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State of the Union

Interview With Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT); Interview With Fmr. Gov. Chris Christie (D-NJ); Interview With Presidential Candidate Vivek Ramaswamy. Aired 9-10a ET

Aired July 30, 2023 - 09:00   ET




KASIE HUNT, CNN HOST (voice-over): Political enemies. Facing new charges and the potential for more, Donald Trump flexes his power over his party.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The Republicans are very high-class. They have got to be a little bit lower-class.

HUNT: What's next?

And up close and personal. Republican candidates take their message to key early states.

FMR. GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If I am the Republican nominee, Joe Biden doesn't stand a chance.

VIVEK RAMASWAMY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We the people can handle the truth.

HUNT: But can they overtake the front-runner without taking him on? I will ask GOP presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy. And then fellow candidate Chris Christie joins me to respond.

Plus: Just a number? Renewed concerns about aging political leaders, as candidates on both sides say, it's time for a fresh start.

NIKKI HALEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We need to start getting D.C. in order.

HUNT: Do Americans believe age is just a number? Democratic Senator Chris Murphy is coming up.


HUNT: Hello. I'm Kasie Hunt in Washington, where the state of our union is thinking, I have seen this film before.

The political world begins a new week, as we have so many times over the past seven years, under the pull of Donald Trump, the far-and-away front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination, whose legal peril worsened this week. On Saturday in Pennsylvania, the former president took on Republicans

who he felt didn't back him strongly enough, arguing that any GOP lawmaker who didn't prioritize investigating his Democratic rival, Joe Biden, should face a primary challenge.

Hanging over the former president, the potential for more indictments this month over his efforts to try to overturn the 2020 presidential election and new charges in the Mar-a-Lago classified documents case accusing him of trying to have incriminating surveillance footage deleted.

This weekend, Trump punched down at his competitors for the presidential nomination, even as most of them shy away from returning fire.

But, on Saturday, he had nothing but praise for my next guest. He is running against Trump, and he is at third place in a new national poll. He received a warm welcome in Iowa this weekend.

Joining me now is GOP presidential candidate the entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy.

Sir, thanks very much for being on the program this morning.

RAMASWAMY: It's good to see you, Kasie.

HUNT: So, you had one of the most enthusiastic welcomes at this major event over the weekend in Iowa.

But, in this national poll, Donald Trump, the former president, still has 54 percent of Republicans supporting him. And you're in third place, yes, but you only have 5 percent.

Trump is on at the attack of many of the others in the field. But almost no one seems to be attacking him. How are you going to beat him? How are you going to catch up?

RAMASWAMY: Well, I started at 0.0 percent in March. I'm now at an unambiguous third in this race. And we're just getting warmed up ahead of the first debate stage.

The thing about me is, I'm not attacking any of my fellow candidates. I am not running against them. I am running for this country. And that's what I see on the ground in Iowa and elsewhere. People are hungry for an actual affirmative vision, not, what are we running from? What are we running to?

I'm leading us to our American dream...

HUNT: Sure.

RAMASWAMY: ... to our national identity.

HUNT: But, so far, they...

RAMASWAMY: And I think we need to move forward, rather than retroactively looking at grievance.

HUNT: Well, sure. I mean, I take your point.

But you have also said in a recent interview -- this caught my eye -- that -- quote -- I'm quoting you here -- "The reality is about 30 percent of this country suffers from psychiatric illness when Trump is in the White House. People start to disagree with policies they otherwise would have agreed with just because he's the one advancing them."

This seems to suggest that, first of all, you see some issues with Donald Trump. But it also suggests that you believe that Donald Trump would lose the general election. Is that what you think?

RAMASWAMY: So, first of all, I'm not laying blame at anybody's feet, but I do think it is a fact that people in this country from 2016 to 2020, some of them even now, some of them even in the Republican primary, start adopting views that they would not have adopted if Donald Trump had not been the person advancing them.

For my part, I stand for the America first agenda. I believe I will be able to take that agenda even further than Trump did, because I'm not yet having that effect on people.


Do I think Trump can beat Biden in a general election in a narrow margin? To be honest, yes, I do. But I think I am the only candidate in this race, in the entire Republican primary field, who can deliver a Ronald Reagan 1980-style landslide election, a moral mandate in this election.

And I think that is critically important to unite this country and, frankly, to drive forward the agenda that I have to shut down the administrative state, to declare independence from China. These are big steps that I want to take as the next president.

HUNT: But if -- if...

RAMASWAMY: And that's going to take a moral mandate to do it.

HUNT: If you are running as -- I mean, many argue you are running to the right of Donald Trump, or at least trying to say you're Trump 2.0, you're perhaps Trumpier than Trump.

How is it that the number of people that would suffer from a psychiatric illness isn't more than 30 percent for you? I mean, how on earth do you argue that you are the candidate that can get more voters than Donald Trump when you are essentially saying to people, I'm going to be more than he was?

RAMASWAMY: Because that presumes that policy disagreements are actually what drove it.

I think it was a separate psychosis that relates to, frankly, the media's relationship with that individual. I have traveled to places like the South Side of Chicago, Kensington in the middle of Philadelphia on this campaign, places where traditional Republicans don't go.

I find widespread support for policies like my plan to use the U.S. military to seal the Southern border, frankly, to grow the economy, something that we haven't done in a very long time, no longer paying single women more not to have a man in the house than to have dual- parent household.


RAMASWAMY: We actually find unity that goes beyond party lines.

And I don't think the real division is between Democrats and Republicans. I think it is between those who are pro-American and those who are anti-American. That's 80/20. That's a landslide election, and that's what I intend to deliver.

HUNT: So, let me ask you a little bit more about the others in the field besides the elephant in the room, so to speak. Donald Trump.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is defending some new state educational standards that include the idea -- and I'm quoting here -- "Slaves developed skills which in some instances could be applied for their personal benefit."

But Senator Tim Scott points out -- quote -- "There's no silver lining in slavery."

I want to -- you to watch what he says, and we will talk about it.


SEN. TIM SCOTT (R-SC), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What slavery was, was really about separating families, about mutilating humans, and even raping their wives. It was just devastating.

So, I would hope that every person in our country, and certainly running for president, would appreciate that.


HUNT: Are you with Governor Ron DeSantis or Senator Tim Scott on this issue, sir?

RAMASWAMY: The reality is, I don't trust the media's filtering of what was in that curriculum, so I'd really want to read it in detail and understand what exactly was being taught.

But I will say this, is, I don't think that the division should be, are you with the state of Florida, which was Governor DeSantis' response, or the other side? I don't see it that way. I stand on the side of truth.

Obviously, we should be teaching kids about the awful legacy of slavery, but, even more importantly, we're not teaching them enough about the ideals that actually do define this country. Personally, I think the deeper problem in our schools today is many of them teaching young black kids, students and minorities that they're oppressed based on the color of their skin or their genetic attributes.

That's the real psychological slavery in the present, and that's what I have the biggest problem with. But I do think that some of these issues and spats can be distractions from what should Governor DeSantis or Tim Scott or myself or others actually be debating. How do we grow an economy? How do we actually lift all people up, revive self-confidence and pride in the next generation of Americans?

That's what I think we need to be focused on.

HUNT: All right, I'm going to move on here. I do think it is worth underscoring that these criticisms have not come -- that we're quoting here have not come from the media. They have come from African- Americans in the Republican Party, Senator Tim Scott, Congressman John James.

But let's move on now to, federal prosecutors added new obstruction of justice charges against former President Donald Trump on Thursday.

The indictment, the superseding indictment, says that after Trump learned that the Justice Department wanted to subpoena security footage from Mar-a-Lago, Trump talked with an aide who later told the I.T. director at Mar-a-Lago that -- quote -- "the boss" -- end quote -- wanted the footage deleted.

Now, I know you have said repeatedly that you would pardon Trump in this documents case. But this is significant new information. So, given this new information, do you still, would you still pardon him if you were president?

RAMASWAMY: The standard I use, as our next president, is what moves our country forward. What is the right thing for the United States of America?

HUNT: Right. And would having a president like this move it forward?

RAMASWAMY: And, absolutely, the right answer is to move on, and I would pardon him.

I would -- I intend to be our next president. And, yes, I do believe I will move us forward. And, yes, I think one of the right ways to do that is to pardon the former president of the United States from what is clearly a politicized prosecution.


And I will share a view with you, Kasie. This is not specific to Trump. This is part of my broader view on the justice system in our country. I think that our general norm in our Justice Department is, you should not convict somebody of a process crime when there was no actual underlying crime.

I think that's a major problem, entrapment. Even look at the... HUNT: So, you think destroying evidence is a process crime?

RAMASWAMY: I think it is, by definition, a process crime. Nobody left, right -- any legal scholar will agree with me on that statement. That is, by definition, a process crime, a crime that would not have existed but for the existence of an investigation.

And if we look ourselves in the mirror over the last several years, even look at the acquittals in the Gretchen Whitmer case, the fact that two people were acquitted of entrapment, I think it is a bad habit that our FBI and DOJ have gotten into, intervening and creating crimes that would not have existed but for their action.

And I think, as it relates to moving forward as a country, I absolutely think the right answer for the country is to put the grievances of the past behind us, to pardon President Trump, so that we can move forward as one nation, rather than marching to a national divorce.

HUNT: All right, Mr. Vivek Ramaswamy, thank you very much for taking some time to be with us this weekend.

I'm sure we're going to hear much more from you on the campaign trail.

RAMASWAMY: Thank you, Kasie.

HUNT: My next guest is criticizing his fellow Republicans for tiptoeing around Trump. GOP candidate Chris Christie joins me live coming up next.

And then: a potential challenge to President Biden from his own party? That's coming up.



HUNT: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Kasie Hunt.

As Republican presidential hopefuls descended on Iowa this weekend, there was one notable absence, the candidate who has called Donald Trump stupid, a loser, selfish, a failure. And that's just the last couple of days.

Republican presidential candidate and former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie joins me now.

Sir, it is always great to have you here on the program, so thank you for being here.

And you just heard your competitor Vivek Ramaswamy say that he would still pardon Donald Trump even after the special counsel charged him with seeking to destroy security footage in the classified documents case.

Now, you, in addition to being a governor, were a federal prosecutor, and I'd like to know, when you look at this new evidence, is there a clear-cut case of obstruction of justice here?

CHRISTIE: It appears that way, Kasie.

You look at it, it's pretty brazen. These guys were acting like the Corleones with no experience. I mean, the day after a grand jury subpoena is served, which includes the surveillance tapes, they go down to Mar-a-Lago. And Walt Nauta appears to be the Fredo of this family. They send him to go down there, and they send him to go and delete it.

This is bad stuff. And you can't say there was no underlying potential crime here. This was the withholding of confidential classified information from the government. After 18 months of asking Donald Trump to return it voluntarily, not only did he not return it. He lied about having it.

This is not the kind of thing we could do. I want you to think, Kasie, for a second about the potential effect on our troops and our intelligence officers by having this stuff just laying around and him willy-nilly showing it to whoever he feels like to be a showoff on the back deck at Mar-a-Lago.

This is not what a former president should be doing, and it's certainly not something that someone who wants to be president should be doing.

HUNT: And does it go to criminal intent? I mean, this seemed to suggest that Trump was aware -- I mean, his defense has been: Well, I can declassify whatever I want.

This seems to fly in the face of that defense.

CHRISTIE: Well, first of all, the declassify -- "I can declassify whatever I want" defense is not a defense.

You can declassify whatever you want when you're president. You can't do it by thinking about it. You can't doing it about mind-melding with the documents. There's a process you have to go through to declassify, and he knows that. So there are no defenses in that regard here.

Look, he's presumed innocent. But the bottom line is, the government has made a very, very compelling case. And remember something. Usually, the government only includes, at the most, about half of the evidence they have.

And what's clear on the latest obstruction charges are, they have a cooperating witness. You know, witness -- Trump Employee Number 4 looks like a very, very important cooperating witness. So we now have people inside the Trump Organization employed by Donald Trump who are testifying against him.

And I think the next one you're going to see is former Chief of Staff Mark Meadows in the January 6 case. And I wonder what Donald Trump will have to say about that.

HUNT: Fair enough. So, let me ask you about the rally last night on Friday -- or --

excuse me -- the rally last night that Trump held in Pennsylvania. He called on Congress to withhold aid to Ukraine unless the White House cooperates with the Republicans' Hunter Biden probes, which seems to be very similar to what Trump got impeached for back in 2019.

But he also had this to say to Republicans. Take a look.


TRUMP: They don't fight the way they're supposed to fight. The others are dirty, sick players, and the Republicans are very high-class. They have got to be a little bit lower-class, I suspect.


HUNT: What's your response to that?

CHRISTIE: Look, he's not even clearing that bar.

I want voters to listen to this. It is most likely that, by the time we get on the debate stage on August 23, the front-runner will be out on bail in four different jurisdictions, Florida, Washington, Georgia, and New York, out on bail, Kasie.


I mean, that doesn't -- doesn't even clear the low-class bar that Donald Trump is advocating for. Look, I'm running for president because I want to do the big things. I want to make sure that we fix our entitlement programs. I want to make sure that we give parents educational freedom to decide where their kids go to school all across this country.

There are big things that we need to do here to lower inflation and to create jobs that are good-paying and help people to save money. And he's sitting there at a rally for two hours last night talking about his own problems.

This is a guy who's putting himself before the country. You can't put America first with Donald Trump, because it's Trump first. And the proof of that, by the way, is for all those people who donated $25, $50, $100 to him when he was telling them in 2020 that the election was a lie and that he was going to try to reverse the election, all of those people, we now know, have paid over $40 million of their hard- earned money for a billionaire's legal fees.

He is not enough of a stand-up person, with his wealth and his big private 737 plane and all the rest that he has, and Mar-a-Lago, and the Trump Tower and all the rest. And he's making regular Americans pay his legal fees. It's outrageous. It's beneath the job that he seeks to hold again. And he's going to be, let's remind them, out on bail.

This is not the kind of person we want as our nominee, because, by the way, Joe Biden will be the president again if Donald Trump's the nominee.

HUNT: So, you mentioned the big things. And I want to ask you about that, because the reality is, there is some good economic news this day -- these days.

Inflation is creeping down to 3 percent. GDP is strong. Consumer sentiment is on the way up. We have wages going up faster than prices.

Do you think President Biden deserves any credit for that?

CHRISTIE: Kasie, what he deserves credit for is the fact that everything is 17 percent more expensive today than it was when he took the oath of office on January 20 of 2021.

Interest rates are at one of its high -- our highest level in 25 years, making it much more expensive for people to buy a home, to buy a car, to be able to invest in their business and grow it to create jobs. This guy is the Jimmy Carter of the 2020s.

And his inflation that he created -- and don't take my word for it. Democratic economist, former Treasury Secretary to Bill Clinton Larry Summers has said that Joe Biden created this inflation through his ridiculous spending.

I dealt with this in New Jersey, Kasie, after coming after Jon Corzine. We had an $11 billion deficit on a $29 billion budget. We balanced the budget by cutting 836 individual programs and did not raise taxes. This stuff can be done, but you need someone who knows how to execute and knows how to do it.

What the Republican Party voters and all American voters deserve are two things, the truth. The truth is not negotiable. And I'm not going to say something different on your program than I will anywhere else in this country. And, second, they need someone who can deliver on the issues they care about on the border, on Obamacare, on the national debt, on entitlement programs.

Donald Trump failed on all those when he was president, even with a Republican Congress. Elect me president, and I won't.

HUNT: All right, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, thank you very much for your time this morning, sir.

I'm sure we will see much more of you on the trail. And...

CHRISTIE: You sure will, Kasie. Thank you very much.


HUNT: All right.

Renewed questions in the Senate this week about aging lawmakers.

Democratic Senator and Gen X'er Chris Murphy is coming up.



JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Republicans may have to find something else to criticize me for, now that inflation is coming down. Maybe they will decide to impeach me because it's coming down.


HUNT: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Kasie Hunt.

President Biden playing up solid economic numbers as he ramps up his reelection pitch. It's not clear yet that voters, though, are sold on that message, with new signs this week that there's some remaining angst about his campaign.

Democratic Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut joins me now.

Senator Murphy, good to see you. Thanks for being here.

SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D-CT): Yes, thanks for having me.

HUNT: So, President Biden was in Maine on Friday to tout his recent economic successes, as we talked about with Governor Christie. Inflation is falling. This week, the GDP report was very good.

But the American people are still rating the economy poorly. What's the disconnect?

MURPHY: Well, listen, the economy is booming right now.

You're talking about unemployment under 4 percent. You're seeing a reduction in inflation that's outpacing all of our other global competitors, GDP rising. One of the stunning statistics from the second quarter is that, A, GDP grew by 2.5 percent, but 25 percent of that growth was due to factory construction.

And so that means that this isn't just a short-term improvement in the economy. We are bringing back manufacturing jobs. We are going to be putting people back to work in jobs that have real wages, pensions, benefits. That's a transformation of the economy, not just a Band-Aid.

But I get it. People listened to Donald Trump say that he was going to reindustrialize the economy, that he was going to bring back manufacturing jobs, and he didn't. And so there is a skepticism from the American electorate that presidents who say that they're serious about bringing good jobs back are going to do it.


But I think, as you continue to see these repeated quarters, these repeated good news stories about the American economy being transformed and people getting back to work, that Joe Biden's going to get credit for that. He should, because we are seeing an absolute revolution of our economy right now, the kind of good-paying jobs that used to be the foundation of America coming back.

And that's Joe Biden's policies.

HUNT: I need to ask you as well about something that shook the Senate this week, and that was Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, who had a health scare.

He froze up at a press conference and stopped talking. And, of course, he had recently suffered a concussion. His office says that he's going to continue to serve as leader.

Have you spoken with him at all about the incident? And what was your reaction to seeing what happened?

MURPHY: I have not spoken to him directly about the incident, but he was on the floor. Thursday was a long day in the Senate completing the defense bill. He looked like the old Mitch McConnell. My sense is, he is very much still in control of that caucus.

And, though he certainly had a health scare, my sense is that he's back up on his feet and he is going to be able to lead the Republican Conference very ably going forward

No question I have a lot of disagreements with Mitch McConnell, but he has been one of the more effective leaders of the Republican Conference in my lifetime. And I expect that that will probably continue, at least until the end of this term.

HUNT: Well, and we certainly wish Senator McConnell the best in confronting his -- any health challenges he may be facing.

But we should acknowledge that what happened has pushed age back into the center of the political debate, including in the presidential race. And President Biden would be 86 at the end of any second term. And, this week, we learned that one of your colleagues in Congress on the House side, Democratic Congressman Dean Phillips of Minnesota, is talking to donors about a potential primary challenge against President Biden.

And he says that that's in part because the U.S. needs a -- quote, unquote -- "new generation" to step up.

I mean, is it wrong for Democratic voters to be concerned about the age and the health of the president going into what's absolutely going to be an incredibly demand winning campaign?

MURPHY: Well, ultimately, voters in this country care about effectiveness. They care about whether a president can do the job.

I guess age is relevant if it is an indicator that a candidate isn't up to do the most important job in the world. But Joe Biden is succeeding, and succeeding at an extraordinary and historic rate.

The amount of major legislation passed by this president, the first gun violence bill in 30 years, the first major investment in clean energy, the biggest infrastructure investment in the history of this country, all of that doesn't happen without Joe Biden. He is a master legislative tactician.

He was involved in a detailed way in the passage of all of those bills. I know, because I wrote the gun bill, and I was talking to Joe Biden on a regular basis. You pair that together with this dramatic expansion of the economy, America recovering at a faster pace than all of our other high-income competitors...

HUNT: So...

MURPHY: ... and there is really zero evidence that Joe Biden can't do this job.

And so I don't begrudge any of my friends in Congress from considering a presidential run. And that comes with the territory.

HUNT: Let's just say, so given all that, I mean, should...


HUNT: Should Congressman Phillips run?

MURPHY: Well, I mean, Congressman Phillips can do whatever he wants. I don't think he will get very far, because the Democratic Party is pretty enthusiastic about a president who has made historic progress on a number of priorities that we have been fighting and losing on for decades before Joe Biden became president.

So, I think most incumbent presidents get some kind of primary challenge, even if it's a pretty weak one. But Joe Biden's going to be the Democratic nominee, and I don't really think anybody's going to have much of a shot at challenging him. We're going to be behind him 100 percent.

HUNT: Fair enough, although I will say there are some polls that show that people would be willing to consider an alternative to Joe Biden.

But let me go to something that you and your Democratic colleagues are working on in the Senate. And that is a code of conduct for the Supreme Court. I mean, this is something that you introduce regularly.

But we did get a response this week from Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, and he said -- quote -- "I know this is a controversial view, but I'm willing to say it. No provision in the Constitution gives them," meaning Congress, "the authority to regulate the Supreme Court, period."

What do you think he is saying there and what is your response?

MURPHY: First of all, It's just stunningly wrong. And he should know that more than anyone else, because his seat on the Supreme Court exists only because of an act passed by Congress.

It is Congress that establishes the number of justices on the Supreme Court. It is Congress that has passed in the past requirements for justices to disclose certain information.


And so it is just wrong on the facts to say that Congress doesn't have anything to do with the rules guiding the Supreme Court. In fact, from the very beginning, Congress has set those rules.

But it is even more disturbing that Alito feels the need to insert himself into a congressional debate. And it is just more evidence that these justices on the Supreme Court, these conservative justices, just see themselves as politicians. They just see themselves as a second legislative body that has just as much power and right to impose their political will on the country as Congress does.

They are going to bend the law in order to impose their right-wing view of how the country should work on the rest of us. And it's why we need to pass this commonsense ethics legislation to at least make sure we know that these guys aren't in bed having their lifestyles paid for by conservative donors, as we have unfortunately seen in these latest revelations.

HUNT: Before I let you go here, I do have to ask you about another thing that's bedeviling Democrats, particularly in the White House.

A federal judge this week said she wasn't ready to approve a plea deal for Hunter Biden, the president's son. House Republicans are investigating a 2017 text that Hunter sent to a Chinese businessman. It claims that he was sitting with his father at the time. And now the White House is saying -- quote -- "The president was not in business with his son."

That seems to be a change from when they previously said that Joe and Hunter Biden never spoke about it. Do you have any concerns about this?

MURPHY: I don't have any concerns. I think this is a witch-hunt.

If Hunter Biden has broken the law, held accountable for it. I don't think he's being treated any differently than anyone else who's been accused of the crimes that he's been accused of. He's had a lot of trouble in his life. And Joe Biden has been open about it and I think has shown, as any caring father would, a lot of concern to try to help Hunter Biden recover.

But there has never been any evidence that Joe Biden has compromised his office. In fact, to the very opposite. The evidence around the allegations Republicans have made about Hunter Biden's involvement in Ukraine suggests that Joe Biden was working to root out corruption in Ukraine, as he consistently did as vice president. And I think those facts will continue to come out.

HUNT: All right, Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy, thank you very much for your time, sir.

We really appreciate it.

MURPHY: Thanks, Kasie. HUNT: All right, here's some advice for Ron DeSantis from a member of

his own party -- quote -- "If you find yourself in a deep hole, put the shovel down."

My panel weighs in next.







HUNT: Only in America, indeed.

Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION.

Not kidding. That actually happened. Former President Trump took the stage on Friday night to the lyric -- quote -- "One could end up going to prison, or one could be president," at that Lincoln Dinner in Iowa.

My panel joins me now with all of that.

Who wants to take that one?

Marc Short, adviser to Vice President...


MARC SHORT, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF TO FORMER VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE: That song has been in the president's playlist for a long time.

So, the irony was that he ended up blaming Kim Reynolds for that. That's a song that actually introduced all the candidates in Iowa. It was all their walk-up music. So it's kind of silly that he'd be blaming Kim Reynolds.

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It also presupposes that these items are mutually exclusive.


JENNINGS: I mean, maybe both will happen at the same time.

This has been a staple of Republican presidential playlists for a long time. When I heard it just now, I was immediately transported back to the days of the Romney campaign. They played it at length, yes.

HUNT: I was going to say, we heard it quite a bit walking into arena after arena back in 2012. But, seriously, I mean, Will Hurd was the only person on the stage in

Iowa who actually said what was included in that song. I mean, he got up there and he said, the president's really only running because he doesn't want to go to prison. And he was not actually booed off the stage. It was at the end of his remarks. But there were people in that crowd booing as he left the stage.

And I want to get our Democrats, Michael LaRosa, Karen Finney, to weigh in here for a second.

But, Marc Short, let me start with you here. I mean, Will Hurd, on that -- in that environment, what does it say that there's no appetite at all there for that crowd, and yet there's all those guys up on stage vying to be, including your former boss, the alternative to Trump in 2024?

SHORT: Well, I think some of the candidates on that stage have been -- expressed their differences with Donald Trump pretty clearly, particularly around January 6.

I think there's a difference when you walk into an event like that that's the base of our party that I think looks back those four years and knows a lot positive was accomplished. I think, when Will Hurd goes there and takes on Donald Trump, he's doing it to try to get media attention, which he succeeded at.

But I think there are plenty of candidates on the stage that have also expressed their disagreements. They're just going to say -- when they walk into a venue like that, their preference may be to say, here's my vision for the future of our country, without having to go back and talk about Donald Trump.

HUNT: So, Karen Finney, I mean, what does this do for Democrats, though, here? Doesn't this underscore the reality -- I mean, yes, we're going to get to all the challenges of President Biden and what he faces here.

However, I mean, there is an argument -- Chris Christie is going to make this argument that President Trump is likely to lose the election. And some of these facts seem to underscore that possibility.


And we're very much focused, obviously, on the Republican primary. But so much of what is being discussed in this Republican primary would never pass muster with a general election electorate. I mean, I do not believe the general electorate -- general election electorate of this country is going to reelect Donald Trump.

I mean, put aside how many indictments. Just based on the record, just based on January 6, I -- it's just not going to happen.


And so, for Democrats, though, it gives us the chance to continue to talk about, as you heard the senator, expanding the economy, lowering health care costs, and sort of staying above the fray, while they sort of duke it out in a primary.

MICHAEL LAROSA, FORMER SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO PRESIDENT BIDEN: His legal troubles are sort of irrelevant to Democrats at this point, because it's hard to count indictments and charges.

HUNT: It's irrelevant to Democrats? I'm surprised to hear you say that.


LAROSA: I mean, it is just because what we know is, the last three election cycles, that whenever Donald Trump has been either on the ballot or his candidates have been on the ballot, they have lost independents.

Even when the president of the United States, the current president, had a 40 percent approval rating and a 40-year high inflation, he had a historic, successful midterm, the Democrats did, outperforming Republicans and expectations.

So we would be glad to see him on the ballot, because what we know is that independents flee from him.

HUNT: Scott?

JENNINGS: Yes, well, you heard it. They want to run against Donald Trump.

I mean, I came out here prepared to quarrel with you today, but I agree with much of what you just said.




JENNINGS: Because -- yes, we will get there.

But I agree. A lot of what is happening is not going to fly with the average independent swing voter, who decides elections in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Arizona, Wisconsin, places like that. And as much as Republicans are digging in their heels to defend him over it, they're not the ones who will decide the next president of the United States.

It'll be those swing voters in those states that, by the way, Donald Trump lost. And so I have a hard time seeing how we're going to reconcile that if he's the nominee of the party.

FINNEY: But you have another challenge regardless. Let's say he's not the nominee.

I mean, I'm happy to run against him or not. He's still going to be a factor in the election, even if he's not the nominee. And that is not going to be good for whoever your nominee is. We don't have to contend with...


LAROSA: His voters will stay home, like they did for Romney.

FINNEY: Exactly.

JENNINGS: I mean, Democrats, though, are going to -- no matter who is nominated, they're going to say it's worse than Trump. I mean, you heard it here first.

I mean, whether it's DeSantis. Chris Christie or anybody else, it's going to be, this is even worse than Trump.

SHORT: I think almost any of the other candidates in the Republican field would beat Joe Biden. So I don't trust the notion that, if it's not Trump, it's OK.

I think, for Republicans, there's a great excitement that, if it's not Trump, they stand a great chance of winning.

HUNT: Yes, well, certainly, you can call the Hillary Clinton campaign and ask them about...


FINNEY: Yes, I have been there, done that.

HUNT: ... who you want to run against.

FINNEY: Which we know how that worked out, yes.

HUNT: Be careful what you wish for, in terms of who you want to run against.

FINNEY: Exactly.

HUNT: All right.

So one thing that we heard some of the GOP candidates bring up in Iowa, President Biden is now acknowledging his seventh grandchild. There was a statement out on Friday night.

"Our son Hunter," they said, "and Navy's mother, Lunden, are working together to foster a relationship that is in the best interests of their daughter, preserving her privacy as much as possible going forward. This is not a political issue. It's a family matter. Jill and I only want what is best for our grandchildren, including Navy."

So, just for a little bit of context here, the president had come under scrutiny for only acknowledging his other grandchildren, his first six grandchildren. I shouldn't say first six grandchildren, but the others that the family has acknowledged who have the Biden last name. And he ultimately decided, his family ultimately decided to do this. And, Michael LaRosa, you worked for Joe Biden for a long time. Can you

help us understand this a little bit? Because I do think, for many of the critics, certainly -- and there was a Maureen Dowd column about this in "The New York Times" -- this is a very innocent little girl who did nothing wrong, despite what her father, Hunter Biden, may have been going through at the time.

Why now for the Bidens? And, honestly, why did it take them so long?

LAROSA: Well, two things.

First of all, I respect you as a journalist for having to ask the question, but it is a very gross and uncomfortable subject to talk about, as it is...

HUNT: Well, let's not call a little girl gross, OK?

LAROSA: No, no, no, no. I'm talking about the inter sanctum of a family and the privacy of what goes on in a family.

And you're right. That little girl, she should not be weaponized by the Republicans, who are down there in Arkansas with conservative lawyers and conservative P.R. people and posting on their Instagram. They shouldn't be weaponizing her.

And everybody's welcome to make their own personal judgments on the Bidens, but it is -- it is -- frankly, they are a family, a real family with real feelings, with real struggles and challenges, like every family. And I guarantee you that the more that the Republicans make this an issue, it will not work.

HUNT: Well...

LAROSA: Voters appreciate, voters relate to having struggles in their own families. They root for people with vulnerabilities. They root for people who understand and relate to them.

And, ultimately, the Bidens are a real family, just like everyone else.

HUNT: Sure.

But, Scott Jennings, the president has made being a family man a central part of his political identity.


It's not Republicans, with all due respect, who made Hunter Biden into a complete scumbag on this and other issues. The ignoring his own daughter for four years, and the president of the United States hanging up a stocking for the dog, and not for his seventh grandchild...


[09:50:04] HUNT: OK, look, we can also have sympathy for people who are struggling with addiction.

Let's keep this conversation respectful.

FINNEY: Right.


Listen, I totally agree. And where I'm from, a lot of families deal with addiction. And you know who ends up picking up the pieces? The grandparents. And, in this case, the grandparents would not acknowledge this little girl. It is offensive.

But the bottom line is, the poll...

HUNT: But they have now.

JENNINGS: Oh, what a hero.

The polling must have been brutal. The polling must have been brutal.


LAROSA: No one has ever questioned the heart and integrity of Joe Biden as a family man and as a human being, and the pain and suffering and loss that that man has been through, including the struggles he deals with...


HUNT: We have 30 seconds.


FINNEY: I think it is far more appalling to see Republicans this week, starting with you, Scott, calling the vice president of the United States a liar when it comes to the very real personal stories.

I don't need some academic to tell me about the horrors of slavery. It's in my own family. I know from my own family's stories. You now have black conservatives who agree with her. Are they liars too? I think that conversation is far more troubling than an addict and a bad family situation.


HUNT: Let me put a pause on this.


HUNT: Then we're going to go to break.

SHORT: It's a nice attempt to pivot, but it's not about Hunter Biden's addiction. This is about Joe Biden not recognizing his granddaughter for four years. The statement might be well-worded, but it's inexcusable it took him

four years to acknowledge the child of God that was conceived. Regardless of the circumstances of that conception, it's a child of God he wouldn't recognize for four years.

FINNEY: I understand why you would rather talk about that than talk about the fact that your party is demonizing people who want to tell the truth about racism, while you're trying to reach out to African- Americans.


HUNT: We're going to keep this conversation focused in on what it is.

And we have got a lot more to talk about.

And we will be right back.



HUNT: You saw the city of Atlanta put up security barriers around its courthouse late last week. What's that about?

"THE WHOLE STORY WITH ANDERSON COOPER" is breaking down the criminal investigation of Donald Trump in Georgia at 8:00 p.m. Eastern. Don't miss it.

Thank you for spending your Sunday morning with us.

Stick around. "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS" starts next.