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State of the Race with Kasie Hunt
Trump: Wouldn't Protect NATO Allies That Don't Pay Up; Trump Says He'd Let Russia "Do Whatever The Hell They Want" If NATO Ally Didn't Spend Enough On Defense; Haley: Trump NATO Comments "Made Me Sick To My Stomach". Aired 11a-12p ET
Aired February 12, 2024 - 11:00 ET
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JESSICA DEAN, CNN HOST, STATE OF THE RACE: Donald Trump making yet another appearance in court today. The former President and his lawyers were
expected to meet with the judge in the classified documents case. But, it's the comments that he made questioning the NATO alliance that are causing
alarm across Europe. Plus, everyone loves a good Super Bowl commercial. But, not everyone loves a political ad in support of independent candidate
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. We're going to discuss that. And I'll speak with independent Senator Kyrsten Sinema. Can the Senate pass a foreign aid bill
and how is Donald Trump influencing those negotiations? All that and more ahead.
Good day, everyone, I'm Jessica Dean to our viewers watching all around the world. It is 11 a.m. right here in Washington, Monday, February 12. They're
just 12 days until the South Carolina Republican primary, 266 days until Election Day. This is today's State of the Race.
This morning, Donald Trump is attending a closed-door hearing in the classified documents case against him in Florida. But, the focus today is
on something he said over the weekend that has stirred up a political firestorm from Washington to capitals all across Europe. Trump told rally-
goers in South Carolina he would encourage Russia to do "whatever the hell they want" to any NATO country that does not meet defense spending
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT AND 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I came in. I made a speech and I said you got to pay up. They asked me that
question. One of the presidents of a big country stood up and said, well, sir, if we don't pay, and we're attacked by Russia, will you protect us? I
said, you didn't pay, you're delinquent? He said, yes. Let's say that happened. No, I would not protect you. In fact, I would encourage them to
do whatever the hell they want.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DEAN: The White House responding, saying, "Encouraging invasions of our closest allies by murderous regimes is appalling and unhinged, and it
endangers American national security, global stability and our economy at home. The NATO Secretary General echoing those concerns, saying "Any
suggestion that allies will not defend each other undermines all of our security, including that of the U.S., and puts American and European
soldiers at increased risk."
Let's dive into all of it with today's panel. Faiz Shakir is a Political Advisor who managed Bernie Sanders 2020 presidential campaign. Alice
Stewart is a Republican strategist and former Communications Director for Ted Cruz, and Seung Min Kim, CNN Political Analyst and White House Reporter
for the Associated Press. It is great to have all of you here. Listen, for a Monday, there is plenty to talk about. We're not short on news.
I want to start first with the backdrop of what President Trump said over the weekend about NATO. And I want to play what Marco Rubio said to our
Jake Tapper and now kind of set us up. So, let's listen to that first.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL): Donald Trump is not a member of the Council of Foreign Relations. He doesn't talk like a traditional politician. And we've
already been through this. Now, you think people have to figure it out by now. He is not the first American President. In fact, virtually, every
American President at some point, in some way has complained about other countries in NATO not doing enough. Trump is just the first one to express
it in these terms.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DEAN: So, Marco Rubio has already endorsed the former President in the primary that still exists.
Alice, I just want to start with you as the Republican here to hear Republicans talking this way. And not just any Republicans. You have Marco
Rubio, who is the co-chair of the -- the Ranking Member on intelligence. You have the frontrunner for the Republican nomination to talk this way
about NATO. What do you make of that?
ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, & REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Look, it's ill-advised and it's dangerous. And this is not just about Donald
Trump, as Senator Rubio says, talking unlike other people in Washington, D.C. This is Donald Trump making extremely dangerous statements. And I
reached out to a handful of Republicans on the Hill in the House and the Senate and asked, what are your thoughts on this? None of them wanted to
comment on the record because they didn't want to face the wrath of Donald Trump.
And look, Donald Trump has not made any secret over the fact that he doesn't approve of the fact that some members of NATO don't pay quite as
much as others, and the U.S. pays probably more than our fair share. But, we're not members of NATO out of benevolence. We are members of NATO
because it isn't in America's national security best interest. And for him to go and make such a statement that would basically encourage Russia to go
after an ally, that is extremely dangerous and beyond the pale of what should be absolutely acceptable.
Look, he needs to get past the fact that he doesn't like the way that the payment structure is for NATO and recognize the fact the reason this was
set up, and the reason we have NATO is so we can have a strong European alliance to prevent Russia from flexing its muscles and prevent Russia from
having undue influence in the world. And the statements he was making are not doing anything to help build a strong NATO, which is what we need.
DEAN: And obviously, this sent a lot of ripples through Europe, as you would imagine. One EU official saying NATO cannot be ala carte military
alliance, cannot be a military alliance that works depending on the humor of the President of the U.S. on those days. It's not yes, no, yes, no. It
depends who you are. Let's be serious.
Faiz, do you think -- I'm thinking back to when I was in Iowa over the summer. Mike Pence was still in the race for the Republican nomination. He
talked to a group of Evangelicals about the importance of supporting Ukraine and Ukraine aid. They booed him. Do you think that Americans are
making the connection between what these officials are trying to sell in this foreign aid and to NATO? Do they understand kind of how it all
connects? And does -- do they care?
FAIZ SHAKIR, BERNIE SANDERS 2020 CAMPAIGN MANAGER: When you look at public polling, Jessica, you find that foreign aid has always been at the bottom
of the list. People are always skeptical and concerned that while I'm struggling here at home, why are we giving money abroad? For a President of
the United States, the case is always for American interests. And you have to do things that are unpopular as a President on a whole variety of fronts
for the American interest. And of course, Donald Trump campaigns on America first. And here he is.
To me, the greater problem of that statement is he is telling people I'm comfortable with Putin attacking whomever. That's the major problem with
that. In American interest, how is that good for America? You want Putin expanding his aggression all over the world without any pushback, without
any counter, without any building of alliances? That's crazy.
And then you've got him attacking Nikki Haley's husband who is serving in war. I mean, if you watch Trump events, you see he goes out to Lee Green
with God bless the USA and which the lyrics are, stand with people who fought for the red, white and blue. And yeah, here he is basically, In
Putin's case, and now in obviously Nikki Haley's husband case. Who cares about America? Really, who cares about America?
DEAN: And I want to get back to him attacking her husband, in just one second.
And Seung Min, I want to ask you about what we heard from Nikki Haley on these NATO comments first. She said they should send a chill up everyone's
spine. This is what makes Joe Biden look sane. What are you hearing from the White House on how these comment -- obviously, we had what they said on
the record, but how is this settling over there?
SEUNG MIN KIM, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, ASSOCIATED PRESS, & CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, this is precisely the contrast that they want to make with
Donald Trump. We saw all the political fallout at the end of last week after the Special Counsel's report. And they're saying -- the White House,
the Biden campaign, Democratic allies are saying, look, we know Joe Biden is old, so is Donald Trump, but only one of these guys is threatening to
withdraw from NATO, threatening -- or telling Russia to basically go ahead and attack our allies. With those choices, who do you want?
And they feel that if they can make that case enough, they illustrate the warnings of what a second Trump presidency would be, not just in foreign
affairs, certainly, but domestically as well, when it comes to healthcare policy, when it comes to abortion, they feel that is a race that they can
win on despite the political liabilities are facing about President Biden's age. Now, whether they can effectively make that argument will be a test
for them, certainly for the coming months. But, you see how every Democrat is really seizing on what Joe Biden said over NATO and also for Nikki
Haley. I mean, this is the contrast she wants with Donald Trump heading, as you said, 12 days away from the South Carolina primary.
We've all been kind of assuming at this point that's going to be a Biden- Trump race, and she does have an opportunity here to make that distinction about what kind of a Commander in Chief she would be versus Donald Trump.
DEAN: Yeah. So, you make the case about the South Carolina primary. We're just right up on it. And we are seeing ever more personal attacks from
Trump toward Nikki Haley, and as you mentioned, Faiz, these attacks on her husband, who is serving currently in the military, deployed. I'll let you
listen to what the former President said first.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Where is your husband? Oh, he is away. He is away. What happened to her husband? What happened to her husband? Where is he? He is gone.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DEAN: Yeah. It is -- and again, just to underscore this, he is serving America, deployed overseas. Faiz, I see you just shaking your head. You're
just like --
SHAKIR: There is multiple layers of the inhumanity, the indignity, the kind of lack of presidential material that Donald Trump is. In that statement,
obviously, we know what he is saying there. He knows where he is. He is joking with the crowd about -- he knows where he is. And what's he
suggesting about their marriage. He is making an implication. And by the way, he is talking to South Carolina conservative voters about this. It
just -- it's the nastiness that he engages in and then he wants to decry everybody else. He is the worst of politics.
DEAN: And I want to get to you, Alice, on this. But, I want us to play the clip of what Haley said about these attacks.
Here is what she said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NIKKI HALEY, U.S. REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Donald, if you have something to say, don't say it behind my back. Get on a debate stage and
say it to my face. If you mock the service of a combat veteran, you don't deserve a driver's license, let alone being President of the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DEAN: What do you make of that, Alice?
STEWART: Well, that's true. If he has got something to say to Nikki Haley personally about her husband, man up and say it right to her face. And
look, we're not talking about Mr. Michael Haley. We're talking about Major Michael Haley. As we have said, he is not in the pent house or pool side.
He is in the Horn of Africa serving our country. And I think that is appalling that the President would make such a statement. And again, not to
make the subtle reference about their marriage, or he also inferred he is not here because he knew she wouldn't win. That's disgusting and
But, more to the point, insulting anyone who is serving in our military and you want to be the Commander in Chief of our armed forces, you want to be
the one -- after you differed from the draft five times, you want to be able to be the authority on the military? I think that is insulting to
those like -- I have a family member that serves for our country. I think that's quite insulting.
DEAN: And Nikki Haley at one point said aloud, she really was questioning, where is the Republican Party on this? Kind of underscoring the points that
you're making, Alice, she said, where is the -- why is there silence from the Republican Party? Like, where is everybody? Where are there Republicans
in defense of our men and women in uniform that sacrifice for us and protect our country?
Seung Min, is this just the latest example of what Alice was just talking about, which is, no one wants to say any of these things out loud for fear
of his wrath, of Trump's wrath?
KIM: I mean, that is a good question being asked about Nikki Haley. I mean, you would have covered the story of Republicans and Donald Trump for, what,
I think eight or nine years now. And while -- especially during the more chaotic moments of his presidency, you did have more or at least some
Republicans that speak out forcefully against President Trump's actions and his words. That group of Republicans, particularly in elected office, is
diminishing. I mean, I assume if he hasn't already, Mitt Romney will say -- certainly say something about his NATO remarks. But, Marco Rubio, going
back to what he said, is just a classic example of that. This is a guy who has legislation, not maybe a couple of months ago, saying you need an act
of Congress for a President to withdraw from NATO.
And yet, Donald Trump says what he says. And you saw what he said. He said -- well, that's just kind of who he is. And that's -- different presidents
take different tactics. I feel like just over the last several years, Republicans have just kind of gotten exhausted and can't really -- many
can't really stand up to Donald Trump because of the force, because of the power that he has over Republican Party voters.
DEAN: It is really remarkable and we can talk more about that, specifically in the Senate, when we come back in just a few minutes.
But, coming up, 18 Republican senators did defy Donald Trump to help advance that critical foreign aid package. But, even if it passes, the
Senate doesn't stand a chance in the House. We're going to go live to Capitol Hill.
DEAN: It is very rare for senators to be in session on any Sunday, really, let alone Super Bowl Sunday, but they worked over the weekend to advance a
$95 billion foreign aid bill despite fierce opposition from Donald Trump. The procedural vote exposed deep divisions within the Republican Party with
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and 17 other Republicans defying Trump to support this package, which includes aid for Ukraine, Israel and
Taiwan. The former President, running for the White House again, of course, took to social media to demand a radical overhaul in U.S. foreign aid. He
wrote in part, "From this point forward, are you listening U.S. Senate (?), no money in the form of foreign aid should be given to any country unless
it is done as loan, not just a giveaway."
For more on this, let's go to our Chief Congressional Correspondent, Manu Raju, who is live on Capitol Hill. Manu, where do things stand now on
MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Senate Republicans are defying Donald Trump, at least a significant number of them, not a
majority of the Senate Republican Conference but still a sizable number here, roughly 18 or so, willing to move ahead with this package. That
includes a Republican Leader of the Senate, Mitch McConnell, as well as two potential successors of his, John Thune, John Cornyn, siding with him and
trying to push through this $95.3 billion aid package for Ukraine, for Israel, for Taiwan.
It does not include changes to how the U.S. deals with migrants coming across the southern border with Mexico. Why? Because Senate Republicans did
listen to Trump at that time and they killed that bipartisan deal. They forced -- the Senate essentially jettisoned that bipartisan deal, and now
just simply focus on this aid package, and coming at an urgent time when Ukraine is saying it desperately needs more resources, the administration
leaning on Commerce to provide those resources, and now on its way to passage in the Senate despite opposition from -- a majority of Senate
Republicans, including some who say that no more aid should be given to Ukraine altogether. Expect the votes to be there in the Senate by the
middle of this week.
Then just look at the huge question. What will happen in the Republican-led House? The Speaker there, Mike Johnson, has not committed to putting this
bill on the floor. He has tried to move forward on individual bills dealing with aid to Israel, for instance, something that actually got rejected in
this -- in the House just last week. He has not committed to putting this all together in one big package. And he has listened to Donald Trump. He
speaks regularly to Donald Trump. He listened to Donald Trump in o effectively killing that bipartisan border deal. Will he do the same on
this massive aid package? And if he does, will House members tried to circumvent the leadership and use procedures to try to force a vote on this
package on the floor?
All huge questions that will undoubtedly play out in the weeks ahead after this significant vote, which we expect by the middle of this week, to pass
this massive aid package.
DEAN: Yeah. It is going to be so interesting to see what happens when it goes over to the House. Manu Raju for us, thank you so much for that
update. We really appreciate it.
Let's bring the panel back in. Again, kind of -- we're picking up where we left off. Looking at the Republican Party that has historically been so
strong on national -- on matters of national security and seeing this intra-party fight really spill out into the Senate, not just the House,
which we haven't seen much. They were able to kind of defy Donald Trump in years past and kind of buck him a little bit.
I want to read you a piece from Carl Hulse in "The New York Times", just an excerpt from this, and I think it kind of a kind of drives this home.
"Members of the Senate have always taken great pride in saying they are different from the House, but that isn't such an easy case to make at the
A majority of Senate Republicans are behind [Trump's] run and don't want to advance any legislation - even if it resembles a Republican-drafted border
bill if the former President and likely nominee disapproves of or could prove detrimental to his campaign." And as Manu mentioned, Trump was
effective in killing that bipartisan legislation, the most conservative immigration legislation Republicans have seen before them in years. Here is
what Trump said about that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We also had another massive victory that every conservative should celebrate. We crushed crooked Joe Biden's disastrous open borders bill,
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DEAN: Never mind that one of the more conservative members of the Senate Republican Conference helped negotiate that with the blessing of Mitch
Seung Min, you covered the Hill for years. You've watched this play out. We were touching on this before we went to break. Are we starting to see kind
of fissures in the Senate in a way that maybe we didn't before? Mitch McConnell doesn't quite have the juice or the ability to hold to hold them
KIM: Right. Well, there has always been a teeny faction of Senate Republicans who were kind of anti-McConnell, kind of was a thorn in his
side, and thinking about the Ted Cruz's and the Ron Johnson's of the world. But now, fueled by Trump, backed by Trump, that faction of the Republican
Conference is going and certainly having an impact on policies such as helping to kill the border legislation and also helping -- or pulling back
a lot of votes that could have been there for the Ukraine aid legislation.
So, you do see how -- we know that House Republicans certainly are very much influenced by the House. You look at the list of their leadership.
They have all endorsed Trump. That is not the case over on the Senate Republican side. But, you see -- as Trump continues to say really strong
and powerful and influential within the Republican Party, certainly you do see that influence spill over into the Senate, and again, as senators
retire and a younger generation of Republicans who came up of age in the Trump era, if you will, get into office, certainly you see that impact as
DEAN: It certainly does.
And Faiz, over the last couple of years, we saw a lot of bipartisan legislation coming off the Hill, frankly. It was pretty successful, and
they were able to do a lot. But, obviously, we're in an election year, and that makes things complicated. But, if you're looking down the line, you're
looking into the future, should Americans expect less of this, especially if Trump is the head of the Republican Party and saying don't compromise on
SHAKIR: Yeah, for sure. I mean, if you look back at the Trump presidency, he was obviously just trying to push through things on party line votes
with bare majorities. So, I assume that if you come back in, he will be a trench partisan warfare trying to pass through if he has the House and the
Senate. I would say one of the challenges for McConnell, who has always been generally ineffective Republican leaders, he is unfortunately had to
go through some health episodes. And now, you see that the Senate Republicans in his own caucus are thinking that, well, Mitch McConnell
isn't going to be around for a long period of time. So now, they're more concerned about Trump than they are with his own leadership.
Generally McConnell has, I would argue, generally led them in a successful direction. Trump has undermined them. If you look at the last election in
2022, Trump was the one pushing for a lot of these weakened, it is Blake Masters Dr. Oz and Herschel Walker and all these kinds of people who cost
them the Senate.
DEAN: And McConnell --
SHAKIR: They lost a seat.
SHAKIR: Yeah. They lost a seat. And so, you actually see them undermining, and Trump undermining, actually, somebody who is thinking strategic for
Republicans, which add as a Democrat, I don't mind. I'm like, great. You guys fight it out. It's good for us. But, it's just interesting to watch
that they are not thinking strategically. Trump is not thinking strategically. It's just purely partisan lens if it's -- if Biden could
show any success or passing anything, then I'm against it. That's his only filter right now.
DEAN: Burn it down.
STEWART: I have to give Mitch McConnell some credit for this because he has always been steadfast for support for Ukraine, and recognize the fact we're
not going to get everything we want. But, I'm going to continue to fight for Ukraine. And he got exactly the number of votes that he needed to
support this legislation. He got the 17 Republicans to agree. Didn't force other Republicans who didn't want to go on record and get ire from Donald
Trump. Didn't force them to go on record. So, I give him a lot of credit for this.
The problem we see in the Senate, as you have Mitch McConnell and others who are looking at issues like this and what is the best interest for our
country and what is in Donald Trump's best interest, and the truth is, this really has less to do with aid for Ukraine and Taiwan and Israel and the
border. And this has to do with Donald Trump. He does not want any kind of victory or progress for Joe Biden to take credit for when he can stall it
and push it back to if he is potentially President, and he can take credit for it. So, this is not as much about national security or securing the
border. This is about a political tool that Donald Trump can use as he campaigns from now through November.
DEAN: It is truly, truly political. And we heard from Mike Turner who went -- he was a delegation that went to Ukraine, who was on the ground, and
this quote kind of drives home just how critical this is. He said -- on Ukraine aid, he says "We have to get this done. This is no longer an issue
of, when do we support Ukraine?
If we do not move, this will be abandoning Ukraine."
STEWART: Yeah. And this isn't charity for Ukraine. This is about an investment in democracy. And we've seen, - Zelenskyy has said that
repeatedly. The former leader of Poland, Lech Waesa, was on the Hill last week, imploring members of Congress to continue to support Ukraine, because
if Ukraine falls, then Poland potentially would be next. So, I think the need for communicating this is about a big picture democracy, and the
support needs to continue, is really important. And if that means we have to put other issues on the sideline, that's important to do so. But, this
is the bigger picture about democracy overall.
DEAN: And then Manu really drives home the point which is, then what?
DEAN: You get it through the Senate, right, and then you've got to get it over to the House. And we just don't know. Nobody -- I know -- Mike Johnson
might not know what exactly he wants to do with this.
KIM: Right. Well, he hasn't -- if you're a supporter of Ukraine aid, you can be heartened by the fact that he has not been a heck no on this
legislation as he was with the border package. And I would guess that if you just kind of look at the House writ large, there is a majority of
Democrats and Republicans who would support this bill. Now, the question is, would Speaker Johnson bring it up on the floor? Would there be an
effort by Democrats and some Republicans to force a vote, sometimes seen as an affront to Republican leadership? But, if they're important -- if the
issue is as important as some Republicans say, that may be an option, but, yes, we're all watching Speaker Johnson very closely here.
DEAN: Yeah. And then you get into kind of what -- you were saying the weeds, what's known as a discharge petition, but it's a really complicated
DEAN: -- if he doesn't bring it to the floor. There is a lot of hoops they have to jump through. Is it frustrating to not just people in Washington,
but the average American that, like Seung Min saying, they probably could pass this legislation that just won't get brought to the floor?
SHAKIR: It's always been the case. I think, even if he had taken the immigration bill, put it up for vote in the House, he probably would have
passed the border bill. But, the question for -- Trump is banking on is that people don't care about substance and policy in this year, and I hope
that that's not true. I hope people are dialed in. I hope that they are seeing the dysfunction of a government that -- it's created, literally
inflicted by him, that you could be moving on a lot of these things where it not for his -- a petty engagement. But, he is making that people don't
And so, in my view, there is a lot of -- you could have sensible debates about some of these packages. I mean, even in Israel aid, you see whether
we should be holding them to account for what I see is continuing mass killings of lots of people unnecessarily. And that's not the conversation
Trump is having. It's just a completely petty one. So, I hope that people are more engaged on this than he is giving them credit for, and we'll see.
DEAN: I guess we're going to find out.
DEAN: I want to bring some breaking news to our viewers. We've just learned that U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has canceled an upcoming trip to
Brussels. He was supposed to attend a NATO meeting, and this is coming a day after he was hospitalized and transferred duties to his deputy. The
Pentagon says he is being treated for "an emergent bladder issue." We'll continue to monitor that situation as well.
But, coming up, Super Bowls and super PACs, a pricey political ad backing RFK Jr. may have committed a fumble in his family. We'll have the replay
for you next.
DEAN: Welcome back to State of the Race. I'm Jessica Dean live in Washington. And everyone has their favorite moments from Sunday night's
Super Bowl, including the commercials. But, there was one political ad for independent candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. that is stirring up some
controversy. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you want a man for President who is seasoned through and through, a man who is old enough to know?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And young enough to do.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, it's up to you. It's up to you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's strictly up to you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DEAN: That ad repackaged from an old JFK TV spot cost $7 million to run during the Super Bowl. And the super PAC paying the bill gets a big chunk
of its funding from a Republican megadonor, and that's raised a little controversy in itself. But, really, it's the content of the ad that's
prompting anger from within the Kennedy family. JFK's nephew Bobby Shriver posting, "My cousin's Super Bowl ad used our uncle's faces and my Mother's.
She would be appalled by his deadly health care views. Respect for science, vaccines and health care equity are in her DNA." Shriver is referring to
RFK Jr.'s controversial statements questioning the efficacy and the safety of vaccines.
And Kennedy himself is now apologizing to his family members, posting, "I'm so sorry if the Super Bowl advertisement caused anyone in my family pain.
The ad was created and aired by the American Values Super PAC without any involvement or approval from my campaign. FEC rules prohibit Super PACs
from consulting with me or my staff." The super PAC did it. It's not my fault. I will say, I was making -- I was cooking while this was on last
night, and I heard the music and it really caught your attention. But, I'm curious, what did you think when you first saw that?
SHAKIR: Well, effective in one way. Right? There is -- leading on to the Kennedy name, there was no substance to that ad. You don't know anything
about him except that Kennedy might have been a Democrat. You sense that he is an independent. Right? So, they're siphoning votes from one side. That's
the whole point. It's like if Trump is going to win this election, we all know he probably has a hard cap on how much support there is out there in
the world for him. And Biden, in order to defeat him, needs the mobilization like last time, 80 million votes or whatever they get. Got to
get a lot of people. And they're just trying to carve into that, like little margins in Michigan, little margins in Wisconsin, little in Michigan
than Pennsylvania, pulling them out from Democrats and moving them to a third party. That's all that ad was trying to do.
DEAN: Yeah. Can I -- I want to get to you, Alice. Let's just look at this polling. I'll come right back to you. So, let's look first at a two-way
matchup. This is Quinnipiac, between Biden-Trump, and you'll see it's 50 percent to 44 percent. Then, you add in third-party candidates, and you can
see here how the math changes, to what Faiz was just saying. And then, you look at registered independent voters and the support that candidates get
from them, and you see there that Kennedy is 24 percent. Alice, what do you make of all those numbers?
STEWART: He has been campaigning hard. I recently did a magazine piece on him as he was out campaigning, and he does have large crowds, and he is
gaining support. And it's no secret that Joe Biden has given a lot of Democrats and some independent voters pause with a lot of the news that has
been going on without regard to his memory and the statements he is making. And for any of those voters that have pause and they're Democrats, they're
looking elsewhere, this is a good place to look. And in his defense, campaigns cannot coordinate with PACs.
Their word is that we didn't have anything to do with this. The PAC did it. But, there is also a lot to be said in politics. I'd rather ask for
forgiveness than permission. Right? And they put this out there, and now he is apologizing to his family. Look, he understand -- he is -- so he told
me, I love my family. But, obviously, they have some issues with a lot of the things that I do. This is a smart move by their PAC to capitalize and
take advantage of the Democratic dissent and frustration with Joe Biden. And the Kennedy campaign sees an opening, and this is a great avenue to go
DEAN: Yeah. It's interesting because it's still pinned on his Twitter or ex-page as it were. So, I don't know that sorry about -- is he still there?
Seung Min, we -- just the Kennedy family itself has not been supportive of his run at all. When he announced that he'd be running as an independent,
Kerry Kennedy, one of -- a member, obviously, with the family, put out this statement from many family members where she said "It's his decision to
run. It's dangerous to our country." It's not a nice thought to think if you were to run that your entire family more or less would really come out.
KIM: Well, you wonder if he is invited to the next family reunion. He is going to be there at Thanksgiving.
KIM: But, you do see how -- in some ways, Robert Kennedy has been tried to run on that nostalgia of the Kennedy name, of the family. When I saw the ad
last night, that's all I thought. Like this is so nostalgic. It's such a throwback. If you're a Super Bowl viewer who is not yet tuned into
politics, which we don't fault you for, at this point, you think, oh, this kind of --
KIM: Yeah. Interesting. I want to get to know more about him. And this is why -- I mean, I know there were points -- there was some thought in the
past several months that because of his views on vaccines and because of his views on other health issues, that he could actually siphon votes away
from Trump. I mean, it's hard to tell at this point. But, this is clearly a way to make sure that that doesn't happen. And you do, like you said, you
do have to examine where the money has come.
KIM: This is a super PAC that has gotten $15 million from a Trump donor, and obviously it doesn't have anything to do legally with the RFK campaign.
So, you really have to look at what is kind of motivating the super PAC there.
DEAN: Well, always follow the money. Always follow the money.
Faiz, you -- when you were running Bernie Sanders campaign in 2020, you have this older man but he -- the youths, they loved him. Right? And now we
have an older man that's running for reelection and he needs the youth to love him also. So, it was interesting to see that he got on TikTok last
night, which has its own implications. The White House has asked all the federal agencies to ban its usage because of security questions. And then,
we saw the post on X with dark brand, these vast conspiracy theories over Taylor Swift and ridiculous theories about the Super Bowl, just like we
drew it up, is what they said, which I actually did get. It was funny. What do you make their efforts?
SHAKIR: Solid. Hats off.
DEAN: To me, he pulled where they are.
SHAKIR: Hats off. Solid move. Good job on the social team. I think that under the -- people under the age of 35, there is an issue within the Biden
campaign. I think if you ask people, if you had 10 in a room, 10 young people, and you ask them to write names on a piece of paper privately, tell
me who you want, Trump or Biden? I think they would write Biden. And then, if you opened up that conversation, and you said somebody raise your hand
and tell me what you love about Joe Biden. I don't think anybody would. Well, tell me what you want to criticize about Joe Biden. I think a lot of
And I think there is this kind of social stigma that's occurring that people feel upset about guys, upset about world events, lots of things
going on, inflation, cost of living is high. And what he needs to do is generate like a sense of while you have serious concerns, know that I am
more with you than not, and that it's comfortable to be with me. Know that these areas -- I went to a picket. He has got to give some people fights,
like yesterday, you saw him put out a new Super Bowl where he was like talking about shrinkflation and fighting in the economy. He is giving a
sense, like, you can disagree with me in certain areas, but know that at the end of the day, I'm going to agree with you more than you disagree with
me. He needs to give them a lot of that.
STEWART: Right. And the younger generation being involved with a lot of activities they do, look, they're very concerned about the environment.
They're very involved and encouraged by people that support the LGBTQ community. And they also do like the fact that Joe Biden has fought for and
won in many regards on student loan debt, and those are key issues that they can and should communicate to the younger voters that are sort of
drifting away from him. I'm not necessarily agree that TikTok is the place to do it. But, if you focus on the issues that resonate with young people,
they're going to come around, because I'll hand it to the Democrats. Between now and November, they'll get out the vote efforts on college
campuses and to the younger generation, is going to be really monumental.
DEAN: It would be something to see.
All right. Stick with us. We're going to come back to you guys in just a little bit.
But, up next, I'm going to talk to independent Senator Kyrsten Sinema about her anger of Republicans scuttling the bipartisan border deal she helped
craft and what happens next.
DEAN: U.S. Senator Kyrsten Sinema is an independent who was previously a Democrat, and she is often critical of her former party. But, after Senate
Republicans took the lead from former President Donald Trump and killed a bipartisan border deal that they helped negotiate, she had this update from
the Senate floor.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. KYRSTEN SINEMA (I-AZ): Less than 24 hours after we released the bill, my Republican colleagues changed their minds. It turns out they want all
talk and no action. It turns out border security is not actually a risk to our national security. It's just a talking point for the election. After
all of their cable news appearances, after all those campaign photo ops in the desert, after all those trips to the border, this crisis isn't actually
much of a crisis after all. Sunday morning, there was a real crisis at the border. Monday morning, that crisis magically disappeared. Well, guess
what, guys? The crisis is real.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DEAN: Senator Kyrsten Sinema joins me now from Capitol Hill in Washington. Senator, thanks so much for making time to be here with us today. We're
glad to have you on. We just heard that clip from your floor speech last week after Senate Republicans tanked what The Wall Street Journal argued
was the most conservative immigration legislation they'd had before them in years. It was legislation they demanded be attached to any foreign aid. And
they did this largely in part because the former President told them to, and he wants to make it a campaign issue. When you watch that clip, you're
clearly frustrated. And in the past, you've bucked your former party, the Democrats. In this case, took the Republicans to task.
Do you ever feel like the Senate is just broken?
SINEMA: Jessica, first of all, it's good to be with you. And that's a very honest and direct question and I'll give you an honest and direct answer.
Right now, the United States Senate has demonstrated that it's not interested in being a serious body. Five months ago when my Republican
colleagues said that the border crisis was top of mind for national security and must be addressed in order to tackle our obligations to
Ukraine and Israel and Taiwan, I agreed. I said, that's right. This is a national security crisis. And that's why for nearly five months I worked
with Senator James Lankford and Senator Chris Murphy to create, as you said, what The Wall Street Journal has indicated is, the strictest
migration policy in decades.
So, it was incredibly disappointing to see my colleagues change their mind and say, actually, we'd like to keep this. We'd like to keep this crisis as
a talking point for the election. And the reality is, that is exactly what they will do. But, meanwhile, Jessica, my state is dealing with this
unmitigated crisis every day with over 7,000 people crossing into our country every day. It's a fact that this crisis still remains, and that my
colleagues have decided they don't want to solve the problem.
DEAN: And you've said it before. You just said it a few minutes ago. You see this as a national security crisis. So, what happens now?
SINEMA: Well, my colleagues have decided to do nothing about this. So, the national security crisis will remain and it could exacerbate. We know that
right now many of the people who are crossing into this country are not asylees. They're economic migrants seeking work. But, a handful of these
individuals every week or so are actually bad guys. These are folks with gang affiliations from their home countries. Some of them are known
terrorist suspects. These are individuals who present a real and ongoing threat to our national security. And my colleagues have decided to do
nothing about that. That's unfortunate, and it's dangerous for us here in America.
DEAN: And so, let's talk about this foreign aid package for Ukraine and Israel and Taiwan that's now been separated out from the legislation you
all had crafted and now is standing on its own. What does it say to you that many in the Republican Party, which has long been seen as a party that
is strong on national security, Mitch McConnell, of course, has advocated for aid to Ukraine, that there is such a split among Senate Republicans on
this foreign aid?
SINEMA: Well, the reality is the package that we're considering right now is a serious package that provides critical and necessary ammunitions,
weapons and aid to countries like Ukraine who are fighting against Putin's illegal overreach, countries like Israel fighting against the horrific
terrorism by Hamas and their allies, of course, backed by Iran, and of course supporting Taiwan that is facing an ever growing threat from China.
We must continue to provide the support to our allies worldwide from the axis of evil that seeks to destabilize democracy, invade other countries,
and destabilize our entire world.
Now, Jessica, as you mentioned, there is a big split between the Republican Conference in the Senate on whether or not to support this package. It's
unfortunate that many of my colleagues have decided to pursue isolationism as a national strategic objective. We know that that is not a realistic
objective. The United States is the greatest superpower in the world, and we owe it not only to our own security, but to our allies across the world
to ensure that thugs like Putin, the leaders of Iran, Hamas, and China don't get to continue their powers of aggression against other countries
around the globe.
DEAN: And to that end, we had the former President speak out and effectively convince Republicans to kill your bipartisan border bill. Now,
he is speaking out yet again against all foreign aid. He doesn't want to give any unless it's a loan, he says. And we're seeing some -- and he seems
to just be against compromise of any kind. You are somebody that likes to do bipartisan legislation and likes to work across the aisle. Going
forward, do you think it will be possible to continue to do something like that? Can someone like you be successful in the Senate in building those
SINEMA: Well, I served my first several years in the Senate when Donald Trump was President, and I was successful in forging bipartisan compromises
and getting things done during that time. So, I can certainly do that again. The reality is, however, that each Senator, regardless of the
candidates for President, each Senator has a duty to make up his or her own mind and to make their own decisions.
Now, some have suggested over the last week or so that senators have chosen not to make their own decision, and instead just do what one candidate
says. But, Jessica, I don't think we can let people off the hook that easily. Senators are elected by their constituents to serve their state and
their country. And each of us has a duty to be accountable for our decisions. You cannot shove off your decision-making to one candidate or
another. You cannot say, well, my President wants this or my candidate for President wants that. We are all responsible for our own decisions, and
we're responsible to the voters of our state. So, I reject the premise that folks are just doing what they're told. We have a duty to do what is right
for our state and for our country. And I would encourage my colleagues to do just that, regardless of their party affiliation.
DEAN: It just seems like they're just very afraid of the former President.
SINEMA: Well, look, everyone gets to make their own choice about who they'll be accountable to. But, when you take the oath of office, you take
the oath of office to be accountable to your country, to be a patriot first and, of course, to stand up for the interests of your state and your
constituents. I'm proud to say that that's what I do every day, and I hope that all of my colleagues would choose to make that same commitment to our
Constitution and to their states.
DEAN: And looking ahead, Senator Sinema, it appears like this foreign aid bill is going to pass out of the Senate. But, the looming question is, then
what happens in the House? And I know you served in the House before you went to the Senate. We've seen kind of some unprecedented dysfunction from
the House this year. Are you in touch at all? I know, during the immigration negotiations, you were talking to House Speaker Mike Johnson.
Are you talking to them at all about this foreign aid bill? Are you in touch with any Republican leadership over there?
SINEMA: I am working with my colleagues in the House of both parties to help them prepare for when the legislation passes the Senate. As you know,
this legislation currently enjoys the support of 18 Senate Republicans. That number could grow as we finished the package this week. And I am
speaking with my colleagues, again, both Republicans and Democrats, patriots, all of them, about how to pass this package through the United
States House of Representatives.
Jessica, as you've noticed, and if you've noted, the House is incredibly dysfunctional right now. But, I believe that there are enough patriots
serving in the United States House of Representatives that together they will overcome the partisanship and dysfunction and stand up for America's
national security interests by standing and defending democratic nations in other countries.
DEAN: All right. We'll see how it goes. Senator Kyrsten Sinema, thanks again for joining us today. We sure do appreciate it.
SINEMA: Great to be with you.
DEAN: We're going to take a quick break. Stay with us. My panel will be back for one more thing.
DEAN: Welcome back to State of the Race. My panel rejoins me now. Before we go, I want to ask for one more thing. What's the one thing on the campaign
trail or in Washington you're watching for in the coming days? I'll give you each 30 seconds each. Faiz, I'll start with you.
SHAKIR: Well, Jessica, you know that Trump has been courting the Teamsters endorsement, which million members across the country can mean the
difference in a lot of these battleground states. He was out there saying, oh, I want your vote. And then he went and did a pro-Anheuser-Busch effort,
a company which owns millions of dollars stock. He is having a lobbyist host a fundraiser for him. Did you know that right now the Teamsters' major
campaign is to fight for a better contract with Anheuser-Busch? And I think this storyline, while many people don't know about it, inside Teamsters
headquarters, it matters a lot, that Trump right after meeting with the Teamsters goes in sides with the company that they've been trying to take
DEAN: All right. Alice.
STEWART: Well, here is an endorsement that Trump is not necessarily asking for but he doesn't want to go to Biden, and that is pop superstar Taylor
Swift. Of course, she cheered on her boyfriend Travis Kelce to win the Super Bowl over the weekend, and now there is question whether or not she
will endorse and support Joe Biden.
Donald Trump took to Truth Social and put out a fact that she should not endorse Joe Biden, saying he is crooked, saying that Donald Trump did a lot
to help her in the music industry with a legislation he passed. He went on to give a nod to Travis Kelce, who he says he likes. But, clearly, he is
concerned if the pop star superstar does endorse Biden.
DEAN: Yeah. And Seung Min, how about you?
MIN: I am watching at the New York special election in New York's 3rd congressional district. Obviously, special elections are always interesting
for a fascinating number of reasons, and this one, it's to replace George Santos between a Democrat Tom Suozzi and Republican Mazi Pilip. And I'll be
watching to see among many other things how much immigration and border really matter to voters in this swing district. Obviously, we see a huge
issue in Washington of all the legislative issues that it's caused. And now, it's a good chance for us to see how much this matters to voters in a
DEAN: It will be interesting. We'll talk a lot about it tomorrow.
Thank you all for being here. You made it great. I'm Jessica Dean on State of the Race today, Monday, February 12. Stick with CNN. One World is up