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Inside Politics

$1.58B Mega Millions Winning Ticket Sold In Florida; Ohio Voters Say No In Proxy Fight Over Abortion Access; 2024 GOP Rivals Bristle Over Loyalty Pledge; RNC Debate Loyalty Pledge Text Revealed; Trump Revives Threat To Skip GOP Primary Debate; Biden Tries To Bolster Climate Credentials; Biden Falsely Claims He Declared Natl Emergency On Climate. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired August 09, 2023 - 12:00   ET



CARLOS SUAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And while, no one here won the exact jackpot. There was one $2 million ticket that was sold here. We're told that the person here was able to get five out of the six numbers. John and Kate, the last time I joined you guys, I got a little bit of breath to saying that the person that one that's $2 million is going to have to think about the fact that they were shy by one number to take all that money back, but here we are.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Carlos Suarez, great to see you. Thank you so much for being there. And thank you for being here Kate, for the end of the show. (crosstalk) a little bit.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: You punch me in the face (crosstalk). It's not what happened.

BERMAN: Talk about winning a lottery. There's the Inside Politics lottery, which begins right now.

DANA BASH, CNN HOST: Today on Inside Politics, Ohio says no. Voters reject a measure that would have made it easier for Republicans, trying to make it harder for women to get an abortion.

Plus, do Republicans solemnly swear to support whoever is the nominee. CNN obtains the loyalty pledge Republicans must sign in order to make the first debate stage. And Biden test drives traffic and weather approach to win over voters. He defends his climate credentials in a new interview, but dances around a big unfulfilled environmental promise.

I'm Dana Bash. Let's go behind the headlines at Inside Politics.

Up first, a hard lesson for Republicans in Ohio and nationwide on the issue of abortion. Again, that's a hard no. That's the headline in this morning's Cleveland Plain Dealer. It follows a clear voter verdict. 57 percent of three plus million Ohio voters rejected a ballot measure, issue one. The measure is technically about the rules to rewrite its constitution, but voters viewed it as a test of abortion rights, and what states should be allowed to tell women to do. CNN's Jeff Zeleny is live in Ohio. Jeff, what exactly happened with this vote?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Dana, it was a test of abortion rights, but it was also a test of democracy and talking to voters here yesterday as they cast their ballots. And throughout the last month of this campaign. Both were at play.

Abortion was not mentioned as part of issue one, which was the only thing on the ballot, but it was the driving force. But there was also a resounding feeling that Republican leaders in the legislature were trying to pull a fast one in the words of one voter to me, by scheduling this election in August, at a time when some families are on vacation, others are not really paying attention, while voters were paying attention yesterday.

And this was also talking to voters about far more than politics. The story of the 10-year-old who was raped and had to leave Ohio to seek abortion assets was front and center in this as well. This is so central to what people have been living through in the wake of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade.

So, if you build all that up over the last year, that is what voters were responding to yesterday, as well as simply trying to change the rules to make it more difficult to amend the constitution on other matters, like minimum wage, which is expected to be coming next year.

But when you look at these counties across the state, some Trump counties that he did very well and outperform President Biden, just three years ago, the vote no side did very well yesterday. That is because the coalition that was built of Democrats, independents and Republicans to vote against this, but coming up is a an entirely new election.

This starts now the campaign for the November ballot about abortion rights access. So, it's unclear if that coalition will hold or if it will be a different coalition. But there is no doubt voters here in Ohio and in states across the country have sent a resounding message on abortion rights. They want it protected, at least to some degree. Dana?

BASH: Jeff, thank you so much for that reporting. And here to share their reporting, CNN's Nia-Malika Henderson, Bloomberg Mario Parker, and CNN's Kristen Holmes. Hello. Hey, happy Wednesday to you all. You just heard Jeff talk about the specific counties inside Ohio where Donald Trump did well. And where this measure also did well, meaning pro Trump, but also pro not changing the constitution to make it easier to defeat this abortion rights measure.

Let's just look at some specific, Delaware County. Trump one by seven in this county, No 16. Trumbull, Trump one by 11, No 14. Stark County, Trump one by 19, No 4. Medina, Trump one by 23, No eight. Harney County, Trump one by two, No plus 16.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. I mean, this is a difficult issue for Republicans, and Trump himself knows that very well. We've seen in election after election, whether it was Michigan, whether it was Wisconsin, or Kansas as well, that this issue is personal for people. It rallies voters, this coalition of Democratic voters swing voters as well as some Republican moderate voters as well.


For years this really worked well for Republicans as they claimed that they wanted to overturn Roe v. Wade. Well guess what, that has happened. And they are at this point, sort of like the dog that caught the bus. They don't quite know what to do with this new dynamic. And it has worked quite well for Democrats.

BASH: Let's look at a little bit of what voters in Ohio saw on the airwaves.


BASH: So that's that vote yes. And again, it's a bit complicated because they weren't -- they were voting on something that was technically procedural. It was about whether to change the constitution. But in an ad like this, and others of the abortion rights groups really got in there and made it very much about abortion, because it was.

MARIO PARKER, NATIONAL POLITICS TEAM LEADER, BLOOMBERG: No, absolutely. And there's a symmetry to all of this as well, right? It's been 15 months since the Dobbs decision was leaked. Republicans have another 15 months to figure out this messaging before the November 2024 election. As of right now, they just can't do it.

So, you saw the pro, excuse me, the Pro-Life groups, messaging on television, Democrats welcome that fight recall, and it's winning 22 midterms. They spent upwards of hundreds of millions of dollars, and it did sway the results.

BASH: You know, Kristen, as we're thinking about this, I'm thinking about the candidate you spend the most time with, and that is Donald Trump. And how reluctant he is to fall in line with the other Republican candidates, the Republican outside groups, like the Susan B. Anthony group. But actually, let me just read something from their statement.

They wrote after this result. So long as Republicans and their supporters take the ostrich strategy and bury their heads in the sand, they will lose again and again. So, the point that they are making, and they continue to make is that Republicans lose electorally on the issue of abortion because they run away from it. The position that Donald Trump takes is, no we lose on abortion, because of abortion.

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Exactly. And I think that is very interesting when you're talking about a Republican primary. And we've talked about this as well. One of the things that DeSantis has tried to do is run to the right of Donald Trump, including on abortion, and the Trump campaign is like, go for it. I mean, that sounds like something that's going to kill you. And that is something that Donald Trump himself believes. And he is essentially the architect of the Dobbs decision. I mean, the fact that he appointed these three conservative justices, but you never really hear him taking credit for it.

And even yesterday, when I was with him in New Hampshire, when he talks about abortion, he makes it very clear that he believes in exceptions. And he says that over and over again, and he will not answer any questions on a national ban. Again, he has told people he thinks is a losing issue for Republicans. He doesn't want to campaign on it.

BASH: Yes. The furthest he's gone is to say that there is a vital role for the federal government.

HENDERSON: Yes. It's not likely that he'll go much further than that. I mean, the results are out of Ohio. These other states that we talked about, I mean, just show what a difficult issue it is. This is a personal issue for people, for women, obviously, for men, and of course, in Ohio, this horrible, horrible story of a 10-year-old girl who was raped and have to go to Indiana. Voters in Ohio, remember that?

And listen, people talk about this with their families, with their wives, with their daughters, with their sons. It's just something that people experience. So, the idea that politicians should decide it's such a personal issue. I think it really is difficult for voters to swallow, it really is an issue of freedom for so many voters.

PARKER: And for Trump, it's a reminder to the voters that it's a transactional relationship that he has with him, right? He doesn't necessarily have to tell that this has happened. He can just say, hey, you signed up for four years or eight years with me. Here's what I delivered for you. Supreme Court justices want to sign up for another four years. And I mean, it goes back to just this relationship that he has with the GOP base.

BASH: It's such an interesting point. You mentioned a couple of times what we saw in states like Kansas and Michigan in the last election cycle. And it really was striking to us that the numbers, you see 59 percent against an anti-abortion amendment 57 percent protecting.

And then you have yesterday was about in that ballpark, it's almost spooky. Also, a reminder why the Republicans in Ohio wanted to change the constitutional threshold to 60 percent because they're very well aware of those numbers. But the consistency on this topic is really stunning.

HOLMES: Well, and especially the timeline, the fact that, you know, we're moving further and further away from the decision and yet you're still seeing numbers like this, and I think that that bodes very well for Democrats. Abortion is something that has motivated Republicans for decades and decades. It has driven people out, and to your point, as part of how Donald Trump sold himself is this appointing Supreme Court justices that will overturn Roe v. Wade.


That was a big argument that he made especially with the evangelical community. It has driven people to the polls, even people who didn't like Donald Trump. The idea that this could happen. Democrats have not had that same momentum behind abortion. Now, it appears that this is at least enthused, like enthusiastic issue for these Democrats.

BASH: Yes. It's certainly happened in 2022. And yesterday's vote in Ohio suggests that it is not gone away. We are just two weeks away from the first Republican presidential debate. And only one candidate has formally qualified to be on this stage. Who made the cut? We're going to tell you after the break.



BASH: To sign the pledge or to not sign the pledge. That is the question. The only answer for the 2024 Republican rivals who want to make the debate, later this month is sign it. So, what does the pledge actually say? Well, we obtained a copy the RNC is so called beat Biden pledge reads in part.

I affirm that if I do not win the 2024 Republican nomination for president of the United States, I will honor the will of the primary voters and support the nominee in order to save our country and beat Joe Biden.

I spoke to a GOP source earlier who told me that Vivek Ramaswamy is so far the only candidate who has signed the pledge. They expect more to come in today and tomorrow. But so far again, at this moment in time, the entrepreneur is the only candidate who formally makes the debate stage because the requirements are not just this pledge, of course, but a polling and a donor requirement.

Our reporters are back with us. Two weeks till this debate. I just want to put up on the screen. Those who have met the requirements when it comes to donors and polling. Obviously, Donald Trump and you have Ron DeSantis. Vivek has made it completely, Vivek Ramaswamy, Nikki Haley, Tim Scott, Chris Christie, Doug Burgum and Mike Pence.

The question is, I think I'm looking at this list. The open question is, Chris Christie, will he sign it? Donald Trump, the bigger question is whether he will go to the debate? We're going to talk about that in a second. Is this pledge much of an issue for those who are even in the running?

HENDERSON: Listen, they'll sign it, it'll be on the debate stage, whether or not they actually adhere to it. I think part of the pledge that you didn't read that is probably most important is this idea that they won't run a third party. And that's most important, I think, for Donald Trump, even though he looks like, he's far and away of a favorite at this time to win the nomination, which is why he probably won't be at the debate, right?

I mean, you don't really need to go to the debate, if you're so far ahead. So, we might have a situation where it's sort of the kiddie table. DeSantis and Christie, maybe Christie or, you know, for some haymakers' way. But listen, I think it's going to be like the kiddie table, you know, and then throwing sort of fish sticks at each other. And we'll see how it goes.

BASH: You are speaking like their mom. Somebody with great experience of what you speak. Yes, that is true. And this whole notion of a pledge is relatively new. It's because of Donald Trump. I was at Trump Tower back in 2015. Watching then RNC chair Ron's (Ph) previous run in and with a piece of paper to get Donald Trump to sign the pledge, because they were worried that he was going to run a third party if he didn't get the nomination.

None of that happened because he became the nominee, among other things. And so, you do have people who are saying, come on, like, what's the point of this. It doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Fine, I'll sign it, but it's kind of irrelevant. For one of the key reasons, which is, the question is whether or not Donald Trump will even get on the debate stage.

Remember, back in 2016, he did go to the first debate, first couple of debates. And this is a headline that our team found January 26, 2016. Trump says he won't participate in GOP debate on Fox News. That is an old headline, but it could potentially be the headline that we're going to see in the next week or so. What are you hearing, Kristen?

HOLMES: Yes. So, my sources are telling me that if it was right now, he likely wouldn't attend. Now, that doesn't mean that it's a done deal. And no adviser to Trump will ever put that on the record until it's the day of because he could just decide last minute that he wants to post on Truth Social that he wants to do the debate, and then there'll be in Milwaukee.

So, that is where he is right now. But you can tell that he's been working through these various scenarios. He did it in front of the crowd yesterday in New Hampshire. He asked the crowd, do you think that I should participate in the debate?

Now, it was a little bit interesting to me what they say Trump heard, what the advisers say Trump heard and what I heard. I heard them booing and saying, no. Apparently, Trump heard them saying yes, and clapping, which obviously, we're at different places in the auditorium. So, whether or not that probably (crosstalk). Yes, actually, a little bit of both.

BASH: You know, what, because you mentioned that we have that. But before we play that, I want you to listen to Chris Christie, doing what he has done since he got into this race, trying to egg on Donald Trump to encourage him to get on the debate stage. Listen to both?


CHRIS CHRISTIE (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's a privilege to be honest, he had the opportunity to run for president United States to make our case to you directly, why we deserve your vote. Let's see if he respects you enough to show up on the 23rd. I'll guarantee you one thing. If he's there, you'll go on there too.

DONALD TRUMP, 45TH U.S. PRESIDENT: The rule saying is he going to go into the debate. And I said, I don't know, if you're leading by 50 and 60 and 70 points, do you do that or not? I don't know. Should I? OK. You ready, poll. We take a free poll. Should I do the debate?



HENDERSON: It's hard to tell.

PARKER: Yes. For Trump, he's caught between a rock and a hard place, and that being his ego versus pragmatism, right? Because he shows up the debate stage is essentially a bar fight where everyone aims their fire at him. The other hand, we're talking about Donald Trump who loves their attention, doesn't want to miss a moment to seize the stage to anyone else as well.

So, from what I understand from my sources, as well, is that he's about 99 percent sure at this point that he won't participate despite the lobbying from Ronna McDaniel, David Bossie, the RNC officials, Fox officials as well. But we know he loves their attention.

BASH: Yes. Well, we'll see. Up next, President Biden takes heat from both sides over his climate agenda, despite his best efforts to tout the administration's accomplishments and fire up a key voting bloc.




BASH: President Biden is trying to bolster his climate credentials as he travels out west. The president's trip is part of a broader effort by the White House to better sell President Biden's accomplishments and hopefully spark excitement among key constituencies like young voters that will prove critical for his reelection bid.

And as it's ramping up, we're going to go to CNS's Jeremy Diamond to give us a little bit more about what the president's message is.

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Dana. A big part of the president's three states swingout west is focusing on his climate policies. He's to make voters more aware of them and touting the billions of dollars in clean energy manufacturing investments that have been spurred on by the Inflation Reduction Act, as well as the CHIPS and Science Act, which is celebrating its one-year anniversary today.

The president is going to be doing this at a wind manufacturing facility out in Albuquerque, New Mexico. And the president is broadly trying to sell these climate policies to make voters more aware of them. And he did so this morning, in an interview on The Weather Channel in which the president was talking about the $369 billion in investments that have gone for fighting climate change through the Inflation Reduction Act, and also his efforts to expand electric vehicle production.

But in doing that sales pitch, Dana, the president also got ahead of his skis, claiming incorrectly that he has declared a national emergency on climate change, which he asked. Listen?


STEPHANIE ABRAMS, CO-HOSTS, AMHQ: Are you prepared to declare a national emergency with respect to climate change?

JOE BIDEN, 46TH U.S. PRESIDENT: We've already done that. Nationally, we've conserved more land, we've moved in to rejoin the Paris Climate Accord. We passed the $360 billion climate control facility. We're moving, is the existential threat to humanity.

ABRAMS: So, you've already declared that national emergency?

BIDEN: Practically speaking, yes.


DIAMOND: And now the White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, she said that the president was referring to the Defense Production Act, and authorities he invoked under that to spur clean energy manufacturing of solar panels, for example. But a national emergency would invoke a whole set of different authorities, including restricting exports, for example, of oil, and also giving the president the power to stop some oil drilling on federal lands.

Now, climate activists, many of them have been calling on the president to do just that. He has talked about the possibility, but he hasn't yet. We should note, of course, that the president has also been endorsed by a series of other climate change groups that support what he's been doing on this issue. Dana?

BASH: And that's really the one of the key reasons why, you're drawing attention to this. And obviously, that reporter asked the president about it is because of the lobbying by a lot of climate groups to do this, because of what would happen. What that would unlock for the government to be able to do. Thank you so much for that reporting and putting it in context. Jeremy, appreciate it.

And our reporters are here as well. You know, I thought that was very interesting that the president is obviously trying to lean into this issue. That's why he's out west doing an interview on The Weather Channel.

And when he said, yes, practically speaking, he obviously wants to do a lot, but it's complicated. Because, yes, if you declare a national emergency, some things will happen. But it also could be detrimental and other ways, potentially, potentially, to some economic factors.

HENDERSON: That's right. And that's always I think, where Democrats have found themselves on this issue, they've wanted to do more. They wanted to be more progressive, but sort of the economic reality and the political reality has often tied their hands. You know, Biden, he's kind of a centrist when it comes to what he's done on climate policy.

He gives any takes, right? There are things that progressive have liked the investments in clean energy, but then he sort of broke the promise on fossil fuels. So, he's out there trying to sell his record, particularly this is important to young voters and certainly progressive voters, are folks he's going to need in November of 2024, if he wants to keep staying in the White House.

BASH: You to talk about breaking his promise on fossil fuels. I want to read a quote from a Jamie Henn. He is a climate activist and a director of Fossil Free Media. President Biden kept his promise on clean energy and broke his promises on fossil fuels. And that's having a direct impact on his ability to rally young voters to support his reelection.

And as I bring you in on this, I just want to look at kind of the latest from the Washington Post where Democrats and independents are on how he's handled climate change.