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Advice From Carville & Begala On How Biden Can Win; New Biden Campaign Ad Makes Appeal To Black Voters; Kennedy Clan Spends St. Patrick's Day At The White House; RBG's Family Condemns Selection Of Musk And Murdoch For Award Bearing Her Name. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired March 18, 2024 - 12:30   ET





UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bill Clinton. Number two in your ballot, number one in your heart.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just can't imagine why they agreed to positioning that puts him at such a severe angle.


DANA BASH, CNN HOST: That was a clip from the famed political documentary, "The War Room", about Bill Clinton's 1992 presidential campaign. It's been more than 30 years, but there they are, James Carville and Paul Begala are still at it. They're with me now to share their advice for the current Democratic president facing his own tough re-election campaign.

Nice to see you, fellas, as Nikki Haley would say.


BASH: I want to start by playing something that Nancy Pelosi, the former House Speaker, told me on State of the Union yesterday. She was clearly not happy after listening to what Donald Trump said in Ohio on Saturday night. Pretty dark stuff talking about a whole bunch of stuff, including what happened on January 6th.

Listen to what she said.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), CALIFORNIA: There's something wrong here. How respectful I am of the American people and their goodness, but how much more do they have to see from him to understand that this isn't what our country is about?

I just say with all the respect in the world for voters and their right to make their decision, weigh these equities. How much are you concerned about more women or women having the right to choose or LGBT people having the right to their lives that you would vote for him?


PELOSI: You wouldn't even allow him in your house much less in the White House.



BASH: James, I'm going to start with you. What are your thoughts?

JAMES CARVILLE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Yes. I agree with the speaker, but what president needs to do as a financial advantage, Trump's on his hind feet legally. He's clearly going mad and I would attack right now. I'd spend that money. I would jump all over him because my feeling is when your opponent is drowning, the first thing you do is throw him or her an anvil.

And that's what he needs right now. He's drowning. Give him an anvil.

BASH: Paul?

BEGALA: Music to my ears. You know, first off, Speaker Pelosi is exactly right. Not only just the greatest speaker in my lifetime, the greatest speaker in American history. But what I would say to her is, ma'am, we're 231 days out, and voters don't know enough about the check because we haven't told them enough about it.

And James is exactly right. President Biden and his campaign have done a terrific job of raising money. Democratic Party has done a great job. The Republican Party seems to be broke. Mr. Trump seems to be broke.

Attack, sir. Attack. Attack. Stop bragging and start bashing. That's what he needs to do.

BASH: And when you say that, Paul, you mean maybe less of the look at all of the things I've done for you and more of look how bad this guy is? Meaning Trump?

BEGALA: Yes, but I would link them. You know, Bill Clinton didn't get credit for his economy until Newt Gingrich shut the government down. Barack Obama didn't get credit for Obamacare until the Republicans tried to repeal it.

Biden will get credit for his accomplishments, but if I were to put Carville's side back up, I would change and say, it's the threat, stupid. Trump is a threat. He's a threat to your lower cost prescription drugs. He's a threat to your $35 insulin. He's a threat to Obamacare. God knows he's a threat to a woman's right to choose and all those other things Speaker Pelosi -- he's a threat to our democracy.

So that way you can say, see, I did this. I got you low cost insulin. I got you cheaper healthcare premiums. I got you lower prescription drugs. And Trump is a threat to all of them. He will repeal all that and take it away from you.

BASH: Yes.

BEGALA: It's a different message than just bragging.

BASH: James, when he said he would put your sign back up, just so happens we have that sign. We have a video of it, of the younger people who might not know just by him saying, it's your sign. It's the economy, stupid. Modernize that for us. Do you agree with Paul?

CARVILLE: I totally agree with Paul. And this is a race, the first race, presidential race of my lifetime. It's really not about the future. But it's about, you know, reminding people not only what he did, but what he tried to do and what he says he's going to do.

I mean, there's, you know, this is like being a mosquito in a nudist colony. It's hard to pick a target, but you got to pick one and go after it, you know?

BASH: What do you really think? I also, do you come up with these analogies beforehand, or they just come off the top of your head? It's amazing.

I want you both -- go ahead.

CARVILLE: They kind of come off the top of my head, but it's something that you did that I think he -- and it's a problem for the Democratic Party. He ought to tell Bibi Netanyahu to shut his stupid pie hole. As long as he's taking our money, we are perfectly willing to give him advice.

And, by the way, he came and spoke to our Congress. He's got to understand how much money that the United States has sent to Israel during his prime ministership. And there's real value in attacking him because he is not popular in America and he's not popular in Israel.

BASH: Well, Paul, you know, he and his advisers, he, meaning, Prime Minister Netanyahu, obviously see what Chuck Schumer did last week. The fact that President Biden called Chuck Schumer and his lengthy address about the need for new elections in Israel, a good speech. I'm guessing you think that that's good politics, not just for the Democratic base?

BEGALA: Yes, it's good politics and good policy, good substance. You know, you won't find a stronger supporter of the state of Israel than Joe Biden or Chuck Schumer. Frankly, Carville and I, we both love that country, we work there.

But Netanyahu seems to have conflated his own political and legal interests, with the country's interests. And you're exactly right to hold him accountable. Every -- all my friends in Israel say that they would love to get rid of Netanyahu, two-thirds of the country in the poll that you cited from Channel 12.

So, yes, and back home in America, very good politics and good policy. You know, we have to support Israel, but we don't have to put up with Netanyahu.

BASH: Before I let you guys go, I want to ask quickly about -- we don't have time to run it, but the Biden campaign has a new ad appealing to African-American voters, harder for Democrats, harder for President Biden. I'm guessing that it has been in your political lifetime to get that vote. Is that fair?


CARVILLE: This is very correct. They're very correct to be concerned about this. And the black male, particularly the younger black males, have become disengaged and it's got to be a priority just to how we communicate and reengage. But it may not see a whole lot -- for a whole lot of polling this morning, and it is a problem. And the first way to, of course, happen solving any problem is to acknowledge you have one.

BASH: James Carville, Paul Begala, we're out of time. Please come back. Thank you.

BEGALA: Thank you very much, Dana. Thank you.

CARVILLE: Thank you.

BEGALA: James, great to see you again, brother.

CARVILLE: Yes. You bet. Call me later. OK, thanks.

BASH: Up next, the Kennedy clan showed up in force at the White House this weekend to celebrate St. Patrick's Day with President Biden. There was, of course, a notable absence. We'll tell you about that after the break.



BASH: Now to a picture that's worth at least a thousand world -- words rather, and the Biden campaign hopes thousands of votes. I'm talking about this photo posted by RFK Jr.'s sister, Kerry Kennedy, showing dozens of Kennedys celebrating St. Paddy's Day at the White House with President Biden, notably absent, the Kennedy running against Joe Biden this fall.

The panel is back. I mean, we know there are a lot of Kennedys. That's a lot of Kennedys. But that's not what why we we're talking about this. We're talking about this because of RFK Jr. not being there, which, of course, we expect. How much of this is genuine Joe Biden inviting all the Kennedys in celebrating St. Patrick's Day, which means a lot to them? And how much is making a show of that photo to have a little bit of a troll going on to RFK?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Look, nothing is on accident, especially...

BASH: Yes. RAJU: this time of the campaign season. Biden team has to take the threat of Kennedy seriously. And this is -- you look, there was one pull off from Pennsylvania last week that said that RFK Jr. would pull in 9 percent in that race, a neck and neck race. Who knows how that can turn?

Maybe some Trump voters, maybe some disaffected Biden voters may go that way. So it is a real challenge. The question is going to be how aggressively does Biden and the Democrats take on RFK Jr. Do they attack him, go about his issues and the policy positions he's taken? Do they ignore it? Do they allow the Super PACs, Democratic Super PACs to go after Biden, that is the -- RFK Jr. -- that is the real debate that is ongoing in the Democratic Party.

LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, you're not going to see President Biden's campaign at this stage directly attack RFK Jr. They're right now trying to say, look, this is a two-person race. It is just against President Biden and Donald Trump. But you are going to see the Democratic National Committee, which has already started doing this. They have a whole team now to go after third party, potential third party threats.

And they are aggressively attacking RFK Jr. right now, specifically about his conspiracy theories, about him being anti-vaccine, about how he has said that chemicals in water cause people to become transgender, all of that across the board. They are highlighting that aggressively.

Now, I think what you could see come the summer, if there appears to be a candidate like RFK Jr. sticking in it or someone else who's running a different third party race, you could very well see the Biden campaign, sources close to them told me, run testimonials from voters who voted for Jill Stein in 2016 and regret it.

BASH: That's so interesting.

BARRON-LOPEZ: About, you know, I did this, it actually potentially tilted the race in states like Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania.

BASH: That's a great reporting nugget (ph). I just wanted -- because you both mentioned how much of a threat RFK Jr. could be and that just depends on where he's on the ballot of course, because he's only on the ballot officially right now in Utah, which is not going to make much of a difference either way.

Just to -- we've talked about this on the show, but it's good to remind our viewers. The campaign says they met the signature threshold in New Hampshire, Hawaii, and Nevada. Super PAC, the one that supports him, says they met the threshold in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, and South Carolina.

You know, Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, Michigan. Those four, I mean, those are critical. Any one of them would be critical.

SALEHA MOHSIN, SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, BLOOMBERG: Talking about a blast from the past, you just talked to James Carville. Shortly after that, we had the big Nader elections where everyone talked about how close the race was between Gore and W. Bush and maybe Nader was in there pulling votes from Gore. And so there is this disruptive appearance of third party candidates.

And so we haven't heard from no labels yet. There was a lot of hullabaloo around them. This is the election and the matchup that no one seems to want. Voters are generally unhappy with the options that are in front of them. But at the same time, we haven't seen any real pattern emerge of a third party candidate getting any attention.

But if you're right, which I'm sure you're reporting is, if the Biden campaign is preparing for it, that's giving them some credibility right there, a third party candidate.

BASH: You mentioned Nader in 2000, I mean, in '92, there was a third party candidate named Ross Perot who had a pretty big --

RAJU: Yes, absolutely. And look, the challenge too --

BASH: -- presence.

RAJU: -- when you attack RFK Jr., if you do that, then you elevate him. And that's going to be one of the things they have to weigh as well. Do you elevate him or ignore him? And that's a risk as well.

BASH: Yes. It's not easy. Manu, Laura, and Saleha, thank you so much.

I want to remind people that Saleha has a new book out, "Paper Soldiers: How the Weaponization of the Dollar Changed the World Order." You can order it right now. See what I did there, Saleha?


Ahead, the family of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is outraged after they say an award bearing her name was given to the founder of a right-wing news organization and a billionaire conspiracy theorist. We'll explain after a break.


BASH: The family of the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is demanding her name be removed from an award after it was given to SpaceX CEO Elon Musk and media mogul Rupert Murdoch.


The award was created four years ago by the Opperman Foundation and past recipients were accomplished women who honor the late justice's legacy of championing women's rights and liberal causes. Ginsburg's family's blasting the foundation's decision to give the award this year to Musk and Murdoch. Her son calls it a desecration and says his mother would be appalled.


JIM GINSBURG, SON OF LATE JUSTICE RUTH BADER GINSBURG: The family had nothing to do with this. We were not consulted. We are vehemently against this appropriation of our mother's name and this insult to her legacy. The two that obviously stand out here are Elon Musk and Rupert Murdoch.

When you think of, you know, trying to create a more just society, which of course was mom's ultimate goal, those are probably about the last names that would come to mind.


BASH: This year, the Opperman Foundation dropped the title woman from the name of the award to include trailblazing men and women. It's not clear why the Ginsburg family says it was not informed of the change.

Thank you so much for watching Inside Politics today. CNN New Central starts after the break.