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State of the Race with Kasie Hunt
Latest Vote to Elect House Speaker since Ouster of Kevin McCarthy; Israel Blocks Visas for U.N. Officials after Comments from U.N. Secretary- General Antonio Guterres; Israeli Foreign Minister says he will not Meet U.N. Secretary-General; Vote on Latest House Speaker Nominee set for Next Hour; Republicans Nominate Mike Johnson, Floor Vote Soon; Republicans Try Once Again to Pick a House Speaker. Aired 11a-12p ET
Aired October 25, 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: Hello, everyone, I'm Kasie Hunt. Welcome to our viewers watching in the United States and all around the
world. It is 11 am here in Washington Wednesday, October 25. There are 376 days until Election Day. And on Capitol Hill, it's been 21 days since the
House had a Speaker. This is today's "State of the Race".
All right, right now the latest Republican nominee for House Speaker some absurdity in that sentence is about to take his bid to the House floor the
vote to elect or reject Mike Johnson expected to happen in the next hour. This time, Johnson says Republicans are unified and that he'll have enough
votes to win the gavel.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MIKE JOHNSON (R-LA): Democracy is messy sometimes, but it is our system. This conference -- this House Republican majority is united.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: So who is Mike Johnson, he is a social conservative from Louisiana. He was elected to Congress in 2016. He voted against certifying the results
of the 2020 presidential election and filed a legal brief for Republicans who supported that Texas lawsuit that tried to invalidate election results
in four key swing states.
One possible sign Republicans are feeling optimistic today about the vote, Kevin McCarthy's nameplate outside the Speaker's office. It had previously
he had been in there and it had been sitting at the top of that arch. It is gone. It is not there. I want to bring in Congressional Correspondent
Lauren thanks very much for starting us off today. It does seem like I mean that happened late last night. They haven't taken that step so far. Just
kind of that atmosphere of it felt like relief and cheering in the sound bites that we saw there from Mike Johnson late last night. This seems on
LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, can you see there certainly is momentum behind Representative Mike Johnson. Now the
Republicans Speaker designee that in part is because some members are just exhausted, frustrated, exasperated and ready to move on from this chapter
these three weeks in which Republicans time and time again failed to rally around three other Speaker designees.
Now there were some members who behind closed doors voted present meaning they did not support Johnson in a closed door meeting. But I have now
talked to one of those members Representative Mark Amodei, who told me that he had a very pleasant conversation about 30 minutes last night with Mike
Johnson after he voted present in that meeting.
He said at the end of the day, he just didn't know Mike Johnson very well. They hadn't run in similar circles. He wanted to make sure that Johnson
understood some very specific issues that were important to him related to lands issues in the State of Nevada that he represents.
And he said after that he made a commitment to Johnson, he was going to support him on the floor. We also heard from Thomas Massie on Twitter
earlier today, he was another one of those President votes, who said he is now committed after talking to Johnson this morning to vote for him on the
So this certainly seems to be on track at the moment. And obviously there is just a lot of concern for Republicans now moving forward whether or not
they're going to continue to be able to keep this spirit of unity as they move ahead toward a government funding deadline coming up in just a couple
of weeks on November 17.
I think one thing to point out is that Representative Johnson, he's a rank and file member, right? He's not someone who's the Chairman of a Committee.
He doesn't have a huge extensive staff that most people who are in leadership would have. And so he's going to have to really ramp things up
in short order in order to try and address these massive issues that are looming, for House Republicans.
Funding the government also how are they going to deal with $105 billion supplemental requests from the White House for aid, Israel, Ukraine, the
border, Taiwan, those are all pressing issues that Representative Johnson is going to have to address if he wins the gavel today, Kasie.
HUNT: Congressman, now possibly Speaker by the end of the day. Lauren Fox, thank you very much for that report. I really appreciate it. And now we
want to bring in Georgia Congressman Buddy Carter. Congressman Carter has supported every Republican Speaker candidate during this prolonged process,
sir, thank you very much for being with us this morning.
REP. BUDDY CARTER (R-GA): Thank you for having me.
HUNT: So is there going to be a Republican Speaker of the House by the end of the day today?
CARTER: I feel like there will be. I'm very excited and we were reunited last night when we left those conferences. I've seen us in a long time. It
is very exciting.
And listen, Mike Johnson is an -- character. I've known Mike, since he's been up here and I just could not be happier to vote for him today as
Speaker of the House. I think we're going to get this done. And immediately after that, we're going to get an aid package to Israel done, which needs
to be the first thing that we do.
HUNT: Has the Speaker designee Johnson told the conference whether he would be willing to bring the administration's request that includes Ukraine and
Israel funding to the floor as one package or has he made a commitment that those things will not come to the floor together?
CARTER: To my knowledge, he has not made that commitment yet, whether I'm not familiar if he has, but I will tell you that I hope that it will be
broken up I think it's a mistake to bring it is as a total package, we need to look at it separately. Obviously, we're going to support Israel, we're
going to support Ukraine.
We will Ukraine to be successful, and they need to be successful. We all understand that. But we also need to see a plan. We need to see a plan on
how Ukraine is going to end up and how we're going to get there. We need to make sure that Europe is doing their part. We need accountability to make
sure the weapons that and the financial assistance that we're sending to Ukraine is being used properly.
And we need to make sure there are no American troops on the ground in Ukraine. That's separate from Israel. Israel needs our help. They need our
immediate help. We got to make sure Israel can defend itself and defend the State of Israel and their citizens. Hamas is a terrorist organization,
killing civilians. We cannot allow that to happen.
HUNT: All right, to go back to the actual fight here on the floor, or I should say, the path that Mike Johnson seems to have taken to this moment.
If chosen, he's going to be the most inexperienced Speaker in many decades, certainly less experienced than the previous Republican Speakers we have
seen in modern times. Does that lack of experience concern you at all?
CARTER: Well, it doesn't concern me, we listen, and we've got a lot of talent in our conference. And he'll get a lot of help. And he knows that
he's going to need a lot of help. He made that clear last night, he made it clear that it's going to be a team effort. And I believe him and I believe
that he will lead that way.
Mike Johnson is a smart guy. He is very intelligent, a constitutional lawyer. I mean, he is one that we go to when we have questions about the
Constitution. He is an expert in that field. He understands leadership, and he understands that this has got to be a team effort that you surround
yourself with good people and that you let them go at it. Mike Johnson will do just that.
HUNT: Congressman, is there anything about Johnson's record? He comes clearly from the conservative wing of the conference. Do you think that
reality his views will make it harder for him to be an advocate for your majority makers, those Republicans in Biden districts who are most at risk
of losing their seats and therefore your majority next year?
CARTER: I don't think that, that's going to be a factor. In fact, out Mike Johnson gets it. Look, he understands politics, he understands it if it had
not been for the State of New York, that we would not be in the majority right now. He understands that we've got a number of members in swing
districts who are going to need our help.
He gets all of that. And that's why I'm really glad that we've chosen Mike Johnson and I look forward to supporting him on the floor. I look forward
to electing him as our next Speaker.
HUNT: What role do you feel the Former President Donald Trump played in this process? As we said, when we introduced you, you've supported all of
the other Republicans, including Tom Emmer, who of course, rose and fell in between lunch and dinner yesterday afternoon.
What role did the Former President play in that? Did you have any concerns about his sway inside the conference?
CARTER: Look, we make our own decisions in the conference. And ours is a very broad tent, a very big tent. We've got a number of different opinions
and unfortunately, you've seen in a public display here and the public has seen it, but that's OK. That's OK to have a big tent.
That's OK to have different opinions and sometimes democracy is messy, just like Speaker designee. Johnson said last night democracy can be messy. And
it as far as the Former President goes you know, listen, we respect him and we respect his opinion. I thought Tom Emmer, who was a good friend, and I
thought he would have done a great job as Speaker.
We've gone through some great talented people Kevin McCarthy, who I feel like was unjustly removed from the Speaker's office. Steve Scalise, Jim
Jordan, all of these people would have been great Speakers. Well, now we got Mike Johnson. I'm excited about it. I feel like we're unified.
And we're on the track right now. We're going to get this train back on the track.
HUNT: Sir, do you feel you will need Democratic votes to keep the government open? And do you think that, that's a tenable thing for if
Congressman Johnson becomes Speaker today? Can he continue to hold the gavel if he does what Kevin McCarthy did and relies on Democrats to
continue funding the government?
CARTER: Well, we'll cross that bridge when we get to it. But I will change --
HUNT: But very quickly looming that bridge, sir.
CARTER: Well, November 17, we get it. We understand that the deadline is coming up. And certainly we're going to be prepared for that. Obviously, it
looks like we're going to have to have some kind of stopgap funding. There's no question about that. Hopefully, the Democrats understand or
enough of them understand the importance of this.
And I think that will to keep the government open, none of us want to see that. But at the same time, let's keep in mind that a government shutdown
would not be the worst thing that can happen to continue this reckless spending that the Democrats have had in the recent past that would be the
worst thing that could happen. I don't --
HUNT: So you would prefer to see a shutdown and to fund the government at the levels that Kevin McCarthy and Joe Biden are going to?
CARTER: Look, we are -- . We are spending way too much money. Everybody agrees on that, whether you're Republican or Democrat, you got to
understand that we cannot sustain 33.5 trillion dollars in debt, when the interest on that debt --
HUNT: Sir, but not -- actually came under the Trump Administration, which you all, you know, very eagerly voted for at the time.
CARTER: Well, look regardless of where it came from, we've got it now. And we've got to address it now. That's the key, and we are going to address it
because we are fiscally responsible in the Republican Party. And we are going to make sure that --
HUNT: Well, again, sir, much of this spending came under Donald Trump has your front runner for President?
CARTER: Well, I would beg to differ. Yes, some of it did come under Trump, but a lot of it came under de Biden Administration, a lot of it came under
and was unnecessary. What regardless of how we got here, we are here now. And we've got to address this issue.
And we're going to address it. I serve on the Budget Committee. We've got a 10 year budget, that if we follow that. We will actually have a balanced
budget after 10 years and have an excess budget and after 10 years. It will do away with a lot of the waste, fraud and abuse that we have in this
And it will also address the mandatory spending which we got to do in a bipartisan way. We've got to get this under control.
HUNT: All right, Congressman Buddy Carter, with a very optimistic view of what's about to unfold on the House floor. Thank you very much for spending
some time with us today, sir, I really appreciate it.
CARTER: Thank you.
HUNT: Alright, still to come here, the feud between Israel and the U.N. Israel's Ambassador now calling for the U.N. had to resign after comments
that he made about the Israel-Hamas conflict.
HUNT: Welcome back. We're going to go now to a spike in tensions between Israel and the United Nations. Israel's Ambassador to the U.N. is calling
for U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres to resign and says that Israel will block visas for United Nations officials.
It follows comments made by terrorists Tuesday at a Security Council meeting comments that the Israeli Ambassador says "show understanding for
the campaign of mass murder of children, women and the elderly by Hamas". Guterres has issued a response to Israel's reaction.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANTONIO GUTERRES, U.S. SECRETARY-GENERAL: I am shocked by the misrepresentations by some of my statement yesterday in the Security
Council, as if I was justifying acts of terror by Hamas. This is false. It was the opposite.
In the beginning of my intervention yesterday, I clearly stated and "I have condemned unequivocally the horrifying an unprecedented 7 October acts of
terror by Hamas in Israel. Nothing can justify the deliberate killing or injuring and kidnapping of civilians, or the launching of rockets against
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: And the Israeli Foreign Minister also responded harshly to Guterres initial comments tweeting that he will not meet with the U.N. Secretary
General and that Hamas must be erased from the planet. So in the same meeting where Guterres made the remarks Tuesday.
Cohen played what he said was audio of a member of Hamas calling his parents and bragging about killing Jews during the attack two weeks ago. We
want to note CNN can't verify the audio. We don't know when it was recorded or how it was obtained? But it does come as Israeli officials highlight the
heinous details of the October 7 attack.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAHMOUD: Look how many I killed with my own hands! Your son killed Jews! It's inside Mefalsim, dad.
DAD: May God protect you.
MAHMOUD: Dad, I'm talking to you from a Jewish woman's phone. I killed her, and I killed her husband.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: All right, let's talk about all of this with the panel. Colonel Cedric Leighton is a CNN Military Analyst and retired U.S. Air Force
Officer. Miles Taylor, the Former Chief of Staff at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security served under Former DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and
the Trump Administration.
And Margaret Talev is the Senior Contributor to Axios. And the Director of the Democracy Journalism and Citizenship Institute at Syracuse University.
Thank you all very much for being here today. And Miles, I mean, this is clearly an incredibly emotional moment.
Obviously, the Israelis have been skeptical of the United Nations for a long time. But this has really boiled over.
MILES TAYLOR, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF AT U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY: Well, I was going to say the proximate cause here is not just the
U.N. Secretary General's comments. I mean, for years, the Israelis had been very frustrated at what they perceive to be a United Nations that's not
A United Nations that's often putting its thumb on the scales for the Palestinian cause, in some ways in Israeli views in ways that are favorable
towards Hamas. And even in forums where geopolitics should not be factor environmental forums and others sort of snubbing the Israelis and taking an
attitude that's built up over time into a pretty serious grievance on their part.
So I think you saw that break open with this comment. But again, it's not the proximate cause, although what I think this does show us right now is
that as the military situation escalates, the diplomatic situation is going to be doing the same thing. And those two may play off each other and make
this an even more combustible conflict than it already is.
HUNT: Cedric, let me get you to weigh in on that from a military perspective, because so far we I mean, we have seen the Israelis heed what
we've been reporting our warnings from the Americans to kind of slow down, make sure you know exactly what you're doing? Don't get involved in
something you can't get out of.
But clearly, that's been intense, private diplomacy right on the part of the Americans. This public diplomatic flat might make that more difficult.
COL. CEDRIC LEIGHTON, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: I think it will absolutely, Kasie, because the thing that the Israelis are dealing with is a lot of
pressure. So they're getting pressure, in essence in private from the American saying, hey, you need to slow down, you need to be very careful in
how you prosecute your targets.
How you go after the various targets that are in Gaza, and that are legitimate targets and make sure that you don't hit civilian targets for
the so called collateral damage, impact of that. The other thing, though, is when you look at the comments in isolation. You think the Israelis are
The problem is, as Miles said, this is something that's been building for a very, very long time. And the frustration that the Israelis feel based on
the historical issues, as well as the pressure that they're under right now, that results in this kind of statement.
HUNT: Margaret Talev, how does the Biden Administration thread this needle?
MARGARET TALEV, SENIOR CONTRIBUTOR TO AXIOS: I mean, they're trying to very carefully and in Gaza or around Gaza, you're looking at sort of two
immediate goals, the administration, one is to get hostages released. And the other is to get humanitarian aid into Gaza.
And so you've seen Secretary of State Antony Blinken and John Kirby at the National Security Council, both being careful to kind of push the
conversation away from the word ceasefire, or to say, we can't even talk about that until hostages are released, but to call for like sort of pauses
for humanitarian aid, right?
Beyond Gaza, beyond the detail on the ground, the Biden Administration has two kinds of geopolitical, post-World War Two, architecture goals and wants
to keep the U.N. together and useful, and the others to keep NATO together and useful. And the trouble with all this is that if somehow the Chief of
the U.N. was forced out.
It wouldn't change all the U.N. nation's attitudes and opinions and treatment of Israel or the Palestinians or any of this stuff. It would be a
political move, that wouldn't change the reality. And so I think, for the Biden Administration, take care of those hostages, trying to get
humanitarian aid to civilians in Gaza and just trying to keep things at a simmer instead of a boil when it comes to these international multilateral
HUNT: Well, I mean, we talked about those groups, Cedric, I mean, that's actually one of the things that's happening in Gaza right now is that the
U.N. is basically threatening, like, we can't continue to operate if you don't let fuel in here. I mean, that is actually a pretty concrete thing
that organization is doing to put pressure on the Israelis.
LEIGHTON: Yes, absolutely. And one of the things that, you know, you mentioned the fuel situation, one major U.N. organization in Gaza is going
to run out of fuel tonight, they say they don't have any more fuel to do what they need to do. All the power, of course, is based on off of fuel in
Gaza, at least to self-generated power.
So it becomes a really difficult thing. And the other thing is U.N. personnel are actually being killed during this period as well. They're
over 30 U.N. personnel, usually teachers, for the most part, that have been killed during these Israeli actions. So there's a lot of damage that's
being done, both concretely as well as in the political realm.
TAYLOR: To Margaret's point about it boiling over. I mean, I think we also need to be hyper realistic about this, as much as the Biden Administration
is trying to keep it from boiling over, I think we have to admit, it's likely to boil over all things considered. I mean, imagine America two
weeks after 9/11, if any foreign country had tried to say, you know, show pause, show restraint.
Focus on the humanitarian aspect, regardless of your position, it would have been very, very difficult to get the United States to do that we're in
that moment, where in Israel, where the majority of people in the country either were attending a funeral the other week, or sheltering in place, or
some combination thereof.
It's going to be very difficult to appeal to what looks like reason in this immediate period, and the Biden Administration is doing the best they can
pulling the levers they can, but even some of those levers are showing that they don't work as well, right now as they normally would with the
HUNT: Yes, I mean, I do think it's an important point and why I think the reaction to the Secretary General's comments was absolutely so strong when
you think about the number of people who were massacred in Israel, and what that represents, as a proportion of their population to.
It makes any remark that suggests that there's something that could have justified that is something that's very emotional for the Israelis. I mean,
Miles, what is your sense on this question, though, that the administration has been willing to say, let's take a humanitarian pause?
Let's get some aid in for the civilians who don't identify with Hamas. So far, the Israelis haven't gone along with it. But they also have it there
hasn't been an outcry in response to it either.
TAYLOR: Well, I think this is where the Biden team knows they have the most leverage, because it's a point that they have made as one of the most
important elements that the United States wants to see. And Benjamin Netanyahu has spent a lot of years getting to know U.S. officials and their
And I think those things being tied together U.S. support and ongoing support to humanitarian aid happening, make it more likely that the
Israelis will make some exceptions to the hardline stance they laid out at the beginning of the conflict.
I think really the United States is central there in that conversation but again you're not seeing as much receptivity as you maybe normally would or
as quickly with Israel because of the scale and scope of what happened. But I do think they're likely to make some exceptions.
HUNT: All right. Well, thank you very much for that. Cedric Leighton, thank you very much for your time today. Margaret was going to be staying with us
and Miles we'll be back in just a moment. The House of course is set to vote again today to try to pick a new Speaker, coming up.
We're going to take a closer look at the latest Republican choice. Who is Mike Johnson and what is his record say about the kind of Speaker he'd be?
HUNT: Welcome back to "State of the Race", I'm Kasie Hunt. We're live in Washington. And in the next hour, the House is expected to hold a vote on
the latest candidate for Speaker Republican Congressman Mike Johnson. So what do we know about him?
The social conservatives, a member of the House Judiciary Committee, he was elected to Congress in 2016 by the voters of Louisiana. In his first floor
speech and 2017, Johnson introduced a document calling for Democrats and Republicans to work together.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHNSON: I drafted this document to memorialize our member's agreement to among other things. We work towards restoring collegiality and civility in
the Congress, encouraging more productive dialogue and building consensus and strengthening the public's trust in America's institutions.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: So these are some of the things that -- Johnson a reputation as an affable guy. But just three short years later, here he is opposing the 2020
election results in a tweet. And more importantly, he's been called the architect of the bid to overturn the election. Yesterday, a reporter tried
to ask Johnson about his role in that effort.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Johnson, you helped lead the efforts to overturn the 2020 election. (Inaudible)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: So not surprisingly, Johnson has the backing of Donald Trump. Before Johnson became the nominee Trump posted on his true social platform that he
strongly suggests Republicans pick the Louisiana congressman, we want to bring back our panel in now. Charlie Dent is a former House Republican
Executive Director of the Aspen Congressional Institute Program.
Ashley Etienne served as Communications Director for Vice President Kamala Harris. She was also a senior adviser to the former House Speaker Nancy
Pelosi. And Margaret Talev is a Senior Contributor at Axios and the Director of the Democracy Journalism and Citizenship Institute at Syracuse
University. I'm grateful to have all of you.
Jimmy, I want to play that bite we just showed, again, this is from the press conference that Mike Johnson gave last night with House Republicans.
There is a, it was a Capitol Hill reporter longtime Capitol Hill reporter asking about the 2020 election and Mike Johnson's role in trying to
overturn results in critical battleground states watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Johnson, you helped lead the efforts to overturn the 2020 election. (Inaudible)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: So in case you couldn't hear that West Virginia Fox down on the right side of your screen yelling shut up, shut up. Charlie Dent, I want to ask
you about this. Because, you know, as we were getting set up here, you're talking about the fact that there doesn't seem to be a leader of the wing
of the party that is not inside the pro Trump wing.
And Mike Johnson clearly has kind of a public persona that is one that is not as aggressive as Jim Jordan. It's not as pugnacious so to speak, he's
kind of warm, affable smiley guy, right? He had pleasant expression on his face. But the value system is there. He was the person who that it's the
New York Times that labeled him as like the architect of this strategy.
He led the amicus brief that ultimately went to the Supreme Court, the Texas case to try to overturn the election. What do you make of that moment
there where the entire House Republican conference starts booing when he's pressed about a perfectly valid thing to ask them about?
CHARLIE DENT, FORMER U.S. HOUSE REPUBLICAN: Well, I think what's going to happen, is it Mike Johnson is going to have to channel that earlier speech,
that collegiality, speech he gave in order to be a successful speaker. But he's going to have to answer for his role during the 2020 election. And a
particular interest will be those 17 House Republicans who represent Biden districts where overturning the election was a big deal.
And at least politically for them, it's a very big deal. So I think he's, he's at some point, he's going to have to address that because now he is
going to have to leave the institutional wing of the party, he is the one who is going to have to cut the deals, like on funding and in a few weeks,
he must do that.
That has not been where he is. Politically, he has been part of that hard right faction, I would put him in that Trump populist wing, not the
establishment, pragmatist wing, governing wing. And now he is going to have to straddle this. And this will not be easy for him.
So I don't know how but he's going to have to answer for the 2020 election business where he was very involved. And he's not going to be able to
ignore that question.
HUNT: Ashley looks like you want to jump in?
ASHLEY ETIENNE, FORMER DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY TO U.S. VICE PRESIDEBT KAMALA HARRIS: Yes, no, I mean, I think what we saw before our eyes is the
Republican Party at its finest at its best. You know, we were just talking about how I feel like the Republican Party is going through this identity
crisis right before our eyes. They were wanton.
HUNTL But that's --
ETIENNE: Yes, no, absolutely for -- yes, since the Freedom Caucus since Boehner, right. So it's been trending in this direction. The party that was
once pro-democracy, pro-constitution, budget hawks, defense hawks, now is all about conspiracy theories, is all about shut down as -- it's all about
Donald Trump, right?
HUNT: Well, that's a segment of the party, that's for sure.
ETIENNE: Well, that's a party that's actually running the show. And that's what you see there. And I think so for me, I think the question is, and we
were talking about this off stages, which is what's next for the Republican Party?
ETIENNE: You know, it's not clear to me if they're headed down this path, Republican, you know, the --
DENT: As you say look, that pragmatic governing wing of the party, at least had a governing philosophy, policy driven, that I'll say the Trump populist
wing of the party really doesn't have a policy agenda, so to speak, other than maybe nativism, immigration, and that's about it, and maybe
protectionism, that's about it.
There's no real policy agenda. And now this is where I think Johnson has an opportunity. He is a very smart guy. He is policy focus. So can he actually
bring a policy agenda in a party dominated by Donald Trump, who has unfixed policy positions that shift all the time?
HUNT: Yes, Margaret, I want to get you to weigh in a second. But Ashley, I want to ask you from that perspective, I mean; you have been in the room
with Nancy Pelosi when she was speaker. She also you know, had time in the minority as well. So she's kind of, you know, been at the table in all
sides. What do you think is going to be the central challenge for Mike Johnson in those rooms? I mean, he has very little governing experience at
the bottom of it.
ETIENNE: I think it is we were just talking about this. There is no issue that is the Republicans are rallying around right now. To your point when I
was in those rooms where Speaker Pelosi was the ACA for example.
HUNT: Right, Obamacare.
ETIENNE: Yes, Obamacare, excuse me, yes. Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act.
HUNT: I mean you're right, out viewers who might not know the ACA.
ETIENNE: I don't think she would have -- but Affordable Care Act was the issue that she would bring up and rally the caucus around in these times in
which it felt like it was splintering. She would remind everyone listen, this is why we're here. It's these big policy objectives that we have to
We've been working 30 years for it to pass the ACA or some version of it, here we are now, and then that would help rally the caucus. But I want to
get back to what Senator Romney said, which is there's this growing faction within the Republican caucus that does not believe in the constitution.
They're about to elect a constitutional scholar who voted to undermine and deny the electors, you know, so I think that is -- it's not just a problem
for the Republican Party. It's a problem for all of democracy.
TALEV: In order for him to ascend to the speakership, he needs to have the support of almost every Republican in this caucus. And that's going to
mean, almost all of those Biden District House Republicans. It's going to mean people who voted against Jim Jordan, even against Steve Scalise.
HUNT: And yes, you know, let me show you and we have Mike Lawler talking about this late last night, take a look. He's one of these people Margaret
is talking about.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MIKE LAWLER (R-NY): Obviously, I did not support the removal of Kevin McCarthy. I think it was arguably the stupidest move ever made in politics.
But we have to move forward. And so, we're going to rally around Mike Johnson.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: So we have it.
TALEV: So and so the calculus is one of a few things, either number one, they got to pick someone.
HUNT: Definitely. They do.
TALEV: And this is the guy they're going to pick. Number two, because he doesn't have a lot of experience in leadership. Because he's seen what has
happened when you go too far towards one caucus. Maybe he will sort of govern from a coalition perspective. I think that's kind of a pipe dream.
I'm not really seeing that. But maybe, you know, maybe they're right.
HUNT: Congressman, is it a pipe dream?
DENT: Look, there's an issue here that there are too many within the House GOP conference who do not respect outcomes. Steve Scalise defeated Jim
Jordan, but a rump wing undermined him. And then they tried to impose Jordan. Then they got the pushback from the institutional wing. Same thing
happened here. A majority wanted Emmer.
DENT: He finished the head of Johnson, but a small rumbling said he was too institutional too pragmatic. One even said that, you know, he had to get
right with Jesus. I mean, it's I mean, I'm just saying, and so they push back on him. And so now Johnson gets it.
You know, when if you don't like the outcome of the 2020 election while you move to decertify the election, there's a pattern. There's a bipartisan
majority that wants Ukraine funding, but there's a rump wing that doesn't want it, you're trying to prevent the majority from prevailing. That's the
bigger challenge here, I think, for the party, that they've got to get right on.
HUNT: It's just beholden to that.
DENT: And so --
TALEV: That's right that if this is the deal that you make, you may not get what you think you're getting in that deal. I'm glad you mentioned Ukraine,
there was some question you had an interview with the top of the show with the congressman.
TALEV: About what we know about Mike Johnson and Ukraine, the key of independent all the way across the world covering this story last night.
The headline is Trump ally, Ukraine skeptic Mike Johnson moves closer to speakership and they cite a grade of F that he got from a Republican pro
Ukraine group, assessing how supportive various lawmakers are of Ukraine.
So I think it's not really a mystery what his positions on social issues are on sort of geopolitical issues. The question is, if he ascends to the
speakership, will he switch roles and essentially leave the House of Representatives in a Republican coalition government.
TALEV: Or will he represent the Maga Wing of the party? And will all the moderates who decided to cut this deal or not even moderates
institutionalists who decided to cut this deal regretted or will they say, well, we got to live with it? This is what we're committed to.
HUNT: Yes, now it's a very good way to put it. All right, we're going to just press pause. Our panel is going to come back because coming up in the
next hour; Republicans latest nominee for Speaker Mike Johnson will get a vote on the floor. We're going to discuss his chances of winning the gavel
coming up next on "State of the Race"
HUNT: Welcome back, we are expecting a vote on House Republicans fourth choice for Speaker Louisiana's Mike Johnson to start at the top of the
hour. Let's bring back our panel now. Miles Taylor rejoins us, Ashley Etienne and Margaret Talev are also still with us. Charlie Dent had to run
up to Capitol Hill.
So I want to keep digging into a couple things first, like we got to figure out a lot of people don't know who Mike Johnson is, including on Capitol
Hill, right? Senator Susan Collins ran into our Lauren Fox this morning. And Lauren said, hey, what do you think of the new speaker?
And she said, well, I was going to Google him this morning. So you know, I think a lot of us were there a little bit overnight. But I thought that
captured it. The second piece and we were talking about we were touching on this is that the reality is Republicans are still going to have to govern.
And they have been really tied up in this fight over who to make speaker that doesn't solve any of these big problems that got them here in the
first place. I want to show you a little bit of Mike Johnson and how he tried to insist that they could govern, this was from last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHNSON: We're going to restore your trust and what we do here. You're going to see a new form of government and we're going to move this quickly.
This group here is ready to govern and we're going to govern well, we're going to do what's right by the people. And I believe that people are going
to reward that next year. But we have a lot of big priorities ahead of us right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: So I mean, Margaret, with all due respect, governing has not been an easy thing for Republicans going way back way before the speaker fight John
Boehner up and resigned one day just said peace. I'm done with this. You know, he called Jim Jordan, a legislative terrorist amid all of that.
Paul Ryan, at some point, he sort of took the mantle of being speaker, and then put it down and said, look, I'm leaving congress, I'm done with this.
I'm out. Kevin McCarthy got thrown out.
Yes, Republicans are having this upbeat kind of moment saying, oh; we're finally gotten over this mess that we made for ourselves. But I fail to see
how any of the fundamental realities that have driven all the rest of those men from the speakership and the government, where it is today has changed
TALEV: I think it's a really good question. And the way that I think about this is kind of in two baskets. One is that there's a fundamental massive
divide, what's the right word golf in the Republican Party that hasn't been resolved and it's not going to be resolved by this.
And it is a battle between the Institutionalists whether you're, you know, a moderate Republican or conservative Republican. But do you believe in the
institution and you know the way that things have essentially worked for the last couple 100 years.
Or did you get elected on a promise to come here and fill in the blank whatever, drain the swamp, burned down the house, change the system force
changes, government's not working. If you fundamentally believe government isn't working, and that the only way to change it is with a political
revolution, you have nothing in common with the people who are like, let's get to a unity deal and find compromise.
Compromise is -- deal. The second way I think about this is that under the current system and the rules that topple Kevin McCarthy, you need an --
HUNT: Hold on one second, we got Mike Johnson speaking live to our reporters, take a look.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You've done a whip count.
JOHNSON: I have. I think we're going to be unified today. I'm excited about it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Talk about your government funding plan. You want to pass all 12 appropriations bills. But you also suggest that if you can't
get that done, number -- you want to do short term for January or April, you voted against the short term spending bill on September 30. How was
your position change?
JOHNSON: We're going to talk this over build consensus in the congress. I've laid out a plan, but we're not getting into that right now. First,
we're going to get this ceremonial thing done here, and we'll talk about all -- .
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So why do conserve this job? Why do you conserve this job sir?
HUNT: All right. Well, you saw a little bit just there live of what it's like to be Capitol Hill reporter cameraman, a person with a microphone. And
a microphone in that scrum the camera guy got stopped by the cops.
ETIENNE: It's stopped by the way.
HUNT: Yes. It all happens live. I thought it was interesting. He called the vote on the floor a ceremonial thing, Ashley. I mean, historically, it
always was a pretty ceremonial thing. But it has not been in the last week or two.
ETIENNE: No, I think your question was absolutely right. It's almost like the Republicans don't want to face reality. The only way to govern is
bipartisan today. They've got a bunch of big bills you named off Boehner, Ryan, they all lost their speakership around the same issue, which is
keeping government open and funding funded.
And in what three more weeks, we're going to have the same question that's going to come before potentially speaker Johnson, where is he going to be?
I mean, he's argued before previously that Republicans don't want to shut down. But he's beholden to the extreme within his party. And they don't
want a functioning to Margaret's point; they don't want a functioning government.
ETIENNE: So it's almost like we're going to be back at Square One all over again. And so I'm not sure that the ceremonial vote even matters.
HUNT: Well, Miles I mean, I take you know, we struggle sometimes to label these groups of people, right, the institutionalists, the moderates, the,
you know, the nativist, the pro Trumpers, it honestly feels like there are two almost distinct parties inside the Republican Party there.
And I don't exactly know the right names for them. But I know them as the Republicans I started covering when I started my career, and I was on Mitt
Romney's campaign plan when he was the 2012 nominee and then the ones who are those who came in with Donald Trump, or honestly, in the House ahead of
HUNT: You know it's going back to the tea party in 2010, arguably starting with, you know, the bank bailouts back in 2008. It is an alliance that, you
know, we have constantly been asking, and I feel like I've asked almost every day of my career since Trump was elected.
You know, at what point does that institutional wing of the Republican Party, you know, take more control rise back up? I just don't see it ever
happening at this point?
TAYLOR: Well, I'm glad you put it that way about those two camps, Kasie, because I've long considered myself as a conservative in that first camp,
what I would call the rational Republicans. And something interesting has happened over the past decade is when you know, Ashley mentioned John
Boehner and Paul Ryan, when they were fighting with the populist wing, they were the majority of the party, they represented the Republican Party.
And now today, we have a lot of conversation about a civil war within the party between two sides. But here's why I think that's wrong. I don't think
it's a civil war anymore. Those rational Republicans, those Boehner's and Paul Ryan's are not half of the party fighting against another half.
TAYLOR: They are a scrappy band of rebels. And what we've witnessed here in the House is the last dying gasp of the rational Republicans and their
grasp on the party, the populist wing, the Trumpist wing, it won. And if Mike Johnson wins this, it's probably Donald Trump's hand on the speaker's
ETIENNE: Also --
HUNT: One second Ashley, because we got to take a quick break and then we're going to go -- come right back to our panel, because again, still to
come we are going to have much more on that vote. We're just minutes away. We're going to check in with our Manu Raju on Capitol Hill when we come
HUNT: All right. Joining us now from Capitol Hill is the man of the hour, our Chief Congressional Correspondent Manu Raju. Manu that floor that door,
you're looking at opening here any minute, what do you expect?
MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, we expect that Mike Johnson will in fact get the votes to be elected speaker then that sort of
some surprises here. There's a narrow House majority that means he can only lose four Republican votes, the expectation is that he may not lose any at
And also that he'll have to confront Kasie huge issues if he becomes elected speaker, namely over how to fund the federal government. That's, of
course, by mid-November. But I've spoken to some of those hardline members, the ones who ousted Kevin McCarthy, and they indicated to me that they plan
to give some leeway to Mike Johnson, assuming he controls the speakership.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RAJU: Well, if he agrees to do what Kevin McCarthy did, will that be a problem?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, we'll see what's going to happen over the next few weeks. We have an obligation right now to do our job, get appropriations
bills moving. Obviously, we're on a shorter timeline and we'll see if a stopgap funding effort is needed for, you know, a temporary mechanism,
given the short timeline we have, I think that there probably be a significant amount of sport in the conference board.
REP. SCOTT PERRY (R-PA): It's a different situation. Now, there was a trust factor with leadership last time that was using the CR to get to the
omnibus and it was pretty clear, right? If you're using the CR to deal with the appropriations, the spending bills that you have to get past, I think
people will be forgiving of that. And as you know, we're kind of in the, we're in overtime right now, right? So you don't blame the backup
quarterback for the failures of the guy that just came out of the game. So --
RAJU: You guys are going to give him some leeway on that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RAJU: So that last comment from Scott Perry significant saying you don't blame the new guy for something the last guy did. So sign here, Kasie,
there is a much different approach that these members on the far right are taking with the potential speaker Johnson here that we could see this
HUNT: All right, Manu Raju, very illuminating. Thank you very much for bringing that to us as we wait for this vote to open because again, we are
just moments away. Sort of quick last thoughts here as we head into this, Margaret.
TALEV: Are the rules going to change? Or can one person topple the future of that speaker? And does his or her, his for now fate lie in the hands of
HUNT: Yes, I mean, I don't have time to play the entire sound bite. But Warren Davidson was basically out there being like, well, we got to tread
carefully. Don't cut the wrong wire things could blow up. So it sounds like maybe we're still there on that, Miles final thoughts on that?
TAYLOR: Money, investigations and elections for him to be able to keep his job he's probably going to have to take a hardline right wing stance on
money and funding the government that may mean a shutdown. He's probably going to have to take a hard stance on investigating the Biden
So I'd expect to see that get worse and more intense. And then finally, big open question, 2024 election comes up. House is going to play a role in
certifying that election, that's a big question mark for me is you have someone who appeals to the populous wing, who's now the speaker. What is
that going to mean for the potential transfer of power or peace in the election time period? That's a big open question for me.
ETIENNE: Yes, stressing me out over here flashbacks.
HUNT: It's a good point, because he's the constitutional officer, Speaker of the House.
ETIENNE: No, you're right.
HUNT: Right, Ashley?
ETIENNE: To build on Miles's point, you know, the problem with the Republican Party is they cannot win with the Maga movement, but they cannot
walk away from them. They've lost three cycles, you know, relying on allowing the Maga faction of their party to drive the message drive the
So what I'm watching and see how quickly Mr. Jeffries leader, Jeffrey's in the Democratic Party go up with ads in the 17 Republican districts that
Biden won, really hammering the current potentially new speaker on this on being an election denier. We know based on the polls that are the one issue
that really galvanizes independents, Democrats and Republicans who are trying to find a home.
TAYLOR: And 2024, who knows what those election deniers are going to do.
TAYLOR: And I think now that you've got one with the gavel, big question mark there.
HUNT: Yes. No, I mean, I do think, you know, as someone who was up there on that day, I think there's a lot of people who underestimate just how close
we came to something that would, that could have been far worse. Had there not been people like then Vice President Mike Pence in positions of power
making sure that the levers of our government worked the way that they were supposed to.
And I'll just leave you with this. There was a message from Trump this morning, very long message about who should be the Speaker of the House. At
the very end, he writes and 2024 will have an even bigger and more important win. My strong suggestion is to go with the leading candidate
Mike Johnson, and get it done fast.
Love, he writes, love DJT. I think that that tells you almost everything you need to know. And even if today's vote goes the way many people expect,
and that is a Republican Speaker of the House. The fundamental problems that led to this crisis are so far from being solved, that I certainly
would not be surprised if we end up here in weeks, months, talking about the same sets of problems.
Thanks to Charlie Dent, Margaret Talev and Miles Taylor thank you all, very much for joining us today. I am Kasie Hunt. That's the "State of the Race"
for today, Wednesday, October 25. You can always follow me on Instagram and the platform formerly known as Twitter. CNN's special coverage of the
speaker race continues after this quick break, don't go anywhere.