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Dems Celebrate Election Wins As Polls Show Biden Losing To Trump; Abortion Rights Fuel Big Democrat Wins; Congress Running Short On Time To Avoid Government Shutdown; Less Than A Week Left For Congress To Avoid Government Shutdown; McCarthy Unloads On Republicans Who Ousted Him; Most Voters Day They Don't Want A Biden-Trump Rematch. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired November 12, 2023 - 11:00   ET




MANU RAJU, CNN HOST: State of the race.

KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Did anyone notice what happened on Tuesday?

RAJU: Democrats celebrate decisive wins in Ohio, Virginia, and Kentucky. But what do the results really tell us about Joe Biden's path to reelection? And what lessons will Republicans take from their disappointing night?

SEN. MITT ROMNEY (R-UT): We're talking about people's lives and we win.

RAJU: Plus, Manchin out.

REP. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): I will not be running for re-election.

RAJU: The West Virginia Democrat shakes up the Senate map. Will he shake up the presidential is next?

And Kevin McCarthy unloads.

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): He would throw his country away to try to protect himself. I don't think she'll probably earn the right to get reelected.

RAJU: A CNN exclusive, the former House Speaker, lashes out at the Republicans who ousted him. Is he out for a revenge?

INSIDE POLITICS, the best reporting from inside the corps of power starts now.

Good morning, and welcome to INSIDE POLITICS SUNDAY. I'm Manu Raju. There are 50 days left in 2023. But for many of us, then we have us here in Washington, and in those early primary states, it really feels a lot like 2024. And this past week was a very confusing one for the political world. Despite new polls showing President Biden in deep trouble, Tuesday was another good election day for Democrats. And as they'll be quick to point out, they've had many good election days over the past two years.


HARRIS: The people, whether they be in so-called red or blue states, voted for free. They voted for liberty. And by extension, they voted to uphold our democracy. And so all of that is at stake. We have momentum. The wind is at our back.


RAJU: Now, frustrated Republicans told me after that election that the party needs a reckoning on social issues like abortion.


ROMNEY: When we're talking about people's lives, we win. When we're talking about some social issues, they could become highly divisive and we end up not doing as well as we could have.

REP. NANCY MACE (R-SD): The absolute wake-up call for Republicans, and if they're not paying attention, we're going to have dramatic losses next year.


RAJU: But here's the confusing part. The electorate is deeply unhappy with the direction of the country. New polls show Joe Biden losing to Donald Trump nationally, and in most swing states.

And despite being just four years older than Trump, voters think the 80-year-old Biden is too old and his policies are not working. So he was -- he was back out on the campaign trail last week, trying to convince them otherwise.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I ran for president to bring back good-paying jobs that he could raise a family on, whether or not you went to college, to give work and families more breathing room. And the way to do that is to invest in ourselves again, invest in American, invest in American workers. That's exactly what we've done.

I've never been more optimistic about America's treatment than I'm today. But I know I only look like I'm 30, but I've been around a long time.


RAJU: And we've got a great panel to help make sense of it all. NPR's Tamara Keith, Amy Walter of the Cook Political Report, CNN's Jeff Zeleny, and the Washington Post's Marianna Sotomayor. Good morning, everybody.

So nice of you all to join us. This has been a really interesting week in politics. We're trying to figure out what this actually means for 2024. Maybe a lot, maybe nothing at all. We'll see. But there are a lot of key signs.

Amy, what is your takeaway for Democrats here? Yes, they've done well in these elections. But things are looking bad for Biden. How do they -- how do they reconcile these?

AMY WALTER, THE COOK POLITICAL REPORT: Yes. Well, when -- that you reconcile those things by saying when there's ultimately a choice in front of voters, they have to -- it's no longer theoretical and they have to decide, do we want to take this candidate or this ideology, this person or that person? And this is why the White House does feel more confident about 2024 than the polls would suggest because they say we're focusing right now on Biden so much, because he's, of course, the President of the United States.


Once it's a clear contrast with Donald Trump, voters are going to get that same sort of choice like we saw in this -- not just this last election last week, but in special elections and in off-year elections throughout the year, Democrats have overperformed.

One thing I would also be really wary of -- about the issue of abortion, I think voters are very clear. When you put it on the agenda, like, literally a ballot initiative, saying, do you want abortion access, less abortion access? It wins, no matter where you are, red state, blue state.

If you're asking voters, though, to support a candidate who may have opinions about abortion, that is a -- that are different from yours, that may be very, very different.

RAJU: And that's a -- that's a perfect point, segueing to this graphic here, showing exactly where voters have voted on abortion. Seven states voted to affirm abortion, protect abortion rights, post-Dobbs decisions. Many of those red states, Montana, recently Ohio, just this past Tuesday, also states like Kentucky and Kansas.

But, as you were saying, Amy, looking at the polls here, abortion registering in terms of the most important issues for voters, it is down, not the lowest issue, but it's down on the bottom, seven percent, compared to 33 percent in the economy.

So, I mean, Jeff, is the White House, are they -- should they be wary of this? Or are they -- some Democrats will say their heads are on the sand because they're not paying attention to the -- there maybe needs to be a reboot here?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Look, abortion, without a doubt, is a motivating factor, but as Amy was saying, it is not going to save the day for President Biden, and they realize this. One thing we learn, though, this week, is that if it is on the ballot, like you said, that is a good thing. So, there's a furious effort underway right now to get it on the ballot in Arizona, first and foremost, in Florida. More difficult in Florida because the Republican Attorney General has to approve the language, but in Arizona, that's a very, very real possibility, even Missouri, other states. So, that could be a big factor in 2024.

We have enough examples now, usually three make a trend. We have more than three.


ZELENY: -- where this is now the Democratic issue for decades. Since we've been covering politics, that has always been a motivating factor for Republicans, and now it is reversed.

RAJU: Yes.

ZELENY: So -- but, overall, does this save President Biden? It does not, because the economy is something that is still a huge problem. Inflation is leveled off, but prices remain dramatically high.

So, if you look at his coalition, yes, abortion is a factor, but it is not the driving factor.

RAJU: Yes. And look, the White House will say, and the proponents, sort of the supporters of Biden will say, he needs to talk about his agenda more, and he will talk about his agenda when people focus on the results, that's why, then they will reward him. This is what one of his surrogates said this morning, Wes Moore, the Governor of Maryland.


GOV. WES MOORE (D-MD): When you're looking at polls a year out, they are worth the paper that they are written on.

When you think about what people are asking for, bipartisan leadership, and you can get things done, the PACT Act, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act, that's President Biden. And I think that will show up in the -- in the election for next year. That's what President Biden has been able to push on. That's what he's been able to get done, not rhetoric, not hand-wringing, not fist-bagging, but actually real productive results for the people of this country.


RAJU: But when I put that question to Democrats, say, OK, fine, you've had these accomplishments, why aren't voters feeling that? I mean, what's the White House's answer to that?

TAMARA KEITH, NPR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: And I will say, the president was in Belvedere, Illinois this week, on something of a victory lap, going to a factory where he had called Stellantis and asked them to reopen that manufacturing plant. He doesn't get a lot of credit for that stuff. Belvedere is actually an area that's fairly Republican. And he is, you know, out there marching to march on the, you know, being a president for all Americans pitch that he's been making.

No, he doesn't get a lot of credit for it. Republicans still dislike him. Democrats are still, you know, lukewarm and aren't giving him a lot of credit for a lot of things.

What the -- what the campaign says is they're keeping their head down. He's out there every single week. He's out there doing one of these events. Maybe eventually it'll break through. Also, though, they are doing very targeted messaging to key voters, to Latino voters, to Black voters, very carefully targeting, running experiments to figure out what's going to work later, doing a lot of paid advertising already. There's a lot of stuff that's sort of under the radar campaign that's already happening.

RAJU: I mean, and you look at such as the poll, we're going to break this down a little further in terms of the polls about how Biden has done among some of those key groups in his coalition, Black voters, Latino voters, young voters.

Look at the difference between the exit polls of 2020 and now. He won Black voters by 75 points in 2020, 50 in current polls. Four -- just four for among Latino voters, 33 points now, 24 points for young voters back in 2020. He's losing according to polls by one. We'll see if that ultimately plays out next year. Of course, things are a year away.


But I want you to listen to what Pramila Jayapal said, she is the chairwoman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. She told me last week the real concern is those voters just simply staying home.


REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D-WA): But our biggest swing voter is our base, who won't swing to Donald Trump or a Republican. But they will swing right out to the couch if they don't think that it's worth their time. Nobody's paid them attention, or they're being ignored or taken for granted. They won't vote. And we know what happens when that -- when that happens. It's 2016 all over again.


RAJU: And she said the Biden's handling of the Israel-Hamas war will be part of that. I mean, but that's the real concern among Democrats juicing the base.

MARIANNA SOTOMAYOR, WASHINGTON POST CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Absolutely. It's voter apathy, right? And that has been the big thing, especially for Black voters and the Latino community, which I have covered for several elections now. It's not necessarily that, you know, they're going in droves to the Republican Party. We do see more House Hispanic Republicans this cycle. So there is a trend.

However, it's mostly these voters saying, well, I've voted Democrat for a long time. And I haven't seen that much change in my life, especially on the economy, which is still a top issue for these communities.

I'm looking at the Republicans, but I don't really like what they're saying. So they're like, I don't have a home. I might as well not show up and vote.

ZELENY: I think one other takeaway, though, at the end of the week here is that the Donald Trump era of the Republican Party has some real structural problems in the suburbs, which we know. But for all the talk about hand-wring among Democrats, which there is plenty and it's a real and relevant, the Trump era party, which the party is about, you know, on the verge of potentially nominating him again, has these same problems, you know.

So that -- if you look at the Virginia results, Ohio, obviously, Kentucky. So this is, you know, which is why people are frustrated on both sides, which enters the third party.

RAJU: Yes. And what you hear about how, you know, we talk about abortion, that it will still be a huge issue. It will still be significant for a lot of voters. Maybe their main issue, especially suburban voters, suburban women in particular.

There's a debate within the GOP about how to deal with this. Some of them say, let the states decide. J.D. Vance of Ohio told me that Republicans should back a national 15-week abortion ban. One Congressman Mark Molinaro from a swing district, told me last week, don't embrace a 15-week abortion ban.

Ron DeSantis was on the campaign show in Iowa on Friday. And he said that, really, the issue is that the pro-life movement needs to fight this and spend more money to get their initiatives passed.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): These referenda, you know, one pro-life side has very little money. They get outspent. That was a very radical proposal. And Ohio, I think that typically would not have embraced that. But I just think that they just got pummeled in the campaign.


RAJU: But is it about the message or the policy?

WALTER: Yes, exactly. It's not a message problem. One Democrat said to me, it's a problem, problem. And their problem-problem is that this has been an area that Democrats have had an advantage for years. If you ask a question about who do you think will do a better job on the issue of abortion, Democrats are going to win that fight every time. And the gap is now getting bigger in the post-Dobbs era. So this isn't going to happen in one election or with one message that's going to suddenly change people's minds. The biggest challenge that the party has, internally, is that they can't agree. And so what it looks like is a party that's saying five or six or seven different things, 15 weeks, six weeks.

RAJU: Yes.

WALTER: -- 24 weeks. No, we shouldn't have a national ban. And what voters hear is, oh, well, if they don't really agree, how can I trust that what this person's telling me is actually going to be the law of the land at the end of the day?

So it's a trust issue --

RAJU: --

WALTER: -- that doesn't get solved with one candidate and one message.

KEITH: And Glenn Youngkin tried the 15-week ban message, which is a message that pro or anti-abortion groups had been pushing is like, hey, this could be our compromise. This is the thing that we should put out there. And every candidate should go for this.

Glenn Youngkin tried it in Virginia and --

RAJU: It did not go so well.

KEITH: -- it did not go so well.

RAJU: Yes. That's exactly a great point.

Year after the Dobbs decision, still no Republican unity on what to do next.

OK. Coming up, Mike Johnson's first major test as Speaker, a new plan to avoid a government shutdown. But his right flank is not happy.



RAJU: Welcome to the start of yet another turbulent week on Capitol Hill. Just five days remain for Congress to avert a government shutdown.

And in his first big test as speaker, Mike Johnson, unveiled an unconventional plan yesterday, funding part of the government through mid-January and other parts through early February. Democrats are unhappy that there is no funding for Israel or Ukraine and say this approach is a recipe for more chaos.

But Johnson's plan does not include spending cuts, and that's prompting a number of conservative hardliners to come out quickly against it.

So that means Democratic support will be necessary to get it through the House as soon as Tuesday. The House Democratic sources tell me this morning, they are uncertain about whether they will bail out Republicans and what, if any, concessions to seek.

Our panel is back. So, Marianna, you walk around the Capitol with me every day, the long hours, and put miles on our feet. What do you think? This is such an interesting decision by Mike Johnson. As first time he came from essentially being a rank and file member to leading the House. We needed to figure out what he is governing strategy would be like.

Would he try to go after, try to pick a fight with Democrats ahead of this shutdown deadline? Or would he pick a fight with his own party? And he decided to pick a fight with his right flank.

SOTOMAYOR: Yes, it's very interesting. I don't think any Republican is necessarily happy with this formula. And Johnson has spent the last several weeks listening. So much listening that Republicans were, like, please make a decision.

RAJU: They're running out of time.


SOTOMAYOR: Exactly. So this is something -- this two deadline approach that governing Republicans, the appropriators, did not want, because they're like, we've never done this before. It doesn't really make sense to set these two deadlines, but it's what the Freedom Caucus wanted.

The Freedom Caucus did not want to clean CR, which is what all Republicans wanted and a number of Democrats wanted.

So it's, you know, they're appeased, but they're also very upset. It does create this kind of scenario for the House, including with Democrats. Do they end up passing this? It does actually make senators question, OK, it's a clean CR.

RAJU: Yes.

SOTOMAYOR: We avoid possibly shutting down the government. It is this weird two-step scenario, but it's not something that we can't necessarily deal with. They might be able to pass it in the Senate. It's possible.

RAJU: Yes. I mean, look, let's not forget. I mean, almost 45 days ago or so, Kevin McCarthy had to do the same thing. He had to pass a short-term stopgap bill. Did not have spending cuts. Had to rely on Democratic support to pass it. No, it wasn't in two stages. It was at one stage. But it was exactly essentially the same thing that what Mike Johnson is doing right now.

The question is, will the right flank give him the leeway and push him out of the speakership? There are not any threats. We're not hearing those members make those same threats as they made against Kevin McCarthy. So I put this question to who? Kevin McCarthy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MCCARTHY: No. Look, you get a honeymoon, and they can't go through it again. I mean, think about how long it took last time. So do you think they would do that again?

RAJU: So even if he goes and relies on Democratic votes, the way you had to do it, you think that he would be safe and not be pushed on the speakership?

MCCARTHY: Oh, yes. I don't think anybody can make a motion to vacate for the rest of the term. I think -- I think he's safe regardless.

RAJU: What gives you that confidence?

MCCARTHY: Who are you going to replace him with?


RAJU: And that is -- that is the big question, right? We went to the 22 days of who, one person after another, that's what led to Mike Johnson.

But, look, a short-term spending bill, he's going to have to deal with this again in January and in February. If this approach becomes law, and that's recipe for more infighting.

ZELENY: For sure. The can has been kicked down the road so many times. I mean, it's not even on it anymore.

But, look, I think he's probably right on the honeymoon factor because this is weighing down the party. It's hard to find a Republican from either side, from either spectrum, who does not think that this has been -- or damaging for the Republican Party, but we will see.

I mean, the honeymoon is -- you know, he said there won't be a motion to vacate until the end of the term. You know, that's only like a year and a month. So we'll see.

I mean, this is a very dynamic process. I guess the Senate, like, may go for this, but Patty Murray, you know, called it the stupidest -- the stupidest idea ever, you know, the Senate and Congress has done stupid ideas before. But we'll see.

I mean, what I wonder is, in the last shutdown, there was all this, you know, the shutdown was definitely happening. Now, we're sort of underplaying it and it doesn't -- we assume they'll work something out. What if they don't?

RAJU: Yes. Look, I mean, the question is going to be, what do Democrats do? And I'm told that they're waiting and trying to see how the Republicans deal with this. Maybe this Republican revolt will end up leading to changes in the plan that they can take their position. Then Democrats will meet in a regular caucus meeting on Tuesday. Presumably that's the day they will vote on this.

What's interesting is the responses that we are seeing. The Senate Democratic leadership suggested an openness to this. Then the White House puts out this statement last night saying, this proposal is just a recipe for more Republican chaos and more shutdowns, full stop.

House Republicans are wasting precious time with an unserious proposal that has been panned by members of both parties. OK. But this does not have the spending cuts that those Democrats said it was a red line.

So listen to what Chris Murphy, who's a Democrat from Connecticut, a liberal Democrat said about this approach.


SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D-CT): We cannot have a government shutdown this weekend. Certainly not while we are facing these existential crises for our friends in Israel and Ukraine. I don't like this laddered CR approach. It looks gimmicky to me, but I'm open to what the House is talking about. The priority has to be keeping the government open.


RAJU: Look, if this is their only choice, and the White House may not like this, but they may have to accept it.

KEITH: I mean, anything's possible. If it passes the House, then that's -- then it -- then that's the time to have that conversation. But right now, the White House came out guns blazing. They called this a shutdown proposal or an extreme MAGA shutdown proposal to be more accurate.

And that does send a signal to the Hill. I don't know if the Hill will receive said signal, or if they'll just say, hey, let's not shut the government down. The White House doesn't want a government shutdown, but they see this as really changing the process.

And also, who wants more cliffs? Like, who wants more -- you know, let's set our shutdown countdown clock for January and February.

So they're looking at people like Chip Roy and other, sort of, hardline Republicans saying, well, we don't like it. And they're talking to House Democrats. They're talking to Senate Democrats. They're talking to Senate Republicans. They're not talking to House Republicans. And they're not negotiating with House Republicans.


RAJU: Yes.

KEITH: They're waiting to see what they actually succeed at.

RAJU: And look, one of the things too that's dealing with -- we talk about this spending mess, then there's a mess about how do you fund Ukraine in Israel? This is not part of the equation. This is all now wrapped up in an immigration fight as well.

I mean, the Senate Republicans are insisting on changes to immigration policy and tying that to Ukraine aid. They have not been able to agree on immigration policy in decades. How could they get an agreement on that, get Ukraine aid, and then Israel aid at this critical time? SOTOMAYOR: Exactly. I mean, when Senate Republicans are starting to talk about border security, everyone took that as, OK, well, the Ukraine funding may never happen, because they've never been able to agree bipartisan on any kind of border security reforms.

And listen, if Johnson's able to get this through the House and the Senate accepts it, that is a win. Sure. The Freedom Caucus is kind of looking at this as a first strike possibly for Johnson. But he is going to face the same questions, the same fundamental decision.

And at the end of the day, whether it's on Israel, whether it's on possibly Ukraine funding, on these future government funding deadlines, how to do all of that, not to mention funding the government next year, for a full year. He has to decide. It will always come down to him, do I irritate my Republican Conference, or do I do the right thing, do the bipartisan thing that still costs McCarthy his job?

RAJU: Yes, that's the question. And will the approach against dealing with Johnson among his right flank, will that change? We'll see.

Next, my exclusive interview with former speaker Kevin McCarthy. You'll want to hear about what he has to say about some of the House Republicans he once led.


RAJU: How much would the Republican Party benefit if you were no longer a member of the House in your opinion?

MCCARTHY: Oh, tremendously.




RAJU: Welcome back. Now, to a CNN exclusive. It's been 40 days since Kevin McCarthy was stripped of the job he always wanted. Speaker of the House, he's still not over it. That much was very clear when I sat down with him on Thursday morning, inside his new office at the Capitol.


RAJU: Tell me what it's been like. I mean, you know, you went from being Speaker of the House, what's been this adjustment been like to now being a rank-and-file member?

MCCARTHY: Well, it's different. You're always able to serve and it's a little different. You're not always going to just be rank and file in the process. You know, the system is a little harder. You want to make other decisions. But I mean, unfortunately, eight Republicans worked with all Democrats, disrupt and now we're in a different situation.

RAJU: How much do you miss it?

MCCARTHY: Well, it hasn't been gone that long. But like anything else, I want to be at the table with whatever we're doing.

RAJU: Can you reflect about that episode and how frustrating that was going through that?

MCCARTHY: I would do the exact same thing again. To keep our government open, to fund our troops, think about those in the Mediterranean today, if those troops were worried about, could they make their rent payment, their car payment. I mean, it was the right thing to do. Unfortunately, we had never seen it in the past that eight Republicans would join. I think it's more personal. If the Ethics Committee never does anything to Gaetz, then Gaetz was successful in stopping probably what rightfully should come to him. But going through the three weeks and then taking down a Steve Scalise, Jim Jordan, Tom Emmer, all people who are really prepared to do the job, that was frustrating for me.

RAJU: Those eight members who you've referred to as the crazy eights and the like after you -- they elected Speaker Johnson they were crowing about this.

MCCARTHY: Oh yeah.

RAJU: What did you think about that?

MCCARTHY: Well, just from a serious point of understanding governing, look, I'm a conservative who loves to govern. I don't believe them to be conservatives. I just -- there's a different rationale. It's driven by Gaetz who was all based upon an ethics complaint that happened in the last Congress. He would throw his country away to try to protect himself from what would come out as the truth. For those others to go along, I don't quite understand.

Think of the successes that we had. The commitment to America to win the majority. I mean, I've been leader for five years. Two election cycles we never lost. When the Republicans in the Senate lost both cycles, the governors, the legislatures, the president. So we've had a lot of great together.

The parents bill of rights, the border security bill. You haven't done something like that with Republicans since Ronald Reagan. So we had major successes. This is more about a personality.

RAJU: So you've been mentioning, surprised that these folks went along with Matt Gaetz, who surprised you the most out of those eight?

MCCARTHY: The eight, I think the two that were really different than all the others were Tim Burchett and Nancy Mace. You know, that's just, the others hadn't voted for me before anyways. They were disruptors the whole time.

RAJU: What about them surprised you, Burchett and Mace?

MCCARTHY: It just didn't -- it seemed out of nature, but they seemed to have changed during the time. They care a lot about press, not about policy, so they seem to just want the press and the personality.

RAJU: Do you think Mace will have a difficult time winning reelection now?

MCCARTHY: Yeah, I don't -- well not because of this, I mean if you've watched her, just her philosophy and the flip-flopping, yeah, I don't believe she wins reelection.

RAJU: You doubt?


RAJU: Will you try to oppose her?

MCCARTHY: No, look, I worked hard. I spent six million dollars helping her get elected. I supported her in her primary. I just -- from a -- just from a basis of watching someone on the job that they do, I don't think she'll probably have earned the right to get reelection.

RAJU: And you had a hard -- you had a really good relationship with the Hakeem Jeffries and then the motion to vacate happened. Do you still have a good relationship with him?

MCCARTHY: No, he hasn't talked to me since then. Look, at the end of the day, the Democrats decided to make a political decision. I mean, if I go back, Nancy Pelosi told me even before, sometimes I believe it was in December before I was elected. I still haven't problems with getting the votes, which she did as well. And I told her the issue was bringing back this motion to vacate. And the first thing she said, just get it to him, just get it to him. We've never allowed that. It's not good for the House.


RAJU: So Matt Gaetz, you've been mentioning a lot. How much would the Republican Party benefit if you were no longer a member of the House, in your opinion?

MCCARTHY: Oh, tremendously. I mean, people have to earn the right to be here. And I just think from -- I mean, he'll admit to you personally, he doesn't have a conservative bent in his philosophy, and just the nature of what he focuses on.

RAJU: Do you think the House should consider expelling him?

MCCARTHY: That's up to the Conference but I mean, I don't believe the Conference will ever heal if there's no consequences for the action.

RAJU: I mean, just worry that Speaker Johnson doesn't seem to be going in that direction?

MCCARTHY: So that's a question for Speaker Johnson. I don't know if they made any deal for the vote or anything like that. I don't believe so. But I'll let the Ethics do their work.

RAJU: Looking back at it, could you have dealt with the Freedom Caucus types differently? Would it result in any different scenario if you changed your approach in any way with them?

MCCARTHY: Look, you cover this place and you know these personalities better than ever, you watch the 15 rounds, most of the questions you would ask me after I won, would I survive the next week? So we all knew this would happen.

You just didn't think they would do it based upon such a dumb idea of keeping our troops being paid. It was not about policy, it wasn't about anything else than personality and trying to protect one person from the Ethics Committee.

RAJU: You mentioned, you think your guys will gain seats next year, but what about just, you know, what happened on Tuesday? You have concerns about your party's message on say, abortion and need to change your message as heading into next year?

MCCARTHY: Look, abortion matters in these elections, it mattered in the last election. But let's just go through that. What happened last Tuesday? What happened in Long Island? Republicans gained Democratic area. Well, that's key to our majority. So that makes those who they want to go after stronger.

In Virginia, you say, oh, Republicans lost the State House. Well, those were new lines they were running in. So they really only lost one seat in the process.

If you look at the abortion issue was on the ballot in the last election, well, why did we pick up seats in California and New York? Those are the most liberal states there were. So I'm not saying it's not an -- it's a big issue and Republicans have to learn how to deal with it.

RAJU: So you don't think that you guys had a bad night on Tuesday?

MCCARTHY: No, we had a bad night, but you learned from it. Now, let's go in a year from now. Biden's numbers are worse today than at any time. I believe President Biden's biggest problem is a problem he can't fix. It's about his age.

Now, the question will be, is he on the ticket or not? That's what Democrats are talking about right now. That's a really bad place to be.

RAJU: So let me ask you this.


RAJU: Is Trump the strongest candidate for your party?

MCCARTHY: Well, Trump is going to be the nominee, OK? And I think --


RAJU: Do you support him as yes?

MCCARTHY: I will support him. RAJU: Do you support him right now in the primary?

MCCARTHY: I haven't endorsed but I support President Trump, OK.

RAJU: But what's the difference?

MCCARTHY: Well, I haven't made some official endorsement.

RAJU: Are you worried that almost legal problems can make him a tough, a bad candidate for your party next year?

MCCARTHY: You know, in most candidates you would worry about it, if you watched, President Trump has been able to find anything in the past. And I don't believe when you evaluate, or you ask Americans the question, is it fair that you're putting Trump in court? Overwhelmingly, people say no. So they --

RAJU: Even general election voters, you don't think it will hurt him with the suburban voters and the like?

MCCARTHY: It could hurt a little but Biden's in a worse situation, right? You have every swing state except one where President Trump is beating Biden and he's sitting in court. He hasn't really been able to campaign as hard.


RAJU: Now I spoke with the three House Republicans, McCarthy singled out, Matt Gaetz, Nancy Mace, and Tim Burchett, all brushed off McCarthy's criticism. Gaetz said he senses, "thoughts and prayers" to the former speaker as he works through his grief. And a spokesperson for Nancy Pelosi denied ever promising McCarthy she'd protect him from emotion to oust him.

Coming up, is the GOP presidential primary all over but the voting? Saturday Night Live seems to think so.


DONALD TRUMP, (played by James Austin Johnson in SNL): And look who they got playing, meatball Ron. One of the destroy boys. Ron's watching it all I'm like, who the hell is that?

Poor Ron De Santis, even SNL doesn't think he has a chance. If they did it'd be like Paul Rudd or something in there, right?

And how about Nikki Haley, right? I call her birdbrain, but only in public.




RAJU: Welcome back to Inside Politics Sunday. This week, a political earthquake when West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin announced his time in the Senate would soon come to a close. The famously centrist senator immediately sparked questions about his future plans and whether he'll run for president as a third-party candidate. If he does, he would join a crowded field taking on the Democratic and Republican nominees. Jill Stein said this week she would run again on the Green Party ticket, joining Robert Kennedy Jr., and Cornel West, who are running as independents.

Now polls show that many Americans do want other options. Just take a listen to these concerns from these Arizona voters who all voted for Trump in 2016 and Biden in 2020.


SUZANNE: To keep it succinct, Trump's a sh-- show right now, and Biden's old, and I'm not sure he could survive another term.

JOHN: I don't have faith in Trump and I'm losing faith in Biden. Think a fresh new face in the White House might be what the country needs.


TINA: We lost our faith in Trump, definitely. And Biden, I like Biden, but the only thing he, liked the lady said, he's very fragile.


RAJU: Our panel is back. Amy, a few weeks ago on a podcast, you said, "voters would rather eat a bowl of glass than go through another Biden-Trump rematch."


RAJU: I mean, there's just not much appetite for a part.

WALTER: There is zero appetite. Nobody wants this. In fact, my focus group favorite quote was that a same group of people who were 2016 Trump voters, 2020 Biden voters, and one man said, you know, I regret voting for Biden, but I don't regret not voting for Trump.

And that's the group of voters that we're all talking about. What do they do when presented with other choices? Now, all the other choices that you put out there, they have some of their challenges too. In theory, I think they're appealing to these voters who say, well, they're a fresh face or somebody different.

But at some point, those voters are also going to get introduced to the positions and the policies of these candidates. I'm curious to see when that begins.

It's also really hard to pull this question on would you vote for a third-party candidate? How serious should we take this? We know people are frustrated. But this idea that, well, Joe Manchin would pull from those voters who are Biden voters, but RFK Jr., because he's more Trump friendly, would pull from the Trump crowd. I just think it is much more complicated. It's really complicated. And

the only person who really is almost guaranteed to get on every ballot is actually the Green Party candidate because they have an infrastructure in place. These other candidates --

RAJU: He had a serious impact on Hillary Clinton in 2016.

WALTER: That's right.

RAJU: And just look at this, the way the polls have come down right now, in a two-party race Biden trailing Trump by four according to a CNN poll, which tracks other national polls. And then you add the question about some of these other candidates. We're not talking about Joe Manchin yet. We'll see if he decides to run. He decides not to run, if he's doing this for attention. We'll see.

But look at the numbers here. Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is 16%. Cornell was 4%. Trump still beats Biden by six points. And so if you're the Biden campaign, how seriously are you taking these third-party candidates? And what are they thinking about doing about it?

ZELENY: You're taking him very seriously. And the polling there for Robert Kennedy Jr. is interesting, because it's his name Kennedy. People who are responding to the polls almost certainly don't know enough about it. My guess is they will by the time.

But, look, a third-party threat is very seriously. Jill Stein is not polling nationally. But if you look at Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, which is what happened in 2016, that is a worry to the White House.

A bit on Manchin, though, in a theoretical level, if he were able to be on the ballot, he does have a message for the middle that some people would like. The reality check for this is, though, there's no path really for him unless no labels changes its mind. Like they said that they would have a Republican at the top of the ticket. Joe Manchin is almost certainly not to be second fiddle. That's not his MO here. So the White House is taking the idea of a third-party candidate very serious. But there's, you know, it's an enthusiasm problem that they have a few challenges in solving.

RAJU: Yeah, I mean, if you're the Biden campaign you go after some of these third-party candidature, or you just ignore it.

KEITH: Well, at the moment, they're very quietly having lots of complaints and publicly not going after them, but that certainly could change. They're not in a place right now of sort of defining the alternatives, other than Trump, who they're happy to talk about at nauseam.

But they're more focused on defining Biden and trying to reach the young voters, voters of color, people who might find those third-party candidates appealing and making this personal appeal to the red team, blue team thing that, you know, in this era of hyper partisanship, do people ultimately, when they go and have to make a decision, do they go for a third party or do they go back to their teams because of this hyper partisanship and the messaging about the threat of the other party.

RAJU: Yeah. Meantime, Trump is on the campaign trail. His rhetoric has gotten much more sharp and coarse and some would say criticism is extreme. This is what he said in New Hampshire just yesterday, talking about the left comparing them to vermin.


DONALD TRUMP, (R) FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: In honor of our great veterans, on Veterans Day, we pledge to you that we will root out the communists, Marxists, fascists, and the radical left thugs that live like vermin within the confines of our country, that lie and steal and cheat on elections.



RAJU: And he started this off by saying, in honor of our great veterans on Veterans Day, and then he went on to call the left, vermin.

SOTOMAYOR: Yeah, I mean, and he's also now been talking about and honestly saying, oh, if I'm elected, I will weaponize the DOJ so that they can go after all the people who have gone after me. And listen, when you talk to the White House, when you talk to the Biden campaign, they say, there's a lot of focus right now on Biden because he is president. And we do see that.

The moment that Trump and we start to talk about him a little bit more, that's at least what they're saying. People will start to make that difference. And also, back to the 2020 campaign, obviously it was very different. Biden did not have a record as president. But he did have legitimate Democratic candidates that he was running against. And it very similar to what you're hearing now. They were saying at the time, I love Elizabeth Warren. I love Pete Buttigieg. But who can beat Trump? And there's still this feeling among Democratic voters that don't love Biden. We have questions about his age, but we still think that he can beat Trump.

RAJU: Again, the question is, well, some of those things that Trump said was that baked into the electorate or they actually moved voters. We'll see. All right guys, great discussion.

Coming up, more from my exclusive interview with former Speaker McCarthy now that he's lost his speakers gavel, how much longer does he plan to stay in Congress?



RAJU: Some more news from my interview with former Speaker Kevin McCarthy. We talked about his future in Congress. Now while he has said he will finish out his current term, what comes after that? To be determined. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCARTHY: I got the holidays. I'll talk to my family about the ideas of what going forward and then I'll make a decision.

RAJU: Make a decision by whether to stay as not in Congress?

MCCARTHY: I want to make sure Speaker Johnson was able to come into office. I want to make sure he had the resources and the need, whatever help I can provide. I want to make sure that I continue to do the job for my district. But I also want to make sure that you could -- I always believe, and you would hear me all the time, you never give up in the process, right? Well, there's so many ways you can do that to make sure you're getting the job done. And I'm going to look at all options.

RAJU: Which way are you leaning?

MCCARTHY: I don't know.


RAJU: That's it for Inside Politics Sunday. Thanks again for sharing your Sunday morning with us. Happy Diwali. See you next time.