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Inside Politics

House Censures Rashida Tlaib Over Her Israel-Hamas Comments; Ohio Votes to Protect Abortion Rights; National Zoo Pandas Depart D.C. For China. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired November 08, 2023 - 12:30   ET




DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Last night, the House voted to censure Rashida Tlaib over her comments about Israel and statements that are considered flatly anti-Semitic, like using the phrase "From The River To The Sea" in a controversial video she tweeted out last week. That phrase is perceived by Israelis and Jews as a call for the elimination of the Jewish state of Israel, which sits between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.

Just before the vote, Tlaib, the first Palestinian-American member of Congress, spoke on the House floor.


REP. RASHIDA TLAIB (D-MI): I can't believe I have to say this, but Palestinian people are not disposable. We are human beings just like anyone else. My city, my grandmother, like all Palestinians, just wants to live her life with freedom and human dignity we all deserve. The cries of the Palestinian and Israeli children sound no different to me. Why I don't understand. Is why the cries of Palestinians sound different to you all?


BASH: 22 Democrats joined with Republicans to censure Tlaib not because they view Palestinians as disposable at all, but because what they see as comments that Tlaib has made that many worry incites an already red-hot atmosphere when it comes to spiking Jew hate in America. CNN's Manu Raju joins us live from Capitol Hill.

Manu, I know you have been doing some reporting on the deepening divide in the Democratic Party about this issue. What are you hearing?


MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. My colleagues, Annie Grayer and Melanie Zanona, and I hearing about tensions growing within the House Democratic caucus that have only persisted as this war carries on, as the humanitarian crisis in Gaza gets much worse and a debate that is happening along regional lines, very much along ethnic lines in the House Democratic Caucus. Not just for what we saw with Rashida Tlaib, the 22 members voting to censure her, many of them Jewish members, but also on just how -- whether to express support for Israel itself.

There are a number of Democrats who believe that there should be calls for a ceasefire. Many of those members, more progressive members. Many of those members, Muslim Americans. Many of them don't want to go nearly as far as where Joe Biden is on this issue, which also underscores the larger Democratic debate over the president's handling of this.

Now, we are learning about things that are happening behind the scenes, one of which was a comment that was made by Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz. She's a prominent Jewish Democrat. She was pushing for a resolution that was adopted on a bipartisan basis on the House floor just a couple weeks ago to reaffirm support for the United States for its war against Israel. I asked her about that resolution and about Democrats who may vote against it, and she had some sharp remarks about those Democrats, which set off an uproar.


RAJU (on camera): There is this vote that's going to happen on the Israel-Hamas resolution on the floor. Are you concerned that some Democrats may not support this?

REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (D-FL): I would hope that all members would support a resolution that condemns terrorism, the brutal attacks that were perpetrated against the Israeli people that were killed. They have 218 hostages. They took 222. Someone who votes against this I would think doesn't have a soul.


RAJU: And that comment sort of prompted outrage among key Democrats and particularly, the 15 who voted against that measure. Some of them, all of them minorities, some of them Muslim Americans and some of them braving this directly to the Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries who has sought to tamp down these tension internally, tried to get these members on the same page as this divide has been growing.

We're told that one of the members even talked to Debbie Wasserman Schultz and was concerned that that is a racial trope that would be used to calling someone soulless, something that could be interpreted very negatively among African-American members in particular. Wasserman Schultz, we are told, indicated she was not aware of that when she made that comment here. But Dana, all showing the divide that is just persisting as this work carries on, the debate within the Democratic Party that is now spilling out into public view, but very much a private debate as well. Dana?

BASH: And it runs -- and it runs so deep and this has been sort of bubbling tension, particularly among those in the progressive left for some time. And as you just reported, it is just overflowing now not just in congress, but on the streets. Manu, thank you so much for your reporting. Appreciate it. Coming up, Democrats scored a big win in Ohio yesterday on abortion rights. Can Senator Sherrod Brown recreate that coalition to win re- election next year in what is becoming a red state? We'll talk to him.

And saying good-bye, Washington, D.C. is losing three of its most famous residents today. You see one of them there. We're going to tell you why, coming up.



BASH: Voters sent a clear message last night, and that is abortion rights matter. In Ohio, voters decided to enshrine abortion rights in the state constitution. A solid majority voted yes in a state controlled by Republicans.

Joining me now is Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio, who is up for re-election next year in 2024.

Thank you so much for joining me, Senator. So, we talked about that ballot measure last night that did win overwhelmingly. You are on the ballot next year, as I mentioned. It's one of the toughest Senate races in the country, I don't need to tell you that. The dynamic next year will be different than what we saw yesterday, of course. That won't be on the ballot. Trump and Biden will be. How will all of this affect your race?

SEN. SHERROD BROWN (D-OH): First, most importantly, look what happened. Women and men spoke resoundingly that Ohio voters, conservative, liberal Ohio voters said that women and their doctors should make these decisions, not politicians in Columbus. The vote was overwhelming. It was astounding perhaps how strong it was. And I think that -- you start with that. You also consider in this that the Republican establishment, the politicians in the State House, they spent at least $18 million for a special election to try to rig this election back in August. They changed the ballot language.

700,000 people signed petitions with specific language and the powers that be, the Secretary of State, the uber-partisan Secretary of State in Ohio saying this was about abortion changed the language of the petition of the ballot language. They made it harder to vote. You have an I.D. card from Ohio State or Kent State or Right State or Central State, an I.D., you can't vote with that I.D. issued by a state university. They did all that, and people still saw through it.

So, this was a strong, strong vote. It would have been stronger if they hadn't tried to rig it, and that tells you a whole lot about the strength of the view that women should make these decisions with their doctors rather than the state legislators.


BASH: Yes. So, I think that was abundantly clear in what we saw in the numbers last night. But again, looking ahead and understanding far better than I where the electorate is in Ohio, and that is it is an electorate that voted for Trump in 2020 by eight points. You're going to need some Trump voters to vote for you. And that's the only way you can get re-elected. So, what is your message to them?

BROWN: Well, back on to this issue, three Republicans running in the Senate primary in August -- sorry, March, to be the nominee. All three of them have advocated for a national ban on abortion if they get elected to the Senate. So we see how out of touch they are. We will contrast my values and what we stand for with the extremism of Republicans on this issue, that Republicans don't trust women to make these decisions.

BASH: So, you're going to be leading still with this issue? Is that what the (inaudible)?


BROWN: Well, I didn't say I'm going to lead with it. I'm saying I'm going to make the contrast of a lot of things. I win in Ohio for a lot of reasons. One of the reasons is I take on an interest group. I took on the railroads after they did the damage in East Palestine. I have taken on the drug companies. We have now a cap of $35 on insulin and $2,000 per year out-of-pocket drug costs. I have taken on the oil industry. I've taken on the corporations that outsource trade. That's why I do well among working voters.

The last thing I'd say is I wear this pin on my lapel. It's a depiction of a canary in a birdcage. The mineworkers took the canary down in the mines to protect themselves because they didn't have unions in those days strong enough or government that cared enough to protect them. My colleagues, when you come to the Senate, you get this fancy $100 -- $300 pin whatever, that they give you to put on your lapel and it says, "I'm important. I am a senator." I wore that for a couple days, then I put my canary pin back on because it helps me focus on workers, helps me focus on women's rights and civil rights. It helps me do this job and keep in mind why I'm there and whom I'm fighting for.

BASH: And Senator, really all of the things you just said, maybe he doesn't wear the canary pin, but all of the things that you just said is the kind of thing that President Biden is saying and it is -- he's running on. And all the polls show that he's having a very hard time getting traction. Are you worried that what you just said, your message for Sherrod Brown will not be enough to win over voters in this polarized environment, particularly when you're going to be on the same ballot as Joe Biden in Ohio?

BROWN: Yeah. I'm really not. I don't think a lot about polls. I certainly don't think about polls in other races because, again, my focus is on the dignity of work. It's making sure that I keep that focus on fighting for workers and standing up against interest groups. That takes care of itself.

I mean I will certainly run a campaign in the next 12 months, but if I do this job right, and I plan to do this job, people know I mean it when I stand up against presidents of both parties on bad trade agreements. People know I mean it when I take on Wall Street and the drug companies. People know I mean it when I took on the railroads. They laid off a third of their workers, Norfolk Southern, and then not as many trail (ph) rail inspections, all that. Funny then there's no surprise that way.

BASH: Let me ask you this. Tim Ryan, who you know, your fellow Ohio Democrat who ran in your state statewide, he told CNN this week that perhaps it's time for the Democrats to move in a different direction at the top of the ticket, meaning Joe Biden should step aside and let somebody else run. Would that help you? Is that something that you agree with?

BROWN: I don't pay attention to commentary (inaudible).


BASH: What do you think?

BROWN: Whether they run...

BASH: Do you think Joe Biden is the right guy at the top of the ticket? Should he run for re-election?

BROWN: I think he will be the nominee. I think he will win. I think elections -- I've always said, elections are about two things. The contrast in terms of what happened last night, the contrast between women making their own decision and candidates that say national abortion ban and candidates that say people don't see the political spectrum as left to right. He's too liberal, he's too conservative.

They see it as whose side you are on. And voters, as I make that contrast, people know I'm on their side whether it's a drug company issue, whether it's trade, whether it's job creation. I'm proud of what I have done. I will continue to fight those interest groups. And I will continue with Ohio (inaudible).


BASH: So, you're not worried that your party has a Joe Biden problem?


BROWN: No, I think every party has got a problem. I think I've -- I know how to speak to Ohio workers. I know how to talk to Ohio. I don't worry about what people in other states or on the East Coast or the West Coast or what pundits are saying about a president or a former president and their vulnerabilities. Every candidate has vulnerabilities, and I will continue to do what I need to do.

BASH: Senator Sherrod Brown, appreciate it. Thank you so much for joining me. Nice to see you.

BROWN: Thanks, Dana. Nice to be with you. Thank you.

BASH: And coming up, saying good-bye. You're looking at live pictures from Dulles Airport. Washington, D.C.'s three pandas are about to take off on the panda express for a 19-hour journey back to China. We'll tell you why, coming up.



BASH: It's time for a fond furwell to the Smithsonian's beloved pandas. Moments ago, the panda express took off from Dulles International Airport. Washington's three pandas are on their way back to China. The pandas left D.C. earlier accompanied by motorcade and chopper cams flying overhead to give them the honorable send-off that they deserve. This is the first time in over 20 years that the National Zoo will be without pandas. There are only four pandas left in the United States, currently located at a zoo in Atlanta.

Since the Panda Program began in 1972, it's been a benchmark for the relationship between China and the United States. At its height, there were 15 pandas in the U.S. President Biden is set to meet with President Xi next week in San Francisco, and the Panda Program, we're not sure if that's actually going to be on the agenda. For now, we wish the pandas a safe journey back to China. We will miss them very much

Thanks so much for joining "Inside Politics." "CNN News Central" starts after the break.