Return to Transcripts main page

Inside Politics

Biden, Trump Host Dueling Rallies As General Race Kicks Off; Digging Deeper On Sen. Britt's Anecdote In Response To Biden; Razor- Thin House Split Could Come Down To Top Of Ticket; One on One with Kari Lake; Spring Forward Forever. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired March 10, 2024 - 08:00   ET



VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: We continue to follow the breaking news out of Haiti. The U.S. embassy announced they have evacuated all non- essential personnel because of the heightened gang violence near the U.S. embassy compound and the airport.

ISABEL ROSALES, CNN ANCHOR: The embassy did not say how many people they evacuated, but said that they will remain open. The Haitian government announced a state of emergency after the capital city of Port-au-Prince was hit by a wave of coordinated gang attacks in an attempt to overthrow the government.

Well, thank you for joining us this morning.




MANU RAJU, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Fired, up.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When he says he wants to be a dictator, I believe him.

RAJU: The president hits the trail.

BIDEN: Trump and I have a very different value set if it ain't unobvious already.

RAJU: As the former president hits back.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT & 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's not an age thing. It's a competence thing.

RAJU: And razor thin.

REP. RICHARD HUDSON (R-NC): We're going to have a knife fight over every single district.

RAJU: We go one-on-one with the party leaders in charge of winning the House.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Republicans are vulnerable because they're not governing. They're in charge of a do-nothing Congress.

RAJU: Plus, with control of the Senate in the balance, we sit down with Kari Lake.

MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: Do you still believe that your election was stolen?

RAJU: And spring forward.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What we're doing now is bad for health.

RAJU: Will Congress make Daylight Saving Time permanent?

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL): In this place, there's always someone that has a reason to be against something.

RAJU: INSIDE POLITICS -- the best reporting from inside the corridors of power -- starts now.



RAJU (on camera): Good morning. Welcome to INSIDE POLITICS SUNDAY. I'm Manu Raju.

There are 240 days to go until voters head to the polls, and an absolutely vicious campaign rematch between President Biden and former President Trump is already taking shape all with enormous stakes for the country and the world. The two men held dueling events last night in the battleground state of Georgia.


BIDEN: We all know Donald Trump sees a different America, an American story of resentment, revenge and retribution. We see a future where we defend the basic freedoms, not take them away. We see future -- we see a future where we reward work, not just wealth. A future for all Americans, a presidency for all Americans. So, join me, get out the vote! Vote, vote, vote!


RAJU: For President Biden, the event was part of a far more aggressive campaign as he tries to take on one of his biggest vulnerabilities, his age of 81 and tries to rebuild a freeing coalition and reverse his sagging poll numbers.

The former president, meanwhile, took to the rally stage with one of his fiercest congressional allies, Marjorie Taylor Greene, who had engaged in a tense exchange over immigration with Biden during the State of the Union last week, a speech Trump attacked as he ridiculed Biden stutter. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Two nights ago, we all heard crooked Joe's angry, dark, hate- filled rant of a State of the Union Address. Wasn't it -- didn't it bring us together -- bring the country together, I'm going to bring it together.

It's not an age thing. It's a competence thing


RAJU: All right. Let's break this all down with my great panel this morning. CNN's Melanie Zanona, Isaac Arnsdorf from "The Washington Post" and "The Wall Street Journal's" Catherine Lucey.

Good morning to you all.

It's been a busy weekend again, which is good for us to talk about a lot to digest, including how the Biden campaign is clearly a new phase in this campaign, posted the union or more precise messaging opposite aeration, new multimillion-dollar ad campaign, and just its stepping into higher gear. Look at how what their plans are. But over 100 new battleground offices, they announced that they're operating -- they're hiring 350 new staff members. They put up this $30,000,000 ad buys. They're going to run daily over the course of next six weeks, put it all across media.

Catherine, give us a sense of what the strategy is inside the Biden campaign as they move into this new phase?

CATHERINE LUCEY, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, WALL STREET JOURNAL: Yeah, they really saw the State of the Union as kind of a kickoff, right? Of the general election post-Super Tuesday. They're pumping money into ads into these battleground states. And that's really where you going to see the fight is in these states as you saw the president out in Georgia and Michigan, he's going to be out another their states in the next coming week, in the coming week.

And they're really trying to do what -- they're doing a new couple of things. But I think two key things. One is they're trying to address the age thing head-on. You see in this ad, they're trying to say, look, it's age and experience. It's -- I'm able to do things for you because of my age, because of my background.

And then they're really trying to draw this very sharp contrast with Donald Trump and talk about how they see his policies as dangerous.


You saw the president saying he'd be a dictator, that he's going to threaten your freedoms. And then to talk a lot about key freedoms like voting rights and abortion.

RAJU: Yeah, and the result that you mentioned the ad that came out just yesterday. They announced as part of this massive ad, buy and taking on the issues that voters say they're concerned about, the presidents age.


BIDEN: Look, I'm not a young guy. That's no secret. But here's the deal -- I understand how to get things done for the American people. For four years, Donald Trump tried to pass an infrastructure law and he failed. I got it done.

Donald Trump took away the freedom of women to choose. I'm determined to make Roe v. Wade the law of the land again.

Donald Trump believes the job of the president is to take care of Donald Trump. I believe the job the president is to fight for you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can we do one more take?

BIDEN: Look, I'm very young, energetic, and handsome. What the hell am I doing this for?


RAJU: Look, this came right after Trump super PAC put out an ad going after Joe Biden's age, even though Trump has just four years younger.


AD ANNOUNCER: We can all see Joe Biden's weakness. If Biden wins, can he even survive until 2029? The real question is, can we?


RAJU: Can even survive. Whoo, how do you see this playing out?

ISAAC ARNSDORF, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, WASHINGTON POST: Yeah, and the Trump campaign followed up and basically put those two ads together. They took the clip of him, the beginning of the Biden ad of him saying, I get that I'm old and then all of those clips of him showing his age. And the Biden campaign argument here is basically there are worse things then being old and drawing that contrast with Trump.

And it's interesting to hear the way that Trump talks about it as well when he says, this isn't about age is just a number. This is about something else because they're very aware and Trump himself is very aware that he's not that far behind Biden.

RAJU: Exactly. And meanwhile, Trump is, as we know, has so many legal issues that are going to be a major factor as we head into the campaign season, they hope it's not they want to delay, of course, it was criminal trials. They may be successful. We'll see how all this ultimately plays out.

But then he's got the civil issues into as well as the $91 million bond that he had to post on Friday as he appealed that judgment in the case against him in the E. Jean Carroll case in New York, he was found liable for both sexual abuse and defamation in 2022, and defamation. Just remember that because last night, Trump, at this rally brought it up and well see if that lead it's the any legal issues for it.


TRUMP: I just posted a $91 million bond -- $91 million on a fake story, totally made-up sorry.

I get sued for defamation. That's where it starts. And this is Democrat operatives. These are all her lawyers are big Democrat operative.

This woman is not a believable person.


RAJU: All right. But let's just remind, he owes her -- it is decided at $83.3 million for reputational repair, emotional harm, and punitive damages for malicious statements. And he says that, he just can't help himself.

MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: Yeah. One thing I was looking out for was whether he would shift his message in a way now that we are in more of a general election rematch because this was so much a part of his message in the primary. He was using these court cases to paint himself as a victim and a martyr. And it worked at least with the GOP base.

But I think its another question when it comes to a general election, how much are you going to want to bring up these court trials around the campaign trail? Even he is going to have to juggle them in terms of the calendar, but it's not something thing that I'm sure his team wants him to be talking about all that much.

RAJU: And will the Biden team even touch this, especially -- they're not, why?

LUCEY: It's so far, they haven't. The president has not wanted to go there. You could see this from outside groups of Democrats. But I think the Biden team really wants to focus on the policy contrast. And that's really what you're going to see is them continue to make this argument about here's what a Donald Trump or -- another Donald Trump term would look like compared to what another Joe Biden term would look like.

ZANONA: It was notable though that Biden was campaigning miles away from Fulton County where Donald Trump is facing criminal charges. So it does seem like they're trying to acknowledge it in some ways, even if they're not addressing it.

And were seeing them side-by-side more, right? We saw them both down at the border also. So, you're going to see more of these moments where there's a thrust together.

RAJU: And meanwhile, the Biden team is dealing with and Trump really does. The threat of third-party candidates, the independent candidacy of RFK, Jr., qualifying for a pair of battleground states like Michigan in particular, that one is going to be a big battle in November in Nevada, New Hampshire, and Hawaii, the campaign says they met the signature threshold to qualify. In Michigan, South Carolina, Georgia, and Arizona, they say they've met enough. The super PAC also says they met enough to qualify.


How big of a -- who is -- who does RFK, Jr. pose a bigger threat to, Trump or Biden?

ARNSDORF: This is an ongoing debate. Both campaigns have obviously tested it in polling and they can make arguments one way or the other, and you can see the thinking kind of shift when Trump will attack him or not attack RFK, Jr. But, but we've all seen in elections going back to 2000, how a few thousand votes to a third candidate can tip a very close state.

RAJU: Yeah. And we'll see if that happens again.

All right. Coming up, a Republican senator is shocking and misleading story. It was fodder for "SNL" last night


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good evening. I'm Abby Phillip.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: First and foremost, I'm a mom, and like any mom, I'm going to do a pivot out of nowhere into a shockingly violent story about sex trafficking. And rest assured, every detail about it is a real, except the year where it took place. And who was president when it happened.


RAJU: Yeah, she was --



RAJU: Freshman Senator Katie Britt told a jarring story this past week during the Republican response to the State of the Union Address, a graphic tale of sexual violence she says she heard at the southern border.


SEN. KATIE BRITT (R-AL): I spoke to a woman who shared her story with me. She had been sex-trafficked by the cartels starting at the age of 12. She told me not just that she was raped every day but how many times a day she was raped. This is the United States of America. And it is past time in my opinion, that we start acting like it.

President Biden's border policies are a disgrace.


RAJU: But the incident did not happen during the Biden administration or even in the United States, but actually in Mexico.

In the statement to CNN, her office defended that passage from her speech claiming that the story was in line with the problems at the border, saying that during that, quote, dangerous journey to cross into the United States, children, women and men are being subjected to gut-wrenching, heartbreaking horrors in our own backyard.

Our panel is back. So this was really supposed to be a shining moment for Katie Britt, someone who is being elevated in the Republican ranks, given this huge opportunity. She's faced enormous criticism for her delivery. But now, this passage was not true, the way she presented it.

What was the fallout?

ZANONA: Yeah. I mean, the story itself that she told it is not inaccurate. What's dishonest is the way she tried to link into the Biden administration, the way she tried to link it to something that was happening in the United States. And it was just such an unforced error for her and addition to picking the kitchen table as the setting, in addition to the delivery which was widely criticized and mocked.

And this is just the risk of doing the rebuttal. These are notoriously tricky. You're going from watching the president in this room with hundreds of people. There's a lot of energy to watching someone deliver a straight to camera alone in a room. And we've seen how this is tripped up, past politicians, including rising stars.

It looked like it's happened to her as well. I mean, I would say I don't think this means her end is here because in the future of the Republican Party, she still has a very long career ahead of her, but it's embarrassing.

RAJU: Yeah, like Marco Rubio is still around here. He had a moment and he's a senior member in the Senate as well.

So, look, this all came of course, one of the State of the Union. There was that unscripted moment that happened that actually got Biden in a bit of hot water with his own party, with Marjorie Taylor Greene, from the State of the Union said, say, they are the name of Laken Riley. Of course, the 2022-year-old Georgia student who was allegedly killed -- allegedly at the hands of someone who is in the country illegally.

Biden used the term illegal immigrant and that caused some backlash within on the left. And he was asked about that last night and he walked back that specific word.


BIDEN: An undocumented person. I shouldn't have used illegal. I should have -- as undocumented, and look, when I spoke about the difference between Trump and me, one of the things I talked about in the border was that he's -- the way he talks about vermin, the way he talks about these people polluting the blood. I talked about what I'm not going to do. What I won't do. I'm not going to treat any, any, any of these people with disrespect. Look, they built the country.


RAJU: And then last night in Rome, Georgia, Trump went after Biden for that walk-back.


TRUMP: No, he was illegal. And I say he was an illegal alien. He was an illegal immigrant. He was an illegal migrant and he shouldn't have been in our country and he never would have been under the Trump policy.

And Biden should be apologizing for apologizing to this killer.


RAJU: Trump also met with Laken Riley's parents at that event. How do you see this playing out?

ARNSDORF: Well, you can see Biden sometimes likes being attacked from the left on immigration. It makes him look more moderate and appeal to the voters that he needs to win this election. So he's looking for those moments where he can kind of call the Republicans' bluff is I will shut down the border. I do want to pass this border bill. I will say Laken Riley's name.


And there are ways that they are clearly a lot of Americans can relate to, maybe not always using the most PC word. That was a big part of Donald Trumps appeal.

RAJU: And, look, one of the reasons why Biden was under pressure was concerns and criticism on the left over not just the terminology. That's one aspect of it, but also he shift on immigration. He did on this bipartisan border security deal, move much further to the Republican position, and that angered so many folks on the left. You say you're ceding on this issue where they thought they had the high ground just years ago and now they fear that they don't.

And I caught up with one senior Democrat and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Joaquin Castro of Texas who had a warning for the president.


REP. JOAQUIN CASTRO (D-TX): He's got to be careful not to go down that dark path that Donald Trump has taken us when he talks about the border and he talks about immigration, because what Donald Trump has done in his rhetoric is put a target on people's backs. That's part of what concerns me is when I heard that, because the president has tack to his right on policy.

It's a big concern, not just for Hispanics, but Democratic voters. We need Democratic voters to come out and I don't want us to do things that fundamentally deflate the inspiration and the willingness of Democrats to come out and vote.


RAJU: And that's an interesting comment. I don't want to do things that fundamentally deflate the inspiration and the willingness of Democrats to come on and vote. In other words, you go to the middle, I immigration, you risks angering the left and that is just the balancing act that Biden has struggled with on this issue.

LUCEY: That's the line that he's trying to walk and it's a really hard one, especially if you think about what Biden is trying to do to win this election, is bring back this coalition of people who voted for him in 2020. And that includes a lot of young people, a lot of activists, a lot of folks who don't like the kind of immigration policies that he has been supporting.

And so the idea that some people might sit on the bench or sitting in the couch is a -- is a real concern.

RAJU: Yeah, and that is definitely the concern they'd have to deal with in the months ahead.

All right. Coming up, we go out -- we go one-on-one with the party leaders charged with winning a majority in the House and then we'll speak with Republican Kari Lake in one of the nation's most important Senate races.



RAJU: The battle for the House is on a knife's edge with the limited number of pickup opportunities for both parties and the likelihood that the next majority could also be razor thin.

But the leaders in charge of each party strategy detailed to me this past week how they see the playing field and how candidates in swing districts will adjust to the top of their tickets. Right now, Republicans only have a 219 to 213 majority, and Democrats are targeting 17 GOP-held seats in district Biden won, while Republicans are focused on five Democratic-held seats in districts, Trump won, on four other swing district seats currently held by Democrats who are retiring this year.

And even as Republicans have struggled to govern in this messy and chaotic 118th Congress, they are bullish about their chances in November.

Congressman Richard Hudson, who chairs the House GOP's campaign arm, says Trump will help his candidates.


RAJU: Are you going to hold the majority?

REP. RICHARD HUDSON (R-NC), CHAIR, NATIONAL REPUBLICAN CONGRESSIONAL COMMITTEE: Absolutely. We're going to grow the majority for several reasons. The political environments the best political environment, Republicans of having a long time, mainly because Biden's policies have failed also because of the recruits. We got the best recruitment class we've ever had.

If you look at the battleground, you know, the 250-seat majority days are gone because of redistricting. You know, we're going to have a knife fight over every single district. But you look at four Democrats swing seat retirements, they're great pickup opportunities for us.

RAJU: How did Super Tuesday change things for you?

HUDSON: It was a huge help for us.

RAJU: So you've talked to Donald Trump, you are Mar-a-Lago talking about some of these races. Can it be helpful in the 18 Biden districts where Republicans serve?

HUDSON: Absolutely.

RAJU: But how? I mean, like he's not -- can't be popular in those districts.

HUDSON: Well, right now, he's popular everywhere, has won in every battleground state and I think the turnout models are much different than a presidential election year for us, brings out a lot of voters that don't vote in the midterms. And so, I think it's a net positive.

RAJU: And what if he's convicted, will that make it harder for you guys to hold the majority?

HUDSON: I think most Americans see these all as what they are as political -- politically motivated.

RAJU: Will you encourage your members to campaign with Donald Trump?

HUDSON: Sure. I mean, each candidate can make up their own mind what they want to do. I'll be campaigning with President Trump and I think he's going to help us across the ticket.


RAJU: Look, in some ways, you expected that campaign chairman to be very optimistic and bullish. But look, this has been a period of time where Republicans, things have been going a little better for the GOP after everything that we've seen. Super Tuesday one is generally as they hoped, redistricting fights have not been as bad as they fear, particularly in New York. And Biden numbers are not helping them.

But despite all that, they have a lot of real challenges. Trump being one of them. Is Hudson being realistic about growing the majority?

ZANONA: Yeah. I mean, I think the pool of potential battleground districts, as he mentioned there, it's shrunk because in recent years, there's just been so much redistricting and gerrymandering that you're not going to see a 60-seat wave on either side. So it is going to be a smaller pool. It is going to be a knife fight, as he said.

But I will say that up until this point, Republicans have really felt like they could lose the majority in November, that that was going to be the case. It has started to shift a little bit. They see immigration and the border as a huge issue for them. They feel like they have the wind at their backs.

J.R. Majewski, a controversial Republican candidate and a key primary dropped out, there have been a couple of things breaking their ways, which is fueling that confidence you heard from Hudson, but it's going to be tough.

RAJU: Yeah.

ZANONA: It's going to be close for both parties and abortion is still a huge, huge liability for Republicans.


RAJU: Absolutely. It's a big liability and the Trump top of the ticket always has an impact down ticket. You're facing two pretty unpopular candidates for president. So what would that mean down ticket?

That's a question that I also put to the Democratic Campaign Committee chairwoman Suzan DelBene about the top of their ticket and the impact that it will have on her vulnerable members.


RAJU: So I just spoke to Richard Hudson and he told me that Republicans will not only hold the majority, they will grow the majority.

What do you say to him?

REP. SUZAN DELBENE (D-WA): I strongly disagree and all you have to do is go talk to voters across the country. They're tired of the extremism, the lack of interest in actually governing from Republicans. They're in charge of the do-nothing Congress.

RAJU: Do you think they should campaign -- your candidates should campaign with Biden.

DELBENE: I think our -- we've had candidates campaigning. I think they're out there. Our map is always going to be a little different in terms of where the congressional races are and where there might be the most focus from a presidential standpoint.

But I think the president has a strong record.

RAJU: Hudson also thinks that Trump actually will be a net benefit because they can energize the base and bring out voters. He does not think it's going to hurt them in their 18 Biden Republican districts. What's your reaction to that.

DELBENE: Well, they're incapable of making the decision on their own. They are the party of Donald Trump.


RAJU: You know, what's interesting is that you don't see as many vulnerable members embracing Biden, perhaps as you might see among Republican members. Maybe there's a difference in how they handle it.

How do you think these members in these districts and in the Senate races too, will deal with Biden and they come -- when it comes to their states and districts.

LUCEY: And it's always a calculation we see every cycle for folks in some of these swing districts. But you know, Biden is obviously running at the top of the ticket and it's hard to run away from that, obviously.

RAJU: Some try.

LUCEY: Some try and there has been some chatter of people being worried about whether Biden will be a drag at the top of the ticket.

You're seeing obviously the president's campaign investing a lot in battleground areas, trying to get a lot of (INAUDIBLE) troops on the ground, a lot of staffing, try -- and really trying to, you know, elevate this message that he is helpful and is delivering, which I think in a lot of these swing districts is key.

They want to really show voters that they have been delivering on priorities like infrastructure, like health care and so forth.

RAJU: So I mentioned Republicans who are embracing Trump, but there are actually a fair amount in the House and the Senate who simply are just not there yet. I asked just a lot of Republicans about the fact that Trump, you know, after Super Tuesday he became the presumptive nominee. He was on the way to the nomination.

So what, are they going to get behind them? Some of them just wouldn't answer.


RAJU: Are you going to endorse Trump? Are you going to endorse, Mr. Kean (ph)? Mr. Kean, can you respond. Are you going to endorse him?

REP. MIKE LAWLER (R-NY): Look, at the end of the day? This is about the American people. They will determine who the next president of the United States is, not me not anybody in this House or chamber.

RAJU: Are you going to endorse Trump?

REP. DAN NEWHOUSE (R-WA): What I will tell you is that we can't afford four more years by the administration.

RAJU: Are you going to support Trump?

REP. BRAIN FITZPATRICK (R-PA): What's that? RAJU: Are you supporting Trump?

FITZPATRICK: Figure that out.

RAJU: Are you going to vote for him?

REP. BILL CASSIDY (R-LA): I've answered that question before. Thank you.

RAJU: So Trump is the nominee. Are you going to support him?

SEN. TODD YOUNG (R-IN): What Hoosiers decide to do is Hoosiers choice. I don't have anything to say about my own views on the election. I've said enough.

RAJU: But do you still harbor those same concerns?

YOUNG: Nothing's changed from my standpoint. I trust the people I represent to make their own decisions about who they're going to vote for.


RAJU: I mean, if some of those senators are not up for reelection like Senator Todd Young and he is, he's not there yet and a lot of members aren't. What do you think of that?

ARNSDORF: I didn't know "Billy on the Street" was back on the air.

Yes. I think it probably is trickier actually in the Senate where there's a lot of overlap between the seats that the democrats are defending. Whereas in the House -- and the battleground states for the presidential -- whereas in the House, I mean, a lot of this is going to be like you said, in New York, where the Democrats have pickup opportunities because of the redistricting.

RAJU: Yes, exactly. And you know, some of them who are in those swing districts, Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick being one of them, wouldn't say if he is supporting Trump, Mike Lawler said he didn't want to get into that, and others, Congressman Dan Newhouse one of ten Republicans who voted to impeach Donald Trump, not saying if he will endorse him here.

But you're seeing that's the Republican hand-wringing about Trump that is clearly still existing. And then there's the Republican political operation, their strategy.


RAJU: We talked about immigration in the last segment. There was a vote last week in the House on a bill named after Laken Riley. Democrats said it was a overreach that Republicans were taking advantage of a tragic situation. And a lot of them didn't vote for it.

Well, the ones who didn't vote for it are now being hit by a new campaign ad from the House GOP campaign arm going after them for their votes.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Joe Biden's open border caused this. Even worse, extreme House Democrats refused to protect victims.


RAJU: You're saying that ad here for the first time. Melanie, what's behind this and it's pretty clear what they're trying to do here. But they successfully campaigned on crime in past election cycles. They're trying to replicate that safe strategy.

ZANONA: Right. And here they're actually linking crime and the border. What they see are going to be their two biggest issue come November. And they're going to go after Democrats repeatedly on this issue, not just on that vote, they're going to use everything against them that they can.

And you even saw Democratic leadership allowing members to vote their conscience on that piece of legislation because they knew that there were some Democrats who were going to have to vote yes for it. And a lot of them who vote yes were those vulnerable Democrats.

RAJU: Yes, absolutely. Including some of them who ran for the Senate.

And speaking of the Senate, control of the Senate is also up for grabs in November, it could all come down to Arizona.

Up next our conversation with Republican candidate Kari Lake.


ZANONA: Do you still believe that your election was stolen?




RAJU: One of the nation's most critical battleground states is in Arizona where not only the presidential candidates will be battling for its 11 electoral votes, but it's also a state that could determine control of the Senate.

And just last week there was a major shakeup in the Senate race when Independent Senator. Kyrsten Sinema, who caucuses with Democrats announced she would not run again. And that paved the way for a hugely significant head-to-head race between Kari Lake, a MAGA and Trump aligned conservative and progressive Democrat Ruben Gallego.

Our Melanie Zanona sat down one-on-one with Kari Lake soon after the news broke that Sinema would not run again.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ZANONA: Kyrsten Sinema said she is not going to be running for reelection. Do you think this makes the path easier for you in Arizona?

KARI LAKE (R-AZ), SENATE CANDIDATE: I think it does. I think, you know, she obviously was looking at the polling the same polling that we're looking at. And I'm sure Ruben Gallego has been looking at and she was going to get anywhere between 14 percent and maybe 18 percent of the vote.

That's just not enough to win a race. It's not enough to win an election. So I think it actually does help us. I think she was pulling a few Democrats and a few Republicans as well. And if you're Independent.


RAJU: But as she tries to appeal to moderate voters, Lake is answering questions about her past including her bogus claims of widespread election fraud in her loss of the governor's race in 2022, and Trumps reelection bid in 2020.


ZANONA: If you had been vice president would you would have certified the 2020 election result.

LAKE: These are crazy -- this is like a hypothetical going forward and hypothetical going backward. I'm not going to entertain that.

What I will entertain is talking about how do we go forward and going forward when we get an America first president and some great leadership in the Senate and the majority. We're going to do great things for the American people.

ZANONA: Do you still believe that your election was stolen?

LAKE: We had major problems in our election and we're really working to resolve those problems. We still have some court cases.

What I'm concerned about going forward in the next election is that my radical opponent, Ruben Gallego wants to give 9 to 12 million people who've poured in illegally, invaded our country the ability to vote. He wants them all to vote. That's wrong.

ZANONA: Did anyone give you advice to not talk about the 2020 election?

LAKE: No. 2020 election, I think it was a rigged election. President Trump, I don't I believe it was. But what I'm trying to do is look forward.


RAJU: Gallego office he was not available for an interview, but his spokesman released a statement to us saying, quote, "Kari Lake will say or do anything to gain power, including ban abortion and challenge the results of the 2020 and 2022 elections.

And Melanie Zanona, we saw there, of course, is here. So what do you make of the how -- great interview by the way -- and what do you make of the fact her move here?

She's sort of trying to moderate, but also embracing those same claims in the past and same positions but recognizes that this is a state with a huge amount of Independent voters, and she has to appeal to them.

ZANONA: And especially with Sinema out of the race, there's this huge pool of Independents and centrists who are up for grabs. Clearly both her and Gallego are trying to make a play for those.

And she's tried to moderate her position on a number of things. She's tried to mend some fences, including with John McCain and his family. She famously criticized John McCain in the past.

She's tried to walk back some of her positions on abortion, which is again going to be a huge issue.

And you heard her there denying the 2020 election when saying, I still want to look forward though. I don't want to talk about this stuff, even though she can't help herself but still embrace what has been central to her MAGA firebrand identity, which is election denialism.

And I think it's really, you can see in the interview how much she was struggling with trying to express moderate positions while also not keeping her base at an arm's distance. The base that made her into the candidate she is today.


RAJU: And it's such a fascinating race. And meanwhile, you talked to her about one of these issues that of course, she may have to deal with it as senator, what to do about Ukraine aid still stalled in Congress at a critical moment. The GOP is bitterly divided over this issue.

And she has a very strong position about where she stands.


ZANONA: Would you support the foreign aid package that they ultimately did pass. It didn't include the border, but it did include money for Ukraine.

LAKE: I don't support sending more money to Ukraine. When the spring offensive --

ZANONA: Under any circumstances?

LAKE: -- I don't see a circumstance where I would. I think this is a war that's been lost.

(END VIDEO CLIP) RAJU: This war has been lost, speaks to where the base is on such a key issue.

ARNSDORF: Well, the Republican base, the MAGA base.

RAJU: Yes.

ARNSDORF: And I'm particularly trying to tie the issue of Ukraine funding to the U.S. border. But can also, I know a lot of McCain Republicans who are not in a mold of John McCain and much more interested in America's place in the world traditionally. And not ready to forgive and forget all those slights and insults from Kari Lake.

RAJU: Yes. And this all comes as there are a bunch of competitive Senate races in November. If you look at the Senate map here the challenge for Democrats though there are two states -- Texas and Florida. Those are really there only pickup opportunities here and that and the race for the majority goes through a number of states that Donald Trump won in 2020, including in Ohio and putting a West Virginia which is retirement, the open seat there.

Montana, who -- Jon Tester, who I caught up with last week and I asked him about Biden's impact and what that may mean for his race.


RAJU: Biden standing ahead of November is not good. So what does that do for you? I mean, the fact that he is really underwater versus Trump in almost all of these issues, it can't be helpful for a guy running in Montana.

SEN. JON TESTER (D-MT): It's honest to goodness, is a totally different race. We'll run our own on their own race. He's going to run his race. And I don't think it really matters much. I've got my own brand.

We're going to talk about things I've done. We're going to talk about what I want to do in the future.

SEN. BOB CASEY (D-PA): I think the president will be in a close race as I will be and I think we both can win.


RAJU: And that last comment coming from a Pennsylvania Democrat, Bob Casey. I mean, that's where Biden, of course, will be campaigning a lot. He's not going to Montana. Trump's going to win Montana.

But Casey's made the determination. I got to stick with Biden. That's really how we're going to win together or we're going to lose together.

LUCEY: Biden won Pennsylvania in 2020. He has -- he's a Scranton native, his political brand dates back a long way there. There was a time when he was called the third Pennsylvania senator. So Bob Casey and Biden go way back and he's clearly not going to move away from him.

But their fortunes are absolutely to rise or fall together and that's a must win state for Biden as well.

RAJU: But sometimes the Democratic senators -- they have to run ahead of Biden in some of these states. I mean Sherrod Brown in Ohio where Trump is going to be heavily favored to win there.

ZANONA: As well as Montana -- I mean Montana, and Ohio, those are probably going to be some of the toughest states for Democrats to hold onto. And they don't have a lot of pickup opportunities either.

That's the other flip side, especially now that you have Joe Manchin, he stepped out of West Virginia. That puts another one in Republicans' map.

RAJU: that is almost certain to flip of course.

All right. Coming up, on this day when the clocks spring forward, is it finally time for Congress to make daylight saving time permanent?


SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL): I never argued with the most important issue facing our republic, but it's one that matters. Everybody's got an opinion on it one way or the other.




RAJU: It's that time of year when the clocks spring forward, and of course, we lose an hour of sleep. And that change brings us darker mornings, but also lighter evenings and that's something many on Capitol Hill want year-round.

Since 1966, states have been allowed to decide whether they make the bi-annual switch. But critics say switching back and forth is actually bad for our health.

And two years ago the Senate surprised many when it actually passed a bill to keep the U.S. permanently on Daylight Saving Time. But the House never followed suit. And since then nothing has happened.

Senator Marco Rubio sponsored that Senate bill.


RAJU: Why have you not been able to get this done.

RUBIO: Because in this place there's always someone that has a reason to be against something. I mean, my view of it is we should just pick one and stick with it year-round. But it's a big country so I guess at some point there's some people

who'll argue that it's too dark in the morning, when kids go to school. The reverse is, you know, there's a lot of places in America we want kids to be outdoors and, you know, if you don't have lights at a park, you're pretty much done by 05:00 p.m. or 4:30 so.

But either way, my bigger challenge, my bigger complaint is the switching back and forth. I just don't I don't get why we keep doing that.


RAJU: Rubio's fellow Floridian Republican Vern Buchanan sponsored a similar bill in the House.

REP. VERN BUCHANAN (R-FL): An hour change, there's a big difference, especially on seniors down in Florida, so that extra hour you come home, get some time with the kids outside, go for a jog, whatever you want to do.

That's what everybody is pushing me for the last ten years.


RAJU: But while Floridians might be happy with staying on daylight saving time, further north, that would mean sunrise in the winter, is late as 09:00 a.m.

And take it from Congressman Dan Newhouse, a Republican from Washington state.


NEWHOUSE: I'm not opposed to staying in a one time, but what I wouldn't be sure of is if we pick the right time and I'm not sure daylight savings is right, standard maybe the better situation.

RAJU: Because in Washington state, it's dark.

NEWHOUSE: Yes, yes.

That's right. So we've got to look at all the impacts and make the right choice. And then I think staying on one time makes sense.


RAJU: But in the House, the bill remains stuck in the Energy and Commerce Committee, which happens to be chaired by a Republican from -- Republican congresswoman from -- you guessed it, Washington state. In fact, Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers told me she does have quote, "concerns" about making the time change in permanent.

When I caught up with her on Friday, she would not say whether it's time for a change.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) RAJU: Is your committee going to move on that bill?

REP. CATHY MCMORRIS-ROGERS (R-WA): were looking at the bill. We'll get back with you.

I guess, only time will tell.

That's it for INSIDE POLITICS SUNDAY, you can follow me on X, formerly known as Twitter @mkraju, follow the show @insidepolitics.

And if you ever miss an episode, you can catch up wherever you get your podcast just search for INSIDE POLITICS.

Now up next, "STATE OF THE UNION" with Jake Tapper and Dana Bash. Jake's guests include Senators James Lankford and Raphael Warnock, as well as North Carolinas Democratic candidate for Governor, Josh Stein.

Thanks again for sharing your Sunday morning with us. Well see you next time.