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Robert De Niro Voices New Biden Ad Attacking Trump; Biden Campaign Sharpens Criticism Of Trump In New Ad; Biden Memo: Campaign To Zero In On Trump's "Unhinged Rhetoric"; Biden Campaign Courts Haley Supporters In Call; Trump Rallies In The Bronx As He Targets Hispanic, Black Voters. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired May 24, 2024 - 12:00   ET



DANA BASH, CNN HOST, INSIDE POLITICS: Today on Inside Politics, unhinged and power hungry. That's how the Biden campaign is describing Donald Trump in a new campaign ad. Their strategy is clear, but it's a message that doesn't seem to be translating in the polls. Alaska top Biden campaign aide, why they think this will work.

Plus, big promises in the big apple. Donald Trump hit the campaign trail in the Bronx, one of the most diverse places in the country. His goal making inroads with black and Latino voters who are crucial to Joe Biden's coalition. And more fallout from the Dobbs' decision. Abortion drugs could soon be classified as dangerous, controlled substances in Louisiana, which means people with those pills who don't have a prescription could face prison time.

I'm Dana Bash. Let's go behind the headlines at Inside Politics.

First up, the man known for taxi driver, goodfellas, casino and many other classics has a new role. Robert De Niro is the narrator of a new Biden campaign ad at attacking Donald Trump. The campaign says, it's part of its summer strategy to remind voters of both what he did in the White House and what he would do if he wins it back.


BASH: The campaign says that ad will air nationally and in every battleground state over the next month. CNN's Priscilla Alvarez is at the White House. Priscilla?

PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Dana, that ad really captures where the next phase of the campaign is headed, which is trying to reinforce among voters. What the Donald Trump years looks like. Trying to remind them of that. You saw on that ad, the mention of the Coronavirus pandemic by saying -- trying to remind voters of what the president said about drinking bleach as well as trying to capture that chaos and confusion under the Republicans administration. And also casting Donald Trump's presidential bid as revenge.

So that captures where they're headed, but also in a memo. They laid out where they plan to ramp up their attacks, especially before that June presidential debate. And that includes on abortion, on democracy and also on the economy areas where they see weaknesses in the President Biden's -- his Republican rivals' issues.

Now of course in met -- in this memo Jen O'Malley Dillon said the following quote, the Biden-Harris campaign will zero in on Trump's dangerous campaign promises and unhinged rhetoric. We will make sure that the voters who will decide this election are reminded of the chaos and harm Trump caused as president and why they booted him out four years ago.

And Dana, I want to point out what they say here about unhinged rhetoric. We've heard President Biden sort to say that more often in his fundraiser. Saying that, former President Donald Trump's staffed after the 2020 presidential election and that he's unhinged. So expect more -- more build up on that line over the course of the next few weeks.

There is also two dates of the campaign plans to organize around that as the overturning of Roe v. Wade, as well as the anniversary of the Pulse nightclub shooting. Of course, they're trying to hit on the issues of abortion and gun violence. All of this of course, again in the lead up to the June presidential debate where they hope to bring that choice between the two right to people's living rooms.

BASH: Priscilla, thank you so much for that reporting. Let's talk more about this with my table of fantastic reporters, Seung Min Kim of the Associated Press, Semafor's David Weigel and Leigh Ann Caldwell of The Washington Post. We made it to Friday.


BASH: Well said, and it's a holiday weekend. So that's nice. OK. So, let's start talking about this. What Biden is doing -- what the Biden campaign is doing with the ad and the memo. You know, setting out to talk much more about Donald Trump and the things that made him a, in their words an unhinged and chaotic president and warning that that's going to happen in the future. And the obvious question is, is that resonating?

SEUNG MIN KIM, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, ASSOCIATED PRESS & CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, right now, if you look at the polling, not so much. Because if you've looked at both national polling between Donald Trump and Joe Biden, and particularly in those key battleground states, a lot of them show Joe Biden is struggling.


So, in terms of tactics, that's why you're seeing this ramp up so much. These attacks on Trump. I mean that De Niro voiced ad was very, very aggressive going after, trying to remind voters of what happened under the Trump administration. And also, you know, kind of zeroing in on the areas where they feel that Donald Trump is weak, which is then the memo that Jen O'Malley Dillon laid out.

Those are kind of the parameters of what they want to talk about at the debate, including abortion, democracy and the economy. And it's also part of why they're pushing this debate further. We know that these debates are going to get watched. There's a Quinnipiac poll that said about seven and 10 voters are planning on watching the debate, which is a pretty healthy figure. And they feel that you see those two men and that brings that choice that the little choice between the two men much earlier on in the cycle than they would have otherwise.

BASH: Let's talk about the constituencies and the groups in the parts of the various coalitions, particularly the Biden coalition that President Biden and his team are trying to hold on to and the -- what the Trump team is trying to steal away.

One of the questions is about younger voters. And I would just want to read a part of a piece from Russell Berman from the Atlantic. And that is, that younger voters don't remember some of the things -- a lot of the things that the Biden campaigns specifically in that ad are talking about.

The youngest voters know Trump more as ribald commentator than as political leader. Santiago Mayer, the 22-year-old founder of the Gen Z group voters for tomorrow -- excuse me, voters of tomorrow, which is endorsed Biden, told me that his 18-year-old brother and his friends see Trump as more funny than threatening.

DAVID WEIGEL, POLITICAL REPORTER, SEMAFOR: Yes, that's a problem for younger voters. It's a problem across the electorate. If you look at polling, which is only referring to. Gallup had polling this week that asked people a number of questions, characteristics of Trump and Biden. One of them was, who is better at managing the government. Biden had a lead on that last time. Trump has a small lead on it.

Now the Biden number on that fell 13 points. And that was -- that's at the heart of all of this. The premise of this ad is, you might like some things about Donald Trump, you might think he's funny, but he can't manage things are going to tumble into chaos. And a lot of people don't believe that. That's part of the nostalgia that the Biden campaign is fighting, especially with people under 30, under 25.

What do you remember about the Trump years? Trump has been very successful in making it a three-year two-month presidency where things were cheaper and that's about it. Things were cheaper. There wasn't a war in Israel. That's about it. And so, the craziness that they'll talk about with Trump does not connect because a lot of people have internalized. Well, things seem pretty crazy. The tweets were pretty crazy.

But, but, but I feel -- I feel better in these five or six areas that are important to me. And that really hits with younger voters. Now even if they're not voting for Trump, they find it funny that they're going to sit it out and vote for Kennedy, they'll vote for Cornel West or whatever.

LEIGH ANN CALDWELL, EARLY 202 CO-AUTHOR, THE WASHINGTON PORT: Yeah. I think that's absolutely right. You look at the polls and where Biden is cratering is his base --

WEIGEL: Yeah. CALDWELL: -- among black voters, Hispanic voters and young voters. And those are the ones who are also been disproportionately impacted by the economy. And that is one of the biggest challenges that Biden is facing. They're resting their campaign. And they have been for months, as you both have mentioned on trying to remind voters of what Trump was, what life was like under Trump that chaos. But when it comes to the moment that is the challenge that Biden is, you know, is dealing with.

BASH: And one of the other aspects of the Biden campaign strategy right now, which we talked a lot about on the show is trying to reach out to those Haley primary voters. And they did that in a pretty aggressive way yesterday, by doing a call with some of those -- those Haley backers.

And our colleague Kit Maher talked to some, including one Alyssa Baker, who said, don't keep telling us democracy is on the ballot. Like we get it. We get that Trump's a problem. Like you don't have to tell us. you know. So, we wanted to move past that and have a substantive discussion.

CALDWELL: So, it's a little too late that Biden is now reaching out to Haley backers. I mean, after Haley endorse said that she would vote for Donald Trump. This is something that people have been calling for since Haley dropped out. We saw over and over again that even after she dropped out, she got 17, 18, 19 percent of the vote in some of these Republican primaries. Some of them are open, some of them were closed.

I interviewed Chris Christie a couple of weeks ago, and I asked him who was -- as we all know, very anti-Trump. If the Biden campaign or the president has reached out to him, he said no, and he was mystified by that. So, there are Republicans, anti-Trump Republicans who don't understand why the campaign is not trying to make inroads with some of these people who could have influence over their supporters.


MIN KIM: Right. To add at that point, you know, the Biden folks and after talking with him this week, after Nikki Haley's announcement. They were really never focused on getting Nikki Haley herself. They know that she probably wants a future in the Republican Party. She would kill that future. Had she come out and endorsed Joe Biden?

They were really focused on getting her voters, which is why you're seeing all this quiet outrage. Starting now, they did do -- you know, the President Biden after Nikki Haley dropped out, you know, made it clear that -- you know, these voters have a room in my coalition and you're starting to see these conversations happen.

And I was reading some of the comments from other people in the loop, participate in the meeting. And they said, we want more of this. This is kind of -- we just want to hear from the Biden campaign. We want to make sure that we're heard. And especially, I was just -- all the -- it's May and she's still getting double-digit support in a lot of these states -- in these primaries. And so, there is a group out there that's right for the picking.

BASH: And then one of the challenges that the Biden campaign has is -- which I guess, in fairness is a challenge for any candidate in either party because both of them have semi broad coalitions is, how do you reach out and appeal to and pull over a Haley voter who might just not like Donald Trump, but also might have more conservative ideals and not angered the progressives in your party even more than they are?

WEIGEL: Well, on paper it's pretty easy because it's about democracy. It's about normalcy. And if you're a conservative, a lot of things are locked in and won't change it to Biden. If your issue was (inaudible), all right, it's done. The worst thing that happened to what you're saying about Christie is, without which it doesn't work is maybe a media report about how it didn't go very well.

And that's already happening. The White House has been doing this with Muslim voters, Arab voters and getting immediate readouts of how this is not very convincing. That hasn't happened when it's talked to Haley voters. And the Trump campaign is -- has no problem doing this. They did the same thing with Muslim voters, got some backlash. They do not mind having a meeting that doesn't necessarily go well. That's something awkward because they made a little bit of progress.

BASH: We do have to get a break. But I don't -- I don't want to lose sight of what Donald Trump did yesterday, which is he had a rally in the Bronx. As I said, a very diverse part of the country. And in it he really court -- openly courted, African Americans, Hispanic voters, saying that they're getting slaughtered, that millions of people are coming into the country and having an impact on them and their jobs.

CALDWELL: So, what's also -- yes, he is trying to make inroads where he sees what we just talked about, where Biden is weak with his base, black, Hispanic, young voters. You look at polling. The state that President Biden is doing the best in is Wisconsin, which is one of the whitest states of the battleground states.

And polling -- the New York Times polls from a couple of weeks ago suggests that -- and democratic sources I have talked to say that Biden is doing relatively well with white voters, where he is really struggling are -- and it showing up in the polls with struggling is with a black and brown voters.

BASH: Yeah. And I should clarify when he said slaughtered, he means economically.


BASH: Yeah. Which is -- which is to the point that you were all making that people are just not feeling good. All right. Coming up. Biden's deputy campaign manager will be here live for more on the president's reelection strategy. Stay with us.




BASH: We talked to our reporters here before the break about the Biden campaign strategy heading into the summer months. Now let's go inside that strategy with a senior member of the Biden campaign. Quentin Fulks is the Principal Deputy Campaign Manager joins me now from the campaign headquarters in Delaware. Thanks for joining me. Appreciate it.

So, let's talk first about that ad. The striking ad that is narrated by Robert De Niro, takes Trump on in a pretty aggressive way. We played it in our last segment, but I want our viewers to take another quick look.


BASH: So, Quentin since Super Tuesday, that was of course, when the general election matchup effectively began between Biden and Trump. Your campaign has more than doubled. Trump's campaign on ad spending 49 million to 22 million. Polls suggest none of it is moving the needle. What makes you think this is going to be different?

QUENTIN FULKS, BIDEN CAMPAIGN PRINCIPAL DEPUTY CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Well, look. I think, one, we don't put any stock into polls. There are going to be polls that are up and down all across this election cycle. And so, we're focused on doing the work. And part of that is communicating to voters exactly how dangerous Donald Trump is to democracy and the threat that he poses. And this ad does the same thing.

When Donald Trump was president, he told Americans to inject bleach during one of the worst pandemics of our lifetime. He has continued to double down on his extreme rhetoric, embracing political violence. And we're going to highlight that and make sure that we're drawing a contrast between his vision of America and the vision that President Biden and Vice President Harris have for America. And that's exactly what this ad is doing.

And so, we're not focused on these polls because there are polls out there that have us up. There are polls out there that have us down. But what Donald Trump does not have that our campaign does is an infrastructure. And that's what we're spending every day and have been spending every day since last year when the president announced in April, building an infrastructure that's going to be able to communicate with voters. And that's what we're doing in this ad snap does exactly that.


BASH: So, I understand what you're saying about the polls, and I hear you. But it is important to look at some of the specifics like CNN last month showed that 55 percent of Americans say the Trump presidency was a success compared to the survey taken days after January 6. It was the opposite we're showing that on our screen.

You don't have to believe in every single poll. But obviously, your strategy of calling him unhinged and snapped and everything seems to suggest that you too are worried about the way that a lot of Democrats describe to me -- people, especially young voters, voters of color, looking at the Trump presidency through rose colored glasses.

FULKS: Look, I don't think that it is a defensive posture that we are campaigning against Donald Trump and highlighting how extreme he is and what his presidency looked like in its first term. And so again, these polls that are out -- when people want to talk about these polls, the best indicator of polls is how people are actually voting.

And when we see that there are polls that had Democrats down in 2022. I was running the largest Senate campaign in 2022. And polls had us down. National poll saying that we were going to lose and then we won. There was no red wave. And so again, we have to do the work to communicate with voters. There's nothing defensive about it. And we are going to continue to highlight exactly how extreme Donald Trump is.

BASH: Take the polls out of it. When it comes to your approach. Why is this the right approach right now at this time? What about the message about Donald Trump. As a person, as a leader, how you characterize him? Do you think matters so much to the voters that you're trying to persuade?

FULKS: I think that voters are concerned about their economics. I think voters are concerned about their healthcare. I think voters are concerned about childcare, about housing, and rent, and mortgage affordability. And Donald Trump is only in this campaign because he wants revenge and retribution.

And so, when Donald Trump is out on the trail, again promising that he is going to give tax breaks for the wealthy and corporations. When Donald Trump is saying that he wants to cut social security and Medicare. When Donald Trump is saying that he wants to terminate the ACA. In order for us to make sure that people believe us when we're telling them, he is serious about these things. This is not a joke.

I know it sounds amorphous high in the sky to say that democracy is at stake, but it really is. And these proof points of Donald Trump's first presidency of how he governed in the things that he did, staging a photo-op, tear gassing American citizens and then taking a photo. As the president of the United States, standing by while there was an insurrection happening and doing absolutely nothing in the White House.

Our proof points of why voters should believe Donald Trump when he's saying that he's going to do all the things that our campaign is highlighting. He is not playing around. And we are running out of time to make sure that we communicate that to voters. And that's exactly what we're going to spend every single day from now until election day doing and drawing the contrast.

And there's also the element of continuing to highlight how President Biden and Vice President Harris have gotten into the Oval Office and kept the promises that they made to Americans. Leading them through a deadly pandemic, getting shots in arms, saving lives. Another thing that Donald Trump failed to do. And ultimately, impacted disproportionately a lot of voters of color, and he simply did not care. And so that is why Americans should believe us when we're telling them how dangerous of a threat Donald Trump poses to democracy.

BASH: I want to ask you since you are the deputy campaign manager about one of the important tactics that you guys are focused on right now, which is trying to lure Nikki Haley supporters over to vote for Joe Biden. I know that members of your team met with Nikki Haley voters on Wednesday night, just hours after she said she would be voting for Trump this year.

How do you think you can win those moderate Republicans without losing the progressives, many of whom are already frustrated with the president?

FULKS: Look, I think that, you know, one, look, Nikki Haley ran a campaign for months, talking about the threat that Donald Trump poses to democracy. And our calculus is that we believe -- we deeply believe that her supporters still believe that which is why they are continuing to vote against Donald Trump in these Republican primaries even months after she has dropped out.

And we're going to continue to communicate that the beauty of this is that we still believe that those voters care about democracy, and that's part of the advertising and then messages that you're seeing, part of what we're talking about is snap. They care deeply about the fact that Donald Trump stood behind an insurrection. They care deeply that Donald Trump is saying that he's going to terminate the constitution. They care deeply that Donald Trump is talking about dismantling government institutions, talking about abandoning our allies --


BASH: So, this ad isn't --

FULKS: That's what the Nikki Haley voters support.

BASH: Yeah. That's interesting. Sorry, we're almost out of time. But you're making clear that this ad is in part specifically going for those Nikki Haley voters?

FULKS: I'm saying that this ad also accomplished what we need to with our base. And also, to those Nikki Haley voters because I think they care about democracy. That's part of the reason that they are resisting Donald Trump. And so, this ad is doing double duty for us. Yes.

BASH: Quentin Fulks, thank you so much for being here. Appreciate it.

FULKS: Thank you, Dana.

BASH: Coming up. The governor of Louisiana is poised to sign legislation that would make it a felony to possess abortion pills without a prescription. That's next.