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State of the Race with Kasie Hunt

Biden Campaign Draws In $130 Million, Outpaces Trump; U.S. Divisions Over Putin's Russia Could Have Grave Implications; Biden Calls Lack Of GOP Support For Ukraine "Shocking". Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired February 20, 2024 - 11:00   ET




JESSICA DEAN, CNN HOST: President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris in full campaign mode today. The President will soon head to

California where he is set to attend multiple fundraisers and campaign events, while the Vice President will promote the administration's record

on infrastructure in a key swing state.

Plus, Vladimir Putin at the center of a deep divide in Washington. As House Republicans continue to refuse to consider additional aid to Ukraine,

President Biden warns of dire consequences for national security.

And at any moment, the Supreme Court could announce whether it will take up Trump's claim of absolute presidential immunity. It's certainly a decision

with major implication, Trump's trials and the 2024 election.

Good day, everyone. I'm Jessica Dean and to our viewers watching all around the world. It is 11 a.m. here in Washington, Tuesday, February 20. There

are now just four days until the South Carolina Republican Party primary, and only 258 days until election date. This is today's State of the Race.

And we want to welcome you to State of the Race. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris ramping up their reelection efforts. President

Biden expected to have a very lucrative three-day fundraising swing through California. A source says his team is aiming to bring in as much as $10

million with stomps around San Francisco and Los Angeles. Harris, meantime, is due in Pittsburgh today in the key swing state of Pennsylvania where she

will tout a new multibillion dollar investment in U.S. water infrastructure.

The Biden-Harris ticket has already raised more than $130 million. That includes $42 million raised in January alone. This is the largest figure

ever amassed by a Democratic presidential candidate at this point in the campaign cycle. So far, fundraising for the Biden campaign has outpaced

former President Donald Trump.

So, let's dive into all of this with our panel today. Paul Begala is a CNN Political Commentator and was a Senior Advisor in the Clinton

administration. Rina Shah is a Republican Strategist, and Nathan Gonzales is Editor and Publisher of "Inside Elections". Welcome to all of you. It's

always great to have you here.

Paul, let's just start first with you. We're going through all those fundraising numbers, and they are big numbers. They are big numbers for a

President that nobody seems to be all that jazzed about --


DEAN: -- his reelection efforts. What do you make of those two things, those two data points that we have?

BEGALA: There may be more enthusiasm than Biden is getting credit for. The overwhelming majority of these donations, it's almost over 90 percent or

$200 and less. Why that matters to strategists is you can go back to them.

DEAN: Sure.

BEGALA: If you're hitting up my mama for 20 bucks, she'll come back next month and the next month. And then if you hit up some rich person for

$3,000, which is around the legal maximum, they're done. You can't get back to them. So, not only is Biden raising an extraordinary amount of money, he

has set an infrastructure in place that it can just keep rolling in. So, I think Biden needs to be -- get some credit for having a lot more enthusiasm

than maybe we thought.

DEAN: And you're saying that and yet there is a lot -- and as you acknowledge, there is a lot of Democrats who were bedwetting is a word that

is used a lot, but get concerned sometimes about where things stand. Let's listen to what a key Biden ally, Mitch Landrieu, said about kind of where

we are at this point in the race.


MITCH LANDRIEU, BIDEN CAMPAIGN CO-CHAIR: We're in February. The election is in November. To expect everything to be the way it is on November 7th is

unrealistic, and the bedwetting just gets exhausting over some period of time. The President has to make his case to the American people.


DEAN: Rina, does the President have plenty of time?

RINA SHAH, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Oh, I think he does, actually, because look, we have started the GOP primary far earlier than most of us would

have ever seen. And so, therefore, there is that sense that with the news cycle being what it is, and of course there is time to make up for

shortcomings, and to give the American public a sense that all is well. We've seen for many weeks now the Biden administration has had to almost

act as a plumbing agency, going in and fixing these leaks. And it's all around geopolitical tension. And then, of course, domestic matters as well.

But, when you see how the Republican front is to at all, it's particularly unimpressive. And I say that having seen these members of Congress trying

to come up against what is the juggernaut of fundraising. It's no question that there are Silicon Valley giants and entertainment kings who are going

to have this President's back, no matter what, because they fear what a Trump presidency will do to their value. And has the Republican Party been

able to counter and give anything hopeful outside of Nikki Haley?



DEAN: I was going to say have that (inaudible).

OK. Let's go to CNN's Arlette Saenz, our White House Correspondent. She is joining us now live from the White House. And Arlette, our conversation now

talking about Biden's big fundraising swing in California and what Vice President Harris will be touting today. Tell us more from the White House.

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Jessica. President Biden in just a little over an hour is set to depart here from the White

House for a three-day fundraising swing through California. People I've spoken with say that it could be quite a lucrative swing for him, with one

source telling me they could raise as much as $10 million over the course of these three days. This trip is coming on the heels of those high

fundraising numbers that the campaign announced today, raising a total of - - or more than $42 million in the month of January alone, and ending the month with $130 million in the bank that they can spend heading into

November's election.

It all comes at a time when so far the President has been outpacing former President Donald Trump, who he expects to be his main opponent in November.

He has outpaced the former President as well as other GOP candidates in this fundraising race. But, the new campaign numbers are also coming as a

sign that the party's donor class is still standing firmly behind President Biden, even as there are concerns among some, about an anxiety from some

about his reelection bid. We've heard people expressed frustration about the campaign structure, about low polling, and most recently about Special

Counsel Robert Hur's report that shows -- put the President's age and memory issues in the spotlight.

But, it really comes as the campaign is viewing these numbers as a sign of enthusiasm that they have a for President Biden's candidacy. It's not just

the high dollar donors that are bringing in these large amounts of money, but also those small grassroots donation pushes. The campaign has noted

that January was actually their best month to date when it comes to those small dollar donations. They have noted that 97 percent of all donations

since the launch of the President's campaign are under $200, really giving them ability to tap back into those donors as the race is stretching into


And one thing that we've also seen from this fundraising report and also some previous reporting from the campaign is that they really have a used

Trump and the threat of Trump in their fundraising appeals. You'll think back to the President's speech at near Valley Forge where he painted the

former President as a direct threat to democracy. That fundraising push online in January brought in $1.6 million in a 24-hour period. The campaign

notes that they raised nearly a million dollars a day online in the three days after President -- former President Trump won the Iowa caucuses.

And that's something when you talk to these big dollar donors, people who are hosting these events for President Biden. They often note that they do

believe that this race will crystallize that the choice will become clearer as the months progress between Biden and Trump, and that is something that

they are trying to use to their fundraising advantage, not just with those online donors, but also in getting people to write those big checks for


DEAN: All right. Arlette Saenz at the White House for us, thanks so much for that update.

And Nathan, Arlette there really tying together so many of the threads that we'd already touched on, and taking it a bit further, just this idea, look,

there was always this talk, the Biden camp wants to run against Trump, etc., etc. In the end, though, I think they are counting on it being this

existential threat to democracy and those donors and hopefully in their case -- in their thoughts, these swing voters coming through and saying,

you know, what if this these are my choices, and now we've really like dug in, and this is it that I'm going to pick Biden. So you think that works?

NATHAN GONZALES, EDITOR AND PUBLISHER, INSIDE ELECTIONS: Well, that's what the money -- raising the money is the first step and you need -- and Biden

is going to -- he needs a lot of money because he has some fundamental weaknesses. But now, the campaign has to use the money to make it that

choice between Trump and Biden or to persuade voters who a majority of Americans right now or for the last two and a half years have disapproved

of the job that President Biden is doing. So, they have to tell voters what they've been doing on the economy and convince them that progress has been


And the other piece of good news for Biden, though, is that he is raising more money or equaling or raising more than Trump, but the net is probably

even greater because of the Trump campaign and the RNC paying legal bills for the Trump. So, there is -- the Republican side is going to have

probably less to spend on that persuasion and that motivation than what the just the dollar amounts show.

DEAN: Yeah. And you mentioned his job performance. We just showed that poll of polls, which is we take all the polls out there and average them out.

You see, there're just 39 percent approval. And then, if you look at people's concerns about Joe Biden, there is one that just sticks out. It's

the one we all think it would be, age at 46 percent, and then everything else in -- even none, is at nine percent. But, anything else is really in

single digits.

Paul, that -- they know they've got to deal with that.


BEGALA: Oh yeah.

DEAN: And as people have said multiple times, I think you said this, you can't work with that -- that's not when you can train on or do some prep,

and it's a weakness. You're continuing to get older every day.

BEGALA: I worked for Bill Clinton. People thought in his first term, he is too liberal. So, he pivoted --

DEAN: Right.

BEGALA: -- to the center. So, Joe is going to pivot to being 45 again? I don't think so.

DEAN: If he does, can he tell us how old (inaudible)?

BEGALA: So, it is -- I mean, it's the elephant. It's -- if somebody wants to ask Ray Charles, what's the hardest thing about being blind? You see, he

can't see. OK. The hardest thing about 81 is you are 81, sir. And I think Nathan and Rina know this. If it is a referendum, in many incumbents'

faces. I worked for President Obama's reelection, I worked for President Clinton. If it's a referendum on him, he is in terrible shape. He is in 39

percent. But, it's choice. And his -- if he wants like my free advice, he needs to be about 10 percent, the great job he has done, which had been

about 100 percent before, about 15 percent what he would do if we give him a second term, and about 75 percent how terrible Donald Trump is, because

that's the best shot he has got is that the other guy is worse.

DEAN: Right. And so, in the meantime, Rina, if you're the Trump campaign, you just keep playing this out in the court --

SHAH: Yeah.

DEAN: -- in the actual legal court and the court of public opinion?

SHAH: Well, Trump knows he wins in the court of public opinion because he comes off looking strong, sounding strong, as if no time has passed since

he left the White House. And look, I'm no fan of the former President. I must say I was a crossover voter. I was proud of that slim number of

Republican voters that crossed over to vote for Biden, and I did so knowing his age at that time and thinking, surely he won't run again. Surely he'll

pass the baton.

DEAN: He is a bridge candidate.

SHAH: Yeah. But, one thing about this election we all know and should acknowledge over and over again is that it's about turnout. It's going to

be about that. And what mobilizes people most? It's the oldest thing in the playbook, fear --


SHAH: -- the fear that something bad is going to happen, whether we want to call it misogynistic, racist, I don't want to lead with that. But, there is

a fear from the center right and the center about a President Harris. And so, what we have to see happen here from here on out is a sense that this

Biden administration is going to reassure us that he can go on to again serve us well. But, there is just, how can you do it when the age is a

reality --

DEAN: It is what it is.

SHAH: -- and is the core of everything that the Trump campaign grows.

DEAN: And we have -- yeah. We have a poll of Harris' job approval. She does just slightly better. This is a Gallup poll. So, it's a single poll, at 40

percent approving of her job performance.

But, Nathan, you -- we've already seen this. When I was covering the Republican primary, they talked about Kamala Harris on the trail almost

more than they did Joe Biden, frankly.


DEAN: And you can see them really training their sights on her because, to Rina's point, they see it as a weakness because of his age. People look to

Harris and she does not -- she is a different coalition. She --


DEAN: -- people feel less confident in her for whatever that reason maybe.

SHAH: Maybe.

GONZALES: Yeah. I mean, I think in the Vice President's defense, it implanted defending the Vice President. I think any Vice President

struggles with looking smaller compared to the presidency. You are so close, but yet so far away from a -- the most powerful position in the

country, or maybe even in the world. And so, she is wrestling with that, probably wrestling with some sexism mixed in there too. But, I think that

when it comes down to her standing, she hasn't solidified the Democratic -- if there was -- if she was the alternative to Biden, and if she was able to

get all of that support, then we would have already -- we would have been already down that line.

But, it's going to be -- I think, Republicans focusing on her is going to be a key strategy if the economy improves, if voter sentiment around Biden

improves because she is more polarizing than he is.

DEAN: Right. Right. And so, now, we see her -- that we see her coming out on the campaign trail more, they're really using her on these key issues

that they want to push abortion, but then also probably have her in Pittsburgh today, key swing state, of course, Pennsylvania, talking about

infrastructure, because a lot of the stuff that they got done, nobody knows about.

BEGALA: Yeah. She needs to not talk about clean water in Pennsylvania. She needs to -- I'm sorry. I've just been asked.

DEAN: Yes. Yes.

BEGALA: She needs to talk about abortion rights. She is a lawyer. She is a litigator. She was attorney general of the biggest state. She argues the

case for abortion rights better than anybody in the Biden-Harris administration, and they need to put her out front on that. She is

confident and comfortable on it. It is perhaps the biggest issue along with immigration. It's the biggest issue that favors Democrats, and it's not

getting any better.

There was a study two weeks ago from the Journal of the American Medical Association. In the 14 states that have the most restrictive abortion laws,

effectively banning abortion, in those 14 states alone since the Dobbs case, 55,565 women have become pregnant by rape.

DEAN: 55,000.

BEGALA: Over 55,000 women unable in their state to terminate the pregnancy from rape. That's about a seven percent issue. 93 percent of Americans say,

well, wow, wow, wow.


No. If you're the victim, I'm afraid, good God. Let's not punish you. Let's give you the right to choose to terminate that pregnancy. That's what

Kamala Harris needs to be talking about. And she does it so well. She is the best spokesperson on that. And I'm all for clean water. I like water as

much as the next person. They can win the election on clean water in Pittsburgh.

DEAN: In terms of winning an election. Also, we have that ruling out of Alabama with the --


DEAN: -- embryos for IVF that are now (inaudible). So, there is more --


DEAN: -- for them to talk about.

GONZALES: And the news that Trump is willing to support maybe a 16-week national ban, just the word national ban, no matter at what point in the

pregnancy, that's a gift to Democrats, and it keeps it in the news.

DEAN: Yeah. All right. We're going to come back. Stay with us.

Still ahead, we're going to look at a deep divide in Washington over Vladimir Putin's Russia, and we'll explain how it could have grave

implications for the world.


DEAN: A fault line is now dividing Washington when it comes to Vladimir Putin's Russia and that outcome, as you would imagine, has -- could have

grave implications not just for the United States but also for Europe and the world. Influenced by Donald Trump, Republican leaders in the House

still refusing to take up a bill that will provide critical aid to Ukraine as that country faces an existential threat from Russia. The Biden White

House keeping up the pressure this morning saying, "We must stop Putin from continuing to murder innocent women and children while threatening our own

national security. House Speaker Johnson and House Republicans must act. Time is of the essence."

Trump says the U.S. should not provide any more aid to Ukraine unless it's structured as a loan with strings attached. And the Republican presidential

frontrunner is not backing down from those comments that sent shockwaves through Europe.


DONALD TRUMP (R), FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT AND 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: 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? No, I would not protect you. In fact, I would encourage them to do whatever the hell

they want.


DEAN: And back now with our panel. Good to have you back. It is remarkable that Trump said that over the week -- previous weekend, it's almost a

little over a week ago, stirred all of it up, then Alexey Navalny is killed -- dies.


There is so much that happened after that.

Rina, now, House Republicans still not bringing this aid to the floor. Why are Republicans coalescing around him when -- if you go to this -- we have

a polling on people and how they feel about supporting Ukraine, there are people -- the U.S. support is either -- 31 percent says it's too much. 29

percent says it's about right. 18 percent says it's not enough. What -- why are Republicans doing this?

SHAH: It's very simple to me, because every day I talk to rural Americans, and I'm from a rural state, West Virginia, where there has been this

sentiment that's brewing and is now spilled over that we give to other countries. We nation build abroad. Why aren't we building within these

borders? And so, I'm surprised that a lot of the GOP caucus, not even the far fringy right wing of it, is saying, are we even doing our constituents

a solid if we keep sending money abroad? And that's kind of where this is all coming from.

So, Speaker Johnson is weighing that because he knows it's not just the right flank. It is a moderate sentiment growing as well. Though, I will

say, I understand, on a personal level, because my family lost everything from a dictator in Uganda, and I understand what dictators do. And I know

how Putin works. So, I know how important it is for the U.S. to have Ukraine's back for Ukraine to win. But, a lot of Americans no longer feel

that way. And it's growing. And we cannot acknowledge -- we cannot just say this is the fringe element that doesn't want to send money abroad. It is a

sense that our people are suffering. Why aren't we spending our own tax dollars here?

DEAN: Yeah.

Nathan, is the Biden administration and the President, are they missing an opportunity to explain to Americans, while that is true, we're also -- a

lot of this money is going into some of these rural states, my home state of Arkansas. They are pouring money into their -- into these military

defense contractors to build a lot of this, that sort of thing. So, there is some upside, not to mention the national security implications.


DEAN: Are they missing an opportunity in explaining that to people?

GONZALES: Well, I think more explaining needs to be done. I think that the reason that most people or a lot of Americans don't see that that threat or

what's going on, the invasion of Ukraine, as affecting their everyday life, except for potentially taking money out of their pocket. But, if they -- if

the Biden administration were to explain that, hey, if this escalates, our men and women could be serving over there in that conflict, rather than

just sending money or weapons or aid, that the situation could get worse and we would be even deeper in that. But, I don't -- I think that there is

that disconnect that's causing the political division that you're seeing on this issue.

DEAN: Right. And I want to listen to what the President said on Monday about the GOP and where they are on Ukraine. Here is what he said.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: They're making a big mistake not responding. Look, the way they're walking away from the threat

of Russia, the way they're walking away from NATO, the way they're walking away from meeting our obligations, it's shocking. I've been here for a

while. I've never seen anything like this.


DEAN: So, Paul, taking into account what Rina was just saying about, so many people across America feeling the way they do. And oftentimes, you

know probably -- definitely better than me, probably better than any of us with all the campaigns you've been on, it's not foreign policy --

BEGALA: Right.

DEAN: -- that drives the conversation. And yet, here we are in kind of this incredibly perilous time with all of these crises. And we're seeing

sentiment shift on what we should be doing abroad. What happens now? And you see the President just kind of going, Oh, I can't believe this.

BEGALA: Right. He needs to listen to Rina.

DEAN: Yeah.

BEGALA: OK. There are a lot of good people who think it is aid, foreign aid. So, they need to rebrand this for what it really is. You know what it

is? It's rearming America. We've all -- we've sent weapons over there, and they're older weapons, and they're being used by our allies to fight our

enemies. This is a very good deal for America. There is not a single son or daughter of the United States over there risking their lives. So, we're

sending old weapons there, and now we want to rearm America. And he should make just the case that these two are making.

The Javelin missiles we sent, they're made in Troy, Alabama. So, Tommy Tuberville is a Senator from Alabama. Why isn't he being asked? Why don't

you want to create jobs, rearming America here in Troy, Alabama? The high margin of the attack missiles, Camden, Arkansas --

DEAN: Yeah.

BEGALA: -- you mentioned. Right?

DEAN: My grandparents' home. Yeah.

BEGALA: There you go. So, why aren't we rearming America and creating jobs in Camden, Arkansas? The M1 Abrams tank that we're sending over, it's a

great tank, made in Lima, Ohio. J.D. Vance is a Senator from Ohio. He is not supporting this. Why doesn't he want to rearm America and create jobs

in Lima, Ohio? That's a very different argument from, oh, we owe it to someone else. This is America's self-interest. And I think there is a

powerful case to be made for this.


I also think Biden got on the right track the other day when he called Trump soft, weak, dumb, un-American. These are simple powerful words. He is

now -- I'm so tired of hearing administration officials talking about the rules-based order, whatever that is. But, weak, dumb, soft, un-American,

that's the way to go at Trump on this.

DEAN: OK. So, to that end, they have a new ad that uses that. So, let's watch it really quickly.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Trump wants to walk away from NATO. He has even given Putin and Russia the green light to attack America's allies. No President

has ever said anything like it. It's shameful. It's weak. It's dangerous. It's un-American.


DEAN: Does that cut through?

SHAH: I am not entirely sure. While I like it on its face, I must say the narrative from the R side has been there is a blank check being issued

everywhere in the world, but here. And that is the narrative that I think is going to be so hard to counter in this next half year. It is one that my

generation of millennials feels is real because we experienced that. You walk around most urban cities and you see our people suffering, Americans

on the streets, knowing that two million Americans don't have running water, that's an alarming stat.

So, when we talk about what it means to defend ourselves, while arming our allies, something gets lost there. Nikki Haley has done it brilliantly. I

heard her do it in the debates. And I was rooting for her. I'm like, yes, this woman is making the case. She made it make sense. But then, at the end

of the day, she gets accused of being a warmonger of somebody that props up the American military and the industrial complex. And that, again, is a

hard thing to break through too, because we have to hear that, no, from Biden, we don't get blank checks everywhere.

BEGALA: Right.

SHAH: We are doing things here. And I just don't hear that forcefully enough. Every time you say something is anti-American, well, tell me more.

OK? Let's go deeper. And that's just not what I'm getting from this administration.

DEAN: Is the campaign capable, the administration capable of making that case?

GONZALES: They should be. I mean, a good administration or a good campaign should be able to have different messages to different people in different

places. I mean, that ad doesn't have to appeal. It doesn't have to really convince Republicans. If it gets independent voters, then that is a roadmap

to victory for Democrats. Motivating Democratic voters probably with access to abortion, and making sure that independent voters think that Trump is an

unacceptable alternative, that's the roadmap to reelection. And so, it's possible.

And just the complete inability of Washington to do more than one thing at one time is what is broken in this town. You can help Ukraine. You could

help Israel. You can help the border -- the southern border. You can do multiple things at one time, but we get so laser focused on one thing, and

that's, I think, to our detriment.

DEAN: OK. And we're just getting more to that, the White House has announced that there is going to be a major sanctions package against

Russia in light of Alexey Navalny's death, and so many questions surrounding what happened to him, of course, an outspoken critic of Putin

who was in prison on trumped up charges. So, we're going to continue to follow that. That is coming later this week.

In the meantime, coming up here, Nikki Haley faces a pivotal test in her home state of South Carolina, as Donald Trump holds a big lead in the

polls. A preview of the Republican presidential primary comes up next.




DEAN: Welcome back to State of the Race. I'm Jessica Dean live in Washington. Four days until voters in South Carolina go to the polls, and

right now, former President Donald Trump has a commanding lead. The latest polling numbers show him with about a 35 percent -- percentage points over

Nikki Haley among likely Republican primary voters there. Haley, of course, the former governor of South Carolina, is vowing to stay in the race even

with a probable loss to Trump.


NIKKI HALEY, 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: So, let's do what we know South Carolina does. Go tell your family and friends that America is depending on

what they do on Saturday. I promise you this, on Sunday, I'm headed to Michigan. And then, we're going to Super Tuesday states. And we're going to

keep on going.


DEAN: Haley is expected to give a speech next hour. Her campaign says it will be a State of the Race update, aptly named.

Back with our panel now. Joining us, in addition to our lovely panelists, National Politics Correspondent Eva McKend is here.

And Eva, I want to start with you first because I know you've been out on the trail. You've covered Haley some. I have to say yesterday when it

announced that she was doing the State of the Race speech, I got several texts. Is she probably now? Like and then she is not. Let's be very clear.

But, when people just are asking that, you know you're not in a great place.

EVA MCKEND, CNN U.S. NATIONAL POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. I think she is trying to make some news here. This gives the campaign an opportunity to

sort of make themselves the center of attention today. So, that's the whole goal. She is telegraphing that she is really going to hit on familiar

themes. So, right now, there is a big unity push. That's what her latest ad features, arguing that she would be a unifying figure for this country. And

to some extent, that message seems to be working, but not in a big enough way.

So, I say, I think it's working in a marginal sense, because when you go to her rallies, Democrats are there. There are Democrats showing up to her

rallies. There are people, even right-leaning, that may have supported President Biden in 2020 because they were so turned off by Trump. Those are

the types of folks that she is attracting, and that is gold in a general election. Those are the types of candidates that you want. It takes a

certain degree of political skill, especially in this polarized environment to be able to attract those voters. And she is going to continue to try to

advance this message.

DEAN: Gold in a general election, but not much help in a Republican primary, it turns out. You mentioned the new -- you mentioned her ad. We

can listen to that. We actually have it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When your enemy thinks you're weak, your leader must be strong. When your country is divided, your President must unite us. She ran

to revive our state. She got it done, and provided moral clarity during our darkest hours. What's next? That's up to you.


DEAN: Paul, she is using some of that language. You can't have a weak President. It's some of the stuff we're hearing from the Biden campaign as

well. But, as Eva was just laying out, there is just not enough -- the numbers aren't there in a Republican primary, it seems.

BEGALA: There aren't, but her staying in could have a huge effect on the November election. Every day she stays and she is creating a permission

structure for a lot of good Republicans to say, I can't stand Trump. I can't be for him. I looked at the data in Iowa, which is the most

conservative test we have. Right? There is a caucus. It was sub-freezing temperatures. 10 percent of all the caucus attendees said they would vote

for Joe Biden over Donald Trump. In a Republican caucus in those conservative, 35 percent in New Hampshire said that they would not support



So, I think Biden needs to listen to her. She uses words like chaos, weak. I mean, she knows how to get at him. I don't think there is enough

Republicans within her party. But, I think the Democrats need to be welcoming. By the way, Mr. Trump needs to be welcoming. The thing is over.

I don't know why he is hammering her because all he is doing is creating this permission structure for those voters to come right over to the

Democratic Party.

DEAN: Oh. It really speaks to kind of his character, right, in the sense that he does not like people to not do what tells him to do.


BEGALA: I want a woman telling him.

DEAN: Right. And we put up the poll -- the latest polling that we had, which was Trump 65 percent to Haley's 30 percent. What I think, Rina, when

you dig down a little deeper into that, is very telling, is the second polling we have, which is how firmly -- are you firmly decided in who

you're supporting? And that's -- look how locked in that is. And so, what does she do now? You heard her say, I'm going to Michigan. I'm going to the

Super Tuesday states. She has the backing of the powerful Koch Brothers Network. She has got some money, although when does that dry up, I guess,

is the question.

SHAH: A lot of money.

DEAN: Yeah.

SHAH: And look, I'm one of the people that weeks ago, I started saying, this is about the math. It's about the delegate math and then it's about

the Electoral College, which you can do both wise, where you can chip away. And mathematically speaking, this woman has a serious shot through Super

Tuesday. On Super Tuesday, that is when we start to see her fate sealed. And she can hang ten. She can be herself. She should be herself. Some free

advice, stay authentic, Nikki. Come out and keep going for the jugular.

When Trump attacked her husband, I saw the real Nikki Haley. I saw her say that it's disqualifying. Somebody should not try to be Commander in Chief

if you're going to attack our military members. It is a moment in which you have to wonder how much stamina does she have left? How much desire will

she have left if she loses in South Carolina? But again, it's about the math here. And Liz Cheney agrees with me. Stay in Nikki. But also, Liz

Cheney, please don't mount your own third-party bid. Please don't do that, because also, this is a very unusual election. We all know it. Anything can

happen with Trump. Where he does suffer a conviction, this summer's convention becomes a place where Nikki can enter, Liz Cheney can enter, or

a host of other people can enter.

DEAN: Wait. And so, I'm sitting here as a journalist, like, wow, what a story. Yes.


But, like, are we kind of a making like a West Wing version of this where it's all very dramatic? Or is that a real -- if you're Nikki Haley, is that

enough to say, OK, I'm just going to grind it out, and just be humiliated?

GONZALES: Well, I've been doing this as long as Paul, but I've been down enough. It's going to be a brokered convention, to be a little bit


DEAN: Yeah.

GONZALES: But yet, we should be open minded that this election could have some craziness at either one of the conventions. But, I think

fundamentally, Nikki Haley is selling an alternative -- trying to sell an alternative to a group of voters who aren't interested in an alternative

right now. The legal issues are not hurting Trump in the primary, even if he is convicted. I mean, not even sure he is going to go to trial, but for

this primary. So, if he is convicted, I'm not sure that's going to hurt him, because Republican primary voters believe the -- all of these trials

are a sham anyway. So, anything that comes out of it is going to be -- it's just -- they're just going to dismiss it.

And when voters say, well, if you nominate Trump, he is going to jeopardize our chances in the general election. And he just points to the polls and

say, look, I'm winning. I'm winning in Michigan. I'm winning in Wisconsin. You told me I was going to lose in 2016, and I won. And so, it just --

everything is falling flat for the non-Trump candidates.

DEAN: Yeah. Yeah. I mean -- and Eva, what are voters saying to you? I think it's always important to see -- like, what do they care about right now?

What's on their mind?

MCKEND: Oh, I would say a whole host of issues. I've been speaking to a lot of black voters lately, most recently in South Carolina, and a lot of the

anxieties are economic. Even if they are inclined to support President Biden, they want to see more in their communities. And so, that is

something that Democrats have to confront. I think there is sort of a lot of malaise, a lot of exhaustion, and they're going to have to take that

seriously. It's not only going to be enough to sort of waive the threat of the former President returning to the White House. They're going to have to

actually message to the communities what Biden has achieved.

DEAN: Yeah. Yeah. And I think about it. When I was in Iowa, I was looking over one night, we were having dinner, and there were all kinds of people

that were dressing like Trump paraphernalia, like the true super fans that we all seen out and about. I will say, it is a cult of personality in that

way. You don't -- you do have that enthusiasm, for sure, of that group of people. But, more broadly, it seems like, Paul, the country is just kind of

like huh.

BEGALA: Right.


BEGALA: The exhausted majority --


DEAN: Yeah.

BEGALA: -- is who is going to decide this. And it is fascinating to look at that Trump base where he is just foolproof. He said I can shoot a man on --

DEAN: Yeah.

BEGALA: -- Fifth Avenue, not losing votes. Guess what? He sexually abused a woman on Fifth Avenue and did not lose any votes. A court found him, I'm

not slandering anybody, a court of competent jurisdiction found him liable for sexually abusing and then defaming E. Jean Carroll. He has got to pay

$83.3 million for that. He got four-point gain in the polls after that. So, that's kind of depressing. But, the more exhausted folks, and folks he was

talking to. Right? Biden needs to get credit for those accomplishments. And those economic accomplishments has nothing to do with the legal case. The

way to do it is not to say I've done a good job, but it's what economists call loss aversion.

The reason Warren Buffett is a better investor than I am, is I'm scared to lose money. Like I don't want to take a lot of chances because I like what

I got. And that's why professional money managers always beat individuals. With Biden accomplishments, instead of saying I did a great job, saying he

is going to take this away from you. And all of a sudden you are going to like it. Obamacare didn't become popular until Republicans tried to repeal


DEAN: Right.

BEGALA: So, I think he needs to go to them and say, I've cut your cost of prescription drugs. I've capped the cost of insulin. I've capped all your

prescription medication costs in Medicare overtime. We will. He said, take all that away from you. I opened a plant in Belvidere, Illinois. He is

going to take that away. The loss aversion, I think, it's a way for Biden to get credit for his accomplishments. And that's, I think, Eva, what he

needs to talk to those folks that you were visiting with in South Carolina,

MCKEND: Yeah. And the pain is real. People almost lost their businesses during the pandemic. They felt like Democratic politicians that frequented

their businesses for years always for the handshakes, for the ribbon cuttings, and then where were they when they needed the most. So, they have

to speak to those vulnerabilities.

SHAH: I do think you're tapping on something here that we often don't talk about. It's trust. It's that loss of trust in Biden that I've seen,

actually, in communities of color, and also lower socioeconomic status. Who do they trust to make their lives better? And if Nikki Haley wants to talk

unifying message, the greatest unifying message anybody could deliver, whether it's Biden, Haley, or Trump, is, I'm going to make your life better

every darn day of the week, and here is how. And they ought to talk kitchen table issues and the handling of all this geopolitical tension that bleeds

right back into our border.

DEAN: And to your kitchen table. Yeah.

GONZALES: In that trust issue, Biden's job approval rating flipped on our exit from Afghanistan, and he has never recovered politically. And I think

it's that loss of trust, it's hard to regain it.

DEAN: It is. You can lose it very quickly and it's very hard to gain back.

All right. Eva McKend, National Politics Reporter, thanks so much for joining us today.

A decision could come from the Supreme Court on Donald Trump's claim of presidential immunity. Still ahead, a former federal prosecutor will look

at the actions the High Court could take.




DEAN: Welcome back. All eyes on the Supreme Court for a ruling surrounding former President Donald Trump. First up, the court could weigh on Trump's

emergency requests about presidential immunity. Of course, Trump is challenging that lower court ruling that says he is not immune to

prosecution as a former President. Special Counsel Jack Smith wants that ruling to stand so the trial can quickly begin. Now, it rests in the hands

of the Supreme Court.

Joining us now is former Federal Prosecutor Renato Mariotti. Renato, great to have you on. Thanks so much. It's often been said by our reporters here

who cover the Supreme Court that the Chief Justice John Roberts does want to keep the court out of the political fray to the extent that he can, and

yet, here we are in 2024, and man, they are right in the middle of this election.

RENATO MARIOTTI, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: No question about it. I do think that the conventional wisdom is right. I do think that Chief Justice

does not want the court to be in the middle of everything. And for that reason, I wouldn't be surprised if ultimately the court decides not to take

up this presidential immunity case, essentially letting the Court of Appeals ruling, was ruled against Trump, to stand. That would essentially

allow the court to sidestep that issue entirely.

DEAN: And so, if they did that, just for everyone following along at home, it would just -- he would not have immunity and the trial could go on as

planned. Right?

MARIOTTI: That's right. Now, technically, the Supreme Court just didn't weigh in one way or the other, technically speaking. But, essentially, they

would be saying that they agreed with that ruling and they didn't want to upset that ruling. The trial would go forward. But, of course, the judge,

Judge Chutkan, that she would give Trump and his team more time to prepare, because essentially the case has been on pause or on hold for some period

of time. And that would essentially pair with a ruling by the Supreme Court in Trump's favor in that Colorado election ballot matter.

So, there would be essentially a bit of a symmetry there where you might have Trump getting a ruling in his favor by a substantial majority of the

court, perhaps including some of the liberal or the Democratic appointee justices, and then the Supreme Court essentially not taking up this matter

that would be against Trump, in a way.

DEAN: Yeah. I mean, it'd be an interesting outcome, for sure. Looking ahead, and we are in the land of hypotheticals here, and I understand that,

but I think so many people continue to ask the question, do any of these cases go forward before the election? Will he go on trial before any -- on

any of these cases before the election? It was always kind of the conventional wisdom that this Jack Smith case, this federal election

subversion case, was the one that was packaged tightly enough that it might be able to go before the election. Do you think there is still a chance for


MARIOTTI: Well, Jack Smith wants that case to -- yeah. Jack Smith certainly wants that case to go forward before the election. Whether it does depends

largely on what the United States Supreme Court does. If they take up the case, if there is going to be an argument, I think it won't occur before

the election. If they do, as I suggest and don't take the case. I think it will. And that -- but the Manhattan DA case, the case brought by Alvin

Bragg, that will very likely go on before the election -- go forward before the election unless Trump falls ill or some other unforeseen circumstance

comes into play. Of course, that is probably the least serious and the least weighty of all of those cases.

But, nonetheless, it's a criminal case, a criminal trial. And I can't imagine that Trump wants to be doing that when he otherwise want to start

focusing his attacks on Biden.

DEAN: Yeah. It is interesting. At mile, though, he has been pretty effective at using it as the campaign trail coming outside of this

courtroom. Renato, anything else that you're watching for as we wait to hear from the Supreme Court, anything that you're keeping an eye out for?

MARIOTTI: Well, I think we should be really paying attention to the ripple effects coming out of this New York Attorney General ruling. That's only a

civil case. OK? That's not a criminal case, to be clear, but it has very significant consequences for Trump's businesses. It means that he has got

an independent monitor, an outside director that is being appointed.


Very massive fines that have been imposed, hundreds of millions of dollars. Trump has to come up with money for a bond on appeal. It's very possible

that this puts a strain on his businesses. It could mean more money going out of his campaign funds or going out of the RNC to pay lawyers. So, I

think that could potentially have an impact politically, in addition to on his businesses.

DEAN: All right. Renato Mariotti, thanks so much for joining us. We appreciate it.

MARIOTTI: Thank you.

DEAN: And I'm going to bring the panel back in for just a quick discussion before we go to break.

Nathan, as he is talking about all of this, it just -- if you zoom out a little bit, the whole system that is -- we're built on as America and our

democracy is really under a stress test right now.

GONZALES: Absolutely. We thought we had passed all the stress tests, but they're still to come. And I think we can have more clarity in terms of can

the former President stand trial, and have more clarity, I think would be helpful in all cases. If it's just delay, delay, delay, that benefits Trump

and he will do these press conferences outside of the courtrooms, and he'll continue to play the victim, and that all -- that -- I think that plays to

his benefit, but him not being able to delay and have some sort of responsibility or accountability, I think is important.

DEAN: And if the Supreme Court just doesn't, as he was saying, let's say they just choose not to pick it up, is that -- how does the average

American -- what does that mean for them? Are they like we wanted some sort of -- isn't that your job to make it a (inaudible)?

SHAH: Yeah. I think that would be hugely frustrating, and to everyone, because what is our Constitution for? I think our founders wrote it in such

a way to say, we don't want a king. We don't want somebody who is going to shield themselves from accountability, because that's what a king is,

somebody that can sort of, again, hide out behind certain things.

What we want is a President that has to face the music when faced with the facts. And that is not what we get if the Supreme Court just says, well,

we're not even going to touch this. Presidential immunity should not apply to Donald Trump. Simply put, in my estimation, he is a private citizen. He

ought to face the music. He is out of office. And that is what needs to happen.

DEAN: Yeah. And the courts just continue. They have a real prominent role in this election.

BEGALA: And they're completely, wholly, totally political. They're partisan. OK? And I think it's adorable that lawyers like Renato think

they're on the level, than not. I say this as a lawyer. Three members of the court were appointed by Donald Trump. Two others are named Alito and

Thomas. You only need four to issue a ruling that says, oh, we want to brief this case. We want to take our time. We want to slow it down. Delay,

delay, delay. So, I hope Renato is right that they're going to say, well, obviously the lower court, the D.C. Circuit ruling on this case of immunity

is really tight. It's very, very well-reasoned.

DEAN: Thorough. Yeah.

BEGALA: They should just accept it. They won't. I think they're going to delay it because they are Trump court. They are not a Supreme Court.

DEAN: We'll all watch and see.

All right. We're going to take one more quick break. Stay with us. The panel will be back with one more thing when we come back.


DEAN: And welcome back to State of the Race. My panel rejoins you for this last segment. Before we go, we want to ask for one more thing. What's the

one thing on the campaign trail or in Washington that you're watching for in the coming days? You get 30 seconds each. Nathan.

GONZALES: March 5, Super Tuesday, presidential, but also a couple of dozen consequential congressional primaries in Alabama, California, North

Carolina, Texas, races where Republican primaries or Democratic primaries that will effectively choose the next member of Congress because they're in

solid D or solid blue states, also choose potentially a Senate candidate against Ted Cruz in Texas, may be the successor to Dianne Feinstein of

California. So, don't forget about congressional races

DEAN: That's good point. A lot on the line.

SHAH: OK. So, my story is across the pond, not Washington. It is about Julian Assange, who I share a birthday with, funny enough. Anyways, he has

had a decades-long battle, we all know, to fight extradition, and now today is the start of a two-day hearing in the London High Court that is about



So, there could be a plane waiting on a tarmac to bring Julian Assange within these U.S. borders if he is found to need to be extradited. Again,

this is not about whether he is a journalist or not, or about the leaks, or whatever else has happened in this past decade --

DEAN: Right.

SHAH: -- which has been a lot for him. But, this is about whether he could come here or not. And I think the chance is pretty likely.

DEAN: All right. Paul, we're tight on time. But, go.

BEGALA: Well, congressional races, again, retirements.

DEAN: Yeah.

BEGALA: 23 House Republicans, they've run the place, have chosen to retire, including five committee chairs, including the Energy and Commerce Chair

Cathy McMorris Rodgers, one of the most powerful people in Congress. This is a canary in a coal mine. When the dominant party gets major retirements

like this, it's because they think they're going to lose the House.

DEAN: OK. Well, all good things to watch. Thanks to all of you for being here. Thank you for watching. I'm Jessica Dean. That is State of the Race

today, Tuesday, February 20. Stick with CNN. One World is up next.