Return to Transcripts main page

Inside Politics

Biden Makes Blue-Collar Pitch In Philly On Labor Day; WSJ Poll: Economy Worries Endanger Biden Re-Election; Biden: I'm The Most Pro- Union President In History; Exit Polls: Biden Won 56 Percent Of Union Households In 2020; Poll: Trump Trounces Rivals, Holds 46-Point Lead; Biden, Trump Neck-And-Neck In New Poll; WSJ Editorial: Indictments Are Quicksand For Trump; Meadows Decision Looms Over Georgia Trump Case. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired September 04, 2023 - 12:00   ET



MANU RAJU, CNN HOST, INSIDE POLITICS: Today on this special day, Labor Day edition of Inside Politics. Middle class show tries to earn his nickname. Joe Biden spends Labor Day in Philadelphia, making the case to union rank and file that he is still there man in Washington and deserves another turn in the White House.

Plus, a 2024 snapshot makes clear the Republican primary is Donald Trump's to lose, but are the four criminal indictments are sugar high, putting the former president on a court and of course for a general election crash. And a mess of their own making, new reporting from CNN's Capitol Hill team and me, underline the mountain Congress needs to climb and climb quickly to avoid a shutdown.

I'm Manu Raju in Dana Bash. Let's go behind the headlines in Inside Politics.

Up first, where Joe Biden is this Labor Day and who he's talking to and what it tells us about 2024. The current president's team sees shaky ground where there was once unquestioned stability. Mr. Biden today is in Philadelphia home turf.

The other the audience is what we would think of as reliably blue voters, union workers, but just how organized the labor vote is behind the incumbent is simply not a lock, polling and just talking to workers on the assembly lines, leaves plenty of doubt that they will make the choice to give the president four more years.

Now we start here in the City of Brotherly Love with CNN's Arlette Saenz, who was with the president today. What do you have to say?

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Manu, President Biden once again touted himself as the most pro-union president as he tried to rally workers here ahead of a Labor Day parade. President Biden really trying to lean into the quote Bidenomics that he's been promoting over the course of the summer, trying to make his case to American voters that the policies he has put in place are starting to pay off with the economy, when it comes to the unemployment wage rate, the number of jobs created and other measures as well. The President Biden in his speech here today also notably, took quite a few swipes at his predecessor, former President Donald Trump. He never named him by names, but he did try to make a contrast with him when it comes to the economy. Take a listen.


JOE BIDEN, 46TH U.S. PRESIDENT: When the last guy was here, we were shipping jobs to China. Now we're bringing jobs home from China. When the last guy was here, your pensions were at risk. We helped save millions of pensions with your help. The last guy was here, he looked at the world from Park Avenue. I look at him Scranton, Pennsylvania. I love forever.


SAENZ: The president also promoted the fact that he was able to get evident infrastructure bill passed when President Trump was not and took a ding at him, saying that as a real estate builder, he never built anything. But what President Biden is trying to do here is trying to make his selling points when it comes to the economy. At a time when there is still a lot of anxiety amongst voters, when it comes to economic issues.

The president's polling is around 37 percent approval rating when it comes to his handling of the economy specifically. And the president, while he enjoys a lot of support from the labor community. He has multiple endorsements from large labor groups. He's still trying to hone-in on those rank-and-file workers and trying to make sure that he has their support.

Of course, the president is making that case today here in the state of Pennsylvania, a key battleground state that helped him be Donald Trump back in 2020. And that he would need once again to go into his column in order to win reelection in 2024. Manu?

RAJU: Arlette Saenz in Philadelphia, thank you so much for that. And here with you to share their insights CNN's Kayla Tausche, CNN's Alayna Treene, and Tia Mitchell who's the Washington correspondent for the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

Interesting that we heard hear from President Biden, tried to make the contrast with Donald Trump. We have not heard him say a whole lot about Donald Trump. But you know, we are now getting past Labor Day, traditionally the beginning of the campaign season. What do you make of the of this, perhaps shift from the present more go directly after Donald Trump?

KAYLA TAUSCHE, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think it directly reflects where the polling is right now. I mean, there's recent polling out in just the last few days, showing that voters mean overwhelmingly say that Donald Trump is better for the economy, and he has a better vision for the future.

[12:05:00] I believe he has an eight-point spread over the current president. On that front, so President Biden is trying to double down on his message, on his platform, on his policy saying that this administration and what we've done is going to be good for the future.

The question is whether and when the voters will buy that, especially with the backdrop that he has today, you know, for months, the president's been touting that all of these unions support him, support his administration. He's been calling himself the most pro-union president in history.

But it comes at a time when we've seen just a dramatic increase in unrest among organized labor, threatening threats of strikes. In so many different industries, wages have stalled, the rent is too damn high, and they want their union answers for that.

RAJU: Yes. And look, I mean, they were still uncertain how this is. The economy always is central to every single campaign, how Biden is judged on the economy. His numbers have not been great. But his commerce secretary was out on the Sunday shows yesterday, trying to make the case, he said, Joe Biden deserves credit.


GINA RAIMONDO, COMMERCE SECRETARY: I think the president has done a fantastic job on the economy. When I look at this jobs report, increase manufacturing jobs, increased investment, more resilient supply chains, Americans are working, wages are up. I just feel that it's clear that Bidenomics is working for the American people.


RAJU: Well, the challenge is do the American people actually by that? This is what the Wall Street Journal poll said about whether or not they believe that Biden is doing a good job here. 37 percent, that's say approve of the president's performance on the economy, 59 percent disapprove. And looking at inflation at rising costs, even as inflation has subsided, and things are looking more positive. The job from 34 percent approve of his job performance on inflation, 48 percent disapprove. Those are troubling numbers for the White House.

ALAYNA TREENE, CNN REPORTER: They are. And I think the thing that I find really interesting is as much as the Biden administration is trying to lean into the economy and make this a leading part of his campaign. If you talk to House Republicans and people in Congress, they also see the economy as one of their best messages and how they argue Biden is miss handling.

If we know that the economy is something Republicans inflation, talking about gas prices is something that they increasingly still believe is a priority for them in the election. And I think it's a tough bet for Biden to make. And we'll have to see, obviously, there's a lot of time now between now and the general election. I'm going to lock and change with that. But I do think that it's interesting to see how they're trying to make this argument for themselves, whereas Republicans see it as one of their best arguments is Biden not doing a good job.

RAJU: Look, Biden has been making this -- we heard this contrast. We just talked about with Trump. And this is actually another really interesting number that the White House needs to pay attention too in his reelection bid about Biden versus Trump, and who has a strong record of accomplishment. Just 40 percent say Biden does, 51 percent believe that Donald Trump has.

Even if you look just objectively at what was passed in last Congress versus what was passed in the first two years of under Donald Trump with Republican control, less legislation was passed, then they passed a big tax cut bill, or a number of bills that were passed in the last Congress, whether it was from infrastructure and gun violence, you name it. But still the American people believe that Donald Trump did more, at least according to this poll.

TIA MITCHELL, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, THE ATLANTA JOURNAL- CONSTITUTION: Yes. And I think the Biden administration thinks they have a messaging problem, which is why they're out there trying to tout his accomplishments, talking about Bidenomics, dispatching members of his cabinet and other surrogates. But I think what the polls show that it's not just messaging, it's what people feel.

I also think it's going to take some time, the infrastructure, money, some of the inflation Reduction Act money, the green energy programs are going to take time. And so, I think they're not going to have as much short-term benefit as they would like.

RAJU: Yes. I mean, that's always a problem. These big bills as a result of the inflation Reduction Act massive bill. But had so much in it, it's going to take years and years to play out. We'll see how people have view it in a few years. We saw this with Obamacare, took many years for voters who didn't like it initially, that suddenly say that they do like it.

And you had mentioned, Kayla, you cover the White House for us. And you had mentioned about how Biden tried to talk about how his pro- union bona fides. And this is how he has been messaging this over his time in office.


PRES. BIDEN: I made a commitment that I'd be the most pro-union president in American history. I'm keeping that promise. Union workers are their saviors. You're the best, not a joke. You're the best workers in the world. Wall Street didn't build America, middle class build America. And unions built the middle-class. Laborers, electricians, carpenters, cement masons, iron workers, steel workers, Communication Workers, auto workers, and so much more. Products made in America with union labor, not labor union labor.



RAJU: But again, the numbers show it's the challenge ahead. If you can just look at exit poll data over the last number of election cycles, you see decreasing share from the high point back in the 70s to 2016. In terms of vote for the president among union household, around 50 percent 2016, closer to 60 percent in the 2020 election, but Republican number has been rising as well.

So, even though the union leadership maybe get behind the president, the rank-and-file union, blue collar workers is a challenge.

TAUSCHE: The feeling for rank-and-file workers is very difficult on the ground. And I think that one of the things that the former President Donald Trump did fairly well with the union membership was just talking about the threats from overseas, the threats to their jobs specifically, and what he was going to do specifically to attack for instance, China.

What President Biden has done has tackled more of the domestic issues about you know, how the economy is working, they're tweaking some regulations, so that for instance, employees can get paid more for overtime when they're working more hours in a week. That was a rule that they changed just a week ago. And they've been talking quite a bit about that in recent days.

The problem is that the brass tax for these people is still very difficult because things are just more expensive. When gas prices are approaching $4 a gallon when groceries are still much more expensive than they were three years ago. Even though inflation has tapered, that's really difficult for people on a daily basis and that is carried with them when they go to the voting booth.

RAJU: Yes. And look, (Inaudible) the outlining here what the White House recognizes clearly here is their challenge explaining why he gave the speech that he did here in Philadelphia is soon there'll be more of the message in the weeks and months ahead.

Now up next, stunning new poll numbers. Just how wide is the Republican frontrunners leap. We'll give you all the details next.




RAJU: A poll the end of summer 2023 does not guarantee anything in 2024. But it's hard to see how Donald Trump is not very, very happy this morning. New numbers from the Wall Street Journal cement the former president standing at the top of the field. Trump 59 percent, his closest competitor Ron DeSantis since 46 points behind.

Now more for her with our panel. Alayna you've spent a lot of time outside of the president -- this is a former president's house in Bedminster, New Jersey. You've been talking to teams. You look at the numbers here just to show it to our viewers again, here. Trump versus DeSantis.

Back in April, this was a little bit closer 48 to 24. Trump was up. Now Trump is 59 percent to 13 percent. Just 4 percent are undecided. Now there's a national poll. There's still time left. But do the rest of the candidates in the field, do they worry that this race is might be over?

TREENE: I think there definitely is a concern about this, especially given, you know, there were so many question marks around how the charges and the indictments that Donald Trump had face would affect him. Clearly, even now, months later, after some of these or weeks later, if you're thinking about Georgia, he's still very much enjoying that boost from these charges. And you're seeing that left.

And your right, Donald Trump's team is very happy. We've seen them blasting out these Wall Street Journal poll numbers today. But, yes, I do think a lot of the candidates are worried about this. I know we had some reporting last week about the DeSantis campaign as well as the never back down pack that's boosting him, vocalizing that they need to do really well in the early primary states in order to stay in the race.

And we know a lot of these candidates, the other candidates who are lagging far behind, not just DeSantis but Tim Scott, Nikki Haley, Chris Christie, all of them are having to shift their strategy to focus on Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina vote, make sure that they do well. And then because if they don't, I think many people will argue that this is Donald Trump's nomination, but when.

RAJU: We hear and we're saying this a lot. This has been an unprecedented year. We've never seen a former president charge once. I'm surely not seen him. Former president (Ph) charge four times, and this has not had any impact on him and in this race, and especially, in the aftermath of the 2020 elections.

And just look for this number from the poll about his actions when he was peddling falsehoods saying, the election was stolen. Of course, he's been charged now twice in a state case and a federal case involving his actions after the election.

This is the question that was posed, Trump's actions after the 2020 election to Republican voters. 78 percent of GOP primary voters believe Donald Trump's actions after the 2020 elections were legitimate. 78 percent say legitimate, just 16 percent say illegal. Therein lies the challenge here for his challengers, right. They are not talking about Donald Trump's actions because they don't think it will work politically.

MITCHELL: Right. And there's no -- they're probably right. And I think the bigger challenge is that some of Donald Trump's opponents are thinking about the general election and where the trials, the indictments could hurt him in a matchup against Joe Biden.

But the reality is, Donald Trump has reshaped the Republican Party in his own image. He has convinced Republicans that attacks on him or attacks on them. And he has convinced more than a majority of the Republican Party, that his questions of the 2020 election and his questions about the integrity of the election system are true. They're legitimate. We know it's not, but he's convinced them otherwise. So, they know that if they challenge Trump on these issues, it may not play well. It likely won't play well in a Republican primary talking to fellow Republican.


RAJU: Yes. The question is primary versus general election, but that same poll has some concerning numbers if you're the White House about the head-to-head matchup with Biden versus Trump, 46 to 46 percent, right now in snapshot, August 24 to 30. That's when that poll was taking, a dead heat.

There's also a troubling data point in that same poll for the White House. 73 percent of voters say, they think Biden is too old to seek the White House, even though 77-year-old Donald Trump not much younger than Joe Biden. 47 percent, just 47 percent don't think Trump is too old.

You talk to the White House every day, Kayla. How are they looking ahead to the general election matchup? And are they worried about what they're seeing?

TAUSCHE: Well, the general election matchup is one of the reasons why President Biden has said that he wants to run again. He's still believed that the threat to democracy persists, and that he has beat Donald Trump once before and he's the only candidate who can do it again.

But the numbers you just showed the 46, 46 percent that dead heat. I mean, that I think is less troubling on the face of it, because that's been the case for months now, regardless of who's conducting the poll, whether it's a dead heat at 43 or 41, or 46.

But in the last block when he talked about who has a record of accomplishment and voters who responded to that Wall Street Journal poll, 40 percent said President Biden and 51 percent said former President Trump. That is troubling, because President Biden's message going into the reelect is four more years of what we've done. If the voters aren't buying that message, that they need a new message.

RAJU: Yes, exactly. Finish the job. Well, they like the job that was done already. That is a real concern. But what was interesting, too, you know, it's not all great for Donald Trump at this point, because the general election matchup shows some concerns if you're Trump about the indictments.

So, look, it says that 48 percent of primary voters are more likely to support Donald Trump in the Republican primary. But registered voters, which includes, you know, the more of the general election voters, people are not Republican primary voters necessarily, 24 percent, just 24 percent more likely, 37 percent say less likely in among registered voters, 16 percent of the primary voters say less likely. So, there is a difference between the Republican -- among the general electorate voters and primary voters. What does the Trump team say about that? TREENE: Oh, there's a huge difference and they recognize that. And I think it is a concern. We've already seen them in some of the ads actually for Donald Trump, switching toward a general election strategy, trying to make it seem like a Biden versus Trump rematch to address some of this.

But I do think from my conversations with many of his aides and his attorneys, they do recognize that they're going to have a much bigger problem on his hands. If he ends up actually winning the nomination, I don't think they figured out yet how to strategize particularly against the indictments that he has faced with general election voters. We know that it's playing very well with Republicans with his base. That's not a huge surprise because they've always been very loyal to him. But general election voters for sure, I think is a concern.

The other thing with that, too, is, it's going to be very telling how the public reacts to the trials. I think Trump's team is very much worried about what could come out in that and how that could sway public opinion. And so that's one thing that they're still trying to figure out how they're going to be messaging.

RAJU: There's so much more that is going to come out to the course of these trials. We'll see that. We're going to discuss that more detail in the next segment. But there is also those concerns that are being raised by conservatives, including the conservative Wall Street Journal editorial board, writing about what they call the GOP's big 2024 problem.

They say Republicans nominate Mr. Trump, they're likely to be sailing into a political headwind that will be difficult to overcome. They're concerned that the indictments are going to be a major and growing problem for them. Why is that not catching on with Republican primary voters?

MITCHELL: Donald Trump, I think at the end of the day, Republican primary voters who they listen to, who they trust most is President Trump himself, not the Wall Street Journal editorial board pages. You know, they'll probably if you ask some of these rank-and-file voters who are very loyal to Trump.

You know, the Wall Street Journal's the same swampy elite that they often rail against and rebel against. But I think the Wall Street Journal editorial page makes the same concerns that we've heard from others, but again, in a primary, that is not what voters are prioritizing, it's Trump.

RAJU: No question about it. The Donald Trump has certainly remade the Republican primary electorate and he is winning the argument with his primary voters. We'll see what he does at the general election if he gets the nomination.

OK. Coming up on the cusp of a major ruling. Will Mark Meadows succeed in getting his case moved to federal court. And if so, what does that mean for his former boss? We'll discuss next.




RAJU: File a motion and find out. This week we'll get a critical decision. We think about the case against Donald Trump. Mark Meadows wants a federal judge to cleave his case from everyone else's and let his trial moved forward in federal court -- - in federal court away from the all-knowing ever running red lights of television cameras.

Here to share their legal insights, former federal prosecutor Shan Wu, CNN's Evan Perez, and defense attorney Joey Jackson. So, thank you all for joining us. I want to just get your sense on this Mark Meadows case. He is making the case to move his case to federal court, the Georgia federal election, Georgia's elections version case. He said this in his filing. There's a role for the chief of staff to make sure those campaign goals and objectives are implemented at the federal level, trying to make the case that this should -- -