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Inside Politics

Sheila Jackson Lee Salutes the Power of Juneteenth; Trump- backed Challenger John McGuire Declared Victory, but Votes Still Being Counted; Baseball Legend Willie Mays Dies at 93. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired June 19, 2024 - 12:30   ET



REP. SHEILA JACKSON LEE (D-TX): -- it is important for me to make the point that the 1865 timeframe gave America a time to reflect on what this holiday truly meant and the pain of the holiday, and the lack of recognition of the holiday. And so, that's what this work that I'm doing and I celebrate (inaudible) our grandmother. She is the grandmother of Juneteenth and I helped bring some 2 million petitions to the United States Congress. I worked to introduce the legislation -- the first member of Congress to introduce the legislation to make sure that we had it well-situated, that this was going to be a holiday.


JACKSON LEE: And we fought -- we did. We had to fight to get our friends in the legislature in the Senate and in the House to realize that this was an important bill.

BASH: Yeah.

JACKSON LEE: And that bloodshed that came about to this bill and two more years of bloodshed came about --

BASH: Yep.

JACKSON LEE: -- after the 1863, two more years of bloodshed came, Dana.

BASH: Yeah. No question.

JACKSON LEE: And we need to let people know that.

BASH: Yeah. I totally agree. And you're shining the light on it. Congresswoman, I just have to ask you are joining us by phone today. You revealed not long ago that you are battling pancreatic cancer. Everyone here at CNN, I should tell you, joins me in sending your strength and prayers. How are you doing as you battle this disease?

JACKSON LEE: Well, one at a time, as in the future, I'm going to delve into how devastating this disease is, but I wanted to spend this day Juneteenth focusing on the celebration and the commemoration and pushing this part of American history. But I am grateful for their (inaudible) and I look forward to educating people more about this very -- it is a devastating disease. But at this point in time, I want Juneteenth to be part of American history over and over again.

And so that when little children begin to study their early history, they can study Juneteenth as part of America's focus. And if I get that done, I can tell you that it would truly be a dream come true, that people will understand that we bear the brunt, bear the brunt, bear the whip for two extra years.

BASH: Yeah.

JACKSON LEE: But I think when I want America, most of all, Dana, is that we faced the whip, we faced the lack of understanding, but we came about to 1865 and we had something to work with, which allowed us to generate the Juneteenth holiday. But what most came by is that it is now a federal holiday.

BASH: That's right.

JACKSON LEE: What a dream come true that it's a federal holiday and it's a celebration of Juneteenth and commemoration that would stand (ph).

BASH: Well, it's not just a dream. It's an act of commitment and strength on your part. And I have no question that that commitment and strength is being -- you're using that right now for your own personal fight. And I understand and I take your point about focusing on Juneteenth and the legacy that you have created, no question, by helping to make this a federal holiday. Thank you so much. Happy Juneteenth, Congresswoman. Thanks for joining me.

JACKSON LEE: Thank you so very much and I love you saying that. Happy Juneteenth! Let's celebrate it and understand it. And celebrate a people that had to live two extra years of slavery --

BASH: Yeah.

JACKSON LEE: -- because people did not understand what Juneteenth was.

BASH: That's right.

JACKSON LEE: But they will know what it is. And you have generated the very nature of this. And I'm so very grateful for your contribution --

BASH: Thank you.

JACKSON LEE: -- to making American history part of Juneteenth and Juneteenth (ph) a part of the American history.

BASH: Thank you.

JACKSON LEE: Thank you.

BASH: You too. Thank you, Congresswoman. Appreciate it.

JACKSON LEE: Thank you.

BASH: And CNN is airing a special event tonight marking Juneteenth. CNN's Victor Blackwell is now joining me. Victor, you spoke with several legendary musicians, trailblazers for this special tonight. Tell us more about it.


VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: There's a lot happening tonight. It is a moment, as we heard from the Congresswoman, of commemoration. It's also a celebration, so you're going to hear great music from Patti LaBelle and John Legend and Smokey Robinson. It's also a moment of a clarion call of the work that still needs to be done. Each of them in their own way, in addition to what they've accomplished on the charts and on the stage, they've contributed to the progress that this country has seen.

And I want to echo what the Congresswoman said, is that this is a holiday for all Americans. Let me bring you something here from John Legend in which I asked him about why he does the work around ending mass incarceration and anti-recidivism. This is what he told me.


BLACKWELL: John, you could sing, release music, and then go home.


BLACKWELL: And not do the work. What compels you to engage and do the social justice work?

LEGEND: Well, part of it is I've always been inspired by the tradition of particularly Black artists over the years, realizing that when we have this opportunity, when we have this platform, we want to use it to stand up for what's right, fight for justice, support activists and organizers who are out there doing really important work to secure freedom for all citizens. I come from a tradition of that, I believe.

When I think about my mentors and my heroes like Harry Belafonte and others, they invested in the civil rights movement. They spent their money, they spent their social capital, and they used their platform to try to make the world better. And I always thought that was what an artist was supposed to do. So, I feel like this is part of my calling as an artist.


BLACKWELL: The grandmother of Juneteenth, Ms. Opal Lee, says that 4th of July, Independence Day, is the celebration of the freeing of the land. June 19th, Juneteenth is the celebration of the freeing of the people. And this should be a season of celebration of freedom for all Americans. So to you, Dana, as you wished the Congresswoman Happy Juneteenth.

BASH: You too, and to all of us. So well said. Thank you so much, Victor. I can't wait to watch tonight. Don't forget to tune in to the CNN special event, "Juneteenth: Celebrating Freedom and Legacy." You can watch it right here on CNN or stream it on Max. That's tonight at 10:00 p.m. Eastern and Pacific. Coming up, revenge is a dish best served cold, and Donald Trump and Kevin McCarthy could be on the verge of serving it to Congressman who endorsed Trump's primary opponent and voted to oust McCarthy from the speaker's chair. The latest out of Virginia next.



BASH: Right now, 338 votes. That's it, stand between Bob Good and keeping his seat in the House of Representatives. Good gained seven votes in past few minutes. He's still trailing to the Donald Trump- backed challenger, John McGuire, with a few thousand votes. Still to count, but McGuire already calling the race.


JOHN MCGUIRE, (R) VIRGINIA CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: Ladies and gentlemen, the votes are in and the people have spoken. It is an honor to be your Republican nominee for the Third Congressional District.


BASH: Good says, not so fast, he plans to keep fighting. He posted on X, "The entire D.C. Swamp was aligned against us with over $10 million in attack ads. But with your help, we were able to make this race too close to call. No matter the outcome, you've shown the D.C. Swamp but that you won't back down from standing for what's right. Keep the faith, and don't stop fighting now."

My fabulous reporters are back. I mean, this is very, very close. And yes, you can make the argument that we just heard from Bob Good, which he did in a very lengthy post, about the fact that you had money, you had Donald Trump, you have Kevin McCarthy against him, and he's still in the hunt. But on the other hand, why is it so close when he is somebody who's been there and did very well two years ago?

KAYLA TAUSCHE, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think that the Trump aspect of all of these races is going to figure prominently whether it's the Trump bump or the Trump shadow, depending on what district you're in. President Biden had a fundraiser last night at Terry McAuliffe, the former governor of Virginia's house last night.

And while they didn't really step into the races specifically, they did talk according to two attendees about the role of abortion and reproductive rights in some of these races and the state more broadly. And according to my sources, they talked about the fact that Virginia is the last southern state without an abortion ban and urging attendees to become more animated on that issue, especially going into November. So at least the Democrats are trying to make that a more galvanizing issue in these races.

BASH: Yeah, which speaks to something I want to talk to you about because you wrote about the question of whether Virginia is going to be very much in play -- it hasn't in a couple of cycles -- but staying on this sort of intra-Republican Party fight, our friends at "The Washington Post," Theodoric Meyer, and Leigh Ann Caldwell talked to Chip Roy, who is a member of the Freedom Caucus. He is one who is backing Bob Good, who I should mention once again is the Chair of the Conservative Freedom Caucus.


BASH: And here's what Chip Roy said.


"We've had a really, really strong couple of years influencing the entire conversation. No apologies. We've changed the conversation on the border. We're not even talking about amnesty. We've been only talking about border security." He's saying that in defense of keeping a Republican incumbent and there's no need for a primary challenger to win. On the substance of what he said, he's not wrong.

HENDERSON: Yeah. He's right. I mean, the conversation on the politics of immigration have moved to the right. That is in part because of the Freedom Caucus, it is also because of Donald Trump, and that is the elephant in the room with this Good crossed Donald Trump by backing Ron DeSantis and Donald Trump was all too happy to tell voters in Virginia that Bob Good stabbed me in the back and he will stab you in the back too. It is a surprise it is as close as it is.

On the one hand, incumbency has its privileges and you can see some of that. But, folks were bused into there and campaigning with McGuire from the House, House Republicans, and it is too close to call. It'll probably be a recount.

BASH: What are your thoughts on this race?

DANIEL STRAUSS, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: Look, it's -- this race really contradicts that saying 'If you want a friend in D.C., get it a dog' because Good found himself without many friends. He managed to anger Donald Trump, Kevin McCarthy and the D.C. Swamp, and say what you will about the establishment's influence but when it comes to re- election, it's better to at least not have them as your enemy than have them as your enemy.

BASH: Yeah. I mean, look at those numbers right there. It really -- it's going to be interesting to see if this does end up in a recount. I want to broaden it out as you started to do and talk about your excellent piece on and the headline is, "We're seeing real momentum. Republicans think Virginia could be in play this year."

Now, it wasn't that long ago that that kind of headline would be like, duh.


BASH: But it would be on the other side, meaning that Virginia for a very long time, only went to Republicans. It only turn blue a couple of cycles ago. And until recently, until we saw some recent polls, state polls, everybody kind of wrote it off as a non-battleground. What does your reporting tell you from both Republicans and Democrats about how real you think it is?

STRAUSS: Well, Republicans really want to -- really think that this is a state that is ripe, that if there is a wave or if there is a strong Republican birth in the 2024 election, that will include Virginia, partially because it has a Republican governor and it meets a lot of the aspects that a flappable state has right now.

But as you said, Dana, in the past few years, it has been reliably blue and it's been a while since there has been a Republican senator or a Republican governor prior to the current one right now.. The Republicans privately as much as they're eager to test thumb (ph) publicly, privately, they're like, look, if this does flip, it means we are winning across the board.

BASH: Yeah, yeah.

STRAUSS: This, is a break glass in case of emergency state for Democrats. And Democrats are very much like we have bigger problems if this is a state that's in play.

BASH: Yeah, that's such a good point. And what about Kayla's reporting about -- I'm sorry, we're being told -- I'm being told we have to go, but I just want to emphasize, your reporting about the fact that they talked about issues that are very important to voters in Virginia during this --


TAUSCHE: The blue brick wall -- the blue brick wall, (inaudible) called it.

BASH: Yes, thank you.

Up next, the "Say Hey Kid." The life and legacy of baseball legend Willie Mays.



BASH: That was Willie Mays' famous play from game one of the 1954 World Series. It is simply known as 'the catch.' And last night, baseball fans in Mays' home state of Alabama heard this news.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Willie Mays, one of the greatest players in the history of our game, has passed away at the age of 93. He was born here in Alabama, got his start in this very ballpark. Thrilled generations of baseball fans with his brilliant play, and we will always cherish the memory and life of the great Willie Mays.


(END VIDEO CLIP) BASH: That was the very spot where Willie Mays started his remarkable career in baseball, playing for the Birmingham Black Barons and the Negro Leagues when he was just 16-years-old. Two years later, in 1950, he became the sixth Black player to join the majors, spending 21 seasons with the Giants. From growing up in the Jim Crow South to countless trips to the White House, Willie Mays broke barriers. He's seen here with Gerald Ford and Queen Elizabeth. He also shared laughs with Ronald Reagan.


WILLIE MAYS, AMERICAN BASEBALL CENTER FIELDER: When I first came to New York City, I had -- they gave me a name, they called "Say Hey Kid" and I'd like to present a shirt to you. It says, " Win One For The Gipper," and I thought everybody--




BASH: And here is Mays with George W. Bush back in 2006. Barack Obama is remembering Willie Mays as an "inspiration to an entire generation." The former president spoke of how he was personally influenced by Mays when awarding him the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2015.

BARACK OBAMA, (D) FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: A few years ago, Willie rode with me on Air Force One. I told him then what I'll tell all of you now. It is because of Giants like Willie that someone like me could even think about running for president.



BASH: President Biden just released a statement saying in part, we remember Willie Mays as part of the long line of Black patriots who have helped us see a better version of ourselves as Americans and as a nation.

Thank you so much for joining "Inside Politics." "CNN News Central" starts after the break.