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Poll: Biden Leads Trump By 12 Points In New Hampshire; Poll: 57 Percent Of NH Dems Says Age Is Their Top Concern About Biden As A 2024 Candidate; Dem Senator Bob Menendez Indicted On Bribery Charges; Congress Leaves For Long Weekend As Shutdown Looms; Today: Biden Announces WH Office On Gun Violence Prevention; Inside Politics Sunday With Manu Raju Debuts This Weekend. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired September 22, 2023 - 12:30   ET




MANU RAJU, CNN HOST: A sliver of good news for President Biden. New CNN polling out today shows him leading Donald Trump by 12 points in a potential New Hampshire matchup. That's a much wider margin. The national polls that have shown the two in a neck and neck race.

Our great reporters are back to sort -- to go through all of this. And just so our viewers see, this is the head to head matchup. It's 52 for Biden, 40 for Trump, eight or so unsure. New Hampshire is a finicky state, purple state in the northeast here. Do you think this is reflective of other swing states?

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, listen, I think this is probably more reflective of other swing states and that the kind of national polls we've seen don't tell us much. I think, you know, the theory of the case for the Biden White House is, you know, if it's a choice, a direct head to head matchup with Trump, it'll essentially be what we saw last go around.

People, obviously, have grave reservations about Donald Trump. Doesn't help that he has, I guess, what is it, 91 in indictments at this point. Yes, there are reservations about Biden's age. That's sort of something that I think is baked into the cake in some ways.

And so we see some of that. So, yes, I'm sure the White House sees this as proving what their theory is. But I will also say it's still fairly early.

RAJU: Yes, yes.

I think the best news in there for Biden and for Democrats is that in that same poll, Joe Biden's disapproval rating is 54 percent. We talk a lot about how unpopular he is. He's getting 52 percent of the vote.

And so to Nia's point, when it is a choice between Donald Trump and Joe Biden, what we're seeing is essentially a rerun. Biden won the state of New Hampshire by six, seven points in 2020 with 52 percent. He's at 52 percent now. He's not going to win the state by 12. Donald Trump will not end that 40 percent.

It'll probably be another six or seven point race. So this feels like, again, a lot of what we're -- what we saw in 2022, which is an unpopular Biden is a problem if Donald Trump isn't in the picture. When Donald Trump's in the picture, it's a bigger problem.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, here's the point also because the poll shows that these people that we polled are dissatisfied with all the other candidates in one way or another.

RAJU: Yes. And just to stop you there, I just want to show our viewers, because we actually have that part of it. It says that the other potential, who else should run in a Democratic primary --

BORGER: Right.

RAJU: -- 7 percent Sanders, 5 percent Buttigieg, and 25 percent say they do not want other candidates.

BORGER: Well, and even Republicans are dissatisfied --

RAJU: Yes.

BORGER: -- with people other than Trump. So, I mean, you see that these New Hampshire voters sort of expect this kind of a -- this kind of a matchup, and if that's the case. They'd go with Biden as they did in 2020.

RAJU: But there are still vulnerabilities, obviously, for Biden.

BORGER: Of course.

RAJU: Many of them. Of course, we talk about age.


RAJU: Age in this poll is the biggest issue for him. 57 percent say that is the biggest concern. Look at that. So much more than any other attributes. His character, his health, specific policies. It's only 4 percent specific policies. Age, 57 percent. You can't change your age.


PAUL KANE, SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT, THE WASHINGTON POST: You can't. They're going to try and run and say, age and competence versus chaos. And that's for Trump. If you go back to 2022, the seven closest state, if you look at the 2020 map, the seven closest states, Arizona, Nevada, Georgia, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan, New Hampshire, they held like 12 different governors and senate races in 2022.

The only Republican candidates who won were people who were not associated with Trump, like Brian Kemp and Chris Sununu, governors of Georgia and New Hampshire. So that's what the Biden White House looks at and sees. They know that the numbers don't look great because gosh, he's older. He doesn't look great. But they still think in 2024, if this is a matchup of these two people, Age incompetence versus chaos --

RAJU: Yes.

KANE: -- and that they can win that.

RAJU: And the interesting thing about this politic too should about Biden and Harris, how they are viewed by New Hampshire voters here. It said that 70 percent had a fav favorable view of Joe Biden, just 46 percent for Kamala Harris.

Now, there were many voters, as you can see here, 14 percent said unfavorable. A lot of voters, about Harris in particular, did not have an opinion.

BORGER: Yes, that's right.

RAJU: But what do you make of that?

HENDERSON: I mean, if you look at a lot of these polls, even among Democrats, Kamala Harris is sort of an unknown. I mean, there was a poll, I think a CBS poll that said 50 percent of Democrats had no idea, you know, sort of what Kamala Harris did as vice president.

Obviously, Democrats over these last week sort of stumbled when they were talking about Kamala Harris, weren't direct in saying she is the best choice to be the number two and you have all this chatter about is he going to switch her out? No, he's not going to switch her out.

RAJU: Yes.

HENDERSON: That's ridiculous conversation. But Democrats, I think, are pushing this White House to put Kamala Harris out there more to kind of fill out her bio, fill out her portfolio. So Democratic voters can get excited about her.

RAJU: And Republicans would be happy about that as well --


RAJU: -- so we'll see how that plays out.


RAJU: OK, with the U.S. barreling towards a government shutdown, will Democrats make a deal with Republicans to keep the lights on? I'll ask Democratic Congressman Dean Phillips next.



RAJU: Breaking news this hour, Senator Bob Menendez now facing three federal conspiracy charges. Menendez and his wife are accused of accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes, including cash, gold bars and a luxury car. This is the second time the senator has faced conspiracy related charges.

Here with me now to weigh in on that, as well as the looming government shutdown is Congressman Dean Phillips of Minnesota. He's a member of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus in the House. Thank you, Congressman, for joining me today.

Just first on the Menendez news. There's obviously very serious allegations against a Democratic Senator. Do you believe that he should resign from the Senate?

REP. DEAN PHILLIPS (D), PROBLEM SOLVERS CAUCUS: Well, first of all, everybody's innocent until proven guilty, thank goodness, still in our country. But I'm appalled. Anybody who pays attention, I don't care if you're politics, Democrat or Republican, you should be appalled.

A member of Congress who appears to have broken the law is someone who I believe should resign. I think George Santos should have resigned already. Sadly, our House Ethics process and I would argue the Senate as well is not as proficient as it needs to be.

So we have to rely on the judicial system. But I'm really disappointed. And I have to say, in comparison to the President of the United States of which there is no evidence whatsoever he's broken the law and yet is being subject to an impeachment inquiry, there is evidence here.

And yes, I'm a Democrat, so is Senator Menendez. But based on what I've seen, I'm disappointed. Yes, I think he should resign.

RAJU: Do you think Democratic leaders should lean on him and push him out?

PHILLIPS: Look, I'm trying to restore faith in government. That's one of my missions. It's a lot of my colleagues' missions. And sometimes we've got to walk that talk, even if it's uncomfortable. And I would argue that this time, yes, the answer is absolutely.

RAJU: Turning now to the government shutdown, you have been working with this bipartisan problem solvers group. You have a bipartisan proposal you're trying to get support for. You've met with Democratic leaders about this. How much -- how many votes do you think you can really bring along here? Because that's the big question.

Can you get 218 votes to try to circumvent the Republican leadership and force a vote on the floor? Is that -- how possible is that?

PHILLIPS: What's amazing in the House right now, Manu, is that our proposition, the Problem Solvers Caucus, which is now public, and I believe it's on our website, so I encourage people to take a look. I think our proposition, the framework at least, could achieve well over 218, probably 300 and some votes.

The challenge is we get bottlenecks when it comes to the speaker. The speaker has to determine what comes to the floor and what doesn't. Do I think, not do I think, I know our proposition would generate extraordinary support. We have 32 Democrats, 32 Republicans that have endorsed this proposition. I know there are many more that would support it. Because the alternative is a shutdown of the government, which isn't just bad domestically and hurts people, actually costs more money than it would save.

It demonstrates to the rest of the world that we don't have our act together. And I wish my colleagues would pay more attention to that.

RAJU: Is Hakeem Jeffries, Democratic leader, is he supporting your plans? He told you he's going to support it.

PHILLIPS: The leader came to visit with our caucus the other day. He and the Speaker have a reasonably good relationship. And I think both would acknowledge privately, if not publicly, that this is going to require a bipartisan solution. And I think the Speaker would be, I mean, I think the leader would be compelled if we do enter a shutdown based on our framework.

RAJU: And there's a possibility that the speaker could get pushed out as a speaker because of his deal making on this.


RAJU: If he does cut a deal. How would you respond? Would you try to help him out, to bail him out if he gets pushed out, trying to get pushed out as a speakership? Would you come to his aid, the speaker of the House?


PHILLIPS: Well, look, I'd like to be objective. You know, we have to determine if that happens, who might succeed him. Is it good for the country to have chaos in the House, to have no speaker for days, weeks, God knows, months?

By the way, that is not unlikely that that would happen. You saw what happened just to get the speaker into his seat the first time, 15 rounds of votes. There's no heir apparent. I think we Democrats have to consider that and we also have to consider that if he's looking for support votes from Democrats to keep him in the seat of speaker. That would require some negotiation and frankly some concessions to the minority party.

There's a lot of interest in having those conversations. If he's willing to shake hands and do a deal. So we'll cross that bridge when you come to it.

RAJU: I want to turn to the 2024 race because you've been outspoken in your concern about the president's viability as a candidate. We had that New Hampshire poll showing that he's a little bit doing better against Trump there than he is nationally.

At this point, given concerns about his age and what you're hearing from voters, how concerned are you about the president's ability to win re-election at this point? PHILLIPS: Look, that poll was very -- I was pleased to see that, let me assure you. I think he won by 8 in the last election, this was certainly outside of that margin, that's a good sign. I'm still troubled by the polls. I'm troubled particularly by polls of Democrats who clearly are looking for an alternative.

I noted very closely in those figures that a lot of Democrats still would like to see another person run, but they don't know who, which is quite telling. And I've said to everybody publicly. If President Biden is the nominee, I'm going to do everything humanly possible to ensure that he's reelected.

I only am in this job right now because my daughters, the morning after the 2016 election, were in tears about their futures, and I promised them that I would do something. I'm not going to do anything to make it easier for Donald Trump to return to the White House.

And frankly, not only do my Democratic colleagues feel the same, most of my Republican colleagues feel the same.

RAJU: And you're not pushing for another primary challenge at this point? Have you dropped that effort?

PHILLIPS: Look, I still think that -- I still think it would be healthy to have alternatives. Not aggressive, mean spirited primaries like many fear. I think that would be actually undermining. I still think it would be quite helpful to have some alternatives.

Not to mention, prepare the bench for 2028. Let people get out and campaign, demonstrate themselves. Competition is healthy in everything.

RAJU: Yes, we'll see if that happens. Congressman Dean Phillips, thank you --

PHILLIPS: Thank you, Manu.

RAJU: -- for joining us and coming in. Really appreciate it.

Up next, a big announcement from the White House aimed at addressing the gun violence epidemic. Will it be enough to appease critics who say President Biden has dropped the ball on this issue? That's coming up.



RAJU: Later this afternoon, President Biden will announce a new Office of Gun Violence Prevention at the White House. Vice President Kamala Harris will take the helm and work with gun safety advocates to pass legislation at the state level. The announcement is welcome news for gun groups who have long advocated for this type of action.

Now CNN's Abby Phillip is here to join me. Abby, so nice to see you here -- ABBY PHILLIP, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, Manu.

RAJU: -- to talk about this and other issues.


RAJU: Tell me, the people, folks on the left have been advocating --


RAJU: -- pushing the White House to do more administratively on guns, because they can't do as nearly anything in this Congress in particular. Do you think this is going to be enough to satisfy those folks on the left?

PHILLIP: I don't think, in and of itself, this is enough to satisfy them, but I think it facilitates what they really want, which is for Biden to do it on his own. To use the power of the federal government, which is going to require coordination, which is what this group is all about, to get some of these unilateral actions on the table.

Just over a week ago, some Senate Democrats sent a letter to the White House to that effect, asking them to do more and lining up some of these steps that they could take. So I think this is a natural progression. I think it's also important to note the vice president's role in this.

This is something that she personally is very passionate about, but it gives her a high profile role to play on something that actually can get done because -- I mean, sure they want to see Congress do stuff. I think there's a recognition though that the legislative action has to come from the White House at the end of the day.

RAJU: Yes, I mean, look, there's also a recognition, too, that --


RAJU: -- there are folks on the left who are, simply think they should have done more and have not done more. You know, they did pass a lot of bills in the last --


RAJU: -- Congress.

PHILLIP: Yes. So, Manu, before I go, though --

RAJU: Yes.

PHILLIP: -- Sunday --

RAJU: Yes.

PHILLIP: -- is your first day.

RAJU: It is. PHILLIP: And official day on Inside Politics Sunday. I'm so excited for you. I'm so excited for the show to be led by you. And with all of the -- you've been so busy during the week. It's been an insane week with all of the reporting on Capitol Hill. I can't wait to see what is going to come on Sunday as you bring that reporting to the show. Congratulations.

RAJU: Well, thank you so much. I appreciate it. I am -- I have huge shoes to fill. Thank you for everything that you've done. And of course, you've busy yourself 10:00 p.m. Everyone, make sure you watch Abby at 10:00 p.m. with her great interviews.

Thank you for everything that you've done for the show. And --

PHILLIP: Can we get a sneak peek?

RAJU: Yes, I mean --

PHILLIP: On what's going on Sunday.

RAJU: -- we saw a little bit of that with Chuck Schumer on --


RAJU: -- the air, but yes, the good thing about covering Capitol Hill and being -- having two jobs --


RAJU: -- is that I'll be able to talk to some of these members and bring that on Sunday morning. And I really hope all of you will join us. There's just so many great people have hosted the show over the years.


RAJU: Not just you, but also Bernie Shaw, Catherine Crier, Judy Woodruff, of course, John King, Dana Bash, who hosts this show. So thank you for everything.


And I am very excited and, yes, please tune in because we will have a lot of reporting. I've spent a lot of time talking to reporters here. Reporters will be at the table, but also the newsmakers, the lawmakers themselves and bring it to you directly what they're going to say about some of these key issues, whether it's about the campaign trail, whether debating in the capital or what's happening in the White House. So --

PHILLIP: I'll be watching --

RAJU: Yes.

PHILLIP: And I can't wait to see it. Congratulations, Manu. RAJU: Thank you. Thank you so much. Tune in Sunday morning at 11:00 a. m. Eastern for the premiere of Inside Politics Sunday with Manu Raju. I'll take you inside this week's top political stories with the best reporters in Washington.

Thank you for joining INSIDE POLITICS. "CNN NEWS CENTRAL" starts after this break.