everybody knows it. This is it. Either they win or we win. And if they win, we no longer have a country. And no matter how hateful and corrupt the communists and criminals we're fighting against may be, you must never forget this nation does not belong to them. This nation belongs to you. (END VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIP: And just from a substantive, you know, messaging perspective, you could argue that Trump's first presidential campaign, it had some kind of almost apocalyptic rhetoric about the effects of industrialization on small towns in the Midwest. What is lacking here is any implications for anyone but him.

JACKIE KUCINICH, BOSTON GLOBE WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF: But he still makes it about being the victim and how, which you make at that point in your piece, he's the victim, meaning you're the victim, and they're attacking us. And that has worked for him in the past. The politics of grievance have been a very strong pull for former President Trump.

And honestly, you also have to look around who's around him. He's being enabled by the Republican Party for doing this. I mean, Kevin McCarthy going down to Mar-a-Lago just a couple of weeks after the insurrection. That there is a permission structure there that is very much buoyed by who is in power in the Republican Party right now.


PHILLIP: Yeah, I mean, Isaac, one of the other things in the piece, you quote Ruth Ben-Ghiat, a historian at New York University, specializes in looking at authoritarians, and she says when authoritarian leaders lose office, they come back 10 times worse. They never get less extreme. They always get more extreme. And January 6 was a profoundly radicalizing event for the base, for the GOP, and for Trump himself, because even assaulting the Capitol, you could get away with. And you hear that in the rhetoric about pardoning the rioters even Ron DeSantis is opening the door to that?

ARNSDORF: That's right. And you made the point, Abby. I mean, we were starting off at a pretty high level. I mean, we all remember how Trump what he said about Mexicans when he was literally launching his presidential campaign. And some of this has happened gradually, so it's almost hard to notice. But when you look side by side over the years, it really is quite striking. And it's this journey that he and his supporters have been on together, even though it's about him as the victim. It's a shared experience, and that's something that's tightening their bond over the years.

ISAAC DOVERE, CNN SENIOR REPORTER: And that's, you see Trump as a thought leader, essentially, in the Republican Party of taking these extreme ideas and making them more mainstream. One of the things that struck me this week is when Tim Scott got into the race, the first TV interview he did with NBC, he was asked, well, would you accept the results of the election if you lost? What -- when have we ever asked that question before of a presidential candidate? And now that's a reasonable --

PHILLIP: It has to be the very first question in a lot --

DOVERE: But that is crazy. That was never something that we considered. But now, because Trump obviously, on everything that happened leading up to January 6 and January 6, and then as you guys got into, how he's kept talking about it, has made that a question up in the air. And that's happened on a number of issues.

EVA MCKEND, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER: And now this sort of gets put to Republican voters. Your story, well outlines the way that the former president has grown more extreme. It's now up to Republican voters to decide. I think that some are savvy enough to say, I still like the former president, but I don't think that he can win in November. That is what I'm hearing on the ground in places like Iowa, a deep affection for all of this performance, but a feeling as though if they want to recapture the White House, they can't do it with the former president, that this extremism is just too toxic to the voters that they need.

PHILLIP: Yeah. I mean, one of the interesting things, though, is that when you look at Trump's -- I mean, whatever you can make of a platform, right? The things that he's proposed, some of them, I think, speak to this idea that he wants to use the state to kind of right the wrongs, to meet out retribution against his enemies. And it's all there in deploying the National Guard to high crime cities, investigating local prosecutors, defunding the FBI and the Department of Justice. That's mostly about him enacting domestic deportation. I mean, it's a pretty strong man platform.

I do want to bring Ron DeSantis into this conversation, too, because here you have two top candidates on the Republican side, both of them envisioning a very muscular federal government that uses the power of the state to do what is in their ideological interest.

ARNSDORF: That's right. And using federal power in ways that are certainly not class, what we'd call classically conservative. I mean, talking about federal rule in education, I mean, historically, if you look back to, like, Ronald Reagan's Republican Party, the whole thing was that the federal government had no business in education at all.

DOVERE: In anything, right?


DOVERE: I'm from the federal government. I'm here to help. Those are the scariest words.

ARNSDORF: Exactly. And Trump's position is, I'm here. I'm here to help.

PHILLIP: I am going to fix it.

ARNSDORF: Exactly.

PHILLIP: I mean, the state itself becomes a tool, which is a really different thing.

I mean, I don't think we can emphasize that enough for the Republican Party to have this idea that the state is a critical part of how they operate ideologically, that will be a major change. So everyone stand by for us, Isaac, thank you for joining us.

And coming up next, the conservative backlash over LGBTQ rights is finding a new target.



PHILLIP: This Thursday marks the start of Pride Month here in the United States, and retail giant Target is grappling with backlash from conservatives over its most recent collection celebrating the LGBTQ community. Much of this controversy centered on a trans friendly swimsuit that the right-wing activists falsely claimed was being marketed to children. And so Target became the latest in this battlefield in the fight over gay rights. Republican lawmakers like Lauren Boebert and JD Vance and Marjorie Taylor Greene, all calling for boycotts.

Target did end up pulling some of its items after receiving threats, and the company said that those threats jeopardized worker safety. But it now joins other big brands, including Bud Light, North Face, and the LA Dodgers, trapped in this new culture war crossfire over their LGBTQ marketing campaigns. And all of this really speaks to something that is maybe not happening in the country, but happening on the right where on the right, there is an effort to kind of push back on as some people have pretty explicitly put it, cultural acceptance of LGBTQ people and issues.

KUCINICH: Which is really a change when you think about just a few years ago, you had bathroom bills being passed in states. And people pulling out, like companies pulling out of those states, really punishing them through moving headquarters and whatnot. And it just -- it really, culturally, you have seen that shift on the right where they felt like they were being punished, and now they feel like they're striking back.

But also, this is also not new. The boycotts and whatnot. We've seen that with Nike. We've seen that with Coca-Cola over the years where the right on whatever issue, not just LGBTQ issues. They use this as a way to forward whatever agenda item that they are pushing at the moment.


BEAVERS: And Jackie points out, I mean, I hear it as Republican lawmakers are making jokes day in and day out, even if it's not something that you're discussing. Jim Banks, when I was interviewing him before he launched the Senate campaign, that was one of the issues that he said he was going to make it central to what he was going to be talking about when he's meeting with voters.

And all roads lead back to 2024. We're going to be seeing this as something that Ron DeSantis is going to be touting. You know, they passed, they signed into the law that bans gender affirming medical care. And he's been pushing for changes in how LGBTQ can be discussed in schools. And he's going to be touting that as something that he thinks will be appealing to primary voters. The question is, will that be alienating in general if he is able to make it there? PHILLIP: Yeah, I mean, to your point, just listen to how the 2024

hopefuls, some of them potential 2024 hopefuls are talking about these issues on the campaign trail.


NIKKI HALEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Everybody know about Dylan Mulvaney? Bud Light, right? Make no mistake, that is a guy dressed up like a girl making fun of women.

MIKE PENCE, (R) FORMER VICE PRESIDENT: Male and female, he created them. I don't believe there's multiple genders in America. I believe there's male and female.

GOV. RON DESANTIS, (R) FLORIDA: Now, this is something they're having third graders declare pronouns. We're not doing the pronoun Olympics in Florida. We are going to remain a refuge of sanity and a citadel of normalcy. And kids should have an upbringing that reflects that.


PHILLIP: And this is a key strategy that you heard from DeSantis there, trying to make this seem as just common sense for everybody, but centering that on anti-trans efforts. And Democrats have to contend with that.

DOVERE: Certainly. And what you see when you talk to voters and pulling on this is hard to measure in part because you do see some hesitation from a wider array of voters than one might guess about what's going to kids, what's going to transitions. But you also see a real push back to when there are attacks on that, that when the rhetoric gets ratcheted up, then people say, oh, that's even if I'm a little uncomfortable, that's not what I meant.

The question here, I think, is a general election primary one. It's also when you look back at what happened in 2022, and there was this big talk among a lot of Democrats and Biden made some of this too about democracy, right? And he was Biden was talking about democracy through the end of the campaign. What internal polls among Democrats showed is that that argument was hitting a wider array also voters. And you might have thought because what people were hearing was not just, oh, this is the governmental system that I believe in.

But they're counting me out. When they don't -- when there are people who say that they don't want to count the elections fairly or think about they're saying they're also -- they don't care about gay people or they don't care about people like me or whatever it may be. And that is perhaps one of the things that ended up powering the youth vote being there for Democrats and for the midterms to not go in the way that everybody, Republicans included, thought that they would go.

PHILLIP: And there's a question for all of us in being clear about where is this all really going. Some hints here from Matt Walsh, a conservative activist. He says the goal is to make pride toxic for brands. One of the reasons for that is this these poll numbers that really show just what has happened in this country in terms of acceptance. Just take on the gay marriage issue. It's gone from 27% support to 71% support today. And a lot of conservatives far-right individuals who are powering these campaigns are very uncomfortable that and they want to roll it back.

MCKEND: Right, the polling suggests that, you know, these perspectives are on the wrong side of history that ultimately we're going to see people become more accepting.

In terms of it being an electoral issue, you know, if Republicans are trying to capture young voters, younger voters are more likely to know someone who is trans. So demonizing that population doesn't really speak to trying to bring more voters into the fold in the future.

Really quickly, I was speaking to a trans activist this morning and I just want to elevate that perspective. And I was told, you know, ultimately corporations are going to do what they're going to do. They use us when they latch on to marginalized groups for the purpose of, you know, maybe trying to sell products, but ultimately that's not where our liberation lies. So just keeping in mind, you know, the communities that have to go have to sometimes move states in order to feel safe.

PHILLIP: It's only part of the picture. You're absolutely right. Thank you, everyone, for joining us today. And up next for us, a tribute to the one and only queen of rock and roll.



PHILLIP: This week, the world lost a true icon in a true original, the irreplaceable Tina Turner. I, like so many young girl, danced and twirled to tina turner in my living room, drawing from her powerful, unconventional voice and the sense of power and confidence that she personified through her music. Her on stage persona was of this rock star whirlwind of energy and sensuality. But off stage, the Tina Turner that those closest to her knew was she was very different. She once told journalist Maureen Orth that she patterned herself, "from classy ladies, I take as much from them as I can."

And one of those classy ladies was former First Lady Jackie Kennedy Onassis whom she idolized.


LARRY KING, CNN ANCHOR: Did you ever get to meet Jackie?

TINA TURNER, SINGER: Yes, yes, yes. Do you want to hear the story?

KING: Yes.

TURNER: Well, I was -- we were checking into a hotel and for some reason she was there and at the time she was with Mr. Onassis.

[11:55:05] And I was standing at the reception and I looked down and I wasn't sure that it was her. But then she made a gesture of how she usually carried her purse. And before I knew it, I was running towards her. I was totally out of control. And by the time I got to the door of the swinging doors, I said, oh, Ms. Kennedy. Oh, I mean, Ms. Onassis. I was totally just besotted. And she turned very gracefully like, and she said I said, oh, I'm Tina Turner. I said, I just wanted to say hello. She says, oh, hello. She says, my children would be pleased. And we had just played high in his port, and I had been with Robert Kennedy's family and we had been boating and dancing with him, and so they had told Caroline and John (ph).

And so therefore she knew who I was. And then I said I was very excited. And then she shook my hand and left. And as I turned, there is Mr. Onassis. And I said hi, oh, I have to control myself. Oh, hello. And I went to my room and I was sitting and the sofa was just going whoop, whoop, whoop, whoop.

So I can understand sometimes now when some of the fans come --

KING: People treat you that way.

TURNER: Yes. I try to be as confessional as I can because I can relate.

KING: And as you explain to yourself and you continue to lose it, even remembering it?

TURNER: Yes. Oh, yes.

KING: She obviously was a major idol.

TURNER: Oh, she was bigger than life. She was absolutely wonderful.


PHILLIP: And there you have it. Even our idols have idols of their own. But enjoy the rest of your weekend. Thanks for joining us.