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Nikki Haley Sets Eyes On Super Tuesday In Battle Against Trump; Bipartisan Foreign Aid Plan Takes Shape In House; Johnson Under Pressure To Act On Aid To Ukraine; Trump Looms Large In Race To Replace Mitch McConnell; Biden Preparing For High-Stakes State Of The Union Address; Republican Architect Of Border Deal Faces Fallout. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired March 03, 2024 - 11:00   ET







RAJU: Pressure amounts before Super Tuesday. As Haley makes a last push --


RAJU: -- Trump and Biden look toward November.

Plus, family feud.

REP. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE (R-GA): I've kind of brought back the nickname House of Hippocrates.

RAJU: Exclusive details on Speaker Johnson and aid for Ukraine.

REP. BRIAN FITZPATRICK (R-PA): It's existential, it's time sensitive.

REP. CHIP ROY (R-TX): I'm going to be blunt, the defense hawk usually get their way.

RAJU: New reporting on the race to lead Senate Republicans.

SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R-TX): I am not Mr. McConnell. I'm my own person.

RAJU: And state of his union.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Instead of playing politics with the issue, why don't we just get together and get it done?

RAJU: Ahead of a major address, Biden faces warning signs. REP. RASHIDA TLAIB (DMI): Please understand, listen to us.

RAJU: Inside politics, the best reporting from inside the corridors of power starts now.


RAJU: Good morning. And welcome to INSIDE POLITICS SUNDAY, I'm Manu Raju.

A raft of new polling out this morning gives us a snapshot of where the race for the White House stands eight months before Election Day.

It's clear the momentum is with Donald Trump and Joe Biden has his work cut out for him. Now, we're going to dig into those numbers in just a moment. But Trump has his own issues. And one of them is named Nikki Haley, who is still in the GOP primary.

And assuming Trump is the GOP nominee, a major question now looms. How many of Haley's supporters will actually come back to Trump in November? Will they sit out or will they vote for Biden?

And with Super Tuesday just two days away, we'll get a clear sense of Trump's strength within the GOP and his weaknesses as a general election candidate. And for now, Trump is moving closer to clinching the nomination.

Just yesterday, he swept three GOP contests held in Missouri, Idaho, and Michigan. He now has 247 delegates to Nikki Haley's 24. 854 more delegates are up for grab Tuesday in 15 states. And Trump needs 1,215 delegates to clinch the nomination altogether.

So yesterday, as he tried to rally the base and focused on Biden and North Carolina, Trump made some baseless accusations against the president.


TRUMP: Biden's conduct on our border is by any definition, a conspiracy to overthrow the United States of America. You know, he talks about democracy. He is a danger to democracy. He is.


RAJU: Now, let's head out live to the campaign show in Vermont, one of the states voting on Super Tuesday.

CNN's Eva McKend is in South Burlington where Nikki Haley is holding a rally this afternoon.

So, Eva, is Haley be giving any signs that this may be the end of the road for her?

EVA MCKEND, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: You know, Manu, she is continuing to keep up the fight here with more than a dozen states up for grabs on Super Tuesday. She's busy crisscrossing the state -- the country, rather, continuing to campaign. She'll be here in Vermont later this afternoon.

And really key to her argument is electability. She continues to argue that in a general election, she would be more competitive against President Biden than former President Donald Trump. She's citing that New York Times poll that just came out that has her beating Biden in November by 10 points.

But, you know, I was just with her in Michigan and I asked her which state she thought that she could outright win. And she did not give me a definitive response.

Still, she says that Republican primary voters said they deserve a real choice and that there should not be a coronation. Let's listen.


HALEY: I've always said this needs to be competitive. As long as we are competitive, as long as we are showing that there is a place for us, I'm going to continue to fight. That's always been the case.

KRISTEN WELKER, NBC NEWS HOST: Would you see yourself as competitive if you didn't win on Super Tuesday, any state?

HALEY: Well, usually all are the ones that decide what's competitive and what's not.

We're going to continue to just keep pushing through.


MCKEND: Now also in that interview, she suggested that she was no longer bound by that RNC pledge. That was the pledge to get on the debate stage that said that whoever won the primary would go on to support and endorse the eventual nominee. She seems to be squiggling out of that a little bit. So interesting point there.

But listen, the RNC has all but abandoned her. The establishment is now squarely behind Trump. So that is perhaps why she feels no longer bound to the RNC. She says that the RNC was not the same RNC that she was not the same RNC that they were a year ago.


Now, after she campaigns here in Vermont, she heads to Maine. And then she's on to Texas tomorrow, Manu.

RAJU: Yes. And she also didn't say if she would stay as a candidate all the way to the election or to the convention, or if she'll decide to drop out after midweek. That would be a key question, Eva McKend. Thank you from the report from the campaign trail.

And now let's break this all down with my great panel this morning, Amy Walter of the "Cook Political Report," Laura Barron-Lopez from "PBS NewsHour," and CNN's Lauren Fox.

Good morning to all of you guys. This is the -- lots to digest. And there's a lot of polls out this morning, which we'll get into here in a second. But, you know, I guess one of the questions that we're going to see on Super Tuesday, Trump is, you know, passes for a log. He's probably going to run the table. There are 15 states that are voting, you know.

But Haley only continues to get a sizable amount of votes, 28 percent, 26 percent she got in Michigan, 39 percent she got in South Carolina.

The question is, do those voters, ultimately, they come back home to Trump in November? Or do they not?


RAJU: And set up?

WALTER: That's the multi-billion dollar question that we'll be talking about a lot during this campaign season.

You know, one of the polls that came out this weekend was the New York Times Siena Poll, which was a national poll, not about these individual states. But what they found when they actually drilled down into Haley voters is that half of her voters voted for Biden in 2020.

RAJU: Mm-hmm.

WALTER: In other words, a lot of these people who are showing up in the polls, they were never interested in voting for Trump.

But a third of them said they voted for Trump in the previous election. And so that's the question is, how many do those 30 percent represent in the key swing states?

And the balance then between maybe some of those voters, many of whom we're going to see on Super Tuesday, are sitting in the kinds of swing suburban areas in and around Burlington, Vermont or in the swing state. Richmond --

RAJU: Where Trump has had trouble.

WALTER: Right. Richmond, Virginia, or in Texas, in and around the suburbs of Dallas, et cetera.

But can -- he can't afford to lose more support from those types of voters. And at the same time, what we're seeing in a lot of these polls is that Biden himself is losing some of his 2020 --

RAJU: Mm-hmm.

WALTER: -- vote, especially among voters of color. And so do those just ultimately balance themselves out? Or, you know, 5,000 votes, 10,000 votes here or there that will determine the election, that's everything. RAJU: In a close race, that is everything. And as we get into it so much is going to be about the enthusiasm gap. And whether or not Biden can reverse this. The polls just will show time and time again, Biden has significant work to do.

Just this weekend's poll from the "New York Times," Siena Poll, 48 percent of Trump voters are enthusiastic of his as the nominee. Just 23 percent of Biden voters. Such a significant gap.

And then just how people view the Trump presidency versus the Biden president. There's been several polls that have been similar to this. There's one out this morning from CBS News/YouGov saying, how would you rate their presidency? Forty-six percent say excellent and good for Trump. Fifty-three percent say fair or poor. Just 33 percent for Joe Biden.

You know, that -- those -- if you're in the Biden campaign headquarters right now, what are you thinking about those? And what are you going to do differently?

LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I mean, those numbers clearly aren't good for President Biden.

But what the campaign will tell us, over and over again, and what they're saying despite those numbers, is that they really are clinging to this theory of the case. That essentially, once voters realize that it is definitely a rematch, there's no more Nikki Haley. And it is Donald Trump versus Joe Biden. They believe that they can swing voters towards Joe Biden because of that contrast.

They're going to draw a contrast on immigration, on democracy, on abortion, on reproductive rights, all of that. And that voters just aren't tuned in yet. And then once they're -- once they're able to do that, you know, that they can bring people home.

I mean, that being said, a lot of the Democrats that I talked to, I was talking to Adam Schiff this week, as I was in California for the Senate primary. And he said one of his biggest concerns is young voters.

So in addition to black and brown voters, which are showing low enthusiasm for President Biden, a lot of Democrats are really concerned about young voters not getting home --

RAJU: Yes. And as we -- as we dig into that a little bit further here, he's just performing -- Biden is performing well worse in the polls than he did in 2020 with those key demographics, those black voters, Latino voters, young voters.

And just in the Siena -- New York Times/Siena Poll, voters of color without a college degree, 72 percent supported Biden in 2020. Forty- seven percent now. And Trump has a 15 point percent increase since then.

And then women voters, 57 percent of women voters, back in 2020, backed Biden. That is down 11 points. [11:10:02]

Now, if you believe the polls trump up slightly, that's got to be alarming too for the Democrats that you're talking to all the time.

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, exactly. And these Democrats view this not just as a referendum on the presidential race. They want Joe Biden to be reelected for a myriad of reasons, but also for their own races.

I mean, when you're talking to Adam Schiff, he's concerned because he also wants to ensure that he can turn people out, right? And so that is the difficult part of this for so many Democrats and why so many of them may say, well, I'm confident Biden will be able to survive this once it becomes very clear. It's him versus Trump.

But in this moment, they're also arguing, what if people just stay home?

RAJU: Mm-hmm.

FOX: And that is the biggest fear.

RAJU: Voter.

FOX: Because people stay home. A couple votes here, a couple votes there, it starts to really add up and make a difference for everyone.

RAJU: Voter apathy, third-party candidates. There's so much uncertainty.

But you're right. Look, they hope -- they hope that the focus will be more the Biden team does on Trump, the things that he says at the rallies that could change how people view Trump. They believe change, perhaps get people energized in the Democratic side.

There was a -- last -- yesterday at one of his rallies in -- Donald Trump talked about Obama. First, he said that sometimes he confuses Obama and Biden on purpose. He does that intentionally.

And then he sort of confused Biden and Obama.


TRUMP: And Putin, you know, has so little respect for Obama that he's starting to throw around the nuclear war. You heard that nuclear. He's starting to talk nuclear weapons today. I was waiting for that to happen.

But we have a fool, a fool as a president.


RAJU: Yes. He said -- he said Obama versus Biden. And that will bring back the age question and there's been a lot of questions to focus on Biden's age. He's only four years older than Donald Trump. There's a poll out this morning for the Wall Street Journal.

Are Biden and Trump too old for president? Seventy-three percent. Such a huge number, but it's been consistent since August of last year, February of this year. But this is an interesting point, five percent more now from then until now believe that Donald Trump is too old. That is growing.

WALTER: Yes. But I still think the biggest challenge for the Biden campaign right now was one of the numbers you put up earlier bad. Do you think the economy was better under Donald Trump? Do you think -- do you think his policies were better? So that nostalgia for the Trump economy is really the biggest challenge right now for Biden.

Look, even in 2020 Biden didn't win on the issue of the economy. Trump was seen as better able to handle it, but it was by a handful of points.

RAJU: Mm-hmm.

WALTER: Now it's double digit points. And when I was talking to Democratic strategists who work, especially with Latino constituencies and trying to motivate those voters to go and vote for Democrats, said they are seeing -- it's not just that they're staying home. That is one worry that they have, but that they do say over and over again in these polls, in focus groups --

RAJU: Yes.

WALTER: -- yes. My -- I had more in my bank account when Trump was president.

RAJU: Right.

WALTER: I had more security in my job.

RAJU: I mean, and that's going to be the challenge for the Biden team, right?

WALTER: That's right.

RAJU: They have to be able to --

WALTER: That's right.

RAJU: -- find in their terms what the Biden or the Trump economy was. And well, I assume we'll hear more about that.

All right. Coming up, Speaker Johnson's under pressure from all sides about what to do about Ukraine. My new reporting on the private conversation he's having in the House.



RAJU: Speaker Mike Johnson has derailed the Senate's bipartisan package that included billions in aid to Ukraine. But he's leaving the door open for efforts emerging in the House.

My new reporting this morning reveals how senior Republicans in favor of aid to Ukraine, like House Foreign Affairs Chairman, Michael McCaul and Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick are crafting a new package and have engaged in private talks with the speaker.

They believe Johnson can be convinced to put that measure on the floor this month or in April. But they say the speaker has not shut them down.


REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL (R-TX): I think, first, the speaker wants to get through the normal appropriations process, which is not easy. And then after that is done, then we tackle the supplemental.

I think he's been very deliberate to try to move forward on both Ukraine but also Israel, which is very important.

REP. MIKE LAWLER (R-NY): I don't think he's trying to kill it. I think he understands the need to get support for Israel, for Ukraine, for Taiwan.

RAJU: What is the level of support you're getting from the leadership on this effort right now?

FITZPATRICK: What do you think? Yes.

RAJU: Do you -- how confident are you that this could come to the floor?

FITZPATRICK: You have to get something done.


RAJU: But Johnson's facing blunt warnings from his right flank, including many who don't want to spend a dime more to help Ukraine in its war against Russia.


RAJU: The speaker endorses the Fitzpatrick plan.

ROY: Yes. I believe he should do that. I don't think he will. But, you know, I know that there's obviously an interest to try to move forward on some of that.

And the defense -- you know, I'm going to be blunt, the defense talks usually get their way. It's just -- that's just the way this town works.


RAJU: Now, this package is being drafted in the House. It's different than what came out of the Senate and part of it, it includes less money for Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan, about $660 billion -- sorry, $66 billion worth.

It does not include humanitarian assistance. That's a big red line for Democrats.

It also has some border policies, including the so-called Remain in Mexico policy.

Lauren, you're covering the Hill every day with me. You're talking to all these members reporting this out. This is still going to be incredibly complicated to get anything done because of Johnson's decision to essentially scuttle the Senate's bill, even if they get a bipartisan bill here in the House, getting it approved into the president's desk in a timely fashion is a high hurdle to say the least.


FOX: Absolutely. Let's pretend for a minute that Speaker Johnson does put some compromise bill on the floor. Where are the votes coming from?

Your story gets at this reality. You're going to lose some folks on the left. If they can't get through the rules committee, you have a problem of perhaps needing a two-thirds majority for this package.

I understand that there is probably a large number of Republicans who may support it if it's drafted in this way, if it's put on the floor, but you're losing Democrats. And I do wonder where those numbers actually shake out if you have a bill that comes to the floor that has Remain in Mexico still in inside of it.

I think that that makes it so difficult for them to even get this out of the house. And then that's before you get to the next step of whether or not the Senate is going to take that up.

I just think that there's so many hurdles for this. And when Johnson made the decision to scuttle the Senate package, I just don't know if there's really any going back at this point.

RAJU: Yes. And look, there's an effort underway to try to circumvent Johnson altogether, force a vote on the House floor. It rarely succeeds. It's known on Capitol Hill as a Discharge Petition. That effort will begin this week.

But even the efforts, organizers of that know that's such a long chart thing to successfully accomplish. But they're talking about that because of the opposition on the right flank. There are people who are dead set against any more money for Ukraine.

And frankly, some of them are warning that it could cause Mike Johnson his job.


GREENE: So I think it's pretty foolish to bring a funding bill to the floor on something that the American people just don't support. And our job title is representative. Our job title is not fund the CIA's war against Ukraine.

RAJU: Mm-hmm.

GREENE: That's not what we're elected to do.

REP. BOB GOOD (R-VA): Ukraine divides the Republican Conference. So if it doesn't have Republican majority support, it should not be brought.

If it's not paid for, it should not be brought. And it shouldn't be combined with something else like Israel, which has overwhelming support in the Republican Conference, including for myself, to try to sort of hijack one concern for the other.


RAJU: So Johnson would have to roll these hardliners in order to get Ukraine to the president's desk. And that leaves a lot of people concerned that it may never get to the president's desk.

BARRON-LOPEZ: Yes. There are a lot of people very concerned.

And what's stunning though, is that we all know that if this bill, the Senate deal that has Ukraine aid, that has the border deal, that has aid for -- humanitarian aid, and it would get more votes on the House floor than the one that Fitzpatrick is talking about than the other deal that the House may be considering. Because there are a lot of Republicans that would vote for the Senate bill. There are a lot of Democrats that would vote for the Senate bill in the House.

And so the reason that Johnson isn't bringing it up is because of those hardline Republicans, which are basically controlling him the way they control Kevin McCarthy. And essentially saying, if you bring this to the floor, then they may very well challenge you again.

RAJU: Yes.

BARRON-LOPEZ: All as he's trying to make sure the government doesn't shut down.

RAJU: And Mitch McConnell, frankly, warned, pass the Senate bill, he said. Because if you change anything in that -- in the Senate bill, then it gets, you know, back and forth to mean both chambers delayed things even further. Russia could make gains in Ukraine.

Now, there's also more numbers out this morning about how the American public views the issue of Ukraine. The question from the Fox poll, should U.S. continue to provide financial aid to Ukraine? Fifty-six percent. I mean, that is a clear majority.

When you break down party affiliation, 76 percent of those Democrats support. Just 40 percent of Republicans and about 47 percent, it depends.

WALTER: Yes. Not surprising at all. You know, I have been watching a lot of campaign ads because Super Tuesday also has a lot of congressional primaries.

And if you watch the Republican primary ads, every single one of them mentions the border. I mean, every single one. And that is where the energy is right now. There are a couple of races where supporting Ukraine is actually seen as a negative, right?

RAJU: Mm-hmm.

WALTER: Going after an opponent, for example, who supports more aid for Ukraine in a Republican primary. It is not something that is supported one -- is supported by the Republican primary base.

One thing I am curious about that, if he brings it to the floor, it also puts -- doesn't it put Democrats in sort of a tough spot to have to vote against some of these issues, especially on the border --

RAJU: Yes.

WALTER: -- who are in swing district, right?

RAJU: Yes. And look --

WALTER: And --

RAJU: And that is why that it's, you know, what is the path? As Lauren was saying. There is --

WALTER: There's no path necessarily to --

RAJU: Right.

WALTER: it passing. But in terms of a political vehicle, it certainly could -- you could argue that it gives Republicans a chance to say, well, we put something on the floor.

RAJU: Yes.

WALTER: And you -- and Democrats voted against it.

RAJU: Yes.

WALTER: We are at the ones that are being problematic.

RAJU: The politics are so complicated. And this all comes -- there's just so much frustration still within the House GOP anger within the ranks. So much of it has to do with the aftermath of ouster of Kevin McCarthy. We've seen them lurch from possible government shutdown, the possible government shutdown.

They kick the can down the road for another couple of week and then another couple of weeks on the deadlines to keep the government open. There's another deadline coming up on this Friday.

And as you can imagine, there are a lot of Republicans who say, what are we doing with the majority that we have?



RAJU: Do you worry that you guys are squandering your time in the majority?

REP. TONY GONZALES (R-TX): Here we are fighting each other over X, Y, or Z. You think China's doing that? You think Russia's doing that? You think Iran's doing that?

And so we need to get back to putting Americans above everything else. What about us? What about our schools, our bridges, our taxpayer dollars? What about us? It's time -- enough for the squabbling. What about us?


RAJU: And the frustration is not just in the House, in the Senate too.


SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): This 118th Congress, I'm ashamed to end my career and the absolute worst performing Congress in the history of the United States of America.

When we came off of the 117th, which will go down as one of the most productive Congresses.


RAJU: Lot of angry people.

FOX: There's a lot of frustration right now on the Hill. People know how much time they are spending, commuting back and forth, trying to make this work in their lives. And they're kind of wondering like, what is the reason for all of this?

RAJU: Right.

FOX: That's probably why you're seeing such a number, a high number of Republican retirements in the House.

RAJU: Yes, yes. I'm going to say Republican and Democratic retirements.

FOX: Yes.

RAJU: All right. Up next, the race to replace Mitch McConnell taking shape behind the scenes. What Senator John Cornyn told me about his bid for GOP leader and his conversation with Donald Trump.



RAJU: Mitch McConnell may have stunned his colleagues with the timing of his announcement that he will not run again for GOP leader, a position he's held for nearly two decades and longer than any Senate leader in history.

But GOP sources tell me that the 82-year-old told members he had decided at the beginning of this Congress that this would be his last term as leader. While McConnell's private comments suggest his decision to step aside had little to do with his icy relationship with Donald Trump, the former President is already playing a role in the race to replace him.

This week I caught up with one of the senators already throwing his hat in the ring, Senator John Cornyn.


SEN. JOHN CORNYN, (R) TEXAS: I am going to be talking to my Republican colleagues. I've already been touch base with them on the phone and now I'll be having meetings. But I expect this will be -- to be rather an extended process.

RAJU: Are you a total break from Mitch McConnell?

CORNYN: I am not Mitch McConnell. So I'm -- my own person and I have my ideas about what we can do to get the Senate working again. The Senate is completely broken. I think that's a source of frustration for a lot of people including me.

RAJU: People may be concerned about the bipartisan deals you've cut. What do you say to them about that? About guns and CHIPS and Science?

CORNYN: Last time I checked, that's my job.

RAJU: And you said you told reporters when you went in, that you spoke to Trump. Why did you feel it was necessary to reach out to him before you made the announcement?

CORNYN: I've talked to the former president a couple times just to let him know. First, after I endorsed him after the New Hampshire primary, but then to let him know of my intention to run, he appreciated the call. I told him that I thought we worked very well together during the four years he was president when I was the Whip and did a lot of good things. And I look forward to working with him again.

RAJU: Is this thing going to be on the scale in this?

CORNYN: Like I said, this is a race among Republican senators.


RAJU: Indeed, a race between Republican senators, Lauren, as you know, these are the likely potential candidates who may run. We might expect Senator John Barrasso, Senator John Thune to join Cornyn. We'll see about Steve Daines, Rick Scott, and others jumping the race. But how do you see this race playing out?

FOX: Yeah, I think the Trump factor is something to keep an eye on. But I think in Cornyn's case, he's trying to manage the relationship. He wants to not surprise the former President. He wants to make it clear that they can work together because that's important for getting some conservative votes in the Senate in this election.

But we should just remind people back home, this is a closed-door vote. This is a secret ballot. So Donald Trump cannot just vote count like he could watching the Senate floor play out on a regular vote. He can't go after people on Twitter because he may not know ultimately how someone is actually voted.

RAJU: But he could do it before, you know, he could tack him on social media before --

FOX: If you say I'm voting for Cornyn and then you turn around and vote for Thune.


RAJU: Yeah. No one else. No one knows. It's the beauty of a secret ballot election. And -- but still, these members are talking up there, Trump ties John Thune, the number two Republican who's running, expected to run in the race, told our colleague Ted Barrett. "I worked closely with him," referring to Trump. He said, "We got a record of accomplishment of getting things done for the American people. I have not talked about the race with him." Now, Thune and Trump have had a bit of a rocky relationship. That's a whole other segment to discuss.

But this morning, one of his supporters, Senator Markwayne Mullin, was on scene in the State of the Union talking about how Trump should stay out of it.


SEN. MARKWAYNE MULLIN, (R) OKLAHOMA: My advice to President Trump, which, you know, President Trump's his own man, he's going to make his decision and he does a good job in that, is to kind of stay out of the race because it's a lose-lose situation. He needs to work with whatever leader is there, and let me tell you, whatever leader is there understands that they're going to have to work with President Trump, too.


RAJU: Before you jump in, I want to give, just dive a little bit deeper into the voting records of these three, main three contenders here, John Barrasso, John Corner and John Thune. It's interesting to -- about how, where they come down on some of the key issues. There was a gun safety bill that John Corner was involved with Barrasso voted no, Thune voted no. The foreign aid package, which we discussed in the last segment, Barrasso, the one of the three who voted no.

Barrasso also voted against the debt ceiling law that was approved last year. There's a bit of a difference between the three. How do you see this playing out?

[11:35:06] BARRON-LOPEZ: Well, John Barrasso clearly based on that voting record is the one that's most in line with Trump or the one that seems to follow Trump whenever Trump says that he opposes one of these bills -- bipartisan bills that comes to the floor.

I think that, you know, they're all trying to maintain this relationship with Trump because Trump still controls the party. And if we've learned anything over the last year or so, especially as the House Republican majority has tried to navigate their majority, is that they all follow whatever Trump says and it ends up making them twist in the wind.

I mean, you know, one thing that I think is stunning about this race is that to replace McConnell is that a lot of those, at least a few of those ones that are in contention, you know, voted for Ukraine aid. And a lot of these Republicans support Ukraine aid.

And it just shows how far the party has gone when the fact that they can't even get that passed. And it's one of Mitch McConnell's biggest legacy items. He can't convince his party to support it. And he says it's because Donald Trump has turned the base against it.

RAJU: It's about how much the party has changed, the conference has changed, the issues have changed. Really for the first time ever as leader has McConnell seen this outspoken faction of people publicly criticizing, calling on him to go, that -- that had not happened really until this year.

I caught up with several of those members who had voted for another candidate or wanted him out. And this is what they said they wanted a new leader.


RAJU: How much do you want to see a break from Mitch McConnell?


SEN. RON JOHNSON, (R) WISCONSIN: They need to show a commitment to a certain mission statement, to certain goals and to a different governing model for the conference.

SEN. RICK SCOTT (R-FL): It's not about a personality. It's about how do we want to be matched. Different people are going to have different ideas of how we ought to be managed.


RAJU: So this all really speaks, as I was saying, the change within the GOP, more Trump-aligned members. Just the sense, look at the screen here about the changing makeup of the senator. So much difference in their personality, their demeanor, how they cut deals and the like, from Bob Corker to Marsha Blackburn, Lamar Alexander to Bill Hagerty, Rob Portman to J.D. Vance, who's so close to Donald Trump. The list goes on with Roy Blunt and Richard Burr's placement.

WALTER: Literally wrote this same.

RAJU: Yeah. Exactly, it really speaks to what's happening from the GOP.

WALTER: And how different it could look, look, if Donald Trump wins in November, the Senate is going to be Republican, because if we take West Virginia, where Manchin is retiring, that's almost a certain Republican pickup. That means the Senate's 50-50, no matter what else happens.

So what does it look like with Trump and a 50-50 Senate? Trump in a bigger, if Democrats have a worse night, Republicans have a better night, versus what if Biden wins and it's a Republican Senate, do they want different leaders from these different moments, a 50-50, a 53 Senate, or a Biden presidency? That's a big question mark in my mind.

RAJU: Yeah, it's such -- it's such an interesting dynamic shift. And will the Senate GOP be like, more like the House GOP, depending on the kind of members that come in? We'll see. Such a turning of the tide, if you will.

Coming up, new warning signs for Biden. But first, SNL had some fun last night with "Inside Politics."


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good afternoon, I'm Dana Bash, and welcome to Inside Politics.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, hey, all right, it's Kevin Duschia (ph).


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, hold on, I'm just going to turn off the volume. Just got to find a button. There we go.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, looks like he hung up.




RAJU: President Biden is at Camp David this morning, preparing for a State of the Union address, which he will deliver just four days from now.

Now, we got a clear sign at one of his greatest re-election challenges just this past week in Michigan, where more than 100,000 people cast a protest vote in large part because of his handling of the Israel-Hamas war.

Now, Biden has shifted his tone in recent days, sending planes to airdrop aid into Gaza just yesterday and expressing support for, quote, "an immediate ceasefire." But some Muslim members of Congress want him to do more.


REP. ANDRE CARSON, (D) INDIANA: I think the community has spoken and chills that the community has leveraged.

REP. RASHIDA TLAIB, (D) MICHIGAN: I am incredibly, incredibly scared of a second term of Trump. And I think it's really important to emphasize this. Right now our democracy is at stake. And I'm asking the President, and I think many of us are saying, you know, change course.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you vote President Biden in November.

TLAIB: Thank you very much, y'all. Thank you


RAJU: Not answer if she'd vote for Trump in November, Rashida Tlaib. Just more numbers this morning from the Fox News poll about how Democratic voters view this conflict. There's more who side among Democrats with the Palestinians over the Israelis. More have actually shifted towards the Palestinians, I should say, since October when the attack occurred, 25% of the time were more sympathetic to the Palestinians (inaudible) concern among democratic voters, 42% a big jump and then among just the ways they view is handling the war -- war, all registered voters, 65% disapprove of is handling the war. Inside the White House, how do you address this on the State of the Union?


BARRON-LOPEZ: Again, you know, the President and his campaign have repeatedly -- well, the President aids inside the White House and his campaign, keep saying that they think that once voters face him and Donald Trump, that he -- they still think that these young voters are going to come home, despite the fact that Michigan is a warning sign, despite the fact that there's a lot of young voters that I've talked to, there's young voters that talk to pollsters across the board that are really upset and disillusioned, in addition to Muslim and Arab voters.

And you hear them saying that they just don't know if they can vote for President Biden at this point. And so how he closes that gap, a lot of them say that they aren't going to come home unless he starts shifting his policy on Israel and Gaza.

RAJU: Yeah.

BARRON-LOPEZ: And so he -- right now, we don't know how far he's going to go in the State of the Union address, but it's certainly a space for him to actually reach them and speak to them.

RAJU: And some Democrats, including some from Michigan, say that the President should be more forceful with Netanyahu.


REP. DAN KILDEE, (D) MICHIGAN: President I think could be more -- should be more forceful with Mr. Netanyahu.

SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL, (D) CONNECTICUT: I'm deeply concerned about this election and about holding together our coalition because there are a lot of issues that need to be addressed to make sure that we're unified and we can take nothing for granted.

SEN. BEN RAY LUJAN, (D) NEW MEXICO: No matter how accomplished you are, if they don't like you, they're not going to vote for you. And if you lost trust with someone, you better go back and earn it.


RAJU: So when he speaks to the nation, does he speak to his base? Does he try to go to the middle? Does he address these concerns?

WALTER: I mean, it seems like, again, just putting the polls in there, everything we've just talked about. His problem right now is with the middles, with swing voters. And that is his biggest concern going into the general election.

But I think where Donald Trump has really moved the bar on terms of expectations of presidents is that what I hear from younger voters a lot is he should be doing more. At least Donald Trump, I don't agree with what he did, but he delivered stuff for his people.

He told people how it was, or he would take on these ex-and-so people. And that I think what the frustration is exactly that, that even though we know that whatever Biden says in the State of the Union address or whatever he says to Netanyahu isn't going to change the course of this war, it is going to send a signal that he takes this seriously.

So there's a difference between actually being able to move policy and being able to tell voters across the board where your sort of focus is and what your interest is, even if it doesn't turn into something.

RAJU: So many of the progressives that you talked to want him to be more outspoken about what's happening in the Middle East.

FOX: And they think that he waited way too long because he really -- his rhetoric has shifted dramatically over the course of the last month and a half, but he waited too long is sort of the argument that you hear from them.

And some of them want him to take action. I mean, one of the areas that senators were working on for a long time was trying to put some guardrails around how Israel could use funding that the U.S. was going to send to them.

The administration ended up doing some things around the fringes, but I think they did it because there was pressure coming from the Hill and they would rather do it themselves than have Congress actually implement a new law forcing their hand. So I think that that's the issue for a lot of progressives. Even if he does something now, has it been too long?

RAJU: Yeah, and that's the question. Has it been too long? Will voters be differently in all this when it comes time to vote? We shall see.

All right. Coming up, I caught up with the Republican at the center of the border deal that Trump killed. The surprising feedback, he says, he's hearing from his constituents.



RAJU: When President Biden visited the southern border this past week, he called on the former president who was making a dueling stop up the river to join him in supporting the Senate's bipartisan border security deal.

Now, you'll recall that Trump played a pivotal role in killing that bill before it was even released. He labeled it a, quote, "death wish" for the Republican Party. Now, he ended up stalling in the Senate after Republicans said it would be dead on arrival in the House.

So it's been a rough few weeks, to say the least, for the Republican senator who spent nearly five months negotiating that deal with Democrats. Senator James Lankford -- Lankford of Oklahoma. At the time, Trump said the bill would be, quote, "very bad for Lankford's career."

Now, I caught up with the senator a few days ago to talk about the fallout.


RAJU: You've spent so much time, months and months and months. And then within hours, this was dead. I mean, how did you feel that moment?

SEN. JAMES LANKFORD, (R) OKLAHOMA: Yeah, I'm not sure it was within hours, I think it was within minutes actually, for people to be able to say I want something different, great, so do I. There's more that I wanted, but I'm just not willing to sit back and do nothing.

RAJU: Trump tried to kill this just a campaign on it.

LANKFORD: I don't know, you'd have to ask him on that one. Clearly, there were folks that were saying, hey, we shouldn't resolve this during election year. We should resolve it with the election. To me, that sends the wrong signal. You resolve it when you have a chance to resolve it because we've got other hard problems behind it.


RAJU: And despite all the criticism from within his own party, Lankford says he heard something very different back home in Oklahoma.

[11:55:06] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LANKFORD: What's interesting for me was the last week being in the state. As I traveled all over the state on it, I was overwhelmed when I was at a gas station or grocery store or when I was just out to a restaurant with my wife, where folks would just come up to me and just be very encouraging, quite frankly. I understand some people are still mad and they want everything. I get it. I want everything as well. But I'm not willing to sit back and do nothing.


RAJU: And yes, Congress is still stalled on any legislative action on the border. All right. That's it for "Inside Politics Sunday." You can follow me on X, formerly known as Twitter, @MKRaju. You can follow the show @Insidepolitics. And of course, if you ever miss an episode, you can catch it wherever you get your podcast. Just search for Inside Politics.

Up next, "State of the Union" with Jake Tapper and Dana Bash. Dana's guests include Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Senators Dick Durbin and Markwayne Mullin.

Thanks again for sharing your Sunday morning with us. We'll see you next time.