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CNN Covers The Michigan Presidential Primary Election; Showdown On Capitol Hill Over IVF Protections. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired February 27, 2024 - 23:00   ET




LAURA COATES, CNN HOST: Tonight, two big and important headlines out of Michigan. Joe Biden and Donald Trump win. But the numbers hint that they are both, well, wounded in ways that can cost them the presidency. Welcome to CNN Special Coverage. I'm Laura Coates in Washington, D.C.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN HOST: And I'm Abby Phillip in New York. The 2024 presidential matchup looks more and more locked in tonight. Donald Trump winning Michigan's republican primary and Joe Biden winning Michigan's democratic primary, but both are showing real weaknesses with voters that they will need come November. For Joe Biden, are voters just mad about his handling of the war in Gaza or are they mad enough to stay home when it matters most?

COATES: Well, for Donald Trump, you can ask the very same question, Abby. Will Republicans coalesce around his campaign in November or will the third of the party who keeps voting for someone not named Donald Trump defect to the incumbent? Abby?

PHILLIP: Let's go straight to Harry Enten at the magic wall for the latest from Michigan. So, Harry, what are we seeing so far, where we are in this process? About 41% in right now as we hit 11:00.

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: Yeah, a little bit of a slow count here. But look, Donald Trump way up on Nikki Haley, 67%. Nikki Haley is 28%. You can see the map here. It's all Donald Trump red.

Of course, there are some areas where Donald Trump is struggling a bit more. Let's go all the way down. Let's see if I can hit it. There we go. This is where Ann Arbor, the University of Michigan is, well- educated area. You can see here a much closer race, 52% of the vote to 43% of the vote, about 86% of the vote in. But look how few votes there are, relatively speaking, only about 23,000.

And if you were to zoom out, let's say we'll go -- we'll go up to the northern peninsula, right? Let's go up here. Let's go up here to Chippewa County. Look at this. You see a much wider margin, 78%, 18%. We can go over here to Mackinac County. Again, 73% to 22%. So, a very clear win for Donald Trump.

PHILLIP: But Harry, I mean, I want to just underscore what you just said there. What you were just showing was a sort of exurb county. This is a part of Michigan, suburbs of, you know, Detroit, suburbs of Lansing, suburbs of Grand Rapids. Suburban voters. That's where he's going to struggle the most.

ENTEN: That's exactly right. You know, why don't we go to Kent County, right? Gerald Ford, Kent County. Again, 26% of the vote in. Donald Trump, again, doing more poorly there with 56% of the vote to Nikki Haley, 36% of the vote.

One other thing I just want to point out on the republican side, Abby, is, you know, we've had a bunch of contests so far. You know, in Michigan right now, you know, we're seeing Trump doing very, very well. He's doing better there than he did in South Carolina, and he's doing better there than certainly he did in New Hampshire where he only got 54% of the vote. So, this is Donald Trump's best night of the campaign so far with Nikki Haley also on the ballot in a state.

PHILLIP: And Harry, what about the Democrats? What's happening on the democratic side? We've been looking very closely at this uncommitted vote. Where is this number headed?

ENTEN: Yeah.

PHILLIP: Forty-one thousand at this point.

ENTEN: Forty-one thousand, 14%. I will note that Barack Obama, when he was back on the ballot in 2012, he -- there were uncommitted. The Michigan primary was 11%. So, this is doing slightly better than that, but not overwhelmingly better.

Let's go back down here. Let's go back down to Ann Arbor, right? This is a place where with 53% of the vote uncommitted is doing significantly better, 21% of the vote and, you know, you go back to 2020, this was a place where Joe Biden really struggled. Bernie Sanders got 45% of the vote in that primary despite the fact that he only got 36% of the vote statewide.

So, the fact is, it's doing better in those well-educated liberal areas, but it's not necessarily doing significantly better outside. And, you know, you go to, let's say, again, the northern part of the state. What do we see here? We see 14% for uncommitted in a less liberal area. We see it again up here, Iron County, 11%.

So, it's really doing basically the same across the state. We're not seeing that big uncommitted vote. You might expect, if liberals were really upset about Gaza, this just seems to be Biden not being happy.

PHILLIP: Look, I mean, 43,000 is more than the uncommitted candidates or, you know, campaign said that they would get. A Democratic source I talked to tonight said it could be well over 100,000. That would be enough to send a message to Joe Biden in the state that he won by, what, 150,000 in 2020?


ENTEN: You got it. He didn't -- he won it by less than three- percentage points. But again, I will point out Joe Biden getting 80% of the vote while, if you look on the Republican side, Donald Trump is getting just 67% of the vote. So, as that intro sort of hinted at, both candidates have their own weaknesses.

PHILLIP: Absolutely. I mean -- and this is a pretty big chunk of the republican electorate right now sending a message to Donald Trump.

ENTEN: Absolutely.

PHILLIP: Harry Enten, thank you very much. Laura?

PHILLIP: Thank you. I want to bring in the campaign manager now of the movement behind tonight's uncommitted vote. Listen to Michigan Layla Elabed, who is also Michigan Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib's sister. I'm so glad that you are here with us tonight.

You know, first of all, I wonder what your reaction to tonight's turnout is and did you send the message that you were hoping to send to President Biden?

LAYLA ELABED, CAMPAIGN MANAGER, LISTEN TO MICHIGAN: I mean, we are just, um, you know, overwhelmed by the fact that we were able to triple our margin of victory of the original 10,000 votes that we were hoping to leverage to send a clear and strong message to President Joe Biden, his administration, and the Democratic Party that we needed a permanent ceasefire now to save as many Palestinian lives as possible.

COATES: You know, Layla, President Biden, as you know, in recent days has said that Israel's response in Gaza has been -- quoting him -- "over the top." He said just yesterday that he's hoping for a ceasefire by the end of this weekend.

What more do you need to hear from him specifically to go from uncommitted to committed to voting for him, or is the concern that all of this is lip service during an election year?

ELABED: Yeah, we need more than just nice words and hope. We need a permanent ceasefire right now.

COATES: You know, you -- at different times with "The New York Times," you had mentioned this, and you said that the very bare minimum that Biden needs to do to get the vote is to completely overhaul America's relationship with Israel, demand a permanent end to hostilities, and end American military aid to Israel, at least as long as its war in Gaza drags on.

Do you think that he would likely try to meet those expectations or are there some concessions electorally that you would see?

ELABED: I think if Joe Biden wants to avoid alienating his core base and his core constituency, he will listen to the uncommitted vote now and realize that he is going to be at risk come November for handing -- essentially handing the White House over to Trump, and he's going to have to be accountable to that.

We went today, we voted. Michiganders used their ballot box as a humanitarian vote, as a protest vote, to demand that our government and our president call for an immediate and permanent ceasefire and end the military funding of our American taxpayer dollars, commit a genocide in 2024.

COATES: Help me follow this thread in terms of what would be the next frontier. Um, let's assume that he does not meet the expectations as you've laid out or what you've just described. Does that mean that the supporters of your particular uncommitted movement are going to -- are they going to stay home? Will they vote for Donald Trump?

ELABED: Well, what I can say is this, is that the uncommitted voters are not going to be voting in a monolith. Um, they are going to have to vote their conscience. There are going to be groups, voters within this movement that already feel deeply betrayed by Biden and his administration for the fact that Muslim-Americans and Arab-Americans have been directly affected by Israel's aggression and collective punishment of Palestinians.

And not only that, as Democrats, we feel betrayed because why are we risking our democracy to align ourselves with someone like Netanyahu and his right-wing government?

COATES: You know, the idea, and you are correct to describe the absence of a monolith when you're talking about any voting bloc that people often will look to. I'll be curious to see what ultimately will be the decision of those voters voting their conscience, voting what they want. I want to mention that President Biden just released a statement thanking Michigan, but did not mention the uncommitted. What's your response?

ELABED: I think that that is negligent on behalf of the president to, you know, once again, alienate the voices of his core constituency, largely who put him in support, who put him in the White House in 2020, because this community largely supported Biden based on the promises that he made during his campaign trail. And we know that Trump is not a friend to our community.


And we know that he is not a friend to the anti-war, pro-ceasefire community. But right now, we are appealing to Joe Biden as our president, um, to act now, um, before he risks losing his core constituency come November.

COATES: But I want to focus on that. What does that mean to lose the core constituency? Does that mean that although you just said that your constituency knows that Donald Trump is not a friend to the causes that you describe, does that mean that the couch is now the third-party candidate?

ELABED: That means that we are -- we need to save as many Palestinian- Israeli lives as possible and that we -- this is a humanitarian vote. This is beyond politics. We -- this is within the ceasefire movement. And we use our ballot box as a protest vote to -- in order to save as many lives as possible and to end this unchecked and unconditional funding that the United States provided -- provides to Israel to commit genocide using American taxpayer dollars.

COATES: The signal and the message that's being sent to President Biden, I do wonder, knowing that he has not mentioned the constituency of uncommitted, whether the message has been received. But what about Donald Trump who obviously is also looking at this, wondering if this will inert to his benefit at this point in time, though the policies of Donald Trump that he has professed and articulated, are those an improvement to what the Biden administration is doing now?

ELABED: Like I said, I can't answer to every voter who voted uncommitted today, but what I can say is we use the primary as a way to tell Joe Biden and his administration what we needed right now. We are not focused right now what's going to happen in November. But what we do know is that voters are going to vote their conscience. And I don't know if voters will be able to pull their support behind a president that is complicit in a genocide.

And as far as Trump, I really -- you know, I can't answer to every uncommitted voter, but what I do know is that we don't expect our voters in Michigan to stay at home. We do expect and we encourage our voters to come out and vote. There are plenty of important races that are going to be taking place in November besides the presidential election.

COATES: Very true. Thank you so much. Clearly, the voter turnout has been there and a message has been sent. What will come next? Thank you so much, Layla Elabed. Abby?

PHILLIP: Fascinating interview, Laura. Thank you. Let's turn to the panel here in New York. We've got Republican strategist Alice Stewart, former White House senior policy advisor, Ashley Allison, former senior White House communications aide, Jamal Simmons, national political reporter for "The New York Times", Astead Herndon.

Ashley, message sent, perhaps message received because it seems like tonight, the story that you just heard there being told from the ceasefire campaign is being told over and over again. That is the conversation they have wanted.

ASHLEY ALLISON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Uh-hmm, yeah. So, one, I think it's great that people are engaging in this primary and in this democracy. I think the most important thing is if you go out and vote in a primary, you care about what's happening in this country. And that, in a whole, is a good thing.

I think that the Biden campaign will need to assess. But it's not just the campaign. It's the administration because they're the ones actually dictating the policy here. I think that they should really consider coming out.

Now, Biden said a couple of days ago that he thinks the ceasefire could come towards the end of the week. If that doesn't happen, they might want to consider coming out in full force and actually saying it is time for a ceasefire.

And that is not just saying it is time for a ceasefire for Israel. It is time on both sides. This is not your time, Hamas, to rally your troops to go and attack Israel again. Hamas and Israel, you need a ceasefire, and we need to get the hostages back.

I think that after that, in this moment right now, I would urge the campaign not to lead what the alternative was, Donald Trump. That is not resonating with people. They know what the alternative is.

PHILLIP: Yeah, that seems to be piling up.

ALLISON: They are acutely aware of what the alternative is.


ALLISON: Um, their community was some of the first people to be attacked by Donald Trump. I talked to one of the uncommitted voters earlier and he said to me or she said to me, we voted for Donald Trump because we wanted something different. And now, we are telling Joe Biden we want him to be different, and if he isn't, we will make decision about who we vote for.

PHILLIP: You mean, they voted for Joe Biden.

ALLISON: Excuse me, they voted for Joe Biden because they wanted Donald Trump.

PHILLIP: Right. So Astead, I -- here is my question. I mean, Ashley makes the observation. She thinks maybe we are getting close to a time where Joe Biden needs to endorse a ceasefire. Would that be enough for Arab-Muslim voters in Michigan based on your reporting?


ASTEAD HERNDON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I mean, not singularly, and I think that's partially because the political damage, as we see tonight, has been laid over a set of months. These are folks who have been consistently calling for the president to be more focal on this issue, to lead or to even acknowledge the consistency of the criticism. And they have chosen not to do those things.

I think that if -- even if there were to be a ceasefire, you still see lingering kind of holdover feelings, I think, feed into a larger perception of Biden as out of touch with the base. Now, that is expressed here among an Arab-Muslim community. That is expressed among young people in a different way. That is expressed among Black voters in a different way. But it's a larger feeling of a disconnect between administration and base.

But I do think the political question is connected to the policy question here, right? They were using the system to make a statement about what the Biden campaign is doing right now in terms of its support and connection to Israel.

And I think the biggest critical political factor here is what do they do next on the policy front? And if there is a messaging question, can they find themselves responding to the expression of pain that these folks are consistently telling them? There is a separate way, aside from endorsing a ceasefire, that they can speak to these communities, and they haven't chosen to do that so far.

PHILLIP: Yeah. Look, this is the crux of the question. I mean, as somebody who worked in the White House, when you hear what Layla Elabed just said, which was not just a ceasefire, they want the end of U.S. aid to Israel. That would be the equivalent of a like Category 5 hurricane hitting, you know, U.S. foreign policy. Is it even possible for Biden to deliver on that?

JAMAL SIMMONS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I don't think anybody in the White House is thinking about changing our entire relationship with Israel, right? Israel's democracy in the Middle East. We've got allies. People are looking to the United States to see if we stand by our allies. There are signals to China and Russia. This is a very complex conversation.

I think what's interesting about the vote tonight as I'm watching this, a couple things. One, you see where these votes are coming from, Washtenaw County, which is basically Ann Arbor, which is University of Michigan. So, you're seeing a lot of very high information voters who are there.

You see Dearborn, Dearborn Heights -- I'm from Michigan -- Dearborn, Dearborn Heights, a lot of Arab-American, Palestinian-American voters who are --

PHILLIP: It looks like that number is like way overwhelming in Dearborn.

SIMMONS: And that makes a lot of sense, right? That's where it should come from. Now, what's not happening is, I was on the phone with some of my low-information voter relatives in the last 24 hours, and I said, how do you feel about being uncommitted? Uncommitted to what?

So, there are African-Americans who are in the city of Detroit, which are a big chunk of the Biden vote, who aren't there. What would be much more concerning to me, because this is a little bit of a low-risk protest, right? Because it's a Democratic primary. You're not actually voting for Donald Trump if you vote for uncommitted. It's a different question when you get to the fall.

What would have been more concerning is if these voters voted for Dean Phillips. Now, if these voters had voted for Dean Phillips, there would be a fire alarm inside the White House right now and everybody would be out of that building, and they'd be out in the campaign making this thing happen.

PHILLIP: And look, I'll let you jump in, definitely, but Donald Trump right now is battling back Nikki Haley by, you know, 20, 30 points. Joe Biden is still winning by a very comfortable margin. And to Jamal's point, Dean Phillips, the guy who's actually running against him, can't get beyond 5%.

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Right, and that's not going to change. And, you know, to Jamal saying this is a low-risk protest, it is. Look, I think this is not exactly a profiling courage when you're encouraging people to go out and vote uncommitted in a primary. Now, if they really wanted to send the message to Joe Biden, they would take this all the way through November and say that we're going to do a protest vote or sit on the couch in November. They're not going to do that, and she mentioned that in her conversation with Laura.

But if they were to carry this through November, this would be a huge concern for Joe Biden. Look, those numbers we're seeing right now, 46,000 Michigan people voted uncommitted. That's a significant number. In the 2020 election, Joe Biden beat Donald Trump by around 150,000. In 2016, Hillary Clinton lost to Donald Trump by around 10,000. So, 10,000 votes could sway the difference.

If these uncommitted voters keep this passion going through to November, it could be a huge warning sign and a big problem for Joe Biden. I'm not certain they're going to do so.

But we heard also from Debbie Dingell, congresswoman from Michigan earlier, she has been sounding the alarm to this administration for quite some time. We have to address the situation. The Arab-Muslim community in Michigan is crying out for this. And the younger community in Michigan is doing so as well.

And if he is going to really address this situation, he needs to do something much more serious than throwing out a possible of a ceasefire in an ice cream shop. It must be much more organized, and it has to include a ceasefire and releasing the hostages.

PHILLIP: Yeah. I mean, what happens on the ground is incredibly consequential. Worth noting, though, Debbie Dingell has been sounding the alarm even before this.


So, it could be issues compounded on one another. Everyone sticks around for us. Laura?

COATES: Really so fascinating to think about the risk and the low risk or not. We're going to discuss the results on the republican side next, though. And why Donald Trump? Well, he's also showing some vulnerabilities.

Plus, a showdown really is brewing over the issue that many Democrats think is actually going to define this election as a Senate Democrat is going to dare Republicans to vote against an IVF bill. And, of course, will RFK, Jr. play a kind of a spoiler this year? The new developments and battleground states all ahead.


PHILLIP: Donald Trump winning the Michigan primary tonight, continuing his sweep against Nikki Haley. And there are some big primary days in the weeks ahead. CNN senior data reporter Harry Enten is at the magic wall again for us with what to expect. So, Harry, what does the schedule look like after tonight? There's a big day coming up on Tuesday.

ENTEN: Yeah, there's a big day. Look, this primary calendar has been very slow to develop, right?


It was Iowa, then New Hampshire, then it felt like forever to get to South Carolina, and then to Michigan. But I will tell you that we're about to go on steroids. We're about to hit the highway I-95. My goodness gracious. Cumulative delegates allotted. All right, so far on the republican side, just 6%. By next Tuesday, just seven days from now, it's going to be upwards to near a majority, 50%. By March 12th, 14 days from now, two weeks, it's going to be a clear majority, 56%. And 21 days from now, look at this, we're going to be upwards of 71% of all delegates allotted.

I will note that tonight in Michigan, in fact, we're not allotting any of the delegates because Michigan decided to do something a little bit weird on the GOP side, where they're also going to have a state convention this weekend where most of the delegates will be allotted. But next Tuesday, we're going to have a ton of delegates be allotted.

And here's something to keep in mind that's key, Abby. Most of the GOP contests after tonight are either going to be winner-take-all, where the winner gets all of the delegates, or it's going to winner-take- most, where the winner will get most, if not all, of the delegates. So, a lot of delegates will be allotted very quickly to the winners of these upcoming primaries.

PHILLIP: Yeah. I mean, it's basically a snowball effect that could be happening here. So, when it comes to Donald Trump and how quickly he can get to the nomination, what does it look like?

ENTEN: Yeah, so, you know, as we pointed out, winner-take-all, winner- take-most, a lot of contests. Let's go to Super Tuesday, all right? Two big prizes. California and Texas. Look at the polling here. Donald Trump dominating California. Look at this. A 40-point lead. He'd get all the delegates out there, way more than 100 delegates.

How about in Texas? Winner-take-most. Eighty percent of the vote to just 19% for Nikki Haley. So, the two biggest prizes on Super Tuesday looking very good for Donald Trump, and this is part of something that we're seeing in the calendar going forward because tonight in Michigan, you know, Nikki Haley is getting about a little less than a third of the vote.

That ain't likely to happen in a lot of states going forward because take a look at the choice for GOP nominee nationally. Quinnipiac University, a recent poll, look at this, 80% of the vote for Donald Trump, just 17% for Nikki Haley. Marquette University Law School poll, look here, 73% of the vote for Donald Trump, just 15% for Nikki Haley. So, California and Texas, next Tuesday, very large leads for Donald Trump. It's part of a larger pattern where we're seeing very large leads for Donald Trump nationally.

PHILLIP: Yeah. ENTEN: He's going to get a lot of delegates going forward if this polling --

PHILLIP: Although, Harry, to play devil's advocate, it seems like Donald Trump has been underperforming his polling in a lot of these states. So, if you're Nikki Haley, you're probably looking at that and hoping that that's what transpires.

ENTEN: Yeah, maybe so, but Donald Trump would really have to underperform his polling for Nikki Haley to do --


ENTEN: -- anywhere near where she needs to go going forward.

PHILLIP: That's right. All right, Harry Enten, thank you very much. Laura?

COATES: Point taken, Abby. Thank you so much. Let's talk about the republican primary now. I want to bring in my fabulous panel. We've got CNN contributor Lulu Garcia-Navarro, "Bloomberg" political and policy columnist Nia-Malika Henderson, CNN political commentator Karen Finney, and Republican strategist Shermichael Singleton.

I am dying to hear what each of you has to say about this because what we're seeing tonight, yet another race, and yes, Trump was successful, but to Abby's point, I mean, he could have been more definitive in his win.

Lulu, let me ask you about this because he was expected to win. Nikki Haley is saying, look, I already told you, Super Tuesday is where I'm going. She's vowing to stay in the race.

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: She is going to stay in the race. I have long said I am not exactly clear who is her constituency in the Republican Party.

I mean, this is the thing. This is a Republican primary, and we've seen her be very strong with independents, we've seen her be very strong with people who identify within the Republican Party as moderates or liberals. I don't know exactly who they are but, apparently, they are people who support Nikki Haley. And yet, and yet, here we are and you see that polling and you see that she has no path going forward.

And so, all the speculation is, what if something happens to Donald Trump? What if, you know, the legal issues come over and sort of throw him out of the race? The problem with that is, I'm not convinced that Nikki Haley is the person that they're going to turn to.

And so, at this point, she is someone that the Never Trumpers really like. But, you know, how many election cycles do we have to go through where we kind of build up the Never Trumpers only to see them really fail?

COATES: I mean, you're right. In Nevada, didn't she lose to none of the candidates? None of the above candidates, right?


NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: But listen, I think in talking to Trump to Biden voters, which were a key part of Biden's victory in 2020, those are the Haley voters, right? They're sort of Never Trumpers or once Trumpers and now more like Bide.

I think, Nikki Haley, you sort of asked, what's going to happen to -- nothing is going to happen to Donald Trump, right? That he's likely going to be the nominee. Is something happening to Donald Trump right now, right? Is she weakening him in this contest? She has sort of gotten some momentum, I think, in terms of her message. You see some of that.


She was on CNN earlier this morning talking about him as the chaos candidate, saying he's too old, saying he can't win. She sounds like a Democrat, right?

GARCIA-NAVARRO: I just want to say one thing. I just want to say one thing, which is what we've seen with Nikki Haley is that actually she's polling worse among Republicans --


GARCIA-NAVARRO: -- the longer this goes on.

FINNEY: The problem here, she has been saying that for a while now and people just are not buying it. She has not won a state. She is so far behind in the delegate count. She has so few delegates. She won't even have any power at the GOP convention to make anything. She can't even try to negotiate for something.

HENDERSON: I think that's right, but I think the Nikki Haley effect, she is a container for Republicans who do not like Trump and possibly will vote for Joe Biden.

FINNEY: Oh, for sure.


COATES: That's a great platform. I'm the container. That's not going to bring people out.


SHERMICHAEL SINGLETON, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Go ahead, Karen. Go, finish your thought.

FINNEY: I think that's the point, right, is that people are maybe -- I mean, I have a cousin who lives in South Carolina, he's a Democrat, he voted for Nikki Haley just because he thought it would be fun, and I sort of said, what did you think you accomplished with that?

UNKNOWN: This is (INAUDIBLE) Nikki Haley.

SINGLETON: I don't see the momentum. She's polling at 27.2%. This is terribly bad. You look at a quarter of Republican voters that have voted for Nikki Haley, the never Trumpers, and you look at the last presidential election, 2020, about half of those -- quote, unquote -- "never Trumpers" actually voted for Donald Trump.

I am not convinced that a plethora of them will all of a sudden vote for Biden. Now, some will vote for Biden, But I think that's more like around 15%, quantitatively speaking. So, with that said, Nikki Haley, she has not, in my opinion, convinced Republican voters that she's the alternative.

And let's just say something magically happens to Donald Trump tomorrow, you still have 60% of Republican voters who are saying, we don't want Nikki Haley, we're not going to vote for Nikki Haley.

COATES: Well, tonight, she actually made a statement. I want to play for a second of what she had to say because she says, look, Donald Trump is not bringing people in, he's pushing them out. Listen.


NIKKI HALEY, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Ever since Donald Trump became president, they've lost the governor's mansion, they've lost the statehouse, they've lost the state Senate. It is a problem. He's not bringing people into the party. He's pushing people out of the party.


COATES: She's talking about Michigan, obviously.

FINNEY: No, no, no, I think --

SINGLETON: But who is she bringing into the party?

FINNEY: But here -- here's the problem that she has with that message. Again, people aren't buying it. The Republican Party made that devil's bargain back in 2016 because remember, previously, they did the big autopsy and they were going to be more friendly to women, and they were going to be more friendly to minorities and try to be, you know, try to broaden their coalition.

And then with Trump, they kind of said, oh, okay, we're not going to do that for a while, we'll just stick with a narrowing. So, they've already kind of made that bargain. The one thing --

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Trump brought a lot of people into the party. I mean, Trump brought a lot of people into the Republican Party.

SINGLETON: He did. His vote count went up in 2020 compared to 2016.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Yeah. I mean --

FINNEY: But they didn't expand.

COATES: Hold on. Let me hear the whole point.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: But this is the -- but this is the -- this is the -- but this is the -- this is the kind of conundrum of Donald Trump, which is he brings people in, and he has shifted the party. The base looks completely different than it did in 2016.

But on the other hand, you have a lot of people that he has repelled like suburban women who are a huge part of, you know, the democratic coalition at this point.

FINNEY: And I think the people who are --

GARCIA-NAVARRO: And so, like it is - that's why we're seeing this on a knife's edge the whole time.

FINNEY: But I think the people who are supporting her, I agree with Shermichael, they will be more likely to vote for Joe Biden because she's reminding them that you're not going to be for Trump. And here's the reality, though. That's how we won in 2020. You have to put --

SINGLETON: But what happens --

FINNEY: Hold on. You have to put together a coalition of African- American voters, young voters, you know, Never Trumpers, moderates, independents, the base. That's how they're going to have to put together the coalition again in 2024.

SINGLETON: But what happens when Nikki Haley comes out and says, I support Donald Trump, I'm endorsing Donald Trump --

HENDERSON: It doesn't matter. It doesn't matter.

SINGLETON: -- I'm going to go and campaign for Donald Trump?

FINNEY: You're saying it matters.

SINGLETON: Yeah, I believe that's going to happen.

HENDERSON: I'm saying it doesn't matter because I've talked to some of these voters who are Republican voters whose identity now is locked into being a Never Trumper. They can't stand his character.

SINGLETON: That's 15%, though.

HENDERSON: That is not a small amount of people.

FINNEY: That's a big deal.

FINNEY: You're trying to put together a whole coalition to win the presidency.

SINGLETON: I understand that.

FINNEY: That actually is a lot.

SINGLETON: I'm looking at -- I'm looking at a battleground state strategy for the former president. I'm looking at Georgia, I'm looking at Nevada, I'm looking at Wisconsin, I'm looking at Arizona. These are all states that the former president lost by 33,000 votes, some 12,000 votes barely difference.

I'm not really concerned about Michigan. Joe Biden can win Michigan. Donald Trump can lose Michigan, win those four states, and still return back to the White House.

And so, this idea that Nikki Haley is somehow pulling in 30%, I'm not convinced of that by the margins.

HENDERSON: We said 5% to 10% because it's going to be an election in a --

COATES: Hold on.


Let me ask this question, though, because, Lulu, you made the point at the beginning about the big what-ifs, and maybe she's hanging on, talking about Nikki Haley, hanging on because of the what-ifs. I mean, the what-ifs include some federal indictments, they include some state prosecutions at the very least, right?

And so, the what-ifs -- I mean, is she so, would this be a politically naive move to say either, A, I'm hanging in there for that reason to give, as she says, a non-Soviet choice style of an election, or is it possible that she's not thinking about 2028 as a Republican, she's thinking about, right now, no labels?

GARCIA-NAVARRO: I mean, this is the huge speculation, right? That somehow, she's going to make this no labels push. I don't believe it. I haven't heard anything that suggests it. She is a committed Republican. We've seen a lot of people floated as the no labels candidate, and that group has not really shown itself to have a lot of legs.

FINNEY: We should remind ourselves that the no labels candidate will, in effect, elect Donald Trump.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That's right.

FINNEY: Full stop. If you look at their math, it does not add up.

COATES: You all agree with that?

GARCIA-NAVARRO: I agree with that.

SINGLETON: I do. I think this is it for Nikki Haley in terms of her national political career. This is it. There's no chance for her in 2028. Even if something legally were to happen to Donald Trump, I'm not convinced that a plethora of his voters would suddenly go to Nikki Haley. I think Ron DeSantis would have a better chance at getting the majority of Trump's voters than Nikki Haley.

COATES: Well, as you said, as that famous line in "Dumb and Dumber," so you're saying I got a chance.

FINNEY: That's right.

COATES: Everyone stick around. Up next, Republicans are racing to promise voters that they will protect IVF as Democrats, just hours from now, will force them to prove it.

And later, why the Trump team's star witness failed to deliver the damning testimony that they wanted. They wanted to disqualify Fani Willis in Georgia. Did they meet their burden to show that her actions would lead to an unfair trial for any of the defendants?



COATES: All right, a showdown is set for tomorrow as Democratic Senator Tammy Duckworth will dare her Republican colleagues to unanimously pass her legislation that would protect access to fertility treatments like IVF.

This, of course, after the Alabama Supreme Court's decision that frozen embryos are children, a ruling that has the GOP in full on damage control. Duckworth's legislation is actually expected to fail, by the way.

In the House, Republican Congresswoman Nancy Mace is unveiling a non- binding resolution to express support for IVF. She's reportedly trying to build consensus for her own IVF-related legislation.

We've got Harry Enten. He's back with us at the magic wall with more on what voters are really thinking about this important issue. Harry, how do Americans feel about that?

ENTEN: Yeah, I mean, look, Laura, the fact is there's actually very little polling on it because I don't think a lot of pollsters thought to ask this question before the Supreme Court ruling from Alabama came down.

But, you know, this is all tied together with abortion rights, IVF, and abortion rights, obviously, after the overturning of Roe v. Wade, which sort of paved the way for the Alabama Supreme Court ruling.

Look, we have had seven ballot measures on abortion rights since July 2022 when Roe v. Wade was overturned. Look at this. Look at this. On every single one of those ballot measures, the pro-abortion sites ride one. Vermont, 77%, a very blue state. But look at Kentucky, not so much of a blue state, 52%. And obviously, in Ohio, back last November, 57% of that vote won.

Now, we do have a little bit of polling on IVF, okay, Americans who believe the procedure is morally wrong. Abortion, despite the fact that abortion does very well in those ballot measures, 49% of Americans said that abortion was morally wrong in the last poll that we had in IVF back in 2013. Look at IVF, though. Just 12% of Americans believe that IVF fertilization is wrong. So, the fact is IVF, much more popular than abortion, which has proven to be quite popular in a lot of ballot measures, Laura.

COATES: So, how might this all play? Obviously, looking forward to the 2024 election because, again, yet another unexpected issue that the candidates are having to grapple with based on a court ruling.

ENTEN: Yeah. Anything that is related to abortion rights is the ground that you're on (ph). Donald Trump would be much more interested talking about the economy because trust Biden or Trump more on the economy.

Trump has a 20-point lead. Look at abortion. Biden's lead is eight points, a much better playing ground for him.

Of course, the real question is, how important will this be in voters' minds? You know, in that midterm election back in 2022, 52% of voters said that abortion was extremely important to their vote. Now, it's down to just 42% in a recent CNN poll back in November of 2023.

So, I think the question is, Laura, does these rulings like those coming out of Alabama on IVF change that and make importance go up? Democrats would surely welcome it, Laura.

COATES: I mean, Harry Enten, thank you. Abby, of course, you interviewed Congressman Matt Gaetz about this issue in part, and he talked about the risk of having the conflation between abortion and IVF.

PHILLIP: Notable because he's a very conservative Republican.

COATES: Uh-hmm.

PHILLIP: He said that, Donald Trump followed the next day, and the rest is history. Republicans distancing themselves now from this IVF ruling.

Laura, back with my panel here in New York. Ashley, that question that Harry just posed at the end there, is the abortion issue, the IVF issue, is this a waning issue or is it something that Democrats can continue to keep alive?

ALLISON: Oh, it's definitely something that Democrats can keep alive through the 2024 election because women still have lost this constitutional right to have bodily autonomy. And until it is either codified through Congress or it won't be able to work its way probably up the court to reinstate Roe, it's an issue that we can campaign on.

Many states in this election are considering ballot measures around abortion. And I love the fact that there is a bill coming up to -- on to the floor of the Senate to see if Republicans will support it because just this week, the RNC put out a memo telling their candidates to support IVF.


So, you know, you can talk the talk, you can put it in a memo, now act.

STEWART: But here's the reality. Look, Republicans and conservative Republicans are pro-life. That's why we've advocated for years to overturn Roe v. Wade and put this in the hands of people at the state level. And look, you haven't found Republicans coming out against IVF. In fact, Donald Trump and Gaetz and others have said they support this.

But in terms of Duckworth's legislation that she's planning to put forth, Republicans are not going to be in support of this. They think this should be handled, again, at the state level just like abortion.

So, this debate will come forth in Washington tomorrow, talking about federal protections for IVF, which Democrats will support, and Republicans saying, look, we support IVF, we understand there are many couples, many families that cannot conceive a child without this. And they support this, but this needs to be handled at the state level. And look, this is --

PHILLIP: Alice, don't you think there's like mixed messages being sent here? I mean, you have all these candidates. Pretty much everybody who has run for the presidency, including Donald Trump, supports a national ban at some point. Not to mention, they're totally fine with the Supreme Court ruling for the entire country banning abortion. It's a mixed message.

ALLISON: And they have a national ban. Lindsey Graham, right after Roe, introduced a national ban, contradictory to the point you just made, saying that they would put it in. And again, they're not saying the quiet part out loud. They're hoping that Donald Trump could win so that they can implement their entire plan.

STEWART: They understand the political consequences of the fact that Roe v. Wade has been overturned and Trump has even mentioned that, much to the chagrin of pro-life activists across the country, because as Harry mentioned, every time abortion has been on the ballot at the state level, the pro-abortion movement has won, and Republicans recognize that.

And we also recognize that this is an issue, again, that should be handled at the state level. And they also understand that Joe Biden and Democrats would much rather be talking about the abortion issue than the economy, than the border, than national security, than crime in the streets.

These are issues that he is underwater on against Donald Trump. And they would much rather be talking about abortion. Again, from a political standpoint, it makes sense because it works for Democrats.

PHILLIP: Astead, do you think that the Biden administration has actually effectively used abortion, as powerful of an issue as it is, to their benefit? HERNDON: I think they have tried. They have certainly deployed, you know, the kind of messaging on it. They've deployed the vice president on the issue. But I really don't think it comes down to them, you know, because if the stakes of this are so visceral that when it is on the ballot in the state level, when there is a contrast between the candidates, we have seen voters react to that almost every single time.

And so, if you're the Biden campaign, you are certainly at a better advantage when this election is about anything other than the person at the top. And you know that abortion is the kind of most potent issue on this. I think Republicans have put themselves in the pickle of their own creation.

The evangelical pro-life wing that has captured specifically the legal arm of the Republican Party and really driven the party on this issue is out of step with what the majority of Americans are. We continue to see that pop up in state after state after state.

And so, when you have, you know, the reason that Senator Duckworth can do this on the Senate floor, the reason why this continues to be something that gives Democrats hope for November, is because Republicans haven't even kind of decided where they want to go going forward.

To your point, they are embracing a national ban and their wing of evangelical forces that on to candidates. And so, Donald Trump is in a pickle even though he sounds much different than Mike Huckabee or Ted Cruz.

PHILLIP: It's kind of like whack-a-mole, too, because they never know when one of the judges that they put on a state court --


PHILLIP: -- or whatever is going to rule in a way that is going to put abortion right back on the front pages.

SIMMONS: Absolutely. Republican judges want to get rid of IVF. The Republican judges try to get rid of your right to abortion. We had a Senate vote on contraception that Republican senators wouldn't vote for. Some Republican senators wouldn't vote for. They're just wrong on the sexual gender politics of this era and it is going to bite them in the butt again in 2024, the same way it did in 2022.

You asked that the administration was using this effectively. I will tell you, I was in the administration during the midterms of 2022, the vice president of the United States talked about these three or four days a week, we traveled the country, she was very out front on it, and she helped set the tone for every other Democrat about how to talk about it, and Democrats basically won or tied that election when they were supposed to get smoked.

SINGLETON: Referendums in Arizona, referendums in Florida for November.


SINGLETON: It can drive people even without the doubt.

PHILLIP: When I was --

ALLISON: And there's the Mifepristone case that's coming up in the Supreme Court in June, going into convention season, going into presidential debates, where people are going to have to say, do you want contraception, do you want the availability to the abortion pill, because most women who have to experience an abortion use Mifepristone.

SIMMONS: Get out of our bedrooms. Get out of our doctors' offices.

ALLISON: Get out of our doctors' offices.


SIMMONS: And get out of the leadership of Congress.

PHILLIP: You guys are like totally insane.

SIMMONS: I'm telling you --

ALLISON: The mind meld. The mind meld.

SIMMONS: -- the ads -- the ads are simple.

PHILLIP: Mind meld over here.


You know, when I interviewed the Democratic governors last week, they talked about that, actively putting these issues on the ballot and actively making judges an issue on the ballot in their states and at the local level.

We got to leave it there for this conversation for a moment. But stick around for us.

Coming up, President Biden delivering a stark warning to Israel: Moderate its operations in Gaza or risk losing additional international support. We'll speak with a congresswoman, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, about this coming up next.


COATES: A resounding message for the White House despite President Biden winning the Michigan primary. Thousands of voters staging a protest vote against Biden's stance on the Israel-Gaza war by voting uncommitted. The big question, is tonight's turnout a symptom of a much larger problem for Democrats more broadly?


Joining me now, Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida. Thank you so much for joining me this evening. It's late in the evening at this point in time. Thank you.

Congresswoman, Democrats have now 59,000 plus reasons and counting, I would add, to figure out how to keep this protest vote from having people stay home in November. Has the message of this protest been received?

REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (D-FL): Well, I think it's important to note a couple of critical elements of turnout here today. The Michigan secretary of state, for example, is predicting that there'll be about a million Democrats voting today when all is said and done.

The fact that that many people in a primary that is essentially uncontested turned out shows the enthusiasm and the determination that Michigan Democrats want to reelect Joe Biden, particularly based on the number of the things that you were talking about in the last interview.

I mean, Michigan voters very clearly and resoundingly are pro-choice, want to make sure that reproductive freedom is maintained, are supportive of Joe Biden with particularly manufacturing jobs he has created. His record is remarkable, and I think that that will show in the November election.

The other thing that's important to note, Laura, is that if you look at President Obama's 2012 reelection results, uncommitted were -- you know, were -- you know, in double digits in about five or six states. So, Joe Biden is actually doing quite a bit better here than even when President Obama had uncommitted results in his march to reelection in 2012.

COATES: Certainly, uncommitted as a concept is not novel. It was a factor for Trump. It was a factor for Obama. It's a factor for incumbent presidents, as you see right now. But there is a needle that has to be threaded, because as I was speaking to one of our guests about the why behind the uncommitted, she spoke of it as being a humanitarian protest, not so much about politics any longer.

So, it's really hard to overstate at one point how important Michigan is to Biden's reelection, but also the question, how does he support Israel and keep the coalition that he needs to win in a state like Michigan?

WASSERMAN SCHULZ: Well, I mean, I think it's really important to remind people that on October 7th, you had the worst attack and the most murders of Jews in the world since the Holocaust, and that 1,200- plus Jews were slaughtered by a terrorist organization, Hamas. Two hundred and forty were taken hostage, 134 of those are still held hostage, and this could end today if Hamas does exactly what they should do, which is release the hostages.

And it's also important to know that the Palestinians in Gaza are also victims of Hamas. This is a tragedy, an epic tragedy that has been perpetrated on the people of Gaza and the people of Israel by a terrorist organization, Hamas. It lays at their feet. COATES: Certainly, the idea of addressing the death toll and what is being experienced, those who remain as hostages and those who are confined to the area, is part of what is behind the protests and the humanitarian discussions that really has to be tackled in terms of what goes next and what happens next.

I do want to point out to you that there is some new reporting by our CNN global affairs analyst, Barak Ravid, and he is reporting tonight that the Biden administration is giving Israel until mid-March, which is two weeks away, really, to commit in writing to abide by international law while using U.S. weapons. And here is the consequence if they don't. If they don't, those weapons, the transfers will then be paused.

I'm wondering, should the U.S. consider pausing military aid if this reporting is true?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Laura, it's important to note that that instruction, that guidance, is part of the memorandum that the administration just released. It's Memorandum 20. I mean, it is already U.S. law that we expect that our international partners, particularly those that get U.S. assistance, abide by international law.

I mean, of course, we want them to do that. That memo indicated not only for Israel, but other countries in conflict, that they would have 45 days to get that information turned over to the United States, to Secretary Blinken particularly, and other countries not in conflict would have 180 days.

This is not a remarkable or exceptional policy. Of course, we want our international partners to abide by international law.


And Israel is the country in the world that has the most compliance with international law, that endeavors aggressively.