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Inside Politics

Funding Deal Throws Johnson's Future Into Jeopardy; Trump Racing To Meet Tomorrow's Deadline To Secure $464M Bond; Murkowski Won't Rule Out Running as Independent; Biden and Trump Tied in PA, Trump Leads in MI; Ken Buck Bids Farewell to Colleagues He Bucked. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired March 24, 2024 - 08:00   ET



CAITLIN CLARK, IOWA GUARD: But I'm just a competitor. I love having fun. I love this game. I'm a perfectionist.

But yeah, I think he knows smile a little more. Obviously, I like one more time to play in this building and I love this place lot. So I'm going to enjoy every single second on Monday.


ANDY SCHULTZ, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yep. So tomorrow, Clark's got that one last home game there in Iowa. It should -- should be another one. Another victory, and we'll see how far he's able to go to this time.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Thank you, Andy.

Thanks so much for joining us this morning.



MANU RAJU, CNN HOST: Good morning, and welcome to INSIDE POLITICS SUNDAY. I'm Manu Raju.

We begin this week with upheaval in the GOP. House Speaker Mike Johnson's job is in jeopardy and new this morning, sources told me that Democrats are willing to save him if the outlines of pathway to approving aid for Ukraine, which has been stalled for months and badly divides the GOP.

While Congress just ended a saga over funding, the U.S. government, one that caused the previous speaker his job in an unprecedented uprising last fall, the new speaker is facing a similar revolt over the major deal he just cut with the White House to avoid a shutdown, opening a new front in the internal GOP war that has defined 118th Congress and could put Republicans razor-thin majority in jeopardy in November. Now the latest rebellion led by hard-right Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, who is ready to forced, whose rent is ready to force a vote to seek Johnson's ouster.


RAJU: Tell us how this plays out from here. We're going on a two-week recess, when you come back -- when the house comes back, is that when you call up this vote?

REP. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE (R-GA): I haven't said when that's going to be. What I'm hoping for is all of our Republican members to be able to have time to think and reflect over this break for us to come back together and start the conversation of who is capable and willing to lead this Republican majority because the current speaker of the house we have right now is getting rolled in every single meeting.

RAJU: How many Republican votes do you have on this?

GREENE: I won't be giving you the number of votes I have right now. But there is quite a few members that I talk to today


RAJU: Now, Greene continued attacking Johnson over the weekend, calling his leadership a, quote, betrayal. All is Johnsons majority took yet another major blow after a second Republican stunned his colleagues and announced he would resign early. Now, Johnson will only be able to lose one GOP vote along party lines.

And that was the chaos engulfs the House GOP, one swing district Republican Mike Lawler did not mince words on the new effort to topple the speaker.


REP. MIKE LAWLER (R-NY): I think it's not only idiotic but it actually does not do anything to advance the conservative movement. The American people agree with us on the issues but they don't agree with is the idiocy in the chaos that is totally unnecessary and does nothing to actually solve the problem.


RAJU: Now, my great panel is here with me this morning to break it all down. CNN's Jeff Zeleny, Julie Hirschfeld and Carl Hulse, both from "The New York Times". Good morning to you all. Thank you for joining me.

It is such we've seen this story play out before. It was historic and unprecedented the first time, this time might be a little different because of how the Democrats are gaming it.

And this is hugely significant because Ukraine aid, which has been stalled for months over this in party, in fighting the GOP, which has been desperately needed. Ukraine says it needs it now, Democrats say Mike Johnson lay out a plan to get us Ukraine aid in perhaps will save you as job, but it is not that easy for Johnson to do that. CARL HULSE, CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, NEW YORK TIMES: Yeah. I

think that we were talking to the same people thereafter, the vote and what Marjorie Taylor Greene and others, Thomas Massie, were saying was that they want to look around to see who could be a replacement speaker. But the Democrats are looking at this and going, we're not going to go along with this. I think that Hakeem Jeffries, a Democratic leaders, set it to us, the New York times recently, kind of intimated it again after the vote that there would be a discussion about how to rescue Mike Johnson if it came to that, however, there's a price and that price is probably, lets get this Ukraine aid going.

RAJU: Yeah, look, the thing is it's not that why its not that easy because there was a $95 billion aid package that was approved by the Senate last month, Johnson, he was not going to move on. That that included aid to Israel, aid to Taiwan, aid to Ukraine because it did not have border security measures in there. That's a separate issue that killed the bipartisan border security plan in the Senate. There is a separate house bill that's being drafted that includes some border security measures. It's unclear if Democrats will go for that.

But this is what Democrats were saying in the immediate aftermath of the announcement by Marjorie Taylor Greene about whether they would save the speaker this key time.



REP. ABIGAIL SPANBERGER (D-VA): If he does the responsible thing which is allowing members of Congress to vote on a bill that will pass and that is in our national security interests. And then and subsequent to that, a non-serious actor who doesn't want to govern brings a motion to vacate -- yes, I would motion to table in that circumstance.

REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): I will make common cause with anybody who will stand up for the people of Ukraine, anybody who will get desperately needed humanitarian assistance to Gaza and anybody who will work for a two-state solution.


RAJU: And Congressman Jeff Jackson of North Carolina told me, quote, he doesn't deserve to be fired.

But can Johnson says sustain himself as the speaker in this majority with the support of Democrats?

JULIE HIRSCHFELD DAVIS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I mean, listen to reality is, its been very unusual to see in the last few months, but what is happening now in Congress is a coalition government of sorts. Obviously, Speaker Johnson is Republican, that Republicans have the majority by now, a very, very bare margin, so they are in control.

But every major thing that has been happening for the last few months is happening because Democrats are banding together with more mainstream Republicans to let it happen. So in this situation, with a priority like this, that the president has been pushing Democrats clearly support. There is a lot of Republican support for Ukraine aid bill.

It sorts of stands to reason and this is by the way, while the right is so angry in the House that this is the person that they think should be in that job because the alternative is they get absolutely nothing. And so, this is a big thing that they want to get done. You know, they're siding with the coalition that has been able to push forward. The only thing is really the Congress has been able to do for more than a year.

RAJU: Yeah, really funding the government and avoiding a debt default, they're big accomplishments, the 118th Congress.

You mentioned the coalition government because of this all comes down to -- there's a reason why is because Mike Johnson cut this deal to keep the government open. It was a major deal that came out with the dead of night on Thursday morning, 3:00 a.m. It past Saturday morning, 2:00 a.m. There's hardly any time for to review it in a breakdown of the House is a real problem for Mike Johnson because 101 Republicans voted for it, 112 voted against it, that there is a rule in the House Republican conference. You move on. Bills, they get a majority of the majority that did not happen here, and that is a problem for him.

And so when I talk to the question to ask, put the question to some of the hardliners who are angry about all this, about whether they would vote to kick out Johnson. They kept that option open.


RAJU: Marjorie Taylor Greene just filed the motion to vacate. Are you going to vote for it?

REP. ELI CRANE (R-AZ): I'm open to a conversation.

RAJU: Conversation?

CRANE: Yeah.

RAJU: Would you vote for that if it comes there's actually a vote?

REP. RALPH NORMAN (R-SC): We'll see what happens. Look, I take this minute by minute. It's a bad -- it's a bad day for the country, but anybody that votes for this, the funding that's killing this country. That's the cancer.


RAJU: I mean, look, it's the hardliners that have made governing in his Republican majority almost impossible for the speaker. Kevin McCarthy tried to -- that's why he spent so much money in the midterms of last year, to try to get a big majority so he wouldn't have to deal with them.

But now, this has been the problem. They have narrow majority and they are really their power as they've done on Congress.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: I mean, narrow majority doesn't even begin to describe the majority. I mean, it's barely a majority. In a couple of weeks, there'll be a one seat majority as Carl presciently wrote about a few weeks ago, that this could happen.

But look, what I was thinking when I was seeing the vote count there. What does Kevin McCarthy think about all this? And this is exactly what he was doing just a few months ago.

RAJU: It's pretty much the same exact thing.

ZELENY: The exact spending bill, you know, using Democrats to come across the finish line. So my question in all of this, yes, Democrats may come to Speaker Johnson's aid, but he wants to protect his job as well here. So is he going to do something that will allow Democrats to come forward?

He's kind of an adviser, but he's a very interesting figure. We always learn a lot more about speaker it's particularly him. We didn't know that much about him. Are old colleague David Patrick has really interesting story in him in the New Yorker really -- I mean, he's not -- he's a brand new speaker, obviously, but he's been eyeing this for awhile.

So I think were about to learn something from him. Maybe he does want this coalition government that you talked about pretty dicey in an election year, I think. But the bottom line to all this, Kevin McCarthy is watching stuff in Congress very carefully, eyes rolling.

RAJU: Yeah.

ZELENY: It's exactly what cost him his job what Speaker Johnson just did.

RAJU: It's actually such a good point because when he came in as Johnson did. He was caricatured as a right-wing extremist, et cetera, et cetera. He is governing in a much more pragmatic way when it comes to these must past issues, which is why he has these problems on the right.

So --

ZELENY: The election year thing hangs over all this.

RAJU: Yeah.

ZELENY: He knows he can't shut down the government obviously. That's bad politically, and he's trying to get a bigger majority for next year. So --

RAJU: Exactly that brings us to the next question.

[08:10:01] How does this impact what happens next year? There's, of course, happening in the middle of an election. You will they go through three weeks without a speaker of the House, right, as they're trying to keep the majority take back the White House, take back the Senate.

That is the question. Well, how much will this hurt them? That's what Republicans are saying?


RAJU: You're trying to keep the house. I mean, this can't be the fight you want.

REP. RICHARD HUDSON, CHAIR, NATIONAL REPUBLICAN CONGRESSIONAL COMMITTEE: We're going to grow as House majority despite things that go on on this House floor from day-to-day, these games, not working together as its turning people off and we want people to be engaged in politics and were working the wrong way.

RAJU: Does that concern this could cost you guys the majority in the fall?

HUDSON: Oh, it surely could. Yeah, it's possible, right? It's not helpful.


RAJU: I mean, two different views here in Richard Hudson, who is the chairman of the Senate House GOP campaign arm was the first person here as part of their things. This is not going to be an issue since that voters are called care about the economy, not this chaos and House GOP.

DAVIS: I mean, it's his job to say that, right? He better hoping that's true. I do think that one of the things that Mike Johnson has going for him in this situation is that Republicans all lived through that period and the fall when they all looked like completely feckless governing up completely non-existent governing coalition and they know how painful that was for them politically and they do not want to live through that again. That is part of the reason you're hearing Marjorie Taylor Greene, who is not exactly a cautious person saying, I'm not going to be a vote count. I'm not going to tell you when because I do think if they decide to go forward with this, they are going to want to make very sure that they're not going to go weeks and weeks and weeks without a speaker and have another spectacle like they had.

But I think there's no question that the idea that the Republicans even with the majority cant get anything done for their voters, is going to be a problem for them in the districts where there's competition, which again, there are not very many of those, but I think it will be a problem for them --

HULSE: And that's why you heard Mike Lawler speaking so aggressively about his colleagues because he's one of those people, right? He needs to be able to run in New York and say, hey, don't look over here at the chaos. Were still getting things done for you, but they haven't gotten much done.

RAJU: Yeah.

HULSE: I mean, they're doing literal bare minimum yeah and I think that's going to be a tough sell for them in November.

RAJU: Speaking of the bare minimum, just to look at the congress's productivity compared to the last Congress legislation that enacted so far, 153 bills in the current Congress. Last Congress more than 1,200, maybe they get 1,000 vast to the next once I would have bet not.

Okay. So many those are not particularly productive been built it short-term extension of short-term extension, those are the laws. Not maybe a very significant one but this is all, as you mentioned the productivity Republicans themselves, I'm criticizing their own job and running the place.



SEN. JOSH HAWLEY (R-MO): This is so ridiculous. These guys -- they can't get, this is the most basic function of Congress is to pass up budget every year were supposed to be done in September. Here we are March. I mean, I just -- I cant tell you how stupid I think this is.

REP. TIM BURCHETT (R-TN): The folks that are elected basically have no guts and the vast majority of them now, and then the rest of us. We're just -- we're just fighting.

REP. RYAN ZINKE (R-MO): We did not live up to our potential. We could have got a lot more done.


RAJU: Not necessarily the best thing to sell to voters. We could have gotten a lot more done, but their argument I guess is if we had more members, we could get more done.

But is that effective?

ZELENY: Yeah. Try fitting that on a bumper sticker in November. Look, I mean, the reality is the record is the record. They've not gotten many things done and I do think there's an exhaustion factor out in the country, particularly with the presidential race can have laid over it just out Washington.

And its one of the reasons this whole speaker mess is one of the reasons that the public views Congress with even more disturbing than they did in previous Congress.

RAJU: Is that even possible?

ZELENY: It turns out it is one thing they have done.

RAJU: Right, right. ZELENY: So I think it is a big problem for them. Of course, as Julie said, it's only a handful of districts that are even competitive. That has changed over the years.

RAJU: Yeah.

ZELENY: What some five Democrats in Trump won districts and not many reversing. But look, I think it's a problem for November, without a doubt.

RAJU: Let's see what happens.

All right. Up next, there's just one day left for Donald Trump to post a nearly half billion-dollar bond in his civil fraud case. Maggie Haberman will join us live to discuss Trump's thinking behind the scenes.



RAJU: Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, tell CNN her election interference case against Donald Trump in Georgia won't slow down despite the former presidents effort to drag it out.

But Trump has a more urgent problem. By tomorrow, he needs to secure a bond worth at least $464 million as the appeals ruling in his New York civil fraud trial. If not, the New York attorney general could move in quickly.

Plus, there's a crucial hearing tomorrow in his New York hush money criminal case and he's expected to attend that tomorrow.

So how is Trump handling this moment?

Who better to unpack all this than Maggie Haberman from "The New York Times".

Maggie, great to see you. Good morning.

You have a new article out this morning that says the twin threats on the same day in the same town crystallized two of Mr. Trump's greatest and long-held fears, a criminal conviction, and a public perception that he does not have as much cash as he claims.

So, just, Maggie, give us a sense of what's happening behind the scenes with him right now.

MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Sure. So, look, there's a lot of anxiety among people who are involved in the actual financial aspects of Donald Trump's life, his business, about how this is going to get solved.


And, you know, they had been working as we understand it going to get resolved ahead of Monday. We hope -- they hope that it will. We'll see.

There are advisors to Trump politically who think that he can use this to great effect. And, Manu, anybody who is signed up for Donald Trump fundraising emails has gotten several suggesting that, you know, the New York attorney general may seize Trump Tower. And so, they're playing this to maximum political advantage.

But he's not happy about this. He doesn't want to see his properties get seized, and he doesn't want to have to post this bond. So we will see what happens in the next few days financially.

RAJU: So, just so we see, these are some of the assets that New York Attorney General Letitia, James could attempt to seize in the coming days if he does not move and posted as get this bond posted.

So, Maggie, you alluded to this, but, you know, how does Trump team view this potential of seeing his assets seized and seeing how this plays out in a general election. How do they -- how do they view that politically?

HABERMAN: There are some people and, look, its not clear to me, Manu, that Donald Trump actually is one of them. I just don't believe that he actually wants to have anybody touch his property. That is just a fundamentally different level for him.

But there are people around him who think that it could be advantageous in a general election to look as if people who are politically aligned with his opposition are moving in to claim his property. It's the kind of thing that he repeatedly describes as communism.

Now, that's obviously not what this is. This is a court order and it's after a judgment against him in a trial in which he was found guilty and his company was found guilty, but that is how he is going to (VIDEO GAP) who are receptive to that argument.

Is it going to be a majority of people? I don't know, but it might be enough that it could matter on the margins.

RAJU: Yeah. So, all four of Trumps criminal trial dates are in limbo right now. But, of course, we talked about the New York hush money case the key hearing tomorrow well see if there's actually when that trial will begin. So how concern is Trump personally about the hush money case, Maggie, and the salacious allegations, and they are compared to some of the others?

HABERMAN: Manu, that's a great question. That trial is the one that seems the likeliest to go ahead. We expect that there will be a trial date said, if not, at the hearing on Monday than shortly afterward by the judge in the case, Justice Juan Marshawn.

Trump -- this is the case that Trump's advisers are the least worried about some of his lawyers have told him they think (VIDEO GAP) whether that's true or not, that's what they are saying. His political advisors believed that this is the least damaging because they think its the one that's, you know, compared to the January 6 related matters and the documents case in Florida, less significant and less weighty.

But to your point, there's a lot of personal information in here. It is the case that Trump really hates because it is one that is, yes, it is about falsifying business records, but it relates to personal matters and it is an uncomfortable set of facts for him. Yeah.

RAJU: Yeah. And, look, polls have shown that a sizable number of voters who will not vote for Trump if he's convicted. So if he is convicted, how was the Trump team getting ready for that possibility that happening before the election?

HABERMAN: So what they're arguing, Manu, is that essentially they will claim that this was an misuse of the law. They will play that as much as they can. They will hope that by election day, memories are less about the specific (VIDEO GAP) there will be people and we have seen lots of polling suggesting that there's a range of voters who say that they would be less likely to vote for him or wouldn't vote for him if he's convicted of a crime.

What voters say, and this is what the Trump team is hoping, what voters say in the moment may not be what they say when it comes time to vote at the ballot box or just send it in by mail ballot. You know, I think that its very easy to test in the moment where voters are. I think it is harder to say where things will be in the fall.

RAJU: Yeah. It's such a good point, having a conviction and talking about a conviction, totally different things. We'll see if it actually comes to that and the political impact.

Maggie Haberman, with "The New York Times", thank you so much for waking up and joining us this morning. Thank you.

Now, as Trump cements his hold on the GOP, will one veteran Republican senator ditch the R by her name?



RAJU: Republican lawmakers are falling quickly in line behind Donald Trump and once again, brushing aside his controversial rhetoric on the campaign trail, whether it's about praising the January 6 prisoners or accusing Jewish voters who support Democrats of hating their religion. Yet, there is a contingent of Republicans that is done with Donald Trump.

Count Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska as part of that group, the moderate Republican is thinking about her place in the GOP and would not rule out becoming an independent.


SEN. LISE MURKOWSKI (R-AK): I don't think that it can be defended. What happened on January 6 was an effort by people who stormed the building in an effort to stop an election. I wish that that as Republicans, we had a -- we had a nominee that I could get behind. I certainly can't get behind Donald Trump.

RAJU: Are you considering being in an independent at this point?

MURKOWSKI: Oh, I think I'm very independent minded.


RAJU: Officially though. Officially.

MURKOWSKI: I just regret that our party is seemingly becoming a party of Donald Trump.

RAJU: Yes. You becoming an Independent caucusing with Republicans. Is that something you are open to?

MURKOWSKI: I am navigating my way through some very interesting political times. Let's just leave it at that.


RAJU: She's navigating her way through interesting political times. That is quite a statement.

So you've been -- Carl, you've been covering Murkowski for years. Do you think she might actually leave the GOP? And what does it say about the party?


CARL HULSE, CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, "NEW YORK TIMES": She's very, very troubled by what's happening in the Republican Party. And she's getting really vocal about it, which I think is part of her process here.

She did win as a write-in candidate once before when she lost the Republican primary. She's tough, you know. She's going to be able to weather whatever attacks come her way.

I think in the Republican conference in the Senate right now is the biggest split I think I've ever seen. I've talked to members about this. Their lunches are very acrimonious. There's a big, big difference.

And I think her, Susan Collins, some other members who say they will never support Trump, you know, they're kind of beating up against the tide of their own membership.

And I think that election primary in Ohio last week was very telling to people like Lisa Murkowski. There was a big establishment primary Republican candidate who was easily defeated, much more easily I think than we expected by the more MAGA-aligned candidate.

And you know, you look at her and her father was such a big Republican politician. It's like what's become of our party and they're worried about it. RAJU: Yes. She's had such a fascinating track with the Republican

Party, the Tea Party wing, she'd sustain that, she ran as a write-in candidate. She voted to again -- opposed Brett Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court. She voted to convict Donald Trump.

She won her race though in 2022, despite attack.


HULSE: -- and that was set up and help her.

RAJU: And they have exactly. So you know, this is obviously almost a rinse and repeat moment for so many Republicans. Trump says controversial things, and Republicans either try to side step, brush it off, and try that -- hope the news cycle moves on.

He talked about January 6 hostages and prisoners calling them "patriots". That was at his rally just last week in Ohio. And I put that question to a lot of Republicans who have been angry about January 6 and are still very concerned about everything that happened that day about whether they're ok with what he said.


SEN. THOM TILLIS (R-NC): I was the last Senate member out of the chamber on January the 6th. I saw Capitol police officers bleeding, bruised and I saw damage to a certain extent as we were exiting. To call those people patriots is not in my lexicon.

SEN. MIKE ROUNDS (R-SD): Those individuals that have been found guilty I do not consider them to be patriots.

RAJU: Do you Think it was appropriate for the former president to call January 6 prisoners, "hostages" and threatened to say that he may pardon them.

SEN. JOHN THUNE (R-SD): Well, I mean, I think that he's use that language before.


RAJU: And of course that's the number of two Republican who wants to be the Republican leader saying he's used that language before.

JULIE HIRSCHFELD-DAVIS, CONGRESSIONAL EDITOR, "NEW YORK TIMES": I mean this is -- like you said, this is a cycle that we see time and time again and we certainly saw it when Trump was president the last time, you know. You have some Republicans in Congress who will very harshly criticized things he says or take issue with them.

But at the end of the day and were starting to see this come to a head now. And I think this is part of the reason that Murkowski is becoming more anguished and publicly vocal about where she fits in this situation.

He is the nominee, he's going to be the nominee. And so whereas you had a very interesting split, I think amongst Senate leader, some Senate Republican leaders before the primary process had really played itself out where Mitch McConnell had not said anything. John Thune had not sent anything.

He is now -- you know, this is happening and everyone realizes he's the nominee. This is going to -- he's going to be their candidate. And so the party is falling into a line behind him, even as some of them will say critical things.

The bottom line is they are supporting him because he is their party's nominee and it's a very uncomfortable place for a lot of them.

RAJU: And in the way some of them explained this also is interesting. Cynthia Lummis, who is a Wyoming Republican senator. I asked her about Trump's comments saying that voters who support -- Jewish voters who support Democrats must hate their religion.


RAJU: One of the things that he did say, which is controversial, he said that Jews who are -- who vote for Democrats hates their religion, hate their country. What do you think about that?


SEN. CYNTHIA LUMMUS (R-WY): Well, there again he has a remarkable way of communicating. It's not the way I would communicate and it's probably why he is the nominee again and he's so successful one and the rest of us aren't.

It is a very unique style. I'm not going to say I understand it, but it works for him.


JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: That's the voice of leadership there. Look, I think the reason perhaps all of this matters and what Senator Murkowski is obviously wrestling with. And you mentioned Ohio.

This is the politics, but there's a policy component of this too. And I was in Ohio this week again just hearing Governor Mike DeWine, former senator, their candidate, Matt Dolan, supported by Rob Portman. He was the establishment, but Governor DeWine was trying to make the argument for foreign policy reasons to support Ukraine. You know, the old wing of the party.

This is why you must vote for the establishment candidate. It felt flat. I mean, he lost by nearly 20 points. So the politics are obvious, but the policy differences here that are sort of coming to the fore and the MAGA era are also at the root of the Murkowski anger, and at the root of all this discontent here.

And is a Ukraine bill going to make it through the Senate, I mean, that's the question as well. We talked about the House stuff, so that's why all this matters. But you're going to get a lot of steps in for the next seven and half months.

RAJU: As I tend to do --


ZELENY: -- asking these senators about Trump. He will have something every week to say and consumes all the oxygen.

RAJU: And you mentioned Ohio because Bernie Moreno, who won the Republican nomination in that critical Senate primary last week, backed by Donald Trump. He was actually on Capitol hill last week and during his campaign, he cut an ad saying -- this was what it said in the ad.

"Entire system rigged against the people. President Trump says the election was stolen and he is right."

Now, my colleague Ted Barrett, who once roamed those hallways with me as well caught up with Bernie Moreno and he asked him about whether or not Donald Trump, but whether or not the 2020 election was stolen.

He said "My gosh, are we talking about that? We've had like three elections since then. The reality is we're going to look to the future. The people in Ohio, what they care about is when they go to McDonalds they can't afford French fries."

So he notably did not, Carl, embrace the idea that the election was stolen when Ted asked him multiple times.

HULSE: But he doesn't want to talk about it because we're in a general election.

RAJU: Right.

HULSE: But he's going to -- and, we're seeing the same thing in Arizona where the Kari Lake, who is an election denier is now trying to move away from that. They think that's not a good idea.

But I think you've also hit on something. I think for the members January 6 -- they were there and when they hear Donald Trump talk about the people who were on the verge of attacking them personally as, you know, hostages. I really think that that hits them deeply. And I think they're really struggling with that.

They're going to have to go through the campaign season with that. But you know, there's -- this is general election time. People want to change the way they talk, but you know, they're going to -- there's a lot of video and a lot of quotes about what they've said.

RAJU: Exactly, including that ads, I'm sure will be replayed.

All right. Up next, new polling raises warning signs for President Biden. And what progressive leaders are saying about his handling of the war in Gaza.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If President Biden doesn't change course for sure, he will lose Wisconsin.




RAJU: President Biden may be facing an opponent with a laundry list of legal woes and a cash deficit, but he has his own problems, namely how to rebuild his coalition amid deep voter dissatisfaction and apathy.

As Biden has ramped up his campaign travel, new CNN polling shows the race, neck and neck in Pennsylvania, while Trump holds a pretty solid lead over Biden in must-win Michigan.

But a quarter of voters in both states say their mind could change by November. Our polling also shows that most people -- most of the people who are supporting Biden, say they are actually doing so because they are against Trump and not because they are for Biden.

My panel is back. Jeff, you've been on the road all the time. The goal I guess it's no surprise why Biden is bringing up Trump everywhere he can because that is how they can juice the base because they're not enthused about the top of their ticket, many Democratic voters.

ZELENY: For sure, I mean, first of all, his travel has been pretty extraordinary when you think about just the difference from the last presidential campaign. We're coming up on the four-year mark from, you know, when the pandemic was really taking hold.

President Biden has been, you know, doing an intentional effort to hit all the battleground states and they finished that on Tuesday in North Carolina, a state they're really trying to bring into play.

We'll see if that happens, but he and the vice president visit North Carolina on Tuesday. But they're trying to show a couple of things. One that he's up to the task of running. That the state of the union was not just a one-off but those polls are absolutely troubling to the Biden campaign, particularly in Michigan.

And we talk to advisors both in Michigan and at the campaign headquarters, they're frustrated by it that they believe they will start to turn around because of economic numbers and other things.

But that number about a quarter of voters are, are unsure you might wonder, who are these people?

RAJU: Yes, exactly right.


ZELENY: But it's a reminder that this race and I hear it talking to voters. Yes, it's a rematch, but it's also a very different race. There are different issues. Abortion is front and center. Gaza is

front and center. Inflation, immigration. So, the same leaders, but it's a different conversation in this race.

So it is going to be competitive until the end, but the travel with differences between the president and former president Trump, who's been on the road to one battleground state since Super Tuesday is extraordinary.

RAJU: Yes. Look, you talked about the concerns on the polls and it's really when you break it down, you get into the demographics and how the voters are coming down. It is not great news for Biden if you believe the polls in Pennsylvania and Michigan. Two new CNN polls out show the challenges that he has.

Women voters in Pennsylvania. Yes, he's got to lead, but it's not as big as he needs voters of color 69 to 23 there. And he's losing in Pennsylvania among younger voters, 18 to 34.

It's worse for him in Michigan, which is must-win for him. He is losing to Trump. And with women and with voters of color, he has a much narrower margin than he can afford and young voters too, he is struggling.

So perhaps it's not surprising why the Biden campaign is launching it very aggressive effort to micro target some of these key voting groups through the airwaves.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That is La Diferencia between Joe Biden and Donald Trump.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: in your vote.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Our family's costs are going down. Biden is turning things around because he cares about working people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Families like us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Getting ahead means getting the same chance to succeed as everyone else its why on his first day, President Biden signed an executive order to address racial inequity.


RAJU: Is that going to work?

DAVIS: I mean, they have to hope that it does right. I mean, this is his coalition. This is these are some of the groups that put him over the top in the last election.

And as we all know, things come down to the wire as the race gets tighter. But you really need to drive up your advantages where you can. And right now they're just not seeing the Delta that they need to see in his favor amongst some of these groups. So they have to really hope that it helps. I think, you know, the

thinking in the campaign, it seems to be that as the choice gets closer and as Trump is out there more, as the president is out there more on the campaign trail, people will start to really engage more and get nervous and scared and very negative about the fact of having another Trump term.

But that is kind of a big assumption given what we've seen in the polls recently and given the way we've seen these races --

RAJU: Yes.

DAVIS: -- turnout in the past. So they have to really hope that that kind of targeting really starts to make a difference.

RAJU: And you're seeing that protest vote happen because of his handling OF the war in Gaza. You look at just the uncommitted vote in some of the key states. People who voted in the Democratic primary, but not for Joe Biden, even though he's the only candidate really in the race.

Look in Michigan, Minnesota, and Washington state l saw significant margin of voters voting against him. Michigan is key of course, as we mentioned. Minnesota, maybe it'll be a swing state, we'll see.

In Wisconsin a big test is coming up on April 2. People are being instructed, people who are opposing Joe Biden's handling of the war on Gaza to uninstructed which is similar.

That is the real concern here.

ZELENY: Yes, is think --

RAJU: That folks will set out a protest vote.

ZELENY: Protest vote.

RAJU: What does that mean?

HULSE: Not that they're going to vote for Trump, but they're not going to vote for Biden and that's going to make a big difference. And I think that's our concern. That they also think they bring them home closer to the election and say, do you really want Trump.

Michigan, I think as a special case, because they had -- Democrats had such a strong election in -- two years ago where they really did well.

And then to see that dissipate so quickly, I think really worries the White House.

What's the other thing? You have Senate races in these states. You have Senate races in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin so we've seen recently that the Senate seats kind of go with the presidential in those, in those --

RAJU: Some of those centers may have run ahead of -- HULSE: I'm sure that in Pennsylvania Bob Casey running ahead of those

numbers, but I think the whole thing is troubling for the Dems.

RAJU: Absolutely. We'll see what happens.

Coming up, we catch up with a retiring Republican during his final few days in congress. What he says about whether he'll vote for Trump.


RAJU: You're going to watch him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've been working too long.




RAJU: Ken Buck (INAUDIBLE) his colleagues this month when he announced unexpectedly that he would resign from the House. The Colorado Republican has long voted as a hardline conservative. But more recently, he, for lack of a better word, has bucked his party on several issues near and dear to Donald Trump's heart. Like the push to impeach President Biden and his Homeland Security Secretary.

Now, I caught up with Buck during his last week on the Hill and he would not tell me if he'd vote for the former president.


REP. KEN BUCK (R-CO): I feel really strongly about the presidential candidates and how they're both bad. And I keep hearing so many people that they're just not happy with the choice.

RAJU: Are you going to vote for Trump?

BUCK: Good question.

RAJU: What's your answer?

BUCK: Well, you know, I've said on CNN that I will not vote for a convicted felon. So I'm going to wait and see what happens. But I'm not excited.


RAJU: Buck's comments of late have enraged his hardline colleagues who retaliated against him this past week by formally kicking him out of the right-wing Freedom Caucus just three days before he was set to resign on Friday.


RAJU: Ken Buck says you guys kicked him out of the Freedom Caucus. What happened there?

REP. BOB GOOD (R-VA): I continue not to comment on personnel matters as it relates to freedom caucus. Thank you, guys.


RAJU: Ken buck says he was kicked out of the freedom caucus. Do you know what happened there?

REP. RALPH NORMAN (R-SC): His attendance. He didn't come to our meeting.

RAJU: He's already going to resign. So what's the difference of kicking him a couple of days before he resigned?

NORMAN: Well, he had ramped up a lot of (INAUDIBLE). I like Ken, but he was wrong to do what he did.


RAJU: So instead, during his final week, Buck became the first Republican to sign onto a Democratic attempt to force a House vote on Ukraine aid. And he spent some time with a certain senator who happened to crash our interview.


RAJU: You have not decided --


SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): Can't you get yourself -- I swear to God if you're in trouble. You've got to watch him. I've been with him too long.

I've known him since he was a baby. And now he's getting hard. I'm taking him with me. We have a meeting to go to.


RAJU: Is that the plan?


RAJU: Now Buck later told me he was not actually planning to run on a third-party ticket.

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.

Up next "STATE OF THE UNION WITH JAKE TAPPER AND DANA BASH". Jake's guests include Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Congressman Chip Roy.

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