Return to Transcripts main page

Inside Politics

Biden Campaign Says Trump Has Locked Up the GOP Nomination; Consumer Confidence is Up but Polls Show Voters Give Biden Low Marks for Handling of Economy; Trump Secures New Hampshire Win; Haley Vows to Stay in the Race. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired January 24, 2024 - 12:30   ET




DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT AND ANCHOR OF 'INSIDE POLITICS': Get ready for what is shaping up to be the longest general election race ever. November 5th is 286 days away, and we're looking at an all but certain rematch now between President Joe Biden and Former President Donald Trump.

So I want to talk to one of Biden's advisers, the co-chair of his re- election campaign, Cedric Richmond, former congressman of Louisiana. Thank you so much for joining me. Appreciate it. So last night --


BASH: -- your campaign said that Donald Trump has all but -- thank you. Last night, your campaign said that Donald Trump has all but locked up the GOP nomination, and it coincides with some top Biden aides moving from the White House to where you are in the campaign. Does this indicate that the campaign is moving into general election mode today, and more specifically how does that change? What does that look like for you that's different from yesterday?

RICHMOND: Well, I think yesterday solidified the theory that Donald Trump and his MAGA base has taken over the Republican Party. And now, what follows is we're going to continue to engage with the American people. We're bringing over two of our best aides that were on the campaign last time to supplement and to join the already terrific team that we have. And we're going to be taking our message straight to the American people and talk about what this contrast looks like.


BASH: And one of the things I wanted to talk to you about is some of what we saw in these New Hampshire exit polls last night. An electorate very unhappy still with the economy. I can just tell you anecdotally, I've spoken to voter after voter who say that they wanted Donald Trump back in because they had more money in their bank accounts. I want to give you one example of a voter I talked to, Sue who isn't really that happy with -- she's an undeclared, so independent -- isn't that happy with either Joe Biden or Donald Trump as her choices.


SUE ZAPPALA, MASSACHUSETTS VOTER: I don't want to see a rematch between Trump and Biden. I'm an independent. Traditionally, I vote Democrat. I'm not opposed to voting for a Republican if their positions align with mine. I don't like our choices right now.


BASH: How do you reach voters like that?

RICHMOND: Well, one, we have to remind them of what the country was like three years ago, 50 percent of the schools shut down, 14 million fewer jobs. And then talk to them about what the president has done. Every day, waking up, working for American people. Inflation is down, 14 million jobs created, capping the cost of insulin, reducing the price of energy, reducing the price of health care.

But more importantly, we have to let them know that we understand that things are not where we want to be, and we're going to continue the president's moral philosophy which is to build the economy from the middle out and the bottom up. And the contrast to that is to continue what Donald Trump and Republicans propose, and that is to build an economy that rewards the very wealthy and our corporations, and that does not build a solid middle class.

And so, we get to go out and remind people of what has happened over the last three years, and tell them what we want to do in the next four.

BASH: I have to ask you about what happened when President Biden and Vice President Harris went to Virginia to give a big push on abortion rights and try to start the campaign in a fulsome way on that issue. I know you saw multiple times our reporters there said, more than a dozen times, he was interrupted -- the president was interrupted by protesters who are not happy with his support for Israel in its war against Hamas.

Now, we've seen this kind of thing time and time again. Protesters in general are not a new thing, but this was pretty intense and I am going to ask you about it because it does speak to a very important part of the Biden coalition, some of these sort of staunch progressives who he's going to need to win in 2024. How do you reach them?

RICHMOND: One, I think that even in South Carolina, you saw the president treat and listen to protesters with respect, and it's part of what makes America, America and why we are the greatest country in the world, is that we allow free speech. We allow others with different opinions to voice that opinion. We don't silence them. We don't bully them. We don't ask people in the crowd to rough them up like President Trump did during his rallies.

And the president's taking the issue very, very seriously. His role as Commander in Chief is one of the roles that is most solemn, and it's a role that he thinks about and works on every day in terms of getting to the right answer. And so, we will continue to push for peace and that we protect innocent lives wherever they are. And I think that we will again talk to the American people about where we are. And look, we have a very diverse coalition and we're going to bring that coalition back together.

BASH: Former Congressman Cedric Richmond, now the national co-chair of the Biden campaign. Thank you so much for joining me today. I really appreciate it.

RICHMOND: Thanks for having me.

BASH: And up next, we are going to go live to South Carolina, talking to voters and what they think of Former Governor and Former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley versus Donald Trump.



BASH: Nikki Haley insists she is pushing ahead, looking to her sweet home state, she called it, of South Carolina. That's where CNN's Dianne Gallagher joins us live from Summerville, right outside of Charleston. I am very, very jealous, Dianne. It looks beautiful there. What have you heard from voters about what they see as the potential or not to have a vote for their former governor in this race?

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, Dana, the weather is certainly sweet here in South Carolina, but I'll tell you that voters' sentiments on their former governor, who they elected twice in South Carolina, aren't as sweet. Now, Nikki Haley said last night in New Hampshire that voters here did not want a coronation, they wanted an election, and she was going to give that to them.

But, the majority of the voters that we've spoken to here in Summerville, which is a Republican stronghold in South Carolina's low country, tell me that they have made their mind up and they plan to vote for the former president.


GALLAGHER: In fact, even voters who like the former governor tell me that they are concerned that because of Trump's victories in both Iowa and New Hampshire, as well as polling that they've seen, that they're afraid that he may run away with it here in South Carolina, and that could not only cause Haley to lose her home state, but that loss could potentially impact her future in politics. That's something that several of the Haley supporters we've spoken with have voiced concerns about.

Now look, she is putting her money where her mouth is. She is already up on the air, part of a $4 million ad buy with two ads. One of them touting her experience as governor, but the other talking about a refrain that we have heard from the former governor about America not wanting a rematch of Trump and Biden. But I will tell you, even talking to Republican officials here, many of them say that they fear that that may be inevitable.

BASH: Dianne, thank you so much for that reporting. Appreciate it. And Jeff Zeleny is still with me here. And I want to bring in Matt Mowers, former New Hampshire Republican Party Executive, Director, also part of the Trump Administration. I want to talk about South Carolina, but --


BASH: -- we're in New Hampshire still.

MOWERS: Of course.

BASH: The last time for this cycle, you know this state well. Can you just give us a 30-second overview on the importance of the results that we saw here?

MOWERS: Well, if there was one state in America where a non-Trump candidate could beat him, it would be New Hampshire. The number of independents who participate in the process, the number of moderate Republicans who are actually in the Republican Party, not to mention a popular Republican Governor Chris Sununu endorsing his opponent. So, the 12-point gap here that we're seeing between Donald Trump and Nikki Haley might spell some challenges in other states that are much more challenging demographically for Nikki Haley supporters than they would have been here in New Hampshire.

BASH: So interesting. OK. So let's look at some of that support that Donald Trump did get here. And dig into one question which is an important question that was asked about what happens to Donald Trump if he ends up convicted. Is he fit for president? These are just -- you mentioned undeclared or independent voters, these are just Republican voters. Republicans, 54 percent said yes, 42 percent say no. Now whenever we ask that question, I sort of hesitate to figure out which one I should focus on first. I mean, 54 percent saying yes, he is still fit is wow. But then if you look at the other number, 42 percent saying no, is that a warning sign for Donald Trump?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Look, it's definitely a warning sign. And I'm actually curious because New Hampshire is a -- it is a battleground state. I mean this is a state that's important in the general election. What do those numbers mean for Trump if he becomes the nominee in the fall?

MOWERS: Yeah. Look, that's going to be a challenge for him. It's not just New Hampshire; it's a lot of key -- other key swing states where you see similar questions asked, similar polling. It's one of the reasons why I like Ronna McDaniel, she's a friend, but I actually disagree with her assessment here that we should wrap this up. You need to give voters like that, who have concerns, a chance to voice their opposition. Because if they don't do it in the primary, they may have a trouble actually coming around to voting for Donald Trump should he be the nominee in the general election.

So, I'd say this could be -- ultimately, come down at the end of the day, between Trump versus Biden, which candidate is able to hold the core of their base together and their core party. We saw one of the challenges for Donald Trump in 2020 in states like here in New Hampshire. I happened to be on the ballot with him that year, was a supporter that year. It's a challenge because you -- not only do you have independents, but upwards of 10 percent to 15 percent of Republicans at least who may have trouble voting for him. And you just can't afford to lose that many of your own party if you want to win these key states.

BASH: Yeah. That's really, really interesting. The other question of whether or not -- let me say it this way -- what we saw last night from Donald Trump was a reminder of the Donald Trump that some of the voters, who didn't support him this time around and yet did the last time, saw and don't really love about him. And that is he's really aggressive against Nikki Haley. She went after him first --


BASH: -- but he took the bait plus-plus (ph). Let's listen to what Trey Gowdy, who is a Former Republican Congressman from South Carolina, a Trump supporter, said about that.


TREY GOWDY, (R-SC) FORMER UNITED STATES REPRESENTATIVE: He was talking about her dress. Winners don't do that. I mean, why make fun of someone's dress? She just won by ten points. Lots of evangelicals in South Carolina, good state for him, act like a winner.


MOWERS: That's a little bit of a different tone from the Iowa speech. You know, I think in a lot of ways, Donald Trump and his campaign expected after a 30-point win in Iowa that the field was going to consolidate. It largely did. Vivek Ramaswamy drops out the next day and endorses Donald Trump. Ron DeSantis only a few days later. I think after the results of last night, Donald Trump expects Nikki Haley to do the same. And so, I think he was frustrated. It was palpable in his speech last night.


BASH: But what about the point that Trey Gowdy was making, which is could it hurt Donald Trump with the evangelical voters, just for example the one that he gave in places like South Carolina coming up? I mean, I tend to question that because it's not as if anybody who's going to the poll has been living under a rock and has never seen Donald Trump behave the way he did last night.

MOWERS: Every single voter you talk to, if they are voting for Trump or for Haley or for one of the other rivals on in the race, virtually to a person except Trump super fans, say they like his policies, they don't like his personality, but they are willing to overlook it. So, I think that that is something that's probably not an issue in the short term. I think it does though add a little bit of oomph for Nikki Haley or perhaps her donors to want to stay and fight this a little bit a more. He could have totally ignored her, he didn't. BASH: Yeah, he didn't. And also, you mentioned that New Hampshire is a swing state in the general election.

MOWERS: That's right.

BASH: One that he didn't win.

MOWERS: Both times.

BASH: Even though, he said he did not -- he said he did, he did not.

ZELENY: He lost narrowly in 2016 and by around 8 points.

MOWERS: Versus (inaudible) right around seven to eight points in the general in 2020.

BASH: OK. Coming up is "CNN Exclusive," the second gentleman weighs in on anti-Semitism in America ahead of Holocaust Remembrance Day this weekend. You don't want to miss this.



BASH: Doug Emhoff, the Second Gentleman is using his position to combat anti-Semitism in America. Here's part of his exclusive interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer.


DOUGLAS EMHOFF, SECOND GENTLEMAN OF THE UNITED STATES: There are some days I want to do it because it's too hard. I'm too beat up about it. But my wife, the vice president, has been so supportive, pushing me out there to continue to use my voice and this microphone to push back on the hate, the vitriol and what's going on. I know I have an obligation to our Jewish community as the first Jewish person in this role.

There's high expectations and there's a lot of accountability. I take that extremely seriously. So, no matter how bad I might be feeling personally, it's not going to stop me from continuing to use my voice, this microphone, to advocate against anti-Semitism, against hate, and again, to push our coalitions back together so we can fight this thing together.


BASH: You can watch this very important interview by Wolf with Doug Emhoff tonight on "The Situation Room." Please don't miss it.

Thank you so much for joining us again live from New Hampshire on "Inside Politics." "CNN News Central" is next.