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State of the Union
Interview With U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas; Interview With Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL); Interview With Rep. Mark Green (R-TN); Interview With U.S. Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo. Aired 9-10a ET
Aired May 14, 2023 - 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): Crossing the line. A pandemic era border policy expires.
ALEJANDRO MAYORKAS, U.S. SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: Our border is not open. But with Washington deadlocked on how to fix it, what's the long term solution?
I will speak with Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and House GOP Homeland Security Chairman Mark Green next.
And deal or no deal? As the U.S. barrels closer to a debt ceiling deadline, President Biden says the two sides are making progress. Can they strike a deal in time? Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo joins me ahead.
Plus: primary problems. The president frames his reelection pitch around Donald Trump.
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Sinister forces may believe they will determine America's future.
BASH: While Ron DeSantis makes his case for change.
GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): If we focus the election on the past, the Democrats are going to beat us again.
BASH: Will voters agree?
BASH: Hello. I'm Dana Bash in Washington, where the state of our union is wishing all of the moms out there a very happy Mother's Day.
President Biden is making his general election pitch to voters, painting 2024 as another battle for the future of American democracy. But, this month, two simmering problems pose big, big challenges to his reelection efforts, the potential for a catastrophic debt default and the crisis at the Southern border. This weekend, the flow of migrants into the U.S. is lower than
expected after the end of the COVID era Title 42 border rule, but the administration is still faced with overcrowded facilities, legal challenges from the left and the right, and deadlock in Congress.
House Republicans did pass a bill to bring back Trump era policies like construction of the border wall and the authority to quickly expel migrants. But it's dead on arrival in the U.S. Senate, which leaves the country still without a real plan to fix a persistent problem that is only growing.
So far in 2023, 1.3 million migrants have been apprehended along the Southern border.
BASH: Here with me now, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.
Thank you so much for joining me this morning.
You are getting regular updates from the Southern border. What is the latest with regard to border crossings? And do you believe the surge has peaked?
MAYORKAS: Dana, over the past two days, the United States Border Patrol has experienced a 50 percent drop in the number of encounters versus what we were experiencing earlier in the week before Title 42 ended at midnight on Thursday.
It is still early. We are in day three, but we have been planning for this transition for months and months. And we have been executing on our plan. And we will continue to do so.
BASH: So it's too early to say whether the surge has peaked?
MAYORKAS: It is too early. But the numbers that we have experienced over the past two days are markedly down over what they were prior to the end of Title 42.
BASH: What are the numbers, 5,000?
MAYORKAS: So we have seen, I think, approximately 6,300 on Friday and about 4,200 yesterday by the United States Border Patrol. And we saw over 10,000 before the end of Title 42 earlier last week.
BASH: Why do you think that is?
MAYORKAS: Because we have communicated very clearly a vitally important message to the individuals who are thinking of arriving at our Southern border.
There is a lawful, safe, and orderly way to arrive in the United States. That is through the pathways that President Biden has expanded in an unprecedented way. And then there's a consequence if one does not use those lawful pathways, and that consequence is removal from the United States, a deportation and encountering a five-year ban on reentry and possible criminal prosecution.
BASH: You say that at the Department of Homeland Security, you have been preparing. Not everybody agrees with you, as I know you are aware, not just Republicans, even some Democrats, even those who represent parts of the border.
Arizona Congressman Ruben Gallego said -- quote -- "Federal agencies have had time to plan, but their efforts have fallen short."
How do you respond to him and some other Democrats who say that you have fallen short?
MAYORKAS: I would respectfully disagree.
We have been planning for months and months, over a year-and-a half. We have surged resources asylum officers, Border Patrol agents, processing coordinators to do the data entry work, so our Border Patrol agents can be out in the field.
We have expanded our holding capacity in Border Patrol stations. We have added beds to Immigration and Customs Enforcement in our detention facilities. We have increased our transportation resources, the number of flights, removal flights, with our foreign partners. We're setting up regional processing centers now.
It's extraordinary what we have done over the past 18 months or so.
BASH: There's a debate in your party about how restrictive the United States should be towards asylum claims. What's your philosophy on that?
MAYORKAS: So, the asylum system has been and continues to be a jewel of the United States. We take great pride as a country in this world to provide humanitarian relief for those who qualify.
But the landscape of migration has changed dramatically over the past 10-plus years. No longer are individuals arriving at our border of their own volition. They are arriving in the hands of smugglers that wreak such tragedy, such trauma upon their lives.
The cartels, the smuggling organizations, control the land. And so we have not only a security imperative, but a humanitarian responsibility to cut those smugglers out. And that's precisely what we, as an administration, has done. We have attacked the smuggling organizations with our law enforcement authorities.
We have arrested more than 10,000 smugglers. But President Biden has led the greatest expansion of lawful pathways ever through family reunification programs, through expedited refugee processing, through the regional processing centers that we're now building.
But we have an obligation to deliver consequences at our border to not only manage our border, but to cut the smugglers out. BASH: You are well aware the House of Representatives passed a
sweeping border security bill this week. I know there's a lot in there that you do not like, but there is funding for more border agents, which I know that you say that you very much need, more technology at the border.
Have you spoken with House Speaker McCarthy directly about the possibility of finding compromise here?
MAYORKAS: I have not.
We have been calling on Congress to pass legislation to fix what everyone agrees is a broken immigration system. We have been asking for that for more than two decades. On day one of his presidency, President Biden presented a legislative package.
The proposal right now, what we are asking for, and we are really in need of desperately as a country, is immigration reform to fix the system, not to dismantle it...
MAYORKAS: ... which is what this proposal really provides.
BASH: That's been stuck inside partisan gridlock for 15 years or so.
Want to ask about something my next guest is going to say. This is Republican Congressman Mark Green. He's the chairman of the Homeland Security Committee.
He has indicated he wants to impeach you for the way that you have handled the border crisis. Are you worried that that process is going to start? And how will you react?
MAYORKAS: Dana, I am focused on the work in front of us, meeting the challenge, not only with respect to the Southern border, but meeting the challenge of cyber, the cyber threat from cyber criminals and adverse foreign nation states.
I am focused on the increasing severity and frequency of extreme weather events. I am focused on the adverse actions of the People's Republic of China, North Korea, Iran, Russia. I am focused on the work of the Department of Homeland Security. I will continue to focus on that work throughout my tenure.
BASH: Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, thank you so much for joining me this morning.
MAYORKAS: Thank you, Dana.
BASH: And here with me now with his view is the homeland security House chairman, Mark Green of Tennessee.
You just heard the secretary say that the number of border crossings has been cut in half since Title 42 expired. That, unequivocally, is good news, right?
REP. MARK GREEN (R-TN): Well, Dana, first, thanks for having me on the show, and happy Mother's Day.
What the secretary failed to say is that this week has seen more crossings than any time, any week in our history. Yes, there was some anticipation, and so people started coming across at higher numbers, in fact, record-breaking numbers, at the first part of the week.
But in the latter part of the week, a judge ruled that they can't do their plan of just releasing without a court date, which Secretary Mayorkas has said on the news was a bad idea. But that court ruling said he can't do that. The drug cartels have responded, and the numbers have fallen off for a couple of days.
But he admitted just moments ago that they can't predict the peak. CBP said 40 percent increase is expected with Title 42 gone. That's another nine million people in two years. I mean, they have already let 5.04 million encounters and 1.5 million got-aways as they have tried to manage border security and not secure our border.
So, I -- no, I'm sorry, I disagree with the secretary.
BASH: You helped lead the passage of a House GOP border security bill this week. One of the two Republicans who voted no was John Duarte of California.
And I want to read what he said. He said -- quote -- "This crisis demands a solution that will deliver real results, not serve as a messaging tool. We must fix DACA, build a flexible and effective guest-worker program, and protect our border. We need to put together real solutions, not point fingers at the other party."
And, again, that's one of your fellow Republicans. Is there anything you can do in a bipartisan way, sir?
GREEN: I think, first off, this was not intended to fix immigration.
This bill was to secure our border. Once we secure our border, sure, I think everyone wants a solution for the immigration issue. Now, in terms of our party, look, we -- we were supposed to have fallen apart after a bad speaker. Everybody was so critical about how our speaker selection process went, and that conflict was not going to unify us.
Well, we have been unified, 87,000 IRS agents gone. We have -- we have raised the debt ceiling in a responsible way. We have an energy bill. I mean, I think we're working together, and so I think this member is conflating. This was a border security bill, not an immigration bill.
BASH: Yes, you are working together, but the question is, what happens after this bill and other bills have passed?
Particularly, staying on immigration, you need it to be bipartisan because it needs to go to the Senate. There needs to be something that the president can deal with. So you're saying that, if border security is done, then you are willing to talk about the broader immigration process, from DACA, to undocumented immigrants, giving them a legal pathway, et cetera?
GREEN: So, here's what we will do. We will sit down at the table with Democrats and everyone and try to fix our immigration system. We have to do that.
There are certainly places where we need employees. Our demographics in our country, if you look at our population demographics, we need a better and improved immigration system. But the problem is, the way Mayorkas and those guys have done it, with catch-and-release, and with not deporting people, and all the things they have done to encourage people to come into the country, is basically making the problem of migration worse.
We need to secure our border, and then we can deal with the immigration piece.
GREEN: You can't create more incentive to come here without a secure border. You get the 1.5 million got-aways. Who are those guys? I mean, you can come to CBP right now and get immediate parole.
Why would you avoid CBP, unless you have some nefarious intent? So we need to fix the security issue first, then the immigration piece.
BASH: So one disincentive that former President Donald Trump didn't rule out is using the child separation policy again if he's reelected. Listen to what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, when you have that policy, people don't come. If a family hears that they're going to be separated -- they love their family -- they don't come.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: Should that policy come back?
GREEN: So that's why, in this bill, we were very clear families should not be separated.
If you look at House H.R.2, it's very clear we're not separating families.
BASH: So, you disagree with the former president?
GREEN: But detention does serve as a deterrence.
So, I -- I don't think we should separate families, and that's why we put it in this bill.
BASH: You floated the possibility that House Republicans should impeach Secretary Mayorkas. The Constitution says impeachment is supposed to be used for treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.
Do you think Secretary Mayorkas has committed an impeachable offense? And, if so, what is it?
GREEN: So I have been very careful not to say, let's impeach Secretary Mayorkas, because I don't have that authority in my committee.
GREEN: But what I do have is a responsibility for oversight. And we're going to do that. We're going to look very closely at the failures of this administration and Secretary Mayorkas.
I know for a fact he lied to Congress under oath. I mean, should someone be a Cabinet secretary if they come to the Congress and lie to Congress under oath? I showed that very clearly the last time we had him in front of the committee. So...
BASH: Yes, so, you're -- you're of course, exactly right. The Judiciary Committee would start impeachment proceedings.
But are you building a case for them right now to impeach Secretary Mayorkas?
GREEN: We have a five-phase -- which I have articulated before, a five-phase accountability plan. We're going to look into his dereliction of duty, the laws he's intentionally violated and not followed.
I mean, he took an oath to the Constitution, right? And his job is to execute the laws, not write them or make them up himself. And his interim final rule to just speed people into the country is an excellent example of them just making up the laws, which we are the ones, we write the laws in Congress. He executes the laws, right, as the executive branch.
Well, we will point all that out. We will show the human cost of this open border, fentanyl mothers, Angel Moms, that little baby in Florida crawling around on a VRBO that encountered fentanyl and died.
I mean, every American is at risk with this open border. I would be negligent in my job not to look into this guy's performance...
GREEN: ... and show the American people how he's failed.
BASH: The administration would definitely disagree with the term open border.
But we definitely heard the difference of opinion and policy philosophy between you and the homeland security secretary this morning.
Thank you so much for joining me, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate it.
GREEN: Thanks. Thanks for having me.
BASH: And the House speaker says, deal now or default later. Are the two sides getting any closer? I will ask the deputy Treasury secretary next.
And coming up: President Biden's new campaign pitch about the sinister forces he says trying to take over America.
BASH: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION.
Just weeks away from a potential U.S. debt default, President Biden said Saturday that negotiators are moving along in their talks, but they will know more over the next few days. Teams from both parties are working through the weekend ahead of another big meeting between Biden and congressional leaders.
Here with me now to talk about this is the deputy Treasury secretary, Wally Adeyemo.
Thank you so much for being here.
WALLY ADEYEMO, U.S. DEPUTY TREASURY SECRETARY: Thanks for having me.
BASH: Adeyemo. Forgive me.
The president, as I just mentioned, says that the negotiations are moving along. Not there yet. Negotiators are working this weekend. Are you hearing anything about progress that you can share with us?
ADEYEMO: So, the conversations are constructive between all of the parties. I know the president looks forward to getting together with the leaders to talk about how we continue to make progress.
But it's important for us to remember what the stakes are here. And, ultimately, the stakes are, the United States of America has never defaulted on its debt. And we can't, because defaulting on our debt isn't only about financial markets. It's about paying our Social Security recipients. It's about paying our troops. It's about paying the men and women who are working in the border today.
That's why the president's called on Congress to lift the debt limit as soon as possible.
BASH: Secretary Yellen said yesterday while traveling: "I'm hopeful. I think the negotiations are very active."
And they have -- I'm told they have found some areas of agreement. Can you share what those areas are? ADEYEMO: I'm not going to get into the negotiations here in public,
but, for a long time, there have been lots of areas where we have had bipartisan agreement.
And the president made very clear to the speaker in their first meeting that he's happy to talk about our fiscal path forward. The president's laid out a plan that includes $3 trillion of debt relief over 10 years, and he's happy to talk to the speaker about things that we can do to implement a plan that makes sure that we're able to meet our commitments to our seniors, to our troops, and to the men and women and the American people.
BASH: Secretary Yellen also previously warned a default could happen as early as June 1, which is two-and-a-half weeks away.
The CBO, the Congressional Budget Office, now says that an influx of tax revenue and other extraordinary measures could allow the U.S. to keep paying its bills through the end of July. Do you agree with the CBO assessment? Will the deadline move a bit?
ADEYEMO: So, what I will say is, the secretary is committed to providing Congress with information about when the debt limit is going to hit. And she did say that, as early as June 1, you could see us hit the debt limit, but that it could be some time in early June.
Our goal is to make sure that Congress is well-informed, but we shouldn't be here. We shouldn't be paying the American people's bills day by day with the idea that we would have a debt limit default if Congress didn't lift the debt limit.
Ultimately, the U.S. economy today is growing. We're creating jobs, 200,000 the last month. And if Congress failed to raise the debt limit by the time we default, we would go into a recession. It would be catastrophic.
BASH: So, you said a couple of times, we shouldn't be here. I don't think there's anybody watching who doesn't disagree with you, but -- they all agree with you.
I want to play something that Speaker McCarthy said back in January on this very issue.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): Why wouldn't we sit down and talk, especially with something as serious as debt and as serious as a debt limit? Why would you want to wait until the end?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: That was four months ago. And here we are without a deal in hand.
So, if the threat from default is so dire, why did the president wait until this month to have real negotiations about how to and where to have spending cuts in order to avert default? ADEYEMO: Important to remember the president didn't wait.
The president and outlined his own plan for what we would do in terms of fiscal policy in March, where he talked about reducing the debt by $3 trillion, by cutting things like subsidies to oil and gas companies. The speaker wasn't able to get a plan through the House until the end of April.
When he did that, the president then called him and called congressional leaders together to have a conversation about what we do about fiscal policy, and that's what we're doing today. But, as we have that conversation, there is no reason we shouldn't raise the debt limit and prevent default in this country, a default that could lead to a massive recession that would cost us millions of jobs.
BASH: And then one of the questions is, do we even have to get to the place of default for economic troubles to loom?
Certainly, we saw that in 2011. The CEO of J.P. Morgan Chase, Jamie Dimon, warns that even flirting with the default like what happened in 2011 could cause panic in the market.
The speaker says he wants a deal this week. We heard some signs of hope from the president this weekend. Does the administration believe that there does need to be a deal this week in order to prevent fallout, even if the deadline is maybe a couple of weeks, even longer away?
ADEYEMO: The president believes we should raise the debt limit as soon as possible, because it's not only financial markets, but the Michigan Survey of Consumer Sentiment last week showed that consumers are now worried about the debt limit. It's affecting the way that they're spending money.
I spend a lot of time on the phones with CEOs of small-, medium- and large-sized businesses. And all of them mention to me the debt limit is affecting the way they're thinking about business going forward. And it's meaning that they're not investing in their companies, not investing in the economy, not creating jobs, the opposite of what they need to be doing.
BASH: Yes, of course, he wants the debt limit to be raised immediately, and he's been saying that for a while, but he's also in the midst of negotiations.
So does he believe that the deal has to happen with Republicans this week?
ADEYEMO: So, the president's view is that we should be able to raise the debt limit and also be able to get a deal with regard to fiscal policy.
BASH: President Biden says he is considering invoking the 14th Amendment, which would allow him to unilaterally raise the debt limit if Congress doesn't do it.
He did express concern that that would face litigation. Your boss, Secretary Yellen, called it legally questionable. So can you just say yes or no whether or not the president has the authority to raise the debt limit on his own without Congress?
ADEYEMO: So, Dana, what the president said was that he did not think the 14th Amendment would solve our problems now.
The only thing that can solve our problems now is for Congress to lift the debt limit, which they have done, by the way, 78 times. And last -- the in last administration, they did it three times without negotiation. And that's what the president wants them to do now.
BASH: So, no 14th Amendment?
ADEYEMO: So, the president's made clear that he doesn't think that would solve our problems now.
Mr. Deputy Secretary, thank you so much. Appreciate you coming on.
ADEYEMO: Thanks for having me.
BASH: And up next: Ron DeSantis tries his hand at retail politics. We will see how it went. We will talk to my panel next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DESANTIS: If we focus the election on the past, the Democrats are going to beat us again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION.
That was Florida Governor Ron DeSantis in Iowa yesterday making his pitch to 2024 Republican primary voters.
My panel joins me now.
Nice to see everybody.
Scott Jennings, he not only was out in Iowa. He also, Ron DeSantis, seems to be reacting to and changing a bit as it goes, with his critics saying he's not engaging enough, he's not glad-handing, he's not looking people in the eye, the way that Iowa voters, New Hampshire voters have an expectation of their candidates.
SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. And he did a great job with that yesterday in Iowa, rolled out a bunch of endorsements, had a good day. Donald Trump canceled his event. Some people say it was because of the weather. Other people say it was because he wasn't able to draw a big crowd.
I don't know what the truth is, but there's some evidence for that theory. I thought DeSantis had a nice run. By the way, he's not even a candidate yet. But, to me, the most important thing he did was make an argument about, what is the purpose of a political party?
The purpose of a party is to beat the Democrats, the Republican Party in this case. And we don't -- Trump doesn't have a plan to beat the Democrats. He has a plan to dominate the Republican Party. DeSantis wants the party to be an electoral function, and Trump wants the party to be a bludgeoning tool against the people that Republicans hate, whether that's CNN or the media or whoever, what other institutions.
DeSantis wants it to win elections, and I thought that was the best message he could have had yesterday.
ALYSSA FARAH GRIFFIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think Trump world would have had you believe that the town hall this past week was a huge victory and a win for them.
But I think the reality is, a lot of Republican observers were watching and saying, that man didn't win a single additional vote. And I think it emboldened challengers like a Ron DeSantis, who, of course, isn't announced yet, to go out and make a different case. Remind them, you don't want the drama, you don't want the noise, you don't want your blood pressure going up.
It was a good day for him. My one critique of DeSantis at this juncture would be, you have two jobs in a primary, raise your name I.D. and take out the competition. And there is someone who's polling in double digits ahead of him, and he's not directly going after Trump enough.
His PAC is. To be honest, the Never Back Down PAC is a really good candidate itself right now, but DeSantis has kind of waffled on actually challenging Trump, which is something he's going to have to do.
BASH: Yes, I wonder if he will change that when he actually does run.
MICHAEL LAROSA, FORMER SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO PRESIDENT BIDEN: Yes.
BASH: I want to get you in, but I want to first -- you mentioned the CNN town hall and the fact that part of the strategy there was to get Donald Trump to expand beyond his base.
The content of what he said might have posed some challenges. Let's listen to some of that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WAYNE BEYER, RETIRED ATTORNEY: Will you pardon the January 6 rioters who were convicted of federal offenses?
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I am inclined to pardon many of them.
Getting rid of Roe v. Wade was an incredible thing. And I was very honored to do it.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Do you want Ukraine to win this war?
TRUMP: I don't think in terms of winning and losing. I think in terms of getting it settled, so we stop killing all these people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: Michael LaRosa, first of all, welcome to the STATE OF THE UNION panel.
LAROSA: Thank you.
BASH: You worked for the Bidens for a while. You worked in the Biden administration.
What's your view of how Democrats can or will use comments like this?
LAROSA: Well, I think he just provided a lot of material, but that material was already there anyway.
I don't think he added much. I think you saw a preview, thanks to CNN, a preview to what the next campaign is going to look like from the candidates, but also from the audience at home. This is what we're going to be watching for the next year-and-a-half again.
I think that, when it comes to Trump, look, of course, the Biden campaign would love to run against Donald Trump, because we know -- there's hard data on Trump, right? We know that independents have now run away from him three times, three elections in a row. And that's something that you feel safe with, like, you know what you're running against.
With anybody else, that's -- it's going to be a challenge for President Biden, because nothing you fear more in politics is an X- factor. We don't know how Ron DeSantis tests across the country.
ASHLEY ALLISON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I mean, I think right now there's Republican infighting, which I'm fine with.
ALLISON: But, I will say that OK, nobody wants to go back to the past of relitigating the 2020 election. Donald Trump lost.
But when you hear Ron DeSantis in Iowa saying, what country do we want forward,a lot of Americans don't want the country that Ron DeSantis is painting either, with culture wars, with a six-week abortion ban. Those issues -- with not really wanting to stop -- or get gun reform, when we have -- we're on the anniversary of the mass killing in Buffalo.
That's not the future most Americans want either. So DeSantis is an X- factor in terms of how he polls nationally, but I don't think the future that he's painting is ways that really play outside of Florida.
JENNINGS: I don't know.
I think that what DeSantis gives you is the generational comparison. I mean, you're going to have a very old incumbent president and a very young up-and-coming governor. And, in some ways, I think it pushes the issues aside and just asks the American people to say, what does the future of our country look like? Does it look like someone who'll be 86 at the end of the term or does it like Ron DeSantis and what he's done in Florida?
I don't disagree with you that some of these policy debates could make the race interesting, but I have no doubt what you said is true. Independents do not like Donald Trump. They have never liked him, and he has no plan to win them.
But I could see them warming up to a younger Republican candidate with -- who brings far less drama than him.
ALLISON: I do think, though, this is when, like, the coalition.
You look at -- when you're thinking about who can win a race, you're like, what coalition can we build? I think that maybe independents split between Biden and DeSantis. But young voters really don't like Ron DeSantis. He has come after them like -- and standing behind him.
Young voters, overwhelmingly, despite Joe Biden's age, showed up in record numbers and continued to poll really well with him. So it will be interesting to see how it all plays out.
FARAH GRIFFIN: But to Michael's point about the X-factor with DeSantis, I could see him actually having the great general election pivot that we always were like, this is coming with Donald Trump, and, of course, it never does.
ALLISON: It never did.
FARAH GRIFFIN: I knew him in the House. He was pretty much a mainstream Republican, strong on national defense, somebody who he will walk back that position Ukraine time and time over, I think.
So, I could see him being somebody who realizes, listen, this may be my approach on some of these more culture war issues, but it's not a winning strategy.
BASH: Let's talk about what the president said yesterday, because he's starting to put the arguments that he's making for his reelection into sharper focus.
He talked about sinister forces in America. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: There are those who demonize and pit people against one another, and there are those who do anything and everything, no matter how desperate or immoral, to hold onto power.
But I know this. The oldest, most sinister forces may believe they will determine America's future, but they are wrong.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LAROSA: Yes, I think he was referring to the sinister forces out there that are embracing right nationalism, or the sinister forces out there that are rooting for Russia and Putin, or that are xenophobic and trying to take the rights away from women to do what they can with their bodies.
BASH: And this is a particularly interesting argument, given you talked about the coalition, the fact that enthusiasm for President Biden among black Democratic voters right now, polls show, is pretty low.
ALLISON: Yes. And I think what he did was go to them to have a conversation with them.
The best thing you can do as a politician, which Ron DeSantis is getting criticized, is that he's not talking to human beings. Well, Joe Biden says, I'm going to go to a historically black college and lay out why for this new generation of people who are voting and their parents who go back to all over places around the country and saying, this is why I am running for office. This is the real threat.
I see you. I understand that you have your lived experience, feels directly, as a black person living in this country, what white nationalism does in the country. And I think that it was a strong point. I will -- I also think, depending on who the opponent for Joe Biden is, those enthusiasm numbers will continue to tick up.
But he has work to do, and I think it's good that he went to the base.
JENNINGS: I think hearing Joe Biden complaining about pitting people against one another is one of the funniest jokes I heard this week, because he has consistently tried to pit Americans against each other.
He has consistently been dishonest on a number of issues, and he has consistently, I think, done exactly the opposite of what he said he was going to do, which is restore the norms and institutions of our government. And I think we have a war on institutions in this country, and I think Trump is part of it, but, increasingly, I think Biden is part of it.
And for him to make that argument, I think, is very disingenuous.
LAROSA: I would respectfully disagree.
I think he's campaigned -- he campaigned in 2020 to restore institutions, to restore respect for government, and to restore decency. And I think that, if you -- elections are about two people. It's about a choice between two people. When people look at that choice, they're going to say, who reflects my values more?
Is it -- am I -- do I -- am I -- am I more -- do I identify myself with a man like Joe Biden, or do I identify with a man like Donald Trump? It goes back to George W. Bush, when all those people -- 6 percent unemployment in Ohio in 2004. There was no way you were going to vote for George W. Bush.
But people -- people vote for people they identify with. And he's a man of integrity. And that's what people respect about Joe Biden.
FARAH GRIFFIN: Joe Biden's remarks yesterday underscored that he's dying to run against Donald Trump, because he can run a message like that. It's fearmongering.
If he runs against any other candidate, he has a much harder uphill battle. His campaign ad was directed specifically at Donald Trump, and Republicans should listen to that. If they want to win, don't run the person Joe Biden's dying to run against.
BASH: Thank you so much. Great discussion. Good to see you all.
And a Mother's Day message from a working mom who made history in the U.S. Senate on how she thinks the country can do more to help moms everywhere.
BASH: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION.
This Mother's Day, we hope many of you are getting a well-deserved break, especially given the ballooning crisis in this country on the cost and availability of childcare.
Here with me now to talk about solutions is Democratic Senator Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, one of the first women to fly helicopter combat missions during the Iraq War, who later became the first senator to give birth while in office.
Thank you so much for being here. Happy Mother's Day to you.
SEN. TAMMY DUCKWORTH (D-IL): Thank you. Same to you.
BASH: You have two young daughters.
DUCKWORTH: I do. BASH: Over the last three decades, the cost of childcare has risen
220 percent. It's such a staggering number, it's actually hard to comprehend.
The pandemic made problems in the childcare system worse, particularly for women of color. What are the solutions?
DUCKWORTH: Well, there's a solution, a proposal from the Biden administration that I support that is childcare for working families.
It would cap the cost of childcare at $10 per day. It would essentially be a way to provide childcare, to subsidize childcare for working families all across this country. Families spend as much as a quarter to half of their income on childcare, and there's no way for working families to survive under those -- under those burdens.
BASH: Anything bipartisan? Because you can't do anything without Republican buy-in.
DUCKWORTH: Well, we keep trying. We keep trying. I don't know why my Republican colleagues won't support working families and making sure that we have childcare in this country.
BASH: Let's take a step back and talk about how we got here.
I mentioned that staggering figure, 220 percent. That was the increase of the cost of childcare. You have studied this issue. You're working on legislative fixes. Why is that the case?
DUCKWORTH: Well, there's a whole number of things -- of reasons, not the least of which, there is a work force shortage.
You're competing for fewer and fewer slots for childcare. We need to expand availability of childcare. We need to have -- expand the work force. This is where immigration reform would be helpful to bring in more workers who can be trained up and to provide childcare.
It just -- there's a number of forces at issue. And, frankly, in other countries, they have found that it is important enough an issue for there to be subsidies to support childcare for working families. And we're just one that doesn't do it.
BASH: As I mentioned, you were the first senator in history to give birth while in office.
BASH: You had to get the rules changed on the Senate floor in order to bring your infant onto the Senate floor.
DUCKWORTH: Yes. Yes.
BASH: Talk about that.
(LAUGHTER) DUCKWORTH: As soon as I got pregnant, I knew there was going to be an issue, because, when I was in the House, we were able to bring children onto the floor up to the age of 12.
Actually, it was Speaker Pelosi, when she was speaker the first time, who changed the rules for that. But, in the Senate, there are all sorts of rules. It's very tradition-bound, and they have brought dogs onto the floor of the Senate, but they have never brought children.
And so I had to enlist Amy Klobuchar to help me in that fight, and it took the entire nine months of my pregnancy. And the rules finally changed when Roy Blunt of Missouri stepped up and said, here's a bipartisan solution.
And as soon as he became chairman of the Rules Committee, three days later, he changed the rules. But it took nine months of arguing. And there were questions like, what's the dress code for the baby going to be? And so I put a blazer on her when I did bring her to the floor...
DUCKWORTH: ... a little baby blazer.
BASH: Oh, my goodness.
BASH: I mean, if you think about it, if you have that kind of struggle, as a United States senator...
BASH: ... who has a lot of power...
BASH: ... what does it say about everyday Americans, your constituents?
DUCKWORTH: It says that they are struggling and they're barely hanging on, and many of them are falling behind, which is why I have made so many family issues a part of my work that I do, whether it's mandating that all airports have lactation stations.
That happened after I was traveling and trying to express breast milk for my babies. And I was told: Oh, just go plug your breast pump in next to where those guys are charging their cell phones. Or you can do it in the toilet. And it's like, that's disgusting.
So we changed that law. And that was bipartisan. It took five years, but it's done. And so there are a lot of these things that still need to be done, and I'm working hard on them every day.
BASH: Before we go, what is your message as a mom, as a working mom, as a badass mom...
BASH: ... to other moms out there on this Mother's Day?
DUCKWORTH: Hang in there, sister. We're in this together. And nobody has perfect work-life balance. Everybody struggles.
And, so, do the best that you can, and you're what keeps this country strong. You're growing the next generation for our nation.
BASH: Senator Duckworth, happy Mother's Day.
DUCKWORTH: Happy Mother's Day to you too.
BASH: Thanks for coming in.
DUCKWORTH: Thank you.
BASH: And we hope you made those brunch reservations. It's time to celebrate the hardworking moms in all of our lives.
We will be right back.
BASH: We want to wish all of you out there a happy Mother's Day.
A very special happy Mother's Day to my mom, Francie, and to all the mothers here on the staff of STATE OF THE UNION and across CNN who don't just work here, but have another job, a more important job, with their children, raising them at home.
And if this day is difficult for you, we are sending you our best wishes too.
Thank you so much for spending your Sunday morning with us.
Fareed Zakaria is next.