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Inside Politics

Democrats Score Big Wins In Kentucky, Ohio, Virginia; Abortion Rights Fuel Big Democratic Wins; Seven States Have Voted To Protect Abortion Rights Since Dobbs; Tonight In Miami: GOP Candidates Debate As Trump Holds Rally Nearby; New CNN National Poll: Trump Leads Field By More Than 40 Points; Tonight: GOP Presidential Hopefuls Debate In Miami; Ivanka Trump takes stand at father's civil fraud trial. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired November 08, 2023 - 12:00   ET



DANA BASH, CNN HOST: Today on Inside Politics, big wins for Democrats in Ohio, Kentucky and Virginia last night. The clear message from voters, abortion rights matter. Still, big time. But will that be enough to power President Biden to reelection a year from now?

Plus, it's debate night in America. Five Republican candidates will take the stage in Miami tonight. Absent once again, the far and away frontrunner. So is tonight's based off really just a race for second. And new reporting on the Democratic divide over Israel. Here what some Jewish Democrats are saying about members of their own party who voted against the resolution supporting Israel's war against Hamas.

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

We started of course, with last night's election results. President Biden summed it up like this. He said, "across the country tonight Democrats won and MAGA lost, voters vote, polls don't. Now let's go win next year."

CNN political director David Chalian has more from what happened last night at the magic wall. David, what did we see? And what does it mean?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, as you said, Dana, abortion rates, proving it is still very politically potent. In a post roe America, we saw that Ohio ballot measure where it was on the ballot, passed pretty resoundingly. And take a look at what happened in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Democrats not only held on to their control of the state Senate, but they flipped control of the House of Delegates.

As Glenn Youngkin was trying to seek unified Republican control, he got the exact opposite of that. And the battle over abortion rights and the battle for America's suburbs were playing big into that. As for that Ohio ballot measure, we had an exit poll in Ohio. And I want you to take a look here.

This is among independent voters and how they split on this. 64 percent of independent voters in Ohio yesterday, voted in favor of issue one, enshrining abortion rights into the constitution 36 percent of independent saying -- said no. White college educated women 65 percent voted yes to enshrine abortion rights in the constitution 35 percent voted no.

And Dana, just to show you in our brand-new CNN poll. Looking ahead to 2024, we asked people across the country this is among registered voters. What's your most important issue in voting for president next year in 2024. 33 percent save the economy, 12 percent voting and election integrity, 12 percent immigration, 10 percent gun policy, abortions at 7 percent.

Now that doesn't mean it's not politically potent. We see it doing wonders for Democrats at the ballot box. It just means when we asked voters what their most important issue is, it is still resoundingly the economy. And then one other note from our poll that is just stunning to see. 25 percent of Americans that is it. One quarter of them in this poll say that Joe Biden has the stamina and sharpness to serve, 74 percent say he does not. Dana?

BASH: It's incredible figure there. One of many that we saw from this new poll. We'll talk about a little bit more when you join us at the table. David, thank you so much. Let's go to the White House, speaking of that poll, CNN's Priscilla Alvarez is there.

So, Priscilla, I know that the White House doesn't want to talk about polls, but the fact is that there is a disconnect between what we saw last night among voters. When you look at the issues, when you look at states even red states with Democrats who are not Joe Biden on the ballot versus what not just CNN's poll, but so many that we've seen over the last week say about how voters perceive the president and the potential for him to get reelected. What are they saying in the building behind you?


PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, and that's when asked about those polls. They say don't look at the polls, look at the results. And they're feeling pretty good about how last night turned out. Taken together the results in Kentucky, Virginia, and Ohio spelled out a good night for Democrats. But the question is, does that translate that strong voter turnout to 2024 when President Biden is on the ticket?

Now, of course, abortion is still a key motivator. It's something that campaign officials have come back to, it reinforces that that is a motivator, bringing voters out to the polls, and President Biden released a statement last night on that Ohio measure saying, "tonight, Americans are once again voted to protect their fundamental freedoms and democracy won." Saying that the Republican agenda is out of set.

The president also making a series of calls last night to the winners. And clearly, there is fresh confidence in the campaign and at the White House after seeing the result yesterday and after a series of polls that spelled out a troubling sign ahead for the year to come in November. Now, of course, the president is still fanning out across the country. He'll be in Illinois tomorrow to talk about the economy to keep selling that agenda.

BASH: OK, Priscilla, thank you so much for that. Let's discuss all of this with our panel here. CNN's Nia-Malika Henderson, CNN's David Chalian, and former Virginia Republican Congresswoman Barbara Comstock. Thank you so much for being here.

You're the only one at this table who's been on the ballot, been on the ballot in Virginia and been on the ballot in Virginia as a Republican in a suburban district. So, you have -- -


BASH: Well, yes. I forgot that small detail. So, you have incredible insight into what we saw last night. What's your take?

COMSTOCK: Well, I think, you know, since Donald Trump came on the scene, there has been a steady stream of losing, certainly in Virginia, 17, 18, 19 and 20. Were all losing years for Virginia Republicans lost, 21 was the exception when Glenn Youngkin won the governorship. But again, then 22 people went back to this MAGA, kind of MAGA extremism, and combined with some of the, you know, more extremist on abortion.

And then also, you know, now I think with this speaker of the House kind of Mike Murphy who already reminds you of the pastor from Footloose. So, you know, we have this picture of men from -- in the Republican Party who are making these decisions, largely for women, and there's not a conversation. They're just coming in and saying this is what we're going to do. And they're scaring people. They're scaring people in Ohio. They scare people, you know, in the seven states that have had abortion referendums, now, four of them have been red states.

So, the men in the Republican Party aren't listening. They're already doubling down saying, we just didn't have good messaging. We need to do more on turnout. They aren't listening, maybe they need to step back and talk to people compromise on these issues, maybe do things to help women and do more of these -- and have women involved in the conversation is one of the big things they haven't been doing.

BASH: Wow. Well, that's a concept. I also, first of all, just because Footloose is one of my favorite movies. The pastor, the father ended up letting the daughter go to the dance. At the end, so we'll see how it is.

COMSTOCK: Yes. We haven't had any anti-dance.


BASH: No, yet. So, you talked about messaging. And one of the things that I find most interesting, we talked about it on the show yesterday, about the way that the governor of Virginia Glenn Youngkin went into the race. He wasn't on the ballot, but he was very much part of the conversation, and very involved in the people who were on the ballot in their campaigns, was trying to find what he saw as compromise on the issue of abortion. And it was a test case for whether or not the notion of saying OK, we're going to lean into this.

We're not going to run away from abortion as we did as Republicans in the midterms in 2022. And we're going to say, you know what, we do want to have an abortion limit banned, but they rebranded it as limit 15 weeks with exceptions. And I talked to Glenn Youngkin at 6:30 last night, about a half an hour before the polls closed. And you could already tell by his pivot, where he thought that message landed. Let's watch?


GOV. GLENN YOUNGKIN, (R) VIRGINIA: This is a choice between no limits and reasonable limits and across Virginia, while I know abortion is an important topic. The number one topic that I hear over and over again, is how the Biden economy is making life so difficult. And that's why I do believe that if we can come to a common place on abortion, we of course can bring to Virginians are reduced cost of living, tax relief, great jobs, excellence and education, safe communities, and that's what people want.



CHALIAN: Yes. That was really interesting in real time, all of our ears are perking up to hear him pivot, though, to be fair, he does talk about these issues. I'm not saying, this was not a campaign exclusively on abortion rights. But I think it shows us that it's a threshold issue for voters, this is, you can talk about other things. But if you're going to be taking away rights or somehow infringing on people's rights, that is not going to go well at the ballot box for you.

And we've now seen that lesson, as the congresswoman said multiple times in this post Dobbs world. I mean, I don't know what more evidence, political practitioners need. But to see that this is a purely politically winning issue in this post real world for Democrats.

COMSTOCK: It doesn't mean, we have the pro-life, but just pro-life should maybe considering, let's do other things to help women, let's not go in first.


COMSTOCK: Yes. Paid family leave would be a great start. But do other things besides having these, you know, they're doing things like crossing, you can't cross over state lines, scaring women, the whole issue of maternity care. And when you and your doctor can decide emergency situations, there's been no addressing that from Republicans or the pro-life movement and that's a problem.

BASH: And I just want to underscore with data, so that our viewers see what you were talking about. And I know you've talked about it internally as well. And that is seven states where we have seen it on the big ballot, different from what we saw in Virginia. This is like purely on the ballot to change the constitution of the state. State- after-state, just like we saw last night in Ohio, voters even in the most red states have overwhelmingly voted to enshrine abortion rights.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. Because people don't want politicians, particularly male politicians, telling them when they can be moms and dads, right? I mean, we sort of focus on women and abortion rights. Men are interested in this too. We also sort of separate the economy from abortion. Abortion is fundamentally an economic issue. Family planning is an economic issue.

And so, it has been a loser. Donald Trump very much knows that it's a losing issue. He's trying to say, oh, now we have the power to negotiate after Dobbs. Women and men don't want to negotiate.


COMSTOCK: But they don't want to be negotiated over when he starts the -- -do you know, the people's lives. That's where men talking about this have been a disaster.

BASH: You know, we had a moment in Washington where this morning, we heard Mitt Romney say something that we actually could have heard from Donald Trump. So, remember this date and time in history? Let's play what he told Manu Raju?


SEN. MITT ROMNEY (R-UT): I think we perform best when we talk to people about the cost of living, and the fact that under President Biden the cost of living has gone way up. Their incomes have not gone up with it. Or talking about people's lives. We win. But we're not talking about that, or talking about the election in 2020, or we're talking about other highly divisive issues, it can end up being pretty difficult for us.


CHALIAN: It's so interesting to hear Mitt Romney, say it, I know you're a big supporter. But I think that -- -

COMSTOCK: And you have a bigger popular vote then Trump did.

CHALIAN: When I -- this is our first failed attempt at the Republican nomination, and he was courting evangelicals in Iowa and going hard, he was leaning all in to cultural issues. But as we've learned in the McKay Coppins book, and since his retirement. He has expressed this before. He really is trying to course correct where the Republican party is on messaging.

BASH: All right. Everybody standby because coming up. We're going to talk about what's going to happen tonight. Five Republican presidential hopefuls will face off in Miami. We're going to take a look at what's on the line in this third presidential GOP debate. Plus, Ivanna, excuse me, Ivanka Trump under oath. she's on the witness stand right now at her father's civil fraud trial.




BASH: Debate night tonight but is it the battle among the also rans. Five Republican candidates will face off in the third GOP primary debate, not there. You know, see him on the screen. There won't be on the stage. Donald Trump, who according to CNN's latest national poll is just so far ahead of the rest of the field. It's almost impossible to believe 40 points.

We'll talk about the specifics of that in a second. But first, let's get to Miami, Jeff Zeleny is there. Jeff, what are you hearing from sources from the campaign to our showing up tonight?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Dana. We know that with five candidates on the stage, there are going to be certainly more of an opportunity to engage with one another. And this debate is not happening in a vacuum. The results of last night's election, which you've been talking about throughout the broadcast, are certainly going to come front and center in tonight's debate.

What I mean by that first and foremost is abortion. We've heard Nikki Haley, talk about trying to find a consensus on abortion. Last night, Chris Christie, Vivek Ramaswamy, both talked about how Republicans need to find a new way, some new messaging. Of course, right here in Florida, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, has signed a six-week abortion ban.

So, there are very real differences between these Republican candidates. So that is one thing that we're going to expect them to engage on. Also, foreign policy. This is the first debate that has happened since the war with Israel and Hamas. So, look for the differences in policy viewpoints or not to also come front and center.

But Dana, the bottom line is all the campaigns, I'm speaking to, they say they're going to split their time between trying to compare and contrast with one another. And also go after the former president. There are some openings on that on Israel on abortion as well. But the reality is time is running short for the candidates to emerge as a leading alternative to one another and to show Republican voters that Donald Trump can be stopped.


Dana, one thing as we've seen, so many polls in the last several days. An argument has been taken away from some of these candidates that Trump can't win. The poll say he can, hat a race is one of the big sort of selling points for several of these Republican rivals. Dana?

BASH: Yes. Jeff, thank you. I'll see you in a few hours down in Miami. Appreciate that reporting. The panel is back with me. You were shaking your head. I think it was already established in the first segment. You're not a big fan of Donald Trump as a Republican. And let's just put on the screen the specifics from this new CNN poll about where the Republican field is. I mean, look at that. 61 percent and the closest to him is DeSantis at 70.

COMSTOCK: You know, I mean, last night, we didn't talk about the Kentucky race. But the Kentucky race was the biggest Trump endorsement in a big red state, Kentucky. He went all in and the primary being a Trump guy. And then all get in -- Daniel Cameron. So, he was an attorney general. He got elected statewide. And now you have a real star. And Andy Beshear, a Democrat governor who beat MAGA -- -

BASH: And you think it's because Trump's endorsement and vice versa?

COMSTOCK: In Kentucky, the biggest Republican vote getter statewide was the non-election denier secretary of state. He beat MAGA in the primary, it can be done Brad Raffensperger and our Governor Kemp prove that in Georgia. So, Trump is a loser. So are you tired of losing, someone like Nikki Haley or Chris Christie can burn it, but you're tired of losing.

But you know, Republicans have been losing, Trump is hiding. So, you're hiding, and you won't come out and talk about these issues. You've given the party the stench of losing for seven years. They're all following you and it scared of you. So, if they don't take Trump on, there's no point in being there. You're playing for second place.

BASH: But isn't that what is happening? I mean, if you look at that poll, and every other poll that's ever been taken in the last year, it's only gotten more extreme. And on that sort of margin. The question of the contest, not just among Republicans, but Republicans versus the incumbent Democrat, how they would fare. Nikki Haley is plus six, Donald Trump plus four, DeSantis plus two.

CHALIAN: Yes. Donald Trump and Nikki Haley in our poll have leads outside the margin of error. And, and Ron DeSantis, there's no clear leader in that race that's within the margin of error, he and Joe Biden. And this is what Jeff was just saying. I mean, this robs that electability argument, which is something Ron DeSantis has been probably most vocal on throughout the entirety of this campaign, simply saying Donald Trump can't win.

And now we've been seeing a bunch of polls suggesting he can, by the way, our poll is like not great news for Donald Trump, either. He's remarkably unpopular. He's obviously, a deeply -- -

COMSTOCK: Because if he's convicted which Christie will point out tonight. If he's convicted, those polls flip and he's not likable.

CHALIAN: He will see. But you know, people thought that about the indictments too, and he got a lot stronger. So, definitely his legal challenges and have had an issue of fortifying his base, which is a key component to winning elections. And right now, Joe Biden is hurting among some of the factors in his base. And so, he needs this contrast campaign to fully engage to start trying to fortify his own.

HENDERSON: Yes. No, I think, you know, there hasn't been a consistent coherent billion-dollar campaign against Donald Trump in three years, there will be at some point. So, in some ways, he's, you know, in a court room at this point, I guess his daughter is there, I guess he's there too.

There, at some point will be a campaign. If the numbers look like that, if 23 percent of African, American voters are still saying they're going to pull the lever for Donald Trump after a billion- dollar campaign. That'll be a surprise.

BASH: You know, given the fact that we are going to see a debate tonight, and we are going to see some pretty aggressive language. Of course, for Donald Trump, but also among the Republicans on the stage towards one another. Let's get a little preview based on what we've been seeing from the ads. These are Ron DeSantis and Nikki Haley.


GOV. RON DESANTIS, (R) FLORIDA (voiceover): You may create some jobs in that industry. But I think you'd probably cost more jobs overall.

NIKKI HALEY, FORMER GOVERNOR, SOUTH CAROLINA (voiceover): What you don't need is a president who was against fracking. He's against drilling. No, it's not true. It's not true.

DESANTIS (voiceover): No, it's not true. It's not true.



BASH: What do you think is going to be the most effective tonight on that stage?

COMSTOCK: Well, that's a replay of 2016 or attack the non-Trump candidates. The thing to attack is it convicted Donald Trump which, as a prosecutor Chris Christie can point out, most likely one of these four indictments will result in at least one -- --


BASH: So, they're wasting their time going after each other?

COMSTOCK: Yes. All they're doing is making Trump stronger. It's exactly the replay of 2016. And they haven't really loose.

HENDERSON: I mean, DeSantis is less popular than he was when he announced on Twitter. Nikki Haley has moved up a little bit, right, 10 percent. I mean, that's all you're getting, and you're sort of the next big hope to go one-on-one with Donald Trump. The base loves Donald Trump. They might love him more this go round than they did last go round. And that's just the reality. I don't think much is going to change on a debate stage.

CHALIAN: I mean the race has been remarkably stable. I mean, the biggest movement that we've seen in this race came in the immediate aftermath of his first criminal indictment in New York. That's when his base started fortifying, DeSantis was not proving to be all that great. And that that was the last time that there's been actual move real significant movement in the race. COMSTOCK: And that was when most of the candidates also poor Donald these are mean people attacking him. That's not working and that's making you, you know, and after though.

BASH: Such a great conversation. I learned so much as always. Appreciate it. Don't go anywhere, though. Because for about what's happening on CNN tonight, because after the debate, you're going to get some critical context and political analysis. Anderson Cooper and I will be hosting Republican presidential debate post-debate analysis, Say that five times fast. Live tonight at 10 pm eastern right here on CNN.

Right now, former President Trump's eldest daughter Ivanka Trump is on the stand at her father's civil fraud trial in New York. Her testimony follows appearances by her brothers Don Jr. and Eric, and of course, Monday's testy exchanges between the judge and her father. CNN's Paula Reid has been following the case. Paula, what is it looking like right now as Ivanka is on the stand?

PAULA REID, CNN CHIEF LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, far less contentious than it was on Monday when her father appeared or even last week when her two brothers took the witness stand. But today, the questions are really focused on her time at the Trump organization.

She of course, left the family business in 2017, when she went to work at the White House. They're focused on some projects that she oversaw while she was still there. It's interesting Dana, one line of questioning was really focused on securing financing for his Doral Resorts and Spa down in Florida.

And in one exchange, she was interacting with a representative from Deutsche Bank, and they were offering some favorable terms for a loan, for a high net worth individual, but it would require her father to maintain a net worth of $3 billion, and Ivanka suggested lowering that to $2 billion. They eventually settled on 2.5.

But that exchange is significant because of course, at the heart of this case, is the allegation. The former president was not being accurate or honest about his true net worth. So the fact that Ivanka was pushing to lower that threshold is notable.

Now, they also asked her about an apartment that she had in one of her father's buildings. It had a purchase option of $8.5 million. But on her father's financial statements, it was valued at $20.8 million dollars. She tried to distance herself from that valuation.

So far, though, these questions they've been very technical, they've been focused on the substance of the case, no real chaos or contentious exchanges. This is expected to go for a little bit longer. And while there are no cameras in the courtroom, we have our colleagues in there giving us these live updates. So, we know how much information they're getting from her.

BASH: So interesting. Thank you so much, Paula. Appreciate it. And the House voted to center Democratic Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib last night over her comments about Israel. It is just the tip of the iceberg. As Democrats become increasingly more and more divided over the Israel Hamas war, we're going to go live to Capitol Hill for some new reporting next.