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Inside Politics

Biden Considers Plan To Protect Undocumented Immigrants Who Are Married To U.S. Citizens From Deportation; VP Harris Calls Politico To Talk Trump Veepstakes; Gov. Noem: Picking A Female Running Mate Will Help Trump Win; Rep. Wexton Makes History While Battling Rare Brain Disease. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired June 10, 2024 - 12:30   ET



MANU RAJU, CNN ANCHOR: He believes it's about the economy ultimately, why Hispanic voters in particular, are turning increasingly towards Trump, "Today's pocketbook issues have transcended traditional voting blocs, allowing voters to evaluate how their vote impacts their wallet and vice versa."

Is that how the Trump campaign sees it right now? That it's, you know, Trump is going to be Trump, he's going to go as far as he's going to go on immigration. He's not going to deviate from that, but he obviously doesn't believe it hurts him.

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: No, he doesn't. And they believe that they're going to see a significant amount of movement among minority voters, particularly Latino men and black men. It's not going to be as big with black men voters as it is going to be with men Latino voters. At least the polling doesn't indicate that. And that would be pretty huge for him to make that kind of movement.

But remember, this isn't about Donald Trump trying to win over large groups of Latino voters. This is about trying to siphon votes away from Joe Biden. They don't --

RAJU: Because Biden will still win.

HOLMES: Exactly. Yes. There's no --

RAJU: Questions of margin.

HOLMES: There is absolutely no -- I mean, there was complete, you know, polls were all wrong. That there was some kind of insane movement that Donald Trump would win over these minority voters, particularly Latino voters. But if they can get some movement in their direction, that's what they want.

I mean, just, we continue to talk about this group in the middle that is, you know, making up their mind. That group is very, very small. And so what Donald Trump needs to do and what this team feels like they are doing is trying to siphon off voters from Joe Biden and also try to pick up voters who are low propensity voters, people who don't always show up to vote, who are right leaning. Because Donald Trump's team doesn't believe he's going to get those votes in the middle.

RAJU: Yes. What's interesting too, of course, is how Biden has handled this issue. He has, of course, been underwater on the issue of immigration. He backed that bipartisan border security deal that Trump came out and killed even before it was introduced.

He believed it was bad politics. Trump did, which is why Republicans aligned himself with that. Then last week, Joe Biden issued that executive action to essentially try to turn away migrants at the border. Got a lot of criticism from the left for that.

Then we are hearing about a new Biden immigration move to give parole to undocumented spouses of U.S. citizens and provide legal status to long term undocumented immigrants married to American citizens and also allow them to work legally as they seek citizenship.

And it could impact 750,000 to 800,000 people, that's according to our reporting from our colleague Isaac Dovere. That could maybe win over people in his party, but potentially give --


RAJU: I guess Republicans are going to attack on immigration no matter what. So why not get, you know, party back in.

ZANONA: Right. And we talk a lot about how Trump is doing the delicate dance with abortion. Well, Joe Biden's doing the same thing when it comes to immigration, right? The fact of the matter is the attitudes in the nation have really shifted towards the right when it comes to immigration in recent years. This is a political vulnerability for Biden.

And so you're seeing him take steps, whether it's that executive action on the border to try to crack down on asylum seekers or drawing attention to this failed border deal that he had gotten behind that Trump was behind sinking in the Senate --

RAJU: Which has shifted really to the conservative position --

ZANONA: The most conservative immigration proposal we've probably seen since we've been up there covering it. But at the same time, he knows he has this left flank that he needs to worry about as well. So he's taking actions like as Isaac reported over the weekend, trying to show ways that you can also show a humane way to approach the issue of immigration and show that contrast with what Trump would do on the border.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: And I think always a reminder, I mean, voters are not a monolith, obviously, in any demographic group. But the economy and inflation is something that spans most groups. So that is still front and center in all of this here. But the Biden campaign of all the challenges and worries they have, Latino voters, absolutely near the top of the list.

LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: This potential executive action to which we reported at NewsHour as well, the one that could be coming to help undocumented spouses, that could also help with the economy, right? I mean, places like Nevada and Arizona, there's labor shortages. You get work permits for these undocumented spouses and that could be something that could potentially help --

RAJU: The Biden campaign thinks that the polling actually shows them that there's -- people favor that idea and we'll see how it plays out in the campaign.

All right, up next, Kamala Harris is sizing up her potential VP competition. She had a lot to say about Trump's top choices.

Plus, coping on Capitol Hill. We'll bring you the inspiring story of a lawmaker battling a disease known as Parkinson's on steroids. But it is not stopping her from doing the job she was elected to do. That's coming up.



RAJU: Kamala Harris is weighing in on her potential VP opponents. The vice president called a political reporter over the weekend to say she's eager to take on whoever Trump's picks as his running mate. She said, "What we know is that Donald Trump wants an enabler. He doesn't want a governing partner. He doesn't want another Mike Pence, and I think that is clear. The litmus test is, are they going to be absolutely loyal to Trump over country or their oath of office, or, frankly, the American people?"

My panel is back up. She also went on to attack Trump's potential pick about abortion. Of course, we talked about it before. Obviously, key messaging for the Democrats. She said, "Everyone on that list has supported a Trump abortion ban in their state or has called for a national abortion ban." She went on to criticize them further on this issue.

She's been out there. Harris has increasingly come out swinging. She did over the weekend. She had called out Donald Trump for being a convicted felon and the like. What do you make of her now going after president's potential running?

ZANONA: Yes. Well first of all, Harris has been one of the chief messengers for the Biden campaign on the issue of abortion. But specifically hearing her sort of preview what the messaging is going to be when it comes to Donald's --

RAJU: It doesn't matter who it is, they're all the same.

ZANONA: Right. They're going to paint them in a broad brush stroke, tying them all to the MAGA right, the MAGA extremist, no matter who the candidate is.


And I do think it's interesting we're seeing this broader shift within the Biden campaign, where they're starting to really pivot to general election mode. And they're starting to go after Trump and his allies very directly, whether it's taking them on over legal vulnerabilities, or in this case, going after the potential vice presidential pick. We are seeing them start to make these significant messaging and policy changes as --

RAJU: Some Democrats wish they did that earlier. So, I mean, also the question is, of course, will Trump pick and the lobbying that's happening publicly and privately? There was one person yesterday on our air, Kristi Noem, the governor of South Dakota, indicating perhaps Trump should consider a woman.


GOV. KRISTI NOEM (R), SOUTH DAKOTA: All the polls tell him in these swing states that a woman on the ticket helps him win. The polls just say that. People, one in four Republican women, haven't made up their minds because they want to have a woman talking to them about the issues they care about.

And women aren't monolithic. They don't care about just one issue. They care about health care. They care about their children. They care about their futures. They care about having an opportunity to have a business and to have a career.


RAJU: Hint, hint, pick me, maybe.

HOLMES: I think I know who she might have in mind.

RAJU: Yes. But there's -- as far as we know, correct me if I'm wrong, there's only one woman really under serious consideration, that's Elise Stefanik.

HOLMES: Right, and she's been a loyalist to Donald Trump. Now I will say, when it comes to a woman, early on, Donald Trump was getting a lot of feedback that he should choose a woman. And he would bring it up in conversation, he brought it up once when we were talking to him about something completely separate and said, do you guys think I should, to reporters, you guys think I should choose a woman? A lot of people are telling me that.

Now, since then, he has come to --

RAJU: Many people are saying, that is --

HOLMES: Many people are saying I should choose a woman. But since then, he has also said that he doesn't really think it's going to impact him that much if he chooses a woman or a person of color, that ultimately that people will make their decision if they're going to vote for Donald Trump based on Donald Trump. And there are people who just don't like Donald Trump. And there is not anyone, woman or person of color that is going to change that because they still don't want to vote for Donald Trump.

BARRON-LOPEZ: And because -- RAJU: That is --

BARRON-LOPEZ: Well, just because, I mean, he's basing a lot of this on loyalty, right? And it's not, in the past, you know, Mike Pence was strategic to bring him evangelicals. Typically you might think of picking someone from a -- more of a swing state, someone who can help you grow your coalition. And none of these appear to be doing that at all.


ZELENY: Loyalty is the word I was going to say too. And there is one Republican governor who is a woman who has tested her loyalty to Donald Trump. That's Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders from Arkansas. So, she is on my possible list here. We'll see. Not predicting but --

RAJU: Out looking in list.

ZELENY: Yes, I mean --

RAJU: Or short list -- or as Jeff Zeleny --

ZANONA: Dark horse.

ZELENY: We'll see a dark horse.

RAJU: Dark horse. There you go.

HOLMES: Although, remember what Sarah Huckabee Sanders did. She did not endorse him right away and then week (ph) to the New York Times that he called her.

ZELENY: But I think the reality is, this is not the same calculation as 16. He doesn't need his base to rally behind him. They already have. But on the margins, some of these could potentially matter. Doug Burgum from North Dakota, it's probably still chief among them, perhaps.

RAJU: Yes. Perhaps. So, you know, you're right. It's not the same as picking Mike Pence --

ZELENY: Right.

RAJU: -- because they need to shore up with the Christian conservatives at that point. Now it's, you know, women educated voters, suburban voters. Does that have an impact? Women voters voted with Biden 57-42 in 2020. That margin has shrunk according to polls, you know, polls will see that actually reflected in how people actually vote in November. But how much is that weighing in on the -- in the Trump campaign, on Trump himself?

HOLMES: I don't think that they think they're going to move the needle with a woman. I just don't think -- I actually think to your point, if there was a woman who was going to move the needles on what it would be, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, however, I do think he was very upset about the fact that the phone call leaked in which he asked Sarah Huckabee Sanders for her endorsement and she said, not yet.

And yes, she came around like many others did, but that was the point loyalty for him. There are not many women who are on the side. I mean, I'm not sure that Kristi Noem would move the needle with women or suburban women He is who he is, Donald Trump --

RAJU: Yes.

HOLMES: -- and he is the candidate (ph).

RAJU: I mean, people don't vote on running mate, typically.

HOLMES: Right.


RAJU: I mean there are -- there's rules really do no harm which is 2008. We saw John McCain pick Sarah Palin, which he at the time he had said, oh, this is the best, the best moment of his campaign. He said that until the day he passed. But it did do harm.

BARRON-LOPEZ: And female voters across the board across, you know, race and ethnicity and then particularly female voters who are college educated or a problem for Trump and in suburban areas. And one -- two of the big things that they're going to be voting on based on 2022 and special elections, abortion and threats to democracy.

ZELENY: I talked to a voter in Wisconsin last week, she said she's holding out hope that he picks Nikki Haley. She's a Trump voter. She's like, I know it's not. Probably very likely, but she's holding out hope and that is someone, again, not predicting that, but that is something that would certainly be buzzy --


ZELENY: -- and could change the needle in the suburbs cycle (ph).

RAJU: I mean, actually --

HOLMES: I would agree with that, Jeff. Yes --

RAJU: -- are they actually thinking about Nikki Haley?


HOLMES: Donald Trump himself has said no, but I will tell you there are a lot of people, including donors, who are pushing for Nikki Haley. It really doesn't seem likely given how contentious the primary got given how -- what he says behind -- about her behind closed doors.

But again, there is still a push. They know that that is another person, another woman who could move the needle.

RAJU: Yes.

ZELENY: Perhaps some of those 25 percent of voters in suburban Philadelphia counties who voted for Nikki Haley in the primary --

RAJU: Yes.

ZELENY: -- might vote for Trump.

RAJU: We'll see. He says he's going to announce it at the Republican Convention. I bet he does it before. You never know with Donald Trump.

All right, coming up, Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton makes history, inspires others after being diagnosed with a debilitating brain disease.


REP. JENNIFER WEXTON (D), VIRGINIA: It may shock you to hear this, but this is not my real voice.




RAJU: We're back with the inspiring story of Congressman Jennifer Wexton, up and coming Virginia Democrat who has been diagnosed with a disease sometimes called Parkinson's on steroids. But that has not stopped her from making strides on the Hill. CNN's Melanie Zanona has Wexton's inspiring story.


WEXTON: It may shock you to hear this, but this is not my real voice.

ZANONA (voice-over): Once a rising star in the Democratic Party, Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton flipped a key House seat in 2018.

WEXTON: I've been saying since the beginning of this campaign that change is coming to America. And change is coming to Virginia 10, and that change came tonight.

ZANONA (voice-over): Now, a rare brain disease has forced her into early retirement. And robbed Wexton of the ability to speak. But that hasn't stopped her from using her voice.

WEXTON: I hope I can show that even as debilitating a diagnosis as this doesn't have to mean you are powerless. And finding moments of levity and fun helps, too.

ZANONA (voice-over): Last year, at 56 years old, Wexton was diagnosed with progressive supernuclear palsy, an incurable disease that impacts about 30,000 Americans. Described as Parkinson's on steroids, PSP affects the brain cells that control balance, walking, speech, and swallowing.

WEXTON: Whatever your politics, when it comes to illness, progressive is not a good thing to be. ZANONA (voice-over): As her condition began to rapidly deteriorate, the congresswoman and mom of two learned to adapt. Last month, Wexton became the first lawmaker to use a voice app to deliver a speech on the House floor. A history making moment that prompted an outpouring of support.

WEXTON: PSP makes it very difficult for me to speak, and I use an assistive app so that you and our colleagues can understand me.

ZANONA (voice-over): She also uses the app to participate in committee hearings.

REP. JODEY ARRINGTON (R), TEXAS: She shows up every time we have committee hearings, and she represents her people. And man, God bless her. The people she's representing are getting a hell of a deal with her. And so thank you.

ZANONA (voice-over): And to communicate with colleagues and staff.

REP. ABIGAIL SPANBERGER (D), VIRGINIA: In all of the congressional text chains that exist, like she is absolutely like top five funniest.

ZANONA (voice-over): Wexton isn't the only member of Congress using assistive technology. Senator John Fetterman relies on an app to help him process what he's hearing as he recovers from a stroke.

SEN. JOHN FETTERMAN (D), PENNSYLVANIA: My recovery was to the point where now it's really this.

ZANONA (voice-over): Fetterman was so touched by Wexton's story that he sent the congresswoman a personal note to let her know that she is not alone.

FETTERMAN: She is inspiring people by being able to perform her job because a lot of millions of Americans have to.

ZANONA (voice-over): But everyday tasks can still be a challenge for Wexton.

ZANONA: The Capitol Hill campus has not historically been very ADA friendly. How have you found the institution? Do you think it's been adequately equipped to handle people with disabilities?

WEXTON: You never notice how inaccessible a place may be until it's you who relies on the accessibility accommodations.

ZANONA (voice-over): And Wexton says some of her colleagues now treat her differently.

WEXTON: It's especially frustrating and annoying when people mistake my speaking struggles for my cognitive ability. I've had experiences where well-meaning colleagues, always men, have approached me saying, hi Jennifer, it's so and so, and I'm like, yes, of course I know who you are. I've seen you here every day for the last five years.

ZANONA (voice-over): The chaotic speaker's race in October took an added toll on Wexton, who was forced to miss doctor's appointments because of the grueling schedule.

WEXTON: That was probably the worst I felt physically and emotionally since I was diagnosed. But quitting early was not something I ever seriously entertained.

ZANONA (voice-over): Before she leaves Congress early next year, Wexton is using her platform to raise awareness about brain diseases like PSP. She organized an advocacy week last month, while the Senate recently passed her national plan to end Parkinson's disease.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D), MINORITY LEADER: She's an inspiration. While many would have been discouraged or lost hope with a disease like this, she has endured. She has used her struggle to help others, and now the bill goes to the president's desk.

ZANONA (voice-over): A bipartisan bill named in her honor.

ZANONA: What do you want your congressional legacy to be?

WEXTON: I hope that one day when we have eradicated Parkinson's and Parkinson's isms, people will say that even though it was too late for her to help herself, she helped countless others.


RAJU: Really powerful story, Melanie. Thanks for bringing that to us and bringing both sides together to her condition. What stuck out to you the most as you were interviewing her?

ZANONA: Her sense of humor and the way it was able to come through? You know, it's not just that she's able to communicate and get her words out. She has her personality. She's cracking jokes. You heard Spanberger say she's one of the top five funniest members. And you could see that interviewing her.

RAJU: Yes.


ZANONA: But, look, there's just been so much nastiness and drama this session of Congress, as you and I have covered. Every once in a while, there are moments of inspiration, of humanity, of bipartisanship, and this is one of those moments. Not only is she still conserving her constituents every day, but she was one of the driving forces behind this bill that's going to establish the first ever national plan to end Parkinson's disease.

It's the first of its kind. It's about to be signed into law. So this is a significant moment. We don't often see bill sailing through the chambers of Congress --

RAJU: Yes.

ZANONA: -- with bipartisan support. So it's a remarkable moment and just such a compelling story. RAJU: It really is. And you're seeing people on both sides. President of the Congress, Congressman Joey Arrington, in your piece, a Republican, Chuck Schumer, the Senate Majority Leader.

Melanie, thanks for bringing that to us.

All right. And thank you for joining Inside Politics. CNN News Central starts after the break.