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Inside Politics

Biden Pits "Bidenomics" Vs. "Maganomics"; Biden Planning To Give Speech On Protecting Democracy; 12 Hours Until Potentially Crippling Auto Strike; GM: We've Made Another Offer To The Union; Romney: Biden, Trump Should Both Step Aside For New Generation; Pelosi Won't Say If Harris Is Best Running Mate For Biden. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired September 14, 2023 - 12:30   ET




DANA BASH, CNN HOST: Today, President Biden tries to get voters to judge his plan for the economy against -- not against the old mighty, rather, but against the alternative.

CNN's Arlette Saenz is live at the White House. I've heard that so many times from the President, it's hard to imagine that I actually messed that up. Arlette, he plans to introduce a new branded wine, Maganomics. Tell us more.

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, the White House is really describing this as a new chapter of their efforts to sell Bidenomics, really trying to drive home a starker contrast with Republicans and framing this as Bidenomics versus Maganomics.

According to a memo that one of the top advisers, Anita Dunn, sent earlier today, they want to carry this argument well into the fall. Of course, right now there are budget fights going on up on Capitol Hill as that September 30 deadline approaches to avoid a government shutdown.

But what they plan to lean in on is these proposals released over the summer by Republicans that the White House argues would raise taxes on wealthy Americans and cut programs like Social Security and Medicare. But all of this comes at a time when President Biden still has quite a bit of work to do to convince Americans that his policies are actually impacting them in a positive way.

Recent polling had found that 58 percent of Americans feel that Biden's policies have worsened economic conditions in this country. So this is part of the sales pitch and task that the President has at hand heading into the 2024 election.

Now, in addition to the speech focusing on Bidenomics today, we're also learning President Biden is preparing to give a speech to address the threats against democracy. That is a speech that we're told he's planning for the coming weeks.

One site that's being considered is the McCain Institute out in Arizona. Of course, democracy has been at the heart of President Biden's campaign. He's delivered speeches like this in the past, but it could be an opportunity for him to go a bit harder in leaning into the contrast against former President Donald Trump.

BASH: Arlette, thank you so much. So interesting. I appreciate it.

Reporters are back with us. You can see the Biden re-election campaign in the White House trying to slowly build their pushback. First of all, they're trying on just the basics of the economy and what he has done. So far, it's not working, but it's early.

Now they're saying, OK, but look how bad the Republicans are. And then the next level is this democracy. It's kind of reminiscent of what we saw in the midterms with, OK, you're not really that happy with high gas prices, but look what Rick Scott is going to do to entitlements and so on and so forth.

HEIDI PRZYBYLA, NATIONAL INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT, POLITICO: They're doing that, but they're also doing something that, frankly, Democrats have been criticized about in the past, which is they're -- or they're actually doing the opposite of that. They are trying to do a branding campaign, right?

Democrats like Obama were criticized for being so high-minded and so into the policy that everyone would just naturally see benefits them and benefits their families, that we don't really have to talk about that, we don't have to brand that. So that's first what they're doing here with the branding about Maganomics.

And they have the material to work with, right? Like the budget of Trump and Republicans that cut Social Security and Medicare.

BASH: Let's actually look, as you're talking -- I'm sorry to interrupt you.


BASH: Let's look at Arlette referenced Anita Dunn's memo. It has slash taxes for the wealthy and big corporations, cut Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and other vital programs, raise costs for hardworking families.

PRZYBYLA: OK. So they have the material. Now, how do they get it out to the people that need to ingest and process this material? I'm going to give you a small example. Yesterday, I was on next door in a suburb outside of Detroit trying to find a carpet cleaner for my mother, OK?

I saw on there that there was a young minority woman who posted a rant on the Yelp page about Biden inflation. These are the young minority voters that Biden needs to reach with this message. They are not the crunchy, progressive, young minority voters. They are the people who are a little more socially conservative, just worried about their pocket.

BASH: Let me just add another data point to what you just said. TS Celinda Lake, a Democratic pollster, said this week, "You now have half of Americans who do not have $500 in savings. I'm very worried about the impact on turnout. I'm very worried about the impact on young people".

TIA MITCHELL, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION: Right. So you have this message that's coming from the White House. You have the chaos in Congress, but most people are looking at their bank accounts. They're looking at the fact that it's less affordable to purchase a house because interest rates are going up.

They're looking at the fact that gas is still hovering nearly $4 a gallon. They're looking at, you know, the prices of groceries and a dinner out with their family going up and up.


And, unfortunately, for the White House, this is what people are talking about when they say Bidenomics. They think that the President, under his administration, has not done enough to control inflation and keep costs down. Now, of course we know it's more nuanced than that, but we also know in the court of public opinion --

BASH: Yes.

MITCHELL: -- the buck stops with Joe Biden.

BASH: And they're just -- of course, they argue they're just starting.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: And I think they are are also trying to apply some lessons learned from 2022. Yes, the economy, yes, the pocket book. They got to be there. They got to fight that fight. They're doing it in this branded way. But that's why the democracy speech.

And guess what? I'm sure we're going to learn a few weeks after that there's going to be an abortion rights speech. Because they saw in 2022 those themes were just as important to voters, if not more important to their voters than just all the pocketbook issues because we had inflation during the midterms, too. So they're trying to apply the lessons of last year's midterm elections to this coming presidential election.

BASH: Totally agree. And that's why I mentioned the Rick Scott thing. I mean, he was running the Senate campaign -- Senate congressional campaign trying to get them reelected, and he had a plan that they really went to town on entitlements.

OK, thank you so much, everybody.

The deadline in Detroit is now just hours away. What a possible auto worker strike could look like if a deal is not reached by midnight? That's next.


[12:40:42] BASH: It's right now, just 12 hours until a potentially crippling auto strike, which would grip the nation unless the United Auto Workers and Detroit's big three car companies can reach a deal on a new contract.

CNN's Vanessa Yurkevich joins me now live from the center of the action in Detroit. Vanessa, you have a brand new statement from GM. What are they saying?

VANESSA YURKEVICH, CNN BUSINESS & POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: Yes. General Motors just announcing they have put a new economic proposal on the table this morning for the union. And if you remember, their previous economic proposal included wage increases of 18 percent. So you can imagine that is likely higher.

Also, they said in their statement that any disruption would negatively impact our employees and customers and would have an immediate ripple effect across our communities. Ford, for their part this morning, says they're still waiting on a counteroffer from the UAW. They put in their offer of 20 percent in wage increases. On Tuesday, Stellantis had an offer on the table of 17.5 percent in wage increases.

But, Dana, that's not close to the 40 percent that the union has been asking for over four years. The union also asking to reinstate pensions to include cost of living adjustments and to protect against the expansion of electric vehicles, securing jobs amongst their union members.

But the president of the UAW, Swan Fain, already rolling out his targeted strike plan. It's a unique way of striking. It would essentially give the union the ability to call on select local unions to strike at different plants, different times, in different states, which essentially, in their words, would keep the companies guessing.

Now, in terms of the impact on consumers, we know that the big three automakers have less inventory than they did in 2019. However, one analyst suggests that there is enough inventory to get folks through the rest of this month. But, Dana, if this goes on beyond a couple of weeks and into months and months, this could have a significant impact on the U.S. consumer looking for vehicles that are made by the big three. Dana?

BASH: Thank you so much for that, Vanessa.

For more on the strike, I want to bring in Michigan Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin, who's also a candidate for the U.S. Senate. You just heard Vanessa talking about GM putting another proposal forward, but the clock is ticking. Are you concerned that the strike is inevitable at this point?

REP. ELISSA SLOTKIN (D), MICHIGAN: I don't think it's inevitable. I just think the scene for these negotiations was set, you know, before they really even started, right. You have our big three, who are making, in some cases, record profits, and you have people who are working at those facilities who are struggling and have less money in their pockets because of inflation. So, I think the truth is we knew that it was going to be an exciting September. It is an exciting September. No one wants a long strike, right? We know what that does to Michigan. We know that -- what that does to individuals working at these facilities and the rest of the country.

But I think that, you know, as someone who used to negotiate international agreements, you set the stage for these negotiations in the weeks ahead of it, and that's what's happened. It's come down to tonight.

BASH: The Biden administration says it is in close touch with all the parties. Do you believe that President Biden should be more involved right now? Would that help?

SLOTKIN: Well, you know, I think you have to let the two sides negotiate. These are detailed proposals. This is serious back and forth. I don't think it's appropriate at this moment for the President to be involved. I think we want both sides to come in good faith and negotiate and try to hammer something out. I think, you know, he is the commander-in-chief. He only gets involved if it's truly a desperate situation and I don't think we're there.

BASH: That's interesting. I want to look at -- you talked about workers and this is true obviously, not just in Michigan, but across the country, the shift in the way that workers see political parties. There is data that from exit polls dating back to the 1970s, which showed union households have long voted for Democrats for president. Are you -- and it's changing now. Are you concerned, as a Democrat, as we approach the 2024 election, that a strike would hurt the Biden campaign politically, people like you on the ballot running for Senate?


SLOTKIN: You know, to be honest, I think we've been seeing some of those shifts for a while now. I mean, I think people were having that conversation about 2016, right, or 2020. I do think that, you know, we have to see what happens and who it hurts or helps politically.

The truth is, right now, we just want people to have a fair contract and be able to have more money in their pockets. And I've been watching the UAW, you know, kind of take swipes at all sides, at all parties. And to me, you know, this is about getting people what they deserve and making sure we have a reasonable negotiation.

I think it's a little too early to tell who's going to benefit, who's going to lose. Right now we need to keep the focus on the contract.

BASH: I want to just quickly shift before I let you go to just a pure political question, if I may. You heard yesterday when, excuse me, Utah Senator Mitt Romney said that it was time for a new generation of leaders. He wasn't just talking about his party, he was talking about yours.

People concerned about President Biden's age. Is that something that you worry about? Do you agree with what he said?

SLOTKIN: You know, I think that that -- I mean, I didn't hear his exact comments, but I think there's a lot of talk around the whole country about wanting a new generation of leaders, right? I've said this for a long time. It's the House, the Senate, the White House, I mean, all across the board. And I think that's something you can kind of feel in people's bones, not just about one candidate, right?

We've got a whole generation of folks who are still here after many, many years and the country has changed. I appreciated that what, you know, Mr. Romney said was, look, if I ran again, I'd be, you know, in my 80s and that's not where I want to personally be, and so I'm going to pass the torch. I think that's a sentiment that people can understand, but I don't think it's about one party at this point. We've got a lot of people in a lot of different parts of Washington who have been here a long time.

BASH: That's true. But do you wish that the head of your ticket would not be running?

SLOTKIN: No. I mean, Joe Biden is the sitting President of the United States running for a second term. Of course I support him. I mean, that's the most natural thing in the world, of course.

BASH: OK. Congresswoman, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

SLOTKIN: You bet.

BASH: What does Nancy Pelosi really think about Vice President Harris? We're going to talk about that after a quick break.



BASH: Is Nancy Pelosi hot or cold on the vice president? Well, we should maybe call this answer lukewarm, at best.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Vice President Kamala Harris the best running mate for this president?

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), CALIFORNIA: He thinks so and that's what matters.

COOPER: Do you think she is the best running mate, though?

PELOSI: She's the Vice President of the United States. So when people say to me, well, why isn't she doing this or that? I said, because she's the vice president. That's the job description.


MITCHELL: Yes. I find it so interesting because we know Nancy Pelosi is astute, she's sharp, she says what she means, she means what she says. And so, when she did not directly answer the question about her personal feelings about the vice president is telling.

Now, it's also telling that she stopped short of throwing the vice president under the bus or outright criticizing her. So to me, I don't want to read too much into it, but I think that, again, it was a choice. It's probably not going over well in the vice president's quarters, but there's history between the two as both being elected officials from California --

BASH: San Francisco.

MITCHEL: -- and specifically from San Francisco. So we don't know what else is behind that lack of answer right there.

PRZYBYLA: It was quite the hedge about three tries there and Anderson just couldn't get her to yes. So it was pretty striking. But to Tia's point, I don't want to go too far as to make assumptions about what was behind it other than just to make the observation that it takes me back to prior to 2020 and how different -- what a different place we're in right now.

Where kind of the discussion, low-key discussion, under the radar at that time in Democratic Party circles was that maybe Biden was doing this so that he would be a one-term president and then she would succeed him. And we're just a long ways from that.

BASH: I will tell you as -- David, you weigh in on this, what I'm hearing very quietly from people who are more aligned with Kamala Harris is that this might be part of kind of a larger question. You saw David Ignatius this week. You saw others who are questioning the younger generation in the Democratic Party, that that is -- it's being viewed that way and less about a personal animus. But we don't know.

CHALIAN: Yes, I mean, listen, she obviously didn't answer the question that was asked twice from Anderson. And so that you just sort of hangs out there and you're like, well, why aren't you answering that? We should note, I know we edited together here, in the midst of those two answers, she did heap a lot of praise on Kamala Harris --

BASH: Yes.

CHALIAN: -- about being very politically astute, well, representing the country on the international stage. It's not like she was trying to --

BASH: Absolutely.

CHALIAN: -- tear her down. But this does raise -- listen, Kamala Harris' poll numbers are not that much better or at all than Joe Biden's poll numbers. I mean, she is more unpopular than she's popular. And it is clear where they are trying to gear the vice president in this reelection effort.


Look what she's doing today. She's kicking off a college campus tour, trying to energize the youth vote. MITCHELL: The HBCU, specifically.

CHALIAN: HBCU initially and then out to like University of --


CHALIAN: -- Wisconsin Madison --

MITCHELL: Madison.

CHALIAN: -- big battleground states. She is going to be talking about abortion rights as she's been doing. She's going to be part of trying to enliven and energize a base that doesn't seem super enthusiastic right now about the 2024 election. And that's going to be part of her mission.

BASH: I think that the mission is really key because in terms of policy, we've seen a lot of back and forth internally, but the political mission that she has is very, very specific and targeted and we'll see how much that changes the perception of her from Nancy Pelosi and everybody else. But you're right, she did heat praise on Kamala Harris.

Thank you so much for joining Inside Politics. CNN News Central starts after the break.