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New Ad Push Calls on Wisconsin Voters to Vote "Uninstructed"; Why is Trump Still So Popular with White Evangelicals?; Where is Max Meadows? Aired 8-9a ET

Aired March 31, 2024 - 08:00   ET



CAROLYN MANNO, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: And Clark says the team is excited to play the Tigers again after that loss last year.


CAITLIN CLARK, IOWA GUARD: So good for women's basketball. And to be honest, I watch a lot of LSU games and what they're doing for women's basketball on the way their fan support is tremendous and it's been fun to watch, and they've had a great season. So I know it's going to be a great game and both teams are going to be ready to go and just going to be great for our game. And, you know, we couldn't be more excited.


MANNO: That is must-see TV.

Back to you guys.

AMARA WALKER, CNN ANCHOR: Carolyn, thank you.

Thanks so much for being with us on this Easter Sunday.


Have a great day.



MANU RAJU, CNN HOST (voice-over): Bloodbath. Trump leans into violent rhetoric and posts attacks on the judge's family.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT & 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He's either whacked out or dishonest.

RAJU: While Biden brings up the heavy hitters --

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: All the things he's doing are so old.

RAJU: Ahead of a showdown in the Midwest.

REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D-WA): This particular issue is breaking our coalition.

RAJU: Plus, good's grief.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is where we will make our stand.

RAJU: A Republican primary gets personal.

REP. BOB GOOD (R-VA): Nobody cares what Marjorie Taylor Greene says or thinks.

My opponent wants to burn it all down, no solution kind of guy.

RAJU: New reporting on the GOP's civil war.

Why are you targeting Bob Good? You don't need to run away.

Will it knock them out of power in November?

REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): In primaries, people fall in love. In the general election, they fall in line.

RAJU: And out of the shadows.


RAJU: We catch up with Trump's former chief of staff, Mark Meadows.

Can I ask you about your grand jury testimony?

INSIDE POLITICS, the best reporting from inside the corridors of power, starts now.



RAJU (on camera): Good morning and welcome INSIDE POLITICS SUNDAY. Happy Easter. I'm Manu Raju.

Now, as Donald Trump prepares to make history in about two weeks as the first ex-president to stand trial in a criminal case, this weekend, he's keeping up his attacks on the New York judge overseeing the proceedings.

Now remember, he's accused of allegedly falsifying business records to cover up hush money payments to keep an alleged extramarital affair with adult filmmaker Stormy Daniels silent in the run-up to the 2016 election.

And even as he's facing a gag order limiting what he can say about witnesses in the case, and despite new warnings from one federal judge that such attacks are deeply damaging to the system of justice. He is still going after Judge Juan Marshawn and his daughter as he did again on his social media platform just yesterday and to FOX News last night, claiming that he is the victim.


TRUMP: It's a shame that it has to take place. This is again, third world countries stuff, whether it's borders or whether it says -- they've weaponized the Department of Justice, they've weaponized the FBI. They raided my house. They find nothing. Look how well I'm doing.


RAJU: Now, this all comes as Trump is trying to gin up his base, as he ratchets up his dark rhetoric, sharing a video depicting Joe Biden tied up in the back of a Trump supporter's pickup truck.

Now, Biden campaign spokesman saying, quote, Trump is regularly inciting political violence and it's time people take him seriously. And as Trump's legal woes are hurting his ability to keep pace with Biden in fundraising two days from now, Trump is holding a rally in Michigan, and that is his first visit to a swing-state since he'd locked up the nomination nearly three weeks ago. He's billing that Michigan speech as, quote, remarks on Biden's border bloodbath.

Now, that's after he drew criticism for using that same word, during a different rally a couple of weeks back.

Now, the Michigan event is planned for just days after 25-year-old woman was killed there, allegedly by a man she had been dating in what immigration authorities say was in the illegally U.S., and that's according to our grand rapids affiliate, FOX 17.

Now, Democrats like Michigan Senate candidate Elissa Slotkin, say Trump is exploiting a heinous act.


REP. ELISSA SLOTKIN (D-MI): That's the thing that is just so gruesome about this is that you have a terrible murder of a young woman and then you have the president coming, former president coming in and saying its all about the border in border security. But he won't let us actually deal with the border. So, that's what's frustrating to a lot of us and him and his allies, including people I'm running against, are using it as a political issue. Not that they care for this particular woman.


RAJU: All right. We have a great panel to break down all of this. Jackie Kucinich from "The Boston Globe", "Semafor's" s Dave Weigel, and Rhonda Colvin of "The Washington Post".

Good morning. Happy Easter for all those who celebrate. Thanks for joining early this morning. Look, we are getting into week four of essentially the general

election moving ahead here, Trump is clearly been sidetracked by all these criminal cases. He is not done any campaign rallies and swing states as his first visit coming up on Michigan on Tuesday. He is attacking this judge and his family.


You could see if its social media posts from a couple of days ago going after the daughter of this -- of this judge in doing things to rile up the base.

I mean, what do we make of Trumps general election strategy? Because it is not a pivot to the center. It is dealing with his legal problems and painting himself as a victim.

JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It sounds a lot like his general election strategy the last time. It really does try to hone this vitriol, trying to direct his supporters at this judge. We've seen him do this since 2016 at judges that have been handling his various legal issues --

RAJU: Of course, now, he's facing criminal charges.

KUCINICH: Exactly. It's very different. Of course, that was a civil situation, but yeah, exactly. So it's even its even -- it feels was even more acute. It's not going to stop.

And I think what the -- what this could have. I mean, there's one thing and do this in a Republican primary to do this in a general election with a consistency that he has good at up reminding voters why they turned their back on him in the first place, the last election.

RAJU: It's definitely a risk, but is any of those working? This is a look at some of them polls. There was some out from Fox News and Quinnipiac poll, two national polls out this week.

Fox poll shows that Trump is still leading with independents. Of course, independents are going to be absolutely critical as they always are in elections. But in particular on this close election, which we expect five points, he's beating Joe Biden by nationally, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. pulling at 12 percent of the vote nationally.

Immigration is a top issue among republic independent voters, Republican voters, we've seen, but independent voters, that is tied with the economy 23 percent, 23 percent according to the Quinnipiac poll.

Do you think -- is this Trump rhetoric on immigration as he's going to do in Michigan and Tuesday is it speaking to those voters?

DAVID WEIGEL, SEMAFOR NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER: Yes, and bloodbath for the term that is coming up that he's using. This is something that the Biden campaign tried to turn against him. It's something Trump -- Trump's team immediately started using on their own saying that we are going to stop the border, border bloodbath.

Overall, the campaigns are in this position, the Biden campaign would like you to think of how things were four years ago and the Trump campaign would like to think of how things were five years ago. And five years ago, the overall argument is yes, there are mean tweets. They were attacks on judges specifically, there are all sorts of things that the media, people like us, were obsessed with, but didn't you feel better and the Biden campaign, anything -- anything that's successful for them, if you look at the rhetoric from their fundraiser in New York on this week -- anything -- that the successful then bring it back to how bad the economy actually was four years ago, not five.

Anything else that Trump does that seems like a distraction that burns up the news cycle, it doesn't really hurt Trump because people have processed when he was president, certain things it felt like I didn't have to pay attention to some things he said that sounded crazy, but I wasn't as worried about the border. I wasn't as worried about inflation.

That's the entire Trump message. So he can have a week that looks like a waste where he's talking about other topics for his perspective, it's remember when I was president. And you were talking about other topics, but you weren't worried about immigration.

RAJU: And to take -- and to suck up all the oxygen, right?


RAJU: What's so fastening and probably alarming and it is certainly to some Democrats and we'll see for the Biden campaign, they say, look, its too early for the polls. Voters will make their sessions that they had closer.

Certainly, polls will change. We'll see if they ultimately do, but there are certainly warning signs a particularly among some of the key demographic groups that were central for Joe Biden's victory.

Look at what the Fox poll says about where Trump -- Biden and Trump are with Black and Hispanic voters, 71 percent. Yes. Sure, Biden's winning here with Black voters, Hispanic voters, he is losing. And that is actually consistent with the Quinnipiac poll says naturally, Biden is also down three points with Hispanic voters is very similar in those two polls on that question, Black and Latino voters.

But the exit polls from 2020 just shows you how much ground Trump -- Biden has lost with those two key voting blocs, Black voters where he won by at 87 to 12 back in 2020, Latino voters 65 percent. He is now losing with those waters.

What -- what explains that and what is the Biden campaign have to do differently?

RHONDA COLVIN, CAPITOL HILL REPORTER, WASHINGTON POST: I think were still trying to figure out what explains that, but we do know this is part of a trend that we did see back in the last election where the former President Trump did well with Black voters specific, specifically Black men and Latino men.

So it appears that he's still trying to capitalize on that, trying to build that support. But I would actually like to look a little bit more under the hood on those numbers with Black voters and Hispanic voters specifically women black women often out vote black men as well as most women across race usually outvote male voters.

So you have to wonder, especially with the abortion issue becoming such a salient issue with most voters. If that's going to play into the Black support and the Black vote and Hispanic vote as well. You've got to factor in how women in those blocs are also voting and how they feel. And right now, polling suggests that there's still following President Biden.

RAJU: Yeah, a look one thing that Biden team has going from is money.


They'd been fundraising and dealing with the like Trump is dealing with his legal votes and spending money on his legal problems, his court cases, $71 million as what they had on cash on hand, the Biden campaign, the end of February, you know, about more than double what the Trump campaign had.

Now, the Trump campaign says they wanted to have raised about $33 million at a fundraiser later this week. We'll see what comes of that.

There's also this "Washington Post" headline about how some of the billionaires, GOP billionaires who didn't -- weren't so happy with Trump now, after January 6, they're coming back to them. So, we'll see if they decide to open their wallets and how much that changes things.

Trump is digging some novel fundraising approaches, also in the recent days is set to sell God Bless the USA bibles. Of course, those gold sneakers among other things, mug shot t-shirts, and the like. Is this -- how much difference is, is going to make, money always makes a difference. But there's going to be loads and loads and loads of money in this election super PACs that have come in, they're going to spend a ton.

How do you see that playing off?

KUCINICH: I think the Trump voters coming, particularly the very wealthy Trump voters coming off the sidelines, is significant because it wasn't -- it was a question of whether that was going to happen.

Listen, if they're folks who liked the policies that the Trump administration put into play, they're not going to care about some of these other things. The question is absolutely, what does some of these very important blocks of voters do? Because this is going to be a awash in money no matter.

RAJU: Yeah.

KUCINICH: And I don't know that at the end of the day, how -- unless it is completely uneven, its going to matter in the presidential race. RAJU: It is almost like it's the operational issue, how campaigns are conducted, how they're dealing with things such as putting an operation together in key battleground states. There's an alarm that was raised by the Michigan Republican Party Chairman Pete Hoekstra saying we've got the skeleton right now, we've got to put more meat on it.

Okay. That's not necessarily where you want to be, but let's see if that changes as they get closer to November.

But then, there's a question about mail-in voting. Democrats are succeeding in it. Trump has demonized it, and that is caused concerns among some Republicans, including Senate candidate Dave McCormick in Pennsylvania, according to an audio obtained by "Politico". He said, every now and then, we'll get asked about it.

He did Laura Ingraham a couple of weeks ago, referring to Trump. He said, I don't trust those mail-in ballots, and McCormick goes on to say, its really hard to get our people for the male and vows of the guy at the top of the ticket says -- to make this work, he's got to come out and say so according to McCormick, who is in the key Senate race.

But there is a problem because the guy at the top of the ticket and continues to say things like this.


TRUMP: Mail-in voting is totally corrupt, get that through your head. It has to be. The votes -- I mean, it has to be.

If you have mail-in voting, you automatically have fraud. If you have --

LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS HOST: OK, there's mail-in voting in Florida and you won huge.

TRUMP: That's right. If you have it, you're going to have fraud.

Anytime, the male is involved, you're going to have cheating. You're going to have cheating.


RAJU: I mean, that's a real problem for the Republicans.

WEIGEL: It is, but the thing that Dave McCormick said that's very common for kind of MAGA come lately candidates is to say they don't agree with Trump on everything but something or other happened in 2020. Let's move on to a different topic.

The Democrats have an organizing advantage now. They have a money advantage. Their coalition currently is college-educated voters, college-educated voters who loved to vote, look at this Alabama election on Tuesday when there's a lower turnout rates, Democrats vote donate money that was you got to think 1,100 donations for a special election.

But going back to these billionaires came back off the sidelines with the Biden campaign, wants to talk about what that would be a good hook for. And they have trouble getting do is what are the stakes of the election? Who's going to be getting their taxes cut, who's going to have their push -- their Trump taxes extended if we lose?

RAJU: Yeah.

WEIGEL: It's those guys. It doesn't matter as much about the money because they want to get that conversation. What is the policy change going to be?

RAJU: Sure. We'll see mail-in voting, in particular, makes a difference.

Coming up, politics gets really personal. I hit the campaign trail will Republican members of Congress are trying to oust one of their own.


REP. BOB GOOD (R-VA): And you ask questions that nobody here cares about.




RAJU: It has long been seen as a major breach of protocol. One member of Congress campaigning against another from within their own party. But then this bitterly divided Republican majority, things have changed. Now, the leader of the hard right freedom caucus, Congressman Bob Good, is under siege largely because of his role in ousting the last speaker of the House, Kevin McCarthy.

It all speaks to larger GOP feud that has left their agenda in tatters and tension simmering and as I found out when I traveled to Good's district in Virginia this past week, is also become increasingly personal.


RAJU (voice-over): The GOP civil war that brought down a House speaker, embroiled the Republican majority, now in a red district in rural Virginia --

REP. BOB GOOD (R-VA): This is where we will make our stand.

RAJU: -- with the leader of the hard right Freedom Caucus, Bob Good, has been targeted by center-right Republicans who are pushing State Senator John McGuire's bid to knock off Good in the June primary.

REP. DERRICK VAN ORDEN (R-WI): Bob Good didn't come here to govern. He came here to be famous, and he came here to get Twitter followers and do all this stuff. Bob Good's wearing our jersey and he's not on the team.

RAJU: As he barn-stormed through his district with fellow hardliners this past week, Good said he was battling fellow Republicans who are hurting the country.

Derrick Van Orden said, you're more interested in being famous than governing.


What do you say that those colleagues who are targeting you?

GOOD: The people in the fifth district know who my colleagues are, who are here today. They've never heard of Derrick Van Orden. They could care less what Derrick Van Orden thanks.

RINOs, establishment moderates do nothing to influence our Republican primary elections.

RAJU: That question setting Good off.

GOOD: You got more stupid questions?

RAJU: I just want to ask you --

GOOD: I'm serious. You come and you ask us to -- tell them to cut the camera off. I'll talk to you. I'm not going to camera right now

RAJU: I just want (INAUDIBLE) vote for the motion to vacate on Speaker Johnson.

GOOD: Here's my point, Manu. You come to these things and you ask questions that nobody here cares about.

RAJU: You voted to oust the speaker of the House.

GOOD: You bring up Derrick Van Orden, which is a joke because he should come campaign for my opponent because nobody here knows who he is anyways.

RAJU: It's part of the criticism here you're getting. That's why.

GOOD: Yeah. But you don't ask me about Matt Gaetz or Chip Roy or Mark Meadows or Andy Biggs.

RAJU: I talk to all of them. I talk to all of them.

Good was one of the eight in the GOP who voted for the unprecedented ouster of Kevin McCarthy as speaker. Now, McCarthy allies are aimed to knock them off.

How much you can do with Good voting to oust McCarthy?

REP. AUSTIN SCOTT (R-GA): Well, it has -- it has something to do with that, but more important than that, we've got a guy who will be a good member of our team.

RAJU: Good's opponent, a former Navy SEAL, says he was not recruited by McCarthy, though he told CNN he spoke with the former speaker recently.

JOHN MCGUIRE (R), VIRGINIA CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: I believe that my opponent wants to burn it all down, no solution kind of guy.

RAJU: So would you have voted to oust Kevin McCarthy?

MCGUIRE: I would have never in a million years partnered with the -- with the other party to take out our leader. If you are helping the Democrat team take out the Republican team, who's the RINO?

RAJU: The feud, part of a larger battle over the GOP's direction.

While many say they need to govern through bipartisan consensus, hard- liners like Good push for a compromise approach.

REP. CHIP ROY (R-TX): I do not want to go back next January without Bob Good's sitting there in the trenches with me.

REP. ANDREW CLYDE (R-GA): We cannot let the swamp take out the chairman of our Freedom Caucus.

RAJU: Good has also clashed over Pentagon spending with defense hawks, like House Armed Services Chairman Mike Rogers who privately called Good a danger to our country at a recent fundraiser for McGuire.

Still, Rogers and others targeting Good don't want to talk about it.

I am wondering why you're trying to defeat Bob Good.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't have any comment.

RAJU: Why are you targeting Bob Good?

REP. KIGGANS STAFFER: We're running late.

RAJU: You don't need to run away. I mean, I don't know why you're targeting Bob Good.

REP. KIGGANS STAFFER: We're running late for --

GOOD: Just wanted to congratulate and thank Governor Ron DeSantis.

RAJU: Good has to navigate another landmine.

He's backing Florida Governor Ron DeSantis over Donald Trump in the primary.

REP. RYAN ZINKE (R-MO): Mr. Good went against President Trump early. We can do a lot better than good. We can do great.

RAJU: Now, his backing of DeSantis turned into an attack ad from a new GOP outside groups.

GOOD: Governor DeSantis gave us the opportunity for eight years that we -- I think we need eight years.

RAJU: But Good is now aligning with Trump, even stumping with Trump's former chief, Mark Meadows.

Was that a mistake to endorse DeSantis?

GOOD: Why don't you get with the president? This is a time to rally behind President Trump. My opponent wants to kind of divide people based on the past.

RAJU: McGuire, who met with Trump recently, says of Good --

MCGUIRE: Certainly he betrayed President Trump. And I'm a big Trump supporter.

RAJU: Piling on, Marjorie Taylor Greene, hardliner who endorsed McGuire and wrote that Good stab Trump in the back.

GOOD: Nobody cares what Marjorie Taylor Greene says or thinks.

RAJU: All as Good's allies have tried to ease tensions with Trump.

REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): I've done all I can to explain to President Trump that his agenda will be executed to its best efficacy if we have Bob Good in Congress. In primaries, people fall in love. In the general election, they fall in line.


RAJU: This is a very, very personal intraparty fight, and it's becoming increasingly more common in this House GOP. This is one of four that at least so far of primaries of these internal party feuds that are happening, but this is the one time where the center right is trying to strike back against the Tea Party -- what you would consider Tea Party congressman but a hard-right member?

COLVIN: Yeah. And you started that story with saying how unprecedented this is that you're seeing a House GOP caucus members of a caucus go after another and tried to have him out primaried. But this illustrates exactly what's going on on Capitol Hill right now.

And there are so many times of revenge politics. We lose track of it, right everybody is trying to, their knives out on this person. People are getting trying to get back at this person and its spilling out into the election.

And so, I think that this is really a case of what we're seeing play out on Capitol Hill. And it is interesting too, because okay, Bob Good is the leader of the Freedom Caucus. And if you think about that, that was actually started because it broke off from the other part of the caucus.

Now, you're seeing splinters and factions develop in what is a faction? So it's just showing you that there's so much division in the House GOP that's spilling out not only for the Freedom Caucus, for the larger caucus.


RAJU: Yeah, and before you jump in, Jackie, this all comes as the new speaker, Mike Johnson is facing his own thread to be ousted. We have new reporting out this morning with my colleagues Melanie Zanona and Annie Grayer about how Johnson is trying to maneuver from this moment. He's dealing with the prospects of putting Ukraine aid on the floor. People are on the hard-right, are threatening to vote against him, oust him if he does move ahead with that, he sounding out some key Republicans, they're trying to figure out how to avoid this moment.

In fact, he actually spoke to one key Republican about this, Matt Gaetz who was central to pushing out Kevin McCarthy


GAETZ: I would not support a motion to vacate. I gave the speaker some unsolicited advice that we've got to get into a fighting posture and I was very pleased with how the speaker received that advice.

RAJU: Do you think the speaker needs to be voted out of office?

GOOD: I don't have a comment on that and I think that comment is a comment and of itself, but I don't have a comment on that.

RAJU: You may have a vote to vacate Mike Johnson. Would you support that?

ROY: Look, right now, we got to go back and get Republicans united to point out what our radical progressive the Democratic colleagues are doing. And it present an actual competing vision that does not start with, to be very clear, it does not start with putting a clean Ukraine bill down on the floor.

RAJU: You have confidence in him as speaker right now?

ROY: Look, again, we're all working together trying the figure out what were going to do next


RAJU: Now these members are not there about whether they'll kick out Mike Johnson, but they're keeping the option open.

KUCINICH: The only peacemaker in the Republican Party right now is the former president, particularly among House Republicans.

RAJU: Donald Trump a peacemaker.

KUCINICH: I know. And here we are. But no, among House Republicans, he's really the only person that they listen to. Mike Johnson doesn't have the clout to be a peacemaker. You saw him tried to do that a little bit in some of the primaries, nudge some people out who they didn't think could win. But if -- you have to imagine, if the former president endorsed in this race, it'd be over.

RAJU: I just wanted to point out one other thing about how personal this has become. You mentioned that Marjorie Taylor Greene, who's trying to push out oh Mike Johnson and Bob Good -- she's supporting Bob Good's opponent. Just listen to how Bob Good described his view of Marjorie Taylor Greene.


GOOD: Nobody cares what Marjorie Taylor Greene says or thinks, and she's a man show. She's grandstanding. She wants attention. She's getting it from folks like you. None of us are talking about it, but you guys have helped and so I won't predict what she may or may not do. Who knows?


RAJU: He would not say and obviously, he doesn't think so highly of this congresswoman for Georgia.

All right. Coming up next, a new appeal from Biden's team to woe Nikki Haley's voters as a president faces a new threat at the ballot box.


JAYAPAL: This particular issue on Gaza is breaking our coalition.





JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You just need condition allow them to (INAUDIBLE).


BIDEN: They have a point. We need to get a lot more care enter Gaza.


RAJU: It's a scene that's becoming all too familiar for President Biden. He continues to face major pushback in his coalition over his handling of the Israel-Hamas war with pro-Palestinian activists demanding he take a much firmer approach with the Netanyahu government.

And even though he has that Democratic nomination locked up, Biden once again faces a threat of protest votes in the Wisconsin primary on Tuesday and a warning in a key battleground state come November. Wisconsin, the perennial swing-state, has ten electoral votes up for grabs. As part of the so-called blue wall that Biden must, once again, win to keep the White House. But he does not have much room for error. Biden only won Wisconsin by about 20,000 votes in 2020.

My panel is back. Just to get a sense of -- remind viewers how close this was back in 2020. Just look at the map on your screen. It was incredibly contested, this election here.

(INAUDIBLE) Biden is facing these problems on his left -- uncommitted voters in the primaries in Michigan, Minnesota, and Washington states, a significant amount of them voted for uncommitted, not for Joe Biden, despite him being essentially the only candidate here in this race.

There is this group that is running this effort to try to stop these (ph) protests. Joe Biden on Tuesday, this is one of the mailers that went out and just listen to the ad montage that was this ad of -- these ads that have been put out in Wisconsin to convince voters to vote against Biden.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I and others are voting uninstructed in the Wisconsin primary because we're unhappy with Joe Biden's complicity in the genocide in Gaza.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We as citizens of the United States of America cannot roll with the genocide and slaughter of the Palestinian people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If they won't listen to our calls or emails or letters then they better listen to our votes instead.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The only thing we can do it seems is to send a message via these primaries.


RAJU: How concerned should the campaign be.

WEIGEL: In the short term, this is probably the best thing that could happen to them because these numbers underrate how unpopular Israel's war is right now is with Democrats.


WEIGEL: You look at Gallup polling this week. Since November, since people were reacting to, October 7the, support for all Americans for this war has fallen off. It's in the 30s. Among Democrats, it was 18 percent. So you're not going to see Biden get 18 percent of the vote in Wisconsin.

You have right now -- and I talked to voters in (INAUDIBLE) this week. They are people who do not want Donald Trump to come back to power. They want a change in policy. They want to pull every lever they can to get there.

They don't want to be in the position, most of them, of voting for Cornell West or leaving their ballot blank or cast some other protest in November.

So for right now, they see this as an intervention and that's how the Biden campaign reacts. You mean you played that clip at the fundraiser where Stephen Colbert even acknowledged the protesters who kept heckling in the audience about Gaza and changed the question around to, ok, give us an answer to how this war is going to end.

RAJU: Yes, I mean, you made that good point about how voters have changed their views about Israel and Palestine, particularly on the Democratic side.

But there were 31 percent more support for Israels and for the Israelis over the Palestinians back in October. That is, that is as you (INAUDIBLE), 31 percent more now, back then, it was 50 percent more voters supported Israel over Palestine. They sided with them more.

Democrats, more Democrats support the Palestinian cause over the Israeli cause at this moment. And this is what some of the members on the left who are concerned about the president's handling of this are saying about it.


REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D-WA): this particular issue on Gaza is breaking our coalition. We need that fragile coalition come back together but this is a moral issue for people. And so there's not a lot of time to fix it.

The worse it gets in Gaza, the harder it gets to bring people back in.

RAJU: Afraid that those voters could sit out in November?

REP. ANDRE CARSON (D-IN): Oh, without question. If Donald Trump is the only alternative, absolutely. But it's an important message that shows that we need to use our bully pit to get something done on behalf of Gazans in the Palestinian people.


RAJU: I mean, that's a strong comment from Pramila Jayapal. She says, this particular issue on Gaza is breaking our coalition.

RHONDA COLVIN, CAPITOL HILL REPORTER, "WASHINGTON POST": Yes, you're seeing that through these protest votes. And there is that is that distinction to make that it's not necessarily that these folks who will vote uninstructed are going to be votes for Trump. But there is that question of how enthused they are about a Biden administration again.

So the Biden administration, the White House will have to look at how many people are voting at this -- the campaign rather, will have to look at how many people are voting in this way especially in a state like Wisconsin where come November it may be the state we're all watching. I was looking at a couple of polls and at least two of them right now are tied when it comes to Trump versus Biden. So that means that this election in Wisconsin at least could come down to, you know, just thousands of votes.

So this is one of those protest votes that the campaign is certainly going to have to look at.

RAJU: But Biden has taken a more firmer line against the Netanyahu government, maybe not as far as those folks on the left want, but is his change in posture having any impact among that key voting bloc?

JACKIE KUCINICH, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, "BOSTON GLOBE": I think when you talk to folks in this movement, it's not enough. Because they're seeing the humanitarian disaster that is unfolding in Gaza.

And what the administration can do at this point? I mean, you're right. I think that -- it's just -- it's not enough at this point for those folks.

Will they come back in November?

RAJU: Yes.

KUCINICH: I think the Biden campaign is banking on that because -- and that the fact that they'll have Trump as their alternative. And that's what they're putting their hopes in and hope that they can do enough in the meantime.

RAJU: Yes. Yes. We'll see. It's a good question.

All right. Coming up, we catch up with Trump's elusive former chief of staff and on this Easter Sunday, how Trump's rhetoric is playing with a key part of his base -- evangelical voters.

Saturday Night Live actually had some fun with them last night.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What is that noise that comes from within? Look, the stone, it rolled away. Jesus.






DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Religion and Christianity are the biggest things missing from this country. And I truly believe that we need to bring them back and we have to bring them back fast. I think it's one of the biggest problems we have that's why our

country's going haywire. We've lost religion in our country. Christians are under siege. We must make America pray again.


RAJU: Donald Trump posted that video on Truth Social this past week while announcing he is selling new God Bless the U.S.A. bibles for just $59.99.

And the way he's talking about Christianity is no mistake. Despite all of his criminal charges, divorces, and hush money payments, the religious right and particularly white evangelicals continue to back the former president in droves. He knows it's an issue that motivates the base as shown by the Republican pushback to President Biden acknowledging the transgender date of visibility today on Easter Sunday, even though it falls on March 31st every year.

Now to talk more about Trumps appeal to evangelicals, I'm joined by NPR national political correspondent Sarah McCammon. Sarah was raised in the evangelical movement but grew away from it over time. And she's the author of a new book called "Exvangelicals: Loving, Living and Leaving the White Evangelical Church".

Sarah, good morning. Thank you for joining me on this Easter Sunday.


RAJU: It so fascinating his hold -- Trump's hold with this segment of the Republican base.

Just look at those exit polls from the top in the first primaries here. Trump, DeSantis and Haley -- he dominated with this group and he has been dominating with this group really since he first came on the political scene. What explains that?

SARAH MCCAMMON, NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, NPR: You know, I think that there's a narrative that Trump hijacked the evangelical movement somehow. But I think that misses a lot and it misses the fact that, you know, as we just heard for years, Trump has been tapping into this long-standing narrative among evangelicals that America is in decline because its moved away from Christianity, from this history when it was a strong Christian nation. Its moved away from that, and that is the source of Americas problems.

This is something he tapped into even with his, with his, his phrase, his motto, make America great again in many ways. Trump also has been a vehicle for evangelical policies.

And you know, I heard covering the 2016 campaign from a lot of people, including many evangelicals, that they faced a binary choice. They had to choose between two people that they didn't like very much.

But as we saw with the exit polls from 2024, even when given other options, many white evangelicals strongly support Trump. RAJU: Yes, and it's interesting because, you know, obviously abortion (INAUDIBLE) three Supreme Court justices voted to overturn Roe v Wade. That goes a long way towards this segment.

But he has balance. He didn't go as far in the primaries as Ron DeSantis. In fact, Ron DeSantis supported a six-week ban in Florida, that's something that Trump essentially criticized. And now he's floating a 15-week ban.

How do you make Trump's handling of this issue of abortion as he keeps his -- this segment of voters on his side, but tries to appeal to suburbanites.

MCCAMMON: Trump's messaging on abortion has been all over the place. As you mentioned, he's at times criticized Republicans for seemingly going too far, restricting abortion after the fall of Roe v Wade. But he's also bragged multiple times about being responsible for the overturning of Roe v Wade which is true. Without Trump Roe would very likely still be the law of the land and evangelicals know that.

You know, evangelicals are one of the groups that express the strongest opposition to abortion. And I think they see Trump as having delivered on that goal. They see him as someone who will continue to deliver on their policy goals. At the same time as we've seen more and more abortion restrictions take effect.

This is a political problem for Republicans. We saw that in some of the results from the 2022 midterms. And again last year with some of the votes where we saw a reaction to some of these policies taking effect.

And Trump and other Republicans are well aware of that. So I think that is what explains the mixed messaging. I don't think it matters what Trump says too much about abortion, because --

RAJU: At the end of the day Roe was overturned.

MCCAMMON: -- at the end of the day Roe was overturned.

RAJU: Yes, exactly.

So what's also interesting is just how he's dived -- dove into this messaging -- messianic messaging at his events on religion and how that's playing with his base.

So he posted on Truth Social about his one of his court cases -- a picture of him sitting next to Jesus. And then there is on Truth Social he posted just last week a message from a follower. It says "It is ironic that Christ walked through his greatest persecution, the very week they're trying to steal your property from you."

And then even at some of his rallies. They play this video that he also posted on social media.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And on June 14, 1946, John looked down on his planned paradise and said, I need a caretaker, so God gave us Trump. God said, I need somebody willing to get up before dawn, fix this country, work all day, fight the Marxist, eat supper, then go to the Oval Office and stay past midnight at a meeting of the heads of state. So God made Trump.


RAJU: What do you make of that?

MCCAMMON: You know, again, he's tapping into this idea that that was present in my Christian school textbooks because this is something I read about. The idea that America has moved away from Christianity and it needs to move back, or everything will fall apart.

And so I think many evangelicals see Trump as a champion of their movement, even if he's -- he's an imperfect vessel, they might say, but he's someone who will advance their ideas.

RAJU: Yes. So, fascinating.

Thank you for diving in deep as this is an absolutely fascinating dynamic.

All right. Coming up next, the once ever present, Mark Meadows pops back up on the campaign trail.


MARK MEADOWS, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: And the next thing you know, CNN's showing up.





TRUMP: I want to thank Mark Meadows, who's here someplace right there. I want to thank --


RAJU: That was former president Trump on his last day in office, thanking his final chief of staff, Mark Meadows. Meadows when he was in the white House, was a ubiquitous presence in Washington, keeping up relationship was with former colleague from his time as a Congressman and often holding court with reporters on Capitol Hill.

But he has been elusive in the aftermath of January 6, having been ensnared in Trump's legal woes while facing his own criminal charges.

He was charged in Fulton County, Georgia with racketeering as one of Trump's co-defendants in the election subversion case there. He pleaded not guilty.

While Meadows was not charged in the federal election subversion case, it was reported last fall that he was granted immunity in order to testify before the grand jury in that case. And that he told the grand jury he did not think the 2020 election was stolen.


RAJU: Now, the bad news was met with ire from the former president who took to Truth Social to suggest Meadows could have flipped on him.

Now, Meadows has since been very difficult to pin down. He was once spotted on Capitol Hill back in October, though he avoided taking questions from reporters at that time.

But this past week, Meadows finally popped up again in person in Virginia stumping as we saw earlier for Freedom Caucus chairman Bob Good in his primary.

So I tried to ask him about his legal problems and that grand jury testimony.


RAJU: Could I ask you about your grand jury testimony? Was it damaging to Trump?


RAJU: TBD and when he's finally ready to speak out publicly.

That's it for INSIDE POLITICS SUNDAY. You can follow me on X, formerly known as Twitter @MKRaju. You can follow this show in Inside Politics. And if you ever, miss an episode, you can catch up wherever you get your podcasts. Just search for Inside Politics.

Up next "STATE OF THE UNION" with Jake Tapper and Dana Bash. Dana's guests include Maryland Governor Wes Moore, Congressman Mike Lawler, and Senator Raphael Warnock.

Thanks again for sharing your Sunday morning with us. Happy Easter. See you next time.