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State of the Race with Kasie Hunt
Poll: Biden Leads Among Likely NH Democratic Primary Voters; CNN New Hampshire Poll: 65 Percent Of Likely Democratic Primary Voters Say Biden Is Their Pick For Nominee; New Hampshire Poll: Low favorability For Biden & Trump. Aired 11a-12p ET
Aired November 17, 2023 - 11:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KASIE HUNT, CNN HOST: Breaking this morning, some good news and some bad news for the President. A new CNN poll finds Joe Biden with a massive lead
in the New Hampshire primary, even though he will not appear on the ballot there. Still, more than half of Democrats say the President's age is their
greatest concern. Plus, Congressman Ken Buck joins me live. I'm going to ask him about Israel's war against Hamas, Republican actual fights in
Congress, and who he will endorse in 2024. And could a third-party ticket actually stand a chance against Biden and Trump? Which one would they
torpedo? I'll put that question to Joe Cunningham, the National Director of No Labels.
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, Friday,
November 17, 59 days until the Iowa caucuses, and 353 days until Election Day. This is today's State of the Race.
Happy Friday. First here on State of the Race, new polling from CNN and the University of New Hampshire shows Joe Biden cruising to a win in the
Granite State's Democratic primary despite the fact that his name will not be on the ballot there. Here is what we've learned. Most likely, primary
voters say they'll support the President at the polls as a write-in, and that Biden has the best shot at winning the White House again. But, you can
see all of the usual difficulties for the President in these numbers. Among adults in New Hampshire, the President's approval ratings are tough,
although they're worse for the Republican frontrunner, Donald Trump. Then of course there is the President's age. It is the top concern among likely
Democratic primary voters, even more so than performance, much, much more so than performance and electability.
Let's dive into all this with today's panel. Kevin Madden, a Republican Strategist, former Advisor to Mitt Romney. Karen Finney is a CNN Political
Commentator and Democratic Strategist, and Laura Barron-Lopez is a CNN Political Analyst and the White House Correspondent for the PBS NewsHour.
Thank you guys for being here, especially on a Friday morning.
Karen, I want to dig into some of these numbers with you, because New Hampshire, clearly the President is the frontrunner. I don't -- I haven't
heard anyone talk about any realistic chances that he is going to lose in an -- in a New Hampshire primary. But, he does have to write in his name on
the ballot. And you can see in the numbers, 65 percent say that they want to vote for Biden. That's 35 percent, and we're like, really love the
President. What do you take away from some of this information here, and some texture on what people are concerned about as well?
KAREN FINNEY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, two things. Remember, the reason that if they would write in is because we changed the calendar. So,
New Hampshire is actually holding their primary contest out of order, which means technically their delegates may not even count, unclear how the DNC
is going to handle that. So, let's do that as background.
HUNT: Sure. But, let's just put it the way that the narrative of New Hampshire could matter.
FINNEY: Right. But --
HUNT: Regardless of the (inaudible).
FINNEY: So, I just want to look at some other numbers that came out of the poll, which said, how would you feel if Biden were the Democratic nominee?
And overall, the number is about 72 percent, either enthusiastic or satisfied. That's a very good number, and that's a different story than the
number of those who write in.
HUNT: Usually, like there were periods when it's like 90 percent we have an incumbent President. I don't know. Kevin, what do you think?
KEVIN MADDEN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST, & FORMER ADVISOR TO MITT ROMNEY: Well, Karen is a good loyal strategist who is putting as good a spin on this as
possible. And she should, because that's an important. Optimism is important to have in a campaign. But, when you have one third that are
dissatisfied or angry about Joe Biden's performance right now, and the idea of having him as a nominee, it is a huge problem. It is not time to panic.
But, it is time for any Democratic strategists who are looking towards November of 2024 to think we have to come up with a plan. We have to come
up with a strategy to really drive enthusiasm and confront that one quarter of our electorate right now that could not -- might not be there on
Election Day 2024.
FINNEY: I gave the context about the calendar, because remember that in New Hampshire, there is a whole other message playing out about the Secretary
of State and their anger at the DNC.
HUNT: Yes. They are angry about it.
FINNEY: So, some of that.
FINNEY: So, it's not exactly apples to apples in a regular state, because there is a whole other dynamic playing out with people who are just mad
they're not first again.
HUNT: Sure. But, you know that? The flip side of that -- and Laura, is that, again, and I feel like I've said this, I don't even know how many
times on the air, I probably stop saying it over and over again, but like New Hampshire has this narrative power that is different from who is on the
ballot, who is not on the ballot. And I've talked to several Democrats who say it was an unforced error to not put Biden on the ballot in New
Hampshire to change the calendar the way he did, because New Hampshire is angry about it, and it does put him in a risky position in New Hampshire.
LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST, & WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, "PBS NEWSHOUR": I think that overall when we're looking at -- when they
come to the convention and the end of the primary that it's not going to be that big of a deal. In the moment, I mean, is it adding to the concern that
Democrats, including the Biden campaign, have about the lack of enthusiasm, about his run? Yes, it is. And the fact that Democrats aren't necessarily
fully happy with him running for a second term. You hear all the time in focus groups how they're saying that they want different people to jump
into the race, or different people, different Democrats to rise to the occasion. But, no one is really doing that, right, other than Dean Phillips
HUNT: Who is down at 10 percent in this poll.
BARRON-LOPEZ: Right. Exactly.
BARRON-LOPEZ: And even when you ask them, those voters, though, well, who exactly would you all coalesce behind? They don't always have a name. And I
think that ultimately the Biden campaign is trying to say, look, even during the 2020 primary, voters weren't always that enthusiastic about him
compared to some of the other options that ultimately Democrats came home. There is going to be I think a harder time for them this go around for them
to come home than last time.
FINNEY: I was part of changing the calendar when I was at the DNC.
FINNEY: Because for us, the first is not New Hampshire. I know reporters love New Hampshire. I know you all like to sit in the people's front
porches. It's going to be South Carolina, and frankly, for the Democratic Party in our coalition, that is far more important, because it is a more
diverse state. That was very intentional. I don't want that to get lost in this conversation. New Hampshire is not representative of the Democratic
Party. That's why they lost their first in the nation status. It's going to be South Carolina, and the Vice President went there this week with big
fanfare to submit the paperwork to be on the ballot.
MADDEN: Karen is not wrong. But, the thing that I -- again, I would worry about if I was strategist inside the Democratic Party, is this is going to
be a game of inches when you get to the general election in 2024. You have to worry about these little burgeoning problems of enthusiasm amongst your
base now, otherwise you don't want to be worrying about them on Election Day 2024.
HUNT: Yes. No. And we'll look. So, let's flip this conversation around with pretty much time talking about President Biden. New Hampshire also is a
swing state. I think we should point that out which, again, does matter in terms of how the President is treating the State of New Hampshire. They're
not pleased. I heard a lot of that when I was up there, but they're less pleased with Donald Trump. We -- in this poll, it seems as though we asked
voters to just tell us what kind of problems you have with this nominee? Obviously, we told you that the biggest one that came up with Biden was an
age and fitness for office bucket.
But, look at this list that they came up with for President Trump. The biggest group, 16 percent said none, but then we have attacks by media
opponents, ability to win general election, indictments or imprisonment, divisive/unpopular, undermine/destroy democracy, bombastic, general
character concerns. If you think that's not enough, let's keep going. Results in election fraud, narcissistic or self-obsessed, incompetence,
dishonesty, potential violence against him, chaos or drama, do not want as President, and retribution in a second term.
Kevin Madden --
HUNT: -- that is a pile of baggage.
MADDEN: Again. So, I always think a good strategist's job is to sort of worry and worry and think about all these trend lines. Look, do you the
thing that I think is the biggest problem? If you take all of those answers together, you can find an umbrella issue, which is that Donald Trump is
only talking about himself, and he is always talking about the past. Right?
HUNT: Narcissistic or self-obsessed --
MADDEN: Right. Yes.
HUNT: -- on that list. And you're right. It encompasses a lot of (inaudible).
MADDEN: And the one question that you have to answer affirmatively when you're running for President is, can this person understand the problems of
people like me, and do they have a plan for the future? And so, that's one of the biggest flaws that I think is in the Trump candidacy right now in a
general election, is this idea that he is constantly looking back really to getting the 2020 election. And he is only focused on his own grievances,
when the American people want their problems addressed and they want to plan for the future. So, that -- again, if I were on the Biden side, like
that'd be an issue that I'd be trying to exploit from both a structural appeal to the electorate as well as a message appeal.
HUNT: Well, and let's put back up, Jimmy, that -- the one from the top where we looked at the favorable, unfavorable numbers for each of these
candidates, Karen, and Donald Trump is a full 10 points. By 10 points, people view him more unfavorably than they view Joe Biden. So, they're both
underwater. Obviously, it's not good for either of them. But, when it comes down to a general election, I mean, that set of numbers is positive for the
FINNEY: Well, and again, if you go back to those numbers about, are you satisfied with him on the ballot, that's where those -- that three quarters
actually matters, because, again, going to the argument that the campaign would make, which is when it is a binary choice, who would you pick? Joe
Biden, absolutely, we've got issues. I think they know that. I hope they'll make some changes. Donald Trump is not going to change. So, that baggage is
not going anywhere. If anything, it is more likely to grow, because the more people actually hear from him on a day-to-day basis, I think they are
reminded of what it was like when he was President. Now, we get it in little bits and pieces. And so, again, I think guess we have issues to deal
with, but I don't see Trump is getting any better.
HUNT: Yes. Well, we have some more data from this poll on positive ratings and the compare these two, and the top one is temperament. 52 percent,
Laura, view -- have a positive view of Joe Biden's temperament. Only 20 percent have a positive view of Trump's. His honesty and integrity, Biden
comes out ahead, understanding people like you, that number that Kevin was just talking about, that's a little closer. And then it starts to switch
here a little bit, policy decision making, communication skills. And then there is that physical and mental fitness question, just 25 percent give
Biden a positive ranking for that. What do you see in some of these comparisons?
BARRON-LOPEZ: I think that on that temperament, that's something that reminds me a lot of 2020, because when I was in swing states like Arizona
and Georgia, there were so many Republicans or Republicans-turned independents that I talked to, that our margin voters and they were the
ones that were saying I can't vote for Republicans anymore. I can't vote for Donald Trump, because of that temperament, because of what they saw as
his threats, his threat to democracy. And now I think there is more of them, because, again, this is post January 6, and I've talked to some of
them since and they bring that up as -- I actually switched my registration from Republican to independent after that happened. And if Trump is at the
top of the ticket, they don't think that they can go home to the Republican Party.
HUNT: Well, and that, I mean, last word, Kevin. You run this -- you run against a Nikki Haley or basically any generic Republican compared to
Trump, I mean, you start to see major advantages.
MADDEN: Yes. That's the thing is, with Trump, a Biden contest is a double referendum. We're talking about two Presidents who have a -- a former
President and a President who have 100 percent name ID. Everybody sort of has a very fixed opinion on them. With Nikki Haley, the question on, do --
and whether or not it becomes a referendum on Biden, and at a time when the economy may be slowing down, things like that, it becomes a much easier
choice to have somebody who is an alternative, and that's where her general election argument is going to be interesting to whether or not she can wage
it inside a primary and be successful.
HUNT: We're going to spend a bunch of time talking about Nikki Haley later on in this show. But, up next here, the share of Americans who disapprove
of Israel's Military response in Gaza is on the rise. I'm going to talk to House Foreign Affairs Committee member Ken Buck up next.
HUNT: Welcome back. The UN Human Rights Chief now asking Israel to give his team access to Gaza to investigate claims about the Al-Shifa hospital. This
as Israel says Hamas is operating a military command center there. That's a claim that CNN cannot verify independently.
Joining me with all the latest reporting is CNN's Oren Liebermann in Tel Aviv. Oren, thanks very much for being with us. What is the latest on this
back and forth about what's going on in Al-Shifa?
OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kasie, at this point, the IDF continues to operate in Al-Shifa hospital. This is going on several days now. And
that's on top of the time they were already surrounding and moving towards the hospital itself since the ground incursion began. The key question for
Israel and Israel's credibility, the IDF's credibility, was essentially at stake on this question. Is there Hamas infrastructure underneath the
hospital? Was Hamas using what is supposed to be the sanctuary of the hospital on top to protect its own network of tunnels underneath? And
that's why the video they put out is so important. It is not definitive, definitive, but we have been able to geolocate the video that they put out
of a tunnel shaft to the Al-Shifa Hospital complex itself. They say this is an operational tunnel belonging to Hamas.
They had been backed up at least on the broader claim by the U.S., which says they have their own intelligence that Hamas was using the hospital as
cover for their own infrastructure and network underground. But, this isn't definitive in and of itself. We don't know what's on the other side of that
tunnel shaft. We don't know how extensive it is, if it's part of the hospital in some way, or if it is what the IDF has said all along the
beginning of what they hope to reveal more of, which is a network of tunnels, command and control node, a headquarters underneath the hospital
And Kasie, it's worth noting, this is effectively a black and white question. It's either there or it's not. There is not really a spectrum
here on which this could happen. Doctors and health officials in the Hamas- run enclave have repeatedly denied the accusations, and said this is a medical center, the Al-Shifa hospital complex, the largest in Gaza, and
Hamas doesn't use it. So, that is their claim, as the IDF continues to operate and tries to uncover more of what's underneath, which is why this
is so important, as we wait to find out more from the military. Kasie.
HUNT: All right. Oren Liebermann for us in Tel Aviv, thank you very much for that report. I really appreciate it.
To talk more about this, Congressman Ken Buck of Colorado joins me here on set. Congressman, thank you so much for being here.
REP. KEN BUCK (R-CO): Thanks for having me.
HUNT: I want to start in Israel since we were just speaking with Oren, and particularly your sort of piece of the puzzle, which is obviously the
request for funding for Israel. I know you voted against the short-term government funding legislation this week. Do you think it was a mistake not
to put emergency funding for Israel in that package?
BUCK: I don't know that Israel has requested a specific amount and specific items. We obviously are going to support Israel, and we are going to do
everything we can. The package that we saw this week had a lot of other things and reasons for voting against it, frankly.
HUNT: Do you think that the Speaker should move Israel funding without any other strings attached to it?
BUCK: I think the Speaker should do what he needs to do to get the votes to move whatever he can. And sometimes, that means adding border funding and
sometimes that means adding other pay-fors. But, the Speaker is not in an easy position with a three-vote margin, and perhaps one member who may be
expelled or resign in the near future.
HUNT: Right. That would take it down to two. There has been a rise in the number of Americans who disapprove of Israel's Military response to the
October 7 attack by Hamas. There were protests that turned violent outside the DNC last night. And here we're looking at this number, 38 percent in
November versus 26 percent in November -- or in October, excuse me. That's a rise in the number of people who say that Israel's response has been too
much. So, this is the political backdrop. What do you think is driving that? Do you have any concerns? And what do you say to people who think
that what Israel is doing is too much?
BUCK: Well, first of all, what do I say, I say go back to October 7. That attack was horrific. It was barbarous. It was violent of every
international law possible. And so, I think Israel has every right to defend itself and make sure that something like that can never happen
again. I think a lot of people get their information from TikTok. They get a lot of information from other news sources that aren't very credible, and
they are relying on those news sources for their opinions. And I think that we need to do a better job frankly in the political world, and other places
to make sure people understand the history of Israel, how it came about, the real hatred that exists in the Middle East between different groups and
how the hatred goes back thousands of years.
What we want to make sure is that American boots are not on the ground in the Middle East as much as possible, and we want to make sure we're not
shedding American blood. So, we should be supporting Israel, in my view, in this endeavor.
HUNT: You mentioned TikTok and stuff that's circulating on there. The Guardian had to take down a letter that Osama bin Laden wrote in the
aftermath of the September 11 attacks, after claims from it proliferated on social media. What was your reaction to that, and what do you think
lawmakers can if anything do about it?
BUCK: Well, we know that TikTok is owned by the Chinese and heavily influenced by the Chinese Communist Party, and putting information out,
anti-American information out as much as possible. Four million hits or over four million hits on that letter. The great reporting yesterday on CNN
about how that letter just spread like wildfire on TikTok, and then TikTok says, well, we did everything we could to take it down. The reporter on CNN
found it in 14 different places. Unbelievable that TikTok is not taking more responsibility for putting terrorist propaganda out into the American
HUNT: This has also become a conversation in the presidential race. Who do you think is talking about this issue in the right way, Ron DeSantis or
Nikki Haley, because they are significantly at odds?
BUCK: Yes. I think that -- I can't say that I know all the nuances of their different positions. I can tell you that having worked a lot on antitrust
issues involving Big Tech, we have a real problem in this country with how Big Tech manipulates young people and their views. And so, I think that it
is something that we need to make sure we have more competition. And when it comes to TikTok, we need to make sure that Americans' data is not being
sent over to China. And I think that we need to make -- we have freedoms. We have First Amendment freedoms. But, we also need to protect people from
dangerous objects, whether it's a defect in a car or whether it's a defect in a platform.
HUNT: Do you think TikTok should be banned?
BUCK: Do I think TikTok should be banned? No. I think it should be regulated, and I think it should be owned by a U.S. company.
HUNT: You think. OK, in order to continue operating.
HUNT: OK. So, you have not, I don't think, and correct me, I'm sorry if I'm wrong about this, but you've not endorsed in the 2024 presidential race.
BUCK: That's correct.
HUNT: Correct? Who at this point are you leaning toward?
BUCK: I'm not. I'm not.
HUNT: Who do you like?
BUCK: I mean, I thought the world of Mike Pence for what he did on January 6, I thought that took a lot of courage. He is out of the race. I'm afraid
that if I endorsed someone, they're going to be out of the race, and that won't be a positive endorsement. I love Tim Scott. He is out of the race.
And so, really, in my view, we've got Ron DeSantis and Nikki Haley. And we'll see if Donald Trump ever shows up to a debate.
HUNT: At this point, Donald Trump, there is just some new audio out today from Jonathan Karl where he talked more about -- or he was recorded talking
more about how he really did want to go down to the Capitol on January 6. Obviously, he is likely to be on trial during the time that the primary
campaign is unfolding.
BUCK: Several trials probably.
HUNT: Several, yes. And the first -- the major federal Jack Smith probe likely to begin probably earlier in the process before there is a
Republican nominee who is locked down enough convention delegates to win the nomination. If Donald Trump is convicted and is also the Republican
nominee, what should the Republican Party do?
BUCK: Well, here is the real issue, from my perspective, and that is that impeachment requires a high crime or misdemeanor. If Donald Trump is a
convicted felon, the day he shows up to Congress, you can imagine the impeachment, legitimate impeachment inquiries and motions that are going to
be made. And so, I think it's a real problem having someone that has -- and the impeachment, the crimes aren't just crimes that have nothing to do with
politics or his presidency. They are integrally involved with how he operated the White House and what he did after he lost an election. I think
that is really a cause for concern. I think the Republican Party and I hope the primary voters take that into account. I don't know that the party can
take action as much as the voters can take action.
HUNT: So, are you saying that you believe Republicans, if Donald Trump is elected to another term, should impeach him immediately after he takes
BUCK: I don't think Republicans are going to have to bother with impeachment. I think Democrats are going to be able to defend (ph) --
HUNT: Well, you would Republicans to actually throw him out of office.
BUCK: Well, it depends who is in the majority.
HUNT: But, Republicans would need so many votes in the Senate that that there is no question that Republicans would need to support that --
HUNT: -- in Congress.
BUCK: There would have to be some Republicans in the Senate that have to support it. And constitutionally, if he is convicted of a felony and the
appeals process has gone through its process, and he is a sitting President, I think you will see Republicans in the Senate convict him on
HUNT: I've not seen any evidence that Republicans are willing to take on Donald Trump in the Senate in a significant way. They had a chance to do
this after January 6, and they didn't do it.
BUCK: He has never been a convicted felon. The problem with the January 6 impeachment was it came on the heels of the action. There was no
investigation. The Chief Justice didn't even sit in the Senate and preside over the proceedings because he was no longer President. The Constitution
says, you impeach a President, not a former President. And so, I think there were a lot of other issues involved in that particular impeachment.
HUNT: All right. Terrifying series of what ifs, I have to say. Congressman Ken Buck, thank you very much for joining us today. I hope you come back.
BUCK: Thank you.
HUNT: Thank you. All right. Up next here, Nikki Haley and TikTok, she says America's enemies use it to hurt the United States. How that's playing
among the Republican presidential field, up next.
HUNT: Welcome back to State of the Race. I'm Kasie Hunt. We're live in Washington. Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley making waves
Thursday as she called for an outright ban of TikTok.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NIKKI HALEY, U.S. REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: So, you look at TikTok and what's on there today? They are putting -- they put Osama bin Laden's
letter, and you've got young Americans who are now saying, oh, he was right that he did that. That's not Americans putting that on TikTok. That's our
enemies putting that on TikTok because that's what they want.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: A CNN poll released Thursday shows Haley is surging into second place behind Donald Trump in New Hampshire, the first of the nation primary, and
that has grabbed attention from Republican donors and her 2024 rivals. Here is Chris Christie.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS CHRISTIE, U.S. REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Here is the problem at base with Nikki Haley. She says something. And if everyone isn't pleased
with it, she changes it. That's someone who wants power more than they want truth. And she wants to take away civil rights and free speech rights from
the people of this country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: All right. Let's bring our panel back now, Republican Strategist Kevin Madden, CNN Political Commentator and Democratic Strategist, Karen
Finney, and the White House Correspondent for PBS NewsHour, Laura Barron- Lopez.
So, this Nikki Haley -- Karen, you and I have actually talked a lot about Nikki Haley lately, and I was reading through some things that kind of
suggested she -- one of the reasons she is rising is because she has done a particularly good job figuring out how to take gendered attacks and make
them work in her favor, both --
HUNT: -- you know, when she ran for governor, but then also kind of on the debate stage, and it really is fueling. I mean, these New Hampshire numbers
are pretty significant. She has outstripped Ron DeSantis, and 20 percent is not a small number, especially with Donald Trump below 50 percent.
FINNEY: Absolutely. It's a big deal, and it certainly means that she is getting people to her events, and when they get there, they like what they
hear. And that's what you got to do in a primary. Right? That's the basic. So, yes. She is -- look, she has done a good job of sort of being like I'm
listening. We got to listen to the voters. You heard her say that on the last -- in the last debate, when she was talking about reproductive rights.
She was trying to kind of be this, like, I'm going to tell you straight, but not in that aggressive bully way that the men do. But also, you know,
kind of, again, softer language on reproductive rights, but then being able to sound tough, given her role at the UN on foreign policy in a moment when
it actually really matters and will be more forefront in this election, because she has done a really interesting job.
HUNT: And -- I mean, Kevin Madden, there has been also some consolidation of establishment fundraising behind her in the wake of Tim Scott dropping
out, especially Spencer Zwick from --
HUNT: -- your old camp.
MADEEN: That's Republican. I was about to break that here.
HUNT: Yes, you did by --
MADDEN: That's why you do reporting, and I am the pundit.
HUNT: I'm not sure who broke it.
HUNT: But, yes. Spencer has switched teams.
HUNT: But, has gone to Nikki Haley. What do you make of all this?
MADDEN: Well, you know, I think curiosity gets you to 20 percent. But, what you really need is conversion. And so, that whole entire group of voters
that is looking for a Trump alternative has to start moving in mass towards Haley if she is going to be a serious threat to Trump. I think it's great
that you have folks like Spencer Zwick and other big fundraisers coming together. That's going to help with the infrastructure. But, I think the
thing that's really needed now is speed. Like we need a massive consolidation of the field before we ever get to Iowa and New Hampshire, if
there is really going to be a threat to Trump's hold on the nomination.
HUNT: So, speaking of consolidation, I want to do two things here. Let's put those numbers back up from the poll to kind of show people where they
stand. That has Donald Trump at 42 percent followed by -- no, sorry, this is the wrong slide. There we go. Trump at 42 percent, Haley at 20 percent,
and then Chris Christie at 14 percent. Now, DeSantis has slid pretty dramatically, right? He was up in the -- I think he was in the mid-20s
percent. At one point, he was definitely over 20 percent. Ramaswamy down at eight percent. So, let's add up Haley and Christie's numbers here, right?
Well, doing math on television, always a risk for me. But, that's 34 percent, right, to Trump's 42 percent.
HUNT: So, the question then, if this field is splintered, clearly 34 percent does not -- 20 percent and 14 percent do not stand up to 42
percent. 32 percent, maybe you could get there. So, that begs the question, is anyone going to drop out? I asked Chris Christie this question just a
couple of weeks ago, and here was his answer. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: Is there any chance that you would bail out of this race before New Hampshire voters go to the polls?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDEN: There you go. No. That's a huge problem. Here is the thing, though, with Christie's candidacy. It's really limited to New Hampshire.
MADDEN: He is not playing in Iowa. He has probably one of the worst candidate profiles for South Carolina. He has no infrastructure in Nevada,
and the same for Florida. So, he has a very one-state limited candidacy. So, one of the things I would worry about right now as we're looking at
2016 redux where you have Christie playing the sort of role of a spoiler and preventing consolidation of a candidate that can really take on Trump
across all of these early contests.
HUNT: Well, and the irony of that, Laura, is that it would prevent the very thing he says he is running on, potentially.
BARRON-LOPEZ: It would it. It would. But also, even if you add Christie to Haley, if you take out Ramaswamy and DeSantis, those voters probably go to
Trump. They probably don't go to Haley.
HUNT: Well, the Christie voters probably don't.
BARRON-LOPEZ: The Christie voters don't. They add to Haley. But, the Ramaswamy and DeSantis voters, if you take them out, they go to Trump. They
don't go to Haley or to Christie because those two candidates are running as Trump 2.0, or you can get Trump without the baggage.
MADDEN: Trump light.
BARRON-LOPEZ: Right. Trump light.
And they support Trump --
HUNT: Or Trump or more internet.
BARRON-LOPEZ: Right. And they defend Trump repeatedly. And so, they're two very different candidates than Christie and Haley.
FINNEY: The only thing I would add, though, is it is different when you see a candidate getting momentum. People like to be with a winner. So, on
paper, yes, I think you could say that those voters are unlikely to go to Haley unless she starts to get the momentum. You've got more of the big
donors coming out publicly, saying they're backing her, then it becomes a different proposition for people. And again, people like to be with the
winner. She will likely do very well in South Carolina. So, even -- like she could do a comeback kid. Even if you come in second in New Hampshire,
it's a win kind of spin.
HUNT: I was going to say, that's the other thing I keep saying on television. And I said to somebody this morning who was younger than I am,
that actually Bill Clinton didn't win New Hampshire, and he was like, really, I didn't know that.
HUNT: Yes. He came in second.
FINNEY: There you go.
HUNT: We actually have some interesting numbers on this, because we were just -- from this New Hampshire poll we just released at 11. Take a look at
this kind of breakdown of where voters for a specific candidate say they would go, who they would never support. So, 47 percent of Christie voters -
- sorry, 47 percent of New Hampshire Republicans say they'd never support Christie. 32 percent say they never support Trump. 30 say Ramaswamy,
DeSantis, Hutchinson, we go. Guess who is not -- who doesn't fit on the slide? It's Nikki Haley. Only 24 percent of Republican voters say that they
would never vote for Nikki Haley, which again, I think suggests that there is more openness to her if in fact there is some consolidation.
MADDEN: I also suggests that the Christie -- Chris Christie base right now is booking producers for cable television. And he doesn't have much of a
broad swath of support inside the party. And yes. Like, that's the thing about Nikki Haley, is that she is largely seen by a larger group of
Republican primary voters is unobjectionable. And so, unobjectionable, interestingly, in this political climate is a very strong attribute right
now when you're trying to take on Donald Trump who has a lot of folks who object to his approach on -- to politics in the party.
HUNT: Yes. I mean, one thing about Nikki Haley, to Laura, that I keep turning over in my mind, because one of the things I keep hearing from
Republican sources like Kevin and Associates but also voters and others is that they're angry, right? Like they're not into the sunshine and Reagan
Morning in America kind of thing right now. Nikki Haley is managing to be relatively positive and straightforward in her campaign, but she doesn't
come across as being sunshine. I mean, she called Ramaswamy "scum" on the debate stage, right? She is walking that line in an interesting way.
BARRON-LOPEZ: Right. And she also on the debate stage said that Trump was the most unpopular politician currently, and that she was trying to
confront the party about abortion and trying to say that there has to be a different pathway for the party there. So, she is confronting elements of
the party. She is trying to also confront this isolationist wing of the party that Trump and Ramaswamy are a part of on foreign policy. So, yes.
She was not as sunshine and roses as I think Tim Scott, her other colleague. But, she is trying to essentially tell the party, I'm not as
objectionable. I am optimistic about the future. But, there are a lot of things that she thinks needs to fix.
HUNT: Very good class word.
FINNEY: This is one of the things that women have to do, right, is show compassion and toughness. Men get to be tough. They can be compassionate
back and forth. But, women, if you're too soft, then clearly you can't be tough. And so, in those very conversations, she has shown some dexterity to
go, and people have said that about her, her dexterity politically.
MADDEN: She is the one candidate in this whole race that has just gotten better and better and better as the campaign has gone on.
HUNT: It's a really good point. And I was reading -- Ben Smith wrote a column from -- talking about her 2010 governor's race, which I also
covered. It was one of the first political races I covered from beginning to end. And he made some really astute -- and I had forgotten some of the
MADDEN: South Carolina politics.
HUNT: Perhaps she had to deal with in that race.
HUNT: It was really, really nasty.
MADDEN: South Carolina politics is tough. And so, she has been -- she is got a lot of scar tissues.
HUNT: Right. Yes.
MADDEN: And that's happening in a presidential race.
HUNT: It's a crucible.
HUNT: All right. The panel is going to come back a few minutes. Coming up next, the centrist group No Labels says neither Republicans nor Democrats
are the best option in 2024. The National Director of No Labels is going to join me next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE CUNNINGHAM, NATIONAL DIRECTOR, NO LABELS, & FORMER U.S. HOUSE DEMOCRAT: Our country and our state are being run by a geriatric oligarchy. People
who stay in office way past their prime. I mean, some of these folks have been clinging to power for 30, 40, even 50 years. The same people running
our country and our state are the same people who'd ask you to come over and reset their router.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: That was just a taste of the 2022 campaign ad from Joe Cunningham, the Democrat who ran and lost in the South Carolina Governor's race last
year. Before that, Cunningham represented South Carolina in what was a battleground, first congressional district from 2019 to 2021. He is now the
National Director of No Labels, and he joins me to discuss the 2024 race. Joe Cunningham, thank you very much for being here.
CUNNINGHAM: Thanks for having me, Kasie.
HUNT: So, I want to start with some new numbers we have out of our New Hampshire poll, and they look at Joe Manchin, and for those who may not be
familiar, No Labels is working to get on ballots across the country for a potential third-party ticket, an alternative to the Democratic and
Republican parties, 49 percent of Democrats this poll found in New Hampshire view Joe Manchin unfavorably. I'm interested in your reaction to
that. And the honest question, who would Joe Manchin, as a No Labels candidate possibly, appeal to?
CUNNINGHAM: Well, obviously, I got a lot of respect for Senator Manchin and all the great work that he has done. The truth is, nobody has an inside
lane to this unity ticket. And we're still nailing down the process. So, I know his name has been floated around a lot. He has been involved with No
Labels for quite some time. He has done -- I did a lot of work with him when I was in Congress, and he was in the Senate. But, the truth is, we
even begin to even decide and what that process is, and then what that ticket will actually look like.
HUNT: What's the expected timeline for deciding how that's going to play out?
CUNNINGHAM: We're looking to nominate tickets next spring, probably sometime after Super Tuesday, when we pick that date, because, look, we
want to be sure that this is going to be a Trump-Biden rematch, because we're only interested in getting involved here if there is a pathway to
victory. And Kasie, like the numbers that you put up every single day, show that our country is begging, begging for an alternative right now to this
HUNT: The way that you're framing this and the way that No Labels frames this suggests that the belief is that electing, reelecting President Biden
is equally as bad of a possibility as reelecting President Biden. Is that how you -- or President Trump.
Is that how you see it?
CUNNINGHAM: No. Not at all. We're just a reflection of the American people. And when the vast majority of Americans want another option, but this
system has simply given them two choices they don't want. Who is going to stand up and give America something else? And so, again, we're just
responding to the numbers that we see every single day, whether it be 60 percent don't want to see Trump, 70 percent plus don't want to see Biden.
This is more of a campaign and given people -- candidate to vote for as opposed to somebody to vote against.
HUNT: Sure. But, I mean, with all due respect, Donald Trump is not a generic Republican. You're talking about trying to improve our democratic
process. If our democracy is what you care about, Trump is someone who egged on a violent mob that broken to the Capitol on January 6, then the
more we learn, the more we realize he had no intention of actually leaving office and enduring a peaceful transfer of power. How can you support an
effort that may ultimately end up handing him the presidency if the stakes are that and not just a Republican against a Democrat?
CUNNINGHAM: Kasie, I wrote an OpEd stating the reason that I got involved in this, because I'm not confident that Biden can beat Trump. And we see
the poll numbers every single day. And here is the thing we know about Trump and polling, is that he overperforms the polls. So, considering that
where we are right now with all Trump's indictments and the economy doing pretty well and the fact that Biden is losing to Trump, is concerning. It's
concerning to me. It's concerning to a lot of Democrats who are begging for another option in the Democratic primary. It's concerning to independents
and to Republicans as well.
And so, I don't see this as any type of spooler effort. I see it has given Americans another option. And the fact is we haven't decided who is going
to be on the ticket, what party will be at the top. So, it's really hard to say exactly how this will impact the election.
HUNT: Is it though -- I mean, we know that there are 30 percent, 35 percent of the electorate is likely to stick with Donald Trump. That leaves -- just
the math -- the math seems very -- it's very, very difficult to get the math to add up in a way that this doesn't just hurt Joe Biden, then you go
from Joe Biden might lose to Donald Trump, to Joe Biden will definitely lose to Donald Trump.
CUNNINGHAM: I respectfully disagree, Kasie. Let me make this -- the math very simple. About 18 percent are in Trump's corner, no matter what, as the
numbers we see it, 18 percent. That number drops down like 15 percent for Biden. That leads a very, very large opportunity. The biggest assumption
that folks will make in saying that this will help out Trump or throw it one way or another is that Trump's base is impermeable, and the same people
who have been calling us a spoiler or saying that we will impact it and vote for Trump, these are oftentimes the same people who said Robert
Kennedy would be a spoiler if he got in as an independent.
And we've seen in the last couple of weeks with Robert Kennedy taking more votes from Trump than from Biden. So, the overestimation as to Trump's base
and his stronghold on it is really what supports that false assumption that this ticket would impact favorably for Trump.
HUNT: If we do end up in a situation where it is Biden and Trump on the two major party tickets, do you think No Labels will be the only significant
third party or additional party group in the race? Or are we also going to see significant -- RFK Jr. -- Jill Stein says she is running in the Green
Party. I mean, how far do you -- into how many pieces do you expect this field to splinter?
CUNNINGHAM: I mean, I can't say to what efforts other candidates are accessing the ballot, Kasie. I can tell you this. It's extremely difficult
to get on the ballot across the country. But, No Labels has a strategy. I encourage people who are interested, to go nolabels.org to learn more. But,
we've been at this for about a year and a half, and we're on a dozen states right now, look to be in play in over 20 states by the end of the year. And
considering that the candidates themselves will get on a good number of the states, that leads to our strategy of being on all 50 plus Washington, D.C.
Again, I can't speak to other candidates. All I can say, it's very time consuming. It's very expensive. And that's why we started over a year and a
half ago to get this done.
HUNT: Do you think a Republican would need to be at the top of the ticket for this to work the way that you envision and not elect Donald Trump?
CUNNINGHAM: I mean, Kasie, that's a false assumption, helping to elect Trump. And I know you got two young kids. I've got a five-year-old who
often tells me like he doesn't want to have dinner because he is a picky eater. And he says that before I even tell him what's on the menu. What
And there are people on this who are calling a spoiler without even saying like who is on the ticket, more or less who is on top of the ticket. But,
to your point, I mean common sense would tell me that if you have a Democrat on the top of the ticket, it might pull slightly more from
Democrats. And if you have a Republican on top, it might pull more from Republicans. That's what that says to me. And also, you also have the
assumption, I think, probably me and your viewers would agree, that there is a lot more anti-Trump Republicans than there are anti-Biden Democrats.
So, look, this pathway exists because the unique moment of time we're in and anybody who doesn't know how divisive this country is right now, or how
divisive politics is, they need to only wait till Thanksgiving dinner, next Thursday, to figure it out.
HUNT: Yes. Everyone in Congress saying, like, hey, we just got to get out of here to go home for Thanksgiving and give yourselves a break so we can
stop actually literally fighting with each other. And like -- that does not seem like the answer. But, OK. Joe Cunningham, thank you very much.
HUNT; No. Go ahead.
CUNNINGHAM: Thank you.
HUNT: All right. Appreciate it.
CUNNINGHAM: No. I am just saying it's a very divided time, and we're trying to bridge that divide.
HUNT: Yes, for sure. OK. I hope you come back, sir. I'm sure we're going to have lots to talk about if you guys keep pushing forward. See you soon.
All right. Coming up next, my panel is back with one more thing. Don't go anywhere.
HUNT: Welcome back to the State of the Race. My panel rejoins me, because before we go, we always want to ask for one more thing on the campaign
trail or in Washington you're watching for in the coming days. Your thoughts 30 seconds each. Kevin, go ahead.
MADDEN: Well, as a "my one more thing" would be for anybody who is considering a third-party race, don't look at it as about percentages on a
national race. Instead, look at it as an electoral vote count. If you took since 1960 the number of electoral votes that would add up in states that
have won statewide independent races, it will come to about 72 electoral votes. That means that a No Labels candidate would probably be about 198
electoral votes short of being able to win a national election.
HUNT: It's a very, very good point. Karen.
FINNEY: I agree with Kevin. I was going to say similarly that one thing No Labels has done is to unify the far left all the way through Lincoln
Project and Never Trumpers, from Bill Kristol to Ron Klain, and I was at the meeting. So, similarly, we'll be continuing to watch what they say
because they you may continue to say they don't intend to be a spoiler, but their own math shows that's exactly what they would do.
BARRON-LOPEZ: On another topic, I'm telling people to keep an eye on the Mar-a-Lago classified documents case, because some of the legal experts I
spoke to this week say that they're pretty much convinced that Judge Cannon, who is overseeing that case, is going to delay the trial until
beyond the November 2024 election. Despite all that, that doesn't mean that Special Counsel Jack Smith will necessarily try to remove Judge Cannon.
But, it's a potential coming development in that case.
HUNT: That's interesting. I mean, then it plays into this direct family. There is two things. We've got a little extra minute here. So, Kevin, since
you're the Republican, it seems preposterous to me that No Labels doesn't elect Donald Trump. I just -- I really have trouble with this assumption.
Am I wrong?
MADDEN: No. I think your instinct is right. Paul Begala, the great Democratic Strategist, once taught me that the thing you have to remember
about third parties is they're like bees. They sting and then they die. This is very much is being set up as a spoiler opportunity. I'd say one
other prediction I have too, is like there is -- I don't think there is any chance that Joe Manchin runs as the No Labels candidate.
MADDEN: I think he'd be much more concerned about his legacy on that.
HUNT: Karen, do you agree with that?
FINNEY: Can I just --
HUNT: Yes. Go ahead.
FINNEY: Yes, I do. And I just want to point out, Joe Cunningham was a little bit disingenuous, because actually as the Wall Street Journal and
New York Times have reported, No Labels has said the top of their ticket is going to be a Republican, which would mean, A, I don't think Joe Manchin is
interested in being a number two.
But, B, if you look at their policy platform, they are not pro-choice. They are not in line with a number of core principles that I -- that again, as
we are seeing these issues play themselves out in these elections, they're not in line with even where the American people are.
HUNT: No. It's -- I mean, it's all -- it is shaping up to this election cycle. No labels, I think, is a big part of it also. I mean, Hillary
Clinton has been warning the White House, but the Green Party and --
HUNT: -- Jill Stein, you have that going on as well. And Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is a bizarre -- he is a -- his profile is bizarre in terms of how it
breaks down among voters and the ways in which he appeals to people. So, anyway, luckily, we're going to have a lot to talk about over the next
show, because I'll come back.
Thank you for being here today. And thanks to all of you for watching. I'm Kasie Hunt. That's the State of the Race for Friday, November 17. You can
always follow me on Instagram and the platform formerly known as Twitter. Don't go anywhere. One World is up next.