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State of the Union

Interview With Sen. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK); Interview With State Sen. Mallory McMorrow (D-MI); Interview With Fmr. Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI); Interview With U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas; Interview With Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL). Aired 9-10a ET

Aired March 03, 2024 - 09:00   ET




DANA BASH, CNN HOST (voice-over): Split screen. Two rivals make their case at the southern border.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Get together and get it done.


BASH: But with legislation stalled, can the Biden administration deliver? Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, who is facing impeachment charges, is here.

Plus: party of Trump. With legal challenges ahead, Donald Trump barrels toward the nomination with more wins last night.

TRUMP: We won a landslide.

BASH: As a favorite Trump targets as he will step down, does Trump have enough support to win this fall?

Oklahoma Senator Markwayne Mullin is ahead.

And fear of famine. The U.S. airdrops aid into Gaza, as the situation there grows more dire. Is the tragedy a tipping point for Democrats?

SEN. RICHARD DURBIN (D-IL): We can't shoot our way out of this problem.

BASH: Dick Durbin, the first senator to call for a cease-fire, joins me exclusively.


BASH: Hello. I'm Dana Bash in Washington, where the state of our union is watching the general election take shape.

Donald Trump came closer to officially becoming the Republican presidential nominee Saturday with another sweep. And his campaign expects to be within striking distance of formally clinching that nomination in two days, on Super Tuesday, while Democrats got heartburn this weekend over a new poll that shows Trump winning.

President Biden tried to take on his vulnerabilities this week and flip the scripts on immigration, as America got a preview of the months to come, when Biden and Trump both headed to the southern border to make their case about what many voters see as their top issue.

Here with me now is Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

Thank you so much for being here. I appreciate it.


BASH: You were with the president at the border. You went to Brownsville, where the numbers actually have been a bit lower, you know better than I do, than other sections of the border.

I want you to listen to what the head of the Border Patrol union said. I should say he was with Donald Trump when he made these statements.


BRANDON JUDD, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL BORDER PATROL COUNCIL: I want you to know, your agents, my agents, they're mad as hell, absolutely mad that President Biden went to Brownsville, Texas, rather than going to Arizona, rather than going to San Diego, California, rather than coming to Eagle Pass, Texas, which has been the epicenter.


BASH: Did President Biden get a full picture of the crisis at the border during his trip?

MAYORKAS: Oh, he most certainly did.

Brownsville in April and May of last year accounted for 30 percent of all encounters across the entire southern border. It displays how dynamic the challenge of migration is. Because we convinced Mexico to increase its enforcement along its border before people arrive at the southern border, the numbers in Brownsville have dropped.

The numbers in Eagle Pass have dropped. The numbers in Tucson have risen because enforcement in Mexico is so difficult, given the landscape of Sonora, Mexico. The challenge of migration is a very dynamic and ever-changing one.

The important message that we communicated from Brownsville, Texas, is the fact that Congress needs to act. This system has been broken for decades, and we have a bipartisan solution that will deliver much- needed resources and much-needed changes to the broken system.

It is a bipartisan solution, and the president was very strong on that point.

BASH: That bipartisan solution is tabled -- and I think that's probably a generous way to put it right now -- because of deep Republican opposition.

Given that, CNN is reporting last week that the administration is considering executive action that would block migrants claiming asylum if they illegally cross into the United States. Can you tell us exactly what's on the table?

MAYORKAS: Dana, we consider options at all times. That's the responsibility of good government.

But an administrative action is no substitute for an enduring solution. When we take administrative actions, as we have done a number of times, we are challenged in court. Legislation is the enduring solution.


And, by the way, we cannot through administrative action plus-up the United States Border Patrol, Customs and Border Protection, by 1,500 personnel, like this legislation proposes.

We cannot, through administrative action, add 4,300 asylum officers, so that we can work through the backlog and turn the system into an efficient and well-working one, which it hasn't been for more than three decades.

BASH: I want you to listen to what the Texas Governor Greg Abbott told me on the show about the idea of whether or not legislation is needed. Take a listen.


GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R-TX): The fact of the matter is, there are laws on the books passed by Congress of the United States right now that authorize the executive branch to deny illegal entry.

The president does not need new laws. The president needs a backbone to make sure that he enforces the immigration laws that are already on the books.


MAYORKAS: Couldn't be more wrong. Couldn't be more wrong.

And, as a matter of fact, former President Trump tried to close the border, and it was enjoined in the courts and never saw the light of day, this coming from an individual who is purposefully refusing to coordinate, communicate, collaborate with other officials and trying to wreak havoc in other cities and states across the country.

That is not a model of governance, and he couldn't be more wrong.

BASH: Back to the executive action, you said it's not an enduring solution. And I don't think anybody would disagree with that.

But in a time of crisis, you tend to deal with how to put even a Band- Aid on a situation in the short term. Is there executive action that you are considering now to try to do that?

MAYORKAS: Let me give a powerful example of something that we did accomplish.

We encountered a historic number of individuals at the southern border in December of 2023. Mexico had ceased its enforcement operations, and its enforcement agency had been unfunded. President Biden reached out to President Lopez Obrador of Mexico and spoke of the need for enforcement to resume.

Then he dispatched Secretary Blinken and me to meet with our Mexican counterparts and echo that important message. Mexico did. And the numbers in January of this year dropped more than 50 percent. So there are things that we can do.

BASH: Is asylum -- is changing the asylum laws at all by executive action one of those things, looking forward?

MAYORKAS: Well, we have -- we have done that in a limited circumstance under one of the regulations that we passed. That is being challenged in the courts.

What we have is a three-part solution that this legislation performs. It not only raises the asylum bar, but speeds up the process from five to seven years to under six months. That is an extraordinary change and will impact intending migrants' behavior.

BASH: But it's not going anywhere. That's the reality. So...

MAYORKAS: Well, the reality is that Congress needs to act, and President Biden said that Congress needs to get a spine.

BASH: I want to ask about, speaking of Congress, what's happening with you in Congress. You became the first Cabinet secretary to be impeached in more than 150 years. That happened last month.

The Senate is now deciding whether or not to hold a trial. Do you think that the Senate should just try to dismiss the charges? Or do you want the opportunity to defend yourself?

MAYORKAS: Dana, I'm going to let the Senate, of course, execute its responsibilities as it thinks best in the service of our country. I am going to focus on work.

BASH: Donald Trump yesterday suggested that -- on the campaign trail that President Biden has a deliberate strategy to let migrants across the border because he says President Biden wants to -- quote -- "overthrow the United States" and -- quote -- "nullify the will of the actual American voters and establish a new base of power that gives them control for generations."

What's your reaction to that? MAYORKAS: Dana, I can't comment on those remarks because the Hatch

Act prevents me from speaking of campaign politics.

I'm incredibly proud to serve this president, an extraordinary president, who's focused on working for the American people.

BASH: Let me ask you in a different context that you can answer.

Is it the policy of the Biden administration to allow as many migrants to come across the border in order to change the political dynamics, the electoral dynamics of America?

MAYORKAS: Of course not.

And the facts indicate that is absolutely false. Since May of this year -- of last year, we have removed or returned more individuals than in any year since 2015, and we haven't even run 12 months. Over the last three years, we have removed, returned, or expelled more people than in all four years of the prior administration.


You know, the facts matter. And the rhetoric, we should brush aside.

BASH: Real quick, I have to ask you about what's going on in Texas, the largest wildfire in history, already killed two people, destroyed up to 500 structures.

How dangerous is the situation? What's the federal government doing? And do you think that -- excuse me -- the climate crisis has anything to do with this?

MAYORKAS: Dana, it's something that we're monitoring every minute of every day. We have devoted funds, equipment, personnel.

The front-line personnel are so incredibly brave. Our hearts break to those, of course, who've lost their lives. There are families who've lost their homes. More than a million acres have burned. And we are in winter, and this is the largest fire in Texas history.

We are seeing unprecedented blizzards in the north of California. We as a country and as a world have to be ready for the increasing effects of extreme weather caused by climate change. It's a remarkable phenomenon, and it will manifest itself in the days to come, and we have to prepare for it now.

BASH: I'm going to make a very hard turn right now to something a lot lighter than that, which is "Saturday Night Live." I'm not sure if you saw when you were coming in this morning that you and I both got the "SNL" treatment last night. I will play a clip.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: I was with Joe Biden for the past week, and, whew, he wiped me out.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: OK, so you feel he's up to the job?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Dana, I was just with him. And behind closed doors, he's a dynamo. Joe went into beast mode. He said: "We're going to tighten this border. Look how easy I can cross it."

Then he parkoured up to the top of the border wall.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: He flipped into the Rio Grande and came back up with a fish in his mouth.


BASH: Does that happen every day?

MAYORKAS: We all need a little comic relief now and then.

I thought George Clooney did a terrific job.


BASH: You know, obviously this is art, but they do this because they try to make a point that there is a discussion in the zeitgeist. There is a reason that they did a whole thing about Joe Biden's age.

Do you want to have a real statement about it, about what you witness?

MAYORKAS: They should spend a bit of time with Joe Biden, like I have done.

Let me share something with you. I prepare a lot for meetings with him and engagements with him because he's remarkably detail-oriented, probing and operationally focused.

BASH: OK, but no fishing in the Rio Grande?

MAYORKAS: Not for me.



Thank you so much, Mr. Secretary. I appreciate it.

MAYORKAS: Thank you, Dana.

BASH: The U.S. airdrops to Gaza -- as the U.S. drops aid to Gaza, rather, as fears of a famine there rise, is President Biden doing enough?

The first senator to call for a cease-fire, number two Senate Democrat, Dick Durbin is next.

And Nikki Haley says Donald Trump has a problem with moderate voters. The GOP senator from a state that is voting on Tuesday will be here.

Stay with us.



BASH: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION.

The fate of Donald Trump's election interference trial is now in doubt after the Supreme Court announced it will hear arguments in April over Trump's claims of presidential immunity, with the decision not expected before summer.

Here with me now is the number two Senate Democrat and chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois.

I want to ask you about that in a minute, but I first want to ask about what Secretary Mayorkas just said, the question of a trial in the U.S. Senate on his impeachment in the House. Do you believe that there should or will be an impeachment trial, or will you vote to dismiss the case outright?

DURBIN: Dana, we're looking at all the options.

I will just tell you, I think what the House did was a political stunt. It's never been done in history. There certainly is no evidence of a high crime or misdemeanor in any respect in the performance of Secretary Mayorkas. But we're considering all our options.

BASH: What do you want to happen? Would you like to dismiss it?

DURBIN: I'd like to see us get on with the business of the Senate. We have to pass appropriation bills. We're five months late.

Credit to Patty Murray and Susan Collins on a bipartisan basis in the Senate, but, of course, the House has had its share of problems. I'd like to see us move forward and do our job.

BASH: OK, that sounded like a yes that you wanted to dismiss it.

DURBIN: I don't take it seriously.


Senator, the Supreme Court said it will hear arguments in April over Donald Trump's claim that, as a former president, he should be immune from prosecution. Do you agree with the court's decision to take this up? And how quickly should they roll?

DURBIN: Their delay in considering this critical issue, this timely issue is going to delay the resolution of these cases by months, at least, and perhaps beyond the election.

I think that that is a disappointment. I think the court has acted quickly in the past when they realized that the presidential timetable was at risk. And I'm really concerned with what they have done.

BASH: So you say that the court delayed. Another way to look at it is that, if they don't rule that Trump is not immune or can't be prosecuted for a while in the federal election interference trial, that it won't start potentially until September or October.


The question is whether or not this started a little bit earlier with the DOJ. And Politico reported recently that President Biden expressed frustration that Trump's trial might have already concluded by now if Merrick Garland had moved quicker to bring the case.

Do you share this reported frustration with the attorney general?

DURBIN: I don't know all the -- I don't know all the circumstances.

And, of course, when you prepare a case of this gravity and this magnitude, you want to make certain that you're doing the right thing and you have all the evidence that's necessary. I can't second-guess the Department of Justice on that.

But it's certainly an issue that should be resolved before the election. And this decision by the court makes it more difficult.

BASH: Can they, though? You mentioned that the Supreme Court, when they do see a timeline, can move more quickly. Should they do everything that they can to move quickly to make this decision so a trial can start a bit sooner?

DURBIN: Well, the Supreme Court certainly moved quickly on Bush v. Gore. They had a matter of days to resolve it. And they knew what was at stake.

When we're considering a presidential election, the most important decision by the American people in any given four-year period of time, I wish they'd acted a little sooner.

BASH: Senator, let's turn to what's happening in the Middle East.

More than 100 Palestinian civilians were killed this week in Gaza when chaos erupted around food, aid trucks, and Israeli forces fired shots into the crowd. Your colleague Senator Chris Murphy told "The Washington Post" -- quote -- "If this is what the war continues to look like, with people being shot and trampled as they desperately try to get their hands on one of a small number of food and flour trucks that's entering Gaza, it is not in the U.S. interest to continue to be part of that."

Do you agree?

DURBIN: Yes, I do agree.

And I have to tell you that the report from Gaza that 10 babies died of starvation in this last week, certified by medical authorities, I mean, is a gruesome fact. It should bring us all to our senses. This killing has to stop of the innocent people there.

I certainly understand Israel's right to exist, its right to defend itself, and what the Hamas terrorist did on October 7, the outrageous, atrocious conduct on their part. But it's reached a point where we have over 25,000 innocent people who have been killed in the process of rooting out Hamas, and it appears it's going from bad to worse.

The medical situation the ground there is horrible, horrible, and there's just no excuse for it.

BASH: But what's...

DURBIN: And this notion of airdrops and airlifts...

BASH: Go ahead.

DURBIN: ... I support that, but that is not going to solve the problem.

I saw the first plane that discharged its cargo, and they said we can feed 38,000 people with what we just dropped. There are almost two million people in Gaza. It just shows the gravity of the situation.

BASH: So, how should the Biden policy change then? Should he do more to push Netanyahu? What would you do? What would you recommend that the president do differently?

DURBIN: Well, I think there are two things, and one of them is short- term, and that is push for the cease-fire and the humanitarian response as quickly as possible.

Members of Congress, at least the Democrats in the Senate, have been calling for that right and left. And, secondly, we have to have a plan for ending this conflict. And I'm afraid that Netanyahu's approach toward a two-state solution doesn't give us much hope for that. But those are the things I'd urge the president to bring to the attention of our friends in Israel and those that we have worked with.

BASH: Senator, more than 100,000 Democrats just voted uncommitted in the Michigan primary this week as a way to protest President Biden's support for Israel in this war.

You were the first senator to call for a cease-fire. You mentioned the cease-fire again this morning. And you told my colleague Manu Raju this week that President Biden needs to be more forceful with Israel. Can you talk about -- you mentioned some issues, but, as you well know, this is very difficult for the president to get through to Netanyahu.

Are you worried, on the domestic political front, that this could cost President Biden the election if he doesn't do more to telegraph a change of course?

DURBIN: Well, of course.

The situation, the humanitarian crisis in Gaza is historic, and we shouldn't ignore it. It should be front and center in our consideration of policy. And so I can understand the 100,000 who wanted to protest-vote in the Michigan Democratic primary. I have met with many of these people in Washington and in Illinois.

They have a legitimate concern about the humanitarian crisis their people face.

BASH: You said of course. I just want to clarify. Of course, this could cost President Biden the election?

DURBIN: No, of course, it reflects a genuine feeling of people towards the humanitarian crisis.


BASH: Uh-huh.

DURBIN: But, no, I think -- I'm hopeful that the president's leadership in this area in the months to come will resolve it and we can have a genuine cease-fire and the end of hostilities.

BASH: Before we go, I have to ask about what's going on, on the other side of the aisle.

Mitch McConnell announced this week that he's going to step down as Senate Republican leader in November. I know you don't agree with him on very much at all policy-wise, but he and President Biden and you were able to work together on a range of issues. He held back some of the Trumpier elements in your party in the U.S. Senate.

Are you worried about what the Senate Republican Conference looks like once he's gone?

DURBIN: Listen, they make their own choice on leadership, and I will do my best to work with whomever they choose.

I -- the three leading names are people that I have worked with and consider to be friends, and we can work together in the future. The American people are looking for results on Capitol Hill. They're tired of the political squabbling. I think they must be frustrated. And I am when Donald Trump begs the Republicans not to participate in a bipartisan effort to solve our border crisis.

That is terrible. He said, blame him for it. I'm going to. He stopped a bipartisan effort that could have resulted in better results at the border, and I think that is something the American people are sick of. I'm pretty sick of it.

BASH: Senator Dick Durbin, chairman of the Judiciary Committee. I appreciate you being here. Thank you so much.

DURBIN: Thanks, Dana.

BASH: And, as I just mentioned, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell will step down from leadership at the end of this term. Will Donald Trump pick his replacement? I will ask Republican Senator Markwayne Mullin next.



BASH: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION.

This Tuesday, voters in 16 states will take part in the presidential primary, as Donald Trump is expected to come much closer to clinching the nomination.

Here with me now, a Republican from a Super Tuesday state, the state of Oklahoma, Senator Markwayne Mullin.

Thank you so much for being here. You endorsed Donald Trump more than a year ago. Nikki Haley says that Trump can't beat Joe Biden without the 30 to 40 percent of the Republican voters she wins in many of these primary contests.

Senator, do you think she has a point?

SEN. MARKWAYNE MULLIN (R-OK): Dana, I don't think she's actually being realistic in what she's trying to get done here. She hasn't won a state yet. And she has the right to run. Nikki has the right to run. Everybody has the right to run. I commend everybody that puts their name on the ballot.

However, at some point, you have got to call it. I thought she would call it after she lost her own state in a horrible fashion. Now that we go into Super Tuesday, there's not a chance she's going to win a single state. All the polls show right now that Donald Trump is slightly ahead of Joe Biden, even polls that we -- that typically don't lean that way.

At this point, what her donors need to be looking at is, what other races can they get involved in? What Senate races? Can they get involved in Tim Sheehy's race? Can they get involved in Sam Brown's race? Can they get involved in Kelly (sic) Lake's race?

I mean, where can their money better be spent? Because we shouldn't be fighting among Republicans. We should be fighting to take back the White House and the Senate, and also strengthen our majority in the House.

BASH: But, Senator, what about her argument about the fact that there are, again, 30 to 40 percent, depending on the state, of voters who vote for her, according -- just take South Carolina for an example -- 40 percent of that share said they were voting against Donald Trump.

Is that a warning sign for Trump?

MULLIN: No, I don't really think so.

Any of us that's ever ran in politics at all understand that there's about 20 or 30 percent of the population in your own state that will vote for anybody but you. And so what she's seeing is, she's seeing just that out fringe of the party that would vote for anybody, but -- and they will look at -- even though President Trump isn't necessarily an incumbent, they look at him more as an incumbent.

She has that group of individuals. And she can get -- anybody can put their name on any ballot when it's one-on-one...

BASH: Got it.

MULLIN: ... and get 20 to 30 percent of the vote.

BASH: OK, let's talk about what's happening in the Senate.

Mitch McConnell announced this week that he will step down as Republican leader. In November -- he will do that this coming November. You're supporting his number two, South Dakota Senator John Thune, to succeed him.

Thune did just endorse Donald Trump this past week, but he's been pretty critical of the former president in the past. Do you think that could hurt his leadership bid?

MULLIN: Well, after January 6, there were several individuals that came out that was -- had harsh words to say about President Trump at the time.

I think, if you talk to Senator Thune right now, he understands the party, it needs to be united, and he recognizes that President Trump's going to be the presidential nominee. That's why he came out even before Mitch McConnell said he was going to resign. And let me tell you, no one knew that Mitch McConnell was going to resign.

That wasn't by accident. Him -- Senator Thune and I had had multiple conversations about it. I'm very good friends with Senator Thune. That's why my support is with him. That doesn't say anything bad about the other candidates that may be running. I know Rick Scott is throwing his name around that he may be doing it. John Barrasso is a great guy. John Cornyn is a great guy.

I'm just better friends with Thune. And I have seen his leadership skills move around. Even when Mitch was unable to be at the Capitol because of some illnesses, I saw Thune step up in a very effective manner. And what I look for in any position that needs to be in leadership position is someone that can lead in very dangerous and critical times.


And that's what I saw John Thune do.

BASH: Just real quick, to follow up on that, are you worried that Donald Trump will try to block John Thune?

MULLIN: Right. I don't know.

President Trump and I had a really good conversation last week. My advice to President Trump, which -- President Trump's his own man -- he's going to make it his decision, and he does a good job in that -- is to stay out of the race, because it's a lose-lose situation.

He needs to work for -- with whatever leader is there. And let me tell you, whatever leader is there understands that they're going to have to work with President Trump too.

BASH: Right.

MULLIN: So it's really not in his best interest to lean in the race at this point.

However, if he chooses to do it, it will make a difference.

BASH: Senator, let's talk about an issue Republicans are grappling with, and that is the fallout of the Alabama IVF ruling that frozen embryos are children and should be protected from destruction.

You're really open about the struggles you and your wife have had with fertility.

MULLIN: Right.

BASH: How does your experience shape your perspective on the question of IVF access?

MULLIN: Well, listen, as you know, my wife and I, we struggled for seven years to have children. And it was tough. It was something that was very difficult for us month after month after month. And we went through all types of fertility.

And so anyone that's out there thinking that -- in Alabama, thinking, oh, my goodness, what's going to happen, we have been trying to have children, we have been wanting to have children, now that's going to be affected, I can tell you, that's not the position the Republican Party stands.

We understand that. I'm not the only one in the Republican Party, for that matter, the only one in politics, that has struggled having children. This had nothing to do with politics. This is the ruling of a court that I believe that the Alabama state legislators are probably going to fix.

But, as I reiterate, this is not the position of Republican Party or the pro-life movement at all.

BASH: So there's the position, and then there's, what are you going to do about it as elected officials, as leaders?

And so the question is whether or not you support codifying that support into law, protections for IVF at -- on the federal level to prevent what we're seeing.


MULLIN: Yes, Dana, if we need to do this federally, we absolutely will support it. And you will see a lot of support, maybe complete support in the Republican Party.

I can't obviously speak for all my colleagues. But I think the state legislature in Alabama is going to resolve this issue. And, hopefully, we don't have to do this federally. But if we do need to, I can assure you I will be right in the middle of that fight fighting for it.

BASH: I have to ask you about Congress sort of twisting itself and not trying to pass a bill to support Israel and Ukraine and also support for the southern border.

You support Ukraine funding, although you voted against a recent foreign aid impact in the Senate.

MULLIN: Right.

BASH: Members from both parties in the House say Ukraine and Israel would pass overwhelmingly.

Given that support, should the House speaker allow a vote to give money to Israel and Ukraine, particularly Ukraine, given how dire things are over there?

MULLIN: Well, yes, but we have to have border in it. We have to take care of our own border before we move forward on all this.

And I think there's a very simple, as I like to say, a KISS version, keep it simple version, that's out there that's going to be with lethal aid for Ukraine, lethal aid for Israel, lethal aid for Indo- Pacific, and very simple, but effective measures on the border to secure our border and stem the flow.

It's a -- it's not the same Lank -- same bill that Lankford had out, but it's a simple version that can be very effective. At the same time, what we want to do is, President Trump put out a social media message that said, we should loan it to them, and the loan should be very generous with no interest and no scheduled paybacks, unless they strike rich or they turn their back on us.

Well, this is the land lease agreement that we put in place after World War II in 1946 that basically said that we will loan you the money, but if your per capita GDP ever goes over that of the United States, that you owe the money back to us, or that you turn your back on us.

BASH: Right.

MULLIN: I think those are very reasonable terms that we can do to get passed.

And, at the same time, we also have a REPO Act, where we could repo the assets that Russia has held that we have put sanctions on and use that money to fund Ukraine too. I believe, with those measures in it, that it can pass the House. And if it passes the House, it'll pass the Senate.

What Senator Johnson -- or Speaker Johnson has a problem with... BASH: Yes.

MULLIN: ... is that he has to have the majority to bring it to the floor.

BASH: Well...

MULLIN: And I believe this smaller package, I believe he can do that.

BASH: He wants to have the majority of the majority. There are no rules about that.

But I appreciate your time. Thank you so much, Senator.


MULLIN: The House Conference rules does. The House Conference rules does have it for the Republicans.

BASH: OK. I just -- understood. Understood.

Fair point.


BASH: Fair point.


BASH: Thank you, Senator.

MULLIN: Thank you.

BASH: And a new poll shows broadly negative views about President Biden and his policies and Trump with just a narrow advantage.

My panel will break it all down next.




NIKKI HALEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I defeat Joe Biden by 10 points.

You win by that much, that's bigger than the presidency. That's House. That's Senate. That's governorships. That's school boards. That's finally turning our country around.

TRUMP: You have to get out to vote, because we have to send big numbers up for November 5. We have to let them know that we're a freight train and we're going and we're not stopping.


The countdown to Super Tuesday is on. My panel joins me now.

You are the only person at this table who has run for president, run for the Republican nomination. What are you looking -- what are you looking for?

FMR. GOV. SCOTT WALKER (R-WI): Well, I mean, I think, on Super Tuesday, you're going to see a blowout.

I like Nikki Haley. We served together as governors. I think she did a good job as ambassador. But I don't see any pathway for her forward, not just on Tuesday, but overall. The only path that she had was through New Hampshire. And when she didn't win there.

I think funders are allowing her to continue, but it's going to be a big win for Donald Trump, particularly because -- not just because primary voters like him. With all these polls showing him ahead in the battleground states against Joe Biden, that was the best argument anyone else had, Nikki Haley, Don -- Ron DeSantis, anyone else.

And because he's ahead in all the battleground states, I think that argument goes right off the table.

BASH: Meanwhile, speaking of Nikki Haley, she just said that she doesn't believe that she is bound anymore by the pledge that she signed to get on the debate stage for the RNC to support the nominee.

You used to work at the RNC, Doug Heye.



HEYE: Well, she's talking about how the RNC has changed, and I think these are fair points.

BASH: What does that say about her and where her head is right now?

HEYE: Well, I think she knows that she has a very uphill battle.

I was at her event in Raleigh yesterday. Her crowds are growing. Her argument, which is sort of what Markwayne Mullin said -- we need to focus on some of these Senate races and House races. If we want a big night in the Senate in the House, Nikki Haley gets us there, because she doesn't win battleground states by a few points. She wins them by 10 points or 12 points.

But we have an RNC that has not just changed, but changing, and potentially changing its rules, whether or not they're going to follow what's called Rule 11, real political nerd talk, on neutrality.


HEYE: They want to step in and change this race as it's ongoing. Donald Trump has a huge lead. I don't think anybody disputes that, including Haley.

But there is a hunger out there for somebody who is not Donald Trump and who's not Joe Biden.


HEYE: Joe Biden is the movable object. Donald Trump is the resistible force, and voters are saying, we don't want this movie again.

FINNEY: And here's what's interesting about what's happening with Haley. I look at this through the lens of 2016. And whereas she's not winning to the degree that Bernie Sanders was winning against Hillary, she is doing some damage to President -- former President Trump, in that she's getting at least 25 percent, 30 percent.

And that tells you that there is a portion of the Republican primary electorate that does not want Donald Trump. And so the task of the campaign will be, can Joe Biden win those voters over? The other thing I will just lightly say about the poll, "The New York Times" poll, I just want to remind us that "The New York Times" also throughout 2022 said red wave, red wave.

So I want to take that with a grain of salt.

BASH: We will talk about that in one second, but just staying on this, Mallory, thank you so much for coming down from the real world.



BASH: State Senate majority whip in Michigan.

What are your thoughts as you look at the -- not just the Republican field play out, but, obviously, you just came from a state where there was a big battle and there was a message sent to President Biden.


I mean, Michigan, this is our first year as an early primary state. And what I took away more than anything else was that people showed up. I think a lot of our fear, as people looked at a rematch of Donald Trump versus Joe Biden, that it felt like Groundhog Day, and the fear was, would people check out? We didn't see that at all.

We had three times the turnout in the Democratic primary than we had when the last incumbent president was on the ballot in Barack Obama. And as we looked at the uncommitted vote as well, the numbers there show that people believe that voting matters. People were engaged. People are in it on the Democratic side because they know Donald Trump is a monster.

He's a narcissist, and they don't want him in office.

BASH: You are not from Michigan, but you're from...

WALKER: Wisconsin.


BASH: But you're from another, maybe even electorally, an even more important state in the general election, Wisconsin.

What does the landscape look like to you?

WALKER: Well, the mood is, I mean, we just had 100 percent increase in layoffs. So, when it comes to the economy, when it comes to high prices, when it comes to public safety and border security, if those are the issues on the ballot, Joe Biden loses.

And that's why you see this massive push in all these issues right now. But if you're a family -- people can tell you all the time that Bidenomics are working, but they're not seeing it, whether it's in Wisconsin or even in Michigan or anywhere else across the country.

It's why all the polls are showing the former president is on track to be the future president.

FINNEY: Well, again, I would just go back to the fact that we are seeing a portion of Republican electorate, primary electorate, very clear they do not want Donald Trump. That's why they're voting for Haley.


Secondly, though, I want to pick on something that the governor said. It's not -- it's going to be about those issues. And regarding immigration, as we saw this week the dual screen, here's the thing. What you saw there is one president trying to solve the problem and another president demagoguing, ironically, standing not in front of the wall he promised to build, suggesting -- but who is interested in keeping it an issue throughout the election to win, not because it's good for the American people, because it's good for him.

And I think that -- we're going to see that over and over again. And the last thing I will say is, it's also going to be about reproductive freedom. Now that we're seeing between -- and we all predicted this when Dobbs fell -- contraception is coming up next on -- in Congress. It's not going to -- access to contraception, not going to pass, IVF.

Your former previous guest said that's not the position of the Republican Party. Well, guess what? They didn't support it when it came up in Congress and access to abortion. So the full conversation about reproductive freedom, that is going to be on the ballot.

HEYE: IVF really has reawakened this issue, and I think has caused real concern for Republicans.

But the polls all show the same thing, that Joe Biden's approval is just absolutely in the cellar. And it is for two reasons. Governor, you use the word prices. We don't hear the word inflation as much anymore. When the White House said inflation is transitory, that may be true. But Americans, when they get home, they talk about their prices. They don't talk about transitory statistics.

And the other is the situation at the border. And if voters feel the same way about prices as they do -- as they do about the border nine months from now, this president is in a world of hurt. Again, the question is, does Donald Trump potentially beat him by two points, or is there somebody else who can win by 10 points?


MCMORROW: But I want to pick up on Karen's point, if I can, because, again, in 2022, every poll showed that there was going to be this huge red wave.

BASH: If I may, I don't want to interrupt you, but I want to give you a little -- a little meat on the bone for what you're talking about, so we can explain to our viewers what this "New York Times"/Siena College poll showed, Joe Biden 43, Donald Trump 48.

But if you look inside the poll -- and I want you to talk about this as well -- the question about whether or not people feel that each of these individuals has helped them personally, Joe Biden only has 18 percent. And Donald Trump has 40 percent.

What do you make of that?

MCMORROW: I think that two things can be true at once.

I think the reality is that most Americans don't want a repeat of 2020. You can feel that way and still look at a binary choice in November. And this is what happened in 2022. People are underestimating women. People are underestimating how angry women are. People are underestimating how much women, particularly in a place like Michigan, mobilized and fought to codify Roe as a constitutional right in our state.

And there's no way we're going backwards on that. So I think we always look for who do you love as a candidate, instead of the binary choice of, at the end of the day, when it comes down to my personal freedom and what I want moving forward...


MCMORROW: ... person who's going to get it done.

BASH: Final word, yes.


But in that poll, actually, what it shows more than anything is a huge drop-off of traditionally Democrat voters, black voters, Hispanic voters, particularly younger voters. Younger voters, there is a 16- point drop between those who said they voted for Joe Biden in 2020 versus who they would vote for in 2024.

We saw this in the poll we did at Young America's Foundation before the first debate. Number one issue with college students was the economy. Nearly four out of every 10 college students said that they didn't believe that they weren't confident that Joe Biden was effectively doing the issues that they cared about.

This is why these polls are showing it there in "The New York Times," but, more importantly, in battleground states like mine.

FINNEY: It's one poll. We also have had in the last few weeks polls that show President Biden ahead. So it's one snapshot in time. Let's be clear.

So, again, let's see how it unfolds, because, as people are voting, they're voting for the Biden agenda in every special election.

BASH: Great conversation. Thank you so much for coming on this morning. Appreciate it.

We will be right back.



BASH: How did politics in Tennessee get so toxic? Does it preview what is in store for the rest of the country?

Van Jones goes home to find out on "THE WHOLE STORY WITH ANDERSON COOPER." That is tonight at 8:00 p.m.

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

The news continues next.