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Trump Hurls Insults, DeSantis And Haley Snip At Him; Biden's Approach To Israel Alienates Young Voters; Vice President Harris To Make New Appeals To Young Voters, Black Voters; Conservatives Unhappy With Speaker's Spending Solution; Senate Dem's Campaign Chief Says He's Confident About Holding Majority. Aired 11a-12p ET
Aired November 19, 2023 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MANU RAJU, CNN HOST: Closing it out.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have to send a great signal, and then maybe these people just say, okay, it's over now.
RAJU: Trump tries to finish off his GOP rivals, but with Nikki Haley surging in the polls --
NIKKI HALEY, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The chaos has got to stop.
RAJU: Is there still time to take him down?
Plus, balancing act. President Biden says he's heartbroken by civilian deaths in Gaza, but that it's still not time for a ceasefire.
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Hamas has already said publicly that they plan on attacking Israel again.
RAJU: Is he out of step with most Democrats?
And out of order.
REP. TIM BURCHETT (R-TN): It was a clean shot to the kidneys.
RAJU: The new Republican speaker grapples with the House in disarray. What can the GOP majority get done?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want my Republican colleagues to give me one thing, one that I can go campaign on and say we did.
RAJU: Good morning, and welcome to INSIDE POLITICS SUNDAY, I'm Manu Raju.
Everybody can now go home. The 2024 primary race is basically over. At least that's what the message that former president Trump had for his Republican challengers yesterday in Iowa. The first in the nation contest is still about two months away, but the runaway front runner says he's ready to wrap it up there and just move on to the general.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Based on the polls, it looks like we're in good shape, but, you know, the worst thing you can do is say, oh, you know we're going to stay because he's leading by so much. Get out and vote. Because there have been some bad surprises.
We have to send a great signal, and then maybe these people just say, OK, it's over now. It's over. We got to end it because we have to focus on crooked Joe Biden and the Democrats.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RAJU: He may be confident, but that didn't stop him from whipping out all his nastiest nicknames for his top two competitors, Nikki Haley and Ron DeSantis. Both of them are ramping up their own critiques of the former president, but are still struggling to emerge as a true Trump alternative.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Nikki Birdbrain, sir, I will never, ever vote against you. You're the greatest president in my lifetime. Two months later, ladies and gentlemen, I'd like to announce my candidacy. It's birdbrain. I know her well. She's not up to the job.
HALEY: It's the chaos of it all, right? And so I think he means well, but the chaos has got to stop.
TRUMP: Ron DeSantis, I got him elected. Now he's finished in 28. He's got no chance in 28. He's got no chance.
GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): I view his candidacy as high risk with low reward because I think as a lame duck with poor personnel and the distractions, it's going to be hard for him to get this done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RAJU: Time is running out though for Haley, DeSantis or any of the other Republicans to close the wide polling gap between President Trump and the rest of the race. The Iowa caucuses are on January 15th in Hampshire eight days after that.
So if President Trump wins big in Iowa, is it all over for everyone else?
Let's break this all down with our great panel this morning, the Wall Street Journal's Molly Ball, CNN's Isaac Dovere, Tolu Olorunnipa from the Washington Post, and Julie Davis from the New York Times.
Good morning everybody. Thanks for joining me. It's a lot to chew on after this week. Pretty chaotic week. We'll get to all of that through the course of the show.
But just about the Iowa in the dynamics of the race. We're getting closer and closer. We're just a two months away. Trump's telling his rivals that he can win -- if he wins Iowa, it's all over essentially. Is that the case? I mean, at the last Iowa caucus winner when there was not an incumbent president was George W. Bush. But -- So Iowa doesn't necessarily pick winners, but is he essentially -- will that be the end of it do you think if he pulls away in Iowa?
MOLLY BALL, WALL STREET JOURNAL SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: It could be. It might not be. I think, look, Trump himself did not win Iowa in 2016 and then went on to -- of course, win the nominations. So it is not by definition the case that whoever wins Iowa runs away with it.
On the other hand the margins that we've seen for Trump in all of these polls look pretty prohibitive in the early states, as well as overall nationally.
But Iowa is definitely somewhere that DeSantis, in particular, but really all of the Trump rivals see as their opportunity. But then you have New Hampshire which is a very different electorate. Different Republican primary electorate given the open primary. Independence potentially voting.
So I think there is at least hypothetically an opportunity for someone who's not as palatable to that very socially conservative Iowa electorate to then, you know, make inroads in New Hampshire.
That had been Nikki Haley's strategy, but as we've seen her rising in New Hampshire, we've also seen her rise in Iowa, so she doesn't necessarily just have to focus on one state.
RAJU: Yes. And, look, there's always a change in the dynamics of a race after a state, the polling changes, the momentum changes, people drop out, so there's a lot that can -- that will happen after that plays out.
Finally, we're seeing some of these candidates, the rivals going after Trump, a little bit more direct. We saw DeSantis and Haley there attacking them on a whole range of issues. Are they having any impact though on Trump in this race?
ISAAC DOVERE, CNN SENIOR REPORTER: Based on the polls, it doesn't seem like a lot so far, but look, the polls can change a lot. Four years ago, at this point in the Democratic race, it didn't look like the way it turned out in Iowa, in New Hampshire, exactly.
But also to your point, Joe Biden came in fourth in Iowa and he came in fifth in New Hampshire and he is -- he was the nominee, like, three weeks after that and obviously he's the president.
The issue here is that these candidates are trying to figure out over and over again how they say to these Republican voters who clearly like a lot of what President Trump did, a lot of who he is, a lot of how he goes about things and say, yes, we're just like him except better in this way that is nuanced, but we're not attacking too much and not turning them off. And it's really a difficult thing to do. I don't think anybody came into it with a clear theory of how to do it and they are still circling around ways that add --
RAJU: And the electability argument just simply has not worked with a lot of Republican primary voters, even though Republicans have struggled in the last several election cycles in no small part, thanks to Donald Trump.
You started to hear more about the attack about his age. Ron DeSantis, this morning. on the State of the Union invoked the fact that Trump would be 77. He'd be the oldest person ever to be elected president if he -- if he wins next year. Biden turns 81 on Monday, but DeSantis was not afraid to invoke Trump's age.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DESANTIS: But Donald Trump would actually be older on January 20th, 2025 than Biden was on January 20th, 2021.
Look, when you get to this point, the presidency is not a job for somebody that's pushing 80 years old. I just think that that's something that has been shown with Joe Biden. Father time is undefeated. Donald Trump has not exempt from any of that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RAJU: Does that kind of work?
TOLUSE OLORUNNIPA, CNN ANALYST: Well, we've seen this argument before. We've seen it from Nikki Haley when she first started her campaign saying, we need a new generational leader.
RAJU: Yes. Competency test and all that. What happened to that?
OLORUNNIPA: Competency test. Now it's becoming much more explicit. Before it was a little bit more implicit trying to focus on Joe Biden and sort of by proxy also attacked Donald Trump.
Now it's more explicit. You're seeing people like Ron DeSantis saying, if you're pushing 80, you shouldn't be president. I wouldn't be surprised if you also hear something similar from Nikki Haley as they try to make this a two-person race. They try to make a contrast between themselves and Donald Trump, not just there's contrast with Joe Biden, who they want to face in the general election, but they need to really focus on making this a two-person race in the Republican primary. And until then, they're going to try different strategy.
RAJU: Yes. I mean, that's the question too, right? Is it too late to find a true alternative given that these Trump opponents are all dividing up the anti-Trump vote?
Just look at the polls. Nikki Haley has had a good week in the polls. Donors support have been rising, but still, the anti-Trump vote is being divided over several candidates here. In New Hampshire, he -- she's up to 20 percent. Trump's still up 40 -- 43 percent there, 53 percent. Trump is winning in her home state of South Carolina. She's up at 22 percent. DeSantis and Haley are tied, 16 percent.
You know, she's getting some good headlines too, as you see from our graphic there about donors are moving towards her.
But what is her actual path for defeating Trump?
JULIE HIRSCHFIELD DAVIS, CONGRESSIONAL EDITOR, THE NEW YORK TIMES: I don't know that she's found one. I mean, I think she is definitely looking for one. And I think, you know, clearly you play the sound of her saying, you know, enough with this chaos. I think that message is resonating with and that is part of the reason you see some of the donors going to her is that people are starting to get nervous that as Trump's rhetoric gets more extreme and people are reminded of the things that he did as president and are hearing about the things he would do in the next term that they're starting to get shaky.
But if you look at those polls, I mean, those are deficits that are very, very difficult to make up. And the thing with the age argument too, as Isaac was saying, they're all trying to thread the needle of criticizing him, but not offending his supporters, which are, you know, who are very ardent within the base of the party. Age is one way to do that.
We totally agree with him on everything. It's just he's going to be so old, but it's hard for Nikki Haley or anyone to make that into a true path to actually beat him rather than just knock him down a few notches.
RAJU: And, look, Christie's pulling 14 percent in New Hampshire. That just shows you there is this anti-Trump vote that's out there, but as long as they're all in the race, they can't figure out a way to get one person to take him down.
BALL: Yes. I mean, you mentioned that the donors are taking a look at Haley. And I think they all realize, especially we had a story this week about a lot of Wall Street donors who are sort of giving her an audition.
This is a donor-based, a sort of elite right Republican establishment donor-based that would really like to see Trump stopped, that would really like to see a candidate they consider more electable on the top of the ticket.
But -- and I think a lot of them were behind DeSantis early on, but then got cold feet watching him perform in this campaign. So, they all know that the opportunity for anyone not named Donald Trump has to come through consolidation, has to come through.
Because you see, Trump is under 50 percent in those two first states. That means that at least on paper, there is a majority of the Republican electorate that is at least open to somebody else. The question is, are they all open to the same candidate, or are they going to go in different directions, depending on how the field shapes are?
RAJU: And all this comes out as these candidates are still trying to figure out a way to -- how to attack Trump as we've been saying.
But, you know, there was this development that happened on Friday in Colorado, in which Donald Trump, he won this race, he started an effort to try to deny him to being on the ballot, alleging that he had, because he had been engaged in an insurrection, he was constitutionally barred from sort of being on the ballot.
He's -- will be allowed according to this judge, but this is the interesting thing here. The court that finds that the petitioners have established that Trump engaged in an insurrection on January 6, 2021, through incitement. This is according to the district judge, Sarah B. Wallace, saying that Donald Trump, the former president, engaged in an insurrection on January 6, and silence really from the Republican rivals, or you would think that would be something that they would jump on.
But that just tells you so much about the way Republican politics are. DeSantis was asked about this on Saturday. He declined to comment, said that I have not seen what she did, so I can't comment on it.
DOVERE: A real profile and courage, standing up to where things are either on the idea of it or on the politics of it.
But look, one of the dynamics that you see going on about the Republicans and the Democrats at this point is this, like, from the old Saturday Night Live skit, like, I can't believe I'm losing to this guy, right? Like the Republicans can't believe that Biden could possibly be competitive that he could win. He's old, he's had all the problems that he's had. He's at 39 percent on popularity, I think, in our latest CNN poll.
And the Democrats look at Trump and they say the same thing, like, how -- a judge in Colorado has now put it at the -- and all his 91 indictments, everything there. How could this be a competitive race?
And some of what you -- the fantasy that starts coming is that if the Republicans had someone other than Trump, or if the Democrats had someone other than Biden, that suddenly the race would like crack open and wouldn't be a tight race.
But what the -- a lot of the Republicans are preparing for, and certainly what the Biden campaign is preparing for, is that this is going to be a tight race no matter what.
DOVERE: And that it will probably go down to a couple of thousand votes in a couple of states --
RAJU: Yes. DOVERE: -- for all that we're talking about.
RAJU: It's a highly polarized right. It's going to be a close race no matter what. We'll see which candidates ultimately emerge.
All right. Next, Democrats are turning against the Biden's handling of the Israel-Hamas war. How much will that hurt his re-election campaign? That's coming up.
RAJU: A top White House official tells CNN this morning that Israel may be on the verge of a deal with Hamas to release some of the hostages in exchange for a brief pause in the conflict.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JON FINER, DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: We think that we are closer than we have been perhaps at any point since these negotiations began weeks ago that there are areas of difference and disagreement that have been narrowed if not closed out entirely.
But that the mantra that nothing is agreed until everything is agreed certainly applies here to such a sensitive negotiation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RAJU: Now, U.S. broker deal would certainly be welcome news, but there is very tough new polling out from NBC News this morning and how Biden is handling the war. His approval on foreign policies down eight points since September to 33 percent approve, 62 percent disapprove.
And while Biden is standing strongly with Israel, Democratic voters are split. Fifty-one percent say Israel's military actions have gone too far. But just 27 percent say they are justified.
Our panel is back. I mean, look, foreign policy was supposed to be Joe Biden's calling card. He's touted then in his first campaign ad, but that -- these numbers show that how voters view that. How concerning should that be for the White House?
DAVIS: I mean, I think they are concerned, and it's justifiable concern because there is a big portion of the Democratic base that has clearly gotten less and less comfortable with the way this is unfolded here.
You can see that on Capitol Hill. You can see it in the number of -- there's a small, but very vocal contingent who have called for a ceasefire. There's a much larger group now that is not necessarily calling for a full ceasefire, but maybe humanitarian pauses. There was a big letter that the majority of Democratic senators signed on to, saying if you want military assistance for Israel, you have to meet these following conditions and it included making sure that Israel was abiding by the laws of war and all sorts of other things that the president hasn't necessarily been talking about publicly.
But I think the case the White House is trying to make is that, privately and through diplomacy and all these things that Biden has very experienced in, he is trying to, you know, steer a more careful course with this policy with Israel and with, you know, their degree of support for Israel's offensive.
That's a little bit harder of a case to make. And you see from the polls that some Democratic voters certainly do not believe that or at least are on the fence about it. There was a pretty big portion there of not sure. And I think those are the people that they really need to nail down.
RAJU: And he's trying to -- the president has tried to explain more clearly his views about this evolving war. He published an op-ed in the post this morning, rejecting calls for a ceasefire while also expressing sympathy for the Palestinian deaths.
He said, "To Hamas's members, every ceasefire is time they exploit to rebuild their stockpile of rockets, reposition fighters, and restart the killing by attacking innocents again. I too am heartbroken by the images out of Gaza and the deaths out of many thousands of civilians, including children. Every innocent Palestinian life is a tragedy that rips apart families and communities."
I mean, this is an incredibly difficult balancing act, but by doing that, he's essentially angering both sides here.
OLORUNNIPA: Exactly. He's trying to split the baby. He's trying to sort of speak to both sides of the issues, speak to the Palestinians and the Israelis and make sure that both sides feel that they are being heard.
But the end game is something that has been very difficult to parse out when you hear the president talking. What happens after Israel finishes this bombardment of Gaza? What's the next stage? You have heard the president say that, you know, you can't live with Gaza on your doorstep, but at the same time, there's no real explanation of what's going to happen afterward.
In the meantime, you're seeing thousands upon thousands of civilian deaths, and that's something that is becoming harder and harder politically for the U.S. and for the Democratic Party to sustain.
RAJU: And perhaps one of the most alarming things for the Biden campaign is just what poll after poll is showing about young voters.
That was a key part of his coalition, but even the new NBC poll speaks to what we've been seeing in several other polls, 46 percent among young voters, among voters 18 to 34, support him in September. That was in September 31 percent in November. Just 23 percent of 18 to 34 year olds approved of his foreign policy.
I mean, I talked to a lot of Democrats on the Hill. And they recognize that that is a huge vulnerability, young voters, as you position themselves for next year.
DOVERE: And there's no question about it. And look, on the other hand, in 2012, or this point in 2011 going into 2012, there was a big question whether Barack Obama would be able to get the youth voters the same level that he did in 2008. And he did. He actually ended up exceeding, and I think by a little bit.
So this is a question over and over again. It's more a question given some of the policies that have been out there of what's going on in the reaction to Israel and that President Biden is turning 81 tomorrow.
DOVERE: And that is a big thing. And, yes, Donald Trump is 77. But this is a strange proposition to a lot of younger voters in America to think, you could have a president at the end of the second term who's 86 or one who's 83.
RAJU: Yes. And, look, there have been a lot of reports as to how -- including at CNN, about how the White House Biden campaign is trying to shift its focus more towards Donald Trump and trying to draw that contrast. This is from our colleague, Arlette Saenz, reported. Biden campaign officials saying they're turning up the heat, brightening the spotlight on exactly what it would look like if he, Donald Trump, has allowed back in the White House.
They want headlines like what we saw out of Axios to Times and Washington Post about what a next Trump term would look like. That's to some saying we should have done this. The Democrats, the Biden campaign, should have done this earlier, but that is clearly the new focus or increased focus at this point of the campaign.
BALL: That's right. That's the main argument that you will hear from the Biden's allies and the Democratic Party when you bring up these enormous deficits among youth voters is, at the end of the day, they don't think these are people who are going to vote for Trump.
These young voters, this younger generation is further left. And I think they're -- the way that these -- a lot of young people have reacted to the war in the Middle East has taken some older Democrats by surprise.
BALL: But at the end of the day, they do not believe that those are people who will turn around and vote against Joe Biden.
Now the question is, does he still need them to come out?
RAJU: Yeah, that's the apathy.
BALL: Right? If they stay home, that could be almost as much of a problem. But they -- to the extent that they have confidence, they do believe that that's not a population that votes for Trump. But we also have the uncertainty of who else is on the ballot, what other options are available --
BALL: -- to these voters? Because if they're mad enough for Joe Biden, do they cast a protest vote?
RAJU: For Jill Stein, for instance, it was a problem for the Democrats in 2016.
So, Isaac, you have some new reporting about -- you talked to Kamala Harris --
RAJU: -- about all of this. And there's also questions about how she is used, implemented on the campaign trail. But she -- there seems to be some discussions about trying to win back young voters in particular people of color. This is what she said to you, Isaac.
She said, "We're going to have to earn our re-elect. There's no doubt about it. I have a great sense of duty and responsibility to do as much as I can to be where the people are and to not only speak with them, but listen to them and let me -- let them know what we have accomplished."
What was your takeaway from the conversation with her?
DOVERE: Look, the polls are a little bit all over the place on these things. But Joe Biden is clearly having trouble with younger voters and black voters in particular, voters of color more broadly.
Kamala Harris, in a number of these polls, including the New York Times poll from two weeks ago, is rating better with those voters. And she -- in some ways, it's like bad and worse. Like -- she's not like she's great with these voters. But this is an election, like I was saying that many people are, including the Biden campaign, think is going to be won on the margins by slivers of votes.
And there is a need from both from the Harris perspective of this and from the Biden campaign perspective overall to have her deployed in a way that will help draw some of those voters in.
Now, the trick, of course, is that there are voters that she turns off and that's why you see some of the Republican candidates who focused on, well, if Biden is elected then she'll be president and so they have to not turn those voters off while they're turning others on.
RAJU: Complicated balancing act. All right.
Coming up, 10 weeks of chaos. What Congress leaves behind after a bitter and chaotic period in the Capitol?
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) RAJU: It's been a long 10 weeks in the Capitol. A near government shutdown and uprising in the House GOP, ending the speakership of Kevin McCarthy. A little known Republican elevated and is now running the House after an ugly three-week internal fight. And tensions running very, very high with huge issues like funding the government and aiding Ukraine to Israel now punted until a later date. And yes, there was even a kidney punch allegedly thrown.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. TIM BURCHETT, (R) TENNESSEE: Got elbowed in the back and it kind of caught me off guard because it was a clean shot to the kidneys and I turned back and there was -- there was Kevin.
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY, (R) CALIFORNIA: I did not run and hit the guy. I did not kidney punch him. If I would hit somebody, they would know I hit him.
REP. JAMES COMER, (R) KENTUCKY: Is he 12, come on.
BURCHETT: If you look like a Smurf here just going around and all this stuff.
REP. JARED MOSKOWITZ, (D) FLORIDA: I think the Chairman needs a mental health day.
REP. CHIP ROY, (R) TEXAS: One thing, I want my Republican colleagues to give me one thing, one, that I can go campaign on and say we did. One.
REP. MIKE JOHNSON, (R) HOUSE SPEAKER: Members have been here, as Leader Scalia said, for 10 weeks. This place is a pressure cooker.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RAJU: Now, Republican Congressman Kelly Armstrong summed it up to Politico this way. The House GOP right now is the same clown car with a different driver. Politico's Burgess Everett joins the discussion. Burgess, you walk around the Capitol with me all day. What has been really fascinating is just about, you look at these different caucuses within Congress, House GOP, Senate Democrats, Senate GOP, they tend to listen to their leadership. Every once in a while they may break ranks, they may catch their leadership by surprise, but in the House Republican Conference, it has been completely every person for themselves. There is absolutely no team environment right now, and that's what prompts concerns about whether they can get anything done and keep control of the House.
BURGESS EVERETT, POLITICO CONGRESSIONAL BUREAU CHIEF: Yeah, and I think what's really interesting is for the first time in a few years, the holidays are saved, right? We're not going to be working in the Capitol right before Thanksgiving or for Christmas.
RAJU: All of our families are very happy about that. EVERETT: They are, but I think everyone at this table and everyone in
the capital should be worried about what's coming in January and February because that dynamic that you just said, what the solution to this most recent shutdown fight doesn't solve any of that. It just kicks the can and actually makes it more complicated. There's now two funding deadlines in January and February and it's pretty much whatever can pass the House Republican Party at this point. And those dynamics have not changed, will not change, doesn't seem a matter whose speaker at this point.
RAJU: They didn't even get their own party line bills through the house. They struggled to get the new speaker. It was forced to essentially yank three spending bills through the house. Those got pushed to the side. You mentioned those cliffs that were set up. And then there were just these huge issues. Israel, Ukraine aid, how do you deal with that? There is now an effort to try to get a deal on immigration policy, Titan immigration policy in order to get Ukraine passed.
Republicans are insisting on that. And there are some really serious warnings that if there is no stricter immigration policy and Mike Johnson decides to move ahead on Ukraine, that that could cost him with his potentially his speakership.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE, (R) GEORGIA: It's extremely concerning to me and it's a big disappointment. This is not what we should have been doing.
ROY: That's sort of like strike one and two. Swamp one, and Speaker needs to know that.
RAJU: What would be strike three?
ROY: Not moving actual border security and then trying to claim that you did.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RAJU: I mean, that is a real serious threat from Chip Roy, not moving actual border security and moving and improving Ukraine aid. That has to be causing some real significant concerns about whether any of this can actually get done.
JULIE DAVIS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Absolutely. I mean, by -- in the latest deal, which again, like Burgess said, only gets you, you know, until mid-January, early February. There's nothing done for Israel, nothing done for Ukraine. And the Republicans have made it very clear that they're not going to do anything unless there's some significant border restrictions added to the bill.
Now, the Biden administration has said it's open to additional funding for the border, and potentially some additional policy, stricter policy on the border. But their idea of that and the Republican idea that is very, very different. RAJU: Yeah.
HIRSCHFELD DAVIS: Chip Roy sponsored the bill. It's basically bringing back most of the Trump era immigration policies. It is big, very restrictive changes on the border that Democrats and President Biden will never be able to embrace.
RAJU: Yeah. What is the deal that Chuck Schumer and Mike Johnson can agree on an immigration that could unlock Ukraine aid? I mean, that is a huge question. But what's been interesting about Mike Johnson's deal, we've got some clues about how he would run the House since his very brief tenure. He initially moved forward with his Israel aid package with cuts to the IRS that went nowhere in the Senate, that was meant to appease the right. He cut the deal on government spending, but did not insist on cuts. Really, cave to the Democrats' demands on that, angered the right. But he had made the members happy on the far right about his decision to release surveillance footage inside the Capitol, January 6th surveillance footage.
He said this was in the name of transparency. I want you to see, look at this, how he explained this decision to release this internal footage about the January 6th. The American people can always be trusted to evaluate information and make their own judgments and decisions. When bureaucrats and partisan activists withhold data to advance a narrative, it erodes trust in our institutions. We must restore that trust.
What do you make of his decision to release these tapes? I mean, all the pressures he's facing on the right, but also, you know, his statement there, he's not saying January 6th was a terrible day and our democracy should never happen again. He said he's concerned about the narrative that has been advanced on January 6th?
BALL: Yeah, well, as you say, he clearly is trying to placate the right and give them -- you know, appease them with various promises that he's made. This was a promise that he made to, you know, Matt Gaetz and others that he would release these tapes in the name of accountability and transparency. But I think the question is, will that be enough? Because it is very similar to the Kevin McCarthy playbook. Try to placate the right wing by giving them some of the things that they want while at the same time, keeping the government open with democratic votes and, you know, tacitly admitting that the approach that they would like to see taken of severe cuts to government spending and passing appropriations bills is not viable. And there's no situation really that we can see where it would be viable.
So, you know, he has used up his political capital at this point. This honeymoon that he had with everybody just being so exhausted and wanting to give the new guy who obviously came in with a very steep learning curve, wanting to give him some space to feel it out. That seems to be over and it's going to be, I think, as Julie said, a very difficult January and February. RAJU: How alarmed -- you talk to Senate Republicans all day long, how
alarmed have they been in just watching all the chaos that has happened on the other side of the aisle and this impacting their chances next year?
EVERETT: Yeah, I mean, you talked to Senate Republicans. They wanted to see the government funded into December. They're OK with doing a big year end deal to get the government funded. That's not what happened. And I think Speaker Johnson actually probably exceeded expectations because there were some Senate Republicans that didn't think he was going to be able to do this government funding plan that he set out this complicated, laddered CR that we haven't really seen in recent years.
So it's not hard to get a handful of the Senate Republicans, a little keyed up about how the House Republicans are acting and making their lives a lot more difficult.
RAJU: I mean, the White House, they must be loving this, right? I mean, Biden's numbers obviously are not good as we've talked about, but they can say, well, at least we're not those guys.
OLORUNNIPA: They like drawing the contrast. They definitely like being able to say, point at these Republicans. They're starting to fight each other almost physically in some cases. And I am, yes, 80 years old, knocking 81 shortly, but I am a steady hand. I'm someone who can keep the government open, keep the government running steadily. And Republicans, including Donald Trump, are going to take us to a position of chaos. Now, at the same time, the Biden administration wants to get things done through Congress. They have these two wars that are taking place. They have other things they need to actually get done. They don't want to have a government shutdown. And so while they relish the idea of being able to draw this contrast, they actually do need to govern. They do need to be able to show that they can work with Congress to keep the government open, fund the wars in Ukraine and in Israel, and make sure that all of these various legislative priorities get passed.
So it's a tough role that they have in being able to take political advantage while also trying to get policy.
RAJU: I mean, the challenge now is kicking this stuff into the election year, legislating, always more difficult in an election year, campaigning, the politics, primaries. Everything will get more, more difficult if you can believe it.
OK, coming up, my exclusive with the man in charge of holding onto Democrats' razor-thin majority in the Senate.
RAJU: While Republicans are cleaning up a mess in the House, over in the Senate, things are looking brighter for the GOP. Democrats, they're facing uphill battle to defend their razor-thin majority. Endangered Democrats face re-election challenges in two red states, Montana and Ohio, in major fights in a handful of purple states too, including Nevada, Arizona, Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania.
And it all got much harder with Senator Joe Manchin's announcement he would not run again in conservative West Virginia. This week I spoke with Democratic Senator Gary Peters. He's the man in charge of holding on to his party's majority. He is trying to defy the odds.
RAJU: It seems without Manchin, West Virginia is essentially off the map, right?
SEN. GARY PETERS, (D) CHAIRMAN, DEMOCRATIC SENATORIAL CAMPAIGN COMMITTEE: Weast Virginia is a very tough state. Joe Manchin had the ability to win there because of his long career and the brand that he built. But we are focused on other states that also have those kinds of incumbents running for reelection. And those places, like Montana and Ohio, that are clearly going to be very challenging, also have incumbent senators who have proven that they can outrun the Democratic ticket at large. They have very distinct brands. They've delivered for both Montana and for Ohio. And I'm confident they're going to be able to win because of that distinctive brand.
RAJU: How would you advise them? Should they separate themselves from the President?
PETERS: Well, they have to always run as the senator from that individual state, as people want someone who's going to represent Montana in Washington. Some -- they want folks who are going to represent Ohio. So it's important to talk about what you have done in your time in the Senate and what your vision is for the future.
RAJU: And here's what one of those vulnerable Democrats, Pennsylvania's Bob Casey, told me about running with Biden at the top of the ticket.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RAJU: Is he a vulnerability at all? I mean, does he drag you down or you don't think so?
SEN. BOB CASEY, (D) PENNSYLVANIA: No.
RAJU: Who you need to run ahead of them? A lot of them from Democrats in the swing states will have to run ahead of the President.
CASEY: I'm going to win. I don't care what the level is.
RAJU: So, I mean, Gary Peters, you talked too, Burgess. I mean, he is essentially trying to replicate, to some extent, what happened in the last cycle. It was a good map. It appeared for the Republicans, not as good as this map, but abortion became an issue. Bad Republican primaries helped them. And the difference, though, is that this is a presidential election year, binds at the top of the tickets and they have some red state Democrats.
EVERETT: Yeah, have to go back to 2012 to see someone like John Tester winning alongside President Barack Obama in a state like Montana and in those 12 years has ticket splitting increased or decreased, right, it's gone down, it's more rare people are not splitting their tickets as much. Susan Collins is the last recent example of somebody who's winning from a state that the presidential nominee did not win.
So you have these two senators from red states. They have a proven track record. They've won in tough races. They're raising a ton of money. They have big personalities. Will that be enough to outweigh maybe a 15-point drag from Biden in Montana maybe eight points in Ohio? I don't know it'll be a huge test of whether voters are just voting straight ticket down the line in his presidential.
RAJU: Yeah, I asked Tester about this. He said, I don't think he makes much of a difference in terms of the president. He said, we haven't had a popular democratic president since LBJ. Now, the -- it's also interesting that Peter seems to think that there's going to be a possibility for part two, pickup opportunities.
These are tough states, though. Florida and Texas, Ted Cruz and Rick Scott. And we're running is an incumbents. He told me that he believes that there's a chance because of their unpopularity.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RAJU: Do you actually think that Rick Scott and Ted Cruz are actually vulnerable?
PETERS: Certainly if you look at the two incumbents, their polling numbers are very weak. They're not strong in their state. We're going to have very strong challenger coming out of the primaries in those two states. And we'll be able to raise resources. Certainly donors around the country have very strong opinions about those two individuals.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RAJU: Yeah, Democratic donors definitely want to take out those two. Question is, how do these Republicans respond? This is what Rick Scott said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RAJU: The DSCC seems to think that you could be a pick-up opportunity for them, especially --
SEN. RICK SCOTT, (R) FLORIDA: I wouldn't want to run against me.
RAJU: You wouldn't want to run against you? SCOTT: No, I wouldn't want to run against me.
RAJU: I wouldn't want to run against me, but I guess the question is, is he right? I mean, Democrats have had a hard time. Florida is trending Republican, Texas is Texas.
BALL: Yeah, no, it tells you what a steep map this is for the Democrats, that those are their pickup opportunities. Really their only pickup opportunities and they are. Let's be honest, very, very long shots for the Democrats.
And the other thing that, you know, they may not have to look forward to this year is those messy Republican primaries that created so many opportunities in the last cycle. Rick Scott was running the Republican Senate campaign's last cycle and notably did not get involved and let those messy primaries play out.
Very different strategy for the Republicans this time with Steve Daines in charge. He's been much more aggressive about narrowing the field and getting the most electable candidate as the likely nominee in a lot of these races. That also could make a big difference and take opportunities off the board for the Democrats.
RAJU: Yeah, we'll see how that plays out. Arizona is such an interesting state as well. It's very complicated. There are two candidates, excuse me, the Democrats and Republicans are pushing right now. Ruben Gallego on the Democratic side, Kari Lake on the Republican side. But what will Kyrsten Sinema do? She's independent. She has not said if she would run as a third-party candidate. I asked Peters about that. He said, let's just see what decision she makes. I asked him about the impact that she might have on the race.
He said, right now we aren't deciding to endorse anyone in our races when I said if he would endorse Gallego. But Steve Daines told me he's a chairman of the Republican Central camping that Sinema has no path to win. He does not see that happening. But she's of course presenting this challenge for both sides.
HIRSCHFELD DAVIS: Well, this is, as we all know, a classic Kyrsten Sinema. She doesn't say what she's going to do. She keeps everyone guessing. Nobody can figure out what her path or what her maneuver is going to be. The politics in that state are very complicated and are going to remain very complicated if she does stay in the race. It's going to be really an unprecedented thing, but a very difficult and complicated thing for both parties. There is a case, though, I think, for Democrats, that if she were to stay in the race, that could actually help their chances of keeping that seat.
Of course, she's an independent now, but she caucuses with the Democrats. There would be some of the Democrats, I think, a much better chance of Gallego being elected, because she may pull some more conservative or some right-leaning independence away from Kari Lake.
RAJU: Very, very quickly. Did she run again? Sinema? EVERETT: It does not feel like it at the moment. I don't think she
would run if the poles don't show a path for her.
RAJU: Yeah. We'll see you. Thank you, panel, for us, for -- up next, for his first year in office, he's become a larger-than-life character around the Senate and I'm not just talking about his height. I'll look at Pennsylvania's John Fetterman, next.
RAJU: John Fetterman began this Congress still recovering from the stroke he suffered in the heat of the campaign season, limiting his ability to speak. Then the Senator was at Walter Reed Medical Center for six weeks after checking himself in for clinical depression. But now he's back and not afraid to share what's on his mind. And over the last few months, a freshman Pennsylvania Democrat has been quite outspoken, trying to solicit some laughs along the way. About the hoodies he wears around the Capitol.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN FETTERMAN (D) PENNSYLVANIA: I believe that it's not the person that is made by how they dress as well too. I mean, you're still willing to speak to me and I'm in a hoodie and you're in a suit. You know, if you would have showed up, you know, dressed like Spider- Man, I still would have been delighted to speak to you because I know you're a professional and I'm delighted to do that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RAJU: And about being the lone Democrat to call on the Senate to expel Senator Bob Menendez. He says this of the indicted New Jersey Democrat.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FETTERMAN: I saw posting about his approval. Like he's less popular than cold source, you know? So my point is it's like we really need to, you know, expel him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RAJU: He even took a jab at Democratic Congressman Dean Phillips, who recently announced his primary challenge to President Biden, but used to be the chairman of a popular gelato company.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FETTERMAN: The one thing I could say about my colleague in Congress is that, you know, really made great gelato. You know, I was buying that stuff for my wife for years. I had no idea he was here. But that's other than that. You know, I think he should just stay in Congress and running. It's not helpful, except if you're Donald Trump, he probably loves him. (END VIDEO CLIP)
RAJU: This week, Fetterman pulled me aside to talk briefly about Republican Senator Markwayne Mullin's threatening a fistfight with a witness at a hearing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MARKWAYNE MULLIN (R) OKLAHOMA: You want to do it now?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'd love to do it right now.
MULLIN: Stand your butt up then.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You stand your butt up.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hold on, stop it. Is that your solution to every problem? Oh, no, sit down. Sit down. OK, you know, you're a United States Senator.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RAJU: The Democrat was surprised that there had not been as much outrage in the Senate from his colleagues over Mullin's actions as there was has been over him wearing a hoodie in the Capitol. And he told me, quote, "it seemed quite odd."
That's it for Inside Politics Sunday. Up next, State of the Union with Jake Tapper and Dana Bash. Jake has an exclusive with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. Thanks again for sharing your Sunday morning with us. See you next time.