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Inside Politics

Soon: Biden To Talk Border Security With Mexican President; Biden To Rev Up Attacks Against Trump Ahead Of 2024; Poll: Majority Of NH Dem Voters Will Write In Biden; Poll: NH Dems Over 50 Are More Enthusiastic About Biden; House Ethics Cmte. Chair Files Motion To Expel Santos; Growing Number Of Republicans Say They'll Vote To Expel Santos. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired November 17, 2023 - 12:00   ET



DANA BASH, CNN HOST, INSIDE POLITICS: Today on INSIDE POLITICS, President Biden is wrapping up a very busy four-day trip to California where he met with some of America's closest allies and its toughest competitor. And we have new CNN reporting this hour about the Biden reelection campaign strategy as they prepare for the probability of another race against Donald Trump.

Plus, George Santos's days on Capitol Hill may be numbered. A growing number of his fellow Republicans say they're ready to expel him. And it's a list that now includes the chairman of the House Ethics Committee, which investigated him. So, will Santos stay or fight or call it quits.

And the IDF says it has proved that Hamas was operating underneath a hospital complex. Israeli forces are raiding in northern Gaza. We're going to go to Israel for reporting on that.

I'm Dana Bash. Let's go behind the headlines at INSIDE POLITICS.

We start with President Biden heading home today from the Asia-Pacific economic summit. He's got one big meeting left with the Mexican president. And it's a meeting that could have some major domestic political implications.

CNN Senior White House Correspondent MJ Lee is in San Francisco. Obviously, the crisis at America southern border -- at the U.S. southern border is going to be key, MJ?

MJ LEE, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Dana. President Biden is closing out the last day of the APEC summit here with a bilateral meeting with the president of Mexico. And needless to say there are going to be a number of urgent issues for the two presidents to discuss. A chief among them is going to be the migrant situation at the U.S. southern border.

Obviously, this is an issue that has been incredibly politically fraught for the president back in Washington D.C. with Republicans and even some Democrats expressing concerns about the administration's handling of this issue. We also expect the two leaders to discuss the fentanyl crisis as well. And that in the context of what we saw happen over the last few days is particularly notable because of course, this was a major issue that came up between President Biden and Chinese President Xi, with that major announcement on efforts to crack down on chemicals used to make fentanyl. So, we expect this is going to be an issue that these two leaders discussed today as well.

Now just this morning, Dana, the president did sign the government funding bill. This was flown out to California for him to sign but not included and that of course was funding for Israel and Ukraine. So, this is just one major issue and one of many issues that the president is now returning home to in Washington, D.C. Dana?

BASH: MJ, thank you so much for that reporting. Now to fresh reporting about the Biden 2024 reelection campaign. President Biden is going to "take the gloves off" as he ramps up attacks against Donald Trump and that is according to campaign officials and Democratic donors.

It's part of a new story from CNN White House Correspondent Arlette Saenz who joins me now from the White House. Arlette, what are you learning?

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well Dana, President Biden has really been sharpening his attacks against former President Donald Trump as they're preparing for a possible rematch between the two men heading into November. Now, this comes as the president has been really tweaking his arguments against Trump on policy in his official speeches, things like climate change and also labor union support.

But the president is also speaking in more blunt terms at these closed-door off camera fundraisers. And an advisor told me that President Biden really felt personally compelled this week to take on the former president over his recent comments, calling a political opponents vermin. The president saying that that harkens back to Nazi rhetoric from the 1930s.

And an advisor I've spoken to that much of that is part of what had animated President Biden to run against Donald Trump in the first place. If you think back to those clashes in Charlottesville back in 2017, but the Biden campaign is also really keyed in on trying to focus and zero in on Trump's policy.


They must believe this is a moment where some of the president -- former president's platforms are really coming into focus, including plans to return to hardline immigration policies of his first administration but this isn't happening in a vacuum. Recent polling has found from CNN that the former president is narrowly beating President Biden on the national level.

The Biden campaign, of course, has pushed back arguing that these early polling aren't reflective of the final election outcomes. But there has been some pressure from allies for the president to take a more forceful stance against Trump. One Democratic donor telling me "Joe is going take the gloves off and start to engage with facts instead of bs. They've got to be more forceful, a little bit more in the electorate's space and take these guys on."

Of course, advisors say that the president's full campaign mode won't be gearing up until next year, but the President Biden has shown this willingness to try to take on Trump, a little bit more with as each week.

BASH: Thank you so much for that great report. And you can see more of it -- read more of it on And here we have a group of excellent reporters to discuss all of it and more CNN's David Chalian, CNN's Audie Cornish, CNN's Gloria Borger. Hello. Nice to see you wonderful humans on this Friday.

Let's start with the New Hampshire numbers. So yesterday, you revealed on the show, the Republican side of new CNN reporting of what's going on in New Hampshire. That is, I think, a more robust race. I had to say that well, maybe it is, maybe it isn't.

But what was revealed or released today were Democrats in New Hampshire and how they feel. And you'll explain why it's not actually a straight question because it's complicated about how there will be a primary or whether it'll be a primary. So, it's asked about a Biden write-in 65 percent, Dean Phillips 10 percent, Marianne Williamson 9 percent.

Let's just start with that sort of topline of how Democrats in New Hampshire feel, particularly about Joe Biden.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Yes. I mean, I'd say Dean Phillips and Marianne Williamson is not getting so much traction on the guy who actually won't even be on the ballot, as you know, Biden changed the rules of the game for the Democrats. He wanted South Carolina to go first in the process and not New Hampshire, and therefore New Hampshire's primary, which they said, no. Our state law says we have to go first is in violation of DNC rules.

So, Biden is not appearing on the ballot to be in accordance with DNC rules. That's the little complication. But nearly two thirds of likely Democratic voters are still willing to write in his name. I don't think he has real concerns here about a damaging Democratic primary in the first in the nation state.

BASH: Let's talk about the enthusiasm in New Hampshire because New Hampshire has -- I would say in the past 20 years gone back and forth a little bit. I mean, recently it's not so much been that much of a question, but every state matters and you never know enthusiasm. Again, this is just a New Hampshire, this is among Democrats for Joe Biden.

26 percent, only 26 percent say they're enthusiastic, satisfied 46 percent, dissatisfied and angry 21 and 4 percent. But if you look deeper, Audie Cornish, into this poll and you look at it by age, it's really striking. 10 percent say that they're enthusiastic. And when I say they, that's people under 50. And then over 50 is 41 percent. These are Democrats.

AUDIE CORNISH, CNN ANCHOR & CORRESPONDENT: I mean, nobody to be clear is enthusiastic about their choice right now. I feel like on either side of the ticket, like this is not a matchup, anybody really wanted to see again. And now, as it's getting closer people are paying closer attention. And they want to register their dismay in these kinds of surveys, you're going to see these numbers.

For me, it's sort of hard to tease out given what's going on internationally and the generational divide within the Democratic Party on Israel and the war in Gaza. That is really striking. It's really pronounced, and I do think it can have an effect in these kinds of conversations in a way that often foreign policy numbers do not. I don't know, anyone else?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: These younger voters, I think what that reflects is their concerns about his age. And that is also reflected in the rest of the poll. And, you know, this sense that they have suffered through an economic downturn, if they wanted to get a mortgage, the rates were high. They don't see any increase in their paycheck.

CORNISH: The student loan issues.

BORGER: That's right, exactly. The student loan issue. So, I think, you know, again, Biden nationally is not doing well with a lot of constituent groups that he did very well with in 2020, like black voters, Hispanic voters, younger voters. So, this is just one more area where they have to kind of get the wind at their backs again a little bit and talk to younger voters in a way that will appeal to them.

BASH: He's going to be 81 years old on Monday. Let's look at what this poll shows.


CHALIAN: It'll be a lot closer to 82 on election day next year.

BASH: Yes.

BORGER: That is true.

BASH: Let's look at the way he is perceived on some of his sort of personality traits as opposed to Donald Trump temperament way better. Honesty, integrity, way better. Policy positions about even, physical mental fitness 10 points lower than Donald Trump.

CHALIAN: It's the only attribute that we tested in this poll where Trump is ahead of Biden.

CORNISH: And the only attribute he can't fix.

CHALIAN: And the only attribute he can't fix. Here is the reality. New Hampshire is not a terrible state for Joe Biden. His approval rating overall is a little bit higher than it is nationally like a tick -- higher than it is nationally. I think we have 44 percent in this poll. And it's the matchup and this gets to what we were just talking about with our -- in her reporting, Dana.

It is always been the case that the Biden team understood this was going to be a contrast campaign. That is what they were gearing up for. The contrast is the campaign that that is -- and it gets to why Joe Biden initially sought the presidency last time around. So, all of that was going to be the case.

And what numbers like this show, when you look at that side-by-side comparison. If you look at their favorable and unfavorable, yes, Joe Biden is not popular, his numbers are upside down. But you know, who's more unpopular, Donald Trump. And that's the conversation they want to take to vote.


BORGER: Don't compare me to the almighty, compare me to the alternative.

BASH: Exactly.

BORGER: And that's what this is. But if I were looking at this poll and I were working for Biden, I would say, oh, it's not that bad, you know, they're used to bad ones. But, you know, more 62 percent of adults in New Hampshire say that Trump has probably committed a crime. You know, when you look at Republican polling, there's no belief in the fact that he committed a crime.

BASH: Oh, they don't care.

BORGER: So, and you know, since you have -- what 40 percent of the primary electorates' independents, you know, this is good news for him, even though he's technically not running there. But it does show that, you know, the indictments and the possible convictions are having an impact somewhere.

CORNISH: But to your point, Dana, I think that's also why we're seeing the president juice up his attacks because that has been the number one criticism from within the party, is if you're going to draw this distinction to the alternative. Let's see it.

Where is it? What does it sound like this kind of conversation that the economy is so good, even if you don't feel it isn't working? And I do think that's where you can tell the Biden folks have heard these polls and are taking them to heart because now, they're really trying to make that effort to underscore. Here's where we're different. Here's where we're different.

BORGER: I talked to one Democratic strategist who said to me the other day, said to me, can we stop saying Bidenomics? It's just not working.

BASH: But that was their idea.


CORNISH: Trying to make what? They're trying to make fetch as. They're trying to make a thing -- that wasn't going to happen.

BORGER: Right. Obamacare ended up working out just fine, but Bidenomics just isn't singing the same song.

BASH: Well, for lots of reasons, which we can do a whole other segment.

BORGER: Right.

BASH: But up next, we're going to talk about what's going on in Capitol Hill. The resolution to expel George Santos it is now officially been filed. Will Republicans in the House vote to oust their embattled colleague? We've got some new details next.




BASH: The House is another step closer to expelling George Santos from Congress, the Republican chairman of the ethics committee introduced an expulsion resolution just this morning. One day after a damning report concluded he quote, "fraudulently exploited every aspect of his House candidacy for his own personal financial profit."

CNN's Melanie Zanona is live on Capitol Hill with details on this would be the third effort -- the latest effort to force him out. Melanie, what are you hearing from your sources about whether that's going to be needed or whether he would potentially go on his own?

MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: Well, no one truly knows what George Santos is going to do. He has said that he's not going to seek reelection in 2024. He has said he's going to stick around and stick this out. We'll see if that comes to fruition. But in the meantime, there are clear signs that momentum is growing for this expulsion effort, including in the GOP.

Since this report came out yesterday, there have been a dozen new Republicans who have come out and said, they're going to back this after previously voting against it. Now it is a high bar. There is a two thirds majority required for something like expulsion, and as you noted, past efforts have failed. But now having the chairman of the House Ethics Committee behind this is significant.

And meanwhile, the new Speaker Mike Johnson, he's essentially giving members the green light to vote their conscience. I want to read you part of the statement from his spokesman Raj Shah. He said, the speaker has reviewed the report and its very troubling findings. As members from both parties, members of the ethics committee and Representative Santos return to Congress after the Thanksgiving break. Speaker Johnson encourages all involved to consider the best interests of the institution as this matter is addressed further.

So, we are expecting action at some point after the Thanksgiving break. And meanwhile, Santos put out a new tweet yesterday where he continued to bash this ethics report, continued to be defined it -- defiant here, continued to claim his innocence. And he also announced that he's going to be having a press conference on November 30 on the Capitol steps. We'll see if that winds up being his last press conference here on Capitol Hill. Dana?

BASH: We certainly well. Melanie, thank you so much for that. And the panel is back here. You know, this is just one more maybe chapter in this book that I want to write, I call the end of shame, which is the notion that politicians like, it wasn't that long ago that we were covering Capitol Hill and something maybe not this egregious, but something would happen that was an obvious ethics lapse.


And the member would just feel so ashamed that they would leave or the speaker or the leader would call them in and say, this is your -- this is your resignation and you're going to put this on your letterhead and you're going to go. Bye, bye.

CORNISH: At least penalize them in some way. You probably remember the William Jefferson case, he was found to have a --


CORNISH: -- the cash in the refrigerator right, $90,000 of cash in his refrigerator. He ran for reelection, right, he kind of stuck it out. And he was stripped of his committee positions. But I think what's important is that lawmakers are never so protective of the institution is when they're talking about themselves. And that's why they didn't really -- there were Republicans who voted, you know, not to go against Rashida Tlaib.

And there were Democrats who voted not to expel Santos because they believe that there should be due process and protections for them when there are accusations. And they don't want a politicized process to get them tossed out of Congress against the will of the people. So, I think this is playing out the way a lot of people expected in the end and that there's actually a report with actual details.

CHALIAN: Just on the politics of this for a moment, though. The Democrats are being robbed of a campaign image that they would like next fall in George Santos. You know, having him there has been, especially in those New York House races that basically delivered the Republican majority last time around.

He's such a public poster child of like, all things wrong with the Republican Party in the House right now that it has -- it has been beneficial Democrats, and it's why we've seen the New York Republicans very vocal about wanting that. So, they like either resign or get them expelled. Get this guy out now, so that it's not present for voters.

BASH: But it's interesting, yes. But they -- the Republican leadership, the former Speaker Kevin McCarthy, others, they had the opportunity to do that for a very long time and to wait for the ethics report, which is fine. I mean, I guess that's the way the rules go but that's not the politics. BORGER: But they didn't want to lose the seat. You know, they don't want to lose a seat.

BASH: But they might lose a seat now.

BORGER: Right, but they didn't want to lose the seat.

BASH: Let me just -- actually on that note, let me just kind of give people a data point of what we're talking about. The districts in New York have been moved a bit and they will potentially move again, because there is a lawsuit. But let's just generally look at what our team says is the makeup of the New York third district.

Joe Biden won that area, a 53.5 percent, Donald Trump 45 percent. And that is if there is a special election, if he's either expelled or if he resigns, that is the terrain that Republicans are going to have to go into.

BORGER: Yes. They're going to be, you know, it's ripe territory for Democrat and they know that. But these Republicans from upstate New York, consider who have been so vocal about this, feel like he has done the party there a lot of damage. And, you know, so it's not -- so they're out there, you know, as David was saying, campaigning against this guy, but you know, it's not good for the Republican Party there.

CORNISH: And not just generally like he messed about with donors, you know, the allegations here that he manipulated to lie. So, lots of other Republicans in that state are like, what do you say to a donor who says to you, look, if you guys can't even take care of the money, we want to give you why should we bother giving it to you.

BORGER: Right. And he's doing -- you know, Santos is doing a Donald Trump. You know, he's blaming the ethics committee. It's a witch hunt. He's taking a page out of Donald Trump's book.

BASH: OK. Let's just -- actually just give a contrarian look to this district because assuming that there's going to be some kind of race in some way shape or form to replace him. The team found this article was on CBS News and it's specifically about a race on Long Island this year, so just a couple of weeks ago, or maybe it was last week.

Once again, Long Island was an outlier. Very much like last year, the rest of the country went blue. Long Island went red. This is a reaction to Albany politics. So, it's not a given, no. And Santos did win by a pretty healthy margin.

CHALIAN: This is not a guaranteed pickup for the Democrats, although a former Democratic Congressman is seeking the sea, right. And there was already a Republican primary challenge in place because Santos is such a joke and such a flawed character. For a year now, he's been like, hanging over the politics around this and his absurdity. And so, I think if he is removed from the equation -- yes, this will get more back to sort of competitive ground than it would be if Santos was still running.

BORGER: Yes. I think one of the reasons McCarthy wanted to keep Santos because he was so reliable.

BASH: As a vote.


BORGER: As a vote. He would do anything McCarthy want it.


BORGER: Yes. As a vote.

CORNISH: But I do wonder with the new speaker if there's like a smidge more stability. There's not so much of this like, oh, oh, oh, which way will we move, we'll see that play out more in January.

BASH: We'll just the statement that Melanie showed from the new speaker's spokesman, basically like you do you guys, I'm not going to try to save him. Really interesting. Coming up. We're going to go to Israel as the ground invasion of Gaza enters, its third week questions are mounting about what exactly a post war Gaza would look like. I'll talk to the man responsible for turning the tide in Iraq. General David Petraeus will join me next.