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State of the Race with Kasie Hunt
WAPO: Liz Cheney Weighs Third-Party Presidential Run; Trump To Skip Wednesday's Republican Presidential Debate; DeSantis, Haley, Ramaswamy And Christie Set To Face Off In Fourth Republican Presidential Debate. Aired 11a-12p ET
Aired December 05, 2023 - 11:00 ET
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KASIE HUNT, CNN HOST, STATE OF THE RACE: Liz Cheney for President? The former Republican Congresswoman not ruling out a third-party bid as she
hits the road on a book tour, her dire warning about Donald Trump ahead. And a shrinking stage in Tuscaloosa, the RNC has announced four
participants in the fourth Republican presidential debate. Donald Trump still not among them. Plus, with Ukraine close to broken its fight against
Russia, President Zelenskyy's personal plea to the Senate, with Republicans becoming more skeptical, and Democrats divided over an aid package that
also includes Israel.
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, Tuesday,
December 5, 41 days until the Iowa caucuses, just 335 days until Election Day. This is today's State of the Race.
Former Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney this morning leaving the door open to mounting a third-party bid for President in 2024 because of the
threat, she says, Donald Trump poses to democracy. Cheney telling The Washington Post in an interview for her book tour "We face threats that
could be existential to the United States, and we need a candidate who is going to be able to deal with and address and confront all of those
challenges. That will all be part of my calculation as we go into the early months of 2024." Cheney even going so far as to make this dire warning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LIZ CHENEY, FORMER U.S. HOUSE REPUBLICAN: A vote for Donald Trump may mean the last election that you ever get to vote in.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: Cheney declined to run in the Republican presidential primary after she badly lost her own congressional primary in Wyoming. Her new comments
come fewer than six weeks before the Iowa caucuses with no one who is actually running, showing right now that they're capable of taking Trump
down. The four top Republican candidates who aren't Donald Trump are gearing up for that fourth GOP presidential debate. Nikki Haley, Ron
DeSantis, Vivek Ramaswamy, Chris Christie have all qualified to take the stage in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. But, of course, let's remember, this is
effectively a race for second place. Trump by far the frontrunner headed into the Iowa caucuses. He will skip the debate, opting instead to attend a
fundraiser in Florida.
Joining us to discuss today today's panel, Chris Kofinis is a Democratic Strategist and former top aide to Joe Manchin, Alice Stewart, a CNN
Political Commentator and a Republican Strategist, the former communications director for Ted Cruz, and Sabrina Siddiqui, a White House
Reporter for The Wall Street Journal. Welcome to all of you.
Alice, Liz Cheney talking about a third-party bid here really part of a broader conversation that she is trying to have with country about the
risks that Donald Trump poses to the Republic. Is it something that's going to get traction with the voters that needs to get traction more?
ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, & REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I'm afraid not. Look, I have a tremendous amount of respect for Congressman
Cheney, and I think she was right in going against Donald Trump. I think she was right that he was wrong to question the outcome of our election and
to question the integrity of our election. He was wrong on January 6. And I think what she did in terms of the impeachment was completely right.
But, if you want to sit back and look at what is the best for the party, it is to turn the page from Donald Trump. And to do so at this stage, 41 days
out from the Iowa caucus and the beginning of this intense primary schedule, the best thing we can do for the GOP field is to consolidate the
field and not add to the options for Republicans and the all-important independent voters as we get into the general election, which is obviously
who she is playing to. But, the better we can have a stronger GOP field and not divide conservative voices, the better it is that we will have a Trump
HUNT: So, it's funny. She actually seemed to make the same point you were making on Morning Joe this morning when they asked her how to beat Donald
Trump. Take a look at which she had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHENEY: What we have to do to beat Trump is be unified. And we have the numbers on our side. We have the numbers in terms of people across the
political spectrum who will not support him. But, we cannot get into a situation where people think that there are other issues that matter more
than this one. And we have plenty of time to debate and to argue about all of those issues we care deeply about. But, that is not where we are now.
Where we are now, we've got to be focused on defeating him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: Chris Kofinis, is the reality that if she mounted a third-party bid, I am not going to get too bogged down in it? I'm still skeptical she is
going to do it. If she did, though, it's more likely to siphon votes from Biden, not from Trump. No?
CHRIS KOFINIS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST, & FORMER AIDE TO JOE MANCHIN: I mean, at this point, if you look at the polls, this is what's interesting, at
least the most recent ones. Caveat, it's almost a year out etc. Right? In head-to-head poll, Trump right now is leading.
You add in third-party candidates, his lead grows.
KOFINIS: Right. Does Cheney change that calculation? No. Not at all. I mean, Trump's base of support is -- has been and consistently been really
solid. The real question is, where does that extra four percent, five percent, six percent, seven percent come from? Right? Does he grow? And
right now, here is the part that should give everyone enormous heartburn. Compared to 2016, right, and now, his base of support in the polls right
KOFINIS: -- has grown. Right? And the question is, why is it growing? And my theory is, the reason why it's growing is, there is a crisis of apathy
out there. Right? There is an anger and frustration across the board towards the political system, towards both parties, that's creating --
KOFINIS: -- the opportunity for a third party. It doesn't mean it's viable to win. That's the difference.
HUNT: Right. So, I want to let viewers into a little bit of kind of what you do and how you know these things. I mean, you have spent -- you spend a
lot of time -- you work in political consulting. That means you're out there. You're talking to voters. You're listening to what they have to say
in private focus group-type settings.
HUNT: And this is what you're picking up. Can you expand a little bit more on what it is you're hearing from them?
KOFINIS: Yeah. So, I've been doing this for about 12 years. Right? I have the privilege of going out there and literally talking to people.
HUNT: Yeah. Great.
KOFINIS: So, it's not just me saying it, right?
HUNT: No. That's maybe --
KOFINIS: I said listen to real people. Yeah.
HUNT: I am trying to tell people, you might be a strategist.
HUNT: But, we can actually use you as a reporter in this way.
KOFINIS: Yeah. And here is what I've noticed over the last two years. One, the frustration and anger towards the economy is pervasive. This is the
part that is incredibly frustrating when you hear people talk down, for example, focus on one, inflation. Enormous anger about this. Right? And
it's real, because every time they go to the grocery store, they see higher prices.
KOFINIS: Right? And that's something that is really emotional for a lot of voters out there across the political spectrum. They're angry about the
political dysfunction and division. Right? And this is the part where I think we have not really cracked the code of where the frustration with
voters lie. Right? And it lies with no one has given them or speaking to them. They're speaking past them. And as long as that kind of continues,
here is, I think, the problem. Both parties are going to miss the opportunity. Everybody wants, obviously on the Democratic side, to stop
Trump. What no one has really done a good job of doing is understand why voters are supporting Trump.
We can talk all about the threat to democracy and all that stuff. But, understand, why are they moving towards a guy that has been indicted
multiple times, that has done what he is done, and there is -- and his support is growing? We can sit there and minimize it, and be very elitist
about it. But, we have to understand why in order to counter it.
HUNT: That would be naive. It would be naive to --- and in fact, sort of -- I think about that every day when we're doing the show. How do we explain
to people and understand why these people are, as Chris says?
Sabrina, does the White House get it, get why people are moving toward Trump?
SABRINA SIDDIQUI, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: I think what the White House is focused on is trying to sell President Biden's
economic record. And the biggest challenge for them, as Chris pointed out, is that there is a fundamental disconnect between how the economy is
actually doing and how voters feel about the economy or whether or not they feel like they are experiencing the benefits of a lot of these positive
indicators that the White House has been touting for months. I mean, inflation cooling to its lowest point in two years, job growth. Consumer
spending is high.
And yet, when you talk to voters, they still say that their anxieties about the economy, about higher prices that they see in their day-to-day
shopping, is what's driving the way that, again, they feel. And so, what the White House says is that they think it's early. We're not in a head-to-
head yet with former President Trump. They think a lot of their supporters --
HUNT: It's getting less and less early.
SIDDIQUI: They say a lot of people will tune in when you're in a general election right now, the Republican primary, even if it's still ultimately
probably going to be Trump, is ongoing, and that when the President is out there campaigning more and his surrogates are hitting the trail, they will
be able to sell that message with more frequency. But, it is a problem for them. Of course, it's a problem for them that you do have this sense among
voters that -- there is always that question, President --
SIDDIQUI -- are you better off than you were four years ago? And if a substantial number of them are saying no, that is going to be a problem for
Joe Biden in November.
HUNT: Alice, do you think that the Republican debate which is looming in two days, does it matter at all?
STEWART: I think it does for a lot of Republican voters who are out there. Many are still undecided. Many are still kicking the tires. Look, all of
these candidates have to go out there and earn these votes. They have to go out there and talk in these coffee shops and meet with people in these
early states. And some voters are undecided, and they truly are looking to turn the page for someone that is not Trump, and they want to find out who
is going to be optimistic, who is going to be a fresh voice, who is going to represent them on the policies.
And this is the first time, I've been in several presidential campaigns, we do have some contrast on some of the issues. We're talking about abortion.
Nikki Haley has -- there is some daylight between Nikki Haley and these candidates on abortion. Now, there is some daylight on these issues of
entitlements, Social Security and Medicare.
So, as it gets closer to time for these undecided Republican voters, they're looking at between DeSantis and Haley and Christie and Ramaswamy,
who has the nuances on these issues that typically are united.
HUNT: Yeah. Except that the reality is our politics have been pretty nuanced free in the age of Trump, right? And they've all got to take on
Trump, although I do take your point.
All right. I do want to -- I want to shift gears slightly, because we've got some really interesting new data. We don't get that every day here. A
new Harvard poll shows that young people are less committed to voting now than they were in 2020. I want to bring in John Della Volpe. He is the
Director of Polling at Harvard's Institute of Politics. John, it's so grateful to see you again. Can you help us understand and walk through the
top lines of these numbers? What do you think we should be paying close attention to here?
JOHN DELLA VOLPE, DIR. OF POLLING, HARVARD KENNEDY SCHOOL INSTITUTE OF POLITICS: Thanks so much, Kasie. It's great to be with you. I think two or
three big takeaways for us. As you know, we've been doing this now for a couple of decades, and three things, the first of which is, in this
traditional person-to-person head-to-head matchup among 18 to 29-year-old voters, and by the way, President Biden would not be in office today
without 18 to 29-year-old voters --
HUNT: Yeah. It's a great point.
VOLPE: -- across the battleground states. And in that head-to-head matchup, he is doing reasonably well. It looks relatively normal compared to 2020.
He has got solid double-digit leads across a variety of different scenarios. However, it's a much more complex situation once we add in
potential third-party candidates, specifically Bobby Kennedy, who receives double-digit support, and most of that support is coming from Biden. So,
that's the two pieces. The third piece, as you've noted, we've seen a significant decrease in the number of young people who will stay they'll
voting relative to where we were in 2020. Lastly, a lot of those people are coming from an independent and Republican group.
HUNT: So, John, can I just dig in on this RFK question, because it's -- I definitely have been particularly interested in the idea of third-party
candidates? And there does seem to be a pretty widespread assumption when you talk to Democrats that RFK leaving -- RFK Jr. or leaving the Democratic
field and instead running as an independent was going to pull from Trump. How can you tell in your data that it's pulling from Biden?
VOLPE: A couple of -- well, one, specific thing from this data is we asked in a two-way scenario who you vote for, Biden or Trump, and then we asked
in a five way with those three independent candidacies. We can do a crosstab and see.
VOLPE: All the Kennedy voters today, OK, if the choice was only Trump, Biden, or undecided, where is that group from? And there are enough people
in a 2,000 plus survey to see what statistical significance that on a two- to-one margin they're taken from Biden, and not from Trump. It's early. Not a lot of people know about him. But, he is a smarter tactician. He is a
conspiracy theorist. But, he is probably --
VOLPE: -- a smarter tactician than we might otherwise think.
HUNT: Well, and Kennedy is also a democratic name of long standing here in the U.S. John, can I ask you about this apathy that you touched on, this
idea that there are fewer people who -- fewer young people who want to vote this time around? I think it's come up pretty repeatedly in the context of
covering the politics around the Israel-Hamas war, because there are a lot of young progressives, while it seems unlikely on its face that they would
vote for Donald Trump, there does seem to be a risk for the White House, for the Biden campaign that they might stay home. What do you see in that
VOLPE: That's something that we've seen over the last several waves of this survey, and we see this increasing level of cynicism. And to really turn,
then that's bad news. OK? But, the good news is, there is 11 months to turn this around in terms of civic engagement. And it needs to be a three-step
process. The first is, young people, we need to remind them and recognize the impact that they had in 2020. It's a different country. I think it's a
better country because of their participation, first. The second point is, we need to remind them that government can and has gotten big things done.
There are plenty of examples of that. And the third thing is that there is a real difference between the two major candidates kind of in this party.
It's not just a question of the mechanical barriers to voting of which there are plenty, but there is also these attitudinal barriers that need to
be overcome. And at the end of the day, I think that this is like cocktail of a negative partisanship about what Trump could -- what could happen to
Trump, but you need to balance that with some vision and some value alignment with younger people if you're truly going to encourage them to
vote in November.
HUNT: Yeah. And you've really outlined pretty succinctly what is the challenge for this White House, as they have kind of looked at this and
said, well, once it's a contrast with Trump, we're going to be fine. There're going to be plenty afraid of voting for Trump, challengers,
obviously, given them the alternative. John Della Volpe, thank you so much for coming on, sir. I know we're unlikely to see you accepting in the
context of this poll, but I'm very grateful to have you today.
VOLPE: Thanks so much.
HUNT: All right. Let's bring the panel back in. And Chris Kofinis, I mean, honestly I heard some of the things that you were talking about and what he
HUNT: What did you make of it?
KOFINIS: It should create nightmares for Democrats. If we can't win by a significant margin, that younger demographic, 18 to 29, we have a major
problem. Right? They are critical in the last presidential election, and they're going to be even arguably even more critical. I think the question
is, and you kind of touched upon it earlier, and it's starting to really irritate the hell out of me, when everyone keeps saying it's early, it's
early, it's early, it's not. Right? We live in a very different political time. Right?
KOFINIS: Voters are more engaged now, especially younger voters. They open up their phone. They go to TikTok or whatever their app be or choice may
be. And they get barraged with information. Those opinions and those views start cementing. The battle for those voters is now. It's not going to be
like three weeks, six weeks before the election. This is a different political age. And I think that's I think should be what most concerning is
when you are thinking about how do you mobilize those voters --
KOFINIS: -- you've got to start thinking about that strategy across the board now.
STEWART: John Della Volpe is a good friend of mine. I'm on the board at Harvard. And he knows what he is talking about. Any candidate needs to
listen to what he is saying. He has been doing this for 23 years. He has a great pulse on the youth vote. And what we're seeing with the drop in voter
apathy from 57 percent to 49 percent, should be a wake-up call. And he has pointed out a few things in the poll. One is that the youth voters, they
want to see democracy work. They want to see that it can address the challenges that this country faces. And they want to see there is a
difference in the two parties.
And so, John and many others are going to be working in campaigns, should be --
STEWART: -- working to educate youth voters, get their vote -- get them out to vote because they're out there. The votes are there. They just need to
see there is a reason and a person and the candidate that's going to be fighting for them.
HUNT: Yeah. All right. We're going to press pause because we got a lot of news to get to you today, including a very pivotal day on Capitol Hill.
There is a showdown over the massive aid package for Ukraine in Israel. It's stalled in Congress right now. We'll bring you the latest.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): I urge every Single senator to think where we are at this moment in history. America's national security is on the line
around the world, in Europe, in the Middle East and the Indo-Pacific. Autocrats, dictators are waging war against democracy, against our values,
against our way of life. That's why passing this supplemental is so important. It could determine the trajectory of democracy for years to
come. We are at a moment in history.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: A moment in history, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer calling on his colleagues to support the Ukraine-Israel aid package and bring it to
the floor tomorrow. That funding includes $61 billion for Ukraine, another $14 billion for Israel. Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will brief
Senators on a classified video call today. A number of Republican Senators say they're going to block the aid unless there are major changes to U.S.
We're joined by CNN Congressional Correspondent, Lauren Fox, on Capitol Hill. Lauren, good to see you. Aid to Israel has this long, broad
bipartisan support. Now, it's wrapped together with Ukraine, and the whole thing is teetering. What is the latest? How do you see this playing out?
LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. It's all teetering on border security policy changes, Kasie. There really is broad support for
Ukraine aid. There is broad support for Israel aid. Yes, there are some House conservatives who have issues with giving Ukraine any additional
funding, but there is still broad bipartisan support to get this through the House of Representatives. The issue right now is it's all hinging on
the fact that there are immigration talks in the Senate that have stalled out.
And I talked to James Lankford, who is the top Republican in this negotiation, he said they are still trying to find a path forward. But,
when I asked him if there was anything that Zelenskyy could say today in a closed-door briefing with Senators, Zelenskyy is expected to call into that
briefing that would change his mind about demanding border policy changes, Lankford simply said, no. There really wasn't anything that Zelenskyy could
say. He said that he acknowledged that Ukraine is at a critical moment in their war against Russia. But, he also argued that the U.S. is at a
critical moment when it comes to its southern border, and that Republicans believe they have the most leverage that they've ever had with the White
House on this issue of changing the border policies at the southern border.
So, Kasie, it's extremely complicated right now, because while you have broad support for Israel aid and Ukraine aid, you are not getting that same
support for what policy changes could be adapted so that Democrats and Republicans could support that package. And right now, that is the crux of
the issue. A lot of --
FOX: -- lawmakers are warning, Kasie, that they could go home for the holidays without dealing with this, despite the fact many of them don't
want that to be the case.
HUNT: And that is a particularly devastating scenario for Ukraine. Lauren Fox, thank you very much for that report.
My political panel rejoins me. And joining us is CNN Political and National Security Analyst, David Sanger, also a Reporter at The New York Times.
David, it's wonderful to have you at the table. Let's start with what's going on here with -- essentially Republicans are saying, we're not going
to fund Israel. We're not going to fund Ukraine, if you don't make these policy changes on the southern border. I think Democrats were willing to
talk about it to a certain extent. But, clearly, those talks have broken down.
And there is kind of a more political aspect to this particular fight. It's less about, OK, we can get to a compromise on border security. And it is
fine. We'll get it all together. It's like, no, the Republicans need to make a stand. It has to do with keeping their base happy if they get
something that's considered weak by the right-wing media. They're all going to get dragged for it.
How do you see this playing out in Congress, and in particular, what are the consequences for Zelenskyy and Ukraine?
DAVID SANGER, CNN POLITICAL & NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST, & NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: So, this is really a remarkable
moment, because the border issues, well, obviously, they've got all sorts of international ramifications in our relationship with Mexico, have
usually been dealt with as a domestic issue, and particularly the questions that many of the Republican Senators are raising about, how many people in
the end do you allow to claim asylum? What are the procedures for asylum and so forth? And this has become obviously super politicized within the
MAGA world. It is certainly the one seemingly foreign policy and national security issue you hear the most about on Fox or in right-wing media and so
Usually, Israel, Ukraine have been kept separate as truly international issues that go to the core question of American security.
And the fact that they are mixed now is running a huge risk, because it's coming at the exact time that Ukraine is probably facing its biggest crisis
since the war began nearly two years ago.
HUNT: So, was it a mistake for the Biden administration to link these in their request?
SANGER: It seemed to be a good idea, because it was going to insulate them to some degree on the border issues, and they thought that this would give
cover to many Republicans to go do what they need to do, because if you listen on Fox and elsewhere, what you hear is why are we spending money on
Ukraine and not on securing our own border? What it has ended up doing is imperiling the Ukraine support at this moment, and also at the moment of a
really critical conversation between the United States and the Ukrainians about whether they're pursuing the right strategy, now that it's clear that
the counteroffensive has failed.
SIDDIQUI: I think in the context of how we got here is very interesting, because for months, support for additional aid to Ukraine has been stalled
on Capitol Hill amid these questions from Republicans about the need to send continuing funding toward this war as it nears the two-year mark in
February. And we saw that Ukraine aid, it was left out of these stopgap measures to keep the government open. So, what the Biden administration
calculated, to David's point, was that perhaps by tying aid to Ukraine to aid to Israel, where there is strong bipartisan support, and little doubt
that that --
SIDDIQUI: -- aid would pass, that would be a way forward. And then, you had Republicans come in and say, well, you're going to have to give concessions
on the border. Simply tying it to Israel alone will not be enough to attract that Republican support. Now, you're also having the Biden
administration deal with some questions from Democrats about whether aid to Israel should also be conditioned. So, we're at a very interesting time in
which you see these two parties reevaluating the conditions in which we can -- this --
SIDDIQUI: -- the U.S. government continues to dole out aid and conflicts overseas. But, there is little doubt that aid to Israel would pass on its
own. The real issue here is the aid to Ukraine and the lack of sufficient Republican support, despite support from the Republican leaders for getting
that to Kyiv.
HUNT: So, I want to talk about that, Alice, because this does seem like it is taking place in the context of a Republican Party that is -- has morphed
in Trump's image, really. And just to remind everyone, we talked about this yesterday, but The Atlantic magazine devoted its entire issue to kind of
warning about what a second Donald Trump term in the wake of January 6, etc., would look like. And one of the things they focused in on was NATO,
right, and the way that NATO plays. So, I'm just going to remind you, we can't even put this whole quote up on the screen. It's bleeped out because
this was reported what Donald Trump said about NATO. I don't give a -- that -- they didn't even leave the "S" on there. That's an "S" and an "H" and
two stars, about NATO. That's how former President Trump wants expressed how he felt about it.
And then, as President Trump threatened to withdraw from NATO many times, including at the 2018 NATO Summit, the withdrawal never happened. This was
usually because there was always someone there to talk him out of it. But, that didn't change his mind. They warned if he is reelected, none of those
people will be in the White House. But, this sort of attitude, I realized, NATO more broadly, we're talking about the West versus Russia. The lack of
an urgency around that that has kind of consumed the Republican Party, remarkable to me, but it seems to be what's driving the situation here.
STEWART: It does, and this is part of Donald Trump's America First policy, right? And his supporters think America First, period. But, it should be
America First in conjunction with the rest of the world. And I think with the Republicans and Trump's big emphasis or obsession with the border, to
David's point, that has been viewed more as a domestic issue. When we're looking at the big picture with Ukraine and Israel, I think it's important
to look at this $75 billion for Israel and Ukraine. That is a huge chunk of money. But, what is the price tag for democracy? Look, if Russia were to
succeed in Israel, then who is next? They would just go to other countries in Israel and potentially America next. If Hamas were --
HUNT: They are preaching to the old Republican Party.
STEWART: Well, if Hamas were succeed in Israel, then who is next? Are we next? And I think we need to sit back and be honest about this. And what is
this $75 billion going for? That is to protect -- it's for American security, and it's an investment in democracy. It is not charity, as
Zelenskyy says. It's an investment in democracy. There is many Republicans who would like to see more of an accounting for this money --
STEWART: -- but I think it is money well spent.
HUNT: Very brief, last word. We got to go.
KOFINIS: I mean, I think the real question I have is putting aside the policy, which obviously, you make strategic sense, support Israel, support
Ukraine domestically, you start wondering whether Trump is going to like not only just run on this but really exploit this perspective that voters
Are we spending more money for other countries than ourselves? Even though that's not true, it's a perception that you can milk, and that fits right
into his political agenda.
HUNT: You're already seeing it in Donald Trump's ads, frankly --
KOFINIS: Yeah. Exactly.
HUNT: -- the Ghazi ones where he claims to support the troops although he wouldn't let wounded one stand next to it. But, that's another
All right. Still ahead here, as the death toll grows in Gaza, an Israeli Military spokesman says the ratio of civilians to Hamas militants killed is
HUNT: Welcome back to State of the Race. I'm Kasie Hunt. We're live in Washington. Every time we think things cannot get any more apocalyptic in
Gaza, they do. Those are the words of a top UN official, warning there is nowhere safe for civilians as Israel intensifies its war on Hamas. The
death toll has risen to nearly 16,000, according to the Hamas-run Health Ministry. Israel estimates that for every single Hamas militant killed, two
civilians are killed as well. Here is how an IDF spokesperson described that ratio in jarring terms.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LT. COLONEL JONATHAN CONRICUS, ISRAEL DEFENSE FORCES SPOKESPERSON: And I can say that if that is true, and I think that our numbers will be
corroborated, if you compare that ratio to any other conflict in urban terrain between a military and a terrorist organization using civilians as
their human shield and embedded in the civilian population, you will find that that ratio is tremendous, tremendously positive and perhaps unique in
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: All right. For more, let's get -- let's go to Alex Marquardt in Tel Aviv. Alex, thank you for being with us. That phrasing tremendously
positive when they're talking about people, about human lives.
It's a jarring way to think about it. Why is he putting it that way? What do we know about the claim? Is it accurate?
ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: It could be accurate, Kasie. I mean, Israeli officials have been saying that they have
killed thousands of Hamas militants. And then, when you look at the death toll that's been put out by the Hamas-controlled Ministry of Health, that's
nearing 16,000. It could be a two to one ratio. It could also be a lot worse than that.
There have certainly been allegations from the Palestinian side that a lot more, that multiples of Hamas militants have been killed more than two to
one in this conflict. It really is the phrasing that really raised eyebrows here and drew so much attention. I don't think anybody is really looking at
this conflict with the extraordinary amount of damage and death and destruction and 1.9 million displaced, and think that there is tremendously
anything tremendously positive about this at all.
The point that Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus was making here is that he believes and the IDF believes that they are actually doing a pretty good
job at minimizing the civilian death toll. That two for one is apparently what -- from what he is saying an acceptable number. At the same time, if
you take that at face value and assume, according to his math, that that would mean some 10,000 Palestinian civilians have been killed, that is
still an extraordinary number. So, it really is the phrasing that, as you say, is stunning here in this defense. But, the point that he is making is
that the conditions are very tough that Hamas is hiding behind civilians, and that has led to this high death toll. Kasie.
HUNT: All right. Alex Marquardt for us in Tel Aviv. Thanks very much for that report.
Let's go to our panel now. Jack Detsch is Pentagon and National Security Reporter for Foreign Policy, David Sanger, CNN Political and National
Security Analyst, and Sabrina Siddiqui, White House Reporter for The Journal. Sanger -- David and Sabrina are still with us.
Jack, let me start with you on this question of minimizing the civilian death toll, because, clearly, Israel has been trying to wage an information
war in addition to the actual war that they are waging. This is an unfortunate way to do it, I would say, although they are -- what they are
trying to do is put out the message that they are trying to minimize casualties. To what extent? I mean, I think we've felt the tide of a public
opinion turning against the Israelis as this conflict has ground on. What is the next turn here for that?
JACK DETSCH, PENTAGON & NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER, FOREIGN POLICY: Well, the problem for the Israelis, as the administration sees it, is they're
running out of bandwidth when it comes to global public opinion. We saw Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin come out at the Reagan Defense Forum and
come out with some of the strongest public remarks we've seen from the administration so far, saying the Israelis are basically heading for
strategic defeat if they continue along this path. And the problem is, if you look at the battlefield, I know we've talked about this on air before,
the Israelis are pushing into an area that's still very populated. Most of the 1.8 million Palestinians that have fled from Northern Gaza have fled
into that area of southern Gaza. They're intermingled with Hamas.
So, it's just going to be an enormous challenge to try and minimize civilian casualties, while they're running out of global public support.
HUNT: David Sanger, you've spent your whole career thinking about these big picture questions. What is the big picture on this right now?
SANGER: Well, the big picture for his statement is what is acceptable civilian casualties, a phrase that goes back to Vietnam and those times,
when U.S. commanders found themselves in exactly the position the Israelis find themselves in today, which was saying, yes, we had acceptable civilian
casualties on our way to killing the Viet Cong, and it didn't work terribly well for the Americans. And I don't think it's going to play terribly well
for the Israelis in this case.
Jack has got it exactly right. They -- the Israeli strategy here was to tell people to evacuate the north and go to the south, which made enormous
sense. And we still had these horrific civilian numbers. Now, all those people are in the south, not in their homes. Many of them are out in camps.
Some of them are in hospitals, trying to stay at a line of fire. But, the entire population is now in a big bubble, stuck in the south, just where
the war has followed them. And so, the Israelis are trying to be, I'm sure a lot more careful than they were in the north, but I'm not sure that
that's going to actually play out.
And to what Secretary Austin said, where he said we're headed towards strategic defeat, what he is saying, in essence, is if you win against
Hamas, but you have created the next generation of the next Hamas, what have you accomplished?
HUNT: Yeah. Sabrina.
SIDDIQUI: I think one of the things that has fundamentally changed amid this conflict compared with previous wars between Israel and Hamas is also
the role of social media, which we were talking about earlier. And so, when we're talking about global opinion and what's shaping a lot of the
questions that people are asking of the Israeli government as it conducts its operations, is you have their statements and then you have these videos
and these images that are coming out of Gaza at a level that we haven't seen before. And they're coming from journalists on the ground, which then
needs reporters like us pressing the Biden administration about whether or not Israel is in fact taking steps to minimize civilian casualties when --
even if they may say that it's more complicated than what you see online, that is very much shaping a generation of -- how a generation --
HUNT: That's very true. Yeah. Yeah.
SIDDIQUI: -- of Americans see this war. Now, I do think one thing we have seen in recent days, especially following that temporary pause between
Israel and Hamas is the Biden administration is now shifting its rhetoric, I think, because of some of the backlash that they've received in their
unequivocal support for Israel, Vice President Kamala Harris saying just the other day, far too many Palestinian civilians have been killed, and the
administration essentially privately saying to the Israelis that there are going to have to be some changes now --
SIDDIQUI: -- in how it carries out its operations, really telling them that they are running out of time when it comes to this battle for global
HUNT: Yeah. So, one other topic I want to touch on, because I think it's been -- CNN has done a very good job, my colleagues Bianna Golodryga, Jake
Tapper, Dana Bash, and others have done a really good job focusing in on what happened to women in the October 7 attack. And I just want to make
sure we continue to highlight that here as well. The State Department spokesman, Matt Miller, in talking about what happens to the hostages that
Hamas is still holding, had this to say about part of why they may still be holding on to women that the agreement had said would be able to come home.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MATT MILLER, U.S. STATE DEPARTMETN SPOKESMAN: The fact that it seems one of the reasons they don't want to turn women over, that they've been holding
hostage, and the reason this paws fell apart, is they don't want those women to be able to talk about what happened to them during their time in
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: What happened to them during their time in custody, this is part of why the U.S. government is saying these women can't leave. This is like
kind of a -- just a -- I had to sit with it for a second before the horror of it really kind of sank in. What should the world be doing? I mean, it
took the UN a long time to catch up on this.
DETSCH: Yeah. And I think that's one of the things, is we've seen most of the hostages, at least on video who have been released, coming out in
decent physical condition for the most part, but we haven't heard about the psychological wounds, and that's going to take a long time to fester.
Certainly, the Israelis will probably be very public about that, about what's going on under Hamas conditions.
HUNT: Well, I think we should just clarify, I don't want to cut you off, but I do think we should say rape is also a physical act of violence and
assault. It's not just a psychological wound. That's all.
DETSCH: Of course.
HUNT: I just want to make sure that we under underscore that. But, I mean, David Sanger, this is, I guess, some people will say it's a tool of war.
That's the language that like Pramila Jayapal used with Dana Bash. This was like systemic, systematic. There are apparently videos of -- from the body
cameras of these Hamas fighters who did this.
SANGER: Yeah. I haven't seen those videos. I have heard that. I think the evidence sounds from what I'm hearing from my Times colleagues to be pretty
overwhelming, that there was a range of sexual violence along the way of which rape was just part of it. Not all of it aimed at women.
SANGER: Some at men as well.
SANGER: And that adds to the horror of what October 7 was all about. I think the Israelis are right to be concerned that that is -- that and all
the rest of the horror of October 7 has been overwhelmed by the horror that has been layered upon the previous one.
HUNT: Right. It doesn't mean we should not be horrified about what's going on in Gaza. But, I do think --
HUNT: -- it is very important not to lose sight of what happened here. Jack Detsch, David Sanger, thank you both very much for being here today.
Sabrina is going to be back with us just ahead, because young voters are not exactly fired up about the 2024 presidential matchup. We're going to
dive back into some of that new polling data from Harvard, up next.
HUNT: Next week, CNN will host two town halls in Iowa featuring two of the Republican candidates, less than five weeks before the state's caucuses.
The first features Ron DeSantis. It'll be Tuesday, December 12, 9 p.m. Eastern time. He'll be speaking at Grand View University in Des Moines.
Jake Tapper is going to moderate. And the night after, Vivek Ramaswamy takes the stage. That will be moderated by Abby Phillip, also at 9 p.m. The
candidates will take questions from the moderators and a live audience of Iowa voters.
All right. With that, let's take a little bit of a deeper look at that new poll from the Harvard Institute of Politics that shows less enthusiastic
youth vote in 2024, with less than half of adults under 30 saying that they definitely plan on voting in next year's presidential election, an eight
point drop from 2020. A similar share of young people are registered to vote, 48 percent say they would back Biden, with 33 percent supporting
Trump. Nearly a fifth say that they're unsure or that they don't plan to vote at all. Biden's approval rating is just 35 percent with this group.
That is relatively unchanged from Harvard's last poll in the spring.
Sabrina Siddiqui, I think this is a little bit of what Liz Cheney says we're sleepwalking toward a dictatorship. I mean, this is a lot of people
who aren't willing to vote. But, what's going on here with young voters?
SIDDIQUI: Well, I think there is illusion about a lot of things, about the economy, about climate change, student loans, obviously, the President has
tried to take some steps to act on that issue, but -- and now the war as well. And they're just dissatisfied with the choices that they have. I do
think one thing real quick was interesting about that poll, support among or intention to vote among Democratic voters was fairly unchanged. The
bigger drop came among young Republican voters and young independent voters. So, I think that drop was in the double digits. So, I think the
question will be whether third party or independent candidates siphon off some of those independent voters who may have gone for Biden.
HUNT: Well, Alice, what's going on there with Republicans?
STEWART: Look, clearly, the issues with young voters are -- that impact and motivate young voters are not typically ones that Republicans are in line
with. Look, they want someone who is going to address climate change. They're big on abortion rights. And also, homelessness is another issue
that the Harvard youth poll is has addressed. Republicans need to make sure that they can reach out to these young voters and say, we hear you. We're
listening to you. We're responsive to you, and also point out that the economy is important today, but also for their future, and make the case
that the economy is an important issue. Republicans have a better way to get us out of this economic peril that we're in, and that should be
appealing to the youth vote.
HUNT: One question I have, Chris, and we were talking about this in the break, so forgive me for giving you up about it, but the White House has
not done a ton of communicating with voters and the places where they are, namely young voters in particular --
HUNT: -- namely TikTok, and we were going to kind of have this as a separate conversation. But, you know what I think? It kind of fits because
there is one person in the Democratic Party who -- I covered his Senate race. He and his team are very oriented towards these younger voters and
the platforms that they use, and that is John Fetterman. John Fetterman took advantage of his former congressional colleague's new job on Cameo,
George Santos. It took him a handful of days to get this job on Cameo, which is of course a platform where you can go and pay your favorite
celebrities to send video messages. It might be a birthday gift. You never know.
John Fetterman paid to have George Santos and Bob Menendez, who was an indicted current Democratic Senator, a message without actually telling
Santos who he was talking to. This was the result.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE SANTOS, FORMER U.S. HOUSE REPUBLICAN: Hey, Bobby, look. I don't think I need to tell you but these people that want to make you get in
trouble and want to kick you out and make you run away, you make them him put up or shut up. You stand your ground, sir. And don't get bogged down by
all the haters out there. Stay strong. Merry Christmas.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: Stay strong. Merry Christmas. I mean, it's funny, but also like, is the fact that our politics are this way a part of the disillusionment among
KOFINIS: Yeah. I mean, one, kind of smart creative, I guess, kind of thing to use, especially, viral. But, I think to the heart of the question, I
think this is the part that's most important, is when you look at those younger demographics, here is what we've seen in our research, and I think
it's true in other research as well. There is this kind of doomed mentality, right? They feel doomed about our politics. They feel doomed
about the future. They feel doomed about where society is because of a lot of different reasons, economic, climate change, go down the list, right?
And I think the key thread that's missing or the key, maybe, element that's missing in terms of neither side figured it out, and it's even more, I
think, disturbing, kind of upsetting for me as a Democrat that I haven't seen on the Democratic side, there is not that vision of hope and optimism.
KOFINIS: Right? And I think it's true for younger voters. I think it's true for all voters right now. We've, I think, got into the gutter, and Trump
has done an incredibly good job of debasing our politics and we fall into that trap, that you meet that negativity with more negativity.
KOFINIS: And that is a dangerous dynamic when voters are already frustrated. It kind of equalizes --
KOFINIS: -- unfairly or not, it equalizes the candidate, the candidates and the campaigns and the parties.
HUNT: Well, I'm glad that you framed it this way. We're going to wrap up this conversation. But, I do have one more example of how our politics has
fallen. So, I will leave you with this. We're going to come back in a second for one more thing. But, this was America's mayor, Mayor of New York
on 9/11. This was some of his more recent work.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER TRUMP ATTORNEY: I'm a little teapot, short and stout. Here is my handle. Here is my spout. When I get all steamed up, hear me
shout. Tip me over and pour me out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: Welcome back to State of the Race. My panel rejoins. Before we go, we always ask for one more thing on the campaign trail in Washington -- or in
Washington you're watching in the coming days. Sabrina, very quick.
SIDDIQUI: There was a foiled plot by agents of the Indian government allegedly to assassinate a --
SIDDIQUI: -- sex separatist activist on U.S. soil. So, I'm watching how the impacts the relationship between the U.S. and. The Biden administration
has, of course, sought to hug India very close. Does this imperil that relationship?
HUNT: Very -- it's incredible story. Alice.
STEWART: Voter frustration is at an all-time high. 61 percent don't want Biden to be the nominee. Nearly 60 don't want Trump to be the nominee. Look
for another independent candidate.
We have independent. Now, we potentially have a No Labels candidate, and Liz Cheney has talked about it. This is going to be a presidential campaign
unlike we've ever seen, more candidates because there is more frustration with the voters.
HUNT: Yeah. Chris, one more thing.
KOFINIS: National polls don't really matter to me. I mean, in the next 11 months, focus on four states. It's going to be Arizona, Nevada, Georgia,
Pennsylvania. Those state polls are going to be the key to focus on. Those go south. In some cases, they already are. Obviously, still early. That's
where anxiety should build. Forget about national polls. It's really those key states that are going to matter, and it's going to be a very small
KOFINIS: -- of states that are going to decide this election.
HUNT: Yes. You are. That's a very, very good point. And -- I mean -- and to that point, I mean, one of the things I'm watching that didn't get a ton of
attention out of Saturday, Saturday is Trump rally, but he told his voters that they needed to go and watch the polls in those key states,
specifically in those cities. And there are definitely some threatening undertones to that, and I'm watching to see if that's something that keeps
Thanks to all of you for joining us today. Thanks to our panel. I'm Kasie Hunt. That's the State of the Race for today, Tuesday, December 5. You can
always follow me on Instagram and the platform formerly known as Twitter. Don't go anywhere. One World is up next.