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State of the Race with Kasie Hunt
Trump Remains Republican Frontrunner With Six Weeks To Go Until Iowa Caucuses; Liz Cheney On Trump: U.S. Sleepwalking Into Dictatorship; Trump Calls Biden "Destroyer" Of U.S. Democracy. Aired 11a-12p ET
Aired December 04, 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 INTERNATIONAL HOST: Sleepwalking into a dictatorship, those grim words used by former Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney, as Donald
Trump marches toward the Republican nomination for President. Plus, the Biden campaign seems thrilled to campaign on Obamacare, launching a new
effort to promote Biden's record on healthcare after Donald Trump brought it up again. This after he failed to repeal it in his first term. And as
Israel's ground operations expand into southern Gaza, Congress still has not passed an additional aid package. I'll discuss with Democratic
Representative Debbie Dingell.
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, Monday,
December 4, 42 days until the Iowa caucuses, and just 336 days until Election Day. This is today's State of the Race.
We are just six weeks away from the Iowa caucuses, and that's going to be our first real test of whether Donald Trump is the dominant frontrunner
that the polls say that he is. Trump, of course, lost to Joe Biden in 2020, which means, we, as a country, poised for a rematch. But, to be clear, this
is not a normal election and Trump is not a normal candidate. He denies he lost the last vote. He is on trial over allegations he plotted to overthrow
it. And his supporters, in his name, attacks the Capitol on January 6. But, admitting any of that can be career suicide in today's GOP.
Liz Cheney is deeply conservative and was a member of the House Republican leadership just a handful of years ago. But, she lost her primary after she
challenged Trump. She offered this grim outlook for her party and our country this weekend.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LIZ CHENEY, FORMER U.S. HOUSE REPUBLICAN: He has told us what he will do. People who say, well, if he is elected, it's not that dangerous because we
have all of these checks and balances, don't fully understand the extent to which the Republicans in Congress today have been co-opted. One of the
things that we see happening today is a sort of a sleepwalking into dictatorship in the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: Trump now trying to claim it is President Biden who is a threat to democracy. Here was Trump on Saturday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, 45TH U.S. PRESIDENT: Joe Biden is not the defender of American democracy, Joe Biden is the destroyer of American democracy. So,
if Joe Biden wants to make this race a question of which candidate will defend our democracy and protect our freedoms, and I say to crooked Joe,
and he is crooked, the most corrupt President we've ever had, we will win that fight and we're going to win it very big.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: All right. Let's dive into all this with today's panel, Maria Cardona, CNN Political Commentator, and a Democratic Strategist. Matt
Mowers was a White House Advisor, a Administration Advisor during the Trump administration. He is the current President of Valcour, a public strategy
firm, and Marianna Sotomayor, Congressional Reporter at The Washington Post, and Toluse Olorunnipa, White House Bureau Chief at The Washington
Post. Thank you all for being here at today.
Matt Mowers, I want to start with you just because this is the party that you were a part of, and you did serve in the Trump administration in the
State Department. You've also worked for Chris Christie, who, of course, has kind of staked out claim to being the most of the anti-Trump
Republicans currently running for President. This is a grim warning from Liz Cheney, sleepwalking toward a dictatorship. And there is reporting out
this morning. The New York Times writes this "What will be different in a second Trump administration is not so much his character as his
surroundings. Forces that somewhat contained his autocratic tendencies in the first term would all be weaker. And as a result, Mr. Trump and his
advisors, more extreme policy plans and ideas for a second term would have a greater prospect of becoming reality."
And there is -- I mean, there is some truth to that, the guardrails held in no small part because of the people that surrounded Donald Trump in his
first term. What is your view of the risks to the country should he become President the second time?
MATT MOWERS, FMR. SENIOR TRUMP ADVISOR: Well, look, clearly, he has already staked out exactly how he is going to approach it. They tried a number of
actions in the final days of the administration to some, obviously, that we've, well, reported on January 6, which were horrendous, and a terrible
day and the rest of it, some which were bureaucratic changes that were going to change the way that the bureaucracies was going to make up, take a
lot of senior executive service positions and make them political appointments. He has already committed to doing that on day one again.
And so, what you're going to see, if he gets elected, is a lot of changes within the bureaucracy.
I know there is a lot of discussions already right now about what happens if Congress isn't willing to move forward on confirming his Cabinet
Secretaries, his sub-cabinet. Does he try to make interim appointments, much of which he was relying on at the end of the first term because he
wasn't able to get anyone new confirmed into those positions? So, there is a lot of things going on.
HUNT: And when you say there is a lot of conversations going on, are those conversations you're privy to that you understand are happening with people
from the Trump administration? What's the context there?
MOWERS: Well, there is several different groups out there right now that are actually preparing for the potential of another Trump administration.
You have the Heritage Foundation out there --
MOWERS: -- and their staffing project. You have the America First Policy Institute doing something similar. You saw the Trump campaign come out with
a statement from Susie Wiles and Chris LaCivita just two weeks ago, saying while we appreciate the input, this will ultimately be Donald Trump's
decision, should he get elected.
MOWERS: And so, there are going to be a lot of competition from a lot of different folks out in there, kind of conservative and MAGA sphere about
who to staff, what policies to enact. They're going to try to impact what that new administration will look like.
HUNT: Toluse, what is the White House -- or actually I can tell you what the White House is saying in response to what Donald Trump had to say in
Iowa over the weekend, which, of course, was where he tried to accuse President Biden of being a threat to democracy. I just -- I think it is
important to underscore that Donald Trump did in fact repeatedly tried to change the results of a free and fair election, and that Joe Biden did not
Here is what they say "Donald Trump's America in 2025 is one where the government is his personal weapon to lock up his political enemies. You
don't have to take our word for it. Trump has admitted it himself after spending a week defending his plan to rip healthcare away for millions of
Americans, get that gratuitously in there. This is his latest desperate attempt at distraction. The American people see right through it, and it
It does seem like the American people saw through it with democracy being an issue in most recent midterm elections. What else do you know from your
reporting about how the White House is thinking about all this?
TOLUSE OLORUNNIPA, WHITE HOUSE BUREAU CHIEF, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, there is the White House and there is also the Biden campaign. They do
think this is a good issue for them. They want to be talking about democracy more than they want to be talking about the economy, because
Trump seems to have a much better pathway when we're talking about the economy. If the election is a referendum on Joe Biden's economy, on
Bidenomics right now, it seems like Trump is in a good position.
But, when you talk about democracy, when you remind voters about what happened on January 6, when you look at what happened during the midterms
when Biden was spending a lot of time giving primetime speeches about democracy, Democrats did quite well. People did not like the idea that all
of the chaos that we saw under the Trump administration, all of the attacks on democracy, all of the attacks on norms could happen again. It's the way
that the Biden campaign and the White House are trying to remind voters about the chaos that we saw in 2020 and 2019 and 2018 under Trump, and they
want people to remember that and not think that Trump wasn't so bad.
HUNT: Maria, jump in.
MARIA CARDONA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, & U.S. DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Yeah. I completely agree. But, I think that the Biden administration and
especially the campaign are going to jump into this with a little bit more fire under their feet, because they know that this contrast is important to
make right now, early on. And I think Liz Cheney is absolutely right. Kasie, you know that voters and the American people, frankly, people in
general these days, have the attention span of a gnat. And so, people might not necessarily remember how bad it was under Trump. And so, people like
Liz Cheney reminding what he did, and then reports like The New York Times. The Atlantic is doing a big spread. Their whole next issue is about every
single thing that he would destroy if he becomes President again.
But, I also think it's important what we talked about in terms of what he is putting in place right now, and the fact that he is not making any
quantum about this. They're not trying to make the secret at all. That I think points to the fact that they also believe that the American people
are in this days. And so, sleepwalking is exactly the right word. And practice makes perfect, Kasie. His first term was practice. They now know
what happened that didn't let him do what he wanted to do, and they are pinpointing those exact things and people and bureaucracies and processes,
that they can now go in there and hopefully change to do what he wants.
HUNT: Well, Marianna, I mean, I know you've done extensive reporting on this as you've covered the House, and we learned about a lot of this in the
January 6 Committee and the report and how these guardrails they held, but barely, and in no small part due to the actions of a handful of people like
Mike Pence, the Vice President. How do members of Congress see this, both Republicans -- especially Republicans and Democrats who sit kind of in the
middle of the political spectrum, and who are quicker, I would say, than some on the farther left to recognize the realistic possibility that Trump
could actually get elected again?
MARIANNA SOTOMAYOR, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: It's an absolute concern. And I will even say that about pragmatic Republicans,
more moderate Republicans who do not want to be talking about Trump. They do not want to be living under his administration again, having to answer
to every decision that he makes. But, they're the first ones to also say at this point in time, Trump's message is resonating with the Republican base.
Republicans can't necessarily walk away from that, especially this kind of martyr message that Trump has been really pushing out there.
I am protecting you all. I am taking the arrows from this Biden administration, from many Democrats who would go after you if they weren't
going after me. But, House Democrats are looking at this as an opportunity. Democracy is a pillar of their argument, because who was it, as we've
mentioned, that actually certified the election? It was -- we saw that battle play out in the House. And that's what Democrats are saying. And we
did see during the midterm elections, even Republican voters, I'm sure a lot of us reporting on the ground, were surprised to hear from Republican
voters that they're like, why are we still talking about the 2020 election?
SOTOMAYOR: I support Republican candidates. I want Republicans to win. But, why are we looking at the past? Can you talk to me more about the economy?
HUNT: Yeah. No. It's such a good point. And look, I'm glad you brought up the House too, because we did hear from Cheney over the weekend as well
about the -- she is talking about this. And let's underscore, this is someone who voted with Donald Trump when she was a member of the House,
about 93 percent of the time. She is a very conservative person. But, she has really stepped out on this to the point that she is now saying that she
wants to see the other party control the House of Representatives. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHENEY: I believe very strongly in those principles and ideals that have defined the Republican Party. But, the Republican Party of today has made a
choice, and they haven't chosen the Constitution. And so, I do think it's - - it presents a threat if the Republicans are in the majority in January 2025.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: And we also heard from Liz Cheney this morning on the TODAY show where she went even further. Take a look at that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SAVANNAH GUTHRIE, NBC HOST, TODAY: He would try to stay in power forever.
CHENEY: Absolutely. I mean, he has already done it once. And you cannot count on a House of Representatives led by somebody like Mike Johnson to
stop this President. You can't count on the Senate of Josh Hawley's and Mike Lee's to stop Donald Trump.
GUTHRIE: I was going to ask.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: Matt, is she right?
MOWERS: No. I don't think she is. I think Liz Cheney is in a very small minority right now, of not just Republicans, but others who support a
conservative agenda. I mean, you had a lot of folks in 2020 and 2016, Republicans who opposed Donald Trump, who said, I'm still going to vote
Republican down ballot. I'm still going to support my Republican candidate for U.S. Senate and the House because we need a check on a Democratic
administration. Even for those Republicans that won't support Trump, should he be the nominee, they're going to want a Republican House and a
Republican Senate. Liz Cheney is representing a small minority, in our view.
HUNT: Well, what she is arguing is that the Congress, if it's held by Republicans, is going to go along with, going to roll over in the face of
Donald Trump's attempts to subvert the Constitution. That's the argument that she is making. Do you think that Republicans would stand in the way if
Donald Trump tried to stay in power past what the law said he could do?
MOWERS: You already saw them do it in January -- on January 6.
HUNT: But, you say they will do it again. Or has it changed?
MOWERS: No. I don't think it has changed. I think you have Republicans at the end of the day who recognize that they take an oath to the
Constitution, and they'll put the Constitution first, regardless of who is in power.
HUNT: And you feel comfortable trusting that.
MOWERS: I do.
CARDONA: But, can we remember that there are 150 Republicans in the House today that voted to not certify the 2020 election? That should be
terrifying to us and to the Republican Party --
HUNT: Well --
CARDONA: -- and goes exactly to what Liz Cheney is talking about.
HUNT: I mean, Mariana, I think the point too is that the Congress that held in the face of January 6 is a very different Congress today, and will be a
very different Congress going forward because the difference between Republicans who are willing to stand up to Trump and the Republicans who
want to go along with his politics or a part of it, is generational. I mean, the older ones are leaving.
SOTOMAYOR: Yeah. And let's remember that in the beginning of the year, there were as still those 10 Republicans who ultimately voted to impeach
Trump, right? So, like they're not -- they're no longer. There is like only two of them. Congressmen Valadao and Newhouse who remained in the House of
Representatives, Republicans remained in the House of Representatives, who have been not necessarily vocal. They do not want to opine or talk about
impeachment. They're one of those Republicans who just would rather do the work, not talk about this stuff. But, it's a question that we might
actually see answered soon enough, where now even Republican Speaker Johnson wants to open an impeachment inquiry against President Biden.
So, there is a number of these moments happening where we're seeing Republicans still likely going to -- go down that path, open investigation
against Biden, continuing to do that, which does open the question, I think, if whether those Republicans do stick together, it might be a
completely different House majority. But, if Republicans end up keeping the House --
HUNT: That's what we are hoping.
SOTOMAYOR: -- it will be different.
HUNT: Toluse, let me -- can I just -- one of the things that The Atlantic said, and as Maria mentioned and I had kind of pulled some pieces out of
this, they're devoting their entire issue this month to talking about the unprecedented nature of a second Donald Trump term, if you have a Criminal
in Chief essentially, and they have a very long and proud history of being of no party or clique, is how -- is what they say click. So, they're saying
that this is not from a partisan perspective, but rather from a broadly American one. And Jeffrey Goldberg wrote in his editor's note, Trump and
Trumpism pose an existential threat to America and to the ideas that animated.
The country survived the first Trump term, though not without sustaining serious damage. A second term, if there is one, will be much worse. And
then, one other line he put that I noticed, he said that Trump's rhetoric has numbed us in its hyperbole and frequency. And I think kind of as we
button up this conversation, I think there are two things here. One, there is Trump's rhetoric, which some of us hardly hear anymore, if you listen to
it enough, or a lot of -- it seems to me that the public doesn't hear it for what it is sometimes.
And two, there also is, of course, conversations like the one we're having where we're talking about the potential implications of this. There is a
lot of evidence that a lot of Americans have tuned that out. Republicans will call it Trump derangement syndrome. They'll write it off. It's
something that the White House really has to contend with, from a political perspective. How are they thinking about that?
OLORUNNIPA: They are trying to remind Americans about what it was like under Trump and also how Trump has changed over the past couple of years,
as he has gotten more extreme, as his rhetoric has gotten more dark in some ways, using phrases from World War Two and doing all kinds of things to
indicate that he is going to be a much more authoritarian President if he wins again. And so, the White House is trying to remind Americans about
what Trump's second term could look like. But, at the same time, they are a little bit worried that people are having nostalgia about Trump. The
economy was a little bit calmer. There wasn't as much happening on the world stage. Even though he was in these battles with North Korea, there
weren't live wars like you have in Europe and the Middle East right now.
And so, the White House is trying to remind Americans that a Trump second term would be more chaotic, more authoritarian and more of a threat to
democracy. Whether or not they can do that, is a big challenge that they have to face right now.
HUNT: Yeah. It's going to be the one we're talking about I think all year, if he continues to be in the position that he is in.
All right. Coming up next, Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Dingell joins me to discuss Israel's expanding ground war in Gaza and much more.
HUNT: Welcome back. Israel is expanding its war in Gaza, warning that the ground operations against Hamas now extend to all parts of the densely
They're intensifying the bombardment of Khan Younis today. That's the main city in southern Gaza. People there are being urged to evacuate. But, there
is virtually nowhere safe to go and no safer to take. The U.S. is urging Israel to try to protect innocent lives.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: As Israel defends itself, it matters how. The United States is unequivocal. International
humanitarian law must be respected. Too many innocent Palestinians have been killed. Frankly, the scale of civilian suffering and the images and
videos coming from Gaza are devastating.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: Most of Gaza's 2.3 million people have now been displaced from their homes, and with food, water and medicine scarce, aid groups warn disease
could be an even bigger killer than bombs.
I'm joined now by Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Dingell of Michigan. Congresswoman, it's always wonderful to have you. Thanks so much for being
on the show.
Let's start with kind of your role in Congress in this unfolding conflict. There still has not been a deal reached on aid to Israel. And of course,
you have both Jewish and Arab American communities in your district, in the State of Michigan. This is really a central place where the debate over all
of this is playing out. Some of your colleagues in the Senate have been talking about whether conditions should be placed on aid to Israel. Where
do you stand on that, and where do you think the conversation should be?
REP. DEBBIE DINGELL (D-MI): Well, first of all, I think we've got to look at what's happening over there. And we need to put in more humanitarian aid
over there. Look, what Hamas did was unequivocally an act of terror. It's unforgivable. There were horrific things that happened. But, what's
happening in Gaza is equally horrific. We don't know the exact number. Somewhere from 13,000 to 18,000 to 20,000 innocent civilians have died.
6,000 to 8,000 of them are children. They don't have food. They don't have water. They don't have medicine. We need to be getting humanitarian aid in
The Vice President was the strongest we've heard the administration yesterday and saying to Israel, there are guidelines about how -- what you
must do. And telling people that they've got to leave an area when there is no place to go is not humanitarian. So, I have people on both sides. I have
met with families that have families that are hostages. I have so many families in my district who have lost family in Gaza. We have got to find
if anything good comes out of this, and I mean anything. And this has been horrific time. We've got to find a two-state solution and find peace there,
and (inaudible) got to be forced to come to the table and work on finding that two-state solution where both sides live in peace.
HUNT: I need to ask you about one of your colleagues, Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal. She was on with our colleague Dana Bash over the weekend. And Dana
pressed her on the horrifying reports of sexual assaults during the October 7 Hamas attack. I want to show you what Congresswoman Jayapal said, and
we'll talk about it. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DANA BASH, HOST, "STATE OF THE UNION": I've seen a lot of progressive women, generally speaking, they're quick to defend women's rights and speak
out against using rape as a weapon of war, but downright silent on what we saw on October 7, and what might be happening inside Gaza right now to
these hostages. Why is that?
REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D-WA): I mean, I don't know that that's true. I think we always talk about the impact of war on women in particular, and I've
condemned what Hamas has done. I've condemned typically all of the actions.
BASH: Specifically against women?
JAYAPAL: Absolutely, the rape, of course. But, I think we have to remember that Israel is a democracy. That is why they are a strong ally of ours. And
if they do not comply with international humanitarian law, they are bringing themselves to a place that makes it much more difficult
strategically for them --
JAYAPAL: -- to be able to build the kinds of allies, to keep public opinion with them.
BASH: Yeah. With respect, I was just asking about the women, and you turned it back to Israel. I'm asking you about Hamas, in fact.
JAYAPAL: I already answered your question, Dana. I said it's horrific.
JAYAPAL: And I think that rape is horrific. Sexual assault is horrific. I think that it happens in war situations. Terrorist organizations like Hamas
obviously are using these as tools. However, I think we have to be balanced about bringing in the outrages against Palestinians.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: Do you find that answer at all troubling?
DINGELL: Look, I'm going to be really -- you're probably talking to the -- I don't know what woman right now on this subject. The very first week of
this attack, after Hamas, I condemned the raping of women and said that no one could condone it. And Palestinian men went after me, called me a liar.
Demanded. I retracted it. I got doxxed over the subject. I have spent the last seven weeks researching the raping of women that has occurred in the
It is outrageous. I condemn it. Women become -- rape is a tool of war. It is violence that should be exercised against no woman, any woman, a Jewish
woman, an Arab woman, a white woman, a black woman, and I unequivocally stand against it, and men who deny it and then demand retractions and then
keep trying to do it and then try to embarrass you or shame you, will not embarrass me or shame me. I will speak up against rape everywhere and
anywhere. And as women, we must do so. It is an act of violence against a woman.
HUNT: That's -- you clearly -- this has been an emotional thing for you.
DINGELL: I've been dealing with it for seven weeks. I've been doxxed on it three times.
HUNT: How would you have had your colleague answer Dana's question?
DINGELL: I'm going to Pamela. I have a call into her. I think she -- I'm here to speak for myself on the subject, and I'm raw on this subject.
DINGELL: Because of the hate that I have had directed at me for speaking the truth. I will speak the truth. And I don't care who it is. Rape is an
act of violence, and it becomes too often a tool in any act of war. And as women everywhere, we must stand up for women everywhere.
HUNT: Yeah. I mean, I think certainly those women like you, if you operate in the public eye, you understand how hard it is to be and how it's
different to be a woman in the public eye and the attacks that you will see.
DINGELL: It is. And it was just -- it was stunning that the attacks were so vicious and that they came after me and demanded retraction. I won't. All
it did was make me angrier. And I had women yell at me. I will say that to you. And I will go back to people and say it's true. I mean, I talked to
the international circles (ph). I talked the Pentagon, I talked to Harvard. I talked to reporters here, reporters at other place, I've talked to people
in Israel. I've talked to people in Gaza. I am becoming -- this is going to be an issue I am seriously going to take on. And one of my colleagues and I
will be introducing a resolution on this week as well.
HUNT: Oh, really?
HUNT: To -- aimed at what?
DINGELL: Talking about the violence and the rape. So, Lois Frankel and I, we will be doing it with Republican colleagues. So --
HUNT: All right. Well, keep us updated on that.
DINGELL: I will.
HUNT: And we'll absolutely keep looking. Let's turn to politics briefly. Congresswoman Liz Cheney, your former colleague in the House, we just spoke
extensively about the comments that she has made, basically saying that America is sleepwalking toward a dictatorship. Do you agree with her?
DINGELL: I do. I'm very concerned. It's a very complicated election, and it's a year out. It's a total year out. But, I think there is a lot of
anger. I think there is a lot of frustration. By the way, I think that -- I mean, I'm very worried about the anger. I talk about this almost every week
in my newsletter. Now, I talk about it in my speeches. Hate is becoming far too easy in this country. We get mad at somebody. We need to be intentional
and standing up against hate. We need to be able to disagree with each other agreeably. And there is a lot -- we are just normalizing, too many
forums of --
HUNT: It's starting to feel impossible sometimes.
DINGELL: It -- I'm not -- but, you can't give up. That's my -- I'm going to stand up to hate. I mean, I've had a really unpleasant seven or eight weeks
because of standing up to hate on both sides. I mean, I have -- you talked about this at the beginning, of very significant Jewish communities and
very significant Muslim communities, and they are hurting and scared. They shake. They are so -- both sides are afraid. I mean, I can't tell you how
many people are afraid to even go outside. They've had death threats. People have defecated in front of their doors. And in there is a resentment
Instead of understanding that community is the strength of our democracy, there is an anger that's normalizing and starting to normalize violence.
So, I'm not going to let it. I mean, I don't think we have to get there. I think we have to be intentional about pushing back. We have to get people
to reengage. And our challenge in this election cycle is to have people really understand our democracy is threatened.
HUNT: Yeah. All right. Congresswoman Debbie Dingell, thanks very much --
DINGELL: Thank you.
HUNT: -- for the thoughtful conversation. I always appreciate having you.
All right. Coming up next, the expansion of Israel's ground campaign has Gazans once again struggling to find a safe place for themselves and their
families. We're going to go live to Jerusalem, up next.
HUNT: Welcome back to State of the Race. I'm Kasie Hunt. We're live in Washington. CNN's Senior International Correspondent Ben Wedeman joins us
now from Jerusalem. Ben, the Israeli Military is urging Gazans to move away from the south. Those were the same areas that the IDF had asked them to
move to just a few weeks ago. Where do these people have to go?
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the Israeli media -- Military over the weekend, over social media, put out this map
with this, which has divided Gaza into hundreds of numbered blocks. On that map, there is a QR code where if people can access it, they will see where
the military is advising them not to go and where they should go if they want to be safe. Now, the problem, of course, is that in many parts of
Gaza, there is no electricity. So, you can't charge your mobile phone, and there isn't any internet as well. So, it's a difficult problem.
Now, we know that a ground incursion has begun in the southern part of the Gaza Strip. And in fact, Al Jazeera has put out a video of an Israeli tank
on Salahuddin Street, which is the main street linking the north to the south, and that was the main route that people were advised to take if they
wanted to get out of the north and come to the south. So, the question is, what would you do if you were in Gaza? And most people are rather confused
at this point. Already, the shelters that used to be schools that are housing hundreds of thousands of people are crammed beyond capacity. We
understand that in some of these places, there are 400 people for every single toilet if there is a functioning toilet at all.
Now, one of the options apparently Israeli and American officials were discussing was that in order to allow the Israeli Military to operate the
way it wants in the south of Gaza, all those people who fled to the south should go back to the north. Now, that hasn't been put into effect. But,
the problem is, even if they were allowed to go back to the north, what we've seen in countless videos is that many parts of the north,
particularly Gaza City, and the towns and villages around it, have been turned into a lunar landscape of concrete dust and rubble.
So, it doesn't really appear that there are really many options for people in Gaza who actually want to avoid being killed. Kasie.
HUNT: Such a difficult situation. Ben Wedeman for us. Thank you very much, Ben.
Let's bring in our panel now. CNN Military Analyst Colonel Cedric Leighton joins us. Kim Dozier, CNN Global Affairs Analyst, and our reporters,
Marianna Sotomayor and Toluse Olorunnipa, both of The Washington Post rejoin us.
Cedric, Colonel, let me just start with you on the military piece of this, because it does, I think for those of us who don't -- aren't in the
military, it feels like a bait and switch, right, go south to avoid us in the north. And then, I'm sorry, you actually have to -- like, it seems like
in a totally impossible situation.
COL. CEDRIC LEIGHTON (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST, & U.S. AIR FORCE (RET.): Yeah. If you're a Gaza civilian, even as a military guy, this is one of the
worst ways to handle something like this. The obligation that the Israelis actually have in this case, Kasie, is to safely move as many civilians as
they possibly can out of harm's way. And what is happening with the grid map that Ben referenced in his reporting, that map has a -- about a --
several hundred different blocks where people can go or not go, depending on what the message is. But, if they can't get the message, it's going to
be a real problem. In fact, more people could potentially lose their lives because of this.
So, with the Israelis telling people first to move south and then to move north back to a place that has been bombed out with over 50 percent of the
buildings destroyed, that is not going to work. It's not viable.
HUNT: Yeah. So, this situation has prompted Lloyd Austin, the Defense Secretary, said over the weekend that if Israel isn't basically more
careful in what they're doing, they don't want to trade a tactical victory for a strategic defeat. That prompted some criticism. He, of course,
talking about radicalizing the population in a way that might cause further harm down the road. Senator Lindsey Graham responded to Austin over the
weekend. Take a look at that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): He is so naive. I mean, I've just lost all confidence in this guy. Strategic defeat would be inflaming the
Palestinians. They're already inflamed. They're taught from the time they're born to hate the Jews and to kill them. It's like this is a
tranquil population only inflamed after Israel goes in to defend itself, is really naive. This is a radicalized population.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: Kim Dozier, I mean, you've had the rare American reporting experience of working in Gaza. How do you see what's going on here?
KIMBERLY DOZIER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: There is an argument between the Israeli Military and the U.S. Military because of their past
experiences. The U.S. fought an expeditionary war in Iraq and Afghanistan, and learned after smashing the enemy several times, that by smashing the
enemy, all they did was create more. And Lloyd Austin is speaking to that. Israeli officials I've spoken to have said, that's different. You guys had
to go to war. We know our enemy. Our enemy, like Lindsey Graham was saying, was radicalized from the beginning. And that doesn't work here. They
already hate us. We can't win the civilian population over.
HUNT: Basically, we can't make them hate us more?
DOZIER: Exactly. But, we're going to put out this map that telegraphs exactly where we're going to go, and even Admiral John Kirby, the White
House National Security Spokesman, praised them for that.
OLORUNNIPA: You have a big dichotomy between what Republicans are saying and what the White House is saying. But, you also have internally, within
the Democratic Party, even within the administration, different messages coming out. We heard from Kirby praising the Israeli for putting out this
map telling Gazans where to go. But, you heard from Vice President Kamala Harris over the weekend. She said that the way that Israel prosecutes this
war matters, and that entirely too many civilians have been killed. Very direct language coming from the Vice President, even more --
HUNT: It's really the most direct the administration has been so far. No?
OLORUNNIPA: Yes. Even more direct than what the President has said. And the President has been very close to Israel, very close to Prime Minister
Netanyahu in his public remarks, and the fact that we're starting to see a breakdown between what some people, even within the White House, top
officials are saying means that this is a very complicated and difficult task for President Biden to keep his coalition together, not to talk about
how Republicans on the Hill are also criticizing what the administration is saying.
SOTOMAYOR: Yeah. Just to add to that, I mean, you're now hearing from members on Capitol Hill, man, had we just acted and helped send an aid
package to Israel in the days, the early days of this war, it would have gotten done.
HUNT: That's what Johnson regrets. That's the Speaker.
SOTOMAYOR: I don't know that personally. But, it does seem like there is some regret, especially from many Republicans, and there are Democrats who
genuinely do want to help Israel. There is just so much more opinion. And you've seen that break, start to happen much more among Democrats on the
Hill as well, that it just even complicates all of these very narrow margins that we see in the House and the Senate to be able to pass
HUNT: Yeah. Colonel, do you have a sense of -- or can you help us have a -- get a tactical sense of what this money means to the Israelis?
Like, what are they going to be able to do or not do depending on whether or not America gets more money out the door?
LEIGHTON: Yeah. So, if America gets more money out the door, Kasie, what you're going to see is more munitions going towards Israel. You're going to
see basically a resupply effort of the bombs that they already have, plus probably --
HUNT: And if we don't, will they run out of bombs?
LEIGHTON: Eventually, yes. Now, they are much better situated than Ukraine is in terms of supply and demand in this particular case. But, having said
that, there is still a finite supply that the Israelis have. They have some storage capacity. They also have U.S. stores in Israel. But, that very fact
does not allow for it to continue the bombing campaign at the same degree, at the same level that they have up until this point.
HUNT: Quick last word, Kim.
DOZIER: Last brief point on the aid issue. This goes back to a disagreement between the Israeli Defense Forces and the aid agencies. The IDF had set an
agrarian area, part of southern Gaza, often said, go set up tents there. The aid agencies looked at it the, UN, the WHO, and said there is no water
there. There is no electricity there. You want us to set up tent camps in the middle of nowhere. But, the IDF has said, well, that's where we're not
going to attack. That impasse remains. And so, that's why you have aid being provided in the populated areas that the IDF said we told you we're
going to hit them and we -- now we are.
HUNT: Fascinating. OK. Colonel, Kim, Toluse, thank you all very much for being here. Marianna is going to stick around with us and be back with us
in just a moment, because just ahead on State of the Race, it's back. Vows to replace Obamacare versus plans to strengthen it. What the 2024
candidates are saying about it? All coming up next.
HUNT: Welcome back. Healthcare quickly becoming a major focus on the campaign trail, because Donald Trump has again promised to repeal and
replace Obamacare. But, of course, he had a chance to do that when he was President. In fact, he tried and he failed. And Republican rival Ron
DeSantis is now reminding him and voters of that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RON DESANTIS, U.S. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: President Trump promised that he would repeal and replace Obamacare, and he didn't do it. And I think it's
important to point out, he is running on a lot of the things he campaigned on in 2016. So, if Obamacare hasn't worked, we're going to replace and
supersede with a better plan.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: The White House, loving all of it. President Biden preparing a package of healthcare measures he hopes to pass in a second term, as they
are more than happy to hit the airwaves with healthcare-related ad once again.
My panel rejoins me now, Maria Cardona, our CNN political Commentator and Democratic Strategist, Matt Mowers, President of the global strategy firm
Valcour and a former Trump administration official, and Marianna Sotomayor, Congressional Reporter at The Washington Post.
Matt, I feel like I keep putting you on the spot on this show. But, it seems to me that like Ron DeSantis is correct. Like Trump tried to repeal
and replace Obamacare, and he failed. So, like, if you're Trump, why are you like reminding everyone of all of this?
MOWERS: Well, because Ron DeSantis and Chris Christie have been attacking him for not repealing and replacing Obamacare, right? It's -- to get into
the psyche of Donald Trump, someone says you didn't do something. So, you go out there and double down on it.
HUNT: Got it.
MOWERS: And that's what he was doing this past weekend. So, yes, he brought back into the political discussion. No one had realistically been talking
about healthcare or Obamacare on either side of the aisle for the past year, essentially, certainly the past two months. And now, it's right back
there square and setter. What he is going to have to do now, though, because he is owning it again, is say, what is he actually going to do and
put in its place? Now, it's Trump. So, he may go out there and essentially say that he is going to allow Medicare to negotiate prices, which obviously
the Biden administration has claimed credit for. He may go out there and say he supports other price caps. There is not a lot of ideological tie
into a traditional conservative philosophy here.
MOWERS: It's more of a populist movement. It's more of a populist standpoint. And he is going to say what he thinks is popular.
HUNT: Right. No. I mean, I really appreciate your very direct analysis in this case because -- I mean, Maria, look, let's put up these numbers in
terms of the favorability, honestly, the popularity of Obamacare. So, ACA, it stands for Affordable Care Act. Favorability among all adults, now this
is -- these numbers are lower among specifically Republicans, but 59 percent of people approve of this. Now, as somebody who covered the passage
of Obamacare, I think everyone thought maybe someday if it passed, those numbers would be that way. They were not that way when it was going on.
CARDONA: That's right.
HUNT: But now, it's incredibly popular. I mean -- and the Biden team here, let's just show --
HUNT: -- a little bit of the Biden ad that they put out on healthcare, because it kind of gives you an idea of how eager they are to campaign on
this issue. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thanks to President Biden and Vice President Harris, the families can afford medication now. The Biden administration lowered
the cost of prescription drugs and pass laws to make healthcare more affordable. The idea that we could go back to the policies that help the
rich get richer and left so many people behind, I don't want to go back.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: I don't want to go back.
CARDONA: Yeah. I think that was a brilliant ad, and it actually uses several of the messages that the Biden campaign is going to campaign on,
healthcare, but also this whole issue about how they are for everyone trying to move forward as opposed to just the rich, which is something that
Democrats have always talked about in terms of the difference with Republicans. But, I think Donald Trump saying this, Kasie, is Christmas
come early for the Biden campaign, because it is something that is incredibly important for the American people. How many times they tried to
take it away and did like 50 --
CARDONA: -- or something they voted for when they were in power? And so, it also gives Democrats the ability to talk about how fundamentally unfit the
Republican Congress is. And by the way, look at what priority they're going to have if you continue to keep them in power. I think it is a fantastic
issue for this campaign. It is not just Obamacare, but to that ad. It is everything that the Biden administration has done on healthcare.
MOWERS: Be careful. That ad might be Bidenomics 2.0, because if you actually ask the American people, do you think your health premiums have
gone up or gone down? They feel they're going up. They feel like the rate - - they're going up beyond the rate of inflation. They can't afford their premiums right now in their healthcare. So, this sounds like Bidenomics.
MOWERS: I am going to tell you it is OK.
HUNT: All I will say --
CARDONA: Being it on.
MOWERS: Here is what Joe Biden is now saying. Do you believe me or your lying eyes? Do you believe the premiums you're paying or do you believe my
campaign TV ad?
CARDONA: Which you know what else --
MOWERS: That's going to be the problem for us.
CARDONA: -- in focus groups, and when you actually ask voters about these very specific programs that the Biden administration has passed, they are
supported by 80 percent and higher. And so, part of the challenge of the Biden campaign is to make sure that everyone knows what they've done. When
they do, bring it on.
HUNT: Well, and the problem, Marianna, is that people also are afraid of losing what they have, right, because even if they feel like their
healthcare is expensive, the idea that it's going to change and that it could be worse, I think, is really what -- because the issue here is
twofold. Sure, they haven't been able to vote to repeal it, but part of that is that they've never had a plan that they've been able to sell,
HUNT: We've never had a good answer.
SOTOMAYOR: And I mean, it was a midterm election but 2018 taught us that Trump and making -- repealing Affordable Care Act an issue actually helped
Democrats to totally take over the House majority. We don't know if that's going to happen this year. But, this is absolutely something that
vulnerable Republicans -- I literally walked out of the Capitol when they were being asked the question, how do you feel about repealing Obamacare?
They didn't say anything, and then privately to me said, why did he bring that up? We don't want to answer those questions. Like we don't want to
talk about that.
And that's where the majority completely hinges is on those vulnerable Republicans. They don't want to talk about it. And Democrats are going to
try and draw the difference by saying, hey, when we had the majority, Republicans voted against capping insulin cost $35, for example. So,
Democrats, to your memory, are very much ready.
SOTOMAYOR: -- to take on healthcare prices, all of that on the campaign.
HUNT: Well, and you know, Matt, your point too is that around -- and a lot of these issues are populist issues, like historically, they were issues
that were with the Democratic Party when the Republicans were the party of the Chamber of Commerce --
HUNT: -- but they are increasingly less that.
SOTOMAYOR: Well, don't forget that Pharma, the lobbying group for the Pharmaceutical Association, spent millions of dollars opposing Donald Trump
throughout his administration, opposing a lot of his policies throughout his administration. So, it's -- there is --
HUNT: That actually tells you everything you need.
SOTOMAYOR: It cuts a lot of different -- Donald Trump cuts a very different political figure than a more traditional Republican, should they be the
nominee on this issue.
HUNT: All right. Well, it sounds like this is going to be an ongoing discussion. We're going to take a quick break here, but do stay with us.
Our panel is going to join us again for one more thing.
HUNT: Welcome back to State of the Race. My panel rejoins me. Before we go, we always want to ask for one more thing on the campaign trail or in
Washington that you're watching for in the coming days. We're on a new set with a new order. So, Marianna, I'll start with you.
SOTOMAYOR: OK. Well, Congress is only in session for two more weeks this year. And the one thing that they want to get done was all kinds of
supplemental funding for Israel, Ukraine, Indo-Pacific. That may be determined this week. But, given that a number of conversations have
already broken down on border security, which Republicans are trying to figure out to get that money for Ukraine, it seems like that's breaking
down a little bit in the Senate. A lot of House Republicans want to tie Israel funding now to funding the government next year. It kind of seems
like Congress --
HUNT: That's fun.
SOTOMAYOR: Yeah. Congress may be able to get to this this year, making just for a more interesting Jedi (ph) for a lot of Capitol Hill reporters.
HUNT: You know what? At least we have Christmas.
HUNT: Matt Mowers, what's your one more thing?
MOWERS: I'm looking at what happens in Nassau County this week. I know a lot of folks who are still in --
HUNT: Long Island.
MOWERS: -- yeah. Long Island. Folks are still mourning over the expulsion of George Santos, I'm sure, all for many different reasons.
MOWERS: This week, actually, both parties -- because there will not be a special election primary. Just a special election, general election. Both
parties will actually start choosing their candidates. On the Republican side, a lot of folks are looking at a Nassau County legislator, Mazi Pilip.
She is actually Ethiopian born. She is Jewish. She served in the Israeli Defense Forces. She would be a compelling and interesting candidate should
the party choose to nominate her.
HUNT: Do we think Republicans and Democrats are doing a better job of betting their candidates in this district this time?
MOWERS: The Republican Party actually is going to hire outside entities to vet every single potential nominee.
HUNT: I mean, honestly, Democrats should do.
HUNT: They missed it last time too. Maria, what's your one more thing?
CARDONA: Also on the supplemental. But, I want to dive into a little bit about what the Republicans are looking to change in terms of immigration,
because these are not small changes. These are not small edits to immigration law, which is what they are trying to make it look like. These
would be fundamental changes to immigration law, a fundamental decimation of our asylum system. People would not be able to come over here and ask
for asylum the way that they do now, which is a fundamental value of this country. And so, I am glad that Democrats are standing up to this. It would
be a draconian change that comes from what Trump and Stephen Miller want to do on immigration, if they would have four more years.
And Democrats need to continue to stand up to that, say, no. Ukraine and Israel are completely separate. Let's focus on that, and move forward with
what should be a fix in immigration if Republicans would want to do it in a bipartisan way.
HUNT: Well, yeah, I will say that the types of changes that are being proposed, the reason the talks have broken down, it's because they have
gone a little bit farther than I expected.
HUNT: I will just say, I'm watching -- we got a Republican debate this week. And there have been all these questions about whether these debates
matter or not, but certainly, it has given Nikki Haley a bump and kind of set her on the path that she is on. I think it's going to be a test to see,
is the field going to further consolidate? Can she kind of continue on that trajectory?
CARDONA: I love that.
HUNT: We shall see. Of course, no Trump. But --
CARDONA: Well, you know --
HUNT: -- she kind of forces him to the debate stage.
CARDONA: -- if she continues to move forward, is Trump going to attack here?
HUNT: Yeah. We'll see. We will see.
HUNT: All right. Thank you, guys, very much for being here.
CARDONA: Thanks, Kasie.
HUNT: Thanks to all of you for watching. I'm Kasie Hunt. This is the State of the Race for today, Monday, December 4. You can always follow me on
Instagram and the platform formerly known as Twitter. Don't go anywhere. One World is up next.