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CNN Live Event/Special
Haley, DeSantis Face Voters 10 Days Before Iowa Caucuses. Aired 12-1a ET
Aired January 05, 2024 - 00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR MEDIA REPORTER: Let's look at Ron DeSantis.
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN HOST: Yeah.
ENTEN: He's at 23 percent. His support has been sliced in half, at just 11 percent now.
So the fact is, what you're looking at in this data is not particularly good news for understanding. Nikki Haley, much better news. Trump, though, is still ahead.
PHILLIP: Yeah, Trump still ahead, and DeSantis really now all in on Iowa.
Why is it that Trump is not doing quite as well in New Hampshire as he is in Iowa?
ENTEN: I think this will sort of give you the answer right here. All right. Moderate share of the GOP primary electorate, this is the group that Donald Trump does worse with. It is the group that Nikki Haley does best with.
In New Hampshire, moderates make up 36 percent of the electorate. That's higher than national. And look in Iowa, they only make up 17 percent of the electorate.
So the fact is, Nikki Haley is putting a lot of eggs in that New Hampshire basket, because she knows the electorate in New Hampshire is far from friendly to her than the electorate in Iowa, and it's far less friendly to Donald Trump.
PHILLIP: Okay, so the sequence of this context matter because of momentum. So, Trump being far ahead in Iowa, what is the significance of that for the trajectory of this race?
ENTEN: What is the significance? So, let's take a little look through history. Polled at 45 percent or greater in Iowa at this point, Walter Mondale, he won the Democratic primary in 1984. George W. Bush, Republican, won the Republican primary, won the caucuses in 2000.
Al Gore, same deal on the Democratic side in 2000. Hillary Clinton the same deal in 2016. She won Iowa. She then went on to win the nomination.
Now, we don't know what's going to happen with Donald Trump at this particular point, but this is, of course, a good signal for Trump going back in history. Of course, Abby, we pointed out, he is not nearly as strong in New Hampshire, right? Nikki Haley is wondering, hey, maybe I can go through there.
Well, take a look here. National GOP front runners who won Iowa which Donald Trump looks pretty strong at this point, but then went on to lose New Hampshire, Bob Dole in '96, George W. Bush in 2000. What do these two fellows have in common, besides? Just being pretty good- looking guys, they both won the nomination.
So the fact, is Donald Trump at this particular point it is a strong position Iowa, and because he is in a strong position nationally, I'm not quite sure what happens in the Granite State matters, but, hey, history is made to be broken.
PHILLIP: Well, we should also note, I mean, this is also the last time that Iowa decided effectively the Republican nomination.
ENTEN: This is true. That is true. Iowa has picked the Republican side twice. It is these two guys, these two times.
PHILLIP: You are looking at them.
ENTEN: You're looking at them.
PHILLIP: Harry Enten, thank you very much as always.
ENTEN: Thank you.
LAURA COATES, CNN HOST: Well, joining me now is former Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. He is the president of the Young America's Foundation, a conservative youth organization. He also ran for the Republican presidential nominee back in 2016.
Governor, thank you for being with us tonight.
Listen, you have not actually endorsed anyone as of yet, and I'm wondering if what you saw tonight between Nikki Haley and DeSantis, did anything change your mind? Are you ready to endorse someone?
SCOTT WALKER (R), FORMER WISCONSIN GOVERNOR: No, we're going to be focused on getting through the primary caucuses, and then getting ready particularly here in Wisconsin. Personally, I have vested interest of being a voter here in the state of Wisconsin. It's probably going to be one of if not the state that determines who the next president is.
But, you know, tonight, we saw really good performances from Governor Nikki Haley and Ron DeSantis, but the big question is, is it too little too late? I mean, these are the sorts of things I was saying they needed to do back in August going into the first debate just down in the way here in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I think a lot of voters, they like what they saw, but I don't know that it is enough to change the minds of people as we just mention in Iowa and New Hampshire, even in South Carolina where I think if Trump wins, President Trump wins in Iowa, and particularly is able to win in New Hampshire then he's probably going to go on and win even Nikki Haley's home state of South Carolina. At that point, I don't see how you turn the tide.
COATES: So what was the specific aspect you thought played well tonight that should come sooner? I mean, obviously, they were much more robust about attacking Donald Trump. They went at him specifically about what he did and did not do correctly. I know the organization you are a president, America's Foundation, has already endorsed I believe Trump. So did -- what they did tonight, should they have done that part sooner?
WALKER: Well, just to be clear, our group is a nonprofit. So, we don't not endorse -- there's others likes ours, but not -- we don't, at Young America's Foundation.
WALKER: But the bottom line is again, none of them I things have come away from making the case to the vast majority of voters in Iowa, the caucuses and New Hampshire and the following state, South Carolina and beyond, to go away from President Trump is that. If you think about it, particularly for those of us here in the Midwest, he doesn't always talk the way we do, but there's a lot of voters, particularly in the primary and caucus season who are fed up with politicians who, you know, say all the right things in the campaign, and then go to Washington unfold under pressure.
Nobody is going to accuse former President Donald Trump of folding under pressure. I think that's why he continues to have such strong poll ratings.
Now, again, DeSantis, I think, was very effective tonight. You played a little clip, I thought the most effective one of the night when he talked about Kim Reynolds and him making Iowa and Florida increasingly red states, whereas other candidates who were aligned with President Trump in 2022 did not have the kind of success they did in those two states.
But again, is it too little too late? If it was a wide open election, if Donald Trump is not in this race, then I think you saw the two people would clearly be in the decisive battle for the nomination. But right now, it's still looking like areas to see who comes second.
COATES: You know, that's where we began tonight, Governor, the idea that it is 11 days away from when Iowa is getting ready to vote, 11 days. I mean, this -- the discussions that could have cemented maybe a higher ranking in the overall stats here may have been a lot sooner, but still, Donald Trump was the third person not at the town halls, he had mention a number of times. He is the person to beat, obviously, you actually urged him to attend a debate. He has skipped multiple debates.
COATES: There's just one laugh until the Iowa caucus. Do you think Trump ought to debate and be among both Haley and DeSantis?
WALKER: Well, I thought all along, I'm one of those people who thinks it is good for the voters to hear from the candidates directly. So in town hall meetings and debates, I think it's better for voters to hear from everyone.
Strategically, I get why he and his team decide to do this. They felt like they were far ahead, they felt like it would be lowering them to be playing with -- as they called it the B team. I don't think either of them are the B team. I think they're qualified folks each of which would make great president.
But right now, again, as I mention, President Donald Trump has made such a compelling case about the work that he did, the things he accomplished during this first term, that I think there is a lot of voters being in Iowa and New Hampshire, South Carolina, here in Wisconsin and beyond, who particularly when looking at Joe Biden say, boy, I'd love to have a repeat of that battle.
Joe Biden has failed on the economy. If this is a referendum on the economy, Joe Biden loses. Even at a Young America's Foundation, we have done polling of young people, interesting enough before the first debate, we fond that among college students, the number issue is the economy. So not just older voters, but even amongst younger voters, the economy is the number one issue.
And on that issue, Joe Biden is really failing. So I think that's yet another reason why former President Donald Trump is in good shape.
COATES: Well, you know, when it comes to the economy, the Biden administration might as well talk about sort of the feel of enomics of things. It's one thing to talk about the win they say they have, and to translate to people actually believing they are better off or not is really the big challenge here.
Let me ask you, though, because, of course, I do wonder how Iowa voters might look at Trump not being president, not as much as say as how many times did we hear -- talk about the 99 times or whatever in Iowa.
Let me ask you this. You did run for the race in 2016, you ultimately dropped out. There are still people presently in the race right now that are not Trump, not Haley, not DeSantis. Should they drop out?
WALKER: Well, that's a decision I made. I joke, I get out before I got a nickname, but seriously, I got out because I thought -- I didn't know having him not served in government before, I did not know that Donald Trump as a candidate was going to be able to deliver. So I got out thinking there should be a positive conservative alternative.
I look back now and I say I was wrong. He actually more than delivered on the promises he made when he ran in 2016, you know, not in terms of the tone but in terms of actual policy. I look at the court appointments, I look at the tax cuts, I look at the regulatory reform, I look at the appointments he made, I look at his foreign policy, I look at all the things he did, and I say he was probably one of the most successful presidents in my lifetime. That is a remarkable statement considering any presidents we have had, so I think there's a lot of people --
COATES: It's also, excuse me, Governor, I don't want to cut you off but it's also --
COATES: I don't want to cut you off, but it's also is remarkable, because all of the things you have just listed are not the things Donald Trump is highlighting on the course of his campaign. He's talking about retribution, vengeance, and his problems with the people who believes are his political witch hunters.
Do you think there is a missed opportunity for him to not talk about the things that you have given him accolades over?
WALKER: Absolutely. I think both on the policy, but on the larger issue that Donald Trump I saw in 2016 who won here in Wisconsin and other key battleground states was some who like to fight but he fought for you, he fought for the American voter, he fought for the forgotten men and women, that's why he was able to win.
Now, the Donald Trump who I think lost in 2020 was the candidate who appeared to be fighting for the sake of fighting, not fighting for the individual.
When we saw, remember, a year ago, in Ohio where there was a train wreck, he showed up there even though Joe Biden was over in Europe, in Poland and Ukraine, Pete Buttigieg was nowhere to be found, there was Donald Trump telling people they were not forgotten.
That he was remembering and looking out for them. I said that's the guy who won in '16. If he can get back to that, that's a candidate that most certainly can defeat the very inept Joe Biden who's in office right now. And I think we are seeing that, not just with general election voters, but as a mention even with younger voters who the last few years very, very consistent with Democrat candidates, the liberal candidates, I think a lot of them have had it with Joe Biden, are, so Donald Trump versus Joe Biden rematch I think as one of those that's very compelling in terms of Republican voters.
COATES: Well, we shall see. Governor Walker, thank you so much for joining us.
WALKER: Thank you.
COATES: Back to my panel. I mean, you certainly heard the governor, David Chalian, talking about, you know, if Trump could get back to the 2016, or even -- campaign, he is not, he is not there. He is not talking about the things that Governor Walker was identifying. He is not even going after Biden in the same way and force as perhaps others might expect to. He's talking about himself and what he perceives as of what has happened to him. What's the flaw?
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, I thought one of the most interesting things that Governor Walker said at the end there were he actually separated himself from both Haley and DeSantis tonight are on Trump's electability. At the end, he was saying, Trump is totally well positioned -- and you see in the polling that it is a competitive race, with Joe Biden, the argument we were hearing tonight from his competitors, Ron DeSantis, was that Donald Trump is the nominee endangers the Republican Party's chances of defeating Joe Biden. Nikki Haley always points to the fact that when you look at those general election polls, she is far and ahead the most secure for Republicans.
That's not where Scott Walker who hasn't endorsed yet obviously and clearly things Trump was on the way to beat the nominee, he is not willing to sort of characterized Trump as a danger to Republican efforts to ensure that they will have a White House victory next time around.
COATES: So, how do you see that, Manu, when you are talking about -- you know, the decision not to endorse yet, and obviously not totally in line with Haley or DeSantis, I mean, the Republican Party identity is so closely aligned with Trump that it seems like maybe Haley and DeSantis are the outliers, not him.
MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, indeed. It is interesting, too, that you're seeing a lot of the people who have waited to endorse, starting to come behind Donald Trump, because they see where this nomination is going, and they're calculating the ultimately Donald Trump very likely could be the nominee of this party. You see the leadership on Capitol Hill just in the last couple of days, House Republican leaders starting to fall in line behind Donald Trump.
And Scott Walker not aligning himself with -- as David is saying, the electability concerns because he also sees what is going to likely have been here that Donald Trump will likely be the nominee, and the party needs to get behind him if they want a Republican in the White House, and you are seeing that more and more among other elected Republicans as well. We'll see how much more it begins to shift as this nomination --
CHALIAN: I just want to say one thing about this battle second place that we're talking here, there is value to it in the sense that margins are going to matter here in sort of how the results get interpreted on January 15th, on January 23rd. If indeed Ron DeSantis or Nikki Haley on Iowa night come much closer to Donald Trump and the polls that Harry just showed you currently display, that is going to create more fuel for them to move forward. And that will have been successfully.
So, while hat Donald Trump still may win contest, and win delegates, if indeed there is a investing of expectations, more money is going to flow into those folks from the non-Trump wings of the Republican Party to give them longer runway here to make their case.
JONAH GOLDBERG, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think the story of Bill Clinton in '92. He came in second in the New Hampshire, but he called himself the comeback kid, because his campaign was almost been described, and it was just an argument about momentum. I can't remember who, was it Tsongas who won New Hampshire?
COATES: Hold on, let's listen to Nikki Haley, because she's talking about the idea of correcting, right, New Hampshire as the corrector. Obviously, DeSantis is all in to Iowa. Listen to what she had to say about this correction of sorts.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NIKKI HALEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Look, we have done 150-plus town halls. You have to have some fun, too. So, we're at this town hall. We had 700 people in New Hampshire we're cutting off and yes, I said that, but keep in mind, I am from an early state. South Carolina always knew that Iowa is going to be the first caucus, New Hampshire is going to be first in the nation, and South Carolina wanted to be first in the south.
It was a pack. It's still a pack that the three states, at least on the Republican side, that we are going to keep that. But we banter against each other on different things.
New Hampshire makes of Iowa. Iowa makes fun of South Carolina. It's what we do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COATES: It's what we do. It's what we do. What is your reaction?
KRISTEN SOLTIS ANDERSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: This may have also benefited from what Scott Jennings said a bit earlier in the show, maybe less is more. You just say it was a joke, we make jokes.
I think the message of, hey, I'm from an early state, too, I get it, there is some room there to say that. But I think would have been a great opportunity to pivot to I get how seriously Iowans take their responsibility, as being this first in the nation caucus. And I think I have not taken your votes for granted.
Donald Trump has taken you for granted. It would have been a really -- I mean, that's a Monday morning quarterback it or two hours later quarterback, but I think I would have liked to see her so something along those lines.
COATES: Its' a good point especially because we are sitting here talking and judging the person on the hot seat and saying, here's what you should have done better or worse, obviously, you're running for president, but that point of who was president and who has been campaigning, we haven't seen the same level of commitment or at least outward discussion as we have with these two.
But everyone, stick, around. We're going to come back to this discussion, because next, we're going to hear how Ron DeSantis answered when asked whether president should have immunity which, of course, Donald Trump is arguing in at least one of his indictments.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If you are abiding by the Constitution, none of that is going to matter at that point. So follow the law, follow the Constitution, this stuff gets into the weeds legally about what could happen to the president when they leave office, based on conduct that may or may not have been official. It's not more me to adjudicate that.
I can just tell you this, if you nominate me, I'll get elected, I'll serve. We won't even be discussing these issues. We'll be discussing your issues.
You're not going to be -- have to worry about my conduct. I'll conduct myself in a way you can proud of. I conduct myself in a way you can tell your kids, you know, that's somebody that you should emulate. We will have success as a result of that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIP: That was believe it or not, an answer to a question about whether presidents have absolute immunity. He didn't answer it, but he got a lot of praise for that last part of the answer which was a dig at Trump.
ALYSSA FARAH GRIFFIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, he -- Ron DeSantis is pretty masterful tonight to answering the questions he wanted to, and not directly answering the questions. He dodged this in another. But that was one of his strongest moments, it was the juxtaposition on character and conduct.
Your kids can be proud of me in office. It's not going to be chaos. You're not going to have to deal with these issues. That DeSantis -- I think we're also scratching our heads, where was he six months ago, where is he a year ago, but it's the cleanest juxtaposition and next generational kind of leadership option you want to offer to Donald Trump. But it feels a little too late.
PHILLIP: Who is this DeSantis now? It's not woke DeSantis. It's the DeSantis which is just kind of -- to quote Scott Jennings -- center cut Republican, nothing entirely special about it. Just not Trump in all the ways that I think he was arguing there, Trump is toxic. DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yeah, although I
still think he is positioning himself as the alternative to Trump for people who like Trump's policies and so on, and I -- you know I think tonight's message was, I will be a reliable Trump. I will deliver all of the things he promised. I mean, that was the essence of what he was saying tonight.
But, you know, one of the problems here is, he has been wandering around for six or eight months trying to figure out what the right message is and at some point you have to know why you're running, who you are, and you have to deliver that on a regular basis, not just -- ten days out let me try this. It's not that effective.
VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: We felt like that old popcorn kernel finally popped and here is -- the last kernel finally popped like ten days before and here's somebody who actually has some interesting to say.
But I think this character thing does matter. You also talked about some stuff that I've heard him talk about for, like talking about mental health in a way that I thought was actually effective. He talked about family farmers in a way that was effective. He was actually relatable. I think on the debate stage, he just had cold, weird robot dude. That wasn't him tonight, not that it worked for him.
SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: To your question, I think he has been an improving candidate for the last few months. I think the early stages of the campaign, Trump and other elements of our political affairs in this country piling on, it stunned him at the beginning. But it's obvious he found the correct gear, the question is, is it -- is it just too late to make anything of it?
And in his defense and in defense of all the other candidates, they have all been searching for a way to deal with Donald Trump who has been getting regular doses of rocket fuel from these engagements with the legal system. I mean, even DeSantis has admitted it in some interviews, and every time this guy gets indicted, or something happens, the Republicans rally around him. None of the campaign staff figured out a way to deal with it in a way that also advantages them.
I mean, most of the campaign has been all of Donald Trump's opponents defending Donald Trump. Now, we saw that changed tonight. They went after him tonight, mostly on policy. DeSantis did hit on January 6 and the electability issue a little bit, but nobody ever solved this algebra problem, I'm not sure they are going to.
PHILLIP: When we see Ron DeSantis and Nikki Haley on the debate stage next week next to each other, this was almost like a proxy debate we got to see them each perform. When they are together, what do each of them need to do in order to come out on top?
GRIFFIN: This is going to be very interesting because it's finally a head to head face off, but, of course, that number one, Donald Trump is not there. It will be curious how much they direct their fire at one another, and sort of appear as fighting for a number two. That's what I suspect they're going to do. But anywhere that they can create policy juxtapositions, it's important.
Ukraine for Nikki Haley, that's the defining part where she has moral clarity and has staked her place even if may not where she thinks the party is. I also think, she made a point tonight that I hadn't heard used before, the electability. She brought up that she beats Joe Biden head to head by 17 points. That would be my opening and closing message.
AXELROD: It wouldn't be true but it would --
AXELROD: You can pick an outlier poll, I mean, she's three points ahead, DeSantis is doing a little less well, Trump is somewhere in the middle. She would be a -- she would be more -- at this point, it appears that should be a more formidable candidate because she's got a better appeal to Democrats and independents.
Look, DeSantis's whole message has been to basically try and be an alternative to Trump. And he's the most popular Republican in the field, other than Trump. The problem is Trump is occupying that territory.
But to your question, Abby, they have to go after each other next week. It would be weird if they were on the same stage, and didn't, and I think for Haley, DeSantis called her phony today. And I think she's going to go after him on issues like Ukraine, and they're going to go at it.
PHILLIP: It almost like a blink and you might miss it, but next week, it's going to be unavoidable.
Next, more on the town halls. Plus, just hours from now, President Biden is getting ready to jump-start his campaign with a big speech contrasting himself with Donald Trump. We'll talk about that, next.
COATES: Well, just a few hours, President Biden will travel to Valley Forge, where he will deliver a campaign speech laying out his 2024 reelection argument. Some of the key arguments are going to include protecting democracy, contrasting himself with Donald Trump as well. That, of course, one of the main messages of his 2020 campaign as well.
My panel is back with me.
When you look at this historic location, obviously, the location of it, remember him talking about battling for the soul of the nation, why is he going at this location in particular? What is -- what is it going to tell us?
LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, the president -- President Biden as you mention, Laura, I mean, when he launched his campaign in 2019, it was all about Charlottesville, the fact that there were neo-Nazis that marched on Charlottesville, the fact that there are extremist forces in the country increasing right-wing violence, the country hadn't seen before, all of that was a core part of his message back then, and it's something that is clearly going to be a core part of his message here in Valley Forge where he's just met with historians this week, I talked to some of them that were in the room with him.
And they said that, you know, the conversations with him are very serious. He's constantly interrupting, more like working groups. It's not just pleasantries, he is really trying to understand historical parallels to this moment right now in time. Some of them said they do see historical parallels with a civil war. They see a historical parallels when Abe Lincoln was elected, and a number of states didn't want to except that he was a legitimate president.
And so, they talked with him about that, and that's what's on his mind, as he is heading to give his speech now, to again remind Americans of what happened on January 6th, and to also remind them of the ongoing threats and what former President Donald Trump is proposing which we spoke a lot about here when it comes to the dismantling of the very system that he is running to try to have control over, and totally over shape agencies, and the DOJ, and use them as his personal arm for vengeance.
COATES: Is that the right tone?
CHALIAN: Well, it is the right topic. Talking to senior Biden campaign officials, they -- which I found, surprising they find January 6 comes up constantly in their internal research, focus groups, that the voters talking about that there are indelible images in the minds of the voters that they are talking to from January 6th and that it continues to be regurgitated back in feedback that they are getting voters.
And so, marking the anniversary, I'm sure everyone remembers when the first anniversary back in 2022, and spoke from the Capitol with a widely praised speech that was in Biden's presidency, they think it is the right thing to do here to seize this moment to remind the people in the country about the contrast.
I would also just note, their democracy piece, and to fight for democracy is not just about the democracy. They think that feeds into that freedom message frame that they launched their reelection campaign with last year, that by having a functioning democracy that works properly and as protected, you are given the ability to have the freedoms of choice or other issues that they want to fit into that messaging.
So you're going to see both with this speech, and I think the speech in South Carolina, that they are going to do early next week in Charleston, Mother Emanuel Church and the like that, those themes interconnect.
COATES: But there is the reality that many of think of January 6 because of the investigative committee, because of congressional committee, because of January 6 and Jack Smith, that they will see the interplay of the politics of it as well. How do you think it is going to play?
GOLDBERG: The speech? Well, let me just say at the outset, if I were Joe Biden's campaign manager or his chief of staff, I would have an absolute ironclad no historians allowed to talk to Joe Biden. The last time he had historians on there, they told him he could be bigger than the New Deal, that he could be bigger than Obama, it got his entire presidency off of the script of return to normalcy, and it caused huge problems for his presidency that he has never recovered from.
I think -- look, I think January 6 was a hate crime against the Constitution. It was a hate crime against a peaceful transfer of power. It was an absolute outrage and he should have been impeached and removed by January the 8th, at the latest, pure and simple.
That said, I think going full Hitler, some people are talking about this, right, and going after Trump right now on this stuff -- it's premature, it's bad timing, and it's going to cause -- if there's anything that is going to absolutely seal the deal, Republican Party rallies for the around, even further around Trump, which may be part of the equation, it's going like that hammer and tongs right now before --
RAJU: Yeah. I mean, that's the real challenge for Biden, if he'd go too hard against Trump now, people will start to tune it out, but if you don't offer that contrast, some people will say why aren't you making the contrast, look at the polls we are losing to Donald Trump.
It's interesting, too, because of views, too, of January 6th in the years passed have become more polarized, in large part because the Republican Party has attacked everything that's been done in the investigation of the January 6 and the like, even a "Washington Post" poll out today showed just that, that even Republican voters in particular, large portion believe falsely that the FBI was involved in planning and organizing the attack. But there are still sizable amount of independents who believe that as well. So, that is also part of the challenge for Biden as he tries to make this -- hangs it over Donald Trump's -- there are voters who simply will not buy it because of polarized decisions.
BARRON-LOPEZ: That argument that Jonah just made is one that was made actually in 2022 after Biden made the big democracy speech in Philadelphia with the red backdrop saying why is he doing this ahead of the 2022 midterm election? And then the results of the 2022 midterm election were actually really strong for Democrats. So, the campaign walked away from, that seeing something like that democracy message actually does work. Is it their entire message? No. But it is something that helps them in
2022, when I was in Michigan talking to a number of Democratic voters, and also middle of the road voters, they did bring up democracy. Now they may not view in the same way that the Trump supporters do, but that was something you could hear in addition to abortion as motivating for the Democrats.
GOLDBERG: Those are different electorates. But I think it's -- I could see why they would take that lesson from.
COATES: I was going to say, we are almost assuming a speech by Biden about January 6th will necessarily slam Donald Trump explicitly by name, and there is maybe a needle to thread there where he can be both, or not to, or do one or the other.
ANDERSON: So I fully believe that the 2024 election is not going to be about left or right, it is going to be about stability versus chaos. That is a contrast that played very well for Joe Biden in 2020, you can see that Nikki Haley used this as a contrast in this election, because she is trying to say I'm stability, Trump is chaos.
The problem is, right now, Joe Biden has now had three change years of being president where voters don't feel like they gotten stability under him either. So his mission is not necessarily going to be to say, no, no, actually, I promise you the next four years will be calm. It is to say you think it is chaotic now, what if we go back to this guy, that's why I think he's going to try to hammer that message so hard.
COATES: The old you ain't seen nothing yet moment. Well, we shall see. Everyone, stick around, because up next, Nikki Haley's answer about race, and what it says about her candidacy. We'll talk about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HALEY: We will defund sanctuary cities once and for all. No more safe havens for illegal immigrants. We will put 25,000 Border Patrol and ICE agents on the ground and let them do their job. That's not happening right now.
We will go back to the "remain in Mexico" policy, so that no one even set foot on U.S. soil, and instead of catch and release, we'll go to catch and deport. That's how we will close the border and get that to stop.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIP: That was Nikki Haley outlining her plan to deal with immigration if she becomes president.
David Axelrod, preemptive strike against --
PHILLIP: -- against attacks that --
AXELROD: Well, that was -- that was the red meat, and spinach came after, where she talked about the need for immigrants, that we need to reduce the amount of times that it takes for illegal immigrants to become citizens. And that we need people to go to college here and get educated here, we need them to stay and not send them back to their countries to compete against us.
Those were on the more progressive side of her immigration program. But what was interesting to me was what was going on on social media while she was giving these answers. Jason Miller of the Trump campaign tweeted: Open borders Nikki Haley has spoken out against a border wall, and has been critical against ending automatic birthright citizenship. She also opposed President Trump's plan to use drones and plans to secure the southern border. Nikki Haley wants an open border, which is consummate with the ads that they've started running in New Hampshire today.
And, you know, obviously, immigration is a strong issue for him. But just a little bit of history on Nikki Haley, when she started serving in South Carolina campaigns. Some really insidious things started circulating there, pictures of her father in a turban, pictures of her in Indian dress, stressing her birth name, which is an Indian name.
And I think that this is more than just a candidate making a point to get about immigration. If she surges here, I'm going to be very -- I'm going to be looking to see what is going on, in the dark corners of our politics here because she is an immigrant child, and she is an Indian American, and she would be a historic candidacy in a party that quite frankly is not that receptive to diversity right now.
PHILLIP: Yeah. So, I mean, could there -- is there already a dog whistle about Nikki Haley happening?
GRIFFIN: It's certainly there. I mean, some of the lower tier candidates like Vivek Ramaswamy have made a point of calling her Nimarata, which is her birth name. But I know Nikki Haley is also in her birth certificate, she's gone by it her entire life.
But just to remind people, she's not quite like you. It's clearly a dog whistle is not a bullhorn, but yes, coming from an Indian man himself.
But what's also interesting is this -- Donald Trump was president for four years. There were some what I would call Republican victories on the immigration side. But he didn't secure the border. What she he laid out tonight was a comprehensive plan to actually secure the border, deal with labor shortages in the country, deal with the agriculture community that does need labor to come in, and was talking about solutions not just simply the hashtag slogan-ism of build the wall, which Donald Trump did not do. It's actually very effective policy position.
PHILLIP: It's interesting that this is been the kind of hill that the Trump campaign has decided to climb when it comes to Nikki Haley.
JENNINGS: Well, they believe that the immigration issue is the most motivating issue still for Republican voters everywhere, but particularly in New Hampshire. That's why they're running the ad that was referenced. They think it's going to put a lid on her momentum.
I think aside from the policy issues, they also perceive that it's a bit of a vibe check on immigration. Haley represents what she talks about immigration, a lot of the way pre-Trump Republicans would talk about. Yes, we've secured the border, but also we have to do --
PHILLIP: Very George W. Bush.
JENNINGS: And he and DeSantis and those who have come since represent the new vibe in the Republican Party, which is a far harder line on securing the border, far less interested on immigration of any kind, illegal or illegal. So, I think -- I think the 50,000 foot line that they want to draw here is, she is one of the old school Republicans that ultimately, you just can't trust on immigration because they are too corporate. They are too soft on this. And that is why in the ad they talk about --
AXELROD: I don't know if that's true.
JENNINGS: -- weakness.
JENNINGS: And honestly, this was a big criticism of the grassroots of the old leadership of the party.
AXELROD: I think you laid it out exactly as it is. I do think there is this subtext to it though that is a little less about policy and a little more about the visceral strains of Republican politics right now.
JONES: It also suggests that something is happening. She is moving, she is surging. Trump hasn't been anywhere, don't want to spending money on anything but lawyers, but all of a sudden, he's spending money on ads going after her on immigration, he's trying to stop something.
PHILLIP: In New Hampshire, especially --
JONES: In New Hampshire, he's trying to stop something.
PHILLIP: -- it's a particular problem for him.
Coming up next for us, former Republican Congressman Will Hurd is joining us. Hear who he is endorsing.
COATES: One of the big topics in both of tonight's town halls was the migrant crisis at the southern border.
Well, joining me now is someone who knows the issue at the borders extremely well. I'm talking about former Congressman Will Hurd. He joins me now from San Antonio.
Congressman, it's good to see you.
I know there's been a lot of focus in your hometown, in your home state. You may have heard about what Nikki Haley said tonight because you have said you support her, and she said tonight that busing migrants to sanctuary cities is not only working, but it is also teaching the rest of the country what Texas is dealing with.
Do you agree with her?
WILL HURD (R), FORMER TEXAS CONGRESSMAN: Well, it's making people focus on the issue that they haven't been focusing on for three or four years. You know, the fact that New York, or Chicago, is only talking about tens of thousands of people coming to their towns, and Texas has been dealing with millions of people is making people understand what the border has been -- has been dealing with.
Ambassador Haley recognizes that we can secure our border, we can deport more people, we can stop treating, people everyone, like they're an asylum seeker. But you can also streamline illegal immigration so that we have the workforce, and the industries that we -- that we need. And she understands that, and recognizes those two important issues when it comes to the crisis that we are seeing at the southern border.
PHILLIP: She did raise those two issues, and, of course, the nuances are very, very profound. The idea of a quick solution, if there were one, certainly would not have eluded successive presidential administrations.
Are you satisfied that there is enough specificity from her as a candidate to actually address and resolve the issues in real-time, not just conceptually?
HURD: Yes, absolutely. I say that because I've had conversations with her. She understands these unique issues.
She recognizes -- asylum is a very specific issue. You don't qualify for asylum just because you want to get a good paying job in the United States. She recognizes that last month, about 302,000 people came into the country illegally in one month. That is the largest number in our history.
And guess what? A lot of them were flown by federally paid for tickets to other parts of the country. She recognizes and understands those nuances. And she also has relationships of understanding of foreign policy, to work with our allies, not just in Mexico but throughout Central and South America, where a bulk of the illegal immigration is coming from.
So I would say that she does have a level of specificity in understanding of this problem, and is willing to make the tough decisions because here's the reality. The White House can solve this problem tomorrow. They are --
COATES: Do you really think so? That the White House can -- I mean, there's been a lot of White House, Congressman, who tried to solve this issue and it's not been in a 24-hour window.
HURD: Sure because, this all started with Donald Trump, let's be frank. Donald Trump is the one that changed the policy in the Department of Homeland security to treat everyone as an asylum seeker because he wanted to see and increase, and in the problem so that he could say, see, we need to do more.
And then Joe Biden continued these policies, and nothing to streamline legal immigration. So yes, this is -- the Department of Homeland Security, and Border Patrol, has the legal authority from the IRA Act of 1982, to deport more people and not treat everybody as if they are in asylum seeker. They have that responsibility, and that is an interpretation by the Department of Homeland Security.
COATES: Well, certainly, I'm not going to speak for Donald Trump, but I'm sure he would say that he did not manufacture a crisis. But you do know, you are a former member of Congress. There are those who talk about shutting down the government as an all or nothing policy. That would not happen right now if what you are articulating actually were to come to fruition.
But I want to get to another point here because the idea of shoot to kill, and Governor DeSantis saying that agents would have the intelligence to be able to, perhaps do just that -- I mean, that would be like a battlefield, or a police operation before they opened fire. Is that a realistic, productive solution to the issues you address right now?
HURT: So, Border Patrol should be allowed to use force if they are being threatened. We know that. That is -- that is the requirement. They should be able to protect their lives, right? They should be able to defend innocents around them.
Using this as a policy to shoot first and ask questions later is not something that is going to resolve the humanitarian crisis that we have on our border.
Now what we should be doing is treating the narcotraficantes, the drug smugglers like terrorist organizations. We have tons of data on how they are picked -- where they're moving products, where they're producing it, and we should be doing more with our allies, not just in Mexico but throughout Latin America, and to dismantle these networks, and use force if necessary in those cases.
And so -- so that's -- that's the kind of leadership that we need in Washington in order to solve this crisis that as you point out has been going on for many years.
COATES: Well, you know, Congressman, the prosecutor in me my ears perk up when I think about how they have to be threatened first. What does that look, like is it the land, itself is it their physical well- being, it's going to be a very big question. But, of course, you've been a member of intelligence, and you know full well the limitations there could be and what they could know.
So, I'm so glad you stopped by. Former Congressman Will Hurd, thank you so much.
HURD: Always a pleasure to be on.
COATES: Well, thank you all for watching our special post-town hall election coverage.
PHILLIP: And you can watch both of us at 10:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. tomorrow night right here on CNN.
Meanwhile, our coverage continues right after this.