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State of the Race with Kasie Hunt
Trump Ramps Up Attacks On Haley, Her Donors; Haley: Trump "Should Feel Threatened"; Haley Fires Back At Trump, Vows To Stay In Race. Aired 11a-12p ET
Aired January 25, 2024 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KASIE HUNT, CNNI HOST: Donald Trump threatening to blacklist fellow Republicans one month from the South Carolina primary. Trump is furious
with his last remaining rival Nikki Haley and the donors sustaining her. Plus, right now, President Biden is on his way to Wisconsin where he'll
tout his record on infrastructure and the economy. Biden flipped Wisconsin in 2020 and he will almost certainly need it if he wants to win again in
November. And Donald Trump once again looms over Capitol Hill. The former President is pressuring Republicans to reject any immigration deal in order
to deny Joe Biden a political win.
Good day, everyone. I'm Kasie Hunt to our viewers watching in the United States and around the world. It's 11 a.m. here in Washington, Thursday,
January 25. There are nine days until the South Carolina Democratic primary, 30 days until the Republican contest there. There are only 284
days until Election Day. This is today's State of the Race.
From attacks to threats, Donald Trump is so angry he is now promising retribution against Republicans who give Nikki Haley money to help her keep
running against him in the Republican primary. Sources tell CNN that Trump is becoming increasingly angry with Haley for refusing to drop out, with
one person close to the former President saying "Before she was a gnat, now she is an enemy, and Trump plans to bludgeon her in the lead up to South
Carolina." Trump is threatening to blacklist her donors, posting that "Anyone that makes a "Contribution" to Birdbrain", again, that's his word
for Haley, "from this moment forth, will be permanently barred from the MAGA camp. We don't want them, and will not accept them." So far, Haley is
not backing down in the face of Trump's threats.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NIKKI HALEY, U.S. REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Donald Trump got out there and just threw a temper tantrum. He pitched a fit. He was insulting.
He was doing what he does, but I know that's what he does when he is insecure. I know that's what he does when he is threatened. And he should
feel threatened without a doubt.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: Insecure and threatened. Let's dive into all this with today's panel. Robby Mook was the Campaign Manager for Hillary for America 2016. Sarah
Matthews was Deputy Press Secretary in the Trump administration. She was also a spokesperson for Trump's 2020 campaign. Margaret Talev, Senior
Contributor for Axios, and Kristen Holmes, CNN U.S. National Correspondent, who covers the Trump campaign for us. Thank you all for being here.
Sarah, I do want to just start with what we saw you tweet earlier -- or sorry, last night. You screenshotted the donation that you sent to Nikki
Haley's campaigns, had done joining me in donating to Nikki Haley here. You obviously already comfortable being on the blacklist.
SARAH MATTHEWS, FMR. DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY FOR PRES. TRUMP: Yeah. Permanently barred from MAGA camp. I feel like I already am. But, I
encourage others to go out and do so too, because that's a ridiculous statement from Trump to say that he doesn't need those supporters, because
he does need her supporters, many of them moderate Republicans and independents who he would need in a general election if he is the
Republican nominee. And so, I think it's kind of reminiscent of what we saw in Arizona when Kari Lake ran for governor there. And she said, I don't
want McCain voters. And look how that turned out for her. So, he needs all the voters he can get. And I encourage others to donate to Nikki as well,
just as I did.
HUNT: Yeah. I mean, politics 101, right? It's addition, not subtraction.
HUNT: Yeah. I mean, Rich Lowry wrote this and I bet she is -- he writes, "She is appealing to the Republicans and Republican-leaning independents
that Trump needs to substantially bring home in November to beat Biden. Killing her with kindness would make much more sense for Trump, than in
irate speeches and unhinged social media posts, reminding her voters why they don't like him in the first place."
I mean, Robby, if you're the Biden team and you're trying to run against this, I mean, this is the Donald Trump you want to run against, right?
ROBBY MOOK, FORMER CAMPAIGN MANAGER, HILLARY FOR AMERICA: Absolutely. I mean, I was just watching a focus group last night with some voters in
Georgia, and this was exactly -- they voted for Trump in 2016, for Biden in 2020. This was exactly the kind of behavior they were bemoaning in him. And
I think it's very interesting, though, that you see Biden using Santa (ph). We'll talk about this later to just get on his own message. So, he is just
letting Trump hang himself and on this and that's exactly what he should be doing.
HUNT: Yeah. Kristen Holmes, take us kind of behind the scenes. I know you've been talking to a lot of these people. And you and I have talked
about how -- that Trump has his most organized campaign so far, and the people at the top want him to be disciplined. They've had some luck at some
KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN U.S. NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, definitely yes.
HUNT: -- but -- right --
HOLMES: That's what --
HUNT: That's what going on here. Yeah.
HOLMES: I mean -- so, first of all, just on that Truth Social post, I mean, the real ridiculous part of this is that they want the money. I mean, it's
not just about the voters. It's also about the fact that he has like no high dollar donors. And the idea is like, of course, you can tell people,
if you go work for Ron DeSantis, you can't come work for me. It's very different when you're talking about millions of dollars that you need to
run a campaign. And I can tell you that the people who run his campaign and actually pay those bills would really like to see that money coming in,
particularly given --
HUNT: -- MAGA forever.
HOLMES: Exactly. Tim Scott actually said the quiet part out loud. He said it on Fox yesterday, where he was like, we're hoping after South Carolina
the big donors come to us. I mean, they're looking at that. They've been looking at that. So, that's one part of this. The other part of this is
that this is deeply personal right now. Donald Trump is clearly lashing out. He is attacking her. They're telling him that he is going to win South
Carolina and by big margins. They have that infrastructure on the ground there. But, he has been leading by 30 points. So, it's not as though she
should feel threatened by her in South Carolina. A lot of this is the fact that he doesn't want to prolong this. He wanted to move on. He wanted to be
the winner and just go forward. And now he is annoyed that he doesn't get to do that and he has to continue putting on this campaign.
MARGARET TALEV, SENIOR CONTRIBUTOR, AXIOS, & DIRECTOR, DEMOCRACY, JOURNALISM & CITIZENSHIP INSTITUTE AT SYRACUSE UNIV.: Yeah. I do think
that's what's going on here. It's funny, because both Trump and President Biden have said, essentially, the primary is over. Now, we're in the
general election. But, these are general -- these are primary election campaign tactics. And I think it looks to me like what he is trying to do
is, has less to do with Nikki Haley than it has to do with anyone in Congress who hasn't already endorsed him, anyone out there who is thinking
about speaking out against him who is a Republican or a Republican leaner. He wants to see how many more people will fall into line the same way that
sort of DeSantis and Tim Scott and all these other folks have.
You can't campaign this way in the general election unless you really think the Democratic turnout is going to be so low and independent turnout is
going to be so low that all you have to do is enthuse your base.
HUNT: Right. Sarah, I mean, you sort of understand how this kind of works in Trump world, and now you're watching -- I mean, look, we watched a lot
of people in the wake of January 6. Just -- it only took them a couple of weeks to change their tune about what was going on. Kevin McCarthy would be
an example of that. But, you're seeing again -- I mean, I spent the entire Trump administration being asked by -- I was up on the Hill. So, people are
always asking me like, when are Republicans going to stand up to Trump? When are Republicans going to stand up to Trump? And it just never
It feels like we're seeing that again this time. And even when I talk to Nikki Haley supporters kind of behind the scenes, I'll say, well, she does
have this path. Like we might be able to work at this way or that way. And while I acknowledge -- I mean, she is out there fighting. I also feel like
I've seen how the Republican Party deals with Donald Trump, and it's to basically roll over. I mean, what do you see in what's going on with
elected Republicans in Washington right now?
MATTHEWS: Yeah. I think a lot of these elected Republicans are making political calculations. They see the writing on the wall that it looks like
inevitably Trump is going to be the Republican nominee, and they're all falling into line and kissing the ring. And I think that some of them, it's
preserving political capital. In the case of Governor DeSantis, they think he has his eyes set to 2028. He feels like he needs to come out and support
Trump. He is probably not going to be as enthusiastic on the campaign trail for him, as we're seeing from someone like Vivek Ramaswamy or Senator Tim
Scott, who I think -- those folks have their eyes set on potential cabinet positions or even VP slots.
And so, I think that it's not surprising to me that they're all coming out and doing this. But, it is disappointing, because if Republicans actually
cared about prioritizing winning, then we would be endorsing someone like Nikki Haley who beats Biden by 17 points. And instead, they're all lining
up to endorse Trump, who is the only person who could probably lose to Joe Biden.
HUNT: Interesting. I mean -- so, Nikki Haley talked about this on stage in North Charleston. Let's kind of -- this is sought for Jimmy, the argument
that she is making about the -- that we're going to see what we saw in 2018 and 2020 and 2022. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HALEY: Now, out of everything that he said in his rant, he didn't talk about the American people once. He talked about revenge. We're going to see
the same thing we saw in 2018 and 2020 and 2022. If you've lost three times, what makes you think the fourth time is going to be different?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: I mean, Robby, he is making the argument for you all on the Democratic side. Do you think she is right?
MOOK: Look, I just think there is a fact that it's going to be a Biden- Trump contest, and it's going to be really close. I don't see a contest against Biden that's not really close. The thing that's going to be
interesting from my standpoint to see is, does -- can Nikki Haley sustain this? Does she get more donations? This was a challenge for us on the
Clinton campaign, was Bernie just kept going because the money was still there. But, there was a day when it wasn't any more and the campaign would
have to end.
So, what I'm very interested to see is she is clearly trying to leverage this moment to say, give me resources. Like, I'm the only person who can
win. Is -- are people going to respond to that? Are we actually going to even see maybe some Democrats starting to give money, or some people who
just want to get rid of Trump? I don't know. But, I'd look for the next few days. If we see an infusion of cash, she is on to something. If not, I
think this is going to be hard to sustain, frankly.
HUNT: Yeah. I mean, the Bernie thing was so interesting, because he could just kind of send an email and all these little donations would just power
MOOK: People still believed. Right?
MOOK: And do they -- will they still believe in her? I don't know.
HUNT: Yeah. I mean, Kristen, to that point, I mean, I do get the sense, right, that the donors behind Ron DeSantis, for example, they were the kind
of people who, yes, they were looking for somebody who wasn't Trump. But, they were also kind of like, well, if it's going to be Trump, and I'm going
to go get on that train and I'm not going to waste any more cash on this guy. There does seem to be an element for Nikki Haley that's different than
that, whether it's kind of business-oriented people who are concerned about the way Trump deals with. I mean, immigration, for example, or many of
these other issues. I mean, do you get the sense that some of this is driven from the Trump people by fear that these donors are going to keep
HOLMES: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I think -- again, this goes to prolonging. They are looking at this understanding that she is getting high
dollar donations and continuing to get them. And some of the people from DeSantis did move over to Nikki Haley, kind of this idea of people who
would do anything to not have Donald Trump but still want a conservative candidate. And they're watching all of that. I think a big part of the
concern is, how long does she actually stay in this?
Now, there is two schools of thought. I am hearing from some Trump advisors. You think she is going to drop out before South Carolina that
they're doing a bunch of beta testing on the ground in South Carolina, and if she actually doesn't rise in the polls that she is going to drop out.
And then the other part is that maybe she has the funding to just keep on going and wait until Super Tuesday and see what states there she can maybe
pick up or at least half the states, some delegates to try and keep the momentum going.
HUNT: Margaret, what do you think is the -- I mean, Sarah was talking about somebody wants to be vice presidents. Somebody wants a cabinet post.
Somebody wants a year in the White House. If you're Nikki Haley, I mean, considering how he is talking about her right now, it doesn't seem like any
of that's in the cards, what is the political future for Nikki Haley, and how does that play into this decision about whether or not she'd actually
go to the end in her home state and risk a loss?
TALEV: I think it's a really interesting question, and I don't think we have the answer to the question. I continue to hear from people that the VP
slot is still a part of this game that Trump respects people who fight him. It certainly --
HUNT: I will buy that.
TALEV: -- doesn't look that way. There is so much -- It's gotten so personal, and there is so much internal opposition in the Trump campaign --
camp to her in addition to Donald Trump's own personal animus. We don't have a lot of models for this in part, because she is a woman, and in part
because not that many Republicans have stood up to Donald Trump. We have the Liz Cheney model. It's in progress. I don't think that's how Nikki
Haley views the next several years of her life. There is the 2028 model. And there is an idea that the wave for Trump, if he were to lose another
election, could break and could allow a reset in the Republican Party. And my guess it's somewhere in that space. But, I don't think she has shown us
TALEV: -- what her plan B is.
HUNT: Right. Really interesting. And I am curious what she is going to have the stomach for, because as we can see, it's already been an ugly couple
days. You think maybe you can't get even uglier with Donald Trump and then he proves you wrong.
Kristen Holmes, thank you. Love having you and your reporting. The rest of our panel is going to be back in just a minute.
Up next here, President Biden trying to maintain the blue wall for his reelection campaign. Still ahead, his visit today to Wisconsin and what it
will take to keep that state in the Democratic column in November.
HUNT: Welcome back. President Biden is working on protecting the so-called blue wall today, heading to Wisconsin to try to sell voters on his economic
accomplishments. He left Joint Base Andrews moments ago. He is planning to stop at a local brewery before making remarks on infrastructure and job
growth this afternoon. Wisconsin is a critical battleground. Hillary Clinton barely lost it to Donald Trump in 2016, and Biden won it even more
narrowly in 2020.
Our panel is back with us. And we're joined by Senior White House Reporter Kevin Liptak. Kevin, I want to talk about the details of the President's
kind of pitch here in a moment. But, since Robby was actually in charge of Wisconsin for Hillary in 2016, I just kind of interested to know -- I mean,
we've seen the President go to Pennsylvania a ton, Wisconsin less so. This, I mean, narrowest of margins, right? I mean, she barely lost it to Trump.
Joe Biden won it over Trump by even less than she lost it.
KEVIN LIPTAK, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yeah.
HUNT: Right? It's so tight. I mean, what do you think the President needs to do in Wisconsin, and what's going to make the difference for him?
LIPTAK: Yeah. Well, I -- it is very telling what he is doing. We all know. His number one vulnerability in this race is people think he is old. Like,
can he really do the job, and you really have to -- he is going there to say, hey, I passed the biggest infrastructure bill in the last 100 years or
whatever it is. Here is billions of dollars. We're going to build roads. We're going to do things. So, this is the number one thing he has to on the
campaign. The problem is getting it to break through with everything that's going on in the world. So, I think you're going to see more of this.
But, look, you're absolutely right. Not only did he win it and Hillary lose it by a fraction of a percent, nobody has gotten over 50 percent --
LIPTAK: -- in this state in the last two elections, and we do have third- party candidates again this cycle, which we had in 2016. So, this -- it's all in here. And this is the message he has to get out --
LIPTAK: -- in this election.
HUNT: Really, it's such a good point. So, he gave this speech on Wednesday, and part of it kind of encapsulated the challenge this White House has been
dealing with all the way along, part of the reason why Bidenomics has been such a difficult message for them to deliver. And that's the fact that what
the numbers tell us about the economy and how people are feeling about the economy, have not been terribly connected. Here is what the President had
to say about that on Wednesday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Last week, we saw one of the biggest jumps in how positive consumers are about -- feeling about
their personal circumstance. But we have more work to do. But our plan is delivering for the American people, building an economy from the middle out
and the bottom up, not the top down.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: So, Kevin, this consumer confidence is really interesting. I mean, what are you hearing when you talk to White House officials about how
confident they are that this is going to continue in the right direction for them?
LIPTAK: Yeah. I think they are confident and they are seeing these signs of growing shift, not just in consumer sentiment. When you talk about
inflation easing or wages coming up, they do see signs that there is vibe shift that they've been waiting for, for the last year, could potentially
be in the offing. And one thing that they think it's just going to take it's time, for time for these indicators to match up with people's everyday
lives, with their psyches. And I think part of why he is in Wisconsin today is to kind of illustrate what he has been doing to try and improve these
So, he'll be at this Blatnik Bridge that connects Superior, Wisconsin, and Duluth, Minnesota, and he is going to announce a billion dollars to try and
reconstruct the bridge.
But, I do this project is telling of some of the challenges that he has. He was at this bridge two years ago to tout the passage of the infrastructure
law. He is here today to talk about the money that's going towards it. But, construction hasn't started. People aren't necessarily seeing, people in
hardhat and vest, taking down the bridge and reconstructing it. And he has been frustrated that some of these things are taking time. Obviously, he is
not -- he knows that it's going to take time to build an entire bridge. But, if he wants voters to understand what he has done and to give him
credit for it, there has to be some visible signs that things are working, and I think that's part of what he is trying to do today.
TALEV: Do you know, the power of incumbency is being able to dole out money. You have the power to spend or the power to sort of christen. The
kryptonite of being President is when there are things like inflation. When goods cost more, people blame you, even if it's a much more complex thing.
I think in the last week, we've seen, and it's not by accident, approaches to women over reproductive rights in a key state that he has to hold,
Virginia. You've seen the UAW endorsement, which is important in a state where he has really got problems with Arab American voters, with young
voters, and with white, non-college educated men. And now, bridge money in Wisconsin.
The rising consumer confidence is a good sign for Joe Biden, but the rising consumer confidence is being disproportionately driven by people who make
more than $100,000 a year. So, that's not really the vote he needs --
TALEV: -- to lock down, right?
TALEV: I mean -- and so, these things are very, very complicated, but he is using the tools that he has got to try to reach working class, middle class
and upper middle class people, on things they care about, like, how you get to work, how goods and services get moved from state to state.
HUNT: Right. I mean, Sarah, when we think about this, the way the two parties are shifting, in particular, I mean, to Margaret's point, about
particularly white working class people, I mean, I struggle to see how Democrats are going to win those voters over. I mean, this shift seems very
stark, maybe not permanent. I don't really believe anything is permanent in American politics. But, it does seem like a pretty significant realignment.
MATTHEWS: No, definitely. Trumpism has rebranded the Republican Party as being the party of the working class. And so, they see Donald Trump as
someone who is a fighter for them, and they don't feel that they're represented by really any other politicians out there. And so, this is
going to be difficult for Joe Biden. As we've discussed, people, I feel like even though we know that the economy is improving, there are metrics
to prove it, the Biden campaign has been harping on this, branding it as Bidenomics, which I think was a fatal mistake, quite honestly, to brand it
like that, because for so long, they were trying to paint a rosy picture and tell people that things are improving. But, people still aren't feeling
those effects, because I think they're still recovering from when inflation hit its peak in 2022.
So, even though there are signs that the economy is getting better, people had to dip into their savings accounts in 2022 when inflation hit nine
percent. Inflation is now at 3.4 percent. And so, things are improving. I think there is still enough time between now and Election Day for Biden to
turn his -- turn this around and kind of win those voters trust back over and prove that he is improving the economy.
HUNT: Yeah. I mean, in particular, to -- I mean, I get the inflation numbers are in the right direction. But, food in particular has been really
-- those prices have been like very cheap, stubborn.
HUNT: And I think that that's something that just stares people like gasoline, I mean, scares people in the face every day. I also want to talk
a little bit about, Robby, Biden's challenges among young voters. And we can do this through the lens, in particular, of the Israel situation, the
war in Gaza, and show you that just 20 percent of voters under 30 approve of President Biden's handling of this issue. 72 percent disapprove. Now, it
has basically flipped among older voters over 65. 52 percent of them approve and 40 percent of them disapprove. But, the reality in terms of
what this looks like for the President has been a series of interruptions of -- by protesters, which is something we got used to seeing at Trump
rallies over the course of the last eight years.
But, take a look at what happened to that speech in D.C. that President Biden gave just, as you know, as he was trying to kind of get these words
out of his mouth around the UAW endorsement. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: No matter what that was, it shouldn't --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: So, of course, they were trying to drown them out by chanting UAW. But, Robby, I mean, how much of a problem is this?
MOOK: Well, I think when you really pull back, the thing to understand is, everything we were just talking about, that's actually what the bulk of
young voters really care about and are facing are those higher prices.
And I think Biden has two challenges that are also opportunities. The first is young people really don't -- we see this in all the -- they don't know
what he has accomplished. They don't know what he has done to bring down inflation, but also on climate change. I mean, his accomplishments on that
are significant. So, the campaign is an opportunity to do a lot of educating on that, that I think will help. But, the biggest problem I think
Biden has is when you look at young people, they don't know that this is a Biden-Trump contest yet. A lot of them don't believe it. This is true of
independent voters. This is true of Democrats as well. So, I do think you're going to see things consolidate a little bit more when the choice is
Biden versus Trump, because right now, that's a little fuzzy for a lot of people.
HUNT: Yeah. I mean, Kevin, is that what your sources tell you at the White House?
LIPTAK: Yeah. And I think at the conclusion of the New Hampshire primary, it was very notable how the Biden campaign really said this is the start of
the general election. And they had been waiting for that for so long, because they do think this one-on-one contest between President Biden and
former President Trump will just make it that much easier for them to make this choice argument. And when you talk to Biden campaign advisors, they do
say their own internal research shows that as many as three and four undecided voters just don't believe that Trump will be the Republican
nominee, despite all of the evidence in polls and despite his overwhelming success in the primary so far. Until that happens, we're going to have a
very hard time getting people to see that the choice is in front of them.
HUNT: Kind of an interesting alignment of the Trump and Biden camps. They both want the same reasons.
TALEV: But, I do think the argument that will ultimately -- the Biden campaign will ultimately need to make to younger voters is that Trump's
Israel policies are more in the direction that they oppose. And Trump's policies towards not just the Arab world or the Muslim world, but Arab
Americans and Muslim Americans at home, is more objectionable to these protesters than Biden's. It's not -- it's like a great argument to make.
You don't want to be arguing negatives.
But, you can't have that argument until it is a binary choice between two candidates. And until it is, Biden is going to take a lot of heat, because
there is a split, not just in the Democratic Party, but an age split across America about how they view the backdrop of the Holocaust, in terms of how
they think about history, and how they view the backdrop of 9/11 and its implications for Americans, for the diversity of America.
TALEV: And those two different experiences are shaping a lot of the context in through which people are thinking about this debate --
TALEV: -- and that's where you see that age split, that rift.
HUNT: Yeah. Well, and many of our viewers may know you as a White House reporter and not know that you also spend now lots of time talking to these
people in your capacity with Syracuse University. So, it's really interesting set of observations, Margaret.
Kevin, thank you. Really appreciate you being here. Hope you'll come back soon.
Coming up here, former President Donald Trump's growing influence over border policy on Capitol Hill in the lead up to the election, we'll have
the latest up next.
HUNT: Welcome back to State of the Race. I'm Kasie Hunt. We're live in Washington. He is not a member of Congress, but Donald Trump is turning the
screws, using his powerful leverage over the GOP to try to sink any bipartisan compromise on new border security legislation. According to a
source, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell privately told Republicans that they're in a quandary, giving all their internal feuding. Trump only
adding fuel to the fire. Last week, he posted on social media "I do not think we should do a Border Deal, at all, unless we get EVERYTHING needed
to shut down" what he calls an "invasion". And you may have heard what he said at the podium after he won in New Hampshire.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), 45TH U.S. PRESIDENT AND PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Immigration is a big deal, big deal, a very big deal. We have millions and
millions of people flowing into our country illegally. We have no idea who the hell they are. They come from prisons and they come from mental
institutions. And it's going to -- it's just killing our country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: Manu Raju is standing by for us on Capitol Hill. Manu, it's great to have you here. Mitch McConnell, really interesting in this situation, as
Republicans deal with the likelihood that Trump is going to be the nominee. How are these dynamics playing out?
MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's really driving the Legislative Outlook here, because there have just been a number of
Republicans who are on the fence uncertain about whether to support this emerging deal. Remember, the deal hasn't even been reached on the border,
and border security has been negotiated for months. They're close to a deal.
But, there have been reports about what's in there. There has been an effort on the right to try to scuttle this, including by the former
President, and very frankly, because he is concerned about giving Joe Biden a victory at this key moment in the campaign season where he has been
seizing on immigration. That has been clear from one Republican after another saying that that's what they believe is driving Donald Trump, and
that could ultimately force a lot of Republicans to side with Donald Trump if a deal is ultimately reached here, which is now raising fresh concerns
that nothing will get accomplished, not this immigration deal, and not the Ukraine and Israel aid that comes along with it.
And I spoke to, just moments ago, Chris Murphy, who was one of the key negotiators in all of this. He said they're still going to try to see if
they can get some sort of deal and had hoped that the Trump is not influential enough to kill this altogether.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D-CT): We don't live in a world today in which one person inside the Republican Party holds so much power that they could stop
a bipartisan bill to try to give the President additional power at the border to make more sense of our immigration policy, I would hope that one
person isn't so powerful inside the Republican Party to hand Ukraine to Vladimir Putin. But, we'll find out the answer to that. I'm just going to
keep my head down. I'm working with partners who want a deal.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RAJU: So, Murphy said that in the next 24 to 48 hours it'll become clear whether there is any sort of viable path to getting a deal.
But, as you know, Kasie, even getting a deal on the border, if a handful of Senators, three of them who are negotiating, including Chris Murphy, cut a
deal on this issue, then they have to actually put together a package that includes aid to Ukraine, aid to Israel, count the votes in the Senate, try
to get out of the Senate, and then a completely different dynamic in the Republican-led House where many of them are aligned with Donald Trump and
don't want to compromise on this issue of the border in the middle of this campaign season, which is why there are just so many concerns among Ukraine
proponents in particular, that nothing will get done this Congress, even as Ukraine, in particular, has been demanding some aid immediately in its war
against Russia as Russia tries to make gains in that war. Kasie.
HUNT: Pleading, really. All right. Manu Raju, thank you very much as always.
The panel is back with me.
I mean, I got to tell you, Sarah, this is like my least favorite thing about the realities of covering Congress which is that when there are
urgent problems, there are people and this happens. I don't want people to think that it's only Republicans who do this. Sorry, Robby, but Democrats
who have too. Right? They see that there is a political advantage, if they stonewall and they don't solve a problem, and it won't, because it will let
them use it as a campaign issue in the fall. I want to show you what Mitt Romney had to say about this, because it is Donald Trump right now that's
doing this, that is doing this acting in this way that I'm talking about. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITT ROMNEY (R-UT): Former President Trump has indicated to senators that he does not want us to solve the problem at the border. He wants to
lay the blame for the border at Biden. Someone running for President out to try and get the problem solved, as opposed to saying, hey, save that
problem. Don't solve it. Let me take credit for solving it later.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: So, there you had him laid out. He was wearing a Ukraine flag pin, lapel pin, you might know. This really is -- he -- it's -- I struggle to
even kind of frame it the right way. But, Trump has used immigration as a cudgel in a way that -- now, President Biden is actually going to -- he was
willing to say, actually, we'll go back to some of the Trump policies in this if you're willing to help me fix this. And now, Republicans are
saying, no, we're not going to let you have that win.
MATTHEWS: Yeah. It just goes to show, I think, why Congress has the lowest approval rating out there, because they have an opportunity to make a deal
with the President. But, they don't want to hand him a win. They'd rather use the border and immigration as a political wedge issue in 2024 for not
just President Trump to campaign on but probably for themselves to campaign on as well. And it's really disappointing, because I think that we have an
opportunity to have meaningful action on this issue. And Trump calls this an invasion at our border. And I'm not disagreeing with that in a way. I
think that we do have a crisis at our border. But, if it's an invasion, then don't Republicans have the duty to act? Shouldn't they be doing
something to solve this issue? But, instead, we're seeing that they'd rather play politics.
HUNT: And Margaret, I mean, the -- I'm having flashbacks again to the Trump administration, where it's like the Republican Party wouldn't do anything.
Donald Trump would send a tweet, and all of a sudden, something they'd worked on for months would completely fall apart. That feels a little bit
TALEV: Immigration has been a political football since as long as I've been in Washington covering politics. I remember even before the Obama
administration it was like McCain and Joe Lieberman and Lindsey Graham at the time.
HUNT: Oh, yeah.
TALEV: And --
HUNT: Though about that.
TALEV: -- but this -- but these -- but, come election time, this always ends up being a political talking point and always ends up getting
perpetuated into the next cycle. The difference this year is this. It's not just about the border. This really is about Ukraine, and Ukraine is really
about Russia and NATO, and the U.S.'s role in the world. Biden wanted to continue important financial assistance to Ukraine. The only way for him to
do it was to make concessions and give Republicans a lot of what they wanted on border spending. He was willing to do it. And now, they've moved
the goalposts again because of pressure from Donald Trump. And so, I think that's really what we're talking about here.
HUNT: Yeah. Well, Robby, I mean, do you think it was -- was it the only option to tie? I mean, the White House kind of volunteered like, hey, we'll
put some border security money. Maybe we'll talk about policy too in order to get Ukraine funding. I mean, I think McConnell thought that that was
also a halfway decent path, like something he could use. But, like, to Margaret's point, and I feel like Chris Murphy has said something along
these lines or tweeted something along these lines, like, why did they think it was a good idea to put the most contentious thing that Congress
hasn't been able to agree on in decades to something that people see us so important in Ukraine funding?
MOOK: Well, because they had leverage. I mean, I actually -- this is what's remarkable about this is, it's not as if like Trump saying, well, wait,
because I'll get it done when I'm President. He won't be able to get it done when he is President, first of all, because he can't get things done.
He is not able to bring people together. But, it's likely the House will be democratic next time, and we could have a Democratic Senate. Who knows?
But, he'll never get anything through. So, he is literally just throwing the opportunity away. And it's reminiscent to me of what purportedly the
Nixon campaign did in 1968, going to the North Vietnamese and being like, don't cut a deal. Don't stop the war yet. Let Americans keep dying. Help me
get reelected, and then I'll work it out with you. I mean, it's -- anyway, like you said, it's hard to frame it up.
HUNT: That is it. That is it. I mean, obviously, the consequences of that, like actual lives. I mean, there are lives at stake at the border as well,
MOOK: People are dying at the border. Yeah.
HUNT: Yeah. Although an American President obviously has -- could pull those troops out directly. Anyway, Margaret, how do you think this
ultimately ends for Ukraine in particular?
TALEV: Right now, it's not looking real good. I think one of the big question marks beyond the funding and beyond this year is, if Donald Trump
does become the Republican nominee and if he were to be reelected, what would that administration's positioning be, not just on Ukraine funding,
not just on how you fix the problem on day one and Vladimir Putin, but with regard to NATO, with regard to massive 75 years' worth of American foreign
HUNT: The post-war order.
HUNT: Yeah. No. It's really stunning.
All right. On that cheerful note, coming up, I'm going to speak with the former Chair of the South Carolina Republican Party. We're also going to
hear what voters in the Palmetto State are saying about Trump and Nikki Haley.
HUNT: Welcome back. We are less than a month away from the South Carolina Republican primary. Nikki Haley, the former governor of the state, far
behind Donald Trump in polls there so far.
I'm joined now by Katon Dawson. He is the former Chairman of the South Carolina Republican Party, and he is supporting Haley in the primary.
Katon, it's great to see you. Thanks for being here.
KATON DAWSON, FORMER CHAIRMAN, SOUTH CAROLINA REPUBLICAN PARTY, & REPUBLICAN CONSULTANT: Kasie, what a privilege and pleasure it is being on
your show today. Thank you for that.
HUNT: Thank you. So, you are supporting Haley. Are you -- have you talked to her since she came home from New Hampshire? Are you planning to talk to
DAWSON: I will. I have talked to Nikki for the last 20 years once a week or so, and I've talked to the team, and I'm real proud of her effort and proud
of what she has done. I mean, she dusted off The Dirty Dozen. We got where we wanted to be in a two-person race, which is now, Kasie, a three-person
race. Either Donald Trump, Nikki Haley or Joe Biden is going to be the next President of the United States. And that's pretty cool. You've been here
before, Kasie. So, you know what it is like.
HUNT: Many times.
DAWSON: We take the gloves off. We play hardball. We try to tell the truth. Right now, Donald Trump is running more like he wants to be the President
of Cuba instead of the President of the United States. And as we remember, they don't really run those campaigns in Cuba. Trump has done us a few
favors over the last 24 hours or so.
When Trump mentioned that if anybody wanted to give Donald -- give Nikki Haley money that they couldn't be MAGA. He would get the list. It was a
tremendous threat. Well, guess what, Kasie? Our website is barely keeping up with the thousands of donation that's coming in, and we really thank
President Trump for that.
HUNT: Do you have a dollar figure on that?
DAWSON: It's getting bigger by the minute. Yeah. We will have it.
DAWSON: It's huge. Second of all, he got -- Donald Trump got the biggest endorsement sort of yesterday that I've seen, and that's when Joe Biden
said that the race was over. Now, it doesn't take a scientist to figure out that Joe Biden and his team want to run against Donald Trump, and are
scared to death about running against Nikki Haley.
HUNT: Katon --
DAWSON: Third, the RNC Chairman decided to come on and say, you know what, I think this race is over. Well, guess what, Madam Chairman? First, nobody
knows who you are. Second, they really don't know who the RNC or DNC is. And I've been on the RNC for seven years at one time. So, let's talk about
delegates. 62 delegates had been assigned. There is 2,367 left. We're going to have 50 in South Carolina. And guess what? We got a race for President
here with 31 days. Kasie --
DAWSON: -- you spent about 25 days here at one time. That's a long time.
HUNT: It is a long time. And you know what? I will say, it's going to be a long time if the polling continues to show what it shows, which is that
Trump is much more dominant in South Carolina than he was in New Hampshire, for example. Does Nikki Haley have the stomach to stay in and lose her home
state? If she does, isn't that, I mean, embarrassing or potentially humiliating depending on how bad it could be?
DAWSON: Patriotic, and absolutely we stay in it. Absolutely. There is a path to victory. It's tough. Being elected governor and a minority woman,
the first, that was hard. Let me tell you. Everybody told Nikki to get out, me included. Don't run for treasurer. You can't be governor. I was there. I
remember it. So does she, by the way, and underestimating Nikki, underestimating the ability to -- for Trump to polarize as many women in
South County as he can with his CV little comments about what Nikki had on.
As you can tell, I'm upset about the attacks on my former governor and my friend, but she can give it as well she can take it. And poor Donald Trump,
Kasie, whether it was NBC, Fox, CNN news, wherever it is, oh, Trump is not going to do a debate because he is scared of me. And he has got all his
friends saying you need to get out of the race. You need to drop out the race. With 62 delegates in, hell no, we're not going to get out the race.
HUNT: So, Katon, what did you make of what happened with Tim Scott on stage with Donald Trump in New Hampshire, I mean, first of all, him standing
behind Donald Trump like that after Nikki Haley appointed him to his Senate seat, and then, of course, what Trump said to him?
DAWSON: A very uncomfortable, unfortunate and regrettable moment for Tim Scott. And that's the typical of Donald Trump who tries to embarrass his
new friends, tries to intimidate folks who are against him. And again, I feel like you are running to be President of Cuba, not President of the
United States, where he loves dictators that he is hugging people. Donald Trump's policy were pretty good, Kasie. They were. I just had enough of the
chaos, just enough. And it is time for another generation to step up. It's time for everybody to say, look, we need some sanity. For Republicans, I
want my Republican friends to listen. If Joe Biden is telling you that it's a two-person race, that ought to tell you something about who we need to be
HUNT: So, Katon, why are -- why is it so lonely for you and Nikki Haley down in South Carolina? We can show everybody the list of endorsements. I
mean, the only congressman Ralph Norman is with Governor Haley. Everyone else has really jumped on board the Trump Train. Why? I mean, Trump has
been pretty effective in convincing these people. I mean, look at Nancy Mace. Nikki Haley endorsed Nancy Mace over her challenger who was Trump-
backed, and yet, here is Nancy Mace with Donald Trump.
DAWSON: Nikki Haley appointed Tim Scott. She went to work for you and she saved Nancy Mace from Donald Trump's MAGA threats. He did. And these are
all my friends and we'll all be friends when this is over, most of us. OK?
HUNT: Fair enough.
DAWSON: People think he is inevitable. They see the poll numbers. They think he is going to win. They get it. They take the threats. It isn't
lonely. It's comfortable. I mean, I was a Republican when I was a kid, and they weren't any of my high school. They weren't any. Not anybody around.
So, I'm pretty comfortable right now, because the state is full of Republicans. We're going to vote, between 575,000 and 700,000 people.
That's more than the first two contests, almost times two. So, we're going to work hard and see what we can do.
Poll numbers are just that. They were a little wrong in New Hampshire. We had a good race there. We'd loved to have one, but it's enough. And then,
we're going to sit here for 30 days and we're going to campaign and we're going to talk to people on street corners, and we're going to show the
difference in the chaos versus a new path to leadership.
HUNT: All right. Katon Dawson, always cheerful and colorful to talk to you. And if we are still --- if you're still in it here in a month, I do hope
you'll come back ahead of that contest. I really appreciate your time.
DAWSON: Kasie, I'll be back anytime you want. I remember when you were making your bones here, and I thank you for it.
HUNT: Covering her -- her first ever -- her first race for governor was my first campaign from beginning.
DAWSON: Absolutely. I remember.
HUNT: Thank you.
DAWSON: Thank you.
HUNT: I appreciate it. All right. Stick around. We'll be right back.
HUNT: Welcome back to State of the Race. Our panel rejoins, because before we go, we always asked for one more thing on the campaign trail or in
Washington that they're watching for in the coming days. Robby, what are you looking for?
MOOK: You know, I think that the Vice President Kamala Harris has been pretty underestimated and underplayed in the last few months. Her team is
doing a marvelous job. She is very steady. I think you're going to see them getting her out there in the battleground states, talking to voters,
particularly voters of color, in the coming months. I think you're going to see a lot more of her.
HUNT: So, you don't buy this idea that -- I mean, you know, she has made mistakes that they're nervous about getting out there.
MOOK: I think the last few months have been pitch perfect. Team -- she has brought up, I don't know if you heard, Brian Fallon has joined her team. He
was Press Secretary for Hillary.
HUNT: I saw that.
MOOK: Like --
MOOK: -- all-star team doing a great job. I think you're going to see her out there more.
HUNT: Very interesting. Sarah, what are you looking for?
MATTHEWS: I think something I've been paying attention to over the last couple of days is all of these Republicans lining up to endorse Trump. Some
of them are Republicans that I once really admired, folks like Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, Senator Tim Scott. And to just see themselves
kind of debase themselves in such a way, because they're angling for the VP position, has been really disheartening. And I think it's just a reminder
to any of the young folks watching at home that you should never want power that much that you're willing to debase yourself in that way. I mean,
hearing Elise say something like the January 6 rioters are hostages. I mean, those are comments that will come back to haunt her long after Trump
is out of politics.
HUNT: Right. And her statement about January 6 is still up on the website. There are photos of her hiding from that mob on that day --
HUNT: -- in the balconies. Yeah. Having been there on January 6, this is the hardest -- the thing that I have trouble wrapping my head around. So,
it makes sense. Margaret, what's your one more thing?
TALEV: Kasie, this week, I'm watching how cuts in labor disputes in the media industry are going to affect campaign coverage of these primaries of
2024, and Americans' ability to understand what's really going on. We've seen massive cuts of the Los Angeles Times. We've seen buyouts of The
Washington Post. The billionaires were supposed to save us. Nobody is sure they're going to save the industry anymore. New things this week, new cuts
at Business Insider, Forbes, and the New York Daily News staging walkouts this week. My colleague Sarah Fischer at Axios says this is one of the most
chaotic times she has seen in our industry since she has been covering it, and it will affect how Americans can understand the political year.
HUNT: Well, and the cuts of the Los Angeles Times, I mean, that's one of the -- it's the sheer number of people that live in California.
TALEV: I used to work for the LA Times. It's very near and dear to me. It's been tragic to watch.
HUNT: What's the loss at the LA Times for the people of California and the country?
TALEV: I mean, it had been already constricted for so many years. The thing is people who moved to California and love California like to pride
themselves as not being obsessed with national politics. They have other lives. They still want to know what's going on in their state, in the
country, in the world. And there is a tremendous group of journalists who've been under a lot of strain for a lot of years. It's just, to my
friends who are there, I really admire them for sticking it out, and I wish them well.
HUNT: Yeah. No. It's a very difficult situation. And I would just say, I mean, my -- the thing that I'm watching for my one more thing is Nikki
Haley, and does she have the stomach to keep going here in the face of what's going to be an increasingly aggressive and nasty, as we've seen,
campaign against Donald Trump. You listen to Katon Dawson. It sounds like the answer is, yes. But certainly, plenty of people -- people before her
have folded in the face of that. So, buckle up, everybody.
Thank you all for being with us today. I'm Kasie Hunt. That's the State of the Race for today, Thursday, January 25. You can always follow me on
Instagram, and the platform formerly known as Twitter. Don't go anywhere. One World is up next.