tv Inside Politics CNN July 30, 2019 9:00am-10:00am PDT
ake life simple. easy. awesome. so come ask, shop, discover at your xfinity store today. welcome to "inside politics." i'm john king. thank you for sharing your day with us and a big day it is. it is debate day right here in detroit. ten candidates on stage tonight, including the two leading liberals in the democratic field, elizabeth warren and bernie sanders. plus the republican incumbent weighs in. president trump says he still thinks joe biden will eventually emerge as the democratic nominee, but the president says he'll be watching the next two nights so that he can size up the others. and this foet to our moderators, dana bash, don lemon and jake tapper, you better bring your a-game because young jared is waiting in the wings. >> yes, what separates you from
the other candidates? >> i can only tell you about why i'm in this fight. i see an america that works better and better and better for a thinner and thinner slice at the top. >> always good to see the young kids getting involved there. we begin the hour with tonight's high-stakes debate right here in the fox theater behind us in detroit. ten candidates in focus this evening. pete buttigieg, beto o'rourke, amy klobuchar, steve bullock, tim ryan, john hickenlooper, john delaney, marianne williamson. warren and sanders each need the others' votes to grow but don't expect a sanders/warren brawl tonight. what they share is that democrats need to toss moderation out the window and go big with liberal policy ideas. that common ground could make them allies for tonight's sparring. on both sides of sanders and warren are more moderate candidates who argue the country
can't afford and general election voters won't support a democratic nominee pushing things like medicare for all, the green new deal and free college tuition in one national election. senator warren on a methodical climb in national and early state polls telling voters last night in ohio she'll just stick to her plans. >> i'm not against anyone. bernie and i have been friends forever. i think what happens tomorrow night is we all have a chance to talk about our vision for america, to talk about our plans for america, to talk about how we see building a future in this country. and that's what i'm going to do. i'm going to talk about my plans to make this america work not just for a thin slice at the top but make it work for everyone. >> with me on a beautiful day in detroit to share their reporting and insights, tolo, jackie kucinich, maeve reston and alex burnes with "the new york times." if you look at the math in the
race, at some point sanders and warren, make they don't have to fight with each other but their growth has to depend on each other. warren has ascendant. she thinks she can win this fight by being there. she doesn't have to have a fight with bernie sanders. sanders is coming down. he had high expectations when he got into the race. will they be fending off the moderates all night or will they have a moment? >> it sounds like they'll spend a lot of time talking about a progressive vision for america. you heard senator warren say she's not going to go on the attack. they're going to focus on what they have in common, the green new deal, medicare for all, big, bold progressive ideas even as they fend off challenges from some of the moderates on the stage who say those ideas are unworkable or too far to the left or are going to drive away independent voters. so it does sound like from senator warren's position that she's not looking to get into a big fight on the stage with
bernie sanders. she may think it's too early to have that fight but they're going to have a lot of challenges from the left and right on the stage, people who are on the flanks who are more moderate and looking to make a name for themselves trying to get to the center stage. >> as we continue the conversation to that point, she doesn't think she needs to have the fight because she's doing quite fine and she is. let's look at the national polling in the race. joe biden on top, he's tomorrow night. kamala harris in the top four, she's tomorrow night. sanders and warren here. joe biden up here. look at the track for senator warren. she starts pretty low at the beginning of the race. she's now in second place. she's now in second place in the national polls. then bring it over to this dynamic where you come in here among more choice for nominees among many very liberal voters. bernie sanders thought this was his base. this was his base in 2016. look what has happened. elizabeth warren running twice as strong as bernie sanders among very liberal voters. warren doesn't need the fight. does sanders? >> i think he might. i think he certainly needs to
show in response to some of these attacks from moderates that he can speak to a set of voters who aren't necessarily already sold on all of his ideas. warren has actually shown a certain amount of range in this race in terms of being able to go into relatively moderate contacts, conservative parts of the country, and frame her ideas as directly relevant to those people. bernie sanders sort of plays the same song in every venue. doesn't mean he doesn't have appeal in the red states. he does to the economic populist base there. but for a lot of democrats who have a hangover from 2016 or are suspicious of the idea somebody that calls themself a democratic socialist can win an election. how they field criticism from john hickenlooper or john delaney who sound like the moderate white guy voters out there who may find some of these ideas interesting but have reservations about the cost or feasibility or just viability in a general election, that contrast should be revealing.
>> it's not just warren who's doing the work and staying until the last voter on the rope line, but it's also her people who are, you know, in these communities. i was in eastern iowa, for example, and her people were doing a roundtable with black business owners. they have really like laid the roots in a lot of these communities. i think that's so much a part of why you're seeing that steady rise, that investment. and it really does feel like bernie sanders needs to make a compelling argument as to why he would be a better messenger for what is a very similar message with both of them. >> and it's odd if you look at their polling. they both get liberal support. elizabeth warren gets more college educated higher income. bernie sanders getting lower income, under $50,000 blue collar. if you want to do the math and put together the broader liberal coalition, you need the moderate voter. they say they're friends. they're friendly, they're not really friends. he's still mad she didn't
endorse in 2016. it gets under her skin when he says i can lead a movement. she's bright, she's intelligent, she's a great ally. only i can beat trump, only i can lead a movement. the question is can they set that aside because they're going to be defending what is the defining challenge in the race. they are the two leading candidates who say forget how hillary clinton did it. forget how barack obama did it. go bigger, go bolder, we can sell it to the country. a lot of moderates say you can't but they say yes. >> let's remember at the onset when warren first got in, you had some bernie sanders people starting to take shots at elizabeth warren and he didn't like it. he pulled them back. that's been a good play, bernie sanders not taking shots at warren. so i think you'll have this between the two of them because they want to talk about their policies, they want to have that contrast. alex mentioned this, but i think the fact that bernie sanders is not a democrat really doesn't sit well with some voters. that is going to be -- that will always be a stumbling block.
his people have not been able to talk him into that registration. >> especially the voters in the middle. the voters here in the industrial midwest who like sanders' message, but they really -- ideas like medicare for all are just a step too far for many of them, especially if you are a union household, you've worked hard for your benefits. and she just explains things sometimes better than he does. >> she's very good on the stump. >> a lot of democratic voters thank him for running in 2016 but frame it in he's done his job, now it's time to move on. he has to deal with that dynamic. but let's get into this because as you look, let's show the lineup. you have the two leading progressives right here in at center stage, sanders and warren. they make the case the country needs to take the risk. go for medicare for all, go for the green new deal, do it all in one election. can the democrats sell that? they say times have changed. who's going to argue? steve bullock making his first
debate, the governor of montana. says, no, i won a trump state. you can't sell that. john delaney says no. john hickenlooper says no. pete buttigieg to a degree says no. amy klobuchar, the senator, says no. so they are going to have this moderate incoming. most of these moderates are in trouble. most of the moderates are struggling in the race. which one or what do we expect and which one are we looking to to be most aaggressive? >> i don't know about aggressive, but the path for a moderate in this race isn't just about attacking the folks further to their left. it's hard to see somebody really taking off in this primary with a message of we can't have nice things, we can't go that big. it can't just be a message of caution. i think pete buttigieg is instructive. he's running on a more ideologically moderate message. but there's a vision there about generational change that democrats find interesting. i think it's part of why steve bullock is really a potentially interesting figure on the debate because his profile as the governor -- the sitting governor
of a deep red state where he has accomplished some moderately progressive things is sort of interesting because he could maybe speak to democrats' aspirations not just in a scolding, rain on the parade kind of way. >> but there is incentive to really step out. maybe not take a shot at warren and sanders, but several of those moderates need a moment. they're not going to qualify for the september debate if they don't find a way to stand out and raise money. this is the forum to do it. >> it's just hard to see john delaney having that little health care executive was me moment on this debate stage, right? >> amy klobuchar has been making this argument as well that democrats can hold on to minnesota and that she knows how to win in these areas. but that clearly is not a big selling point so far with democratic voters. that's not what they want to hear right now. >> and this is a defining state in this challenge. some democrats say you've got to turn out more voters here in wayne county. others would say you were in
mccomb county, no, no, it's the white working class people who voted for obama and then switched and went for trump. the question is is it an either/or for the party or is there a candidate that convince you i can do both. >> you do have some candidates trying to make that argument. even the moderate candidates aren't saying i'm a moderate, let me bring over a lot of republicans. but they say i'm a progressive and pragmatic and looking at things that we can get done on day one, not big pie in the sky big plans that may not get through the senate. so you see these candidates making the argument it's not just about having a big plan but actually affecting people's lives in a progressive way but doing it in a way that's pragmatic and i think you'll hear more of that on the stage tonight. >> debate days are great no matter what your political party is. campaign staffers coming to put their signs up. >> helicopters. >> the debate hall is beautiful. as we continue the conversation, we ask cnn.com readers what issues are you most interested in hearing tonight from the candidates. among nearly 50,000 who weighed in online, climate change was
the top topic, followed by the economy and health care. the second round of democratic debates begins tonight at 8:00 eastern right here live from detroit only on cnn. please come back for that. up next for us, president trump says black voters have never been so happy with a president. we'll fact check that. that i won the "best of" i casweepstakes it. and i get to be in this geico commercial? let's do the eyebrows first, just tease it a little. slather it all over, don't hold back. well, the squirrels followed me all the way out to california! and there's a very strange badger staring at me... no, i can't believe how easy it was to save hundreds of dollars on my car insurance with geico. uh-huh, where's the camel? "mr. big shot's" got his own trailer. ♪ wheeeeeee! believe it! geico could save you 15% or more on car insurance. and i don't add trup the years.s. but what i do count on... is boost® delicious boost® high protein nutritional drink
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welcome back. president trump today making a staunch defense of his recent attacks on the city of baltimore and its democratic congressman, elijah cummings. this as sources tell cnn some white house aides are expressing discomfort at the president's conduct. the president disputes that, telling reporters outside the white house he's being praised and thanked for attacking baltimore as, quote, disgusting and rat-yinfested. >> no, i think i'm helping myself and i'll tell you why. the white house and myself and letters and emails and phone calls, i've received more phone calls than i think on any other subject of people from baltimore and other cities corruptly run by democrats thanking me for getting involved. those people are living in hell in baltimore. they're largely african-american. you have a large african-american population. and they really appreciate what i'm doing. i am the least racist person there is anywhere in the world. >> cnn's sarah westwood joining
us from williamsburg, virginia, where the president just wrapped up remarks at a separate event. sarah, the president stuck to the script there but that was a remarkable session outside of the white house this morning. >> reporter: that's right, john. president trump claiming that his racially charged attacks on congressman elijah cummings and his majority black district are somehow helping him within the african-american community, claiming as you just heard that his white house has seen a spike in supportive contact from the african-american community without providing any evidence of that. but this as -- this coming as members of the virginia legislative black caucus here in williamsburg boycotted his event here commemorating the 400th anniversary of the first representative legislative assembly because of his recent racially divisive attacks on critics of color, including congressman elijah cummings, although this wasn't a unified boy scott. justin fairfax, lieutenant governor in virginia, the
highest ranking democrat, did attend. that is a sign that his comments are causing divides within the african-american community, that he is facing a backlash. sources tell cnn some white house aides have expressed discomfort about the president's latest tirades. at a staff meeting some raised concerns the president would not benefit from attacking congressman cummings, a 13-term member who has a good reputation with republicans and democrats. he's not particularly far left. he's someone who would be very difficult to characterize as extreme and radical. aides were distinguishing between the president's previous attacks on the four democratic house freshmen known as the squad who are further left and on cummings who has a much better bipartisan reputation, john. >> sarah westwood tracking the president for us this morning in virginia today. appreciate that reporting. let's bring the conversation here. this is trademark for the president. number one, he attacks a democratic congressman of color using words like crime-infested,
rat-infested and then backs off and says he's trying to make it about corruption, not the quality or the caliber of the city. but then he hears some of your aides are saying, sir, they're not so sure it's a good idea. let's listen to a little more of the president. he says double down. >> baltimore has been very badly mishandled for many years. as you know, congressman cummings has been there for a long time. he's had a very iron hand on it. it's a corrupt city, there's no question about it. they are so happy at what i've been able to do in baltimore and other democratic-run corrupt cities. they ought to take that beautiful waste of an oversight committee, go down to baltimore and other democratic-run cities and take a look, see if you can find the billions that have been stolen. >> what are they so happy about that he's been able to do in baltimore? >> it's just an absurd statement. you know, you just think about all of us obviously have been
talking to black voters all over the country as the race has progressed. his comments were making me think actually of this woman who i met in columbia, south carolina, who was pulling for biden because he's a seasoned warrior who would go up against trump is what she said. and she said we don't need a rookie in the game right now because it's the anti-christ we're up against. and you talk to a lot of people -- >> she clearly wasn't on the phone calling the white house. >> you talk to so many people who feel that way. they are tired of his rhetoric. they feel singled out and they give barack obama credit for bringing the economy back, not donald trump. and i think that that is felt broadly across the black community. >> and so the question is, what is the president's goal, if there's a strategy behind it, what is the strategy behind it? to his point that african-americans are rushing to the phone to call the white house and say thank you. this is a poll that's a couple days olds, but here's the context. do you approve or disapprove how the president is handling his
job among african-americans. 6 hand cou 6% approve. 84% disapprove. that is the highest of any subgroup except when you put all democrats together. to your point, democrats in 2018 say one of the big reasons they took the house was moderate suburban women who were repulsed by the president's behavior, the way he conducts himself, attacks people, tweets at 5:00 in the morning. the a.p. just did a big piece in suburbs around the country about this issue. the headline is suburban women recoil as trump dives into racial politics. i just don't like the way he talks about other people says carol evans, 79, in the milwaukee suburbs. it was mainly when he got into office that my opinion started changing, just the way he treats people. emily west, 26, detroit suburbs. i did not think it was going to be as bad as it is. definitely narcissism and sexism but i did not think it was going to be as bad as it is. i'm ashamed to be an american.
kathy barnes, 55, denver suburbs. he's not the most pleasant person. he can be very blunt and boorish. but i think this country needs someone who is more business-oriented. the factors that dragged it down in 2018 -- is he right? >> i'd be very surprised if he turned out to be right. this was readily apparent going back to 2016. when you look at the states that delivered him the presidency, places like pennsylvania, michigan, wisconsin, in the states that had other statewide elections on the ballot, non-trump republicans ran well ahead of donald trump. there are people who were willing to vote for pat toomey for senate who could not pull the lever for donald trump. whether he sees it this way or not, and it appears that he does not, he has had a tight rope act since the day he came into office to try to hold together this coalition of people. a majority of whom in his own
coalition like what he's doing right now, but many of whom do not. he was elected the first president certainly that i know of in polling who was disliked by most people on the day he was elected president. he's done nothing to try to ameliorate that issue. if you had asked, there can be a tendency among his aides and advisers to backfill his strategy of things that he does on impulse. if you asked people in the white house to come up with a thousand ideas to help his re-election campaign, i'd be very surprised if waging war with elijah cummings were on that list. >> he's hyperpole rising a hyperpolarized electorate. if more people turn out, that puts him at risk. >> they are making a bet that his base is more than the number he's driving away, including minority voters and suburban voters. we heard the president say i may not need minority voters because
my base is so strong. we do know that the trump campaign does have a digital operation where they're trying to bring out some of these voters, some of these people who are infrequent voters, who may not even be republicans. they are really driving and trying to bring those people out, even more so than trying to convince new voters to come over and bring minority voters or suburban voters to leave the democratic fold and support the president. >> but we're sitting in a state right now where trump won by 10,000 votes and black voters didn't turn out how they did in the past. so this is -- we are sitting in the epicenter where this strategy might backfire. >> if there's a strategy to it. i think part of his thinking if you convince everybody that all politicians are corrupt, your vote doesn't matter, maybe some people stay home. i'm not saying it's a good strategy but i think that's what he thinks. if you poison the well, people think my vote doesn't count because everybody is corrupt, maybe they stay home. we'll see. when we come back, we're in detroit, wayne county. african-american voters here are critical when the democratic primary rolls around next year. what are they looking for
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populous and 40% of its voters are african-american. our lunch conversation with four undecided democrats included discussion of their debate expectations. >> you've got 20 democrats in your city this week trying to make their case. anybody have a firm candidate yet? >> not at all. >> no. >> it's too early. >> too early. >> you're all planning to vote in the democratic primary? >> yes. >> absolutely. >> you say you don't have a firm candidate yet. who has impressed you? it doesn't have to be one, it can be two, three, four, and what are you looking for? >> right now i believe my top contender, if i could pick one, would be elizabeth warren. i think she's an incredible woman who really speaks to the issues that i'm passionate about. kamala harris surprisingly is someone that i'm also looking at. i wasn't quite sure just based on her history as a prosecutor, but the more that i've listened to her as a candidate, i think that she's a bold woman. i think that she commands the debate stage so she's someone that i also am looking at.
and i am looking at joe biden as well. >> a big issue for me is the student loan forgiveness, and what we're going to do to attack this debt crisis. i love that elizabeth warren has firm plans about how she wants to attack it. elizabeth warren literally has a plan for everything. she should have t-shirts that say that, i've got a plan for that literally. >> i think she does. >> right. well, i want to get one. i also love castro and some of the things that he's had to say about immigration, especially in terms of decriminalizing, you know, some of the border crossing issues an things like that and treating it more as a civil issue. >> i like elizabeth warren. she does have a plan. so i also like biden. i feel comfortable with biden. i don't think that he will send me back to a different state or a different country. i feel comfortable with him. >> it's sad we even have to think that. >> first of all, i've got to have somebody who's going to win, who can win.
so it's about 22 to 25 candidates -- >> a little confusing, isn't it? >> about 10 or 20 of them -- not 20, but 10 of them i've never heard of. so -- and i'm not a big political guy, so i'm more home based like in the streets. so i just -- i need that name. >> so help me understand you need someone who can win. does that mean you're welling to compromise if you think this is someone who can beat trump and take michigan back? >> my thing is i have to have a democrat. it has to be a democrat. i'm sorry to say, but if it's bozo the clown and he's a democrat, i'll take him over trump. because i already got one in the office right now. >> the three ladies here have all mentioned elizabeth warren. can you sell medicare for all, free college tuition, the green
new deal, can you sell that in one national election? or will trump say -- he'll call it socialism. but let's take that label off it. it is a lot of government and it's a lot of power in washington. do you worry even though you agree with those things that that democrat can't win? >> that's an interesting question because i think right now the democratic party is in an odd space. we saw it in 2016 when people weren't satisfied, they didn't get out to vote. so again, i think that though these might be, quote unquote, socialist issues, i think we're really talking about basic human rights in a lot of these cases. i don't think that we should minimize these issues just because, oh, this isn't the traditional democratic stance. >> that's been the big debate. >> right. >> have democrats just been afraid to sell it. >> i think the democrats need to get on board and realize if we want to win, some of that does require embracing things that are far left that are about the people, that are about fighting.
i think in terms of whether a candidate can win, i've heard so many people say, and i have reaches that i like joe biden as a candidate, but i heard people say i'm voting for biden, not because they support his policies but just because he's a white man and a white man can beat trump. i think what the right wanted was to scare us into thinking the only way we could have a country is to have a white country. i'm unwilling to play into that. i think elizabeth warren or kamala harris have just as good a shot as anyone. >> when you watch the debates tuesday and wednesday night, what are you thinking? >> i'm really looking for them to fix health care. i'm right now recovering from breast cancer. believe me, when them bills came in the door, if i didn't have health care, i'd have been dead. just too expensive. >> i don't want those candidates getting up there attacking each other. i want them talking about the issues and attracting the democratic people. >> i'd be interested, y'all
travel more than i do, just what you pick up from the language. what struck me was the generational divide. the two older voters used the word compromise more and were troubled with the idea that could you sell all this. even though they liked elizabeth warren, could you sell all of this in one election. what else jumps out? >> i think that that is such a universal concern for so many democrats who do not necessarily agree with bernie sanders or elizabeth warren. this idea -- these ideas could be really expensive. and that people will not take the time to understand, for example, how elizabeth warren wants to pay for them. whereas, you know, you have the many hard-charging younger voters who say we want it all, let's go for it. >> but what that woman was saying about how she was comfortable with joe biden, that's something i've heard reflected, particularly among older african-american voters. they trust him. they know his record. they know where he's been and they know where he's going and they feel like it's a steady choice that could take on trump.
>> less risky, absolutely. >> it's a great case study in how voters are more complicated than we give them credit for. we tend to try to group these candidates in ideological can the gor-- categories. mrs. armstrong said he loves elizabeth warren and likes joe biden too. you wouldn't think you would narrow your choice down to those two options. >> one of the things president obama was ail to do was energize the left, the progressives, as a new face on the stage as well as be comforting enough to the moderates and people who did not want to move too far left. i think that's one of the reasons joe biden is getting support because people connect him to his time with obama. he's a comfortable candidate for a lot of people and can still say i have a record that has progressive policies as well. >> but then they watch him and they are like is he up to it? >> all were comfortable with biden but those three african-american women have been most impressed with elizabeth warren. can biden hold it or is she
coming on? we shall see. up next we return to the pressure of the 2020 democrats on the stage tonight. noah gray got beto o'rourke in the middle of what you might call morning debate prep. >> how are yo feeling about the debate? >> i'm feeling good. >> what are you doing to prepare? >> running. >> is this it? >> running and they thinking through what i want to say tonight. has been excelle they really appreciate the military family and it really shows. with all that usaa offers why go with anybody else? we know their rates are good, we know that they're always going to take care of us. it was an instant savings and i should have changed a long time ago. it was funny because when we would call another insurance company, hey would say "oh we can't beat usaa" we're the webber family. we're the tenney's we're the hayles, and we're usaa members for life. ♪ get your usaa auto insurance quote today.
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september. marianne williamson, tim ryan, senator amy klobuchar, john hickenlooper, john delaney and governor steve bullock. klobuchar is closest among them. she's met the polling requirements but needs more donors to get across the threshold. so the struggling candidates will be especially eager to make a mark, even though the democratic party chairman expects things will stay civil. >> i think tonight people are going to see, again, that we have a deep bench. if people are looking for chair throwing and name calling, you better turn the channel to jerry springer or something else because you're not going to see it here. >> maybe thought chair throwing or name calling, but if you're one of those candidates who some will say, oh, i didn't make the debates, i'm going to stay in the race. it's hard to raise money and climb in the polls if you can't get the national exposure of the debates. what do you do? >> you need a breakout moment, a viral moment. that's what a lot of these candidates have been practicing in their debate prep, how to
land those lines in a way where they sound natural. the best example of this obviously last time was the harris/biden moment that then everyone talked about for 48 hours. i also think it's really hard for these guys who are on the first night because they only get, you know, 12 hours of the news cycle before we move on to the next big show. and so that time that they have to actually make their mark, people like beto and john hickenlooper, people that are sort of in danger of falling off the stage have to really come out there strong. >> and i wouldn't just assume everyone is going to be taking shots at warren and sanders. look at what happened with julian castro and beto o'rourke with the last debate. that felt personal. >> it was a little chippy. >> but he used that exchange, julian castro, to make a name for himself, raise more money and expand his campaign. so you might see some friction between the moderates themselves as they try to, as you said, stand out.
>> whereas bill de blasio, for example, just interrupting everyone over and over again didn't seem to get anywhere with that. >> and you have the survivor element to it. i don't want to reality tv it but they're ambitious and it takes a lot to run for president. you're out there doing this and that's a lot of pressure on them. i'll show you the candidates who have qualified for the next round. we know that former vice president biden -- senator sanders, senator warren, buttigieg and o'rourke of the candidates tonight. they have already qualified. buttigieg and o'rourke have an interesting play here. the mayor of south bend, pete buttigieg, got in the race early an sort of took the next generation fresh face lane that beto o'rourke thought would be his. if you look at the polling of these candidates over the course of the race, everyone knew bet orks he was a national democratic name because he ran against ted cruz. he started at 12%. mayor pete buttigieg is at 4%. now even though buttigieg has plateaued some, he's ahead of beto o'rourke. so the question is does beto o'rourke have to reclaim that
space tonight or say i've already qualified for september and i'll just wait it out. >> i think it's a big risk to wait until september. as we saw in the last debate he's not a brawler by nature. it's not what he's good at. but it's going to be a long summer for beto o'rourke if he doesn't have a moment in tonight's debate. the base that he needs to get back went in large part to pete buttigieg and to some extent also to elizabeth warren. there was a great deal of enthusiasm for beto o'rourke among more educated women who have really swung hard in this race away from him. >> look at the fund-raising that buttigieg has been able to pull together over the last quarter, even after the last debate. he's shown that he is a powerhouse at least on the fund-raising side and continued debates like last time may help him continue to fill his coffers. if he does that, that will help propel his candidacy. we still have a long time until anybody votes and he could be a contender. >> he definitely has the
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president trump with a defense for senate majority leader mitch mcconnell and a ridiculous claim about "the washington post." >> "the washington post" called mitch mcconnell what? i think "the washington post" is a russian asset by comparison. mitch mcconnell loves our country. >> "the washington post" is not a russian asset, but the president making that criticism. it's all in reaction to a "washington post" opinion column by dana milbank who accused the senate majority leader of acting like a, quote, russian asset because leader mcconnell blocked election security legislation the democrats wanted to pass in the senate. yesterday leader mcconnell himself went to the senate floor to defend himself. >> the outraged industrial complex needed a new target. and that's where i come in. mitch mcconnell, the hawkish foreign policy conservatives who spent decades pushing back on
russia every way i can think of. >> phil mattingly joins our conversation. i've known the leader a long time. he's ticked off. >> yeah. that was the opening speech on the senate floor is traditionally laying out what's happening in the week ahead or day ahead. mitch mcconnell often always allows attacks to just kind of roll off his back. he sees himself as the heat shield. for him to come out in a very lengthy, very detailed and very spicy, i would say, response underscored how much this kind of pierced him a little bit. i think the reality here is this. blunt political attacks are effective because they lack nuance and force the people they're attacking to come and try to explain that nuance. that's what mitch mcconnell tried to do on the floor. what he's being attacked for is not that he's a russian asset. i think his foreign policy record would say it's the exact opposite. ideologically he's opposed to where democrats are and some republicans are on these election security issues particularly on the federal versus state role in these
elections. that's difficult to explain particularly when you had robert mueller just a week ago talking to members of congress saying it's still happening, it's happening right now. mcconnell is not going to move off that since he's been there 20 or 30 years. yesterday was an effort to push back on the attacks. there is some bipartisan legislation related to information-sharing on the defense apparatus that i thought people thought might move that has been blocked but that's not the broader issue. they're attacking him bluntly saying he's in favor of russia and that's technically the case. >> is it too much the case for the president trump to understand an opinion columnist or "the washington post" at large or is he throwing it out there just because? >> have at it, tolo. >> phil talked about the lack of nuance. this is a president who traffics in non-nuanced discussions. so rather than saying i don't like this columnist, he says i don't like the entire paper, the paper is a russian asset. so mitch mcconnell is suffering
from the world that donald trump has trafficked in. you attack your opponents in the most broadway possible and force them to defend themselves. this is a president that does this regularly. he's doing that with "the washington post" saying the paper is a russian asset and now mitch mcconnell is having to deal with that same political climate that the president has found himself very comfortable with. >> the other way mcconnell is dealing with the world trump has created is that the republican party has not sort of taken assertive steps since the 2016 election with the power that they have to show that they are affirmatively trying to fight russian meddling and other foreign interference in american elections. mcconnell has complained to people that the presidencies any discussion of foreign interference in american elections as an attack on his own legitimacy. if you accept those constraints, this is the political predicament you finding yourself in. >> remember, a big debate tonight. brianna keilar takes the chair after a quick break. with safelite, you can see exactly when we'll be there.
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