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State of the Union

Interview With Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-TX); Interview With Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC); Interview With Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE). Aired 9-10a ET

Aired January 21, 2024 - 09:00   ET




DANA BASH, CNN HOST (voice-over): Closing the deal? Two days before the New Hampshire primary, a brand-new CNN poll shows a clear lead for Donald Trump.


BASH: As the former president makes his final pitch to primary voters...

TRUMP: You have to give a president total immunity.

BASH: ... can anyone stop him?

We will dive into our new poll next.

Plus: full-court press. Nikki Haley turns up the heat on Trump.

NIKKI HALEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We can't have someone else that we questioned whether they're mentally fit.

BASH: While he tries to undercut Haley with support from her home state.

SEN. TIM SCOTT (R-SC): We need Donald Trump!

BASH: Why did he back the former president over his former governor? South Carolina Senator Tim Scott joins me exclusively next.

And campaign pitch. President Biden's political and policy challenges collide on the border and his support for Israel, as he hits the campaign trail.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have never been more optimistic.

BASH: What case should he make to voters? The Biden campaign's national co-chair, Senator Chris Coons, will be here.

(END VIDEOTAPE) BASH: Hello. I'm Dana Bash in Washington, where the state of our union is crunching the numbers.

We are two days from the New Hampshire primary and, here at CNN, we're getting fresh new insight into the depth of Republican voter enthusiasm for Donald Trump, as he tries to fend off a challenge by his former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley in a state famous for primary surprises.

As Haley attacked Trump over his age, last night, he offered an eye- popping closing message for New Hampshire voters, praising Hungary's authoritarian leader, Viktor Orban.


TRUMP: Some people don't like him because he's too strong. It's nice to have a strong man running your country.


BASH: And arguing he deserves complete presidential immunity.


TRUMP: We will have the rogue -- we call it the rogue cop, the bad apple, and perhaps you will have that also with president, but there's nothing you can do about that. You're going to have to give the president -- you're going to have to allow a president, any president, to have immunity.


BASH: Now, to be clear, that is not an unusual message from Donald Trump. And our new poll shows he is still deeply popular with many in his party.

CNN political director David Chalian is at the Magic Wall to break it all down for us.

David, what did we learn?


This brand-new poll from CNN and the University of New Hampshire, just two days out now, shows you Donald Trump with a pretty substantial lead in this New Hampshire Republican primary; 50 percent of likely Republican primary voters say they're supporting Trump to Haley's 39 percent, to DeSantis all the way back at 6 percent.

And take a look how this has changed since our poll in early January before the Iowa caucuses. You see a lot of growth for Trump from 39 percent support to 50 now. You also see growth for Haley, 32 percent to 39 percent. They're both benefiting perhaps from some of the candidates that dropped out, Chris Christie, lion's share of his supporters, maybe going to Haley here, Ramaswamy, a lot of his supporters going to Trump. You see the growth for both of them there, and they have very

different coalitions, Dana.

BASH: And, on that note, there, as you just showed, is an overall support for Donald Trump.

But when you look under the surface of that top line, their support is coming from pretty different places.

CHALIAN: It's really astonishing.

So, undeclareds, independents in New Hampshire make up a big swathe of the primary electorate, roughly half, or just under half. Haley's winning these undeclareds overwhelmingly. Look at that, 58 percent she's winning undeclareds to Donald Trump's 30 percent.

But look how large Trump's lead is among Republicans in the primary, who make up a slightly larger share than independents. He's winning them 67 percent to 23 percent. Look at the college-educated versus non-college educated, Haley winning college grads, look here, 50 percent to 38 percent, Donald Trump winning those without a college degree 55 to 35.

Haley's problem here is, college grads only make up a third of the electorate. And another way -- slice of this is to look at self- identifying moderates versus conservatives. Among moderates, Haley's winning 71 percent to 22 percent. Among conservatives, 71 percent to 17 percent, Donald Trump wallops Haley there.


Again, Haley's problem here is that moderates are only about three in 10 likely Republican primary voters, Dana.

BASH: Yes, and those numbers are really stark. They are complete opposite from one another when it comes to Haley and Trump and moderates and conservatives.

What do voters think about these three candidates overall, David?

CHALIAN: If you just look at their overall popularity, let's say what we call favorability ratings, right, take a look. Donald Trump's favorability, 56 percent of likely Republican primary voters have a favorable opinion of him, 36 percent unfavorable.

That's a net-plus 20. I mean, look how much better he is seen by this electorate than Haley, who's at 36 percent fave, 40 unfavorable, overall minus-4, and DeSantis even lower than that. And if you look at the enthusiasm for Donald Trump if he's the nominee, 46 percent of likely Republican primary voters would be enthusiastic if he's the nominee. Only 25 percent say that of Haley; 17 percent say that of DeSantis.

We also asked, what is your feelings if Donald Trump is the nominee among each set of supporters? So, of course, 89 percent of Trump supporters would be very enthusiastic if indeed Trump is the nominee. But, Dana, look here; 23 percent of Haley supporters would be dissatisfied if Trump is the nominee; 61 percent of Haley's supporters would be downright angry if Trump is the nominee.

That's 84 percent that would be dissatisfied or angry. That would need some healing in the party if indeed he is the nominee. And we also asked the most important issue. Border, immigration, probably not surprising to you, is the top issue; 29 percent of Republican primary voters say so; 22 percent say democracy and Constitution.

And, by the way, Nikki Haley's winning these voters. So they're coming at it more from the sort of left perspective than the right perspective on this issue of democracy and Constitution, if there is a left and a right to those issues.

And then you see, it goes down from here, cost of living, economy, debt. You can add those together and, obviously, the economy still resonates.

BASH: That democracy number is surprising for a Republican voting electorate.

It's not just Republicans who are on the ballot on Tuesday in New Hampshire. Joe Biden is not formally on the ballot. He's running as a write-in candidate, which you will explain. But how is the race shaping up when it comes to the Democrats who are on the ballot in New Hampshire?

CHALIAN: Yes, so we took a look here. You noted, Biden, write-in. We say that because the DNC made New Hampshire not first. This is not a sanctioned event.

There are no delegates here for the Democrats. But, still, Biden, without being on the ballot is getting 63 percent of the vote of likely Democratic primary voters, 10 percent for Dean Phillips, 9 percent for Marianne Williamson.

You can see Phillips and Williamson making a little bit of advancement since early January, maybe a tick down from the Biden write-in number. But this is still an overwhelmingly favorable electorate to Joe Biden. And if you look here, we asked about favorability ratings here. Joe Biden's at plus 40, 60 percent fave, 20 percent unfavorable, obviously, his opponents here, Phillips and Williamson, deeply unpopular with likely Democratic voters.

And in terms of Democrats and whether or not they think Joe Biden is putting their best foot forward, have the best chance to win if he's the nominee, only 46 percent of likely Democratic primary voters in New Hampshire say that Biden gives them a better chance for the nominee; 39 percent say someone else would give them a better chance; 15 percent say unsure.

So, less than a majority of Democrats, Dana, say Biden is their best foot forward here. That is going to be a number of concern for the Biden team going forward.

BASH: David Chalian, thank you so much for bringing us all those new data points. Appreciate it.

And we should note that Florida Governor Ron DeSantis was scheduled to be on our show this morning. Yesterday, his campaign canceled the interview, citing logistical reasons and said he was heading to New Hampshire to campaign today.

Meanwhile, if you're looking for proof that Donald Trump is focused on Nikki Haley right now, last night in New Hampshire, he brought on stage a slew of South Carolina politicians who are backing him over Haley.


TRUMP: Almost every politician from South Carolina is endorsing me. How do you do that when she was the governor?


BASH: It comes on the heels of a major endorsement for Donald Trump from South Carolina.

And that person is here with me now, South Carolina Senator Tim Scott.

Thank you so much for being here this morning, Senator.

SCOTT: Good morning.

BASH: Now, you endorsed former President Donald Trump on Friday, even though you were appointed to the Senate in the first place by Nikki Haley, who was your governor at the time. She is still very much in this race.

Why did you endorse Donald Trump, and not Nikki Haley?

SCOTT: It comes right down to, what does America need for the next president? It would be four more years of Donald Trump.

And why do I say that? I say that because I worked with President Trump on really important issues impacting American voters and American families. We worked together. I helped write the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in 2017, the largest tax decrease in American history.


Think about uniting this country. He gave the highest level of funding for historically black colleges and universities in the history of the country. We had the most inclusive economy, seven million new jobs, the lowest unemployment rates for African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians, a 70-year low for women, and a 50-year low for the majority of the population, that during the Trump years.

We also didn't have an invasion of Ukraine, Hamas was not burning, decapitating, killing kids and raping women in Israel. We had a stronger economy, a healthy military, and a safer world.

When I compare and contrast, the only, the only conclusion is Donald Trump.

BASH: Senator, Nikki Haley said yesterday in New Hampshire that she was disappointed. Did you call her beforehand, give her a heads-up? Have you talked to her since?

SCOTT: We had texts several times since I got out the race. So we have had a conversation at least once. We have had multiple texts back and forth.

But here's the question. I'm not asking a question about who's from my home state. I'm not asking a question who would be -- is a good person or a better person.

I think President Donald Trump is a strong president, will be a strong president again, and will have the kind of accomplishments that will unite this nation around economic opportunity.

BASH: So, just to be clear, you texted after you got out of the race, but you didn't give her a heads-up before you endorsed her opponent?

SCOTT: Actually, I texted her the day before I made my announcement.

BASH: OK. Got it.

OK,Senator, I want to play something that you said when you launched your own presidential campaign in May.

SCOTT: Sure.


SCOTT: Victimhood or victory?

AUDIENCE: Victory!

SCOTT: Grievance or greatness?

AUDIENCE: Greatness!


BASH: Senator, you ran a very positive, very hopeful campaign. But victimhood and grievance that you were describing in your launch speech that we played some of right there, it sounds like Donald Trump.

Did you change your mind?

SCOTT: No, listen, I -- we absolutely, positively, unequivocally need an America that's not filled with victims.

I'm actually talking about how Joe Biden has destroyed our economy and made victims out of people waiting for the government to show up. I'm talking about having a president who's weaponizing the DOJ against political adversaries. We need Lady Justice wearing a blindfold. I want America, every single

American in every corridor of this nation to have confidence in their DOJ, not a Biden-led DOJ. I want every child growing up in poverty, like I did, to have access to quality education.

Unfortunately, the Democrats have sold their souls to the teachers unions, trapping poor black kids in inner cities into failing schools and out of their best future. I want a nation where every child looks into the future and says, the American dream works for me.

I was that kid. And so when I think about bringing this country together, not under grievance, but over greatness, not being victims, but being victorious, I am talking about the future of this nation...

BASH: Yes.

SCOTT: ... and politicians who get in the way of that.

BASH: Today, that's Joe Biden.

And you don't see any grievance in Donald Trump's campaign for president?

SCOTT: Well, here's what I can tell you.

And for a person who's seen the DOJ weaponized against him, for a person who, before he was ever sworn into office, "The Washington Post" said they were going to make sure that he is a one-term president, when you look at the challenges he faced, there's no doubt that he has been aggrieved.

The question is, what are the American voters looking for? Here's what they're looking for. They're looking for a president who represents their best future, and not his.

BASH: Yes.

SCOTT: That president is not Joe Biden. It is Donald Trump.

BASH: Yes. And we should say that some of what you just said, we don't have evidence to back up.

But what you did say on Friday, Senator, is that -- when you endorsed Donald Trump, is that he will -- quote -- "restore law and order," which is some of what you're talking about here this morning.


BASH: As president, he did try to overturn a legitimate election. He called January 6 rioters hostages and promised to pardon them. He is charged with keeping classified documents and obstructing attempts to get them back. And on the campaign now, he's arguing that president should have total immunity, even if they -- quote -- "cross the line."

How is that law and order?


SCOTT: Well, he has a legal team that can answer the questions of the legal challenges that he faces.

But what I can tell you is that, when you look around the cities, when you grow up in poor communities, like I did, and you watch the crime ravishing your communities, you ask yourself what president has allowed that to happen. It's Joe Biden.

When you have DAs around the country that says it's no longer a crime to steal $1,000 worth of goods, and those stores start closing in San Francisco and across the country, you ask yourself what president allowed that lawless behavior to continue. That's Joe Biden.

You ask yourself, who can restore the kind of law and order in our nation to allow it to go forward...

BASH: Senator...

SCOTT: ... that would beat Donald Trump.

BASH: Senator, I understand that you're talking about Joe Biden.

SCOTT: Yes, ma'am.

BASH: But I do want to get your thoughts in a more fulsome way on Donald Trump, because your endorsement was a big deal and is a big deal.

I just want to take one of the examples that I gave. Donald Trump calls the January 6 rioters hostages. You were at the Capitol that day.

SCOTT: I was.

BASH: You said that you took off your jacket, you rolled up your sleeves, and you were prepared to defend yourself -- quote -- "presumably until I died."


BASH: Would you call the people who are now facing prosecution hostages?

SCOTT: I would say that every single person facing our justice system should have justice done.

The facts and the evidence in each individual case matters. I have confidence that that process will play out. Here's what I said also in the book that I wrote. I talked about January the 6th, because I'm one of the few people who was actually there with the people outside; 99 percent of the people who showed up were there to exercise their First Amendment rights.

What I said then is what I will say now. I don't hold those people at harm. I don't hold them responsible for the actions of a few. I do hold the few responsible, no one else.

BASH: Right. So, the few who are...

SCOTT: People have to be responsible for themselves.

BASH: So, that the -- to use your words, the few who are being prosecuted...


BASH: ... going through the justice system, would you call them hostages?

SCOTT: I believe that our Department of Justice should continue and allow a jury of their peers to make the decisions. That's America.

BASH: But, just to be clear, and then I want to move on, you disagree with Donald Trump calling them hostages, it sounds like?

SCOTT: Just for a third time, yes, I believe...


SCOTT: ... that we should have confidence in restoring the blindfold to Lady Justice's eyes.


Senator, Donald Trump is launching some pretty personal attacks against Nikki Haley, who I know you have known for a very long time. He suggested she is ineligible to be president, even though she is. She was born in your home state of South Carolina.

She -- he repeatedly mocked her given first name, Nimarata, even though she has gone by her middle name, Nikki, her whole life.

Are you comfortable with that kind of rhetoric from the president, former president?

SCOTT: Well, I'm watching rhetoric on all sides of the issues facing becoming president.

What I mean by that is, the rhetoric from Joe Biden is terrible, but it is -- and it's salacious. Nikki Haley questions whether 70-year- olds should be allowed to run for president. I think there is so much negativity and toxicity in this aim to becoming president again or for the first time that we should be very clear and look at both sides of the comments made.

What I can tell you, the average voter is more interested in their future and their kids than they are the comments being thrown around by political candidates.

BASH: Would you rather that the man you endorse not use terms like Nimarata -- names like Nimarata, seeming to try to make a point to his supporters? SCOTT: Well, I would like for all politicians to comport themselves

in a way that is consistent with the highest office.

On the campaign trail, people say things, and, interestingly enough, then, after the campaign is over, everybody unites. What we need in the Republican Party is to start uniting behind one candidate. That candidate is only going to be Donald Trump.

So, when we're thinking about what's next, it shouldn't be attacks against each other. We should turn our attention to Joe Biden and to the American people and what they want. They want a better future. They want another American century. They want hundreds of thousands of good-paying jobs across this nation.

When we start talking about the underlying issues and the principles that undergird human flourishing and what makes America the most exceptional country on the planet, then we're having a conversation. That won't happen until we get to the general election. That should start right now.


BASH: Senator, when you were with Donald Trump in New Hampshire on Friday, some people in the crowd were chanting "V.P." Would you like to be Donald Trump's running mate?

SCOTT: The only thing I want is four more years of Donald Trump and a Republican majority in the Senate, majority in the House and the White House, so that poor kids who are today growing up in neighborhoods like I grew up in have a chance for quality education.

I want kids to look to their future and believe that America is their oyster, oyster.

BASH: Yes.

SCOTT: They can have whatever they want. That's what I really want.

And if I can help achieve that through my endorsement by being on the campaign trail in my home state of South Carolina for the next four or five weeks, and then beyond, that's the goal. If you don't think about yourself, but think about the country first, we will be in good shape.

BASH: That wasn't a no. That door is wide open. Fair read?

SCOTT: Well, Dana, you can take it any way you want.


SCOTT: My goal is to do one thing. It's always going to do the same thing, make America and Americans believe in our future in the way that we do not today.

BASH: Senator...

SCOTT: Whatever that takes. BASH: Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina, thank you so much for your

time this morning. Appreciate it.

SCOTT: Dana, happy Sunday. Take care.

BASH: And one candidate who will not be on the ballot in New Hampshire on Tuesday is President Joe Biden. Coming up, what's making some of his supporters there a little nervous.

And is this Tuesday the last gasp of the never-Trump movement in the GOP?

Stay with us.



BASH: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION.

President Biden and Vice President Harris are getting out of town on Tuesday to the key state of Virginia for their first campaign event together this cycle, and they're going to focus on abortion rights.

Back here in Washington, the president finds himself at odds with House Republicans over a Senate border deal and out of step with some in his own party over his support for Israel's war with Hamas.

Here with me now is a close confidant of the president, Democratic Senator Chris Coons, a member of the Foreign Relations Committee and a co-chair -- national chair, I should say, of the president's reelection campaign.

Thank you so much for being here. We have a lot to get to.

I want to start, though, with what you heard from your colleague in the Senate, Tim Scott. Your reaction.

SEN. CHRIS COONS (D-DE): Well, Dana, I respect my colleague, my friend Tim Scott of South Carolina, but I was struck by a number of things he said this morning.

One is exactly not true. He claimed that the economy was better under former President Trump. In fact, the stock market hit an all-time high on Friday. We have unemployment below 4 percent for the longest stretch in 50 years. President Biden has presided over the creation of 14 million new private sector jobs.

And only two American presidents in the last century, Donald Trump and Herbert Hoover, left office with fewer Americans working than when they started.

Joe Biden has presided over a strong and a robust economy that's great for middle-class Americans. Donald Trump did not.

BASH: Can I just push back on that a little bit, because you brought it up? What you said about the data, it may not be wrong, but you know better than I do, the way people feel is how they vote.

And despite all of those accomplishments, President Biden is having trouble breaking through with voters, making -- particularly working- class voters, young voters, those who he needs historically has had as part of his coalition, they're not feeling it. How does the campaign need to change strategy so that they feel it and they don't just hear it and see it on data points?

COONS: Well, Dana, funny you should mention that.

Just last week, consumer confidence took the single greatest jump, positive jump in 30 years, as inflation has come down, prices have come down, and as we're beginning to see the impact in people's pocketbooks of President Biden's leadership. For example, insulin out- of-pocket costs are now capped at $35 a month.

It used to be hundreds of dollars a month. Those of us with family members with diabetes understand how that is a significant step forward for the American public. We're beginning to see the positive impacts of President Biden's real leadership on our economy.

BASH: Senator, I want to turn to Israel.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seems to be saying one thing in public and another thing in private about a two-state solution. He privately told President Biden, according to a source familiar with their conversation, that he wasn't ruling out a future Palestinian state.

But, just yesterday, Netanyahu tweeted -- quote -- "I will not compromise on full Israeli security control over all the territory west of the Jordan. And this is contrary to a Palestinian state."

That seems pretty definitive.

COONS: It does, and this wouldn't be the first time that there is some tension between Prime Minister Netanyahu, his personal political goals and aims, and the challenges of crafting a positive, peaceful path forward for the Israeli and Palestinian people.

Look, Dana, this is one of those moments where I'm grateful we have a president with decades of actual experience, engagement in the region, who knows all the relevant leaders.

When I was recently at a conference in Europe and had a chance to meet in person with the foreign minister, prime minister of Saudi Arabia and Qatar, I heard directly how progress is being made on putting together a path forward for a Palestinian state, for recognition between the Saudis and the Israelis, and how, despite some of Prime Minister Netanyahu's rhetoric, there is a real prospect for regional peace.

That happens because of President Biden's leadership.

BASH: Prime Minister Netanyahu, though, of course, is still in charge in Israel. [09:30:00]

Is he an obstacle to ending the war and finding that peace you're talking about?

COONS: Well, he has a record of years of dividing the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and weakening it and accepting the leadership of Hamas that has had a tragic consequence on the October 7 assault on thousands of innocent civilians, 1,200 innocent civilians murdered in Israel.

This is a moment where the Israeli public needs to choose what is the best path forward. And I know it would be a significant step for them to accept that the creation of a Palestinian state is the right path forward out of this shattering loss from the October 7 attacks.

But many who have long experience in Israel and in the region think the only way to end the constant cycle of violence is to choose the path of peace.

BASH: I want to turn back to the United States and the U.S. border issues and, of course, immigration.

President Biden conceded on Friday that the southern border is not secure. And he said he supports massive changes to U.S. immigration laws. I don't need to tell you how huge a political issue immigration is, and polls consistently show that voters overwhelmingly disapprove of how President Biden is handling it.

I know you're working on an immigration deal. You have been for some time in the Senate. Just from a purely political standpoint, how important is it for President Biden and for his colleagues like you in the Senate to get this done?

COONS: Dana, it's important for our nation and it's important politically that we secure our border.

I will remind you, President Biden in his first State of the Union to Congress asked for congressional leadership in legislatively addressing our badly broken immigration system. President Biden in his supplemental funding request now many months ago asked for $14 billion to hire thousands more Border Patrol agents, customs and border agents, to deport more people who are here, but have failed to prove that they have a right to asylum here.

President Biden has been asking for congressional engagement and leadership. I am optimistic we are very close to finalizing in the coming days a package that will make that possible.

And if House Republicans refuse to take it up, to consider it and pass it, then they will own responsibility for another year in which millions of people suffer the journey of coming to our southern border, only to be either turned away or ultimately deported.

BASH: Senator Chris Coons of Delaware, I really appreciate your time this morning. Thank you so much for joining me. COONS: Thank you, Dana.

BASH: Be sure to watch on Monday night, tomorrow night. Laura Coates, she will interview Vice President Kamala Harris. You won't want to miss that tomorrow night at 11:00 a.m. (sic) Eastern.

Up next: What will the 2024 race look like to two days from now?

My panel joins me to talk New Hampshire and beyond. That's next.




HALEY: On Tuesday, it is, do you want more of the same, or do you want to go in a new direction?

TRUMP: You have got to get out, because margins are important, not because of the people we're running against, Nikki. I don't even talk about DeSanctis. Whatever happened to him?


BASH: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION.

Those are some of the closing arguments in New Hampshire, as we're just two days away from votes now.

My panel is here to talk about more.

Brad Todd, let's just start where we started the program, which is with this new poll that we're releasing. Just look at the top line, where it says that these candidates are, Donald Trump 50 percent, Nikki Haley 39 percent, DeSantis 6 percent.

And if you look back to just early January, and you see the difference, Donald Trump has higher -- I mean, Ramaswamy is out. So that could be part of the reason why. Nikki Haley is slightly higher, and DeSantis virtually hasn't moved.

BRAD TODD, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: When I look at this poll, I see something that's persistent, which is, there's 35 percent of registered Republicans that are hesitant to go with Donald Trump. They're currently for Nikki Haley or Ron DeSantis.

Let's take the independents out of the equation for a minute. And so I think Donald Trump is going to win New Hampshire. And the question's going to be, what does he do in his victory speech on Tuesday night? Because after New Hampshire, then the job becomes to try to circle up the entire base.

He did a pretty good job of that in Iowa, I think, but he's going to be talking to that 35 percent that's going to vote for Nikki Haley or Ron DeSantis who are Republicans. And that's what I'm looking for this week.

BASH: What do you see, Karen?

KAREN FINNEY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think the math is just going to get really hard.

I mean, I look at the delegate count. And he's at far -- very far ahead, double digits, 20 delegates coming out of Iowa and about 20 delegates, I think, up for grabs in New Hampshire. And so if he has a decisive win, he's going to get the majority of the delegates. Nevada is going to be a mess, because he's doing a caucus.

Haley's participating in the primary, so unclear. He controls the party there, so he will likely get those delegates. So, really, I think this race is over after -- I hate to say that, bad for TV, but, I think, after New Hampshire, it's going to be hard for anybody to catch him in the delegate race.

And if he does well enough with independents, I mean, he doesn't have to do -- she's leading. He doesn't have to win them all. He has to just show a bit of -- he has some support. I think that's his general election argument.

BASH: Congresswoman?

REP. VERONICA ESCOBAR (D-TX): I'm more focused, obviously, on the Biden campaign and the fight for the White House this year, but I do agree the math is going to be really tough.

And this is on them. It is unfortunate we are now seeing just the full embrace by the Republican Party of the most extremist tendencies that have been roiling our country. And that's what the fight's going to be about heading into November is about preserving our democracy and our freedoms versus MAGA extremism.



Brad is focused on Trump's victory speech. I'm watching how these candidates in the GOP primary get out of the race. I think Chris Christie really left a mark with his closing speech explaining how a lot of Republicans had put their ambition ahead of decision-making. That really rung true.

And so what does Nikki Haley do? I mean, I just got to comment a bit on how Tim Scott has closed his race. That interview he conducted with you made me really sad. It was really hard to watch. I think you rarely see a person with his reputation, as an optimistic, charismatic leader, sully it in the way that he did in that interview, where he went down the road of essentially saying, yes, I agree with Trump that the people who have been prosecuted for their crimes related to January 6 are hostages.

BASH: He defended the racist comment. TODD: He did not. He did not. He did not say that.

CARPENTER: Well, he didn't shut it down. And if you want to see where this road is really going, someone even like Tim Scott is embracing the lie that the Department of Justice has been weaponized against Donald Trump and his supporters, while at the same time completely ignoring the fact that Donald Trump is openly promising to prosecute people like Joe Biden, Bill Barr, Mark Milley, John Kelly.

I mean, that is so disingenuous.

TODD: Well, first off, American confidence in the Department of Justice is at an all-time low. And part of it is because they watched President Biden grouse, when is the Department of Justice going to indict Donald Trump?

I think that's a lot...


CARPENTER: When did Joe Biden say that? When did Joe Biden say that?


TODD: Go back and look at it. It's in the spring.


CARPENTER: No, you tell me when he said, because I would like to see it.

TODD: It's in "The Wall Street Journal" this weekend. It's in "The Wall Street Journal" this weekend. Keep up.

The real question, though, is whether or not Donald Trump can unite the Republican base together. He's going to win in New Hampshire. After that, I think Karen's right. That's the end of the road. The rest of the primaries look a lot more like Iowa's caucus than they do like New Hampshire's primary.

The task ahead of him is to unite the party. And that's the question we should be asking. Can he do it? Can he do it?


FINNEY: But I think the answer is, he can't, because you see there are still -- as we saw in 2020, there are independents, there are moderate Republicans who are not as wimpy as Tim Scott and say, they're not hostages. They're criminals who attacked our...


FINNEY: Hold on. Let me -- who attacked our Capitol.

And, again, I think what you're going to see in the election, do you want a guy who it's all about him, or do you want Joe Biden, who actually cares about you and your life and your family?

BASH: Let me get Congresswoman Escobar in here.

I just want to say that you're talking about a quip that Joe Biden made, and I -- he definitely got pushback for that, but there's no evidence that he is involved. In fact, there are two layers between him and this prosecution that's -- prosecutions that are going on.


TODD: ... anybody in the Cabinet catches whatever the president says about their department.


I want to just bring you in on this notion that they're all talking about. I mean, I know, for Democrats, at this point, you're sitting on the sidelines and you're going, OK. But we're going to talk about Joe Biden in a minute. How do you think that the Biden campaign and Democrats overall should be pushing back against this? Is what they're doing right at this point?

Because it doesn't look like it's got overwhelming support at this stage of the game. And it is early.

ESCOBAR: It is very early. We have got some months until the November general election. We have got a little bit of time before we learn whether Donald Trump is the nominee. I think it's pretty inevitable.

But you're going to see all of us drawing a very stark contrast between President Biden and Donald Trump. You were talking about the economy earlier with Tim Scott. If we look back on where we were at the end of Donald Trump's presidency, we were rationing toilet paper.

People were fighting for limited products in grocery stores. We had a president telling the country to inject itself with bleach to fight COVID. We saw an historic loss of jobs in our country.

We have seen what happens when we have someone like Donald Trump in office. And we're going to be reminding people every step of the way of what's at stake in this election.

BASH: Everybody, stand by. We have got a lot more to discuss, including more about the new push by the Biden-Harris campaign. You're going to hear a new ad here first.

Stay with us.



BASH: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION.

A first look now at a new ad from the Biden campaign, hoping for a chance to mobilize voters around the issue of abortion. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I never thought that I would need an abortion for a planned pregnancy. But I did. I learned that the fetus would have a fatal condition and that there was absolutely no chance of survival.

In Texas, you are forced to carry that pregnancy. And that is because of Donald Trump overturning Roe v. Wade.


BASH: My panel is back now.

I want to start with you, Amanda, as a conservative woman who's no fan of Donald Trump. When you see this kind of message, and knowing that this is going to be a huge, huge push by the Biden campaign and all Democrats on the ballot, as it was in the midterms, this week is the anniversary of Roe v. Wade.

Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, they're going to be campaigning together. How effective is this issue and how concerned should Republicans be about it?

CARPENTER: I don't think Republicans know how to talk about this issue. I come at this from a pro-life perspective.


I was -- I have been wrong about this issue on the ballot. I thought that it was going to be Democrats who overplayed it. It turned out, after the decision was overturned, it was Republicans who overplayed it. And I think you really saw that backfire places like Kansas, where Republican voters saw this as a massive government overreach that was controlling women's lives.

I would like to have a fuller discussion about what abortion is and what is not, what is a medical emergency, what is an elective procedure, because it's extremely complicated. And those issues have never been fully hashed out or debated, because I -- it's my belief this has been sidelined as a women's issue, and the men have never really had to grapple with it.

FINNEY: But that's -- sorry.

But that's part of exactly the point, right, that every single woman has a different situation. And so you cannot have government say, here's the one-size-fits-all and this works, and it's not going to work for you, or the congresswoman, or Dana, or me. We're all different.

And part of what we're seeing since the overturning of Wade -- Roe v. Wade are the harms that we warned about for women. This woman who came forward so bravely is one of many women who are coming forward to share their stories. I mean, there was a woman, a young woman who came forward in the Kentucky governor's race, a very powerful ad. I think you're going to see more of this, because what's at stake is

literally our freedom.

BASH: I want to bring in the congresswoman because you are from Texas. The woman who was just speaking is Texan.

You have been living this and talking about this issue because of what's going on in your state. You think it will translate in other states?


I think it is a really profound moment in time for American women. One in three women in the United States of childbearing age is living under an abortion ban. And that means for single women, that means for married women who are trying to expand their family. And all of these women are at risk.

But the greater risk is if we have a Republican White House, if we have a Republican-controlled Senate, if we have a Republican- controlled Senate, Republican-controlled House of Representatives. We are going to see what's happening in Texas spread all across the country.

BASH: You're outnumbered here. So I'm going to give you a bit of an out with just -- and look at it from a purely political point of view.

If you look at our poll this morning, specifically the question about whether or not Joe Biden is the best -- has the best chance of winning as a Democratic nominee, he only has 46 percent, and he's an incumbent president. But if you think about everything that's been said at the table, knowing how potent the issue was -- of abortion was in 2022, could this issue and others like it override the fact that people aren't maybe as jazzed about Joe Biden as they...


TODD: Well, I think there's some lessons to learn from the midterms.

BASH: Yes.

TODD: Democrat spent about $300 million on the issue of abortion. Republicans spent less than $3 million. And so a one-way fight will not work for Republicans. They're going to have to litigate it.

And the Texas law may not be popular with swing voters in Pennsylvania, but the California law is not either. And so Republicans have to be willing to point out where Democrats are too extreme on the issue as well, because it's going to be incoming that way.

I think mostly, though, this race is going to end up turning on two issues, the economy and the border. That's where Joe Biden has a problem. Your car payment costs 25 percent more than it did when he became president. The border, we're admitting basically the state of Kansas every year in illegal immigrants as asylum seekers.

And so I think that those issues are going to predominate, but Biden's going to try to make abortion a big issue, for sure.

BASH: OK, everybody, we're out of time. I'm sure we will be back to you soon.

Thank you so much for coming on.

Could New Hampshire pull off a surprise on Tuesday?

We will be right back.



BASH: New Hampshire is famous for primary surprises. Could voters there do it again?

Be sure to tune in to CNN's coverage of the New Hampshire primary with all the best reporting and analysis. Coverage starts at 4:00 p.m. Eastern on Tuesday.

Thank you so much for spending your Sunday morning with us.

Fareed Zakaria picks it up next.