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State of the Union

Interview With Gov. Wes Moore (D-MD); Interview With Rep. Mike Lawler (R-NY); Interview With Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA). Aired 9-10a ET

Aired March 31, 2024 - 09:00   ET




DANA BASH, CNN HOST (voice-over): Faith and politics. This Easter Sunday, how does a senator preaching where MLK Jr. once stood balance his faith with his public service.

SEN. RAPHAEL WARNOCK (D-GA): Democracy is the political enactment of a spiritual idea.

BASH: Georgia Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock is next.

Plus: fanning the flames? An extraordinary rebuke of Donald Trump's rhetoric.

JUDGE REGGIE WALTON, U.S. DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: It is an attack on the rule of law when judges are threatened.

And now the former president faces new criticism for sharing violent images online. New York Republican Congressman Mike Lawler is ahead on that and more.

And global disaster. After the deadly Baltimore bridge collapse, Maryland launches a massive effort to reopen a key economic port.

GOV. WES MOORE (D-MD): We have a very long road ahead of us.

BASH: How could it impact you? Maryland Governor Wes Moore joins me live.


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

Today marks one of the most meaningful days in Christianity, already observed this morning by Pope Francis, as well as King Charles of England, who celebrated with less family than usual this year due to his cancer treatments. We hope many of you will be celebrating with your families.

This year, Easter also comes in the middle of a divisive presidential election, and that is highlighting a shift in Americans' views on faith in politics.

My next guest is a U.S. senator, but, also, he is preaching today, as the senior pastor at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia.


BASH: Here with me now is Senator and Reverend Raphael Warnock.

Happy Easter. Thank you so much for joining me this morning, sir.

You are going to be leading services at the Ebenezer Baptist Church this morning, of course, where Martin Luther King Jr. preached. What is the meaning of this day to you personally? And what will your Easter message be for your congregants?

WARNOCK: Well, good morning, Dana.

And happy Easter, everyone.

In just a little while, I will go into my pulpit and do what preachers will be doing all across the world, and that is to put the timeless message, Easter message of hope and resurrection and restoration, into a contemporary context.

The good news of Easter is that evil and injustice will not have the last word in this world. On this very day, a bad Friday became a Good Friday. Transformation is possible. Truth crushed to earth will rise again.

BASH: You describe yourself as a Matthew 25 Christian, referring to the Gospel of Matthew, when Jesus told his disciples: "I was hungry and you gave me something to eat. I was a stranger, and you welcomed me in."

That message of caring for strangers and being welcoming toward people of all different backgrounds seems like a pretty central tenet of Christianity. Do you think that this country, people not just here and around the world, have gotten away from that view of religion?

WARNOCK: Well, indeed, as you point out, your treatment of the neighbor and taking care of those who are most marginalized is a central tenet of the Gospel.

Jesus lifts it up in Matthew 25. But if you actually go through the Scriptures, you will see that there's some 2,000 verses in the Scripture that talk about how to treat the poor. Sadly, you wouldn't know that listening to some of the loudest Christian voices in America today that are often mean to poor people in the name of faith.

I don't know what Bible they're reading. Jesus said in his first sermon, quoting the Hebrew prophet Isaiah: "The spirit of the lord has upon me because he's anointed me to preach good news to the poor."

That is the core of my faith. And it is something that I have tried not only to express in the pulpit, but to events every single day as I represent the people of Georgia in the United States Senate. [09:05:05]

BASH: Senator, the former president, the Republican candidate for president, again, Donald Trump, is marking this Holy Week by posting a video.

He did so encouraging people to buy a $60 Trump-endorsed Bible. Listen to what he said.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES (R) AND CURRENT U.S. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: All Americans need a Bible in their home. And I have many. It's my favorite book. It's a lot of people's favorite book.

I'm proud to endorse and encourage you to get this Bible. We must make America pray again.


BASH: The group selling that Bible says it paid to license Trump's name and image, which means he's making money off the sales. What do you make of that?

WARNOCK: The Bible doesn't -- not need Donald Trump's endorsement.

And Jesus in the very last week of his life chased the money changers out of the temple, those who would take sacred things and use them as cheap relics to be sold in the marketplace. The sad thing is that none of us are surprised by this. This is what we expect from the former president.

If he's not selling us steaks, he's selling us a school whose degree is not worth the paper that is written on. If he's not selling us a school, he's selling us sneakers. And now he's trying to sell the Scriptures.

At the end of the day, I think he's trying to sell the American people a bill of goods. And that worked in 2016, although he did not win the popular vote even in 2016. It did not work in 2020. And I don't think it's going to work in 2024.

BASH: I don't know if you have seen, but this Bible that Donald Trump is selling also includes the Declaration of Independence, the Pledge of Allegiance, the Constitution.

Experts say that this is in line with a growing embrace on the right of Christian nationalism, which is the idea that the United States should be a Christian country.

What do you think about that movement and Trump's apparent embrace of it?

WARNOCK: Well, I'm a proud American. I love my country. And one of the tenets of my country that I love is the separation of church and state.

And so I try to use my faith and the values derived there from to participate in a pluralistic democracy that embraces the great tenets, I think, that are lifted up by many faith traditions, love, justice, equity, compassion for the neighbor.

Donald Trump is doing what he's always done. And, this time, it's a risky bet, because the folks who buy those Bibles might actually open them up, where it says things like, thou shalt not lie, thou shalt not bear false witness, where it warns about wolves dressed up in sheep's clothing.

I think you ought to be careful. This is risky business for somebody like Donald Trump.

BASH: I don't know if you have heard your friend Reverend William Barber speak about this, but he says that Christian nationalism attempts to sanctify oppression and not liberation. He calls it a form of heresy.

What do you think? I mean, is this concept which seems to be growing, something that you see as dangerous?

WARNOCK: Well, again, I believe in the separation of church and state.

And sadly, in our country in this moment, we're seeing religion being used again as one more proxy as a tool in the culture wars. And very often, it is hidden in the language and the clothing of religion. But Jesus said, you will judge a tree by the fruit it bears.

I judge the depth of people's piety not based on their pronouncements, not based on them using the Bible as a symbol, but how do they treat the poor? How do they treat the most marginalized? Those are the people that Jesus centered. And that is the faith that I embrace every single day. And it's something that is sorely needed in our country in this moment in which those who have no vision are trafficking in division.

BASH: Republicans are attacking President Biden for recognizing today as Transgender Day of Visibility.

I want to be very clear that this day, this Transgender Day of Visibility, is always on March 31, has been since 2009. This president has marked it every year since he's been in the White House. The date of Easter changes year to year. I don't need to tell you that.

The House speaker called Biden's announcement abhorrent and said he betrayed the central tenet of Easter. What do you say to that?


WARNOCK: Well, apparently, the speaker finds trans people abhorrent.

And I think he ought to think about that. The fact of the matter is, as you said, March 31 has been a day to lift up transgender people who endure violence and bigotry. Easter, the date changes every single day.

But this is just one more instance of folks who have -- who do not know how to lead us trying to divide us. And this is the opposite of the Christian faith. Jesus centered to marginalize. He centered the poor. And in a moment like this, we need voices, particularly voices of faith, who would use our faith not as a weapon to beat other people down, but as a bridge to bring all of us together.

That is what Martin Luther King Jr. Did. And I'm honored to preach from that pulpit every single day. It is a faith that guides me in my work as a United States senator, trying to cap the cost of insulin, so folks can afford it, trying to make sure first-time homeowners can buy a home, and that our children are not so awash in student debt that they have a mortgage before they have a mortgage.

This is how my faith informs me every single day.

BASH: Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock, thank you so much for being here again, especially on this holy day. Appreciate it. Happy Easter.

WARNOCK: Thank you.


BASH: And you're looking at live pictures of the site of the Baltimore bridge collapse, where we are seeing the first signs of progress. Maryland Governor Wes Moore will join me live next.

And new inflammatory language and imagery from Donald Trump -- that's coming up.



BASH: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION.

The largest crane on the Eastern Seaboard arrived in Baltimore this weekend to begin clearing wreckage from the catastrophic collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge, as dangerous conditions underwater are slowing efforts to recover the victims of this tragedy.

Here with me now with all the latest is the governor of Maryland, Wes Moore.

Thank you so much for joining me this morning.

We know how incredibly complicated this recovery effort is, sir. Have you made any progress on clearing the channel? And how long do you think it will take to reopen the Port of Baltimore?

MOORE: Thanks. And, first, happy Easter. Thank you for having me.

And our prayers continue to go out to the families and also the families of the first responders, who have been working 24/7, to be able to help us have progress. And what -- the thing that we are now seeing is, progress is beginning to happen, despite the fact that these are incredibly -- it's an incredibly complicated situation, where we have not been able to put divers back in the water because of both weather, wind, the amount of debris and wreckage that's in the water.

We now do have cranes, the Chesapeake 1000, which has the capacity of lifting 1,000 pounds, that's begun to cut up the remnants of the bridge that we can then prepare for removal. The complicated nature of this is, we have a ship that is nearly the size of the Eiffel Tower that is now stuck within the channel that has the Key Bridge sitting on top of it.

And so this is going to be a long road. It's a very complex operation, but movement is happening. And we're grateful for the people who are out there doing this work.

BASH: More than 1.1 million containers of cargo passed through the Port of Baltimore last year, including more cars and light trucks than any other port in the U.S.

What effect is this going to have beyond Maryland on the national economy and the supply chain? Could Americans see delays and higher prices as a result?

MOORE: Absolutely.

And people have to remember, this is not a -- this is not a Baltimore catastrophe, not a Maryland catastrophe. This is a national economic catastrophe as well. We -- as you mentioned, I mean, this port is one of the busiest, most active ports inside of the country.

And so this is not just having an impact on Maryland. This is going to impact the farmer in Kentucky. This is going to impact the auto dealer in Ohio. This is going to impact the restaurant owner in Tennessee.

Whether you're talking about all those various industries, the Port of Baltimore is the largest port in the country for all of those things. And so the reason that we need people to move in a bipartisan basis and move in a fast basis is not because we need you to do Maryland a favor. Maryland needs no favors.

We need to make sure that we're actually moving quickly to get the American economy going again, because the Port of Baltimore is instrumental in our larger economic growth.

BASH: Quick action by law enforcement and port officials and the fact that this happened really early in the morning helped prevent the death toll from being even higher.

If those officers hadn't been nearby or if this had happened during rush hour, it could have been a really different story. Why didn't the bridge have a better warning system in place? Does that need to change going forward?

MOORE: Well, I know that NTSB is currently doing an investigation. And we need to have answers.

We need to have answers on what happened. We need to know who is and should be accountable for this. And we need to make sure we're holding them accountable. But the work of these first responders, I cannot overstate enough, they saved countless lives, the fact that they moved so quickly when that mayday went up to be able to block traffic from getting more cars on the bridge.


And it's not even just the cars that they stopped from going on the bridge, which would have had a deadly result. Remember, this is in the middle of the night. It was pitch dark, and cars were coming over the Key Bridge at 50 miles an hour. Had they not stopped that flow of traffic, cars would have kept coming even after the bridge collapsed, because, when you're moving at that speed and you're moving in darkness, none of these drivers would have known that there's no bridge anymore.

So they literally just would have kept on driving over the edge. They saved countless lives. And I cannot thank these first responders enough and members of the MTA police, who are literally heroes within our midst.

BASH: Yes, they certainly did an amazing job.

But I'm guessing that, regardless of what the NTSB says about the reason for this collapse, you want something to protect not just your constituents, but others who are driving over this kind of bridge near such a busy port, where you're going to have gigantic cargo ships like this going through again.

MOORE: That's right.

The number one priority for me, the number one priority for any chief executive is the safety of your people. We need to make sure that our people are safe. And that includes critical infrastructure. And so there has to be and there will be a full understanding of all the critical infrastructure assets within our state to make sure that people can have a sense of not just no confidence, but reliability when it comes to critical infrastructure.

And that work -- and that work is going to be something that's going to be bipartisan, and that's work that has already begun.

BASH: Governor, some Republicans are trying to blame the bridge collapse on policies that encourage workplace diversity.

A Utah state representative who is running for governor tweeted -- quote -- "This is what happens when you have governors who prioritize diversity over the well-being and security of citizens."

Another Republican running for Congress in Florida posted: "DEI did this."

What's your response? MOORE: My response is, I have no time for foolishness. I'm locked in.

I'm making sure that we can get closure and comfort to these families. I'm making sure that we're going to keep our first responders safe, who are doing heroic work. I'm making sure that we are going to open up this channel and be able to get boats and ships and get our economic engine going again.

I'm making sure that we're taking care of our people, to include our first responders and families and small businesses who have been impacted by this. And I'm making sure that we are going to get the Key Bridge rebuilt. I have no time for foolishness, and so I'm not going to delve into it.

BASH: You call it foolishness. The mayor of Baltimore seemed to go in a different direction. He is black. And he was described in an online post that got millions of views as the DEI mayor.

He responded by saying: "We know what they say -- what they want to say, but they don't have the courage to say the N-word."

Is this racism?

MOORE: My focus is on making sure these families are getting the comfort and the closure that they need, making sure that our first responders are getting the supports that they need, making sure that we can get these channels open, and making sure that we can get this Key Bridge rebuilt.

I, frankly, do not have time to be able to deal with anything else. I'm locked in and I'm focused on what matters right now.

BASH: Well, that makes sense, and that is understandable.

And we should not lose sight of the human cost here. Six people lost their lives, all of them immigrant workers, families that loved them. They relied on them. And our thoughts are with them and their loved ones today.

Governor, thank you so much for being here, especially on this Easter Sunday.

MOORE: God bless you. Happy Easter. And joy comes in the morning.

BASH: Thank you.

Up next, a Republican from one of the most divided House districts in the country. The issues he thinks will drive November's election, it may surprise you.

Congressman Mike Lawler is next.



BASH: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION.

Another week, another existential crisis for a Republican House speaker. Just as the House Republican majority shrinks to a single- vote margin, Speaker Johnson is in another tight spot, deciding whether and how to pass desperately needed aid for Ukraine, over the objections of many members, who could vote to remove him.

Here with me now to talk about that and more is Republican Congressman Mike Lawler of New York.

Thank you so much for being here, sir. Happy Easter to you.

Let's start with Ukraine.

REP. MIKE LAWLER (R-NY): Thank you.

BASH: The speaker says he is determined to find a path forward.

He is under intense pressure from the far right. You have been calling for him to allow a vote for weeks now. Has he given you any commitment that this vote will happen when the House returns from recess?

LAWLER: I believe there will be a vote when we get back from the Easter recess.

Certainly, this is critically important for our allies. We are the leader of the free world, and we cannot shirk on our responsibility to uphold and defend democracies across the globe. It's why I introduced, along with Brian Fitzpatrick and Jared Golden, the Defending Borders, Defending Democracies Act, which would provide lethal aid to Ukraine, to Israel, to Taiwan, as well as enact serious border provisions, including remain-in-Mexico and Title 42.


And we are pushing for a vote. I have signed a discharge petition to allow for that vote, but I am hopeful that the speaker will put the bill on the floor or an amended version of the bill on the floor, so that we can once and for all ensure that our allies have the aid and support that they need.

BASH: You said you're hopeful. Have you -- I'm assuming you have spoken to him directly. Has he made a commitment?

LAWLER: I have spoken to him directly. I'm not going to delve into the details of that conversation.

But I am confident that he is going to bring a bill to the floor and that we will have a vote. He understands the responsibility that we have. Look, China, Russia, and Iran are not our friends. They're not our allies. They are seeking to undermine and destabilize the free world and undermine the United States economically at every turn.

And so we need to push back. We need to support our allies. And if Ukraine were to fall and Russia successful in this endeavor, that would have a catastrophic impact on Eastern Europe. BASH: Do you think that Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene will

follow through on her threat to force a motion to oust Mike Johnson as speaker?

LAWLER: I can't speak for her.

Obviously, she has introduced it. She has not yet made it privileged. But, as I said the day that she introduced it, it's idiotic. And it's not going to actually help advance the cause that she believes in. And, in fact, it undermines our House Republican majority.

Look, voters enacted a House Republican majority because they wanted a check and balance on the Biden administration. They wanted to stop the reckless, out-of-control spending that increased spending by $5 trillion in just two years and gave us record inflation. They didn't like the disastrous withdrawal in Afghanistan.

And they saw the disastrous foreign policy decisions that the Biden administration has made when it comes to Iran, for instance, allowing Iranian petroleum sales to increase by $88 billion in just three years. So they wanted a House Republican majority to serve as a check and balance to fight to secure our border.

Infighting does nothing to help advance any of those issues or policy positions. And, in fact, it undermines our majority.

BASH: I want to ask you about something that happened in Alabama this week.

A Democrat who campaigned on reproductive rights flipped GOP-held state House seat, another sign of the fallout in that state for the Supreme Court ruling that ruled that IVF treatments would be blocked. You, Congressman, are just one of four House Republicans supporting a bill to codify IVF protections at the federal level.

Do you think most of your fellow Republicans are on the wrong side of this issue?

LAWLER: Look, if we're going to be a party that supports life, then we should be fighting to protect the ability of families to become parents.

I mean, that's what this is about, ultimately. Millions of Americans struggle with infertility, and they rely on IVF to ensure that they have the joy of being a parent. And so I think that decision that came down in Alabama was wrong. I think the legislature obviously moved quickly, but there is political fallout from that.

People want reasonableness. They don't want extremism. I am personally pro-life, but I do believe in exceptions for rape, incest, the life of the mother. And I have said very clearly I will never support a federal ban on abortion.

This is a decision that will be made at the state level and it will be made by the voters. And I think we need to do a much better job of listening and understanding where people are on these issues. IVF is something that is critically important for families all across this country, and I believe it should be protected.

And that is something where I have signed on to federal legislation to do that, given the fact that some states have not moved legislation to protect IVF.

BASH: I want to turn to Donald Trump.

All week, he has been aggressively attacking the judge overseeing one of his trials in your state of New York. He's also gone after the judge's daughter, posting her name and picture on social media. On Friday, he targeted another perceived enemy, the president of the United States, his rival for the White House.


He posted a video with violent imagery of Biden hog-tied in the back of a pickup truck. Does Trump, going after a judge's family, promoting violent images of President Biden cross a line?

LAWLER: Look, I think, obviously, the former president has every right to defend himself in court. He has every right to defend himself as -- through the proper legal channels.

I think everyone needs to tone down the rhetoric, the language. And, obviously, social media has become a vehicle by which to bludgeon people. I just think, at the end of the day, the former president, current president, and on down, all of us have a responsibility to check our language, to watch what we're saying, and to focus on the issues at hand.

At the end of the day, Dana, the American people are focused on what matters to them. Whether you're a Republican or Democrat, we all want a good-paying job to provide for our families a quality education for our children...

BASH: Yes.

LAWLER: ... access to housing and health care, and safe neighborhoods to live in.

BASH: Congressman...

LAWLER: And we're seeing issues all across this country that, frankly, don't get anywhere near the attention they deserve because, frankly, we're focused on stuff like this.

BASH: Well, to be fair, when you have a candidate for president who is facing a legal situation going after not the judge, not just the judge, but putting photos of the judge's daughter, name and face on social media, I just want to be clear, are you denouncing that?

I know you talked about both sides, but I'm asking you about this specific issue.

LAWLER: No, listen, Dana, families should always be off-limits. Obviously, the former president has every right to defend himself in

court. But I think the focus of this campaign and this election should be on the American people and the issues facing the American people.


LAWLER: We just saw in New York Officer Jonathan Diller get murdered by career criminals. Frankly, I find that to be way more of an important issue impacting the people of New York and my district than some of the other topics that generally are the focus of the press.

BASH: Before I let you go, you didn't endorse Donald Trump in the primary. Are you going to support him for president?

LAWLER: Look, I'm not focused right now on the presidential race. I am focused on my campaign and my district and the work that we are doing here.

At some point, I'm sure I will have a comment with respect to the presidential race, but, right now, I'm focused on my district.

BASH: OK, Congressman, thank you so much for being here, especially on this Easter Sunday. Appreciate it.

LAWLER: Thank you.

BASH: The new move the Biden campaign is making to reach disaffected Republican voters. My panel is next.





JAMES AUSTIN JOHNSON, ACTOR: Look at this beautiful Bible made from 100 percent Bible.


JOHNSON: Sounds like a joke. And, in many ways, it is, but it's also very real.


JOHNSON: As you know, I love Bible. It's my favorite book.


JOHNSON: I have definitely read it. My favorite part is probably the ending.


BASH: That was the "SNL" cold open last night.

And it speaks for itself.

My panel is here now.

First of all, happy Easter. We all have the memo. I will see you after class.



BASH: What do you make of not just the "SNL" bit, which was actually very funny, but just the overall notion of where the -- not the Trump campaign, but Trump the person, is going with this kind of salesmanship on the -- leading up to the holiest, one of the holiest days of the year?


I remember we raised millions of dollars selling plastic straws in 2020 because...

BASH: That's not the Bible.

LOTTER: It's not the Bible. He's also selling sneakers.

And when you look at how he's actually packaged it, by putting the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, others along with the Bible, and the Declaration of Independence talks about our freedoms that come from God, not from the government, it seems like it's great.

And if someone wants to buy it, they will. And if they don't, they won't.

KAREN FINNEY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, yes, pretty much everything you need to know about Trump, he's a fraud.

I mean, to be selling a Bible and comparing himself to Jesus, that's actually in the Bible you're not supposed to do that. And I think remember separation of church and state, but not to mention just the sort of -- he -- I mean, he consistently is trying to find a way to make money and puff himself up.

And he's getting increasingly comfortable with this idea of comparing himself to Jesus. And I just have to say, as a Christian, particularly on Easter, and attacking this day that is also -- it is Easter. It is also the day that we recognize transgender people.

God and Jesus did not preach hate and they were not for attacking diversity. And Donald Trump takes every opportunity he can to attack diversity, to demonize the other. And that is not Christian values, in my mind, as a Christian.

[09:45:14] FMR. REP. BARBARA COMSTOCK (R-VA): Well, first of all, you can get your Bibles usually at a church free. You can also get it online free. On Amazon, I think the bestselling one is probably about $15, so get them a lot cheaper than that.

But, also, in very serious terms, I -- you showed this earlier. On Good Friday, Donald Trump was very viciously posting that very ugly post that you showed earlier of a bound Joe Biden in the back of that truck. And that was on the day where Christians are commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus.

That's when Donald Trump thought he would post that very ugly, violent picture. So this is very serious, because we know when Donald Trump does these violent, very un-Christian things, they have consequences. And you have his supporters do ugly things and threaten people.

So that's much more serious and un-Christian and dangerous. These kind of things aren't spoken out about and people aren't asked to respond on those. And I think we need to see responses from people on those kind of actions. And I'd like to see actions and responses on that a lot more.

BASH: Yes. Well, I did -- I just ask Mike Lawler...

COMSTOCK: I know, yes. Yes.

BASH: ... your former colleague.

Before I let you in, do you want to respond to that at all?

LOTTER: Well, I think so much is being made of a video posted on social media. That's literally what this is.

COMSTOCK: But your former colleagues -- you know your former colleagues at the White House, people who have spoken out against Donald Trump have gotten attacked.

People sometimes show up and attack them at their home, threaten them and threats are made against them. So, I mean, this is a real -- this is a real issue.

LOTTER: If we want to -- but if we want to have a serious discussion about political violence -- and I think we should have a serious discussion, but I would also...


COMSTOCK: On January 6, the kind of political violence where he wants to let those people out of jail.


LOTTER: I would also remind you that you had the speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, and a Squad member talking about unrest in our streets.

You have had entertainers who have talked about assassinating President Trump, blowing up the White House.

COMSTOCK: But never a president who wants to pardon people.

LOTTER: We need to talk about -- we need to talk about -- we need to talk about political violence on both sides.

And when it is only attacked and questioned on one, it rings hollow.


COMSTOCK: We have never had a president of the United States who has said he would pardon people who have attacked our Capitol Police and said he would let them free. And we have had people excuse that.

And that's coming from Donald Trump.

BASH: Doug, I want to bring you in here...


BASH: ... because what we just witnessed are two Republicans having a very real debate, a very passionate one, about some of the things that Donald Trump is doing.

That is the kind of anger at Donald Trump that the Biden campaign is trying to harness now.

COMSTOCK: That's why Mike Pence, your former boss, is not supporting Donald Trump.

BASH: Well, and what the Biden campaign is doing -- and I'm going to play a clip from a new digital ad -- is trying to get people who voted for Nikki Haley in the primaries to come vote for Joe Biden.


TRUMP: Nikki Haley has made an unholy alliance with RINOs, never- Trumpers, Americans for no prosperity.

There aren't that many never-Trumpers anymore.

QUESTION: How do you bring these Nikki Haley voters back into the tent?

TRUMP: I'm not sure we need too many.


THORNELL: Yes, look, the fact that we're having this conversation shows how toxic Trump has become with mainstream Republicans, a lot of Republicans, not just elected officials like the former congresswoman, but a lot of her constituents.

And it's a smart move by the Biden campaign to reach out to them. And, look, we have seen in many races over the last two, three years, whether it was Kentucky in 2023, New York 3, the special election, where Republicans in suburban areas have really been turned off by the former president, and same thing in '22 and same thing in '20.

And he's got a real problem with suburban voters.

FINNEY: Can I just mention also that I think, in that ad, part of what's powerful about it is, it's about attacking a woman and the misogyny of Donald Trump and his inability to stop himself from attacking women.

Think about, in 2016, the attacks on Megyn Kelly, not to mention Hillary Clinton, but, time and again, there's something about women, the way he attacks women. And it does -- it's turning off suburban women and women in general.

But Politico actually also just did a little survey that showed he's also having trouble in exurban areas. He's also having trouble in areas where people just are starting to think, you know what, and they're being reminded of the meanness, of the conversations people were having when they said, I can't have my child in the room when he's on television. I can't have -- they can't hear what he's saying.


And I remember very clearly in 2018 when we started to hear this coming up in focus groups with voters, Republican-leaning voters, who were saying, I just don't think I can support him.

We heard it just this week actually in John King's piece at the border, where people were talking about his meanness and the nastiness as a real turnoff.

BASH: And, Marc, I want to put some numbers around what we're talking about here, just looking at the primaries this year, Arizona, 110,964 votes not for Donald Trump, Georgia 77,866.

This is after there was no Nikki Haley in the race. This is when their alternative was Trump and Trump only. Those are protest votes. Does that worry you?

LOTTER: No, because, at the end of the day, it's not going to be about a protest. It's not going to be about a contested primary. It's going to be about the policy issues.

And when you ask yourself who's going to secure the border, who's going to lower gas prices, who's going to lower grocery prices, who's going to deal with out-of-control crime in our cities, none of those people say Joe Biden. The answer is Donald Trump, and they will come back for that.

BASH: Final quick word.

THORNELL: Well, I mean, we are better off now than we were four years ago.

BASH: That's...

FINNEY: Amen, brother. LOTTER: The American people don't believe so.


BASH: OK, that was...

LOTTER: I can show you the facts.

THORNELL: Do you want to point you -- do to you want to remember what was going on four years ago and how your -- how the former president was encouraging people to inject chemicals into their body?

COMSTOCK: Well, when you look at those swing states, there are so many...

BASH: We're going to have to continue this conversation in the green room.

THORNELL: Come on.

BASH: But I'm going to go and meet you in there, and I'm going to maybe try to moderate it.


BASH: Thank you so much, all of you.

We will be right back.



BASH: One year, that's how long American journalist Evan Gershkovich has been wrongfully imprisoned in Russia on baseless charges of espionage.

Journalism is not a crime. Evan must be freed. And, today, our thoughts are with Evan and his family.

Thank you so much for spending your Sunday morning with us, and happy Easter.

Fareed Zakaria is next.