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State of the Race with Kasie Hunt
Tributes Pour in for Senate Icon Feinstein; House to Hold Key Procedural Vote as Funding set to Expire; Biden Issues Warnings about Trump & "Maga Republicans"; Speculation Grows Around Glenn Youngkin Entering Race; House to Take Key Vote on Spending Bill. Aired 11a-12p ET
Aired September 29, 2023 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KASIE HUNT, CNN HOST, STATE OF THE RACE: Remembering an American icon, Senator Dianne Feinstein has died, emotional tributes coming in from her
colleagues and friends on Capitol Hill and across the country. Meanwhile, the government shutdown still looms less than two days until the federal
government is set to run out of money unless House Republicans can reach a very last minute deal.
Plus, President Biden delivering a grave and somber warning, about the threats he believes MAGA Republicans pose to American democracy. Hello,
everyone. I'm Kasie Hunt to our viewers watching here in the United States and around the world. It's 11 am here in Washington Friday, September 29.
Just one day away from a potential U.S. government shutdown at this point, it looks all but inevitable there are just 400 in two days until Election
Day. This is today's "State of the Race". As the government shutdown hangs in the balance, we are mourning the passing of an icon.
Senator Dianne Feinstein, a trailblazer in U.S. politics and women's rights has passed away at the age of 90. Feinstein was the longest serving female
Senator in U.S. history. More than 30 years in the Senate. She was a fixture of California politics for decades. She was first elected to the
Senate from that state in 1992.
On the day that Feinstein was sworn into office, she talked to CNN's Larry King, about her monumental victory in California.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LATE DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D-CA): I think it is wrong to say a woman's vote. I won in California in a big state with 5.5 million votes. I won by
17 percent margin. I won among men, I won among women, I won in every age level, and I won in every ethnic group. Now what that says is that to me,
the fact that I'm a woman is there, but its incidental. I think people believe I can be an effective United States Senator.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: Seeing a woman like that talking about how I won. Just a really was a remarkable statement at that time and Senator Feinstein leaves behind a
legacy of courage on gay rights, on guns, on accountability for U.S. human rights abuses. Regardless of whether you agreed with her, she was a true
lioness, a pioneer who has left an indelible mark on her home city, on the U.S. Senate and on her country.
And with that, I'd like to welcome in today's panel, CNN Political Commentator, Alice Stewart, a Republican Strategist. She was the
Communications Director for the Presidential Campaign of Senator Ted Cruz. Our Political Analyst Jackie Kucinich, she is also the Washington Bureau
Chief at the Boston Globe.
And CNN Senior Political Analyst Ron Brownstein is a Senior Editor at The Atlantic. I'm very grateful to have all of you here. This, of course, an
incredibly consequential day in machinations on Capitol Hill, but I don't think any of us expected instead, we are opening today at remembering
And, Ron, you're actually a constituent of Senator Feinstein, in addition, in addition to being a longtime observer, your thoughts as we mourn her
RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, I first covered her in the 1990 Governor's race. That was the first time I -- .
HUNT: That's amazing.
BROWNSTEIN: You know, she looked, you know the thing about Senator Feinstein, people, you know, obviously, younger viewers and will remember,
you know, the diminished Feinstein of the last few years, but she was really a trailblazer not only in terms of women and politics, but people
forget that she emerged at a point when California was not a reliably blue state.
HUNT: Right that's a great point.
BROWNSTEIN: I mean there were democratic. There were Republican Governors from 1982 to 1996. Ronald Reagan, George Deukmejian, she lost a Pete Wilson
in 1990. It was not as possible to win statewide in California as kind of an unabashed liberal, and she was not a formal member of the Democratic
Leadership Council with Bill Clinton.
But she was similar in her thinking about how Democrats had to kind of move to the center. She made a real mark. I covered the 1994 crime bill where
she was instrumental in passing the assault weapon ban getting enough Republican Senators to vote for an assault weapon ban to break a
Can you imagine that? So she was important in not only in terms of women in politics and all the rules but in moving California, helping to move
California from what it was in the Reagan, Deukmejian, Wilson era to what it is today.
HUNT: So Ron, can you just expand for those who may not remember fully understand why it was that she was so focused on that assault weapons ban
because she had a personal experience with guns with being present at --
BROWNSTEIN: At the murder of George Moscone the Mayor and Harvey Milk the supervisor and I believe 1978. And that was when she became the Mayor of
San Francisco. She literally ran to the dying milk, you know, Harvey Milk, one of the first openly gay elected officials in America.
And I think she would always been concerned about the issue. There's also a school shooting, there was in Stockton, California, which even led George
H.W. Bush to be supportive of more gun control. And but, you know, we forget the world that we lived in.
And I mean Bill Clinton passed a Brady Bill and that the National Background checks and an assault weapon ban through the -- passed it
through the filibuster, passed it at a point where there were dozens of Blue Dog and, you know, conservative district Democrats who voted against
it, because there were enough suburban republicans who voted for it.
And Feinstein along with Joe Biden, by the way, we're in the middle of all of that and making that bill possible. Of course, George W. Bush ran in
2000 say he would sign an assault weapon ban extension, if it passed, didn't lift a finger to pass it Republican Congress let it die. And I think
she warned that ever since.
JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Initially, she never gave up on it and after it expired, after the murders in Sandy Hook, Connecticut. She is
in Newtown, Connecticut. She reintroduced that bill, the assault weapons ban and really effort into it. I covered it for U.S.A. today and talked to
her about it.
And she just had, she always retained that passion for making sure that guns were kept out of the hands of people who shouldn't have them. It
wasn't successful that time. But you saw it, you know, even in these later years. She was focused on this issue and preventing it and really as a
HUNT: You know, I remember Jackie, I actually at the time, my beat was guns on the hill up in the wake of Sandy Hook, which I have to tell you was just
a devastating time because those families were up there talking to members of Congress. And I remember standing next to Dianne Feinstein in the
And she had a page and it had the assault weapons ban at the top of it and all the things that they were going to do. And you know, at that time to
what Ron was saying the politics had changed so dramatically. But she was right there saying this is what we need to do. Alice Stewart, as we wrap
this up, the other thing that she really leaves a legacy on is human rights.
She spearheaded the as the Chairwoman of the Intelligence Committee, a controversial among some in your party and in the intelligence community
report that documented the abuses at Abu Ghraib with the idea that it was very important to her that the U.S. tried to regain some of the high ground
that they lost on human rights. Talk a little bit about what that meant.
ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, clearly, every issue that she advocated for and fought for was something that she truly believed. And
she had a personal interest in making sure that those issues and those policies were fought for very hard. And look, I know several people that
were she was at odds with on that specific issue.
But they all say, even though they disagreed, polar opposites on the issue, she always dealt with their negotiations and conversations with respect and
an understanding of I disagree with you, but let's work together to try and find a way to move forward on this issue.
STEWART: And interesting in that Larry King interview, she said the fact that I'm a woman is incidental, but she inspired women across the globe
starting when she won as Mayor. And certainly I said one other quick thing I can say the conservatives, she took a lot of heat.
When Amy Coney Barrett was confirmed in the Senate, she gave Lindsey Graham a hug and was congratulating him, because she looks at politics, its rough
and tumble, but there are people, politicians are people and she celebrated other people's victories, even if it was something that she didn't won.
HUNT: Yes, very interesting. And that also fell out of fashion I have to say, and the Democratic -- end. That's very interesting. And yes, no, it's
a really good point. And speaking of the President, we actually if I have to jump in and cut off our next conversation, it's because we're waiting
for the President to start speaking at the retirement ceremony for the outgoing Joint Chiefs.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley, you're looking at him there. So when he gets up to talk, we're going to listen in to him because
we are especially curious, I'd be surprised, but he might mention the looming government shutdown, because we are still racing toward a shutdown
at this hour.
Ron Brownstein for Republicans I mean, millions of Americans standard without pay in the coming weeks, there's going to be a blame game that
could have major consequences in the elections next year. And McCarthy, he's the House Speaker he is pressing forward with his effort to push
through a stopgap to try to prevent a shutdown for 45 more days.
But the reality is, his hardliners aren't even going to let him get through probably this procedural vote or that vote is going to open here at 11:30
am. That's less than half an hour from now. So what is McCarthy doing here? I mean, he's basically daring them to do it right?
BROWNSTEIN: Yes. I will defer to the hill experts on the panel.
But look, I mean, his strategy from day one has been to give his critics on the right as much as almost everything they want and count on the members
for more competitive districts ultimately to fall in line. And what he finds is they keep because of that, they believe they have that leverage
They keep moving the goal line. You know, this is, in 2013, the government shutdown was about Ted Cruz's effort to force the repeal of Obamacare. He
will have commented, it's a little unclear what this is about other than the need of a portion of the Republican caucus to show that it is used a
conference, to use it as using every possible tool to attack the agenda of Joe Biden.
And it really is kind of performative. Eventually, you have to reopen the government. They got to make a deal with Democrats. He could do that today
without going through this process.
HUNT: And I want to get Jackie, to weigh in here first, but before I do, I want to go to CNN Congressional Correspondent Lauren Fox. She is live on
Capitol Hill. And Lauren, you've been working such long hours and chasing these members through the halls kind of day in and day out here.
I mean, to what Ron Brownstein was talking about the bottom line, Kevin McCarthy could do this in a bipartisan fashion, but the hardliners are
circling and threatening his job. What is the latest where you stand? And what are we going to see over the next few hours?
LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Kasie, the hardliners are circling his job. But the reality is that even if he didn't work with
Democrats, it's not sure. It's not clear at this point if he could save his job. And that is because you have House Speaker Kevin McCarthy working
toward trying to get the votes for a very conservative short term spending bill.
I mean, this bill includes tons of border security provisions as well as policy changes to the Biden administration's policies on the southern
border. You also have legislation that cuts spending to many agencies at about 30 percent. I mean, these are very deep cuts that hardliners have
McCarthy's giving them to those members. And yet, he's still likely won't have the votes not even just for the underlying bill but for a procedural
step expected to take place in just a couple of minutes. House leadership clearly knows they have a problem. They have scheduled a republican
conference meeting at 2 pm.
With members only usually, when you have meetings like this called on a last minute basis, it tells you something about the state of the conference
and where things stand expect that Republican leaders are going to try to rally once again, their members behind something, anything arguing that if
they want to have a negotiation with the Senate, if they want to have a hand, if they want to try to get some conservative wins on the border.
They need to stick together now in order to force that conversation with the Senate. But I mean this is really truly a mess. And we are now less
than 40 hours from a government shutdown, Kasie.
HUNT: Yes, Lauren, I got to tell you, I really appreciate your deep dive into all of that. But what you said at the end there, this is really a
mess. I mean, that just captures the whole thing, right? Lauren Fox, thank you very much for joining us. I really appreciate your insights here.
And Jackie, we did hear from Kevin McCarthy this morning in a press conference. And I want to show you a little bit of kind of how he explained
himself at this hour. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): When I became speaker, I said we're going to change Washington. And we did that by keeping our commitment to restoring
regular order. Bills that pass committee in June and July have been open for amendments for months. I struggled with a number of members who
wouldn't allow it to become up, but I never gave up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: I never gave up he says, Jackie, and that's kind of a reference there to those votes that he had to take over and over and over again. And we
were watching that together in the break. And I agree he looks rough.
KUCINICH: Yes, he looks tired. And he's been through it. But you know this ends when he makes a deal with Democrats. Ron is absolutely right. And in
order to do that, that is going to trigger his heart right. I don't even know how to describe them at this point. I'm tormentor --
HUNT: hardliners tormentor that's perfect I loved it.
KUCINICH: Yes, that's going to trigger a vote for speakership. Now, the question is, do they have anyone to replace it? There have been some rumors
as was reporting about Tom Emmer.
HUNT: Tom Emmer is just to bring people up to speed currently the GOP whip person in charge of counting votes he does his allies and conservatives,
but yes, he did.
KUCINICH: He's not interested, but they said they have him but again, this is a tough job. And anyone who takes this job is going to be in the exact
same position. Kevin McCarthy is no matter what because until and if unless the balance of power changes at some point.
HUNT: It is kind of interesting, Alice, because it's like Kevin McCarthy wants the job so bad that he's willing to do something that literally
nobody else really wants to do.
STEWART: Yes. McCarthy is between a rock and a gates place. Matt Gaetz is leading this hardliners. These very vocal Republicans who are basically
hell bent on no. They don't want to pass a continuing resolution. They don't want to pass something that is spinning of the Biden administration.
And look, McCarthy came out this morning, and to his credit, he was touting what they managed to accomplish last night at midnight.
It was an accomplishment three spinning bills dealing with -- exactly but three key spending bills with Homeland Security, Foreign Operations and
defense that was great having me at midnight. The problem is, as that goes over to the Senate, its dead on arrival. And to the point here is what's
going to happen if he makes us deal with the Democrats, which is the right thing to do.
What's going to happen, the hardliners are going to run down the Capitol with their piece of paper that says, here's your motion to vacate meaning,
we're going to vote you out of office, if you make a deal with the Democrats. And that's a bad place to be in. And it's really a bad place to
keep us out of a government shutdown.
BROWNSTEIN: -- what as long as that threat governs what he does, he is basically speaker in name only. They're controlling. You know, he said he
never gave up. You can't say he never gave in. I mean, he's given them every reason to believe that in the end, he will give them what they want,
because that's what he has done over and over and it's just like the impeachment inquiry.
KUCINICH: -- appeasement strategy, when I say because of that impeachment strategy, thank you for the -- . I think that's why he can't get any
democratic votes. I think he would have had some Democrats who would have thrown him a bone if they tried to motion to vacate.
Now, they're also mad at him because of this impeachment inquiry, that goodwill is now squandered.
HUNT: You know the politics of that is really fascinating. I mean, just too basically, in a motion to vacate scenario, Democrats could vote present
this because I'm not here. And that would allow McCarthy's supporters to potentially have enough votes to get up there. And I just want to
This has only happened once before run. In 1910, Joe Cannon for whom the main most storied house office building is now named.
BROWNSTEIN: Most powerful speaker.
HUNT: Probably ever.
BROWNSTEIN: Oh, rules. Yes.
HUNT: Right. And he created it to prove to people that actually he had all this power. And now here we are, and it's being used in the opposite.
BROWNSTEIN: In what is probably, I think, objectively, the weakest speaker we have seen in modern, I mean, people might point to Tom Foley or, but I
don't think there's ever been a speaker who has had as little control over their caucus as McCarthy at least, you know, since World War Two, since
And look, the core issue is that you have a portion of the conference that feels like they have to show they're using every means available to fight
the liberal agenda. And I guess I have felt that since the moment when McCarthy maneuvered around a potential default on the debt, which would
have been a truly catastrophic gamble with the global economy, that this day was inevitable.
That if they didn't default on the debt, they were going to demand their pound of flesh in the form of a government shutdown. And as we're all
saying, eventually, he's going to have to make a deal with Democrats to reopen the government at once they closed forever. You know, Paul Kane
quoted Mitch McConnell, there's no education is the second kick of a mule.
This is the third kick of a mule. So if they could do now what they are going to do in two or three weeks without putting all sorts of people out,
closing national parks, denying checks, but McCarthy probably has to go through this process to satisfy the demand for confrontation on his right.
HUNT: Right, the great Paul Kane hopefully he'll join us at this table Washington Post Congressional Reporter. All right everyone's going to stay
here. Still to come, President Joe Biden going back to the message that drove him to the White House in 2020.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: There's an extremist movement does not share the basic beliefs in our democracy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: Welcome back. President Joe Biden speaking now at a military tribute in Arlington, Virginia had something to say about his former colleague in
the United States Senate Dianne Feinstein who passed today at the age of 90. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: Before I begin, I want to say a brief word about Senator Dianne Feinstein who passed away this morning. She was a historic figure
trailblazer for women, and a great friend. Dianne made her mark and everything from national security to the environment, gun safety to
protecting civil liberties. Country is going to miss her dearly.
And so will Jill and I have more to say about her later today. Vice President Harris, our second gentleman, Secretary Austin, members of
Congress, leaders of the Department of Defense, both current and former friends and officials from around the world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: Alright, we're going to keep listening to that and bring anything that's worth noting here to you. But I do want to turn to the warning that
U.S., the U.S. President Biden gave us last night, it's what he sees or calls a major threat to our American democracy. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: This is the United States of America. And although I know probably even a majority of Republicans think that the silence is deafening. When
silence is deafening, we should all remember, democracies don't have to die at the end of a rifle. They can die when people are silent when they fail
to stand up, or condemn threats to democracy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: Who's all the same that the person that he says is going to be his likely opponent in 2024, the former President Donald Trump. And that was
again part of his speech on Thursday; it was out in Arizona that's going to be a key swing state. And it's one of the places Trump tried to overturn
the results of the election.
This is a potential glimpse, of course, of his reelection campaign message. He did try to call out the Maga Movement. Our panel is back with me. Ron,
this is part of Biden's, President Biden's reason for running for president in the first place. This is when he talked about the Charlottesville
comments that Donald Trump made. But it has obviously expanded since then.
He really this is something I think that he really, believes it's something that they've had to kind of fine tune to try and make sure they're not
alienating some of those independent or republican leaning voters that they will need if he hopes to win in a general election. What did you make of
how he presented this this time around and the timing of this?
BROWNSTEIN: Yes, well, well, first of all, I mean, the underlying situation is one that the United States has really not faced, at least since the
Civil War and maybe ever. We have the dominant figure in one of our major parties is not committed to American democracy in the way that we have
You know, I said the other day you might be able to say that about John Calhoun and the Democrats before the Civil War, but not since then. And in
many ways in words and deed, Trump has shown that he is not fully part of the American democratic tradition.
You know, when he talks about hanging, the general who is retiring or executing the general is retiring today. So, you know, Biden, on the one
level has certain political incentives and needs, but he is calling out what he is not alone in viewing this as a threat. It is not only partisan
I mean, you talk to all the people who study democracies around the world, and they see Trump very much in the mode of people like Berlusconi, or
Turkey or Hungary, where you've had charismatic leaders who erode democracy from within. Democracy in 2022 was a more powerful issue than most people
expected going into the elections.
On a silver bullet, it doesn't solve all the problems the Democrats face on concerns about Biden's age or inflation. But it does matter to a bigger
portion of the electorate than I think many people expected going in, and many of the same people who worry about abortion.
So in many ways, you've got agent inflation, weakening Biden since 20, and you have abortion and insurrection weakening Trump since 2020.
STEWART: This is why I hate going after Ron; he always says all the good stuff. But to follow up on your point, you look at the exit polls from the
midterm elections, threats to democracy was high on the list of many people as a concern. So Biden is using this as a really good wedge issue or
motivating issue for a campaign message for 2024.
And part of his speech yesterday, he talked about fighting for and defending the health of American institutions. And that goes for elections
that goes for the DOJ that goes for the FBI, all of these institutions that Donald Trump and his supporters and his followers are trying to tear apart.
So it's a good message in terms of getting those people and messaging to the people that are frustrated with Donald Trump. And he also goes even
further in terms of making this a general election campaign against potentially Donald Trump saying that the Republican Party is dominated by
the extremist Maga people of the party, which it it's true in the numbers, but a lot of rational Republicans don't buy into that.
HUNT: And finally, Jackie, I mean, that is how the shutdown ties into all this politics, right.
HUNT: Because these hardliners are holding the government hostage.
KUCINICH: I mean they're trying that one of the one of the demands is that there's a strain that tries to defund the Department of Justice. But I also
want to just know we're talking about this, like it's a binary choice already, whether it's Trump or Biden, you have all of these Republicans who
are running against Trump, I guess.
BROWNSTEIN: Those were telex, exactly.
KUCINICH: Running against Trump and they're not raising this. They're not taking other than Chris Christie and -- Hutchinson you didn't make the
debate stage just last time. You'd no one is making this argument in the way Biden has.
BROWNSTEIN: Leading so real quickly, the immediate partisan implications. One party cannot defend democracy alone. In the long run, the threats to
democracy will grow unless more Republicans are willing to stand up for the basic rules we've been living under for more than two centuries.
HUNT: That's a very good point. All right and happening right now, the house set in just a couple minutes here to begin taking a key procedural
vote on that stopgap bill to keep the government running what a shutdown would mean for millions of Americans, that's ahead on "State of the Race".
HUNT: Welcome back to the "State of the Race". I am Kasie Hunt. We're live in Washington. Literally any minute now, it's just a couple seconds past
11.30, the house set to begin a key procedural vote on a short term deal to keep the U.S. government funded.
If they can't do that, a shutdown, of course, could have enormous impacts across the country with millions of federal workers and military members
going without pay, massive disruptions to air travel, benefits for low income families, school programs for the youngest Americans so much at
The reality is this particular measure likely to fail. I want to bring in CNN's John King, who has quite literally seen it all when it comes to these
shutdowns and the implications.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF U.S. NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We're getting new wrinkles from these guys.
HUNT: But yes, I mean, politics has, in fact, dramatically changed. What as you kind of look at what's unfolding here? We're talking a lot about
obviously the impacts, but also who's going to take the blame? Republicans, all the sensible ones seem convinced that they will take it but there is
this hardline faction that is I mean they're almost like the Kamikaze caucus?
KING: I think it exposes a number of things, not just the polarized American political system right now, Democrats, Republicans. But the
polarization within the Republican Party, the big debate within the Republican Party. You mentioned the rational people, reasonable people, the
Senate Republicans who have to run statewide think this is a bad idea.
In part because they are governing conservatives, the House Republicans are less governed; they don't care as much about government. They're not here,
so much for policy, they're here, a lot of them are here for disruption. That's what they're here for. They don't think Washington works.
And their job is to keep it from working. That's how they think that's their philosophy. Mitch McConnell is very different. Number one, he's a
governing conservative, his thing is cut the best deal you can and move on and govern. But he also is thinking about the map next year.
And he has people who have to win in purple states. You have to win in competitive states, or you have to win in the suburbs, where if you're mad
about your property taxes. You cannot not pay your electric bill because you're mad, or you know, are taken out; the people have to live their
lives, even when they're frustrated.
And they look at this and they say, OK, you're mad about things, but the House Republicans don't have the votes to get what they want. And the other
thing, I'll stop at this one, and we can talk about this, it changes every day what they want. It's not even clear what they're fighting about.
Some say they want to cut spending more than the deal the speaker cut with the president already. Others just seem to be after Kevin McCarthy's head.
So what is this about? I think that makes the politics murky. People out there in America don't feel it until it happens. And they think this town
So they watch this town with I think bipartisan disgust. But history says that Republicans tend to pay a higher price. Does that hold this time? Who
HUNT: Yes. Look, I'm glad you raised that, because I think we should, there are some of these hardliners who deserve policy credit. They're taking a
stand, but it's honestly just a few of them. And a lot of this has come down to this kind of personal vendetta, I guess. It seems that Matt Gates
has against Kevin McCarthy and this threat to oust him from his job.
And at the end of the day, it may be brinksmanship over that, and Kevin McCarthy keeps trying to give them what they want. I mean, he, at every
turn, he opened an impeachment inquiry to try and get them off of his back. And that didn't work. And now he's just going to go ahead and put this on
the floor, it's likely to fail here probably in just a couple of minutes.
And then it seems like Gates is still going to go after his head. I mean is that really all it's about for McCarthy? What kind of position is he in?
KING: He's in a terrible position, because even if he keeps his job after this, which is another, again, it's a question. Anytime he has to do
something big and important his job is on the line. Again, imagine if you're watching around the country watching around the world. If you every
time you got to make this big decision in your household, your family were going to about -- out.
Every time you're the CEO of a company, you have to make a big controversial decision, you might make the wrong call, but you have to make
a call, you're going to lose your job. It's really hard to live on eggshells. So live, it's constantly walking, when's the trapdoor going to
So it's hard to be Kevin McCarthy, but he cut these deals to get the job. So he is in a mess of his own making. Can he survive? Who knows? But again,
you raise a key point when you mentioned some of the key players. They go home to relatively safe house districts, some of them completely safe house
districts where they think their voters support them, right.
So the people have to run statewide, the people have to run in competitive places. They hate these moments, but the people causing the most trouble,
they're safe. They go home to their districts. They're about chaos. They're not about governing.
HUNT: Yes. So look, this all ties in together with you have this fascinating project going here where you are talking to at the moment,
mostly Republican voters. And I know you were just in Iowa and in New Hampshire and you've been talking to all these folks about the Republican
And they are watching these debates, trying to see if there is an alternative to Donald Trump out there. Because let's be realistic, this
shutdown has driven a lot of these House members or Donald Trump type Republicans. And the governing Republicans would perhaps like to see
someone else at the top of the ticket.
But the reality is a lot of the governing Republicans are actually afraid of this Maga base that supports Donald Trump. What are you learning as you
talk to these voters about what they want to see?
KING: Well, Trump still dominates without a question. You know, is Trump vulnerable? That's a tough word. Can he be? Yes, yes. The math says you can
HUNT: In the primer.
KING: Yes, about half Republicans are foreign about half aren't now that varies from state to state. Our most recent poll in New Hampshire, for
example, had trumpet about 40 percent. That means six and 10. Republicans are open to somebody else. And when you talk to Trump Republicans, there's
a little back here a little bit, right.
You know, Trump keeps them in the fight, so they would vote for Trump tomorrow. Are they open to somebody else? Maybe, but can somebody make a
compelling case? Right and that has yet to happen in these debates.
When they look at Washington, a lot of them still, Trump has convinced a lot of them that the last election was stolen, or that the system is out to
get them the grievances. And unless and until a Republican or Republicans plural, pulled the party back from some of Trumps fantasy stuff. The Trump
view even if it's not Trump will carry the day. And so is Trump vulnerable? Yes.
Where is he vulnerable in the places we just talked about in the context of the suburb of the shutdown? If you go to the suburbs, a lot of Republicans
who voted for him before are done with him, they want somebody new, but they're outnumbered at the moment. And politics in the end is complicated
as we like to make it.
It's about math. It's about arithmetic. So Trump is dominant. Two debates have passed that has not chipped into him in any significant way at all.
There's another one in 40 days, and then it's going to be a lot of pressure on the candidates who are at two, 5 percent to get out. Will that change
anything? I think that's a giant question. It is Trump's party today and at least tomorrow.
HUNT: And yes, I mean, it's hard to see a world where it doesn't continue to be his party. But I will say and we were maybe going to get to this in
an earlier block, but you're the best person honestly to ask about it. Robert Costa in the Washington Post, they label it an opinion piece about
Glenn Youngkin, who of course, is the Governor of Virginia, a lot of people for those who aren't as familiar with what may have played out in that
He won Virginia after Democrats had won the presidential election. Virginia's elections are one year after typically a presidential election.
It was viewed as, hey, this is somebody who could win in a purple state who could potentially take on Trump, he has so far declined to get into the
But there does seem to be, according to Bob Costa, this push, maybe by billionaire donors. It's not clear how much of this is coming from Youngkin
himself, to get him into the race because they're watching these debates, seeing all the other candidates and saying, well, they can't beat Donald
Trump. We need somebody else. How realistic is this?
KING: Very unrealistic. Forgive me, forgive me. No offense, I'd love to be a billionaire myself. But there are a whole lot of people who for the last
seven years have sat in rooms saying how do we stop Donald Trump, who have failed to stop Donald Trump, who continue to have conversations in their
rooms about how to stop Donald Trump.
Do you think the Trump voters in Iowa, New Hampshire and everywhere else on the map are worried about what a bunch of billionaires in Washington think
or New York think or Los Angeles think, that's not, they think those people are just as out of touch and don't understand their lives as the
Now is Governor Youngkin an interesting person in the Republican Party, he can only run for one term as Virginia Governor. So is he looking for a
future? Absolutely, there are ballot deadlines next month in state.
KING: So you're going to, are you going to not be able to run in several of the key states and still take on Donald Trump? Can you come in at the last
minute and you know David's going to take out Goliath at the last minute? Forgive me. This is nothing about Governor Youngkin. It's more about the
And about I'm sorry, the pipe dreams of anti-Trump Republicans who keep thinking if they move some money around to a Super PAC, they're going to
beat Donald Trump. Where's the evidence of that?
HUNT: I mean, as Jeb Bush were the 100 million dollars he had in a super PAC when he ran against Donald Trump at work. I mean, bottom line here,
John, on the shutdown, is it going to matter when we go to elected president next year?
KING: That's a great question. Joe Biden won because he said Donald Trump was president during pandemic, it was a mess. It was chaos. I'm an adult, I
can run the government. In your previous conversations, the president, the incumbent president has a problem with inflation. Even though most economic
numbers are better people still feel tired and the legs out there. It's a challenge.
Can he make the case on the responsible adult Trump, if Trump is the opponent? He told them to do this. He encouraged them to shut down the
government, we'll see. That's 400 days away from now, the big question is, there's likely to be a shutdown. Now it sure looks that way.
How long does it last? What is the actual impact? Who feels it? So we will know a lot more in two weeks, four weeks, six weeks if this stretches out
that we know today? But there's no question the incumbent President Joe Biden will say, you know, I'm trying to govern responsibly.
And these guys don't have any interest in governing responsibly and you the American people pay the price. Can you make that case? We'll see.
HUNT: Well, the reality is most of the Republican Party in Washington is actually with President Biden.
HUNT: Thinking this is a bad plan and it is eight to 10 Republicans in the House who are holding it up. All right, John King, thank you so much for
being here and spending so much time with us.
KING: Thanks to see you.
HUNT: I really appreciate it. And we are as we've noted, been keeping an eye on the House of Representatives and what if any hope there is hints not
much of avoiding a shutdown, we'll be right back.
HUNT: All right, we are tracking events in the U.S. House of Representatives where they're set to hold a critical procedural vote on a
stopgap bill to avoid a government shutdown to try to keep the country running. I don't know if it's possible to get a live picture of the house
floor and see if this vote is open.
And those numbers are starting to come in. There we go. So this is again when you see this on ordering the previous question. This eventually will
become the vote on the rule of the key stopgap measure. The panel is back with me. CNN Political Commentator Alice Stewart is a Republican Strategist
and was Communications Director for the presidential campaign of Senator Ted Cruz.
Our Political Analyst Jackie Kucinich is the Washington Bureau Chief at the Boston Globe and CNN Senior Political Analyst Ron Brownstein, Senior Editor
at The Atlantic. Thank you all for sticking with us through this.
I want to just start this conversation by talking a little bit about Matt Gates and Kevin McCarthy. Because Matt Gates this pugnacious congressman
from Florida has really been kind of the chief antagonist of McCarthy, both when he was trying to get the speaker's gavel back in January and now
through to here it's become intensely personal.
F-bombs have been dropped in conference meetings around this. And I think my colleague Manu Raju yesterday caught up with both McCarthy and Gates and
ask them about each other. The exchange is extraordinarily telling; take a look at both of these.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It sounds like you got into an exchange with the Speaker what happened?
REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): You know, I asked him whether or not he was paying those influencers to post negative things about me online. I think he's --
RAJU: He said he won't waste time on --
GAETZ: Yes that is what he said.
RAJU: And he says that -- McCarthy shutdown.
MCCARTHY: it really was that --
RAJU: Because he blames you for not moving on appropriations bills sooner, one by one.
MCCARTHY: Sooner --
RAJU: We're going on recess for six weeks.
MCCARTHY: So when they stopped the bills from coming up. And he's, he votes against the continuing resolution, as Michael said, he said, that's
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: That's interesting. Ron Brownstein, the semiotics of that. I mean, there's a lot there.
BROWNSTEIN: Yes, I mean, look, you know, this is an extraordinarily, as you say, personal confrontation. But one that reflects that as John King, and
you were talking about the broader dichotomy in the Republican caucus, the vast majority of Republicans in the House are from districts that Donald
Trump won by 10 points or more.
Their incentives in general are to show that they are fighting Democrats are every means. And then you have, you know, at the edge of that there's
the Freedom Caucus, who really, I think, after, as I said, after avoiding the debt default, are demanding that McCarthy run through this plate glass
window to show how determined he is, no matter how many, you know, how many cuts and slashes that produces.
But you have 18 House Republicans and district that Biden carried, you have another dozen or so and districts that Trump narrowly carried. And you can
bet that as in 2022, Democrats are going to make a case to a lot of voters who are dissatisfied with the economy, who may not be wild about Donald
I'm sorry about Joe Biden, that they should vote for Democratic members in the House and the Senate anyway, because the alternative is simply too
extreme. And they are certainly giving them lots of material for their ads next fall.
HUNT: Jackie, they certainly are.
KUCINICH: You know, and this is one of the reasons I think that they were fighting, to not have this motion to vacate this ability to have one member
go on the floor. And be able to trigger a vote on McCarthy's speakership because of things like this. Because this is what McCarthy or whoever the
next speaker is, if he does get booted, is going to have to live under.
And if it's not Matt Gates, it could be someone else, but this is the bed that they have made. And this is what happens when you have these very slim
majorities. And you know, it really, but it is fascinating just to see the two of them not interact, I guess, with that. But how they feel about each
other is written all over their faces.
HUNT: It's just plain as day.
KUCINICH: Just plain as day.
STEWART: Kasie, I think the sound bite we heard gates give Manu who says all we need to know, we're on the verge of shutting down the United States
Government affecting everyone in this country. And Matt Gates is concerned about somebody means tweeting him on social media, just as all about him.
This is all about chaos and confusion over consensus and cooperation in Washington, DC, and he is what mucking up the process. And Kevin McCarthy
can put spin on this as he did this morning and saying the balls in the Democrats court, we're going to send this over to them. But it's really not
going to pass.
And he knows that based on conversations he's had with the president. So the numbers that you put up earlier on this vote that's going right now,
all its party lines, you have Republicans voting gay, Democrats voting Nay. And that's the way it's going to close up. And as they send it over to the
Senate, it's not going anywhere.
HUNT: Yes. And we should note that the vote that we did show you is actually in the vote of the previous question, it's another procedural
step. It's not yet what's going to become a critical vote. And, you know, McCarthy was talking earlier today, you know, hey, this is a move to dare
Democrats to reject our short term spending proposal that includes all this money for border security.
He's trying to make it about that. But the reality is that he's going to get hamstrung, before it can even get that far. I want to play because I
think it is worth underscoring. And, Ron, you touched on this. And so, to John King, in saying that, yes, the incentives are, are screwed up. They're
different for a lot of these members of the House.
But I think it's also important to point out that it's really just a handful of these members, not even really a dozen of them, who are willing
to use these kinds of tactics, the vast majority. And in fact, the people that were dropping F-bombs in that meeting were people that were supporting
Kevin McCarthy, not McCarthy himself, because their view is that this is well, I mean, in the words of one of them, just stupid. Listen to what
Congressman Dusty Johnson of South Dakota had to say about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. DUSTY JOHNSON (R-SD): Government shutdowns are stupid. They're not the kind of thing we should do. Nobody wins a government shutdown. It doesn't
save any money. It costs us a lot of money.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: And, you know, this is South Dakota, Ron, and that's a Republican place. He's not in any danger of losing his seat, but he does seem to see
this in a straightforward light.
BROWNSTEIN: Well, you know, you go, I mean, we've, we've run this experiment, you know, I mean, they ran it in 2013. The Affordable Care Act
is still here. You know, we ran it in 2018. I mean, you know, again, I go back to Mitch McConnell's comment that Paul Kane, you know, of the
Washington Post excavated that there is no education in the second kick of a mule.
Certainly if that's the case, there is no education in the third kick of a mule which is you know, what eventually the government will reopen you
know, the House Republicans will not keep it closed for ever.
And there will be a lot of damage, though between now and then and probably very minimal to no policy gains on the other side. It really is
performative in the sense that those who are driving this are demanding it just to show that they are fighting.
By the way, can we just point out that the Democratic majority in the last Congress was as small as the Republican majority in this Congress? And
Nancy Pelosi passed every item on the Democratic wish list through that narrow majority. It was a very different experience and what we're watching
HUNT: She sure did. And you know I'm glad you raised that, because that that thought also crossed my mind. Because, you know, McCarthy likes to
say, oh, it's hard. It's hard when I only have, I can only lose four votes. I mean, yes, OK. But Nancy Pelosi kept that grip.
And you know, one of the things Jackie that Pelosi did was change the house rules, so that that maneuver that we've been talking about where a single
member of Congress can demand a vote to remove the speaker, she changed that. She said, no, no single member of my caucus is going to be doing
And Republicans forced McCarthy to put it back in the battle to keep for him to get the speakership in the first place. He couldn't even control
that much. That's why he's in this position today. And just let's just walk through, I mean, we're hearing that Matt Gates is potentially going to make
this motion as soon as Sunday.
Our colleagues over at Politico and I'm just going to quote this because somebody was on the record. Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal said that he is
approaching Democrats to try to get rid of Kevin McCarthy. I mean, what does this potential fight over McCarthy's job?
Because I have a feeling that maybe the next thing that we see not another move to try to reopen the government? How's it going to play out over the
next, you know, 72 hours?
KUCINICH: With a lot of frustration, I think, for people who want to keep the government funded, I mean, this is the ultimate kind of inside baseball
that's actually going to affect people's lives. I mean, you're not getting paychecks, the military not getting paychecks, government services not
available for people.
I mean, this is the game that they're playing right now, which really, at this point is kind of just a personal dispute. It has real world and it has
real world consequences. And you know, I think at this point, you've heard McCarthy's say, well, then just do it. Let's see what happens. And he is
And I think he's going to get his wish. But this was always going to happen, guys. We knew this after those 15 votes for speaker and there was
that one vote, we always knew it was going to happen. It was just a question of when?
HUNT: Yes, for sure. All right, I think, Alice, I'm going to start with you on this. We're going to wrap up the show now. And we've been doing that by
getting one more thing from each of you about what you're going to be watching for in the next week. Obviously, we've got a lot of shutdown news
that we're going to be focused on. But Alice, what are you looking for in politics over the next week?
STEWART: I'm looking at certainly to see how this shutdown plays out. And the implications that who's going to take the blame for this, and I think
it will be Republicans as it should be. But, you know, one more thing that I think I'm interested to see the fallback of this is a measure that was
reversed this week.
Members in the Senate reinstated the dress code in terms of members of the Senate must wear a suit. And I think that's a good thing. It was a
bipartisan vote by members of Senate that saying let's go back to dressing for success in the Senate. Of course, recently, Chuck Schumer relaxed the
dress code where you could wear more relaxed clothing.
And this was what they call the Fetterman rule, Senator from Pennsylvania who prefers hoodies and shorts, but now they've gone back to wearing suits.
And he's agreed to wearing suits on the floor. So I'm interested to see if there's any fallout from that.
HUNT: All right. Jackie Kucinich, what are you watching next week?
KUCINICH: You know so on Boston girls just been good had a story last week about the Senator Menendez. And the possible fallout that could happen with
the United States relationship with Egypt as a result of the details of the indictment and in the involvement of an Egyptian businessman with ties to
You know, Ben Cardin, who taking over the chairmanship of the Foreign Relations Committee is said that's something that they're going to look
into, so how this progresses. This might it aside from Senator Menendez's future. This could have implications much, much wider.
HUNT: For sure, Ron Brownstein?
BROWNSTEIN: One particular aspect of the government shutdown if it happens, there are a lot of Republicans who believe that the government shutdown in
2013 cost them the governorship, Lieutenant governorship and attorney general position in Virginia, a state with a lot of government employees.
There is a pitch battle going on now with every seat in the state legislature up in November. Abortion rights on the ballot if Republicans
get unified control, Youngkin has said he will pass a 15 week abortion ban.
And the question I think will be whether a government shutdown clearly laid at the feet of House Republicans would provide a tailwind for Democrats who
are struggling against the enormous amount of money Youngkin is raising from those Republicans who want him to join the presidential race.
HUNT: Now it's such a great point.
BROWNSTEIN: To wrap it all together there.
HUNT: You did, you put a nice little bow on it. And the only thing that I will add that I think is, we should be watching for in the next week is
what are Democrats going to do? Are they going to step in and potentially save Kevin McCarthy reopen the government? We'll have to see, thank you
all, Ron Brownstein, Jackie Kucinich, Alice Stewart, thank you for joining us. Thanks to all of you for watching. We will be right back.