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State of the Race with Kasie Hunt
Biden Meets Xi As Republicans Say President Weak On China; Biden Says He Still Believes Xi Is A Dictator; Biden & Xi Meet As Wars Rage In Middle East, Ukraine. Aired 11a-12p ET
Aired November 16, 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: Violence on the streets of Washington, top lawmakers evacuated from the Democratic National Committee on Wednesday, as fighting
erupted between Capitol Police and protesters calling for a ceasefire in Gaza. And Republican candidates launched new attacks on each other with a
focus on the Iowa caucuses. Nikki Haley says one candidate "might have a girl problem". Plus, I'll be joined by Republican Congressman and veteran
Rich McCormick, what does he think of Senator Tommy Tuberville's hold on military promotions.
Good day, everyone. I'm Kasie Hunt to our viewers watching in the United States and around the world. It's 11 a.m. here in Washington, Thursday,
November 16. There are just 61 days until the Iowa caucuses, 354 days until Election Day. This is today's STATE OF THE RACE.
Welcome to STATE OF THE RACE. President Joe Biden standing on the world stage this week opposite Chinese President Xi, trying to capitalize on the
biggest advantage Xi has in the 2024 campaign. He is the incumbent President. Republican rivals not named to Trump have been quick to
criticize Biden for being too close to China. But, the President poked Beijing with these comments to our MJ Lee yesterday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MJ LEE, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: And Mr. President, after today would you still refer to President Xi as a dictator? This is a term
that you used earlier this year.
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Well look, he is. I mean he's a dictator in the sense that he is a guy who runs a country that is
communist country that is based on a form of government that is totally different than ours.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: Biden has long promised to pivot to Asia, but other crises have gotten in the way. President Biden also fully backed Israel when he was
asked about their claims that Hamas is running a command center under Gaza's largest hospital.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: You have a circumstance where the first war crime is being committed by Hamas by having their headquarters, their military hidden under a
hospital. And that's a fact. That's what's happened. Israel did not go in with a large number of troops, did not raid, did not rush everything down.
They've gone in and they've gone in with their soldiers. We've discussed the need for them to be incredibly careful.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: Israel's Military released this video of what they say is combat equipment used by Hamas inside the hospital. It includes guns, at least one
grenade and a radio. CNN can't independently verify these claims.
But, the ongoing humanitarian toll in Gaza is an increasingly politically explosive issue for the President here at home. In Washington, law
enforcement had to evacuate top Democratic leaders, including Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries, from the headquarters of the Democratic National
Committee. Capitol Police clashed with protesters outside. Capitol Police say six officers were injured in the confrontation "ranging from minor cuts
to being pepper sprayed, to being punched." Congressman Sean Casten wrote on social media, he was among those evacuated, saying, "The building was
surrounded by protesters who had blocked all modes of ingress and egress." Activists of the demonstration have accused police of attacking them,
saying they were pepper sprayed. Capitol Police have not yet responded to CNN's request for comment.
Let's dive into all of this with today's panel, former Republican Congressman Charlie Dent, Democratic Strategist Joe Trippi, and CNN Global
Affairs Analyst Kimberly Dozier. Thank you all for being here.
Congressman, I want to start with you just because for people that aren't familiar with the geography here in Washington, the DNC is kind of part of
the Capitol Hill complex. It's like adjacent to it, and that would explain why the Capitol Police were involved in this. But, blocking all the
entrances and exits is a tough situation for members to be in. It seems like Capitol Police were taken by surprise. What was your reaction to
seeing these pictures last night?
CHARLIE DENT, FORMER U.S. HOUSE REPUBLICAN, & EXEC. DIRECTOR, ASPEN INSTITUTE CONGRESSIONAL PROGRAM: Well, I didn't see the pictures. I
actually saw the actual event.
HUNT: Oh you did. Oh even better.
DENT: I was driving from a dinner. And as I was driving home, I saw this police all around. So, I avoided it. But, I could just see there was a big
disturbance. Drove home this morning. First person I bumped into his Congressman Sean Casten who happened to tell me that he was there and
trapped in the building with several other people, and they couldn't leave. And I assumed there was a protest going on there.
That's what I thought was going on, probably about this issue. So, I wasn't shocked that it happened, but I'm really so discouraged that there were so
many police officers injured in this whole disturbance. But, the Democrats are really torn up over this issue right now. They're going through some
really hard discussions among themselves that were pro-Israel and those who are more sympathetic to Palestinian cause.
HUNT: Joe Trippi, to share a little bit of your background, I mean, you have a history of working on the kind of the anti-war -- with the anti-war
JOE TRIPPI, U.S. DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST, & FORMER CAMPAIGN MANAGER FOR HOWARD DEAN: Yes.
HUNT: -- wing of the Democratic Party, some of which is what we're seeing. Some of that energy is what we're seeing in these pro-Palestinian protests.
And this puts the Democratic Party in a very tough spot. Can you kind of help us understand the texture of what's going on here?
TRIPPI: Well, I mean, look, there has always been divided in the party, and the progressive wing has been -- is going to be against war and all this
stuff. I mean, that's what's going to happen here. But, you got to denounce the violence no matter where it's coming from. I mean, that's where I think
it's -- I mean, it's so -- I think it's more important for Democrats writ large to talk down the violence. I mean, it's a great protest if you want
it to, and I've been somebody who has done that. But, to take it to the level that we're seeing, and we're seeing it repeatedly now, I think over
the last six years, and it's just got to stop.
And I think that's more important in the politics of this, right? I mean, I know everybody is -- we're going to look at polls and see who is moving
where, but I think this is well beyond that. This is literally time to start talking to people about not violent -- no violent protests, protests
all you want. And I think there are going to be two sides of this. We know that. They're both heated and angry. And the protests is fine. But, I
think, again, even the question about how to Democrats handle this. You got to do what you think is right in terms of your votes and things. I think
that's what President Biden is doing.
TRIPPI: There is no political upside to this at all, other than doing what's right for the -- what you think is in the best interest of the
HUNT: Kim Dozier, I mean, to that broader point, I mean, there has been an increasing normalization of violence in our politics here in the United
States that is quite frankly alarming.
KIMBERLY DOZIER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Whether it's lawmakers pushing each other or threatening to have --
HUNT: That was you.
DOZIER: -- MMA Smackdowns. Yes. Or -- January 6 changed the norms, the revolt of January 6, the insurrection and all of the mythology that's built
around it, those who say it was just a demonstration and those who call it a violent insurrection attack that is was. What it's done is now when you
have this kind of demonstration, well -- and remember, all of the Black Lives Matter demonstrations during the Trump administration have accustomed
people to that kind of a protest, and when you're in the middle of it, you can also feel when the crowd, whichever side they are from, wants a fight,
and it's just that much easier to tip into it, because that's also the only way you're going to get press coverage.
HUNT: Yes. I mean, when you are -- well, I mean --
DOZIER: I will say it's often the way.
HUNT: -- tens of thousands of people gathered on the mall in support of Israel --
DOZIER: This is true. This is true. That was --
HUNT: -- without that occurring.
HUNT: -- protests at night where you can't see faces. I mean, there are some elements here that make it more ripe for violence and something that
happens during the day. But, Joe, I mean, what kind of pressure do you think this kind of thing, and I take your point about condemning violence,
HUNT: Number one thing. But, the underlying politics of this for the President are becoming increasingly emotional and increasingly challenging
in terms of -- he has stood staunchly with Israel. I mean, he is standing with them in ways big and small, right? We believe the Israel is on what's
underneath the hospital. Also, we're not going to call for a ceasefire, right? He has been honestly become sort of demonized in the Arab media as
somebody who is like personally responsible for some of these atrocities, but he is doing it anyway. And the progressive left of his party is
increasingly putting pressure on him about this. I mean, should he be doing anything differently, and do you think the pressure is going to change
TRIPPI: I don't think so. I think -- I don't think the President is looking at this from a political cost or advantage. He is doing what he thinks is
best. How do you use the military strength and the diplomatic strength of the United States to stop this from exploding into a regional, more
regional conflict? And I think he is more interested in doing that, getting the hostages out, negotiating behind the scenes, and doing again what he
thinks is right as Commander in Chief and leader this country, and not -- and my advice, and I'm sure everybody politically around him is telling
them, there is no way to play politics with this.
This is what I'm trying to say. There is no advantage to it whatsoever. The best way, did the hostages get out? Do we get the hostages out, next week,
tomorrow, three months from now? I mean, I'm just saying. It is things like that I think that are going to play out how effective was he about not
having this go into a regional conflict. Things like that are going to be measured than what polls are today, or who is angry today.
DENT: Well, I'll tell you, I just left the important breakfast with some folks very engaged on this issue. They're very concerned right now about
Jordan and Egypt, instability there. Also, these Palestinian, now refugees, who moved from the north part of the -- from the Gaza to the south, they
can't go to Egypt. They can't go to Israel. Maybe get them into the West Bank, is where you're going to have to put some of these people and provide
assistance there or treat them there those who are injured. You're going to have to come up with some creative solutions.
And power, countries like Jordan and UAE, part of the Abraham Accords, get these countries involved, helping at least on the humanitarian side, give
them some leverage to that. I think that would help everybody in this process. So, we got to really start thinking about the day after, and of
course, the hostages are the most immediate concern. How do we get them -- how they get them released?
DENT: So, there are many dimensions to this conflict.
DOZIER: And I've been talking to some foreign diplomats, like asking them, how do you think the Biden administration is handling this? And the
response I've gotten back, not from the Gulf or Arab world, but from Western diplomats, is they're doing the hard, behind the scenes, almost
thankless work to try to get the two sides somewhere near some sort of compromise. But, that's not going to win them any points publicly. Every
time they say every innocent death is a tragedy, but then they don't publicly call Israel on to have a ceasefire. When it's on the left or from
the Global South, they're going to say this is wrong. And -- but, if Biden was calling for a ceasefire with Americans still held hostage --
DOZIER: -- it's a dissonant in another way.
HUNT: Yes. No. It's basically impossible.
DENT: I was going to say, I just think a ceasefire plays completely into Hamas's hands right now. I mean, obviously, the humanitarian pauses are
essential, but that would just give them time to rebuild, and it would reward them. They commit an egregious act like this, and then call for a
ceasefire. Well, they might try it again, maybe in the West Bank this time.
HUNT: All right. Let's push pause on this conversation because this just in while we were talking. House Republican George Santos announced he will not
seek reelection to the House next year following the Ethics Committees release of its long awaited report today. It includes there -- it concludes
there is substantial evidence that the New York Congressman used campaign funds for personal purposes. Well, he saved. His savings, Republicans a lot
of trouble with this. We'll discuss more on this with our panel in just a moment.
And just ahead here, Republican Senators stay up all night as they fight with each other over confirming top military nominees. We'll have that
HUNT: Welcome back to STATE OF THE RACE. This just in, Congressman George Santos of New York announcing he will not seek reelection, writing on the
platform formerly known as Twitter, "I will not -- I will however not be seeking reelection for a second term in 2024 as my family deserves better
than to be under the gun from the press all the time." This comes after the House Ethics Committee found substantial evidence that George Santos used
campaign funds for personal reasons, including buying luxury clothes. The Ethics report says he caused his campaign to file false FEC reports, used
campaign money for, as the aforementioned, personal purposes, that he engaged in fraudulent conduct via his company and that he knowingly and
willfully violated ethics, the Ethics in Government Act.
Charlie Dent, this has been quite a ride for Mr. Santos and the Republican Party that he has taken along for said ride. This honestly is going to be a
sigh of relief to Republican leaders. Although he did flip the seat, it's a swing district, my sort of gut is that this news Republicans will think
that they'll have a better shot at keeping the seat. But, for writing George Santos's political obituary, what's the lead?
DENT: What's the lead? He is dead. OK, politically. Look -- but I was Chair of the Ethics Committee. So, I kind of have an insight what they're doing.
HUNT: You do. Yes.
DENT: So, look, they need --
HUNT: It's the most thankless job in Washington.
DENT: Well, yes. It's like being Head of Internal Affairs in the Police department. No fun.
DENT: But, look, this guy should have resigned a long time ago. They would like him to resign now. I was surprised that the Ethics Committee did not
issue a sanction. I assume they're going to move to expel him or recommend expulsion, as they will.
HUNT: No. It specifically says that they're not going to recommend expulsion over this.
DENT: Well --
HUNT: Which I found confusing.
DENT: Well, I understand why they've probably said that. And the reason why they've said that is because there has been five expulsions in the history
of House of Representatives, three for treason during the Civil War, and two for felonious conduct, Ozzie Myers of Philadelphia during Abscam, and
James Traficant of Ohio for all his crimes.
HUNT: Oh yes.
DENT: So, the idea is --
HUNT: Real winners, though.
DENT: -- usually, members of Congress who got in trouble like this --
DENT: -- would feel shame --
DENT: -- and they would resign for the good of themselves, their families and their constituents. But, apparently, George Santos cannot feel shame.
MARGARET TALEV, SENIOR CONTRIBUTOR, AXIOS: Well, we are also in an era of no shame. But, he is --
DENT: But, he doesn't have to. So, I suspect there will be a motion to expel him, and those who didn't vote to expel him, who are waiting for this
DENT: -- now they have some cover.
HUNT: Yes. So, is this move to not run for reelection just an attempt to avoid an expulsion vote?
TALEV: He probably recognizes that he can't win reelection. And that saying he is going to run for reelection can't protect him from what's coming. I -
- the whole thing is such a colossal mess. And I think Charlie is right that this is in part -- and it's funny that this is happening under the new
House Speaker Mike Johnson, because I think part of this, on the Republican side is a calculation that especially for those New York Republicans who
have to run for reelection in their state, the same state as George Santos, this -- there is more to lose from keeping him around than from minimizing
TRIPPI: I think that tweet is the first smart tweet I've seen from him in the whole time he has emerged onto the scene.
DENT: If I were the Speaker right now, I would summon George Santos to the office, and on the coffee table in the room, there would be a letter,
Santos's resignation letter. I think you need to sign it now. If he says no, then you say, OK, you are no longer a member of the House Republican
Conference. Goodbye. And use any other hardball tactic he can to marginalize and isolate this guy.
HUNT: Do you think Mike Johnson is kind of got to do that?
DENT: Well --
HUNT: I think Paul Ryan was.
DENT: I know Paul Ryan and John Boehner had these kinds of conversations with members who committed far less serious acts that were non-criminal,
but they were embarrassments and distractions. And it was better that they step aside. And they would have those conversations. That letter on the
desk is your resignation letter. If that stuff is true, you better sign it.
HUNT: How is it different under Johnson and Kevin McCarthy, Margaret, do you think?
TALEV: Well, we don't know how Mike Johnson is going to handle a lot of these issues, because he hasn't been the House Speaker before. And for
McCarthy, there was -- part of this baked in calculation was not wanting to get toppled by the right flank of his own caucus. We saw how that played
out in the end. But, part of it was also just the numbers. Kevin McCarthy is a numbers guy. He thought about the fundraising. He thought about the
minimum vote margin needed to get stuff passed. And he was willing at least in the early months. When you weigh that on balance to say George Santos is
more valuable to us as a total embarrassment who is a reliable Republican vote than he is as someone that we cast out and can try to claim that we
have nothing to do with him.
TRIPPI: As a Democrat, I'm a little sad to see him go, even if is helpful I think in elections.
HUNT: I think a lot of Democrats in Washington share that sensibility.
HUNT: All right. So, let's move now from one Republican train wreck to another one, although at least this one is based on policy. Senate
Republicans pulled an all-nighter on the Senate floor through Friday morning, taking on fellow GOP Senators Tommy Tuberville and Mike Lee over
the confirmation of top military nominees. For nine months now, Tuberville has been holding all of them up to try to show his opposition to the
Pentagon's policy of reimbursing service members who traveled to receive abortions. Last night, several Republican Senators who also disagree with
that policy still attacked Tuberville for objecting to the nominees that have nothing to do with it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TODD YOUNG (R-IN): Mr. President, there are now tens, tens of Americans watching us on C-SPAN2. I intend to continue reading through
these brave patriots --
JONI ERNST (R-IA): We would have asked for individual voice votes tonight because that's what has been asked for in the past, but unfortunately, has
not been honored. So, again, I stand for life. I will be an ardent supporter of life, and I will continue combating that. But, I will not do
it at the expense of these individuals.
SEN. DAN SULLIVAN (R-AK): Why punish patriotic military members over a dispute that they have no ability to fix, and they didn't cause?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: Something noteworthy, Charlie Dent, that the people you saw speak on the floor there are associated with the military in some way, veterans or
members of the Reserves, etc. They are saying and they're making the argument that, one, this is national security problem, but two, you are
punishing -- I mean, they're not just punishing the person that's getting - - not getting the promotion. They're also punishing the family. The family is also serving the country, like the kids can't move to next schools.
There is all these issues around this, and it's gone on for nine months now. At what point -- are they just going to have to change the rules of
the Senate and fix this?
DENT: Yes. They're going to have to just run over Tuberville. They got to do whatever they have to do to get these appointments confirmed. They have
to confirm these folks, because the world is on fire right now. And American Military leadership is struggling. We don't have people in place
to do what we need them to do. And it's a disgrace that a United States Senator is using his position to fight over abortion. This is about
abortion with him. It's all about abortion. And he does not -- he wants to hold the military hostage over this other very difficult policy question.
So, it's an embarrassment. They have to use whatever mechanisms they have in the Senate to run them over. Republicans have to do this.
HUNT: Yes. I was going to say, Margaret, this is the second time we've seen Republicans specifically take on Tuberville, and the Democrats have been
taking them on for a while now.
TALEV: You're going to need nine Republicans to join up with Democrats in order to force this rule. There is a couple of things that are interesting
about this. One is, it is a reminder that it's actually possible for the Senate to bypass its own rules and get stuff done, when there is a
collective will to do it. It's been nine months. We're almost there. I think it's not quite there. But, the other that's interesting, we're saying
this is a matter of abortion policy. There has been growing, rising speculation in the last couple of weeks among Democrats, but I heard it at
a bipartisan event last night, that Charlie was also at, about whether this could also help empower Donald Trump give him a ramp if he were to run for
a second term?
You're looking at not just Senator Tuberville, but Mike Lee as allies of Donald Trump, and Trump is sort of sparring with the military, woke
military, Biden's plans for woke military. If you leave a lot of these positions unfilled, and they're still unfilled a year from now, yes, it's a
risk to national security. Yes, it imperils the military readiness, but it also, were there to be a set Trump second term, would give have a much
greater ability to run the table.
So, I think all of that is coming to a boil right now.
HUNT: That's cheerful.
TRIPPI: It also explains why when you only need nine Republicans to come along to override all this stuff. It is nine months and they still haven't
delivered nine Republicans. And I agree that there is growing concern that what this is really about is keeping all that open so that Trump, when he
comes in, has an easier time it -- if they've done with their 2025 plan, I mean, that he is put out --
TRIPPI: -- about really putting a lot of people in and this time going to go along with anything he wants to do, and this is sort of Tuberville and
Lee sort of mapping that out a little bit into taking on the woke military and things like that.
HUNT: Well, that's a very sinister view. Charlie, what do you think? I mean, it just is. I'm not arguing.
DENT: I would have to think if you took a poll among Senate Republicans right now, I think just about all of them are outraged by what Tuberville
has done. And I still remain optimistic that they are going to be able to run over him and they'll get the votes necessary to confirm these 300
TRIPPI: It's still nine months.
DENT: I know.
TRIPPI: They need nine -- I mean, that's what I'm saying. I agree. I think you're right about where they -- that they all want to do this, but for
some reason they still can't bring themselves to do it. And that's where the sinister view kind of (inaudible).
TALEV: Even if you are not a sinister --
HUNT: Yes. Final thought from Margaret.
TALEV: Well, if you're not sinister, the Senate has always viewed themselves as wanting to empower individual Senators to stake out --
TALEV: -- fights on stuff that's really important to them. And if they throw this under the bus, it takes away their own future rights. But, what
are the rules for? What is the maneuverability for if you can't --
TALEV: -- stop a blockade of 400 people --
TALVE: -- still in the military ranks?
HUNT: It's another example of just the complete collapse of decorum, civility and general politeness in Washington. It's fun times.
All right. Still ahead here, Republican infighting and the war between Israel and Hamas, Representative Rich McCormick will join us to discuss
that and more.
HUNT: All right. Welcome back to STATE OF THE RACE. Joining me out to discuss -- where do we even start? We have so many things to discuss today.
Congressman Rich McCormick of Georgia. He is a Republican who serves on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Congressman, thanks very much for being
REP. RICH MCCORMICK (R-GA): My pleasure.
HUNT: I want to start with the breaking news, which is that your colleague George Santos announced that he does not plan to run for reelection. Is
that good enough for you, or do you think he should step down immediately?
MCCORMICK: I don't see how it benefits us for him to step down right now. I'm just being pragmatic as far as he is going to be a vote. He has been
voting appropriately. He still represents his district. There is a legal process. He may be forced to step down, for all I know. I'm not really --
I'm not a lawyer. I'm a doctor. But, I'll look forward to seeing what happens with that decision, because it's very important to still pass the
things we need to be passing.
HUNT: Do you think it is better on the whole for Republicans that George Santos won't be in Congress in 2025?
MCCORMICK: It would be good to have some of that drama dropped from the narrative. I think we have bigger things to focus on, and it can't be
HUNT: So, you voted against Speaker Mike Johnson's funding plan earlier this week. Why?
MCCORMICK: I felt like we could get something, something that was popular with all Americans, something that would benefit the country, that wouldn't
cost us anything. To me, I thought either REINS Act which would limit executive and bureaucrats' spending, which I think helps us limit --
MCCORMICK: -- any debt, or to get H.R. 2 which is wildly popular, even amongst sanctuary cities now, because people realize we have a big problem
with our southern border. It was something we had already passed, and I thought we could use that as something to negotiate for, at least get
something out of it.
HUNT: So, one of your colleagues has said that -- one of your conservative hardline colleagues has said there is been two strikes already against
Speaker Mike Johnson. Do you agree with that assessment? I mean, how much time does Speaker Johnson have to get right with that portion of your
MCCORMICK: I'm -- I don't like to engage in that sort of rhetoric, because I don't think it's helpful to what we're trying to accomplish. If Speaker
Johnson is going to have any kind of power, we have to come together. I mean, you can pick anybody. The problem is not the Speaker, obviously.
We've been through, what, McCarthy, Emmer, Scalise, Jordan, and we haven't found any consensus to tell Johnson. If we get rid of Johnson, it doesn't
get rid of the problem. The problem is with the body, not with the leadership. We are a church, whether we like it or not. We're not -- it's
not attorney. That's not a cult. We are individuals. We all have different opinions. But, that doesn't mean we're enemies. We have to find a way to
unite to get things done.
MCCORMICK: Do you think it's possible for Republicans to do that?
MCCORMICK: We're about to find out. We've gotten -- in the first portion of this Congress, we got a lot done. We actually got more done. We had a 20
vote majority. So, yes, we can get it done. There are a few people that become problematic at times. And I'm hoping we can corral them and reason
with them. But, time will tell.
HUNT: I mean, we're at the point where the former Speaker is trading accusations with a hardline member of who elbowed who in the kidneys and
why. I mean, who do you believe, Kevin McCarthy or Tim Burchett?
MCCORMICK: I actually had a good time with that, because I went up to Tim and I said, you know, I'm an ER doctor. I can take you out for bruising. If
you're in any blood. We can get you dialysis or your kidneys are shutting down. But, I'm also a rugby guy. I'm a Marine. I just don't take a lot of
offense to friendly nudges or unfriendly nudges. I'll nudge you back. This is a man's game. Step up. These are third grade problems, not first world
problems. These are third grade problems. Who cares about that stuff? Let's get on with business. That's just a little side note drama.
HUNT: All right. First, world problems. Our military is absent hundreds of top officers because Republican Senator Tommy Tuberville has blockaded them
in the Senate, and several Republican colleagues of his, of yours on the Hill, in general, were all night on the Senate floor last night, saying
that this has got to stop. Are you with Dan Sullivan, former Marine, and other Veterans who took the floor who said Tommy Tuberville, stop doing
this, or are you with Tuberville?
MCCORMICK: So, I actually met with the commandant and --
HUNT: Other Marine Corps.
MCCORMICK: -- right before he had his heart attack, actually, and we were talking about that. The confirmation process is very important to keeping
the military ready. If you're wearing two hats to be the commandant and the assistant commandant, you're not doing your job properly. I think he has
picked too many fights. If you're going to be selective, I can understand that there is a certain problem you have.
HUNT: Tommy Tuberville has picked too many fights?
MCCORMICK: I think if you're going to make a carte blanche statement by holding up every nomination, it's going to be problematic to getting the
mission done. This is problematic times in the United States history with a foreign policy with -- basically on the brink of war where we're defending
Israel. We have Azerbaijan going on. We have Taiwan, potentially. We have Ukraine. These are not times to be playing games with leadership. But, I do
understand Tuberville's point of upholding what we've already agreed to, what we have is laws, and trying to hold them accountable for what he
thinks we should already have passed with the laws and hold up. I know he is pro-life, and I get that. But, you got to pick your fights.
HUNT: Understood. Congressman, former President Donald Trump over the weekend was giving a speech on Veterans Day, and he talked about his
political opponents and called them "vermin". President Biden then said that this echoes Nazi rhetoric from the 1930s. Do you think this is Nazi-
like rhetoric from the former President?
MCCORMICK: I think the whole use of the word Nazi is overused by both sides, and by all people. Nazism, we're talking about Holocaust. We're
talking about invading foreign countries. We're talking about --
HUNT: He was specifically talking about the 1930s, the rhetoric that was used that led to all those terrible things you're talking about.
MCCORMICK: Well, when you're directing your own party, I don't think that's the way Hitler did it, I think.
HUNT: What do you mean directing your own party?
MCCORMICK: So, when you talk about your opponents, there are people who are divisive inside their own party. And I'm not just talking about Trump. I'm
talking about all people. Right now, you look at our party, and how it's kind of inwardly focused. And we're focused on things that divide the
Republican Party rather than things that divide the Democratic Party. That's no future. Last time we won a popular election was 2004, 20 years
ago, in large part is because we focused on the things that divide us. It's like somebody who comes into a church and says, Thank you, Lord. I'm not
like these other sinners. I define the party. I'm the ultimate American. I'm the ultimate Republican. That's no way to grow.
If you look at what Reagan did, you don't have to agree with everything. It's OK to disagree. We are not a cult. We don't have one person that
defines the party. When somebody disagrees with you, I don't need to call you a name. It's OK to disagree and be on the same side. This is what's
missing in politics, not just between parties, but inside of our own party. And this rhetoric of calling people names I think is way over use. Whether
it be Trump calling somebody a name, or somebody comparing him to Nazis, I think it's not useful to our conversation.
HUNT: I mean, do you think it's acceptable what Trump said about "vermin"?
MCCORMICK: I didn't hear the context. Like I don't like to judge other people's face. It's going to just add fuel to the fire. I'm all about
moving on, and actually talking about topics which is going to solve America's problems, not calling people names.
HUNT: OK. You endorsed Ron DeSantis in the presidential race. His campaign has not taken off the way some people expected that it might. What is your
-- what do you think he needs to be doing that he is not doing?
MCCORMICK: I was kidding with him the other day. He has a big debate coming up on November 30 in Atlanta, and he is somebody going to get Newsom. He'll
be the one Republican represent our party against the one Democrat representing their party, one state Florida versus one state California,
vastly different policies. And you get to compare and contrast the parties and states and how they have progressed. What's successful? That's his big
chance. I'd say you need to hire Don King, Ric Flair, (inaudible) Rocky Balboa, make a big deal out of this, get as much traction as you can,
because this might be your Hail Mary. Use it and make a good point because this is his one chance to really shine.
HUNT: This might be your Hail Mary. That's an interesting way to think about it. If it is his Hail Mary and it doesn't work, who is your next
choice for Republican President? Nikki Haley? Donald Trump?
MCCORMICK: So, I think -- I love Nikki. I think she has got some great points. She is very experienced, obviously a UN Ambassador, a Governor. She
is well spoken, educated. Quite frankly, Trump is showing that he can run an economy that has policies, I think, that benefit a lot of people.
Really, I'm trying to get away from these failed policies. Look, there is several policies that are failing for the Democrats. We don't focus on the
border crime, debt, education, energy. Those things unite the Republican Party and divide the Democrat Party. Those are the things we need to focus
on, regardless of who the candidate who comes out of the primaries.
HUNT: All right. Congressman Rich McCormick, thank you very much for joining STATE OF THE RACE.
MCCORMICK: My pleasure.
HUNT: I really appreciate it. It's great to have you.
All right. Still ahead here, eyes on the prize. The Iowa caucuses are just two months away. Rival Republican candidates who want the Oval Office are
working hard to land some tough blows on one another, if not necessarily on the frontrunner. Our panel returns.
HUNT: Welcome back. Republican presidential candidates are ramping up their attacks on one another this week, focusing on the Iowa caucuses, because
guess what? They're just two months away. Former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, she has been surging in the polls, now taking aim at Florida
Governor Ron DeSantis's record on energy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RON DESANTIS, U.S. REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Absolutely going to frack.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: False. DeSantis is lying. Just listen.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you also support banning fracking?
DESANTIS: Yes. Yep. Yep. Yep.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: DeSantis wants a billion dollars to brace the State of Florida for the impact of climate change.
DESANTIS: When President wanted to do offshore drilling, I opposed him on it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you also support banning fracking?
DESANTIS: Yes. Yep. Yep. Yep.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ron DeSantis, he is lying because he is losing. SFA funding is responsible for the content of this advertisement.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT; All right. DeSantis is responding by touting his endorsement from Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds, political observers. Well, it's pretty rare
that an Iowa Governor would endorse in a race like this. We'll see if there is any sway here.
Meanwhile, as candidates have criticized frontrunner Donald Trump for his comments comparing some Americans to "vermin", rival candidate Vivek
Ramaswamy actually used a variation of those comments himself.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VIVEK RAMASWAMY, U.S. REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know what's vermin? What's running around in San Francisco on a given day before Gavin
Newsom cleaned it up on a dime to roll out the red carpet for Xi Jinping.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: OK. More on this now with my panel. Charlie Dent is still with us. Joe Trippi is here. And joining us is Daniel Strauss, CNN's National
Charlie Dent, I want to pick up on this vermin situation before we go to some of the lighter stuff that I have stacked here just because this is a
serious thing. And Vivek Ramaswamy, in many ways, I mean, some people are arguing that he is in the race to be a heat shield basically for Donald
Trump to splinter the electorate further from other candidates and kind of help them along. Certainly, he is echoing the things that the former
President has now been saying in what our -- I mean, I wasn't quite sure that Donald Trump could start painting a darker picture of the world in the
way that he thinks about it and looks at it, but it's pretty clear he has and currently is on the campaign trail. How dangerous is talking like this?
DENT: Well, it's absolutely reckless. And you're right. This commentary is much darker and much more sinister than it had been. Trump had always
attacked his opponents. But now, he is going after people who work for him, Bill Barr, John Kelly, Mark Milley. He is going after people -- in other
words, anyone who disagrees with him, he wants to attack. And there has to be forceful condemnation from Republicans, Ronna McDaniel, in particular,
who has failed to comment on this. They need to be the ones taking down Trump. Republicans have to be the ones to take him down. And that's the
only way we're going to change this, as we watch these guys.
Ramaswamy, well, he is hopeless. I mean, he is not running for President. He is running to self-promote himself and maybe get a position with Donald
Trump at some point. I mean, he is just carrying on like an idiot. But, this is an outrage, and I think Republicans know that this rhetoric of
Trump's is well beyond the pale and it needs to be rejected.
HUNT; Joe Trippi, what do you think when you hear this vermin type of rhetoric, and how do you think this -- is it the same? Is it different than
what we've heard before? And how should Democrats deal with it?
TRIPPI: No. It's much worse, and it's getting worse. I mean, I think, for whatever reasons, Trump has gotten even more, I mean, I couldn't believe
it, but even worse. But, I also think, Charlie, don't -- please don't hold your breath, because there just aren't going to be any Republicans who, not
enough of them anyway, who come out and denounce this kind of rhetoric and divisiveness. I mean, I just don't see any hope of that happening. I think
the one hope may be if somebody starts to emerge in Iowa and other places. I mean, so, there is an actual fight that people can get behind. But, it's
not going to be because of something Trump says.
HUNT: Yes. I will say Iowa seems like less likely to be the place where that happens, New Hampshire increasingly shaping up to look like. It may be
somewhere where we could see something interesting. And to that point, Daniel, I want to bring you into the conversation here. I want to show
everyone, obviously, out of the last debate, Vivek Ramaswamy's exchanges with Nikki Haley, really rose to the kind of the forefront of the
conversation afterward. Nikki Haley was recently on the Ruthless podcast, which is run by some gentleman who have long careers working for Mitch
McConnell and kind of are part of the establishment here in Washington, and she took some shots at Ramaswamy. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NIKKI HALEY, U.S. REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What happens? He comes out of the gate. He hits the female Chair of the party. He hits the female
anchor on the platform, and then he hits me. And I'm not saying anything.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I hate saying I'm just that.
HALEY: Well, he might have a girl problem.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
HALEY: I am just saying he might have a girl problem.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: He might have a girl problem, she says. So, this was how the Vivek Ramaswamy responded to that. Watch. It's a tweet actually. Sorry. You're
going to have to look at the tweet. It's "Sorry Nikki, having 2x chromosomes doesn't even immunize you, Ronna McDaniel or Kristen Welker
from criticism. I don't think Kamala Harris is going to run. So, there might be an opening for you in the party of identity politics.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: So, Daniel Straus, like I guess I'm the only woman sitting here on the show today. I will just say that what stood out to me is, yes, all he
did was attack the women. He notably failed to attack -- there were two male moderators available. There were multiple male candidates on the stage
available and plenty of other men in the Republican Party who he could have attacked. He seems, is he just afraid of attacking them?
DANIEL STRAUSS, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER: It seems that way. He -- but, this is also a provocateur, and that's what a big part of his campaign
has been about. It's been trying to say something explosive and garner attention and sort of thrive in the primary on outrage against whatever he
says. And this is clearly what his plan was going into that debate, attack the most prominent women involved in this debate, and argue that this is --
that any criticism against him is unfair, and signs of like some kind of larger conspiracy from the deep state and the mainstream media and
establishment Republicans and whatever.
HUNT: Yes. He is way down --
STRAUSS: So --
HUNT: -- in the right wing media situation. Charlie Dent, one of the attacks that he has been making and he has continued to make it is was on
Committee -- Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel. And he has sort of persisted, and now he is calling for her to resign. What's
going on there, and how would you rate the job that McDaniel is doing?
DENT: Well, let me just say this. Ramaswamy is a total self-promoter. I don't think much of anything he says seriously. But, I think there is a lot
to be criticized about Ronna McDaniel. She has just, I think, in many of these cases, has failed. She has presided over so many election defeats
that I'm stunned that she has been able to keep her position. When that whole legitimate public discourse situation came out a few years ago, and
she -- they failed to -- I mean, they came out of the Republican National Committee, describe January 6, and she still has her job.
So, I think they're right to criticize her for failing to lead this party and take it in the direction. They've made losing great again, and she is
the face of Republican defeat. So, I think it's fair to call for her to step aside.
HUNT: Joe Trippi, how are Democrats looking at this kind of -- at this Republican primary process right now? Because it does seem like the
assumption is Donald Trump is going to run away with it. I'm always hesitant in making blanket assumptions nowadays, because everything you
know I could be wrong based on the experiences we've had over the course of the last 10 or so years, really especially since 2016.
But, for the White House, I mean, they do still have some hurdles. I mean, New Hampshire, they've got a challenger. Biden is not on the ballot.
Potentially some unpredictable things should happen. I mean, what are you paying closest attention to right now?
TRIPPI: Look, I think everybody is wrong about Trump, and that -- we're all overestimating how strong he is in the Republican primary. I still think
he'll be the nominee. But, I actually -- I'm looking at Tim Scott getting out. He -- it won't matter because he was only at two percent nationwide.
Those two points, give them all to somebody, it doesn't matter. But, in Iowa, he was at seven percent. In South Carolina, he was a 10 percent. And
I think the beneficiary of that could be Nikki Haley in Iowa and in South Carolina. And if that's the case, I think she is going to get by DeSantis
I had been saying for a while that second place is going to matter in Iowa because of what you said that New Hampshire, she is starting to surge too.
She could actually defeat Trump in New Hampshire, I think. And so, I'm going to watch and see where that Scott -- Tim Scott vote goes.
HUNT: Yes. I mean, Daniel Straus, that's an interesting way to think about. I mean, I do think there are typically three tickets out of Iowa. I mean,
if you -- again, we should be probably question our conventional wisdoms, but it's going to be as much about the narrative as it is going to be about
actually who finalize -- that gets the top vote total. I mean, it's a New Hampshire example. But, Bill Clinton came in second in New Hampshire, and
nobody remembers that. Everybody thinks he won, because it revitalized his campaign. How do you see these dynamics right now?
STRAUSS: I mean, look, the real impact of Tim Scott dropping out is his donors, and then moving to other candidates, especially Haley. But, let's
also remember that it's not that common for the winner of the Iowa caucuses to go on and become the President. So, it doesn't necessarily foretell one
way or another. Like it does happen. Obama won Iowa and went on to become President. But, we've got a long way to go here. And what's clear is that
right now Haley is enjoying a moment. What is left to be seen is whether this is just a boom and bust, like we saw a lot in 2012, or --
STRAUSS: -- that she has real staying power that will last and maybe allow her to become that alternative Republican candidate that a minority or a
plurality of the party has --
STRAUSS: -- been searching for.
HUNT: Right. All right. Let's press pause here. Coming up, my panel rejoins me with one more thing. Don't go anywhere.
HUNT: Welcome back to STATE OF THE RACE. My panel rejoins me, because as you know, before we go, we always ask for one more thing on the campaign
trail or in Washington that you guys are watching for in the coming days. 30 seconds each. Charlie Dent, I will start with you.
DENT: Immediately before this program might -- one more thing was we -- what about the George Santos report and it dropped. So, my one more thing
is, OK, we've got the government funded through January. But, what about the supplemental? What about Ukraine, Israel and all the other -- the
border? I mean, that -- where is that? That has to be addressed, and that has not been taken up yet by either chamber.
HUNT: Yes. No. For sure. They've done the bare minimum. Joe Trippi.
TRIPPI: I'm going to be looking at for the next Iowa poll. Again, if -- I want to see where that's -- where the Tim Scott vote goes. I think if Haley
picks it up, she is going to move ahead of DeSantis, and he is going to need that Hail Mary that the Congressman talked about a little bit earlier
on your show.
HUNT: Hail Mary. Indeed. All right. Daniel, what are you watching for?
STRAUSS: I mean, I was reading the ethics report on Santos too, but I guess I can't hit that. So, instead, I'm watching the criticism at RNC Chair
Ronna McDaniel from some quarters, including Ramaswamy, and whether that will have any impact at all.
It's not unusual for a party chair to receive some criticism, but there seems to be a consistent strain of the GOP that feels that she is somehow
responsible for recent losses. And --
STRAUSS: -- I just wonder how that will play out during the campaign season.
HUNT: It is remarkable, as Charlie noted that she has managed to stay at top that campaign -- or the Committee. I am watching a new polling from CNN
coming out in just minutes on New Hampshire in the Republican primary. I think it's going to raise some eyebrows. So, I would urge you to stick
around to find out more about that, as we try to answer the question of whether or not Donald Trump is beatable in the Republican primary.
Thank you all for being here today. Thanks to my panel, and thanks to all of you for watching. I'm Kasie Hunt. That's the STATE OF THE RACE for
Thursday, November 16. You can always follow me on Instagram and the platform, formerly known as Twitter. Don't go anywhere. "ONE WORLD" is up