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State of the Union

Interview With White House Economic Adviser Jared Bernstein; Interview With Rep. Elaine Luria (D-VA); Interview With Gov. Doug Ducey (R-AZ); Interview With State Rep. Joanna McClinton (D-PA). Aired 9-10a ET

Aired July 17, 2022 - 09:00   ET




DANA BASH, CNN HOST (voice-over): Risky business. Inflation skyrockets at, while, abroad, President Biden makes nice with a leader he vowed to make a pariah.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The United States is invested in building a positive future in the region.

BASH: Was it worth the price? Top economic adviser to President Biden Jared Bernstein joins me ahead.

And proxy battle. Republican primaries pit sitting governors against former President Trump, who says it's a matter of when, not if, he runs. What will the GOP look like in 2024? I will speak exclusively to the Republican governor of Arizona, Doug Ducey, next.

Plus: 187 minutes. The January 6 Committee will lay out what former President Trump did during the insurrection.

REP. ELAINE LURIA (D-VA): I look at it as a dereliction of duty. He didn't act.

BASH: Is it a crime? I will speak exclusively to January 6 Committee Congresswoman Elaine Luria in moments.


BASH: Hello. I'm Dana Bash in Washington, where the state of our union is really feeling the price hikes.

President Biden is back in Washington this morning and brushing back criticism of his meeting and fist bump with Saudi's brutal crown prince this week.


QUESTION: Do you regret the fist bump, Mr. President?

BIDEN: Why don't you guys talk about something that matters? I'm happy to react to a question that matters. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: The face-to-face in oil-rich Saudi Arabia comes as the president tries to take on soaring gas prices and inflation.

A new report this week showed inflation rose 9.1 percent in June compared to last year, the fastest rate in four decades, and without any easy solutions.

President Biden also returns to a domestic agenda that has once again been stymied by Democratic Senator Joe Manchin. The West Virginia senator announced Thursday that he is ending current negotiations on the sweeping climate and tax plans President Biden and other Democrats hope to pass, saying he wants to see more data on inflation before moving forward.

The move makes it increasingly difficult for Democrats to make good on those campaign promises before the midterm elections and has left many in his party furious. And President Biden is advising congressional Democrats to take what they can get from Senator Manchin and pass his deal to lower drug prices and health care subsidies.

Well, here to talk about all of this is economic adviser to President Biden Jared Bernstein.

Thank you for coming in.

Let's talk about that inflation report. Your former colleague in the Obama administration Jason Furman called it brutal, adding, there is absolutely nothing good in it.

Larry Summers says: "No one can -- nobody," rather, "can suppose that inflation is under control."

And in his statement, President Biden dismissed it as out of date. If you don't think 9.1 percent is the inflation rate the last month, what is it?


The president himself said repeatedly after that report came out that un-inflation -- that inflation is unacceptably high. Remember, this is a president who grew up in a family where issues like the gas of price, the price of food were kitchen table issues.

So, he has dispatched his team to do everything we can to ease price pressures. It is his top domestic economic priority. Now, in terms of the out of date, I think what the president meant there is, since that report came out, the price of gas is down about 50 cents a gallon, OK?

That's about the fastest decline in about a decade. It is still way too elevated. Let's make that clear. And we have more work to do in that space. But it gives Americans a little breathing room at the pump. Now, there are key other aspects -- you actually mentioned some of

them -- that this president and the Congress -- Democrats are lined up here -- can undertake to improve the affordability of prescription drugs and health care.

BASH: I'm going to talk about that in one second, but let's talk about what you mentioned, breathing room.


BASH: Democratic lawmakers, a lot of them, they don't agree that that message is working. I'm sure you have heard it.

President Biden said that declining gas prices, just like you said here, are providing more breathing room for American families. But the national average is still over $4.50.

And I want you to listen to what Democratic Senator Tammy Baldwin told me this week.



BASH: When people come up to you in Wisconsin in the grocery store or at the gas station and ask you about how prices, is that what you would tell them, that the data is out of date?

SEN. TAMMY BALDWIN (D-WI): Certainly not.

It's great news that, in the last month, gas prices have gone down by about 40 cents per gallon. That's really not the break people are looking for.


BASH: So, when you say breathing room, you understand that there are people out there saying: I'm not feeling breathing room. I'm feeling crunched.

BERNSTEIN: Absolutely. That is well understood.

But if we're going to talk about the damage that these high energy prices are having on family budgets, I think we have to talk about the benefits for when those prices come down a little.

I have been very clear. More importantly, the president is unequivocal by not calling mission accomplished on any of this. We're talking about a decline that's completely insufficient when it comes to delivering the relief to family budgets that they need.

So, that's why he continues to push on every aspect he can of this issue in terms of increasing the supply of global energy to help mitigate that price increase.

BASH: And you're right. The prices have come down, which is a good thing.


BASH: It's better than them going the other way.


BASH: But...

BERNSTEIN: You have got to get the trend going in the right direction.


So, on that, "The Washington Post" is reporting that the Treasury Department says that the oil price could soar 50 percent after -- eventually more than 50 percent after the European sanctions...

BERNSTEIN: The European...



BASH: ... on Russia kick in on Russian gas.

So, the question is, are analysts who are predicting that that might make gas prices $6 a gallon accurate? Could prices actually go back up?

BERNSTEIN: So, a lot to unpack there.

First of all, you talked about the price of oil. I should have mentioned this earlier. While the gas price is down about 8 percent or 9 percent, the oil price is down about 20 percent.

So, when we talk about the president doing all he can to provide relief at the pump, one of the things that he's doing is trying to nudge these companies to pass some of those savings along to consumers. You know, in the first quarter of this year, some of the biggest oil companies had a net profit of $35 billion.

Now, these are companies we helped, to the tune of billions of dollars, during the pandemic.

BASH: But will prices go back up?

BERNSTEIN: During the -- I will get to that -- during the pandemic downturn. They ought to share some of that profitability with the American people right now, especially as we're supporting Ukraine's efforts in their war against Russia.

So, look, nobody can see reliably around the corner when it comes to those prices talking a couple of quarters away. So I would say, really don't pay a lot of attention to those forecasts, because it's just too much volatility. What I can say is that I think it's very likely that gas prices

continue to track down, say, for the rest of this month. And I say that not because not just the oil price is down 20 percent, but wholesale prices are down as well. And those two tend to track each other.

Again, Dana, look, this is minutia. We have so much more work to do. And when it comes to prescription drugs and health care premiums, as you said in your introduction, Democrats are there. And that is essential.

BASH: Yes. And I promise we're going to get -- I promise we're going to get to that, but just one more question about the efforts that the administration is making on oil.


BASH: The president just returned from Saudi Arabia. He met with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

I want you to look at this image. I know you have seen it. The world has seen it, the fist bump. And the reaction has been swift, because this is a man who ordered the brutal murder of a journalist, and then his body was dismembered with a bone saw.

Jamal Khashoggi's fiancee said, if he were alive today, he would say: "Is the accountability you promised for my murder? The murder of MBS' next victim is on your hands."

Why is he fist-bumping a murderer?

BERNSTEIN: Well, Dana, you're talking to an economic policy adviser.

And I'm much more able to give you fulsome readout on meetings, not greetings. So, let me just...

BASH: OK. So, is there a deliverable out of it?

BERNSTEIN: Yes, so, first of all, the president explained his rationale for this meeting quite fulsomely in a "Washington Post" op- ed that came out. It's there for everyone to see.

Let me quote something Jake Sullivan said which I think is quite resonant: "The president is intent on ensuring that there's not a vacuum in the Middle East for China and Russia to fill, that American leadership and an American engagement will be a feature of U.S. policy in this region."

What Jake is saying there, what the president is engaged in here is trying to stabilize a critical region of this world, something that he has consistently done in his foreign policy work as a senator for many decades. An economically more secure and stable Middle East is important, I think, for the American people.

BASH: So, that's a long-term goal.

Did he actually deliver anything on the road to that from this very controversial meeting?

BERNSTEIN: So, we saw Saudi Arabia say that it would increase its capacity for oil production. And I refer you to them for more information there.

But, remember, Saudi Arabia is part -- of course, a part of OPEC, part of the cartel. And the president has been -- and other -- some of our -- other members of our foreign policy team have been pressuring OPEC to increase production.


And, in fact, a few weeks ago, they talked about doing precisely that for July and August, increasing production by about 50 percent. So this is very much a part of that time and effort.

BASH: OK, let's talk about the domestic agenda and what happened this week.

Senator Manchin backed out of negotiations on parts of that plan, the climate crisis, corporate tax increases. President Biden said that the Senate should pass the scaled-down plan to extend Obamacare subsidies, what you were talking about...


BASH: ... allowing Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices, for example.

I want you to listen to what Senator Manchin said about why he blocked other parts of the agenda.


SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): Inflation is absolutely killing many, many people. They can't buy gasoline. They have a hard time buying groceries. Everything they buy and consume for their daily lives is a hardship to them. And can't we wait to make sure that we do nothing to add to that?


BASH: Is President Biden frustrated with Senator Manchin?

BERNSTEIN: I think the president is very much -- and very compelled to get Congress to work with him on his climate agenda.

He's already taken unprecedented action. And I think this is important, because if he can't find a legislative path to clean energy, the urgency of the problem is so significant that, as he said on Friday, he will find an executive order and rule change path to get there.

And I should say find. He's already found that path. He will continue down it. He has invoked the Defense Production Act to ramp up clean energy production in this country. He has helped to kick-start the offshore wind industry. He has set the toughest ever emission standards. He will continue to pursue that with or without Congress.

But the urgency of the issue, Dana, is, I think -- it is beyond me how anyone could miss it, over $100 billion per year of cost to our economy based on floods, wildfires, droughts.

BASH: Yes.

BERNSTEIN: Look at the geopolitical pressures from this, a Russian petrocrat...

BASH: Well...

BERNSTEIN: .. who's prosecuting a war based on weaponizing fossil fuels.

So, there is a great rationale to undertake what this president will do. And he will continue to press.

BASH: Thank you, Jared Bernstein. Appreciate your time.

BERNSTEIN: My pleasure.

BASH: And he's facing off against President Trump and a proxy war for the future of the GOP. Arizona Governor Doug Ducey will join me next.

And Donald Trump's White House counsel talked to the January 6 Committee for seven hours. How much did he tell them about what President Trump was doing as the Capitol was attacked by his own supporters?

Stay with us.



BASH: Welcome back to the STATE OF THE UNION.

One of the hallmarks of this election year is former President Trump's determination to back GOP candidates who subscribe to his lies about the 2020 election.

That is especially true in Arizona, a state Trump lost, and blames the GOP governor, Doug Ducey, for ignoring his pressure to overturn Joe Biden's win there. The former president heads to Arizona next week to rally for his pick to replace the term-limited Ducey, former TV anchor and election denier Kari Lake.

But outgoing Republican Governor and co-chair of the Republican Governors Association Ducey is backing a different candidate to replace him, real estate developer Karrin Taylor Robson.

And here with me now is Governor Ducey of Arizona.

Governor, thank you so much for joining me. Your state's primary is now just over two weeks away. You and the former president are on opposite sides of this primary battle, and the candidate he is supporting says the 2020 election was stolen.

So, what's at stake in this race for your state and for the overall Republican Party and its future?

GOV. DOUG DUCEY (R-AZ): Well, the names on the ballot are Karrin Taylor Robson and Kari Lake.

And Karrin Taylor Robson is the real conservative. She's the real deal. She started her career working for Ronald Reagan. She's pro- wall, pro-gun, pro-life. She's the mother of four. She has been a community leader and a successful businessperson. And I think Karrin Taylor Robson will be the best person to be a fresh new leader for the state of Arizona.

Her opponent, on the other hand, bears no resemblance, her campaign or even her personal interactions with me, to anything she's done over the past 30 years. This is all an act. She's been putting on a show for some time now. And we will see if the voters of Arizona buy it.

BASH: And how does this play into the national conversation, particularly about, as I mentioned, the election in 2020?

Kari Lake is backed by the former president, in large part because she says the 2020 election was stolen.

DUCEY: Well, Kari Lake is misleading voters with no evidence. She's been tagged by her opponents with a nickname, Fake Lake, which seems to be sticking and actually doing some damage.

Karrin Taylor Robson started from zero, and now this is a margin of error race.

BASH: Will the Republican Governors Association support Kari Lake in the general election if she wins the primary?

DUCEY: All post-August 2 roles are to be determined.

Now, the Republican Governors Association is in the business of electing Republican governors. And we happen to be very good at it. We're the only majority Republican conference in the country. We protect our incumbents. We keep our red states red.

And, Dana, we're on offense all over the country right now. This is the most expansive map we have ever had. Oregon just came online. So we're on offense. But we don't support lost causes. We certainly don't support landslides.

We go into states where the races are competitive, and we get the good candidate over the finish line.

BASH: So, let me expand beyond Arizona.

Doug Mastriano has already won the Republican nomination in Pennsylvania for that governor's race. Will the RGA support him, or is he in that category of lost cause?


DUCEY: No, I didn't say last cause in any category yet.

BASH: But I'm asking you, do you...

DUCEY: November 8 is a long ways -- November 8 -- November 8...

BASH: OK. so, will the RGA support him in Pennsylvania?

DUCEY: November 8 is a long way off. So we will be looking at this map. We will be looking at the resources we have. And we don't know what September and October are going to hold.

We don't know who the next Charlie Baker in Massachusetts, Larry Hogan in Maryland, or Glenn Youngkin in Virginia is going to be. So we will make those decisions targeted on a basis on how we can have success and results.

We don't spread the dollars pro rata across the country. We go into states where people have moved numbers...

BASH: Right. So, let me ask you...

DUCEY: ... demonstrated that they can build coalitions. And we win those races.

BASH: So, let me ask you, on a personal level, do you, Doug Ducey, who does not believe the 2020 election was stolen either in your home state of Arizona or in Pennsylvania, think that someone like Doug Mastriano should be in such an important swing state in the governor's mansion?

DUCEY: I think that the people of any state would be better served by a governor who believes in the people, believes that small businesses should be allowed to operate, and believe that -- believes that children should be in classrooms.

I also think this election should be about the future. I don't think we should think for one more moment about 2020. This is about the 2022 election cycle. And, as I said, the job of the RGA is to elect Republican governors, and that's what we're going to do in this cycle.

BASH: I want to ask about January 6.

Your state House speaker and your friend Rusty Bowers testified before that committee about the direct pressure he got from Donald Trump, John Eastman and Rudy Giuliani. You told me last year on this show that Donald Trump bears some responsibility for January 6.

Do you believe his actions on January 6 or inaction should disqualify him from holding public office in the future?

DUCEY: Dana, I condemned January 6. And I think everyone that broke the law should be held accountable. In our system, this is up to the voters on what happens next. So many people want to talk about 2024. And I want to resist that temptation to talk about hypotheticals. I think the best way for us to turn this page and to move forward as a conservative Republican Party and a country is to make sure we get the best possible people elected in 2022.

And that's my focus, as well as running the state of Arizona, every single day.

BASH: If Donald Trump runs in 2024, will you support him?

DUCEY: I think we will have options in the 2024 primary race.

I am hopeful we will have options. And I want somebody who can win that general election, because I believe, with success in 2022, the general election is the Republican Party's for the taking.

BASH: Let's talk about a couple of really important issues that voters are talking about and thinking about, gas prices.

Gas prices in your state and Arizona are still at $4.85 per gallon, well above the national average. President Biden wants a gas tax holiday on a national level, but also for states. Will you support temporarily lifting Arizona's gas tax?

DUCEY: Arizona has the lowest flat tax in the nation. We just passed the largest tax decrease in the history of our state.

Meanwhile, President Biden is flying to the Middle East and fist- bumping with murderers and despots asking for more supply. What he could do is open up the Keystone pipeline. What he could do is work with America's energy leaders and provide more supply of fossil fuels, of clean energy and solve this crisis.

He's going to have to make that decision. We're not going to do anything in Arizona that's temporary or a gimmick or puts my successor in a terrible spot with the voters. We're going to have good policy here. And Joe Biden could lead from the White House as well.

BASH: Governor, you signed a 15-week abortion ban into law in March. Your state's attorney general is trying to reinstate a 1901 law, from before Arizona was a state, which bans all abortion except to save the life of a mother.

Will you support that? Should abortion be banned in Arizona?

DUCEY: Well, listen, Dana, I know you know that I'm proudly pro-life. Arizona is considered the number one most pro-life state in the nation.

I was supportive of the Supreme Court's actions. I believe that Roe vs. Wade was wrongly decided. And now it comes back to the states. The law that I signed was the 15-week abortion law. And the legal authority inside the state in terms of opinions is our attorney general. [09:25:05]

This will be left to the courts to decide. But, ultimately, it should come back to the legislatures and the people to make these decisions.

BASH: So, do you support a total ban, or do you not? What do you personally believe as governor?

DUCEY: I'm going to stand on what I -- what I ran on in 2014 is that I am pro-life, with exceptions for life of the mother, rape and incest. And that's what I remain.

BASH: You signed a new school voucher program into law, and it lets any student in your state use publicly funded vouchers to help pay for private schools.

But since all students are eligible, some critics of what you signed say it will funnel state dollars to wealthy families who can already afford private schools. So why should wealthy families who can afford private school be eligible for state vouchers?

DUCEY: Arizona is now the gold standard for educational freedom.

And these are not vouchers. This is a scholarship for all 1,100,000 of Arizona's students. And I'm not concerned about the wealthy families. I'm concerned about the poor families. Fifty years ago, politicians stood in the schoolhouse door and wouldn't let minorities in.

Today, union-backed politicians stand in the schoolhouse door and won't let minorities out. It's time to set these families free. They are trapped in failing public schools. And now they will have a way out, and they will be able to learn, grow and climb the economic ladder in the United States here, in Arizona first.

BASH: If your focus is...

DUCEY: And I encourage all my governors, both Republican and Democrat, to take this bill in Arizona, take educational savings accounts and make sure everyone in your state Has access to their taxpayer dollars, so they can get the education of their parents' choice.

BASH: Governor, if your focus is on low-income students, making sure that they get the same choices as those who have wealthy parents, why not just focus the public funding on them? Why also give public funding to wealthy families?

DUCEY: Public education is about educating our public. And I believe in equal opportunity for all of our students and all of our families.

I really think this is the way to renew American K-12 education, to renew America, to have an education where you're learning something of value, of math, reading, science, American civics, character formation. Arizona leads on this already as the number one state for school choice. And now, with educational savings accounts, we're going to take it to

the next level.

BASH: Governor Ducey of Arizona, thank you so much for joining me. I really appreciate it.

DUCEY: Thank you, Dana.

BASH: What happened to the Secret Service text messages from January 6, and what's ahead in this week's hearing?

I will ask a member of the January 6 Committee what they have learned. That's next.



BASH: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION.

The January 6 Committee will reveal what they know this week about the 187 minutes that former President Trump spent that day not trying to stop the rioters from ransacking the U.S. Capitol.

Here with me now is one of the two committee members leading the upcoming hearing, Democratic Congresswoman Elaine Luria of Virginia.

Thank you so much for joining me.

Congresswoman, I want to start with what to expect from this prime- time hearing on Thursday. Does your committee know what Donald Trump was doing for all of those 187 minutes on January 6, and how much did the testimony from Pat Cipollone, his White House counsel then, help answer that question?

LURIA: Well, Dana, I will start out it's pretty simple. He was doing nothing to actually stop the riot.

We will go through pretty much minute by minute during that time frame, from the time he left the stage at the Ellipse, came back to the White House, and really sat in the White House, in the dining room, with his advisers urging him continuously to take action, to take more action.

And not only was it a situation of not doing anything. At one point, the infamous tweet, we know, at 2:24, he actually egged people on by saying, Vice President Pence didn't have the courage to -- quote, unquote -- "do the right thing."

Mr. Cipollone's testimony is very valuable. We will be incorporating that into our hearing coming up on Thursday. But there's actually more. It's not only Mr. Cipollone. There's other witnesses we have spoken to who have yet to appear in our previous hearings who will add a lot of value and information to the events of that critical time on January 6.

BASH: Who will that be?

LURIA: Well, you will have to wait until Thursday to see.

But I will tell you that people who were in the White House, people who were close to the president, and also people who had insight into the actions that were going on in the variety of ways that they were trying to control the violence and stop what was happening at the Capitol.

BASH: Are there people that we haven't heard from thus far?

LURIA: Yes, there will definitely be people included in the hearing who we have not heard from so far.

BASH: The inaction you talked about, does it constitute a crime, in your view?

LURIA: Well, Mr. Kinzinger and I, who are both veterans, leading this committee, I think, as veterans of the military, understand what action looks like in a time of crisis.

And, also, the president, it's the commander in chief. He is the only person in the Constitution whose duty is explicitly laid out to ensure that the laws are faithfully executed.


I look at it as a dereliction of duty. He didn't act. He had a duty to act. So, we will address that in a lot of detail. And from that, we will build on the information that we provided in the earlier hearings.

BASH: Your panel just subpoenaed the U.S. Secret Service for texts from January 6. This is a really extraordinary move.

The DHS inspector general said that the Secret Service erased them. Now Congressman Jamie Raskin says that there are contradictory representations about that. So, can you clarify, do texts still exist from key members of the Secret Service from in and around January 6? And are you confident that they were not deleted nefariously?

LURIA: That's what we have to get to the bottom of.

There's a requirement for federal agencies to maintain records. An agency that was such a key part of a critical event in our history, one would assume they had done everything possible to preserve those records, to analyze them to determine what kind of things went right or went wrong that day in their practices and procedures.

And we are looking into this. That's why we're subpoenaing them. As far as digital records and text messages, not being an I.T. expert, but I do understand there's a lot of things that can be done, a lot of forensic analysis and recouping of data.

So we want to make sure that we understand the bottom line. Like, where are these text messages? Can they be recovered? And we have subpoenaed them because they're legal records that we need to see for the committee.

BASH: Congresswoman, President Trump is considering launching a presidential bid as soon as this fall.

If Donald Trump announces a campaign for president, what will that mean, if anything, for how you will conduct your investigation and the importance of it?

LURIA: Well, it will not change how we're conducting this investigation.

The purpose of this investigation is to lay out the facts of everything that led up to January 6, the events that happened -- that happened that day and prevent something like this from happening in the future. The bottom line is that no one is above the law, whether he's a president, a former president, or a potential future presidential candidate.

We are going to pursue the facts and analyze those, provide recommendations and, if necessary, pass that information along to other people who would act in an appropriate way to hold him accountable.

BASH: This hearing this coming week is the last one planned. But it really seems like you're getting a slew of new information on a daily basis.

Do you expect we're going to see more?

LURIA: So, this is the last in a series that we put together where we laid out a framework to describe the different elements of the events leading up to and on that day.

Certainly, we are receiving new information every single day, even day by day, incorporating more of that new information into what we will present on Thursday. So you will definitely be hearing from the committee again, that timeline or whether it's in the form of hearings or other methods to president the evidence, but we have a responsibility to present the things that we have uncovered.

And we are talking about how the best way to do that is moving forward after this hearing.

BASH: Is your investigation in some ways ramping up with the new information you're getting?

LURIA: I would say so.

At one point, as we came into the end of this series of hearings, we thought this might be a point where we transitioned in an effort to make sure that we had documented and focused on the recommendations. I'd say that we are still full speed ahead on the hearing, as well as full speed ahead on those other elements of what we have a responsibility to do as a congressional committee.

BASH: Congresswoman Elaine Luria, thank you so much. We will be watching you, of course, on Thursday.

And you out there can watch the coverage of the January 6 hearing right here in prime time on CNN. Tune in on Thursday evening.

And Democrats hope voters turn out in November to support abortion rights, but could the way they talk about the issue be turning some of those voters off?

We're going to talk about that with our panel next.




STATE REP. JOANNA MCCLINTON (D-PA): We're talking about women dying. We're talking about more than half the population not being able to make decisions, when not even half of this body has a uterus.

When you silence us and don't allow us to amend bills that won't let people vote, that won't allow women to make their own decisions, you're silencing all of us!


BASH: Welcome back to State of the Union.

We're here with our panel.

And we have the woman you just heard, Joanna McClinton, who is the Pennsylvania House Democratic leader here at the table.

Thank you so much for coming down.

That was you speaking on the Pennsylvania House floor last week. You met recently with the vice president, Kamala Harris, in Philadelphia to talk about the administration's efforts to better access abortion for people who are in tough spots who -- in states where it's becoming illegal.

Is the administration doing enough?

MCCLINTON: Absolutely.

Vice President Kamala Harris has made this a priority for our nation. We certainly know Congress moved very quickly on Friday. We're waiting on the United States Senate to act and vote for the Women's Health Care Act.

Look, Vice President Harris came in met with my colleagues and I, both Senate Democrats and House Democrats, in Philadelphia from the entire commonwealth. We sat down to talk about what the federal government has done thus far and how we can coordinate with messaging and ensure voters are aware of that, for the first time in a very long time, women's health care and our independence, including our ability to vote freely, is on the ballot in Pennsylvania.

BASH: Alyssa, how do you think that this issue is playing now that we have had some time for it to settle into the electorate?

ALYSSA FARAH GRIFFIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: So, I tend to think that it's more of a 2024 issue than a midterms issue.

In most of the polling, the economy, inflation, gas prices are always the top-tier tickets for the midterms. However, in some of these swing districts for Republicans, especially in the South, I think it could be challenging.

That said, the economy is the whole game for the midterms. In 2024, though, this is going to be interesting. If you're someone like a Ron DeSantis, for example, who's easily just behind President Trump, the Republican front-runner, in a state like Florida that has major metropolitan areas like Miami, where access to abortion is something that's widely supported, I think it becomes a bigger challenge for him.


BASH: So, there's a abortion, and then there's another very hot issue, and that is the culture wars going on. And it's very much playing out on the campaign trail and just in society in general.

I want you to listen to an exchange this week between Senator Josh Hawley and Berkeley law professor Khiara Bridges. It was a Senate hearing, and she accused him of being transphobic.


SEN. JOSH HAWLEY (R-MO): You have referred to people with a capacity for pregnancy. Would that be women?

KHIARA BRIDGES, U.C. BERKELEY SCHOOL OF LAW: Many women, cis women have the capacity for pregnancy. Many cis women do not have the capacity for pregnancy.

There also trans men who are capable of pregnancy, as well as nonbinary people who are capable of pregnancy.

HAWLEY: So this isn't really a women's rights issue?

BRIDGES: I want to recognize that your line of questioning is transphobic.


DAVID URBAN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Listen, I listened to Josh Hawley. I watched the exchange, right?

I think that most voters, Republican voters, you play that clip, Republican voters are going to agree with Josh Hawley asking the question he asked the professor. He said, look, do you meet with your students with this level of animosity if they ask you these kinds of questions, right?

She was she was very aggressive back. Josh Hawley said, do you -- can -- do you expect -- can men have babies? And she said, that's a transphobic question.

I'm not quite sure most Americans see it that way. I think they see it, can men have babies? Most Americans say, no, they can't, right?

And so that issue, I think, goes clearly -- is, you're going to see that clip played over and over in over many commercials. And just one quick other point, Dana.

When you talked about the abortion issue, you heard Jeff Zeleny. He was in Pittsburgh this week. He was kind of out and about in the hustings. And he said, look, he talked about it. People in Pennsylvania, they don't care about it. It's not registering with them. They're talking about inflation, the economy, crime, all those issues like -- that Paul doesn't want to talk about.


PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Au contraire. Josh Hawley doesn't want to talk about it.

Josh Hawley is not one of that professor's students. He's a United States senator from Missouri, a state I love. I used to work for Congressman Gephardt from Missouri.

Under Josh Hawley, Missouri is fourth in gun deaths, 40th in life expectancy. It has above the national average of child poverty, below the national average of median income. He's doing a terrible job on crime, health care, jobs for his state.

And so he wants to beat up on trans kids, the most vulnerable people in our society? It's despicable.

URBAN: Oh, come on, Paul.


BEGALA: He needs to do his doggone job and bring jobs and health care to his state, instead of beating up on some California law professor.

FARAH GRIFFIN: Well, and I will say this.

I mean, the whole game in the midterms is the economy. But there is an interesting kind of friction that's come about when you have the Dobbs decision around abortion, but then also -- and I consider myself an LGBT ally, but that we also have this new sort of language where we can't even acknowledge that it's women's issues, that I'm, as a woman, someone who can get pregnant.

And so I think that the right is kind of seizing on that. There's some validity to it. But this -- again, this is so far down -- the culture war issue should be so far down on what we're focusing on.

URBAN: Well, they are. It's going to be down. It's going to be far down.


BASH: Leader McClinton?

MCCLINTON: Yes, the other thing we have to realize is that Western Pennsylvanians have already been very vocal about them being pro- choice.

In Washington County, right after the Dobbs decision came down, almost 1,000 women came out with their daughters, with their children, saying, here, even in rural Pennsylvania, we are not supportive of this decision. We support a woman's right to choose. We are not a part of this culture war, but we definitely are doubling down this November to make sure that our priorities are on the ballot and reflected in who Pennsylvania chooses as our next governor and as our next United States senator.

BASH: Speaking of the ballot, let's talk about somebody who wants to be back on the ballot in 2024.

You might have heard of him, Alyssa.


BASH: His name is Donald Trump. Might have worked for him.

I know that this is not something that makes you happy, but he told "New York Magazine" -- quote -- "In my own mind, I have already made the decision. I would say my big decision will be whether I go before or after," meaning the midterm elections. "You understand what that means? Do I go before after? That will be my big decision."

FARAH GRIFFIN: So my prediction is, August, he announces. I think he's feeling the heat of the January 6 hearings.

I think they're significantly more effective than even his team anticipated. And I do think that, listen, he's never cared about other Republicans on the ticket and how it may hurt their races, because if you're a Republican in an uphill battle in the midterms, the last thing you want to do is be answering for all the things Donald Trump has to answer for right now.

But I will say this. I think that -- I think Jeff Zeleny -- I will steal this point from him that he made it earlier -- is, it's harder for Merrick Garland to go after him once he's an announced candidate, even if there is credible evidence of potential crimes there. So that's something that's resonating with Donald Trump.

The sooner he announces, the more he insulates himself from potential legal action.

BASH: How is that going to affect the races you care about in Pennsylvania, David Urban?

URBAN: Yes, look, it makes it much tougher, I think, right, having the president on the ticket, although, with them -- with Doug Mastriano at the top of the ticket -- well, he's not actually the top of the ticket.

With Doug Mastriano running for governor in Pennsylvania, Donald Trump's on the ballot already in Pennsylvania. He will -- he's been -- he's endorsed both the Senate candidate and the Republican gubernatorial Candidate.


But it makes it tougher in these swing states. Like, so our colleague Charlie Dent's old district, right, was -- is kind of a purplish district, right? In a wave year, Republicans could win that seat. And there's many other seats they could win.

Having Trump kind of in the mix right now makes it much more difficult to pick up those swing seats.

BEGALA: Right.

The greatest political strategist ever was Henny Youngman, the old comic. People asked him, how's your wife? He said, compared to what?

Biden is down. Trump is downer, OK? Joe is still beating Donald in the polls.


URBAN: I will go with Henny Youngman.


URBAN: ... cultural reference.

BEGALA: It allows Democrats -- it allows Democrats to draw a contrast, or, to quote Joe Biden, don't compare me to the almighty. Compare me to the alternative.

What he -- when he inserts himself into these races, it hurts Republicans swing voters.


But I was going to say, Paul -- I will let you go. Quickly, but, Paul, that's, I think, the contrast that President Trump really likes, Bide/Trump. I think he will take that contrast any day.

BASH: You live in the real world.


BASH: So can you tell us all of here in the swamp what's really the answer to the political peril or not of him being on the ballot, especially in a state or a commonwealth -- forgive me -- like yours?

MCCLINTON: Absolutely. In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Trump being even in office helped Democrats in Harrisburg. It was Trump being in office that helped us have not just a blue wave and a moment, but a real movement of sweeping him, with our statewide judicial elections in the odd year and, of course, in the even year, picking up seats in the House.

So we have to be very clear that Josh Shapiro's opponent has fully aligned himself with President Trump, has already tried to throw votes out from the 2020 election, has already promised to criminalize abortion. So he's on the ballot in Pennsylvania.

URBAN: The only one less popular than Donald Trump, Joe Biden. That's...


FARAH GRIFFIN: But, unfortunately, Donald Trump, according to a "The New York Times"' poll, he loses to Joe Biden. He's the only Republican candidate who does.

If I'm a Ron DeSantis, a Kristi Noem or someone, I'm paying attention to that.

BASH: Ten seconds.

BEGALA: Yes, by the way, here's a poll. Six in 10 Americans feel the president should not run for a second term, 1982, Ronald Reagan. He went on to win 49 states.

Do not count Joe Biden out. This is a terrible time...


URBAN: I'm counting him out. I will count him out.


BEGALA: That's what my party said about Reagan.


BASH: All right. All right, guys, great discussion.

Welcome. Welcome. We will hope to see you soon.

Have a good day, everybody.

But don't go away at home, because we want to bring you a story about a child who met civil rights icon John Lewis. Their friendship changed the course of his life.

Stay with us.


[09:56:43] BASH: Today marks two years since a congressman and civil rights leader John Lewis passed away at age 80.

Lewis' lifelong fight for fundamental rights for black Americans is so vast, it's almost hard to quantify. Yet a new children's book from Scholastic, "Because of You John Lewis: The True Story of a Remarkable Friendship," tells a story of Lewis' impact on one young man, now 14- year-old Tybre Faw.


BASH: What's it like to be walking on this bridge for you?

TYBRE FAW, 14 YEARS OLD: I do feel a little emotional.

To this day, every time I come to Selma or get near this bridge, I can feel his presence.

BASH (voice-over): Selma, Alabama, is where young Tybre Faw met his hero, John Lewis.

FAW: I keep thinking about what he did on this bridge and how he fought for my rights and many more.

BASH: Four years ago, at age 10, after learning about Martin Luther King Jr. in school, he convinced his grandmothers to drive him seven hours from Tennessee on the anniversary of Bloody Sunday.

FAW: I wanted to meet someone who was close, who was also involved in the civil rights movement. And it's John Lewis.

Honestly, I didn't know if I was going to even see him.

BASH: Then we saw Tybre.

(on camera): Last time we made this walk, you were like this big.


(voice-over): We were there covering Lewis' civil rights pilgrimage and brought him over.

(on camera): You were standing so still. I couldn't believe it.

FAW: Yes, I was serious then, because this is your hero. You got to make a good first impression.

I could feel my tears watering up. And then, when I saw him, I just broke down.

"You have shown me how to have courage, raw courage. Selma was the turning point."

BASH (voice-over): Lewis even asked Tybre to walk with him across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, where he was beaten almost to death in 1965 marching for the right to vote. It was the beginning of a special bond.

FAW: He was a really big friend, but I just wish he had more time together. He taught me honor and integrity. He taught me how to be humble and how to be a good student, how to be a good person.

I remember FaceTiming him, saying happy birthday. And I sent him a library card.

BASH (on camera): Why do you send him a library card?

FAW: Because one of the things that started John Lewis to the civil rights is, he couldn't -- he can't go to the library and get a book. Because he was black, he couldn't get a library card.

BASH (voice-over): When Lewis died two years ago, the nation lost an icon. Tybre lost a friend. He read the poem "Invictus" at the funeral.

FAW: Out of the night that covers me...

I got through it, and then I couldn't hold it in anymore. But I was very proud of myself at that moment.

BASH (on camera): You felt him guiding you through it?

FAW: I felt strong, and like he was right beside me when I did it.

BASH: Four years ago, John Lewis stood on this bridge and said to me that he's optimistic about the youth of America.


REP. JOHN LEWIS (D-GA): To the young people, to the young leaders, just give it all you got.


BASH: That was right before he met you. I'm sure you fed that optimism.

FAW: Yes, I did.

I never thought I would be so involved in marches. I just got to see the world bigger. And my little corner wasn't enough. He changed my entire life.


My goal is to get every kid to know John Lewis, about his legacy and what he stands for. Get in good trouble and follow his footsteps. That's my goal.


BASH: Thank you to Tybre.

And thank you for spending your Sunday morning with us.

The news continues right now.