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State of the Race with Kasie Hunt

New CNN Polls: Trump Leads Biden In Michigan & Georgia; Trump Doubles Down On "Dictator For One Day" Remarks; Vance: I'm Not Concerned Trump Would Abuse Power. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired December 11, 2023 - 11:00:00   ET




KASIE HUNT, CNN HOST, STATE OF THE RACE: Biden blues, new CNN polling shows the President trailing Donald Trump in two key swing states, Michigan and

Georgia. How Democrats, young people, and those who haven't voted before are tilting toward Trump? This as Trump is repeating his claim that he will

act as a dictator for just one day if he is elected president. How some other Republicans are reacting? And we're following the latest from

Harvard, University President Claudine Gay under pressure to step down after her testimony on antisemitism. But, hundreds of campus faculty are

backing her up.

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 11. There are just 35 days until the Iowa caucuses, 329 days until Election Day. This is today's State of the Race.

Welcome in. Let's start with our new CNN polls, as the two most recent occupants of the White House appear to be the most likely nominees for

their respective parties in 2024. Former President Donald Trump appears to have the upper hand over President Joe Biden with voters in two critical

battleground states, Michigan and Georgia. In Michigan, which President Biden won by a wider margin, Trump is leading 50 percent to 40 percent,

with 10 percent of voters saying they wouldn't support either candidate in the hypothetical matchup. Don't forget, Trump won Michigan over Hillary

Clinton in 2016.

In Georgia, which President Biden carried by the narrowest of margins in 2020, voters also say they prefer Trump for the presidency, 49 percent to

44 percent. Their concerns, people in both states say they are unhappy with the sitting President's job performance, his agenda, and also his stamina.

There is also new polling out on the Republican nomination fight in Iowa where the presidential caucus is just five weeks away now, the gold-

standard Des Moines Register poll shows Trump expanding his lead in the state with Ron DeSantis and Nikki Haley trailing behind. And then, there is

this national poll from The Wall Street Journal. It shows Haley way ahead of President Biden in a general election matchup, 51 percent to 34 percent.

Trump, according to the survey, would have just a four point lead.

All right. Let's dive into all of this with today's panel. CNN Political Commentator Kate Bedingfield, a former White House Communications Director

for President Biden; Matt Mowers, former Trump Administration Advisor and the President of Valcour Global Public Strategy, and Marianna Sotomayor,

Congressional Reporter at The Washington Post. Thank you all for being here today. The countdown is officially on to Iowa, and quite frankly, the

general election is fast approaching with just a handful of days, a couple of weeks left in December.

Kate Bedingfield, these are some tough numbers for the President. What do you see in these numbers? What should they be doing about the issues that

are clearly on display here?


suggest that some of the key components of Biden's coalition, his winning coalition from 2020, feel soft about him. I think, for the Biden campaign,

what they have to do is, of course, continue to talk to people about what Joe Biden has done to make their lives better, which I think President

Biden is quite good at, although it is very hard in this media environment to do. It is -- that's a challenge. So, what they have to do is drive the

contrast. They have to drive the contrast. This race has to be about Donald Trump, about the existential threat that Donald Trump poses to democracy,

which we've heard him reiterate as recently in the last -- his last 48 hours that he would be a dictator on day one. But also his economic vision.

He is for tax cuts for the wealthy.

The Biden campaign has to really seize control of the narrative, bring the conversation around to the threat of Donald Trump. I think over the last

four years, people have been living their lives. Haven't been thinking about politics. They've sort of forgotten about the chaos of Donald Trump.

And so, I think for the Biden campaign to move these numbers, they've got to make sure that they're driving the conversation in that direction.


HUNT: Matt Mowers, what do you see here?


tagline, if I could, if I were Joe Biden, because I quote James Carville, it's the economy is stupid. And if you look at most polling right now,

nationally and in these key states, over 60 percent of Americans right now are saying that they don't think the economy is working for them. As long

as that --

HUNT: Yeah. You know what? Hang on second. Let's put those numbers up here. We have the CNN polls, Biden in Georgia on the economy. How have Biden's

policies affected economic conditions? 56 percent in Michigan say they've worsened conditions. 54 percent say they've worsened conditions in Georgia.

MOWERS: I worked on the Trump-Pence campaign in 2016. Spent a lot of time in Michigan, a lot of time in Novi and Oakland County, and the red Macomb

County where the Reagan Democrats came home to Donald Trump. That coalition is coming together again, because the economic uncertainty they're feeling

right now. Americans feel like they're living paycheck to paycheck more than any time in recent history. If it's an up or down vote on Joe Biden,

it's certainly on Bidenomics. Joe Biden is going to lose on November 2024.

BEDINGFIELD: The only thing I'd say about that, so, I generally agree that -- I think the numbers show us that right now, as of right now, Biden has

an uphill climb on the economy. That is tough. But, the thing about approval around the economy is it can shift quickly depending on how people

are feeling. And we see wages moving in the right direction. We see gas prices falling. We see the things that are making people feel like the

economy is tough for them, generally moving in the right direction. So, you have 11 months until people are going to go to the polls. And the situation

can look very different. The economics can look very different on Election Day.

HUNT: Yeah. I mean, I think it is worth repeating to at this point in 2020, we had no idea that the global pandemic was heading down the pike and that


MOWERS: Sure. Yep.


HUNT: -- and the entire race would be completely upended.

BEDINGFIELD: Absolutely.

HUNT: Marianna Sotomayor, that said, how stressed out are your Democratic sources on Capitol Hill about this? Because I do know it's a favorite

parlor game for Democrats to hindering, should we call it that, Kate?


BEDINGFIELD: I personally find bed weight (ph) disgusting.


HUNT: The morning show. Anyway.

MARIANNA SOTOMAYOR, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yeah. I just say, you know what, just what Democrats were finally stopping to worry

about let's all coalesce around Biden. There was worries about his age and all these things. Now, a number of Democrats on the Hill saying, no. This

is our guy. We need to stick with him. Now, they're concerned about what it means sticking with him, not that they're going to start supporting someone

else. But, these are really bad numbers for Biden. And of course, they will say, what the Biden campaign has been saying, they're still number of

weeks, months to go until Election Day.

But, this is in some ways a lesson too for House Democrats of what they should be talking about. And we did see during the midterm elections, they

did stay very focused on the economy, speaking specifically of the legislation they were able to pass under House Democratic majority with

Biden's help, how has that specifically affected people in the district. But, you know what? A lot of voters right now aren't necessarily tuning in.

It'll -- that message kind of starts to resonate the closer you get to Election Day. So, it might be a reason why we're also starting to see these


HUNT: Right. I mean, and Kate was talking about that as well. Let's dig into, it's kind of a central -- some of the central challenges here. One of

the places where Donald Trump has particular strength, it seems, is among voters who did not vote in the 2020 election. So, again, this poll is of

registered voters because we're way too far out to start to do a likely voter screen on this, but we can still learn something from these numbers.

So, 64 percent of registered voters who didn't vote in 2020 say that they pick Trump, and 24 percent say they pick Biden. That's in Michigan. In

Georgia, it's a little tighter, 58 percent to 32 percent.

Kate Bedingfield, how do you explain what's going on there? And also, how do you capture that in your thinking when you're the Biden campaign?

BEDINGFIELD: Yeah. Well, I think for Trump, one of Trump's kind of secret successes, right, is he does appeal to people who don't believe that

politics has served them. Don't believe the government is working. And so, it's sort of a natural -- he is sort of a natural resting place for people

who didn't vote in 2020, or who have not historically been dialed in to politics. That makes a lot of sense. So, if you're the Biden campaign, I

think you've got to think about driving your folks out to vote. So, you've got to think about how you juice the black vote, in particular, how you

juice young voters, and how you speak to suburban independent voters.

I actually think that for the Biden campaign to chase a universe of people who have been disaffected or who are inclined to support Trump because they

believe that he will upend the system, that's not a voter at the end of the day that I think is going to come home to Joe Biden.

HUNT: Right.

BEDINGFIELD: So, if you're the Biden campaign, it's important not to be distracted by some of these things and to stay focused on turning out your


HUNT: Right. So, speaking of turning out your coalition, you brought me right to the next major finding here, which is that the disapproval among

Democrats for President Biden is basically one in four. In Michigan, it's 25 percent of voters disapprove of the President, and 23 percent -- and

Mala (ph), give me a second to get in here. But, Kate, I just want you to look at that there too, because they seem kind of -- that's a pretty

significant disapproval among his own base. Right?



HUNT: What's going on there?

BEDINGFIELD: Well, I think we're in a volatile moment in the world. We -- things are incredibly -- they are incredibly tumultuous overseas. It

contributes to a sense that the world is uneasy. I think, again, we've talked a little bit already about prices. People feel like they're getting

squeezed, or they have been getting squeezed. And although we're seeing those numbers move in the right direction, people do feel like things are

expensive. And so, I think people -- even Democrats feel like this is a tough moment.

Now, the reason that I think this is not -- it doesn't signal catastrophe for Joe Biden is, one, historically at this moment for an incumbent

President, numbers are not great. I mean, you've kind of -- you've had the -- almost four years now for people to say, like, Oh, you are a real person

who can't wave a magic wand and do everything.

HUNT: You have disappointed me.

BEDINGFIELD: How disappointing? So, that is -- there is some historical context there. But, also, I think, Joe Biden, one of his strengths, is that

he is -- he projects a sense of steady hand. He projects a sense of wisdom, experience. And so, if you're a Democrat who is feeling tumultuous about

the world, if you listen to Joe Biden for the next 11 months, I think the message you'll hear from him that will be reassuring to you, and I think

that will help bring some of those people to come back.

HUNT: Do you agree?

MOWERS: Well, the problem is, I don't think most Americans want steady right now. Steady means more of the same. That's not what they want. I

mean, you go back to 2016, the reason Donald Trump won more than anything else is voters said, you know what? It's time for a change. If that's how

voters are feeling right now and this is about policy on Election Day next year, Donald Trump beats Joe Biden. If this becomes about personality, and

the President obviously likes to say, compare me to the alternative, not the Almighty --

HUNT: Yes.

MOWERS: -- it is probably going to tighten up because hate is as much of a motivator as love in American politics. But, the fact of the matter is,

that's not going to change the underlying sentiment that Americans are feeling right now, which is of uneasiness. They're not sure where the next

paycheck is going to come from. And the world looks like it is on fire right now. I'm not sure they want more of the same. They don't want the

steadiness that we've seen right now.

HUNT: Yeah. I mean, bottom line, I think Democrats are counting on people coming out to vote against Donald Trump. Right?

BEDINGFIELD: I think there is some truth to that.

HUNT: All right. Well, we're going to have a lot more about the -- Mr. Trump. Still ahead, he wants to be a dictator, but only on day one. He

tries to explain remarks that alarmed some Americans, but seem to delight his right-wing base.




HUNT: Welcome back. Donald Trump will not be taking the stand in his civil fraud trial today after announcing the surprise move on social media. We

would have expected him to do so. The Republican presidential frontrunner was in New York over the weekend, speaking to a gala packed with MAGA

supporters where he repeated the assertion he first made last week that he would be a dictator, but just for one day. Listen to what he said at a

dinner in New York, Saturday night, drawing cheers from the crowd.


DONALD TRUMP, 45TH U.S. PRESIDENT: Baker today in The New York Times, he said that I want to be a dictator. I didn't say that. I said I want to be a

dictator for one day. But, the New York Times said. And you know why I wanted to be a dictator? Because I want a wall, right, I want a wall, and I

want to drill, drill, drill.


HUNT: The panel is back with me. We're also joined by CNN Legal Analyst and former Federal Prosecutor, Elliot Williams.

Matt Mowers, Matt Gorman was sitting in your Republican seat on Friday or on the last day when we talked extensively about the dictator remarks, and

his -- he really focused in on the issues that Trump was talking about, the border wall and drill, drill, drill. We've since had a lot of Republicans

come out and say, ah, he is just joking. Now, I have to say, I think I was willing to buy that from Republicans for a lot of years when I covered the

Trump administration, and then I was there on January 6, and it definitely stopped being funny.


HUNT: What do you -- what is your take on his decision to do this year?

MOWERS: Well, my take is that he is doubling down because he knows we're all going to talk about it. Right? Here we are almost a week after he made

the initial comments, and here we're still talking about it. We are also talking about the issues of American energy independence and drill, baby,

drill. We are talking about securing the southern border. So, he is using this to troll all of us essentially, to also talk about the issues he wants

to talk about. He instinctively knows how this media landscape works, and that's why you're seeing him double down on it, because otherwise in no

other political environment would you ever double down and say, I'm going to be a dictator even for one moment as an American President.

But, we're not dealing with the traditional politician here. We're dealing with Donald Trump, who knows how this media cycle plays, knows here we are

spending air time talking about it. And so, he is going to continue to double down on things like this. We should not be shocked for the next year

if there is going to be a lot more statements like this.

HUNT: What is it about the Republican base these days that makes this appealing, this dictator thing, because --

MOWERS: Because they -- well, there is two facets of this. One is because they do feel like they want someone who is going to -- there is aspects of

a strongman. They're looking for strength right now. They see weakness emanating out of the Oval Office. They see the world on fire. They're

looking for someone to come in here.

HUNT: It's supposed to be the party of Reagan, right, city on the hill, like tear down this wall. Democracy is the height of everything.

MOWERS: Right.

HUNT: Like road has changed.

MOWERS: And I'm not condoning what he is saying for the record, but what the Republican base is looking and saying, you know what, I want someone

who is going to go in there day one, start taking on issues to go back eight years ago when everyone said the Republican base takes him not

literally, but figuratively. That's what they're doing right now. They're saying, you know what? He is not -- I don't think he is going to be an

actual dictator. I think he is going to go in there and make decisions on day one. And so, on two issues I care about as a Republican voter, American

energy independence and securing the border.

HUNT: Yeah. So, the challenge there, Elliot, is that it does seem like he has a track record of actually doing the things he is going to say, despite

the fact that -- I mean, many people in 2016, listened to him and say, Oh, ban Muslims. He is never going to do that. Oh, like build a border wall

with Pentagon money that's supposed to defend the country. He will never -- Oh, wait, he did do that. What is like your view of how and whether the

legal system would hold if this arc continues, and we see Donald Trump head back towards the Oval Office?

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR, & CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I think the cynical answer is that it will not. And I think this is not me, quite

frankly, talking as a lawyer, but as the child of immigrants, and it happens all over the world. And I think we in the United States have this

notion, particularly on the political left in America that our institutions will somehow save us. If someone comes in and says, I'm going to circumvent

the Justice Department, the Defense Department, the State Department, the Department of Education, and just implement policies that I wish to have

implemented, he can just do that. And I think we had -- or at least for most of American history, just this notion that a President could not do


And so, for instance, if you take the wall and drilling, those are both things that the government is capable of doing. And there is a process for

doing it. There is a procurement process for how to construct a wall and so on. But, the President is sort of making clear and is going to install or

at least has said that he wants to install people around him who will just do it. And I think we've got to get off this notion in America that we will

be saved by the rule of law. It only is as good as we who choose to adhere to it and politicians agreeing to carry out just sort of --

HUNT: Right.

WILLIAMS: -- to play along.

HUNT: It requires buy in --

WILLIAMS: Right. Buy in. Right.

HUNT: -- from the people who are governed --



HUNT: -- by the laws. I want to show you, Marianna, Senator J.D. Vance, who is a conservative Senator from Ohio, who I would say is particularly

Trumpian, I guess, in his sort of orientation of late. He spoke to my colleague Jake Tapper on State of the Union over the weekend. Watch what he

had to say.


JAKE TAPPER, HOST, STATE OF THE UNION: Do you really have no concerns that Donald Trump might try to abuse his power if reelected?

SEN. J.D. VANCE (R-OH): No, Jake. I don't. Look, the guy was President for four years. We had peace. We had prosperity. We had wages rising faster

than inflation. Joe Biden has been President for three years now. The average Ohio family pays $10,000 more to afford the same standard of

living. The idea that Trump is going to be radically different than what he was four years ago is just preposterous. He was an effective, successful

President. I think he will be an effective successful President again. That's why I have endorsed him. And I think this desire to make the

election all about the past is indicative of the fact that Democrats don't have much to run on. I think Republicans do.


HUNT: I mean, Marianna, that's what you're going to see from Republicans here in Washington if Donald Trump rolls on.

SOTOMAYOR: Oh, absolutely. And we even heard from Kevin McCarthy this past week saying, Oh, no, don't take Trump at his word. I think it was actually

kind of indicative that J.D. Vance himself said, oh, you know, he is not going to be this radically different from what he was. But, a lot of people

remember Trump as being this guy who broke down barriers.

And I think one thing that Elliot said, which is true, is that there is concerns about the institutions and who will run those institutions,

because a lot of people said during the Trump administration, and we've seen it from some of his former officials, said I was there to say the

right thing. I tried to change his mind. We put our foot down to make sure certain things stood in place. Those people may not be in that

administration anymore. And I think that's something that I am sure the Biden campaign is going to be working on.

WILLIAMS: And I think to that point, it's not just the senior political appointees that he is talking about. It's literally purging many of the

career officials whom the President -- the former President and his allies deemed to be insufficiently loyal. That's a big -- again, there is a

process for firing people in the federal government. But, he has now stated that he does not wish to adhere to it. And I think he is capable of doing

it. I just -- I don't -- we can't say it enough times.

BEDINGFIELD: Yes. And I think the power in this for the Biden campaign in this argument lies with, the power of making this argument lies with

moderate voters, suburban voters, swing voters. We know it is for reasons that you guys were just discussing that we could probably talk about for

hours. It is red meat for his base, but his base alone doesn't get him there. He has to win a sliver of independent, moderate, suburban voters.

And so, the more that the Biden campaign can drive this contrast, can use the four years to say, because I think Marianna is right, people remember

his -- those four years as being borderline, autocratic, borderline despotic. If you're not somebody who is inclined to like Trump, that's how

you remember those four years.

So, he is an incumbent. I mean, he is not a challenger in the way he was in 2016 where he can just kind of paint pictures with words. And he has a

four-year record. And I think for the Biden campaign to just keep driving this argument at moderate voters, at suburban voters, that's where the

political payoff of making this argument.

HUNT: Well, I think there are some Republicans that know that Trump could fail if he continues to make it about retribution, about revenge. Take a

look at what Kevin McCarthy had to say about that.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): What President Trump needs to do in this campaign, it needs to be about rebuilding, restoring, renewing America. It

can't be about revenge.

ROBERT COSTA, CBS NEWS CHIEF ELECTION AND CAMPAIGN CORRESPONDENT: He is talking about retribution day in day out.

MCCARTHY: He needs to stop that.


HUNT: So, Matt --

BEDINGFIELD: I'm sure Trump is listening.


HUNT: -- laughing for a reason. Explain.

MOWERS: Look, had Donald Trump been taking every Republican on Capitol Hill's advice, he'd just be talking about tax cuts for four years. And we

know he talked about something other than that. Look, Kevin McCarthy is not wrong. If you look at where Joe Biden's numbers are right now and you want

to beat Joe Biden, you want this election be about Joe Biden, you want to be out there talking about the economy every day. You want to talk about

how you're going to make wages go up. How we're actually going to crack down and end this humanitarian crisis on the southern border. Donald Trump

is clearly going to talk about Donald Trump though.

And so, I think Republicans have to buckle up. If Donald Trump is the nominee, yeah, you're going to be able to talk about the successes of his

policies. You're also going to talk to these suburban voters about the personality, and sometimes that doesn't always win out.

HUNT: Yeah. No, for sure. And it's one of the more interesting things too on personality is those Georgia numbers. I mean, Trump is doing worse in

Georgia than he is in Michigan in these new polls, which really says something kind of crazy about where we've landed.

All right. We've got a lot -- we've got several more very important stories that I want to get to. So, coming up next, it could be a landmark case, a

pregnant woman locked in a legal fight with the Texas Supreme Court over her attempts to get an emergency abortion. We'll have that next.




HUNT: Welcome back to the State of the Race. I'm Kasie Hunt. We're live in Washington. The Texas Supreme Court is temporarily blocking a pregnant

woman from getting an emergency abortion. Kate Cox is 21 weeks pregnant. Her unborn baby was diagnosed with a fatal genetic condition, and her

doctors say complications are putting her own health at risk. The Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton asked the state's highest court to freeze a

lower court ruling that would have allowed her to have that abortion. The attorney for Kate Cox says that her client is now in legal limbo and that

what she is experiencing is excruciating.


MOLLY DUANE, ATTORNEY FOR TEXAS WOMAN SEEKING ABORTION: While a week maybe a very short amount of time for a court, it is a very long amount of time

for a real patient in a medical crisis. I mean, think about how you would feel. You get this order saying, yes, my abortion can go forward. My doctor

can give me the life-saving care and abortion, which is what I need right now. And then, all of a sudden, a court steps in and says on a Friday

night, we need more time to think about it. Now, it's been all weekend that Kate has been waiting. She and I have been in constant contact. She spent

most of the weekend in bed. I mean, think about how you would feel in that situation.

This is why it is completely untenable for patients to have to come to court and ask for court authorization for life-saving medical care. It's

simply outrageous. And people should be outraged by what is happening in Texas right now.


HUNT: CNN's Ed Lavandera joins us now live from Dallas. Ed, thanks for being with us. What is the latest that we've heard from the Texas Attorney

General on this?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN SENIOR U.S. NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, over the weekend, Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton filed more motions there in

that case before the Supreme Court involving Kate Cox, where he goes on to say that she has not met the standards of the medical exemption to reach

and to be able to obtain a legal abortion here in the state of Texas. The law changed after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last year

here in Texas. Abortions after six weeks are only allowed in the case where a mother's life is in danger.


But, Paxton, in the latest court filing, writes that fatal fetal conditions like Ms. Cox's baby has as well as the threat to any possible future

fertility do not rise to the level of getting a medical exemption here in Texas. Obviously, Kate Cox's attorneys pushing back very strongly on that,

Kasie, saying, they've said over the last few days that it's unimaginable that Kate Cox would have to go and beg a court for an illegal abortion here

in this state, and then also ends by saying, would you want Ken Paxton in the medical room with you? I don't think so. So, some very tense moments

here as we're awaiting the final word from the Supreme Court here in Texas.

HUNT: Very difficult period of time. Ed Lavandera, thanks very much for that report.

Our panel is back with me. And Kate Bedingfield, I just -- I understand Ed obviously gave us the legal lowdown, and Elliot will talk to you about that

in a second, but I think that the fact that we're having this conversation about at all kind of really underscores why the politics of this break the

way they do --


HUNT: -- because at the end of the day, this is the Texas Attorney General who is making a set of decisions that are directly impacting one

individual's choices about her own health.

BEDINGFIELD: Yeah, absolutely. And it's an excruciating personal experience. We obviously heard her attorney speaking about what she is

going through. I think women across the country and men whose partners have gone through this are feeling that pain. It's incredibly emotional. But, it

is the perfect illustration of here you have the government stepping in to say you cannot make this life-saving decision or this life-altering

decision with your doctor. And I think for what we've seen time and again since Roe fell is the vast majority people across the country don't agree

with that.

Now, there are differing opinions about abortion itself. But, across the board, people -- this issue has kind of boiled down to, people feel like

this is a dramatic overreach by government. This is government stepping into a space in their lives where they should be allowed to make those

decisions. It is really about freedom and choice. And that is part of why it has become such a motivating issue. And I think this is an excruciating

and brutal but very illustrative example for people.

HUNT: Yeah, I mean -- and it's also -- I mean, having covered both pro -- both abortion rights groups and also abortion opponents -- groups that

oppose abortion rights for many, many years, Matt. I mean, this does break some of the stereotypes, I think, particularly groups that oppose abortion

rights, like to promulgate around these issues. I mean, these kinds of late term questions are actually incredibly rare. I want to show you, Matt, a

little bit of what -- a little bit more from Vance's interview with Jake Tapper. It's actually pretty interesting how he chose to talk about this

issue. Remember, conservative MAGA Republican is how I would put this, how we think about in this -- in that context. Watch.


VANCE: Well, I don't know the details of that story, Jake. But, I will say that we have to accept that people do not want blanket abortion bans. They

just don't. I say this as a person who wants to protect as many unborn babies as possible. We have to provide exceptions for the life of the

mother for rape and so forth. That is just a basic necessity. When I say that people don't really trust this, Jake, what I'm getting at is, look,

I'm luckily a person of means, but I have been shocked by, you go to the hospital. You have a baby. You get a $20,000 unexpected bill. What does

that look like for a middle class family that is trying to figure out how to pay the mortgage?

We've made it way too hard to have children and have families in this country in that environment. If people see Republicans not as the party

that's trying to make it easier to have babies, but it's just trying to take people's rights away, then we're going to lose.


HUNT: If we're seen as just trying to take people's rights away, we're going to lose. Is he right?

MOWERS: Yeah. I mean, look, I think you're going to start seeing cases like this inspire legislators in other states, Arizona is coming up right now

actually, where they're going to probably more broadly define what life -- from life of the mother to health of the mother. And that's really going to

be the key distinction that would actually affect this specific case as well. And I think something that J.D. Vance also says that was really

interesting is really indicative of where the current conservative movement, especially the MAGA conservative movement is going on these.

They're saying, we're pro-life, but we also want to be pro-mother. We want to make sure that we have childcare options that are affordable. We want to

make sure that --

HUNT: I don't think J.D. Vance has been quite that far, because some of the stuff he said about --

MOWERS: Well, he has --

HUNT: -- he and Josh --

MOWERS: -- he and Josh Hawley have actually often talked about expanding childcare options and things like that as well. So -- and it really is tied

to those who are more closely identified with what you would call MAGA Senator.

HUNT: Yeah. Well, look, I mean I think it also speaks to more broadly in the Republican presidential race the way Trump talks about abortion is much

different than DeSantis, for example. Elliot, how does this case -- I mean, what are the next excruciating steps for Kate Cox?

WILLIAMS: Yeah. What's remarkable here is there is this idea of irreparable harm, which is you can't -- a court would step in and not let something

proceed if one of the parties would be "or irreparably harmed" by something proceeding.


Now, without weighing in on the merits of the morality, any or all of the above, someone who is carrying a pregnancy will suffer irreparable harm by

carrying that pregnancy to term if they wish to not do so. Right? It's sort of like if you're talking about an order to destroy a building or something

like that, someone would sue to have that stopped, because -- anyway.


WILLIAMS: So, point being, what are the next steps? This is very tricky, because the state was very, very deliberate in how they wrote that law and

making it just about the life or death of the mother and not --

HUNT: It's this distinction you're making. Yeah.

WILLIAMS: -- exactly, and not the sort of these very heart-wrenching problems here. It -- getting back to the irreparable harm point, it's hard

to see how -- if this carries on for several more months or weeks that this individual has to take this pregnancy to term, and I think the state can

just run out the clock in the litigation here and force this individual to give birth. This is the conundrum or the problem that Texas has created

here in how they drafted the law, and ultimately, forcing people to carry the pregnancy to term.

HUNT: I mean, I don't know. Matt, I mean, it just -- it makes me think about what does it really mean to be -- we're taught in journalism school,

don't call it pro-choice, pro-life. Those are the labels that these groups have created for themselves say it doesn't support abortion rights.

Supports abortion rights. But, the reality is Republicans saw themselves as pro-life. What does it mean to be pro-life when you have a woman who, a,

has her own life on the line, b, really wants to bring healthy life into the world, wants another chance to have a healthy baby? I mean, how do you

-- how do Republicans grapple with this? What does it mean to be pro-life in this situation?

MOWERS: Well, you do you see a number of Republicans now who are saying, you know what? I'm pro-life, but I believe in exceptions. Right? And that's

always been the case, and traditionally has been --

HUNT: That's what J.D. Vance was saying. Yeah.

MOWERS: -- right, has been a traditionally life of the mother. You're seeing more and more than now say health of the mother as well. And you're

going to see that play out in each state as they are crafting this legislation at the state level. It's among the reasons, by the way, you see

a number of leading Republicans nationally now saying, you know what, we don't want to deal with this at the federal level. We don't want to talk

about a federal abortion ban of anything, even if it's after -- in the last trimester. This is something for the states and for voters to decide at the

state level.

WILLIAMS: It is an awful position to put this individual, and -- but frankly, if I were their attorney, I'd say cross state lines and get the

abortion, and dare the state of Texas to sue the federal government to not allow you to cross state lines, because then what we would have is Texas

starting to interfere in interstate travel and interstate commerce, which the Justice Department says they can't do. Now, that's kind of a worm.

HUNT: Well, it also raises (ph) the Texas vigilante law --


HUNT: -- as well.


HUNT: Right? The mess. Marianna, I would get you in on what Republicans in Congress are going to do about this. But, we have so much to get to today.

Elliot, thank you very much for being here. Marianna is going to join us in the next block too.

The president of Harvard faces calls to resign after testifying on campus antisemitism last week. Why she is apologizing for her testimony? Up next.




HUNT: Welcome back. The Anti-Defamation League says it's documented more than 2,000 antisemitic incidents in America since the war between Israel

and Hamas began two months ago. Many of those incidents have unfolded on college campuses, including some of the very most elite universities in the

world, schools like Harvard, where President Claudine Gay is under renewed pressure to resign over her response to antisemitism on campus. CNN's Jason

Carroll joins us live now in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Jason.

JASON CARROLL, CNN U.S. NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kasie, a lot of folks have been asking the one question that's been on the minds of so many

people here at Harvard, what will happen to Harvard's president? And the answer to that question is it's still unclear at this moment. What is clear

is that she does have supporters here at Harvard. But, what is also clear is that her comments last week hurt, and some say her apology was simply

not enough.


CARROLL (voice-over): Now that the University of Pennsylvania's president has resigned, the question for some here at Harvard University is, will

their President Claudine gay be next?

JANE, HARVARD STUDENT: I don't think that she should leave because she is like a few months into her presidency, and I think it's like a little wild

that like the entire outside world gets to decide what happens on a college campus.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it's not a black and white issue. There is a lot of moving factors, and it's hard to address all of those in one


CARROLL (voice-over): Student Polina Kempinsky is Israeli, and says she hasn't felt safe being Jewish on campus for some time. She says that widely

criticized congressional testimony last week just made things worse.

POLINA KEMPINSKY, HARVARD STUDENT: It felt like it is failed leadership. I was really expecting a clear set of statement of we're against

antisemitism. And either here is our plan, or we need your help implementing this and that. Instead of this, when hearing the lack of

response they attempt to evade, it just made us feel like we're alone in this. And I'm sure a lot of Muslim students have been feeling the same way.

CARROLL (voice-over): The presidents from Harvard, MIT and the University of Pennsylvania, all came under intense scrutiny after their disastrous

congressional testimony where they failed to condemn calls for the genocide of Jews as it related to university policies against bullying and


REP. ELISE STEFANIK (R-NY): So, the answer is, yes, that calling for the genocide of Jews violates Harvard Code of Conduct. Correct?

CLAUDINE GAY, PRESIDENT, HARVARD UNIVERSITY: Again, it depends on the context.

CARROLL (voice-over): Gay later apologized, telling the Harvard Crimson in an interview "words matter, but the damage was done." One of her staunchest

critics, Bill Ackman, a billionaire hedge fund CEO and Harvard alum, sent a letter Sunday to the university's governing boards of directors. It reads

in part, "In her short tenure as President, Claudine Gay has done more damage to the reputation of Harvard University than any individual in our

nearly 500-year history."

RABBI DAVID WOLPE, VISITING SCHOLAR, HARVARD DIVINITY SCHOOL: I hope that she will be able to do what is best for the university and best for her,

but I don't know what that is.

CARROLL (voice-over): Until recently, Rabbi David Wolpe, a visiting scholar at Harvard's Divinity School, was part of the university's antisemitism

advisory group created in the wake of October 7. He was chosen by Gay. But, Wolpe said while he had accountability, he had no real authority to do

anything. Gay's testimony was the final straw. He resigned from the group last week.

WOLPE: And I had wanted from any of the Presidents a certain urgency and anger and indignation had they once, it wasn't even the content of the

answers, had they once pounded their fist on the table and said this is unacceptable, I will not have this at my university, I think people would

have felt reassured.


I would have felt reassured.

CARROLL: But, instead, you got what?

WOLPE: Instead, we got legalisms and equivocations.

CARROLL: Should Gay resign?

WOLPE: Not for me to say, really. I don't take a decision on --

CARROLL: Why not?

WOPLE: -- because I'm a rabbi who has been at Harvard for two months.

CARROLL (voice-over): Yet, several hundred members of the school's faculty signed a petition, calling on university leaders to resist political

pressures and outside forces trying to remove Gay.

ELIAS SCHISGALL, SENIOR REPORTER, HARVARD CRIMSON: They are united to say that we don't think it's appropriate for national politicians and major

alumni to be dictating who should or shouldn't be in the leadership of the university.


CARROLL: And a little bit of context about that petition. Some 600 faculty members have now signed on to that petition, but some of those people have

signed on are actually critics of Gay. But, the reason why they say not signed on in support of her is because they're also in support of academic

freedom. And so, what they don't want to see are outside forces forcing the president out. They feel as though that's a decision that should be made

internally. Kasie.

HUNT: All right. Jason Carroll for us in Cambridge, thank you very much for that. Our panel is back with us. Kate, Matt, Mariana are here.

Marianna, this moment on the Hill with Elise Stefanik is really obviously causing incredible repercussions across the country. And this is one thing.

The New York Times wrote about what this means for Republicans or could mean, and they say "For Republicans, the rise of antisemitic speech and the

timid responses of some academic leaders presented a long-sought opportunity to flip the political script and cast liberals or their

institutions as hateful and intolerant. The potency of the critique was underscored by how many Democrats joined the attack. The three college

presidents were denounced by a spokesman for President Biden, and he was echoed by other democratic officials, like Pennsylvania's governor, Josh

Shapiro, who joined calls for Ms. Magill's firing." She, of course, is the President of Penn.

This really has been kind of a remarkable turn.

SOTOMAYOR: Yeah. I mean, listen, Republicans for a long time have been trying to make any big school, this liberal wokeism. Look, what they're

teaching our next generation. That -- they have been trying to land that point. But, even beyond the politics of that, this was a moment, because it

should have been an easy answer to the questions, and I do think whether it was Elise Stefanik or let's say any other Democrat on that panel, it should

have still elicited the same answer, the same correct answer, which is denouncing any type of genocide for any kind of group of people.

But, we have seen Stefanik. She is the Chairwoman of the conference. So, she is actually the chief messenger. This is a moment for Republicans. And

it does add credibility to this point that they have been making for a long time, which is, yes, these schools are thinking differently, acting

differently, however they try and frame it. However, you see those bipartisan, I guess, calls are --

HUNT: Yeah.

SOTOMAYOR: -- the schools are not actually saying the right thing.

HUNT: Yeah.

SOTOMAYOR: Like, I don't know how to say it.

HUNT: No. I mean, right. I think you're right about that and in Penn's case, especially, I mean, this was something that had been an ongoing ahead

of Magill's testimony.

I mean, Kate, do Republicans have a point here? I mean, they have been trying to say this about, to Marianna's point, that the universities are

woke. They'd have these criticisms of them. It does seem like perhaps -- does it seem like they've exposed something real here?

BEDINGFIELD: In this moment, they certainly have a point. No question. And I think the way you've seen many Democrats join the criticism of these

university presidents, the ways, as you mentioned, the White House was swift to condemn what they said, I think there is no question if you cannot

answer clearly is it a violation of your code of conduct to call for genocide. If you can't say, yes, it is, that's a problem. Yeah. So, in the

immediate case, yes, absolutely. Whether that speaks to a broader cultural rot at these universities, I wouldn't -- I'm not sure I would go that far.

And I think there is a lot of discussion to be had about that.

But, I do think it shows how fraught it has become to talk about these issues, talk about the war. I sort of think about this as sort of similar

in some ways to Congresswoman Jayapal sort of hesitating in clearly denouncing rape as a tool of war. We -- people seem to be so caught up in

the emotional moment that they sort of lose the ability to think clearly about condemning something that is universally condemnable. So, it shows

how challenging this is. It shows that the politics is complicated because it is so emotional. But, there is no question in this moment. She should

have easily been able to say yes.

HUNT: Matt, what do you playing out here, because this did go very quickly from the realm of academic to the realm of political?


MOWERS: Sure. I mean, look, this is Harvard and Penn. These folks are too smart to be this dumb, right? I mean, these are folks who should know

better. This is a really simple answer. Right? This is not some esoteric debate in a lecture hall where we're saying, what's the appropriate

response of force and all that? This is calling for genocide on a college campus protected. It is calling for genocide against your own fellow

classmates. So, they intimidates, harasses them and tries to force them into dorm rooms where they're afraid to even come out. Is that harassment?

The answer is obviously yes. And what we saw was a giant disconnect right now for a bunch of folks who are running these multimillion dollar endowed

universities who will look as out of touch as they've ever looked right now from the American people.

It's absolutely in the political realm now, because it's beyond that. It's representative of a much larger discussion in this country, which is how

out of touch some of the elites of our country truly are.

HUNT: Well, I mean, Kate, it does make me think of -- our polling shows very clearly that increasingly the main divide in our country is between

people who have college degrees and people who don't. How are we seeing that here?

BEDINGFIELD: Yeah. Well, absolutely. And in some ways, I think that you see Democrats kind of pouncing on this moment to put distance between

themselves and the leaders of these institutions in part, because Democrats have lost non-college educated voters, and some of where they -- some of

what Biden was able to do in 2020 was to win a larger share of white non- college educated voters than Democrats had in previous elections. And so, I think, in some ways this is, don't want to say an opening or suggest that a

comment like this is opportune. But, I do think that this gives an opportunity for Democrats to clearly say, no, that's not a behavior that we

tolerate, and draw some of that, try to close some of that gap a little bit, because it is -- actually, it is one of the biggest divisions in our

politics predictors, I should say.

HUNT: Right.

BEDINGFIELD: It's one of the biggest predictors of will you vote a Republican, or will you vote Democratic, as people with college degrees

lean more and more democratic. So, this is an opportunity for Democrats to say, we understand that there are a lot of things these institutions do

that we don't like.

MOWERS: And if I can just say one point, it ties into politics, because we were just talking a few months ago about student loan forgiveness. A lot of

Americans out there right now without college degrees who are saying, why am I going to use my tax dollars to pay for someone to go to school like

that, to learn that type of behavior, that type of ideology? They're fed up with it.

HUNT: I will say also, Josh Shapiro is the Democratic Governor of Pennsylvania, jumped on this very quickly on Penn. He -- one of the first

things he did when he got into office was open up a whole bunch of state jobs to people who didn't have college degrees. And that's I think part of

the -- underscores your point, Kate.

All right. We're going to take a quick break, but don't go anywhere. My panel is going to be back with one more thing right after this.


HUNT: Welcome back to the 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 you're watching for in the coming days. 30 seconds each. Kate, go first.

BEDINGFIELD: So, this week, the Biden administration made their first grant under the CHIPS program to a defense contractor in New Hampshire, in fact,

a place that employs a lot of people that contributes to national security. I'm intrigued by this because one open question for the campaign is, how

well is Biden going to be able to remind people of his accomplishments and what they're doing for him? So, how the White House messages this and how

the campaign messages his accomplishments moving forward, I think, will be an interesting dynamic in the campaign.

HUNT: And of course, CHIPS is a big bipartisan package aimed at enhancing American productivity in the world.

BEDINGFIELD: Absolutely.

HUNT: Matt.

MOWERS: I'm looking at Buenos Aires where Javier Milei was just sworn in as the new President of Argentina. There is a lot of strong relationships

between the new President as well as many American conservative leaders. A lot of them are looking not just how he won, but realistically what he is

going to do. He has already downsized the size of the government by eliminating departments. They're looking to 2025 to maybe look for some


HUNT: Very interesting. All right. Marianna, what are you watching?

SOTOMAYOR: Well, it's the last week that Congress is in session for the year, and there is still a whole lot they needs to get done. Primarily,

it's funding the Pentagon, the NDAA and it's really going to be a critical moment for Speaker Mike Johnson.


We have seen him kind of step away and say, OK, I hear you far right. I am part of the far right. I believe in you. But, we need to govern. And they

have a very small majority. Does he put this bill that the far right hates on the floor for several reasons? It seems likely that might get done. But

then, obviously, Zelenskyy is going to be visiting the Hill at a critical time when a number of House Republicans don't want to give any more funding

to Ukraine. I don't think he is going to change their hearts and minds about this. That may be me being a little pessimistic, but also a little

bit realistic about just the tensions on the Hill, and how they're trying to fund Israel or Ukraine, border security, just too many things before the

end of the year.

HUNT: Right. Well, thank you all very much for being here. And I will say, to Marianna's point, the thing that I am watching for is, how do they untie

the knot that they have made, because some of the -- what's going on here as the U.S. struggles to get aid to Israel is overwhelmingly popular. Aid

to Ukraine would pass if it went down onto the floor all by itself. Border Security is another ball of wax that wouldn't happen there. But, adding

them all together has really potentially sunk these two major priorities for the rest of the world. And of course, this happens right before


Thanks to all of you for watching. I'm Kasie Hunt. That's the State of the Race today, Monday, December 11. Don't go anywhere. One World is up next.