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State of the Union
Interview With Rep. Colin Allred (D-TX); Interview With Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC); Interview With Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT); Interview With Georgia Gubernatorial Candidate Stacey Abrams. Aired 9- 10a ET
Aired August 07, 2022 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DANA BASH, CNN HOST (voice-over): Vote-a-rama. The Senate pulls an all-nighter, as Democrats aim to push through their tax and climate bill.
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): This is one of the most comprehensive and impactful bills.
BASH: But will their Inflation Reduction Act actually reduce inflation?
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT): It will, in fact, have a minimal impact on inflation.
BASH: And across the aisle, we will talk to two senators about their history of working together and what's next. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham and Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal.
Plus: on the trail. As candidates make their pitch to voters, one Democrat goes all in on a major issue.
STACEY ABRAMS (D), GEORGIA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: I am pro-choice, and I am going to be governor because of my commitment to the women of Georgia.
BASH: What's the winning strategy for November? Democratic nominee for Georgia governor Stacey Abrams joins me ahead.
BASH: Hello. I'm Dana Bash in Washington, where the state of our union is watching the U.S. Senate pull an all-nighter.
You are looking at live pictures of the Senate floor where tired lawmakers are still voting after more than nine hours of all-night debate on the Democrats' sweeping tax, health and climate package.
Saturday, Vice President Kamala Harris cast a tie-breaking vote to help Democrats move forward on the legislation. Right now, Democrats are trying to remain united, as Republicans and Bernie Sanders offer up amendments to the bill.
I'm going to go straight to Capitol Hill and CNN's chief congressional correspondent, Manu Raju.
Manu, you have been up all night. You don't look it, but you have been up all night with the senators watching it all unfold. What's the latest?
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, the senators are expecting several more hours of voting, after starting the votes at 11:30 p.m. Eastern time last night, going all through the night.
And just walking into the Senate chamber, senators appear surprisingly energetic, and we expect this to wrap up some time probably early afternoon. But because of the procedure they are employing here, Democrats are trying to pass this bill along straight party lines -- it cannot be filibustered because they're using the budget process.
That same process gives senators an endless amount of amendments if they want, limitless, and essentially they can offer amendments until they decide to give up, essentially, here.
Now, Republicans have offered a series of amendments targeting immigration, the IRS enforcement, as well as energy provisions. Democrats, however, have banded together. They have stuck together and rejected all of the Republican attempts. They even have voted down one of their own.
Senator Bernie Sanders has tried to change the bill, including to expand the child tax credit. Democrats voted that down too because of their concerns, if this bill is changed in any way, it could upset this delicate compromise and cause some of the moderates in their caucus to revolt.
Now, this bill, though, Dana, significant in size and scope, dealing with health care, climate change, increasing the corporate minimum tax, and at the moment on track for passage in the Senate, and then on to the House for final passage on Friday, giving Biden a gigantic win here after more than a year of internal Democratic wrangling -- Dana.
BASH: Manu Raju, thank you.
Here with me now for a special joint interview, two senators from either side of the aisle who have come together to pass a surprising amount of compromise legislation, Connecticut Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal and South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham.
Gentlemen, thank you so much for coming on for this interview.
And, Senator Blumenthal, I'm going to start with you about this budget bill that is making its way through Congress. Three independent economic analyses, including the Congressional Budget Office, all say the Inflation Reduction Act will actually have little to no impact on inflation.
How is this bill actually going to help Americans who are having trouble paying for their groceries, for their housing, for their gas?
SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-CT): Great question. And thanks for having us in this bipartisan way.
I think Americans are going to see the cost of their prescription drugs cut because of Medicare negotiations. They're going to see energy costs cut because they're going to be receiving credits and rebates for energy saving and cost-cutting measures.
And they're going to see greater tax fairness, because corporations that are currently paying nothing will have to pay at least 15 percent. We're talking corporations with assets of more than a billion dollars or earnings of excess in that amount.
So, we're going to see cost of gasoline continue to drop, the cost of necessities to decline. And I think Americans will see historic results.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): Well, this is not the bipartisan part of the interview.
GRAHAM: So, the American Rescue Plan, remember that one? That was supposed to make us -- make everything better. Well, it became a recession plan.
This is going to make everything worse. I voted for a bipartisan infrastructure bill and I voted for gun legislation. And I'm not going to vote for this. The minimum tax of 15 percent destroys expensing. Now, what does that mean?
If a company buys a piece of equipment, they could expense it under the 2017 tax cut in the same year they bought it. That goes away. So, CBO says it disincentivizes companies for building factories, buying equipment, which would help us get out of recession.
There's a 16.4 percent tax on imported barrels of oil that are going to increase cost at the gas pump. Subsidies for Obamacare go to families making $304,000 a year, which I think is ill-conceived. And the bottom line, it's not going to help inflation. It's going to make everything worse.
BASH: One of the other things that the CBO, the Congressional Budget Office, said, Senator Graham, is that the bill would reduce the deficit.
Republicans historically had been very focused on reducing the deficit. So why not support that?
GRAHAM: It says it would reduce the deficit by $100 billion. We're going to spend almost a trillion dollars.
The truth is, if the American -- the Obamacare subsidies go away after three years. Well, we all know they're not going to go away. So, if they stayed in place for 10 years, it would add $280 billion to the deficit. So it's a gimmick. They have got a gimmick in the bill to limit the subsidies for three years ago that go to people who make $304,000 a year.
This thing is going to make everything worse, and not one Republican is going to vote for it.
BLUMENTHAL: Well, I will tell you one thing where I think we can agree it will make things better is, the IRS is going to have resources it needs to go after the highest-income Americans that are cheating on their taxes right now.
And it will mean more revenue for the government. And, frankly, cutting through all of the numbers, all of the CBO stuff, the average American sitting at their kitchen table deciding whether they can buy medicine, pay their mortgage, or go to the grocery store and get the food they need, they're going to be able to get that medicine much more cheaply.
And, overwhelmingly, the American people want to cut the cost of prescription drugs. This measure does it through enabling Medicare to do what the VA does, what the Department of Defense does, negotiate for lower prices. And that will affect the entire course of inflation.
BASH: And I just want to bring one other issue that's in this bill.
GRAHAM: And I don't agree with that.
BASH: Oh, go ahead. No, go ahead. Respond.
GRAHAM: Well, number one, prescription drugs, this is price-fixing.
They take 15 drugs, and they put a limit on what you can charge. That sounds good, until pharmaceutical companies invent less new drugs. Remember COVID? Well, it was the American pharmaceutical industry that got us the drugs that keep us out of the hospital and keep a lot of us alive.
This is price-fixing. It has never worked for us. It's not going to work now.
Hiring 86,000 more IRS agents, if that makes you feel better, you have missed a lot. They're coming after waitresses, Uber drivers and everybody else to collect more taxes. So, if you think growing the IRS is good for you, you're wrong.
BASH: You want to respond or you want to move on...
BLUMENTHAL: I think the IRS is going to target the highest-income Americans. As the saying goes, that's where the money is. That's where they're going to look to collect. The idea that there's going to be this army of IRS agents defending --
descending on the average American is just preposterous. Tax fairness is what we need. And for the biggest corporations in this country to pay no taxes, for them to do stock buybacks that benefit the shareholders, but, for example, in the case of oil companies, they are making three to four times what they did just last year.
What are they doing with those excess windfall profits? Lowering gasoline prices? No. They aren't doing stock buybacks. They ought to pay a tax on it.
BLUMENTHAL: And I think there ought to be rebates to consumers from those excess profits.
BASH: Let's turn to foreign policy. This is an area where you agree, specifically...
GRAHAM: Just keep the tape and see who is right.
BASH: ... on the issue of -- we will -- of Ukraine.
You were both just in Ukraine together, actually, in June. And you are now pushing to designate Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism. The Biden administration does not like that idea. They think it would rupture ties between the Western alliance and Russia even more than it is now.
Do you want the Senate to pass a bill to force the president to do it anyway? Jump ball.
BLUMENTHAL: Here's what I think.
And I think we are very much in agreement on this point.
BLUMENTHAL: And I think it is a mark of our bipartisan work together that we are so much in agreement and that the Congress has spoken unanimously, one voice, so far, the Senate, at least.
I think the administration should preempt the referendum, this sham referendum...
BLUMENTHAL: ... that Russia is going to hold in early September by designating Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism.
We went to Ukraine recently together. We went not only to meet with President Zelenskyy, who was ecstatic about this idea of condemning Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism, but we also went to Bucha and Irpin, the mass grave, the site of these atrocities. Genocide is what it is.
And the extension of genocide is to hold a referendum in the occupied territories. And I think the administration should, in effect, say to Russia, we're making you a pariah, like Iran and Cuba and other states that have no respect for...
BASH: So, do you have enough votes to push this for the Senate, maybe with a veto-proof margin and force the administration's hand?
GRAHAM: Yes, well, we try to be bipartisan here.
So, as wrong as he is about the American Inflation Reduction Act, which will not reduce inflation, he has been so good, Senator Blumenthal, on standing up to Putin. He supported pre -- sanctions for pre-invasion activity. If we had imposed sanctions before they went in, it may have changed things.
He supported arming the Ukrainians months before we started flowing arms. So I think Senator Blumenthal and a handful of other Democrats and Republicans have really focused on this.
And what have we learned? We were told, four days after the invasion, Kyiv would fall. We're almost six months into this thing. Everybody's underestimated the Ukrainians.
BASH: So, what do you do now? How do you force the administration's hand?
GRAHAM: Well, what we do now is, we go all in on more sanctions. We designate Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism.
Now, what does that mean? It means you can go to American courts and sue Russia for the damage done in Ukraine. It means that countries who deal with Russia in the future face secondary sanctions to the administration.
We're pretty polarized in this country, but 100-0 we were able to pass a resolution urging you to designate Russia a state sponsor of terrorism, because they are. So I'd like to work with them. But whether or not we have to do legislation to make it happen, we're willing to do.
I'm urging the administration to act now before they annex any more of the east, preempt them, and label Putin's Russia for the terrorist state they are, which puts the whole world on notice we're not forgiving and forgetting. We're going to give them more weapons and more money going into next year. We're going to designate them a state sponsor of terrorism, which will tell the world America is all in for the Ukraine.
BASH: I have to ask you about another hot spot, which has become a hot spot over the past week, and that is Taiwan and what's going on with Taiwan and China.
Speaker Pelosi has left Taiwan. The region is very much on edge. China fired missiles over Taiwan for the first time. Japan says that five missiles landed in its exclusive economic zone. The speaker's trip seemed to escalate this. Was it a mistake?
BLUMENTHAL: No, I think the speaker traveling to Taiwan, as many of our colleagues has done -- Senator Graham has been a leader on this issue. He traveled to Taiwan.
And the Chinese can't tell our legislators or any American citizens where to travel. And it's bullying and blustering. Its firing these missiles, its sending its planes in sensitive areas is simply a provocative response.
But I will tell you, Chinese is watching what we do in Ukraine, and that's why we need to send more of the HIMARS, multiple-launch long- range artillery, so that Ukraine is successful in this next month during its counteroffensive. That's why we need to provide more humanitarian assistance to Ukraine and stronger sanctions.
It's not only the state sponsor of terrorism. The president can conduct foreign policy. If necessary, we can change the statute to provide the president with more flexibility. But I hope the president will decide to adopt this stance voluntarily. And he hasn't taken it off the table on the state sponsor of terrorism.
BASH: Is this an area where you actually agree with Speaker Pelosi?
GRAHAM: Yes, she should have gone. I'm glad she went. If she hadn't have gone, what would that have sent signal to the Iranians and to the Russians?
I want to build on what Dick just said. One thing affects the other. Why does anybody care about Taiwan? Ninety percent of the high-end chips for refrigerators, the F-35 and cars are made in Taiwan. How would you like the Chinese Communist Party to own that whole market? We need supply chain break from China.
So, Taiwan is important to us economically. The last guy that tried to rewrite the map of Europe for us was Adolf Hitler. It threw us into a major war. This is a land war in Europe in 2022. And the Ukrainians can win this thing with our support.
So, here's what I want China to know. Putin made a big miscalculation. Almost six months into this war. Ukraine is bloodied, but still standing unbowed. NATO is bigger, not smaller. The International Criminal Court is coming after Putin and his cronies.
And we're going to strangle the Russian economy as long as they're the largest state sponsor of terrorism. So, if you want to receive what Putin did, try to go into Taiwan. They're going to fight to the last man in Taiwan. Bob Menendez and myself -- and I think Senator Blumenthal will help us -- has new legislation to give more economic support to Taiwan, more military support, and to sanction China for cyberattacks on this democracy called Taiwan.
The right response is to push back against a bully, not cower.
BASH: Senators, stand by. We have a lot more to discuss, especially issues where the two are making progress in a bipartisan way on the domestic front.
Stay with us.
BASH: We're back with Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal and Republican Senator Lindsey Graham.
So, you came together on an issue that hasn't been dealt with in a bipartisan successful way in decades. And that is gun legislation. And this legislation that was passed closes the so-called boyfriend loophole, encourages red flag laws and improves background checks on juvenile records.
Senator Blumenthal, and probably both of you, this is not enough, from your -- it was a good first step, but not enough. Are there any actions that you think are doable beyond what has now passed and become law in a bipartisan way in the near future on guns?
BLUMENTHAL: Let me say very emphatically yes.
And Senator Graham and I have worked literally for years, through thick and thin, through Trump and all of the impeachment stuff and all of the partisan fighting, on red flag legislation that I think can actually be strengthened, because more states should be given more incentives to adopt statutes, emergency risk protection orders that essentially separate people from guns when they say they're going to kill themselves or somebody else.
And we came together after the Parkland shooting to say we want a strong red flag incentive statute. We worked through it with all the groups.
I think we can do more on that proposal, possibly also on safe storage, Ethan's Law, named after Ethan Song in Connecticut, who perished at a friend's house as a result of playing with a firearm, and a variety of other measures, including the background check system, maybe repealing the sweetheart deal with the manufacturers that give them absolute immunity...
BASH: Is any of that going to fly with Republicans? GRAHAM: Well, I'm certainly -- I'm not going to do anything to gun
manufacturers, blame them for an action of somebody who commits a crime. So, no, that's off the table.
I own an AR-15. I'm not going to ban AR-15s. But Sandy Hook looms large here, happened in Connecticut. So, Uvalde, the guy's nickname was the school shooter on the Web site he hung out. Parkland, the Cruz guy, 30 visits by the cop. He did everything but take an ad out the paper he is going to kill people at school.
BASH: So, what more can you do beyond what's already been done?
GRAHAM: Well, I think what we can do is incentivize states to give them the tools they need to deal with this before it's too late.
Due process is important. A lot of people on my side don't trust the government. They're afraid the courts are going to come take their guns. Here's what I would say. This is not a national red flag law. It's not a national protective order law, but it does have resources that deal with the issue of unstable -- unstable people owning guns.
The cops run across these people every day. We involuntarily commit people who are mentally ill or dementia to keep them safe from harming themselves. All I'm suggesting is, as a proud gun owner, we need a better system to act before it's too late. Due process is important, but the idea you don't trust the judge would argue against having any criminal law against anything.
So, the judges are the same ones that will deal with crime. You will have due process, but I want to give tools to people on the front lines of this fight, the cops, to act through a court before it's too late. I think every responsible gun owner should not be afraid of a legal system that protects people with due process and keeps guns out of the hands of unstable people.
BASH: Senator, I want to move on to other issues, but do you have anything you want to add?
BLUMENTHAL: Here's the common ground that I think we share and many of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle share.
Keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people...
BLUMENTHAL: ... but through due process.
GRAHAM: Can't say it any better.
BASH: So, Senator Graham, another issue that is before the Senate is gay marriage. At least, that is what Rob Portman wants.
He's trying to get enough votes to codify same-sex marriage, because Justice Clarence Thomas suggested that it might be in jeopardy. You said two weeks ago that the state-by-state approach is the best way to go.
So I just want to be clear about your position. Are you saying that the 2015 Supreme Court decision that made same-sex marriage the law of the land nationally should be overturned?
GRAHAM: No, I am saying that I don't think it's going to be overturned.
BASH: Nor should it be?
GRAHAM: Well, that'd be up the court.
The reasoning, I think, could be attacked. But the point I'm trying to make is, I have been consistent. I think state should decide the issue of marriage and states should decide the issue of abortion. I have respect for South Carolina. South Carolina voters here I trust to define marriage and to deal with the issue of abortion, not nine people on the court. That's my view.
BASH: How far down should -- I mean, how wide should that go? How many more issues should that go to?
GRAHAM: Well, we're talking about...
BASH: For example, Loving vs. Virginia that allowed interracial marriage?
BASH: Is that -- that shouldn't be touched?
GRAHAM: No, here's the point.
We're talking about things that are not happening because you don't want to talk about inflation, you don't want to talk about crime. This is all politics, my friends. Instead of trying to solve problems like unstable people having guns, we're talking about constitutional decisions that are still in effect.
But if you're going to ask me to have the federal government take over defining marriage, I'm going to say no.
BLUMENTHAL: Let me just add...
BLUMENTHAL: ... if I may, I think that Obergefell, the Supreme Court decision that guarantees marriage equality, should be codified, because I think there's a real danger of it being overturned by the Supreme Court.
This Supreme Court has indicated it has a hit list, beginning with marriage equality, contraception, possibly others as well, Loving vs. Virginia. And I think we need to guarantee these rights to assure people that they can marry the person they love.
BASH: Senator Blumenthal, I want to ask about a big political issue that's going on in your party, and that is the question of whether Democrats should be playing aggressively in Republican primaries.
One of 10 Republicans who supported impeachment, Peter Meijer, lost his primary this week in Michigan. Democrats on a national level boosted his Republican opponent, who is an election denier.
He said that it's wrong for Democrats to support candidates who say they're a threat to democracy. Elizabeth Warren said that it's dangerous to do this. Do you agree?
BLUMENTHAL: I agree that we should focus on our candidates and our races, support them enthusiastically, and make sure that we have the best candidates on our side running and that they have the resources they need to be successful.
BASH: So, is that a no, don't do that?
BLUMENTHAL: I agree that playing in other people's primaries generally is a bad thing to do.
So, let me ask just each of you about, when you talk about each of your political parties, look forward to 2024.
Senator Graham, you said that you want Donald Trump to run again in 2024.
I want to play for our viewers what happened the -- late in the night on January 6 on the Senate floor.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GRAHAM: Trump and I, we have had a hell of a journey. I hate it to end this way. Oh, my God, I hate it.
From my point of view, he's been a consequential president. But, today, first thing you will see, all I can say is, count me out. Enough is enough.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: So, why now do you think Trump has the character to be president again?
GRAHAM: Well, I think he was a consequential president. If you compare his policies to what's going on today, I think he's got a hell of a story to say.
That speech was about, I'm going to certify the election. Here's some things I don't believe. I don't believe the Taliban when
they say they didn't know Zawahiri was in Kabul. I don't believe Mayorkas when he says the border is secure. I don't believe the election was stolen. And I don't believe this new bill is going to lower inflation.
That's where I'm at.
BASH: You don't believe the election was stolen? Do you want Donald Trump, if he is looking ahead to 2024, to stop saying that?
GRAHAM: I think we should look at election integrity measures to make sure some problems don't happen again.
But if he runs for president, talking about 2020 is not what people want to hear. He likes hearing it. But people want to hear about, how can you secure a broken border? How can you stop rampant crime? What can you do to get the economy back on its feet? And how can you make us safer again? How can you stop Putin from going further? What would you do with China?
That's what people want to hear. And here's the good news for Republicans. Based on the performance of the Biden administration, we're in the game at a level I never dreamed of. It's not so much about people liking us. People are looking for an alternative to what's going on.
BASH: I want to ask Senator Blumenthal about his potential candidate, but it sounds like you're saying, point blank, Donald Trump, please stop saying the 2020 election was overturned.
GRAHAM: I'm telling President Trump, if you want to be president again in 2024, focus on solving the problems Americans are living with.
BASH: Senator Blumenthal, President Biden says that he intends to run for reelection in 2024. You have heard there's not exactly unanimity in your party, that people like Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney said that she doesn't think he will run.
Congressman Dean Phillips says he doesn't want him to run. Do you think President Biden is the best candidate in 2024?
BLUMENTHAL: I'm going to be very blunt and very honest with you.
My focus is totally on this November, partly because I am running for reelection. But, also, I think this November is going to determine how successful President Biden is in the next two years and how strong he would be as a candidate.
We need to elect more Democratic senators to assure that he can appoint judges, he can achieve pro-choice legislation, he can continue the forward momentum of the economy, lower inflation. We are making tremendous progress. The Inflation Reduction Act is just one example.
BASH: Yes. BLUMENTHAL: The veterans burn pits legislation, which I helped to lead, very important.
BASH: And I'm going to ask you about that in one second, but I just -- your nonanswer is going to likely be perceived as an intentional dodge.
You won't say, yes, I support President Biden. Is that where you want it to be?
BLUMENTHAL: I will support President Biden...
BASH: Do you want him to run?
BLUMENTHAL: ... if he decides he wants to run.
And I think his decision will be determined by how November ends for the Democratic Party and for senators like myself who are running for reelection.
GRAHAM: I will not support President Biden.
BASH: Yes, you didn't need to say that.
GRAHAM: If Trump runs, I would support him.
BASH: But he -- Senator Blumenthal brought up something important, which is, we have been talking about a lot of bipartisan accomplishments. The two of you have been a big part of it. But so has President Biden.
Does he get some credit, in your view, for so much of this legislation that has actually passed? That's what he promised to do, work in a bipartisan way.
GRAHAM: Yes, I mean, he signed things that made sense.
I mean, the infrastructure bill, you were on that. We worked together. The gun thing, we have been working on this for years. We sort of found the sweet spot. We worked on the EARN IT Act. Social media sites can be sued if they don't protect children from exploitation. You have to earn it. You have to harden your sites to keep from being sued when children and predators go after children on the Internet.
We did that together. I mean, he's in cycle. I hate to say this, but I like him.
GRAHAM: Yes. I mean, I don't want to ruin his life here.
(LAUGHTER) GRAHAM: But we have found common ground on foreign policy, domestic issues. I'm working with Elizabeth Warren to create a regulatory commission to deal with social media problems.
So there are plenty of us up there who fight and work together. I just want the country to know that all is not lost in Washington.
BASH: Well, that's why we have you on.
I mean, there's a secret sauce here, which we can talk about later. But, hopefully, we will be able to do this again, have you both on, because we all agree this is good for the country to see that you can be -- you can disagree without being disagreeable, but also work together where you see those issues.
BLUMENTHAL: And working together is what the American people really want.
BASH: Senators, thank you so much.
President Biden is on track to sign a big piece of his agenda into law. How much is that going to affect Democrats on the ballot this November?
Stacey Abrams will be here next.
BASH: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION.
Most abortions are now illegal in Indiana.
It's the first state to pass a new ban after the Supreme Court overturned Roe vs. Wade. But, for some Republicans, the abortion issue just got a lot more complicated, after Kansas voters weighed in and rejected a move that the red state had to roll back abortion rights.
My next guest, who is on the ballot this fall in Georgia, is making abortion the key issue there.
Here with me now is the candidate for governor in Georgia, Stacey Abrams.
Thank you so much. It's nice to see you in person.
A lot to get to, but I want to start with something that's happening in Washington, which is the Democrats' sweeping tax and climate legislation. A lot of the key aspects of the Biden agenda that I know you very much support are not in there, universal pre-K, paid family leave, the expanded child tax credit.
What's your reaction? And what do you tell Democrats who are going to vote in Georgia in the fall who say, what about all the promises that they made in Washington? I know you're running for governor, but it's about voter intensity.
ABRAMS: We know that voting isn't magic. Voting is medicine, and that we have got to keep taking it and keep taking it to get the -- to cure the ills that ail society.
What we are seeing happening in Washington right now is that we're tackling two of those key ills. For people in Georgia who do not have Medicaid expansion because Brian Kemp refuses to do so, this drug bill is going to help a great deal, because it's going to allow them to actually be able to afford their medications without choosing between medicine and food.
We know that we have to take action on climate. And, unfortunately, I live in a state where the governor has been absolutely silent on his intentions. I intend to push for environmental resilience. And this is a bill that's going to help us do that.
But, overall, it's going to put money back into the pockets of Georgians, back into the pockets of Americans. And that's the kind of progress we need to continue to make.
BASH: So let me ask about the issue that you're putting front and center in your campaign, and that is abortion access.
I want to read a promise that you made to voters in Georgia this week. You said -- quote -- "As the next governor, I will make it safe and legal to have abortions in Georgia."
Just so everybody knows, the law of the land now in Georgia is that abortion is banned after six weeks. But you know better than anybody that the role of the governor is limited. You have to work with the legislature. And it is a very Republican legislature right now.
So how will you keep that promise if you win?
ABRAMS: I served for 11 years in the legislature, seven years as Democratic leader, as the minority leader, and I was extraordinarily successful.
I'm probably the only person to get an A rating from the Georgia Chamber of Commerce and to get the Friend of Labor Award. I understand how to negotiate and how to navigate.
But what I understand is that the majority of Georgians do not like this law. It is an extreme ban. It is dangerous, and it affects women across the spectrum. The bill passed in 2019 by one vote in the House. I believe that we will come back into power when I take the governorship with people who want to do what's right for the women of Georgia.
This is an economic issue. This is a health care issue. This is a liberty issue.
BASH: Do you.. ABRAMS: And I absolutely believe that we can fix this law.
BASH: I mean, again, this is -- what happened in Kansas is something that went to the voters. It didn't go through the legislators. It was a ballot initiative. That doesn't exist in Georgia.
So you're going to have to convince legislators where, right now, Republicans hold 61 percent of the seats in the Senate, 57 percent of the seats in the House there.
ABRAMS: Electing me as governor is going to be a sea change. And it is going to be a strong signal to the remaining legislators that they have got to do right by the women of Georgia.
This law, as it stands right now, will investigate women for being pregnant -- for miscarriage or for pregnancy loss. It tells women that they are in danger of going to jail if they are found to have committed some type of feticide against -- essentially, if they are drinking a glass of wine, because we have now granted personhood. We do not know what this law means.
And that means that women are in danger. They're in danger of losing their liberties. They're in danger of not having health care. And I believe that, should I be elected, because this issue is so important on every metric, I will absolutely be able to make changes in the legislature.
BASH: Well, on that note, the Georgia Department of Revenue announced last week that Georgians can now claim an unborn child as a dependent on their state taxes.
ABRAMS: Absolutely, because -- and that's part of my point about a woman being under investigation.
Granting personhood to an embryo or fetus means that a woman could likely be charged with murder if something happens. We don't know what this means. And we don't know how far can be taken. But we do know this governor has said that he wants to pursue a total ban, eliminating exceptions for rape and incest, that this legislature, without a governor to veto excesses that go even beyond this dangerous ban, will put women in jeopardy.
Georgia has 82 counties without an OB-GYN. We have 18 counties without a family doctor, nine counties without any physician at all. And we are telling women that they have to undergo a traumatic experience without having access to medical care, medical services, or the leadership of a governor who believes in their human rights.
BASH: You are a Christian. You are the daughter of two retired united Methodist pastors.
Some Democrats -- Joe Biden is a good example -- have had a complicated sort of relationship or conflict between their faith and the abortion policy. Some Christians, as you know, they believe that life begins at conception.
I'm just wondering how you think about your faith with regard to this policy.
ABRAMS: I have thought about my faith a great deal.
In fact, I was anti-abortion until I went to college. And, there, I met a friend who has my shared faith values, but we started having conversations about what reproductive care and abortion care really is.
And when I talk about that, it was an experience that I had because she was able to give me a different perspective. And over the course of the next few years, I really started thinking about, what role should the legislature play? What role should government play?
This is health care. This is about a woman's right to control her body. This is about a woman's right to experience and determine her future. And that, for me, as my -- as a matter of faith, means that I don't impose those value systems on others.
More importantly, I protect her rights. I protect her humanity. And that should be my responsibility.
BASH: So, a quick political question.
The Democrat running for governor in South Carolina, Joe Cunningham, said he does not think President Biden should run for a second term. Listen to what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE CUNNINGHAM (D), SOUTH CAROLINA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: Who could blame these kids for not showing up at the polls when they have to choose between 70-, 80-year-old -- two 70-year-olds or 80-year-olds for the president of the United States?
I have said that President Biden should not run for another term, and I won't support his run for another term because I think it's time for a new generation of leadership.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: Should President Biden run again in 2024?
ABRAMS: If he chooses to run again, I'm there to support him.
But my mission is to win this election in 2022. The strongest predictor of what will happen in '24 is governors across this country winning on the values of protecting a woman's right to choose, reducing gun violence, making certain that we have an economy that is strong.
And I intend to be that governor of the great state of Georgia.
BASH: If he called you and said, what do you think, should I run, what would your answer be?
ABRAMS: I'm going to tell him to do his best job and that, right now, our focus has to be on -- has to be on what's happening.
But, yes, if President Biden chooses to run again, I absolutely support him, but my responsibility is to make certain that we protect women.
And I encourage people to go to my Web site at StaceyAbrams.com to learn more about my plans, a very comprehensive set of plans, to protect those women and the people of Georgia against an extreme agenda being run by our current governor.
BASH: Stacey Abrams, thank you so much for coming in.
ABRAMS: Thank you.
BASH: Nice to see you in person.
ABRAMS: Likewise. Thank you.
BASH: And we should note that we invited Stacey Abrams' opponent, Republican Governor Brian Kemp, on the show this week.
He declined, but we hope to interview him ahead of the midterms.
Up next: a big meeting for conservative activists this weekend and a glimpse of what that might mean for the future the GOP and the republic.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCHUMER: Senate Democrats began this majority by promising to tackle the biggest challenges facing our country.
The Inflation Reduction Act will make good on that promise. And, in the end, it will be the American people who benefit from the work we do here and now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: And we're back with our panel.
As you just heard, the Senate is still debating, but getting closer to final passage of this bill.
I want to just even look more broadly beyond this bill and look at some of President Biden's successes on his agenda. It's a long list, and I don't even have time to read it. It's that long, but not only what we're talking about now, $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill, bipartisan gun safety bill, veterans, so on and so forth.
I'm going to start with you, Congressman, because I know this is something that you want to talk about, which is understandable. And then we will do the yeah but after.
REP. COLIN ALLRED (D-TX): Well, I think it's been a great week for President Biden.
He also took out the leader of al Qaeda. He's on the verge of passing historic legislation to lower your health care costs, invested in fighting climate change, also address the deficit, reducing the deficit. So it's been a fantastic week.
And, also, we have gotten a lot done in these two years with extremely narrow majorities. And you know that, how difficult that is to work with. Got a 50/50 Senate. We got about a three-vote margin in the House. And we have still been able to get a lot done. If we can get even more done, we can get some more Democrats elected after this November.
BASH: He has a point.
SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Some of the stuff on your list, I think, had good solid bipartisan support.
Some of the stuff, I would hesitate to call a win. I mean, this bill they're passing today, they have named it the Inflation Reduction Act. And even Bernie Sanders went down to the floor to remind all of his colleagues that this does nothing about inflation.
That is the top issue in the country. It's not even close. We have a pollster here. She will tell you that. And so I think that they have a branding problem. When Democrats go to the polls to argue for their program, and they say, we passed an Inflation Reduction Act, and people are looking at their grocery bills, and they haven't gone down, they might hold them accountable for it.
BASH: Talked about the pollster.
I just want to say, Kristen Soltis Anderson, you look at the numbers. You're a Republican pollster. Is this enough to change the narrative or change how people feel, like what Scott was talking about?
KRISTEN SOLTIS ANDERSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Passing a bill alone I don't think changes things. It will matter entirely. Does it affect people's bottom lines at home?
I mean, we're still seeing two-thirds of Americans believe that the economy is getting worse. Biden's job approval rating has been pretty low, even in the face of all of those pieces of legislation that you have just mentioned. And so while Congress may be doing things, do the voters actually like what Congress is doing I think remains an open question.
Now, some of this is also because there are pieces of the Democratic coalition that have not been very enthused by the Biden presidency thus far. Perhaps this changes things. But I think there's a big question, does that persist all the way through until November?
BASH: And something that's getting a lot of buzz this morning is "The New York Times" columnist Maureen Dowd saying that President Biden should take a victory and ride off into the sunset.
"The timing of your exit can determine your place in the history books. This is the moment for Biden to decide, if all of this is fuel for a reelection campaign, when he will be at 82, 82 on Inauguration Day, or a legacy on which to rest."
ASHLEY ALLISON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, first, I would say, if Joe Biden runs for president, I will support him.
But I also think we really have to see what happens this November, because there are -- inflation is on the ballot. We know gas prices are going down. So I think that will affect people's bottom line. But we also know issues like gun reform, yes, they passed a bipartisan bill, but we still are seeing mass shootings.
Abortion, childcare, all of these things that actually do impact people's bottom line are on the ballot as well. And while Joe Biden's approval rating might be low, he's not on the ballot this November. There are members of Congress. There's a Senate.
And if we can actually expand the margins -- and a lot of people -- I remember, a couple of months ago, we talked, and I said I am still hopeful that Democrats can be successful in November. And I think we are at a pivot moment. And I think you will see that the shellacking that people have been talking about for the last year, I don't think it's going to happen, because Republicans are not delivering for people either.
They're being obstructionists. And people want to see Washington get things done. And your party is not doing it.
JENNINGS: Well, a couple of things.
Number one, a big chunk of the stuff on that list that they just put on the screen was passed with several Republican votes in the Senate. So they voted with Biden and the Democrats on issues that they thought made sense. And they voted against it when they thought it made sense.
On this question of Biden, you said you will support him if he runs. Blumenthal this morning, Stacey Abrams, all these Democrats, this is not a hard question. I mean, I don't want to have to, like, give you advice, because we're not on the same side of the ball here.
ALLRED: Thanks, Scott.
(LAUGHTER) JENNINGS: But there's only one answer to this. If you're a partisan Democrat -- if you're, like, a loyal Democrat, all you have to say is, yes, of course he should run.
ALLRED: Well, listen...
JENNINGS: But you can't do it. And that ought to tell you all you need to know, American people, about how his own party feels about the president.
ALLISON: No. No. I won't buy that.
BASH: Hold on. We have -- I'm sorry. Forgive me.
We just -- we have somebody on the ballot here. so...
ALLRED: I find it kind of funny, actually.
This is a guy who knocked off an incumbent president, got the most votes ever for precedent, who has passed -- you're talking about the bipartisan legislation he passed. That's also what the American people want him to do as president. So he's done a great job.
And if he decides to run, of course he should be the nominee, and we will all get behind him.
JENNINGS: But do you want him to run?
ALLRED: I do. I think he's had a...
JENNINGS: See, there you go.
ALLRED: And I think that he's done a good job in his first two years.
And if we can get him more margins in the Congress, he will be able to do even more.
BASH: That's a good place to turn to the Republicans.
The annual CPAC conference, Conservative Political Action Conference, was in Texas this weekend.
I just want to play some of the rhetoric that came off that stage.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVE BANNON, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF STRATEGIST: We are at war. We're at a political and ideological war.
We have the ability to shatter, shatter the Democratic Party as a national political institution.
SEN. RICK SCOTT (R-FL): The militant left wing in our country has become the enemy within. What the militant left is now proposing is not simply wrong. It is evil.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: Is that something that is going to appeal to Republican voters, particularly in what's left of the swing districts, or the purple states in the Senate?
SOLTIS ANDERSON: I always think it's very -- I encourage people to take caution when it comes to what is said at a conference somewhere and to what extent that's representative of...
BASH: Rick Scott is in charge of getting Republicans elected to the Senate.
ALLRED: That's right.
BASH: He's not some fringe non-elected guy.
SOLTIS ANDERSON: Sure. Sure.
I mean, think, in general, you have a lot of Republican voters who are -- they're of the mind that things are terrible in the United States. And this is something that they have believed all the way back.
And you remember when Donald Trump was first inaugurated, when he talked about American carnage. I mean, Republicans have believed that America is on the wrong track in a very powerful and visceral way for a while.
And voters in the center are a little bit with them, perhaps not -- not -- it's not 100 percent on how and why we got there. But, right now, I'm seeing things like right track/wrong track numbers that are terrible that we haven't seen in a decade.
And so while I don't think that, necessarily, you can look at something like CPAC and say that's what every Republican thinks, there is a real palpable sense that the country is in deep, deep trouble and still needs transformation.
JENNINGS: Yes, I -- look, we don't agree on much. We have disagreed at this table.
It's not right to go and say, you're the enemy. You're the enemy.
We're all Americans. We agree on virtually nothing. We're not enemies. And I don't think this rhetoric is what's going to serve -- I mean, it might serve you well in a primary, I guess. But, in a general election, I just don't see it.
BASH: That's a nice place to end this.
Thank you so much, one and all. Thank you for spending your Sunday morning with us.
The news continues next.