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State of the Union

Interview With Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD); Interview With Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL); Interview With Maryland Governor-Elect Wes Moore. Aired 9-10a ET

Aired January 01, 2023 - 09:00   ET




DANA BASH, CNN HOST (voice-over): New year, new leaders. History- making officials begin the transition to power.

WES MOORE (D), MARYLAND GOVERNOR-ELECT: Progress is not inevitable, but progress is possible.

BASH: How will they govern? Maryland Democratic governor-elect Wes Moore joins me exclusively in moments.

And all wrapped up? The January 6 Committee completes its work. Now it's two Republican committee members are leaving Congress.

REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL): I'm here to investigate January 6, not in spite of my membership in the Republican Party, but because of it.

BASH: Did they make their case and change their party's future? Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger will be here exclusively.

Plus: making way. Top House Democratic leaders stepped aside for the next generation.

REP. STENY HOYER (D-MD): Have you heard I was 83?

BASH: Our exclusive interview with outgoing House Democratic Majority Leader Steny Hoyer ahead.


BASH: Hello. I'm Dana Bash in Washington, where the state of our union is wishing you a happy new year.

It is Sunday, January 1, 2023, and we hope you're enjoying a restful holiday.

Here in Washington this week, reality is going to set in quickly. On Tuesday, House Republicans will take control of the chamber and try to elect a speaker. And that could take a while. House Republicans are also planning to launch a slate of investigations into the Biden administration, as Washington begins to adjust to divided government. There will be new faces in Congress and in statehouses across the

country, where you're going to see a lot of changes this month. There will be 12 women governors, two governors who are openly gay.

And, in Maryland, voters elected only the third black man ever to lead a state.

Governor-elect Wes Moore is a veteran of the war in Afghanistan and a Rhodes Scholar who beat a Trump-backed Republican and flipped Maryland's Statehouse blue on his very first run for office. Now he's trying to tackle income inequality and rewrite the narratives about what the Democratic Party stands for.

Here with me now is incoming Maryland Governor Wes Moore.

Thank you so much for joining me. Appreciate it. Happy new year to you.

MOORE: Happy new year to you too. Great to be with you.

BASH: Thank you. You too. You're not quite in office yet. That will be in 17 days.

What is going to be your top priority on day one?

MOORE: Well, we're going to go in and really focus on the things that we spoke with the people of Maryland about, that this is about economics.

And we're going to work on creating pathways for work, wages and wealth. And that means we're going to -- for work, it means we're going to have an education system that is going to teach our students not only just how to be employees, but how to be employers.

And we're going to push through in this legislative session making Maryland the first state in this country that will have a service year option for every high school graduate. For wages, it means that we are going to ensure that people can have good wages, and for the jobs that they have, because we still have too many people in this state that are working jobs, and, in some cases, multiple jobs, and still living below a poverty line.

And, for wealth, it means we're going to focus on assets, making sure that people can own more than they owe. And that includes things like attacking the racial wealth gap, which, in this country, the racial wealth gap has cost this country $16 trillion over the past two decades in GDP.

We have got to focus on that. And Maryland is going to lead.

BASH: You just mentioned some of your priorities. You have also proposed free pre-K for Maryland children in need, a statewide family leave program, state-level childcare tax credit, minimum wage hike.

Inflation is still pretty high. The economy is pretty volatile. You have a state where a balanced budget is required. So how will you pay for these programs?


Well, one thing we're going to do is, first, the best way to deal with it is, we have got to get people back to work. And, right now, if you look at the state of Maryland, the state of Maryland was ranking 47th in the country in unemployment.

And, right now, if you look at the state of Maryland, we have two available jobs for every single person filing for unemployment. And people say, well, how does that make sense, is, it makes sense because we have a dynamic economy. We're just not preparing people to participate in that dynamic economy.

So, we have got to focus on things like job retraining, job re- skilling, fixing a broken childcare system, and getting people back to work. And, also, we know we do have a unique opportunity in the state, where you have capital that's coming in from the federal government, and we also have severe inefficiencies that are taking place in the way that capital is being distributed.


So, we can actually go and create measurements of economic growth without having to worry about or focus on things like raising taxes. We can actually do this by fixing inefficiencies, leveraging the capital that's already there, and getting people back to work who will participate in the economy.

BASH: So you're confident that you can pay for all of the programs that you have in your -- sort of in your toolbox that you plan to put into effect without raising taxes?

MOORE: I'm very confident in that.

And, as a leader, I am data-driven and heart-led. I wear my heart on my sleeve. And I acknowledge that, but I don't move without data. And every single one of the policies that we're pushing forward and making sure that is going to be a commonplace in the state of Maryland are policies that we know that are not data -- and it's not only the data backs them up, but it's that we have an economic process and an economic pathway to make them real and benefit all Marylanders.

BASH: You will be Maryland's first black governor, the state attorney, general treasurer, and the House speaker all black.

We haven't really seen this kind of concentration of state-level black leadership anywhere else in the country. Talk about the significance of this, particularly in a state like Maryland, which is diverse.

MOORE: It is remarkable. And I'm proud of the history that I'm going to make in this race of being the state's first black governor.

And, also, I'm proud of it because I know how complicated the racial history is in the state of Maryland and how complicated the racial history in the United States is. This -- Maryland is the state of Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass and Thurgood Marshall.

But I also know that the reason that I am now days away from becoming Maryland's 63rd governor is not only because black folks voted for me. If you look at what happened in our race, we won more individual votes than any person who's ever run for governor in the state of Maryland. The vote margin, the wind margin that we had was the largest that the state of Maryland has seen in the governor's race in 40 years.

We won -- we won places in the Eastern Shore, places in Western Maryland, where we had won more -- more individual votes than any Democrat who has run in 16 of the 24 jurisdictions in the state of Maryland.

And so I think we saw that people are focused on not just -- they were focused and they were supportive of us in a historic way, not just because they wanted me to make history,but because they knew, that together, we could actually build a state that everyone could believe in and everyone could thrive in, that it wasn't about me making history.

It was about the fact that we're focusing on policies that can make their lives better.

BASH: During your campaign, you said that the idea of patriotism has been co-opted by Republicans.

What do you mean when you say that, and how do you change it?

MOORE: You know, I love this country. And I have fought for this country, and I will keep on fighting for this country.

And I know that I come from a family of patriots, where I come from a family of ministers and schoolteachers, and the operating engineers and people who built this country with their hands. And I define patriotism, when I left my family, and I deployed with the 82nd Airborne Division to Afghanistan, wearing the uniform of this country.

I am a patriot. I was raised by patriots. And I refuse to let anyone lecture me about what it means to be a patriot, particularly when their definition of patriotism was helping to storm our Capitol on January 6. And I think we need to be aggressive on this, that our country is worth fighting for, but fighting for your country does not mean hating half of the people in it.

And when we talk about patriotism, it means an ability to be able to lift everyone up, to fight for each other, to believe in each other, to believe that our country is great, because we are inclusive. And so I think it's incredibly important. We saw that in the state of Maryland, where we ran on that, and we saw overwhelmingly that Democrats, independents and Republicans, and Republicans, believed in our vision about what it means to be a patriot.

And we will stand by that and continue to lead with that as our foundation.

BASH: You alluded to the fact that you did serve in the military, particularly in the war in Afghanistan.

And now House Republicans are saying that they're going to launch an investigation into the drawdown from that war. Is that a topic worthy of investigation in Congress?

MOORE: I think about the role and the job that Congress has coming on board.

We have got very real economic headwinds that we're continuing to navigate, that us in the state level, that we're focused on things like public safety, and making sure that people feel safe in their own neighborhoods and children can feel safe in their own skin.

We're focusing on ensuring that we can have economic competitiveness and jobs that are coming that -- they are coming to our communities, our neighborhoods that are paying a fair wage, so people don't have to be working multiple jobs and still living at or below the poverty line.


We're focusing on ensuring that we can have an education system that's preparing our children for the jobs of now and for the jobs of tomorrow. I do not think that the people...

BASH: So, is this is a no on the Republicans...

MOORE: I do not think that the people of the state of Maryland are -- want the Republican Party to spend their time or want Congress spending their time talking about the drawdown in Afghanistan.

They want them focusing on the issues that are facing them right now.

BASH: You mentioned the Republicans several times. You're succeeding a Republican, a pretty popular moderate Republican, not somebody who supported the Trump administration sort of -- and a lot of the things that they -- that the former president said that led to the lies and led to the insurrection January 6.

But when it comes to Maryland, are you taking any lessons from Larry Hogan, even though he is across the aisle?

MOORE: You know, I appreciate the fact that the -- that the governor, he was very against the MAGA movement from its inception. For years, he's been calling the MAGA movement, calling it dangerous, which it is.

And I thank him. And I thank him for that. The thing that I also know, though, is that our state needs to move fast. Our state needs to be bold. And I think the state of Maryland is ready to do big things again, like creating a service year option for every single high school graduate, which we are going to get done in this legislative session.

So I'm thankful for the fact that, in Governor Hogan, he really has ensured that we're going to have an orderly and a smooth transition on January 18. And I'm ready to get to work on January 19.

BASH: I know you haven't been sworn in as governor yet, but I have to ask.

Your name is out there as a potential presidential contender some day. I'm not saying tomorrow, some day. Would you be interested in that?

MOORE: I'm very excited to make this Maryland's decade.


MOORE: I am not interested. I am -- I'm very excited for President Biden to run for reelection, and we're going to support him. I'm thankful for the amount of times he's come to Maryland.

We have a lot of partnerships that we're going to get done. And we're going to need to have a strong federal partner in Maryland to ensure that this is going to be Maryland's decade. And I'm committed to ensuring that the state of Maryland is going to -- going to sprint ahead. And this will be Maryland's time.

BASH: OK. Well, governor-elect of Maryland Wes Moore, thank you so much.

And, again, happy new year.

MOORE: Thank you so much, and happy new year.

BASH: After serving in House Democratic leadership for two decades, he is stepping down. Steny Hoyer gives us a tour of his Capitol office before he moves out and talks about what's next for him in the new Congress as a rank-and-file congressman from Maryland.

And he took on his own party over the events of January 6. Now he's on his way out after a dozen years in Congress.

Congressman Adam Kinzinger is here next.



BASH: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION.

This Friday is the two-year anniversary of the January 6 attacks. The events of that day led to criminal prosecutions and played a role, a pretty big, one in the midterm elections. They also changed the careers of two House Republicans who chose to serve on the January 6 Committee. And largely as a result of that patriotic service, they both are now leaving Congress.


BASH: Joining me now is the outgoing Republican Congressman of Illinois Adam Kinzinger.

Thank you so much for joining me.


BASH: I really appreciate it.


BASH: Let's start with the work that you have been doing over the past almost two years, the January 6 Committee. It's over. And it's now in the hands of the Justice Department.

Do you think that President Trump ultimately will be charged for crimes?

KINZINGER: Look, I mean, when I got into this, when we started this process, I didn't know -- I'm not a lawyer, a Justice Department guy. I didn't necessarily know, is he guilty of a crime or not?

Obviously, what he did, from a presidential perspective, from an oath perspective, is a problem. As we have gotten into this, I look, and I'm like, yes, if this is not a crime, I don't know what it is. If a president can incite an insurrection and not be held accountable, then, really, there's no limit to what a president can do or can't do.

And so, yes, I do think, ultimately, when we get to where we're going to go, I think the Justice Department will do the right thing. I think he will be charged. And I, frankly, think he should be, I mean, everything we have uncovered, from what he did with the Justice Department, to everything leading up to January 6, to on January 6, sitting there for 180 minutes and watching this occur in the hope that maybe, just maybe that last attempt to stay in power will work.

BASH: So, he should be charged and convicted?

KINZINGER: That's -- so that's my personal opinion. It's not from a from a lawyer or Justice Department.

BASH: Based on the evidence that you have been collecting?


And it appears -- like, I look at that, and I go, if he is not guilty of a crime, then I, frankly, fear for the future of this country, because now every future president can say, hey, here's the bar. And the bar is, do everything you can to stay in power.

BASH: You talk about the future of this country.

As you are on your way out and leaving Congress behind, are you optimistic or fearful for American democracy?

KINZINGER: Ah, it's a tough question.

So, typically, I'm always optimistic. I try to be. You can't do this job if you're not. I'm a little fearful in the short term. We're in a moment where facts don't really matter. What matters to people is just what your opinion is, and the facts that compared to that matter.

We're in a moment where about half the country believes their -- that the election was stolen. Maybe a third of the country now believes the election was stolen. But if you're in a democracy, and you believe that your vote doesn't count, that's dangerous.

So, in the short term, I'm a little pessimistic, but I am, in the long term, very optimistic for this country, because I look back at trends. I look back at rough times we have been in. And we have always come out. And we haven't just come out of them; we have come out stronger.

So, democracies are not defined by bad days. We're defined by how we come out of those bad days. And so, in the long term, I am optimistic, but I got to say to people, this is not a moment to rest. This is a moment where you have to understand there have to be uncomfortable alliances to defend democracy, but we can do this.


BASH: If you had a Wayback Machine and could go back a couple of years and tell the Congressman Adam Kinzinger of, I don't know, the -- just the 2020 election, what you would be doing for the two years following, would you say, yes, go for it? Would you have done anything differently?

KINZINGER: You know, it's a great question, because I get asked that a lot. Like, would you have done it differently?

Obviously, there's been some sacrifice and everything in it. I wouldn't do one thing differently.

Look, I -- the way this has kind of gone in the last couple years, it's been tough, right? I have had extended family that sent me letters telling me that was working on behalf of Satan. I mean, that's not something I could have imagined.

BASH: You had members of your family saying that?


I mean, and it's some -- nothing I could have imagined a couple of years ago. But what that does to me is, it reminds me of just how bad of a place we have gotten to.

And everybody in their life -- and I was no different when I was a young guy -- you always imagine a moment where you can stand alone, and where you're like the one person that can do the right thing in a crowd, right? Everybody imagines this moment. Very few people get a chance to actually do that.

And I have learned in this job that very few of those that get the chance to actually do it. I feel honored to have been at this moment in history and to have done the right thing. My kids are going to be proud of it. That's something that I take very seriously.

And, yes, I wouldn't have done anything different. BASH: When Congress is sworn in, in two days -- you're getting a

little emotional. Sorry.


KINZINGER: Just a little.

BASH: Yes, this is tough for you.

KINZINGER: Yes. I think it's -- so, I'm not going to miss the job. I'm glad I'm not going to be back. It gives me time to focus on broader things, bigger fights.

But it is -- like, thinking of Adam Kinzinger when he's 32, kind of the new freshman, kind of like optimistic and bright-eyed, to where we are today, it's an emotional thing, because it's 12 years of my life, right? And I got into the single. Now I'm married with a kid. So I can think about that legacy.

It's been a heck of a ride. It sure has.

BASH: I was going to ask if you are going to be sad not to be part of the next Congress in a couple of days.




Look, I -- it's -- I want to still be able to have an opinion, right? So that's going to be tough, as, I think, adjusting to the fact that people will have less interest in what you have to say.

But it's a tough time when Congress right now. I mean, it is. I'm looking at what this is shaping out to be. And I know the tough things we have gone through in the past. This is going to be a really tough year.

BASH: What does it say about the future of your party, the Republican Party, that Marjorie Taylor Greene and people like her are kind of ascendant, and the Adam Kinzinger and Liz Cheneys of the world are no longer in the Congress?

KINZINGER: Well, I think it says to me that the Republican Party is not the future of this country unless it corrects, right, unless there's a change, because I got to tell you, if you think of a successful America in 20 years, that's not going to be an America based on what Marjorie Taylor Greene wants, or based on what some of these radicals want.

The only way this country can succeed is if we learn to work together.

BASH: You once called Kevin McCarthy a true friend.

KINZINGER: Yes. BASH: If you could sit him down, just the two of you, right now, what would you say?

KINZINGER: I would just let him know I'm disappointed, right?

I mean, he has -- he -- as a leader, not just a member of Congress, as a leader of Congress, he had an opportunity to tell the truth to the American people. And he went to Mar-a-Lago a couple of weeks after January 6 and resurrected Donald Trump .He is the reason Donald Trump is still a factor.

He is the reason that some of the crazy elements of the House still exist.

BASH: If he didn't go down there, you think Trump would have been iced out?

KINZINGER: I do. I do.

I think -- I think, first off, had we actually removed Trump from office during impeachment, that would have been huge, right? So that's on McConnell and some of the Republicans in the Senate. But, yes, I think the second -- because I lived it, the second Kevin McCarthy went to Mar-a-Lago, the conference went from, like, quiet, what are we going to do, where are we going to go, to begrudgingly defending Donald Trump again.

He is responsible. Actually, Donald Trump should consider Kevin McCarthy his best friend, because Donald Trump is alive today politically because of Kevin McCarthy.

BASH: Last year, you told The Huffington Post you would love to go up against Trump in the 2024 primary.

You said -- quote -- "I think it'd be fun."

KINZINGER: It would be fun.

BASH: Are you going to run for president?

KINZINGER: No, it's not my intention. No.

But it would be fun to run against him, because he stands up and just lies. He tells untruths. People love it because it's entertaining. But, eventually, people have a concern for their country.

So, no, my intention is not to run in 2024, but it would be fun. It would be fun to stand on a stage with Donald Trump and actually tell the truth, because, when he's on a stage, it's nothing but lies that come out.


BASH: Well, no matter what you do, I don't think that this is the last that we're here -- going to hear from Adam Kinzinger.

Thank you so much.

KINZINGER: Of course.

BASH: And thank you for your service.


BASH: You're obviously also in the military.

So, thank you for that and everything that you have done in Congress as well.

KINZINGER: You bet. Thank you.


BASH: President Biden is deciding early this year whether to run again.

So, coming up, two presidential campaign veterans will talk about what they think he will say and how voters will respond.

And my next guest is a top Democrat who just decided to step back from his role in leadership. My interview with House Democratic Leader Steny Hoyer is next.


HOYER: I think this was reported and said: Why are you retiring?

Well, first of all, I'm not retiring. But my sort of flip answer is, have you heard I was 83?



BASH: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION.

Republicans are taking control of the House on Tuesday. And their first public act may be pretty messy. And that's the battle for speaker, which makes what happened with House Democratic leaders just a month ago seemed even more remarkable.

The three top House Democrats all moved aside to let the new generation take over.

I spoke with longtime Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland about that transition and about the legacy he's most proud of.


BASH: For the first time in more than three decades, you will no longer be as a member of the Democratic leadership in this coming Congress.


And when reporters asked you how you felt after that announcement, you replied -- quote -- "Not good."

Have you gotten used to the idea?

HOYER: Well, first of all, the question implied, how do you feel?


HOYER: And we were not in the majority.

BASH: I see.

HOYER: And I didn't feel good about that.

But I feel good about my decision. I feel good about doing what I'm going to do on the Appropriations Committee. And, very frankly, I think I will be part of leadership in one sense or another.

BASH: How so?

HOYER: Well, I think -- Mr. Jeffries and I have talked. I think he wants me to continue to give advice and counsel and to be involved in decision-making, albeit not as majority leader.

BASH: It was truly stunning the way that you and your fellow leaders handed over the reins, kind of in one fell swoop, to the next generation.

Can you walk me through those discussions that led to that moment?

HOYER: Well, first of all, it was not a coordinated effort.

BASH: It wasn't?

HOYER: I think all of us have been around for some time and pretty much have a feel for the timing of decisions.

And I think all three of us felt that this was a time. We had been, after all, a team of three for 20 years, running -- probably the longest-running in team, I don't know about in history, but for a long time.

And in that capacity, I think each of us made an individual decision the timing was right.

BASH: What was your thought process, frankly, your emotional process, in getting to the point where you said, I'm not gong to run for Democratic leader again?

HOYER: Well, a reporter in front of the Capitol -- I think this was reported -- said, why are you retiring?

Well, first of all, I'm not retiring. But my sort of flip answer is, have you heard I was 83? (LAUGHTER)

HOYER: Most people retire at 65 or 70 or 72. God has been really good to me. My health has been good. I think I have operated at the level that I have operated at for the last 20 years the last year and continue to do so.

But there is a time. And it wasn't a difficult decision, in that sense.

BASH: You came into public service as boy wonder.


BASH: You were in the Maryland State Senate. Just a few years later, you were elected here to Congress.

That's actually how you were known. You were known as boy wonder.

HOYER: Well, in between that time of being elected to the state Senate, I was president of the Senate, the youngest ever. That was a significant training ground for me, because I spent 12 years at the state Senate.

So when I came to the Congress, I was pretty well-experienced in the legislative process and became part of the leadership about five years after that.

BASH: To be precise, in your time in Congress, you sponsored 4,237 bills.


BASH: More than 500 have become law. That's not a bad record.

HOYER: Not a bad record. I didn't know that.


HOYER: Those figures are new to me. And I'm sure we will use those figures.



BASH: You're welcome.

HOYER: Thank your researcher for me.


HOYER: I'm proud, Madam Speaker, to have worked for so long.

(END VIDEO CLIP) HOYER: I was the sponsor, as you know, of the Americans With Disabilities Act. Thousands of people, wherever I go, come up to me and say, you know, it has really made a difference in my life or the life of my daughter or son or husband or wife or mom.

And many other pieces of legislation I have been involved in, like the Affordable Care Act, I mean, affecting millions of people in a positive way.

BASH: You go back a long way with Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

HOYER: I do.

BASH: You were interns together in the office of Daniel Brewster in the 1960s.

HOYER: I think that story doesn't get enough play. Nancy was sitting in the front office as a receptionist, and I was sitting right behind her in sort of a little divided half-wall handling academy appointments, opening mail, doing things that interns do or part-time employees do.

And we were there together. And some 40 years later, we became the speaker and the majority leader.

BASH: The other story about the Pelosi-Hoyer relationship is that it is a complicated one.


BASH: You ran against each other for whip in 2001. She endorsed your opponent in your race for leader in 2006.

How would you describe that relationship?

HOYER: I think we have a very respectful relationship. I think we have a businesslike relationship, but I like Nancy. And I admire Nancy greatly.

She is an extraordinary human being. She's indefatigable. She has extraordinary energy. She has extraordinary memory for what we have done and a vision of what we ought to do. And I think she's probably the most effective political leader that I have worked with over the years.


I was obviously disappointed when she -- when I was running for majority leader and she supported my opponent, and pretty strongly so, as you recall. But, of course, I won pretty handily, as you recall.

BASH: If there was no Nancy Pelosi in the picture, would you have liked to have been speaker?

HOYER: Sure.


HOYER: Who wouldn't? What politician in the House of Representatives would not like to be the speaker? Of course I would.

But, very frankly, as I remarked to one reporter, I said, I'm not sure I could have done a better job than Nancy, and maybe not as good a job as Nancy.

BASH: You seem to have a pretty good relationship with Kevin McCarthy.

HOYER: I do.

BASH: Working good relationship.

HOYER: I have a working relationship with Kevin McCarthy, yes.

BASH: Do you think he's going to get the votes to be speaker? You know...

HOYER: I would be surprised if he doesn't.

BASH: You think -- so, you think he will be speaker?

HOYER: I -- my expectation, he will be speaker.

BASH: Does he have what it takes to do the job?

HOYER: We will see.

He obviously is -- if he gets 218 votes, has the ability to put together the votes to be the leader of the party, and he will then be tested as to whether or not he can lead. But he's worked pretty hard at it. He got close to the Holy Grail, and he had to step back. But he didn't give up. He kept going. And it appears to me that he will be the speaker.

BASH: Do you think you will run for reelection in 2024?

HOYER: I may. I may.

BASH: You're not ruling it out?


BASH: You're not on the exit ramp yet?


This is my conference room.

BASH (voice-over): Congressman Hoyer gave us a tour of this office, the leader's office in the Capitol, that he will now be moving out of.

HOYER: Everybody in this room, save one, is a Marylander. The only non-Marylander is my buddy John Lewis. BASH: There are many pictures of his friend, the late Congressman

John Lewis.

HOYER: Walking across the bridge. I have served with two historic figures, John Lewis and Nancy Pelosi.

BASH (on camera): Wow.

HOYER: And they're the two that will be most remembered by history.

The rest of us have played a part.


HOYER: But they will be viewed as giant figures.

BASH (voice-over): The other tragic history here, January 6, this picture of John Lewis outside the door destroyed.

HOYER: It was torn up. It was damaged. So, we got a new one, and we put it right back up the next day.

This is the door to my office. They break -- they broke this door in. It's not very strong. Very frankly, it has not been fully re- strengthened. And they came in here. But the good news is, if there's any good news, is, for whatever reason, they didn't damage the office, but a really terrifying thing happened, because there were 12 members of my staff who were in this office at that time.

And they went into this office, which is an interior office.

BASH (on camera): What was that day like for you?

HOYER: Well, different than most of the members, because Nancy and I and Clyburn, McCarthy, McConnell, Scalise, the Capitol Police directed us to get us out of harm's way as quickly as possible, so there would be a continuity of leadership.

And I walked out into the speaker's lobby with my -- the head of my detail. And I said, "What's going on?"

And the chilling words were: "The Capitol has been breached." So we knew this was very serious.

My mother gave me this.

BASH (voice-over): The outgoing majority leader also keeps reminders here of why he started in politics.

(on camera): You got into politics because you saw him speak.

HOYER: That's the first time I saw him. I got so inspired, I changed from business to government and politics. The next week -- I said I was going to law school and getting into politics. Seven years later, I was elected to the state Senate.

BASH (voice-over): And, for Steny Hoyer, more than 60 years later, the rest, as they say, is history.


BASH: Has Joe Biden decided about 2024? Two top presidential campaign strategists read the tea leaves next.




JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My answer is, yes, my plan is to run for reelection. That's my expectation.

Look, my intention, as I said to begin with, is that I would run again. But it's just an intention. But is it a firm decision that I'd run again? That remains to be seen. My guess is, it would be early next year we make that judgment, but it is my plan to do it now.


BASH: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION.

To run or not to run, that is the question facing President Biden, and all of Washington is waiting for his decision.

Joining me now are two veterans of presidential campaigns, Democratic strategist Lis Smith and Republican strategist David Urban.

Happy new year to both of you.

DAVID URBAN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Happy new year. Thanks for having us.


So, Lis, you're the Democrat here. What do you make of the will he or won't he for President Biden?

LIS SMITH, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, I think the expectation among every Democrat I speak to is that the president is going to run for reelection, and he has more than earned that right.

And what I think that the president is doing now is sort of getting his ducks in a row. He's got to figure out how he's dealing with a divided Congress and likely a mess of investigations coming his way from the Republican House, but also how do you build a formidable campaign operation to win reelection in 2024?

And the good news is that he's surrounded by some real pros. Jen O'Malley Dillon is someone who doesn't have one of the highest profile, but is one of the most competent people in Democratic politics, was a key member of Barack Obama's 2012 campaign.

And I think it's really fascinating, because there's the old saying that history doesn't repeat itself, but it often rhymes. And in 2012, when I was director of rapid response from Barack Obama, we had a campaign where the incumbent president was dealing with the fallout from a global recession not of his own making and a Republican Party that was increasingly captive to conspiracy theories spearheaded by Donald Trump.


Look at what we're dealing with in 2024, Joe Biden...

BASH: Yes. It's like that on steroids.

SMITH: Yes, exactly.

BASH: Yes. So is it going to rhyme?

URBAN: Lis is a little more optimistic than I am.

BASH: About what?

URBAN: About a successful Biden reelect, right?


URBAN: So I think Joe Biden has frozen the Democratic Party in time.

And I think, look, there are a lot of Democratic voters, from what I hear, would like maybe somebody else to run. No one's thrilled about a potential Trump-Biden rematch, I don't think, in America, and I think Joe Biden might not decide -- he said, I may -- I may be in, I may not be in.

He's really doing a great disservice to his party by not allowing the next generation of people to get prepared, right? So if you are a Josh Shapiro, my friend, or if you're a Wes Moore, or if you're a...


BASH: He hasn't even been sworn in as governor yet.


URBAN: No, no, I know, but I'm saying, if you're the next generation of Democrats, right...

BASH: I get it.

URBAN: ... you're kind of frozen. You can't get your campaign prepared. You can't move forward.

And so I think Biden has to make a decision really quickly. Either he's no or he's out. And don't forget, when Joe Biden ran last time, it was the middle of COVID. He didn't campaign. He sat in his house in Delaware. He's going to be two years older. Presidential campaigns, as Lis would know, are very grinding, very difficult to do for young people, let alone someone who's 80-plus. BASH: Yes.

You make a really important point about the other -- the field being frozen.

But, Lis, as somebody who has started a presidential campaign from scratch, is it important for people who are maybe considering running to start getting their ducks in a row just in case the president surprises everyone and says, I'm not running?

SMITH: Again, so if you are someone who has run before, it is not that hard to sort of bring the old band back together and get a presidential campaign off the ground.

If you are someone who hasn't run before, it is more of a challenge. But I go back to what I said initially, that the overwhelming expectation among all Democrats is that the president's going to run for reelection. He's earned that right to run for reelection, and he will be a formidable candidate for reelection.

URBAN: I would just say this. He's a formidable candidate against Donald Trump, not against somebody else.

I think Democrats' worst nightmare is, what if it's Joe Biden vs. a Ron DeSantis, it's a generational thing? I think that's not a winning ticket for Democrats.

SMITH: So -- and I respectfully disagree with my new friend, David...


SMITH: ... which is that one thing that we saw in these midterms was that, even though Donald Trump wasn't on the ballot, Trumpism was.

And too many candidates continue to embrace Trumpism. And until they say take a hike to Trumpism, it's going to be a really, really hard thing for them to sell to the general electorate, and that's certainly something we saw in David's home state of Pennsylvania.

BASH: Well, let's talk, because you brought up...

URBAN: That was Trump, not Trumpism.

BASH: Well, Trumpism lost in Pennsylvania.


URBAN: Well, yes, but because of Donald Trump.

If he's gone -- I think if Donald Trump's off the ticket, if he's not on -- if Trumpism is -- I believe the principles of Donald...


BASH: But when you think about Trumpism right now, it's conspiracy theories. URBAN: Well, yes, but that's -- I'm making distinctions, small government, less regulations, right?

BASH: Yes. But that's just being a Republican.


URBAN: Republican, right, but a little bit different flavor, secure border, things that a broader party -- working-class conservatives.

BASH: So, the question is, because there is one person officially in the race, and that is Donald Trump. He did announce before the end of the year.

And so one of the questions is, will history repeat itself on the Republican side, to use your reference there, Lis, and that is that you have Donald Trump running and then you have a slew of other candidates who break up the vote, and then Donald Trump comes out victorious without a huge majority.

I had a conversation with Governor Chris Sununu of New Hampshire towards the end of the year, and we talked about whether or not there is that kind of discussion going on among Republicans.


BASH: One of the ways he could still win the nomination is one of the ways he won in 2016, which is, there is a huge field of candidates, and they segment or fragment the voters, and then he takes the nomination with...

GOV. CHRIS SUNUNU (R-NH): Wins with 35 percent.

BASH: ... even -- or he could even do less than 35 percent.


BASH: Is there any conversation that is going on, should go on to say, in order to stop Donald Trump, we need to not all jump in, we need to pick somebody, the best candidate, and run that way?

SUNUNU: No, not -- not -- I think a lot of us are looking at governors that may run. And I think, as governors, we all want to see a governor run and be successful.

BASH: Should it? Should that happen?

SUNUNU: No, no, because it's up to the voters.


BASH: But he also said that it is incumbent upon people who do end up getting in -- he would not say he is one of them -- but to say, if it's not -- if we're not catching fire, we're out. We're not just going to stay in. URBAN: Well, that's a fair point, right, because in the -- in the

2016 primary, you saw people lingering 2 percent, 3 percent, 4 percent, so just enough to get into the debates, but not enough to ever do anything, not enough to ever really move the numbers.

Look, unless you're double digits, high double digits, you would probably pack your bags and go home. But to get into the race, to become president, I think if you're stepping in there, you're thinking you're going to win no matter what. You think there's some chance that somehow you're going to turn the corner.


Look, Joe Biden for the bulk of the race in '20 was not the leader. He was not running the table.

BASH: And my sense from Governor Sununu and others who are thinking about it, people around them, are, there's not a big rush right now to get in on the Republican side. Do you agree with that?


Well, that's what we're seeing. And, backstage, I was talking about that, that there are some advantages to getting in early, which is you get a massive influx of earned media. But there are some disadvantages. And David would know this, as a former adviser Donald Trump, is, do you want to be just on the other end of just nonstop attacks from Donald Trump?

Because we saw that the Republicans in 2016 were completely unprepared to deal with those attacks. And they were all completely disassembled by them. And so one important thing for the Republicans who do enter this race is to figure out how they're going to deal with Donald Trump. And my advice would be, don't play his game. Don't get into the gutter with him. And as much as possible, give him the stiff-arm.

URBAN: Well, I think that's what you're saying now, right? You see -- in the past few weeks, you have saw -- seen that happened with McConnell, with McCarthy.

When Trump does something, they don't react immediately, right? There's not every day they're going to respond to a tweet or respond -- they're just kind of ignoring him, hoping that he goes away.

BASH: Before I let you both go, I have to ask about the new plans that Democrats are talking about for their presidential primary or presidential contest season.

First would be South Carolina, then Nevada and New Hampshire, then Georgia, then Michigan, which is obviously very different from what we have seen for decades, Iowa caucuses first, then the New Hampshire, Nevada caucuses, South Carolina.

You have been in the trenches in every one of these states. What do you think of the idea?

SMITH: Well, I, like a lot of Democrats, have some concerns with it.

I think it was really important, as Democrats, if we talk about black voters as a backbone of our party, to move them up in the primary process. That was smart. But that didn't mean that we need to throw New Hampshire by the wayside, which essentially the DNC and Biden administration is doing.

And you have been to New Hampshire. These are people who take the civic duty really, really seriously. It is a small state that anyone can get around with just one staffer and a sedan. And it's one...

BASH: But Democrats argue it's also very white.

SMITH: It's -- it is, but it is also the only state in those early states that is still focused on old-school retail politics.

BASH: Very true.

SMITH: And that type of politics is something that makes for better candidates and better presidents.

BASH: You sound like Governor Sununu.


URBAN: Well, it's true. It weans out -- it weans out -- it separates the wheat from the chaff.


BASH: Yes.

URBAN: You have to be able to campaign.

BASH: Guys, thank you so much. I learn so much from you, always. Great discussion.

URBAN: Thanks for having us.

SMITH: Great.

BASH: And we will be right back.



BASH: 'Tis the season for new beginnings.

And whether you're relaxing at home or getting a kick-start on your resolutions, we want to send all of you our best wishes for a happy new year.

Thank you so much for making STATE OF THE UNION part of your week. And we look forward to 2023.

The news continues next.