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State of the Race with Kasie Hunt
Soon: Biden And Xi To Hold High-Stakes Meeting; Young Voters: Biden Needs To Deliver On More Promises; U.S. Labor Stats: Consumer Prices Rise, But At Slower Rate. Aired 11a-12p ET
Aired November 15, 2023 - 11:00 ET
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KASIE HUNT, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: A pivotal moment months in the making, we are just hours away from a major meeting between President Biden and
China's President Xi. Can the U.S. President accomplish his goal of changing the relationship? Plus, the rumble in the rotunda, a wild day on
Capitol Hill as one congressman accuses Kevin McCarthy of taking a clean shot to the kidneys. And a Senator challenges a witness to a physical
fight. So, what's going on with Republicans in Congress? I will ask GOP Representative Mark Alford when he joins us live ahead.
Good day, everyone. I'm Kasie Hunt to our viewers watching in the United States and around the world. It is 11 a.m. here in Washington, Wednesday,
November 15. There are 61 days until the Iowa caucuses, just 355 days until Election Day. This is today's State of the Race.
The stakes are high. The expectations are pretty low. The presidents of the U.S. and China are just a few hours away from their much anticipated
meeting at the APEC summit in California. Joe Biden and Xi Jinping enter this sit-down with relations between these two nations at a low point. They
will face a host of contentious issues including Taiwan, Chinese business practices, and different views on the wars raging in the Middle East and
Ukraine. President Biden says that he hopes to get relations "back on a normal course".
Republican presidential candidates, however, seem to be collectively rolling their eyes at the meeting, claiming it's the sign of the
administration's weakness on China. Nikki Haley says President Biden begged for it.
David Culver is in San Francisco where the APEC summit is taking place. David, thank you so much for being here. Obviously, you have been reporting
from Beijing for many years. Now, you're looking at it from the West Coast to the United States. What do you expect today?
DAVID CULVER, CNN SENIOR U.S. NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, how about the goal of keeping the U.S. and China from going into a conflict, a military
conflict at that? I know it might sound extreme, Kasie, but that is certainly one of the priorities for U.S. officials, as they're hoping to
focus on the other conflicts at hand, Israel, Hamas, Russia, Ukraine, as well as turn focus to the 2024 campaign. So, that's what they're entering
this with the aspirations for.
But, it's interesting. You mentioned the criticism that President Biden is already receiving from Republican candidates for going forward with this
summit. That's something he is going to have to balance, is this desire to stabilize relationships with China, and at the same time, look tough on
China. So, he can't come across too weak or soft. And the optics are going to play a big role into that. Optics are huge for China too. And China
needs this, no question. I mean, their economy is suffering. They have housing market crisis that they've not seen before. They have youth
unemployment at record highs. And so, it's for that reason that they're likely going to want something out of this. Of course, they're not going to
concede anything without getting something in return. And Kasie, that's very likely to be something economy related.
Of course, we've heard from the U.S. officials saying that reestablishing military communications, I mean, that's going to be really important as
well. But, economy for China is what's going to really be the biggest focus. And it's interesting to note that they're going to be hosting a
welcome Xi dinner, and this is a dinner that's put on by two U.S.-based organizations with a focus on U.S.-China relations, but it's already
getting a lot of criticism, because those were invited our U.S. business leaders. And one U.S. lawmaker, the Chairman of the House Select Committee
that focuses on the CCP, is asking for the names of the companies and individuals who are going to that dinner, because it is a paid dinner,
Some of the tickets reportedly $40,000 for a seat at the table with President Xi. That according to the U.S. lawmaker is unconscionable, and
it's something he wants to really dig into and figure out who is behind and where all that money is going. But, it's part of China's effort to really
try to woo businesses back, win them back to investment in China, because since the pandemic, they have been suffering, and that's obviously been
contributing to the economy downturn, which for them is crucial, because economic aspects are what play into social stability. So, you can bet the
Chinese Communist Party is going to want to focus heavily on that, Kasie.
HUNT: Really fascinating, David. I actually wasn't aware that that dinner was a pay to play situation. I can see why? There would be concerns about
it. David Culver in San Francisco, thank you very much for that report.
We're going to dive into all this now with today's panel, Maura Gillespie, who advised former Speaker John Boehner and former Republican Congressman
Adam Kinzinger, is here. CNN Political Commentator Karen Finney joins us, and Washington Post Columnist Josh Rogin. I thank you all for being here. I
want to give everyone a little bit of a taste. This was Speaker -- President Biden, excuse me, speaking on his way out to California yesterday
about what he hopes to accomplish with this meeting. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How would you define success with your meeting with President Xi?
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: To get back on a normal course of corresponding, being able to pick up the phone and talk to one
another in a crisis, being able to make sure that our militaries still have contact with one another. We're not trying to decouple from China. But,
we're -- what we're trying to do is change the relationship.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: Change the relationship. So, Josh Rogin, you have a column in today's Washington Post, and I highly recommend to read the whole thing to
everyone. But, I want to read the kicker, which was, you write this "Talking with China is better than not talking. But Biden should realize
that Xi is not his friend, and the best way to avoid conflict with China is to show Xi he won't fall into the same trap as his predecessors." Explain
what is that trap?
JOSH ROGIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. Well, Kasie, it makes perfect sense for the leaders of the two most powerful countries in the world to
meet with each other. We should be talking to China. We have to talk to China. The problem is, what the Xi Jinping strategy has been is to give the
U.S. government the cold shoulder until they come requesting the meeting, and then to get the U.S. government to pay them to talk. And they did this
with Biden and they did this with Donald Trump, and they did this with President Obama. They did this with President George H.W. Bush.
And so, what we had was two years of a Biden administration China policy, which was essentially pretty tough. And the premise of it was we're not
going to play that game again. We're going to talk with China on our terms, and then we're not going to pay them to talk. And now, in year three is the
politics come into it, and the President is distracted by Ukraine and Israel. And he is looking at the economy and the business leaders at that
lunch -- at that dinner who are also his donors, by the way. He wants money from them just like Xi Jinping wants money from them.
His calculation has changed. And he is depending on Janet Yellen, and not Tony Blinken. And he is saying, oh, well, now the goal is just to
communicate. And that's a pretty low bar. Now, again, that doesn't mean he shouldn't do it. It just means we have to be honest about the fact that
this is what Xi Jinping wanted, which was to ignore Biden until he came a calling. And I think that's what a lot of GOP congressmen are pointing to,
and there is a big part of that, because it's true.
HUNT: When you say pay to talk, what do you mean?
ROGIN: Well, as David just explained, Xi Jinping wants something on the economic front for this meeting.
HUNT: So, basically the U.S. has to give up something policy-wise in order to have a conversation.
ROGIN: Exactly. Often, that can be just backing off of all of the things that we're doing to confront Chinese bad behavior. And the consistent
message from Beijing has been, throughout the Biden presidency is, if you want to talk with us, you can't tell us anything about the Uyghurs. You
can't tell us anything about Hong Kong. You definitely can't tell us anything about Taiwan. And all of these tariffs and sanctions and export
restrictions and outbound investment restrictions have got to go, otherwise we won't talk to you.
So, they're putting Biden to a choice of pursuing the competitive, sometimes confrontational China policy that he wanted to pursue and doing
what he is doing now, which is basically saying, talking is the most important thing. And that's a victory for Xi Jinping. I don't know, but
that's where we are.
KAREN FINNEY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, remember, in these kinds of matters, what you say publicly is not necessarily the conversation that's
happening privately. And do you think Biden goes into this with two things, right? Number one, on the economic front. China is the one in dire straits.
So, that does give him a little bit of leverage. Number two, we know that China in recent years has wanted to cast itself as something of a
peacemaker. And so, I'm sure there'll be a conversation about how can China help with the Middle East with Russia's involvement in Ukraine. And again,
we may not really know what that conversation is. The communique that comes out is not going to really tell us what the real conversation was.
But, I do think at least Biden goes in with a couple of other sort of chips in his pocket to have some negotiation with Xi that others didn't
necessarily have at the time.
ROGIN: Yes. I totally agree with you that we have -- Biden has the leverage, and Xi is in the weaker position. The problem is that on issues
like Iran, Ukraine, China has already chosen aside. They're an Iranian ally. They're busting Iranian sanctions. They're a Russian ally. They're
supplying the Russians to kill Ukrainians. All their propaganda is pro- Hamas --
MAURA GILLESPIE, FMR. ADVISOR TO FMR. HOUSE SPEAKER JOHN BOEHNER: Yes.
ROGIN: Very antisemitic stuff going on on the Chinese internet, which is controlled by the Chinese.
HUNT: I was going to say, they can take it down if they wanted to.
GILLESPIE: It's hard to see them as a peacemaker, given all this support they've given to Russia. And their own humanitarian issues. They're having
human rights violations that they have in China. So, it's really hard to see them as a peacemaker. But, to the point about -- talk about supply
chain issues and things like that, China is really hurting from our own efforts to distract ourselves from them economically and with our supply
HUNT: Maura, I want to ask you about the Republican presidential campaign, because Ron DeSantis is out with this new "New York Post" OpEd. This is
just kind of an example of how Republicans talk about this. DeSantis writes "If his administration's record is any indicator, Biden will focus more on
flattering Xi than on holding his regime accountable. The President seems to content on managing America's decline rather than confront China with
this -- and win this decisive decade." That's obviously kind of classic talk from the campaign trail. But, this is what President Biden will
confront in the general election from Republicans. Do you buy that messaging?
GILLESPIE: I think you could also apply to Donald Trump. I mean, truthfully, the fact that we have both Joe Biden and Donald Trump as the
two current frontrunners, I think that message that DeSantis just put up there that could be applied to either one of them. That's a problem for us.
That can't possibly be our best option. With 330 million people in this country, those two are our best options? Absolutely not. And when it comes
to China and being strong on foreign policy, I don't trust either of those two to really put our best foot forward as a country and standing up to our
allies, but standing up to our adversaries as well. We have to come from a position of strength. And thus far, we haven't been in a very long time.
HUNT: Would you trust Nikki Haley?
GILLESPIE: I would. In this regard, yes. I think she can handle herself on the stage of foreign policy.
FINNEY: And yet, DeSantis is using the work that Nikki Haley did as governor to lure businesses to -- which is the job of a governor, by the
way, right? He is using that against her now in the presidential. He is running ads against her.
ROGIN: They've all got some sort of links to Chinese companies, because everyone has links to Chinese companies. But, I think DeSantis, if he wants
to be tough on dictator, he has got to be tough on all the dictators. That means Putin too. So, I think any Republican who comes at you, and look,
Chinese dictators are bad but Russian dictators not so bad, that's a contradiction that I think --
HUNT: Do you feel like that's what Ron DeSantis thinks says?
ROGIN: I think that's exactly what Ron DeSantis says.
FINNEY: At least Trump is consistent there.
HUNT: OK. Well, we'll have a lot more on this coming up. President Biden, meanwhile, is struggling with one of the groups that helped him win the
White House in 2020, young voters. What they're saying about his 2024 campaign? Up next.
HUNT: Welcome back. President Joe Biden has been losing ground with a critical group that propelled him to the White House, young voters. Our
Jeff Zeleny went down to Georgia to talk to some of them about whether the President kept his promises from the last election.
KERRY SINGLETON, MOREHOUSE COLLEGE SENIOR (ph): People may not vote because they'll say, well, this happened under the Biden-Harris administration.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF U.S. NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As Kerry Singleton (ph) looks ahead to the next presidential election, he is
thinking back to the promises he heard President Biden and Vice President Harris deliver on a visit to Atlanta.
BIDEN: Pass the Freedom to Vote Act. Pass it now.
ZELENY (voice-over): On that winter day, the President was closing in on his first year in office. Hopes were high for Singleton and other students
on the grounds of Clark Atlanta University and Morehouse College. Since then, voting rights legislation stalled. The Supreme Court rejected a
student loan forgiveness plan. And high prices, from food to housing, are fueling economic anxieties.
SINGLETON: I do think that everyone is willing to hold the administration accountable for some of those promises that were made. And if they don't
happen, I think it's going to be a scary election.
ZELENY (voice-over): For all the warning signs facing the President a year before the election, the skepticism and apathy of young voters rank high.
NABILAH ISLAM PARKES, GEORGIA STATE SENATE DEMOCRAT: Folks just feel poor right now than they did two years ago. There is going to have to be a lot
of conversations about how we feel like our issues are being heard.
ZELENY (voice-over): Nabila Islam Parkes is the youngest woman to win a seat in the Georgia Senate. In 2020, she went door to door in the Atlanta
suburbs, building a coalition to help Biden turn the state blue. That coalition, she said, could fracture by the President's handling of the
Israel Hamas war.
PARKES: I think that young voters recognize you can't bomb your way to peace and security. And so, we do feel uncomfortable with that.
ZELENY (voice-over): Rachel Carol's (ph) first vote for President went to Biden. She said she doesn't regret it given the alternative, but finds
herself disappointed by some priorities of the White House.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If they can fund a war, they can find the money to pay off our student loans.
ZELENY (voice-over): Young voters were a critical component of the President's victory, particularly here in Georgia, where Biden defeated
Donald Trump by only 11,779 votes out of nearly five million cast. Exit polls in 2020 show that voters 18 to 29 made up 20 percent of the Georgia
electorate, the only state of the top six battlegrounds where the percentage of young voters exceeded the national share of 17 percent. Biden
won young Georgia voters by 13 points according to exit polls, but now a year before the 2024 election, surveys show a far closer race with voters
under the age of 30 here in Georgia split 46 percent for Trump and 44 percent for Biden, according to a New York Times/Siena College poll.
AYLON GIPSON, STUDENT, MOREHOUSE COLLEGE: The excitement is not as high as it was last time.
ZELENY (voice-over): Aylon Gibson and some of his classmates wish they had more inspirational and generational choices.
GIPSON: We had to pick between two different people who are very, very old and up in the age.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We would like to see Biden pass the baton.
ZELENY (voice-over): The Vice President, whose college tour brought her back on campus this fall, resonates more.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think she sparks that energy. She is like -- when she came to Morehouse, it was fun. I feel her passion.
ZELENY (voice-over): But, with Biden at the top of the ticket, potentially facing a rematch of the 2020 race, voters say the burden rests on him to
deliver on his promises and not take their support for granted.
SINGLETON: This is why we hold Trump accountable. We have to hold Biden accountable.
ZELENY: Our conversations with young voters indicated that the economy is one of the central concerns, of course, student loans and the war between
Israel and Hamas as well. But, there is no question that enthusiasm is now a central challenge for the Biden campaign. A senior advisor to the
President tells me that they will go after young voters where they are, and try and make this a contrast election, should that be between Donald Trump
or another Republican nominee. But, there is no doubt young voters make up a critical piece of the coalition that sent Biden to the White House in
2020. The question is, will they help do it again? Jeff Zeleny, CNN, Atlanta.
HUNT: Our thanks to Jeff for that report.
Now, we do have some mixed but encouraging signals on what we just heard young people call a central concern that they have, the economy. Consumer
prices continue to rise some 3.2 percent for the 12 months that ended in October. But, those prices clocked in at the lowest annual rate since March
of 2021. And inflation actually cooled more than was expected, which rallied Wall Street. Some economists believed that the Fed may be done
raising interest rates, although who knows, they may be overly optimistic about that.
Let's return to our panel, Mark Gillespie and Karen Finney are back with us. Leigh Ann Caldwell joins us. She is the Co-Author of The Early 202 at
the Washington Post. So, the thing that I wrote down watching that, right, was given the alternative, the young voter says, I do not regret my vote
for Biden. And Leigh Ann Caldwell, I mean, I just have to say that's the argument that the White House is making that they have not yet joined the
actual battle with Donald Trump. And once that happens, Democratic voters are going to come home. They are going to come out. Maybe they don't come
out to vote for Biden. I'm not sure the White House cares about that they are going to come out to vote against Donald Trump.
LEIGH ANN CALDWELL, THE EARLY 202 CO-AUTHOR, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yes, and that is what the White House, like you said, is resting on. They don't have
a challenger yet. And when they do, they think that all these polls will change the thing. Their situation will be different. But, some of these
young voters that we're seeing in polling are extremely frustrated with a multitude of things, not only some things on the economy they feel priced
out, but also what's happening in Israel, and the White House's position on it is also frustrating. And there is a huge generational divide there.
I was in North Carolina a couple of weeks ago, speaking to the 25-year-old head of the North Carolina Democratic Party there, super energetic, has
lots of goals. And one of her goals is to ensure that young people are part of that coalition to deliver Joe Biden and Kamala Harris a victory. She is
still working out with the White House with -- with the Biden campaign on getting someone dedicated in North Carolina just to young voters. It's not
yet a done deal. So, we'll see if how much the President and his re- election focuses on that. But, they're going to be critical.
HUNT: Yes. Karen Finney.
FINNEY: They're going to focus on young voters, no question, because they are a critical part of the coalition. A couple of things. Number one, we
have to remember that these young voters, they watched their parents struggle during the Great Recession. So, that's why you hear them say --
Brookings did a great study on this. They don't believe in the American Dream the same way maybe we did growing up. They've also now lived through
COVID. So, twice they've seen people -- you lose everything.
HUNT: And the world has just fallen apart twice.
FINNEY: Exactly. At the same time, when they've turned out to vote 2020, 2022, just last week or two weeks -- last week in Ohio, timing was so fast.
FINNEY: Issues matter greatly. Reproductive rights matters greatly. And when you talk particularly to young African American and Latino voters, one
of the things that they say is, I mean, they heard what Clarence Thomas said. They're concerned it's a slippery slope to other things. So, on the
issues, that is the conversation that the Biden team needs to be having with young voters, because that's where they're not necessarily going to be
inspired by a person because they just -- they're not -- that's just not their ethos and the way it might have been during our generation.
It's really about the issues, when it comes to climate change, when it comes to certainly student debt, although, you know, again, the other thing
I heard in that piece from Jeff is, clearly those young voters need to also be reminded Democrats weren't the ones who stood in the way of paying off
the student -- those student debt. It was Republican. So, again, in terms of the alternative argument, that's where that argument comes in, but also
making the case on the issues that they care about.
HUNT: I mean, what's the Republican argument to young voters if it comes down to the same choice that we had four years ago? In 2024, it's Biden
versus Trump. I mean, how does -- what's the argument there? What hope do Republicans have to make?
GILLESPIE: What can you afford right now? Can you afford to buy a house like your parents were able to? No. Can you afford to buy groceries as you
did years ago? No. So, they're going to go the economy. That's going to be their best chance at getting young voters to see things are not great for
me, and here is why. But, I think on the point about Israel, I just want to point out, it's very contradictory what young people are saying in terms of
being anti-Israel and supporting Hamas, and then also saying that they care about women's rights, especially in the terms of abortion. Those are two
conflicting things, because if you're supporting Hamas, you are inherently saying that you don't stand with them. So, I am just saying --
HUNT: Well, let separate out people that support Hamas from people who support the rights of Palestinians.
GILLESPIE: But, there is -- but, you are seeing a lot of young people who are protesting, who have no idea what they are actually supporting. So, to
talk about Israel in this context of being a bomb throwing entity and not a self, like, sanctioned nation that can defend itself, I think it's just
really conflicting for young people to be maybe have a better education and understanding this issue as opposed to let's just join this rally and
protest and rip down signs --
FINNEY: Well, (inaudible) you are going when you're 20-years-old. I mean, I don't -- look, I think there is a huge difference between, and particularly
when I listen to black and brown youth, right, what they're saying is, they associate with the idea and see the Palestinian people little minx the
stranglehold between Hamas and between Israel in terms of -- I mean, look at what's been happening to them over the last couple of weeks. I mean,
children dying from these attacks. And so, I think that's what they see.
And I don't disagree that in some of the rhetoric, they may not understand the full historic context of what they're actually saying. But again, I
mean, I tend to believe it's going to really depend on where we are on this issue next year. And again, I think it'll end up being a lot more about
where we are in their own lives and in their own sort of -- in our country.
HUNT: Karen, where do you think those -- I mean, there has been -- I was talking to Debbie Dingell the other day. I mean, they're obviously our Arab
American communities in critical swing states, and a lot of them have looked at what Biden has done. And he is becoming frankly a demonized
figure, if you pay attention --
HUNT: -- to the Arab media and other things like that. He is being lumped in with Netanyahu in a way that is very personal around Biden, and not just
HUNT: But, I just question how that means that they'll turn and vote for the guy that wanted to ban Muslims from coming into the United States,
right? Like, I don't -- how do you think that that shapes out?
FINNEY: Or the guy who just last weekend said he is going to deport every Palestinian from the country, right? I mean -- so, I agree. And again, I
think that comes down to, in the context of a campaign, when you're making the argument and it is between this guy wants to the Muslim ban, he says,
we're going to get rid of Palestinians in this country. He is calling people vermin. And the guy who is -- who hopefully by next year we have
some kind of peace between the -- at least the fighting has stopped. And the guy who is for reproductive freedom, the guy who is actually trying to
make gains on climate change, the guy who is actually trying to lower your student loan debt.
One other really quick thing. This is where Vice President Harris is a huge asset to the ticket. Young voters, she does very well with young voters,
actually and particularly in red states, interestingly enough. They associated with her in part because she looks like them, right? She is
biracial. It is a multicultural, multigenerational. I mean, this younger generation. So, they see her and they relate to her, and she has done a
very good job of speaking to issues like gun safety that they also deeply care about.
HUNT: Yes. All right. We'll see. But, up next, I want to leave plenty of time for this. Are you watching C-SPAN or the WWE? We will discuss the
rumble in the rotunda just ahead.
HUNT: Welcome back to the State of the Race. I'm Kasie Hunt. We're live in Washington. So, lawmakers averted a shutdown on Tuesday, but not a
smackdown apparently. In one of the most bizarre days on Capitol Hill in recent memory, it started when Republican Congressman Tim Burchett among
the eight House Republicans who voted to remove Kevin McCarthy as Speaker, he accused McCarthy of elbowing him in the kidneys. Here is the moment in a
basement Capitol hallway that was caught on audio by NPR.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. TIM BURCHETT (R-TN): I think it went. All right. Sorry. Kevin didn't mean to elbow. Why'd you elbow me in the back? Kevin? Hey, Kevin, you got
any guts you jerk? What kind of chicken move is that? You're pathetic, man. You are so pathetic.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: I feel like you could really hear him, catch himself, chicken move -- chicken. Something else. All right. McCarthy denied the allegation. He said
that they bumped into each other. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): No. I did not elbow him. I would not elbow him. I would not hit him in a kidney. I guess the reporter was interviewing
Burchett or something. I guess our shoulders hit, because Burchett runs up to answer. I didn't know what he was talking about. So, reporters asked me.
I did not run and hit the guy. I did not kidney punch him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: OK, Kevin. You might think that would be hard to top. He is the former Speaker of the House of Representatives. But, no. This happened at a
Senate hearing on Tuesday. This is Republican Senator Markwayne Mullin and the union leader Sean O'Brien. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MARKWAYNE MULLIN (R-OK): You want to run your mouth? We can be two consenting adults. We can finish it here.
SEAN O'BRIEN, GENERAL PRESIDENT, TEAMSTERS: OK. That's fine. Perfect.
MULLIN: You want to do it now?
O'BRIEN: I'd love to do it right now.
MULLIN: Well, stand your butt up then.
O'BRIEN: You stand your butt up.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT): Oh, hold on. Oh, stop it.
SANDERS: No, no, sit down. Sit down.
SANDERS: You are a United States Senator. Sit down. Sit down, please.
O'BRIEN: Can I respond?
SANDERS: No, you can't. This is a hearing. And God knows the American people have enough contempt for Congress. Let's not make it worse.
SANDERS: Hold it. Hold it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: OK, Bernie Sanders is the one who has to step in. Stop it. Like, oh my god. OK. If that wasn't enough, and honestly, this particular incident
pales by comparison to the others. But, we put it in there because three makes a trend. House Oversight Chairman James Comer unleashed on freshman
Congressman Jared Moskowitz after Moskowitz pressed him about Comer's own financial dealings, after Comer had accused Biden of corruption.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JAMES COMER (R-KY): That is bullshit. You look like a Smurf here, just going around and all this stuff.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: You look like a Smurf. OK. This is some really classy stuff that's going on the Hill. Leigh Ann, you cover the Hill every day. You and I for
many years covered Capitol Hill together.
HUNT: Usually this stuff, quite frankly, it's always happened kind of a little bit around the edges, but like not usually in public like this.
CALDWELL: And not all -- like all these things in the same day.
CALDWELL: I mean -- and Kevin McCarthy and Markwayne Mullin are very good friends, almost best friends from his days in the House, when he was in the
House. Yes. It is absurd. Everyone is talking about the House has been in session for 10 weeks, of course, working for 10 weeks straight.
HUNT: Working hard for a long time.
CALDWELL: I know. But, yes, it's insane up there. The tension is extremely high. And not only between the parties, but also intra party conflict is
extremely high as well. And so, I mean, they were able to fund the government. They're hoping to go home. And we'll see how they are when they
return. But ultimately, these people like (inaudible).
HUNT: Thank you. Thank you for just putting it out there, because the reality is like they don't seem to see it that way. This was Markwayne
Mullin after this incident on Fox News. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MULLIN: This isn't anything new. Andrew Jackson challenged to two people or nine people to a duel when he was President, and he also knocked one guy
out at a White House dinner. There is been (inaudible) before in the Senate too. Maybe we should bring some of that back, you know, keep people from
thinking they're so tough.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: These incidents were in the 1800s --
HUNT: -- Finney.
FINNEY: Let's challenge each other to duels every day. That's a much better way to work things out.
HUNT: And by the way, you know what they were fighting about? At least it was something worth fighting about. Slavery is absolutely worth fighting
about. This crap is like totally not on the same level.
FINNEY: No, it's not. But, remember, this session of Congress actually started with the 15 rounds with Kevin McCarthy, and we all saw fisticuffs
breakout on the floor. So -- no, it's -- it's so embarrassing. I mean -- and again, when Bernie Sanders is the model of decorum, I mean, it's --
we're not way down world, for sure.
GILLESPIE: And it has remind you to be a Senator? You are U.S. Senator. Bernie Sanders has to remind another Senator that he is a Senator. I mean,
that is where we're at, which is sad. It's an embarrassment to the institutions of our government. And they all need to go home and just take
HUNT: Take a beat.
GILLESPIE: Take a beat.
HUNT: I will say, a lot of this is so ridiculous that it's impossible not to laugh at it. But, I do think it also says something a little bit more
serious about where we are as a country. When I first started cutting my teeth covering Capitol Hill, too long ago now, 15 years ago, it was -- the
halls were populated by people like Ted Kennedy, John Warner, John McCain, like people that were described as like lions, right, of the Senate. And it
has changed so dramatically since then. And Donald Trump honestly just kind of encapsulates or was the final symptom of something that's been going on
for a really long time. And it has coarsened our politics in a way that has made these things seem more acceptable.
CALDWELL: Yes, no, you're absolutely right. Congress is also reflective of what's happening in the country too. And there is so much anger out there,
so much fear, and especially -- and Donald Trump gave permission to not filter yourself and not control your urges. And so, this is -- yes, this is
where we're at.
GILLESPIE: The members also have a responsibility that, yes, maybe the 20 loud constituents are calling and asking in anger that they're going to do
something. But, it's their responsibility to rein it in and act with the decorum of the institution. And they're not doing that, because yes,
they've been -- that behavior has been normalized. And then it's being fed into -- and it's happens on both sides. But, it's being fed into by --
you're going to appease these 20 people who are maybe your primary voters who you want to. But, is that the best thing for your entire district, for
the entire institution? No.
FINNEY: But, it's really also about -- I mean, social media, Fox News, clickbait, fundraising, I'm sure there is fundraising emails out there
today, right, on this back and forth. Look, the thing is also that the middle has to stand up. And it means that voters who don't want that
behavior have to stand up and hold people accountable. Otherwise, we're going to just keep encouraging them.
HUNT: I think you're absolutely right. But, I guess my question is, like, doesn't this all just have the effect of turning those people off of
politics entirely, and leaving us in a place where the only people that are voting are the ones who care the most, and honestly are leaning towards the
worst tendencies in many cases?
FINNEY: It's very possible. I mean -- and that's why there are a number of efforts now to try to re-engage people in civic engagement, and hopefully
get them to vote, whether it's in a school board race or a mayor's race, or Congress or Senate, to get people to buy back into the idea that and the
importance of the government is here for you. You have to participate in this process to get the government that you want. It's -- it is a lot
harder to make that argument these days, particularly when people see things like that. And think about what our allies are thinking when they
see that and they think, I mean, if you are Zelenskyy, you're thinking, Oh, well, I guess we're not going to get (inaudible).
GILLESPIE: And your point, if you say no need of doing anything, then this is what you're going to get. So, it's another call to action.
GILLESPIE: We have to step up.
HUNT: Fair enough. All right. We've got much more coming up, thousands march in Washington in support of Israel. Just ahead, I'm going to speak
with Congressman Mark Alford. He is a member of the House Armed Services Committee about Washington's response to the crisis abroad.
HUNT: Welcome back. Israeli forces have been inside Gaza's largest hospital where conditions are rapidly deteriorating for patients and hospital staff.
A hospital official told Al Jazeera Arabic that Israeli forces questioned patients and medical teams. Israel believes Hamas is running a command
center inside Al-Shifa hospital. That claim is denied by Hamas and doctors. U.S. intelligence backs the Israeli claim, according to National Security
Council Spokesman John Kirby. The IDF released this video of troops delivering aid to the hospital. CNN can't independently verify any of the
claims made by Israeli forces, Hamas, or hospital officials, and we were not able to reach the hospital for confirmation. CNN's Oren Liebermann has
more on the raid from Israel.
OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The Israeli Military operation going into Shifa Hospital began early Wednesday morning, and at this point, it
has continued for the past 13 or so hours with no indication of how long it might take. The IDF has long accused Hamas of using Gaza's largest
hospital, the Al Shifa Hospital complex, as a base for terror infrastructure, as a command and control center. A U.S. official coming out
and saying they also have evidence and intelligence that that is what Hamas uses the hospital for. A senior Israeli Military official who briefed
reporters says they have evidence specifically showing Hamas uses Al Shifa hospital, and they'll put that out not at this point, but that's expected
sometime later on today.
The official said they've been preparing for this specific operation for a couple of weeks, and it required specialized training for the difficulties
and the complexities of operating inside a hospital. Israel went in with Arabic speakers to be able to communicate with the doctors, the officials,
the patients and the civilians. The hospital had been treating some 650 patients, and over the course of the past several days and weeks had been
home to thousands who were seeking shelter from the fighting outside.
This is also some video released from the IDF earlier today that shows them dropping off incubators, medical supplies and baby food. We have geo
located to Al Shifa hospital, but because we're not on the ground in Gaza, we cannot independently verify what's happening there because of the
difficulties of reporting in Gaza at this time.
Meanwhile, there have been reports and we have spoken with officials at the hospital of ongoing fighting on the streets outside. The Israeli Military
says there had been no gunfights or exchanges of fire in the complex itself. They haven't been specific on where they're operating. Take a look
at this map. This shows you how large the complex is. They say they're operating in a very specific part of the complex. That is where they're
going after Hamas, but they won't be any more precise about where that is.
According to Israeli Army Radio, they have not found any evidence of hostages being held at Al Shifa hospital. That too part of the ongoing
effort of the Israeli Military in Gaza.
HUNT: All right. Our thanks to Oren Liebermann for that report.
Of course, as this was going on, thousands of Israel supporters gathered in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday in the March for Israel. It's believed to be
the largest pro-Israel gathering since the beginning of the Israel-Hamas war. Demonstrators spoke out against antisemitism.
Joining me now is Congressman Mark Alford of Missouri. He is a member of the House Armed Services Committee. Congressman, it's good to see you.
Thank you for being here. I want to start with Israel because of course the House and Senate still have not done what the President has asked in terms
of sending additional funding to Israel. Why was it not included in these spending bills that are going to keep the government open?
REP. MARK ALFORD (R-MO): Well, look, the House has done its job. Last week, one of the first orders of business for our new Speaker Mike Johnson was a
resolution that the majority of the House, a big vast majority of the House signed on to supporting Israel and condemning Hamas. But, we also
appropriated $14.6 billion to go to Israel, or $14.3 million, so that they could have the support they need to rebuild the Iron Dome and to supply
HUNT: Yes. But, you conditioned it on political policy changes for the first time that that's ever happened in terms of supporting Israel.
ALFORD: Repeat that. I'm sorry. I didn't hear the first point
HUNT: You conditioned the aid to Israel in the bill --
ALFORD: Oh yes. We did.
HUNT: on making political changes in the U.S. when previous emergency funding for Israel has not been conditioned on anything.
ALFORD: I don't know if it was a political change. We attached the defunding of the 87,000 IRS agents to help pay for this. And that's what we
sent to the U.S. Senate. The Senate has not done its job. We passed a bill for aid for Israel. It is just down the hall here in the Senate. They
refused to do anything about it. That's not on us. That's on them.
HUNT: All right. Let's talk about the funding votes that just occurred on the floor moments ago, because they are the series or part of the series of
Republican spending plans. And the -- typically the procedural step that is used to start to consider those is something that the party in power
supports. But, this was -- these bills were sunk by Republicans, showing that those bills cannot even come to the floor. Forgive me for not having
looked at the roll call yet. How did you vote, and why?
ALFORD: Well, I voted yes on the amendments. I think it's important to get these funding bills through in a timely manner for the American people. We
continue to work on these appropriation bills as we move forward. The House having passed the continuing resolution for yesterday. But, while that is
going on, now we have a deadline of January 19. And so, we continue to work on these. Obviously, the Whip team and the leaders could not get the votes
they needed to pass these for whatever various reasons. I'm in support of funding our government through these appropriation bills coming up through
Committee, going through proper order.
HUNT: Fair enough. So, sir, I have to ask you about what has been going on both in the Republican conference on the Hill. There was also an incident
in the Senate with Markwayne Mullin and --
HUNT: -- the union leader. Has everybody just lost it? Like what is going on?
ALFORD: It's kind of like kindergarten around here. And in fact, behind me, a statuary hall, I know you've been here. It's a great hall with a lot of
statues, a lot of visitors.
HUNT: I have.
ALFORD: But, I'm proposing that we have a Nerf gun war there, and everyone just get out with Nerf guns and have it out. We've got to release this
tension in a friendly manner. There is a lot of, I guess, childish behavior going on, and I'm not putting blame on anyone. But, we need to grow up and
get back to the business of helping the American people.
HUNT: Are you sure if you gave everyone Nerf guns, they wouldn't come with secret knives in their belts? I'm a little wary.
ALFORD: Well, I would certainly hope not. Look, there is no one I believe. I like to believe the best in people in our conference. Look, we're a very
eccentric family to a big degree. It's like Thanksgiving dinner.
ALFORD: I know we're all going to sit around our tables. We're going to have differing opinions, but we own those opinions. We need to share those
opinions with respect and try to win people over with respect and logic. And that's what I'm trying to do here in Congress.
HUNT: Sir, I want to turn to the presidential race, because --
HUNT: -- Donald Trump endorsed you in your bid for Congress. Over the weekend, Trump said he would "root out communists, Marxists, fascists, and
radical left thugs that live like vermin, his words, within the confines of our country. President Biden last night at a fundraiser said that that
language echoes Nazis. Do you support what Donald Trump said in terms of vermin in our country?
ALFORD: Kasie, here we go again. We know -- I knew from -- when the President to be came down those escalators at Trump Tower many years ago.
I think there is a common misunderstanding in the media, and I was in the media at the time, but I had read up. I had read art of the deal. I knew
that this person, he uses hyperbolic language to make a point. I have met the President -- former President --
HUNT: But, with all due respect, sir, he followed through on the hyperbolic language that he used when it was actionable. He did, in fact, ban Muslims
from coming into the country, a moment that caused a great deal of concern and panic among lawyers driving to airports, etc. I mean, he has a history
of following through on the things that he has said.
ALFORD: Well, look, I know that we've got to improve our immigration system. There are sleeper cells, I do believe, in the United States of
America, and that's because of the poor decisions that this President, this administration, Secretary Mayorkas, who is the biggest liar since
Pinocchio, having an unsecure border and telling the American citizens there is no crisis. That is simply not true. And so, we've got to have a
change in the end. And the attitude of letting people in the United States are going to be a contributing factor to the rich fabric of our nation --
ALFORD: -- and do it the right way.
HUNT: So, do you think using language like vermin is acceptable?
ALFORD: I don't use it. I don't call names. My wife really gets on to me when I -- when a name comes out of my mouth. I know that when you're
calling names, you're not using the highest intellect possible. But, I would never judge President Trump for that, nor anyone else here. That is
between them --
HUNT: You would never judge President Trump for saying he'll root out vermin.
ALFORD: That is between him and his voters. It is between him and his conscious. And that is his personality. And I'm not here to tell the former
President how to talk. I'm not Donald Trump. I support him, but I'm certainly not going to tell him how to speak.
HUNT: Are you backing him for President in 2024?
ALFORD: Look, President Trump called me up two weeks before the general election and endorsed me after I'd won the primary. We're a consideration
right now. I have been in talks with his team, and we'll see what happens going forward.
HUNT: So, you still may endorse someone other than Donald Trump in the primary.
ALFORD: I'm not saying that. I like the President Trump. If you got the chance to sit down and talk with him personally and look at him, I am --
HUNT: Oh I have. I have spoken with him.
ALFORD: Yes. Well, I think most people have not have that opportunity to see what Donald Trump is truly like. When you have an entire system
attacking you, most people are going to go on the defensive. That is what he has done against the media, against the Democrats, against the
progressive woke liberal ideology in America. He is under attack and persecution, and I do not blame him for being defensive. Now, some of the
language that he uses, I wouldn't use, but I'm not Donald Trump. I'm Mark Alford.
HUNT: All right. Well, Congressman Mark Alford, I do appreciate your time today. Thank you very much --
ALFORD: Thank you.
HUNT: -- for coming on the show.
ALFORD: Thank you.
HUNT: All right. Coming up, my panel is back with us for one more thing. Don't go anywhere.
HUNT: Welcome back to the State of the Race. My panel rejoins me. Before we go, we always like to ask for one more thing on the campaign trail or in
Washington that they're watching in the coming days. Your thoughts. 30 seconds each. Maura.
GILLESPIE: My thoughts are, we should be focusing more on the hostages and the situation in Gaza and what's happening in there and making sure that
people are safely evacuated and returned home to their families. And I wish there was more of a focus on that and less on the political situation with
Netanyahu and just that politics of it. So, just reminding folks that there are hundreds of people who are still being captured and kidnapped --
HUNT: Including children.
GILLESPIE: -- including children.
FINNEY: Yes. So, Mike Johnson got something of a victory, right? He got his package through with the help of Democrats. And the theory is, we're going
to go home for Thanksgiving and cool off and come back.
HUNT: Did anybody ever cool off at the Thanksgiving table with their family?
FINNEY: No. I was just going to say, is that not stressful?
When I am going to come back ready to work, I don't think so. So, what does Mike Johnson do between now and January to get this done?
CALDWELL: I'm going to be watching these negotiations between Republicans and Democrats in the Senate on border policy, because now Republicans are
saying that that is necessary to pass aid for Ukraine. Border policy has stymied Congress for decades. And so, it could have huge implications on
what happens with Ukraine.
HUNT: Yes, best chance had been back in 2005.
HUNT: That failed. All right. And this week, I'm continuing to watch Nikki Haley and how her presidential bid is going with reporting that she has met
with Jamie Dimon in the business community at whether or not there is some consolidation behind her as a clear alternative to Donald Trump. We shall
Thank you all for being here today. I'm Kasie Hunt. That's the State of the Race for Wednesday, November 15. You can always follow me on Instagram, and
the platform formerly known as Twitter. Don't go anywhere. One World is up next.