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This is a rush transcript of “Fox News Sunday” on July 10, 2022. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
MIKE EMANUEL, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: I’m Mike Emanuel.
President Biden takes executive action to protect access to abortion as women march on Washington urging the White House to do more.
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It’s my hope and strong belief that women will, in fact, turn out in record numbers to reclaim the rights that were taken from them by the court.
EMANUEL (voice-over): Calls for the president to declare public health emergency over abortion rights — and vowing a summer rage in response to the Supreme Court’s action. We’ll have a live report.
Plus, economic silver lining. A rosy jobs report, gas prices coming off record highs, but the summer travel season marred by delays at the airport due to pandemic staff cuts and pilot shortages. We’ll ask Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg about the waves of disruption and new spending to improve airports across the country.
And Senate Democrats make a last push for a party line package to revive the president’s stalled domestic agenda. We’ll bring in leaders from both sides of the aisle, Republican Conference Chair John Barrasso, and Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin to discuss the fate of the massive spending bill ahead of midterms.
Plus, shock and sadness after the assassination of an American ally in one of the world’s safest countries. And another key ally resigns after a stream of personal and policy scandals.
BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: In politics, no one is remotely indispensable.
EMANUEL: We’ll ask our Sunday panel about any impact back here in the U.S.
All, right now, on “FOX News Sunday”.
EMANUEL (on camera): And, hello, again, from FOX News in Washington.
President Biden bows to pressure from progressives, taking executive action on abortion, as Women’s March protesters returned to D.C., and the White House celebrates new job numbers despite growing recession fears and those high gasoline prices hitting Americans hard during summer travel.
In a moment, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg will join us live to discuss the major challenges we’ve seen this summer.
But, first, let’s turn to Kevin Corke live at the White House with the administration’s new action following the Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe – – Kevin.
KEVIN CORKE, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Mike, a surprisingly strong jobs report and an executive action on abortion access really seemed to buoy the president with his base this week, and poll numbers show he needs it.
BIDEN: The fastest way to restore woe — Roe is to pass a national law codifying Roe, which I will sign immediately upon its passage on my desk.
CORKE (voice-over): President Biden this week unveiling executive actions and to push back against state legislatures and other lawmakers helping to further restrict abortion access.
This as thousands of pro-choice advocates protested in D.C., many urging the president to declare a national public health emergency as nearly two dozen states moved to ban the procedure.
Protests themselves have been the subject of intense scrutiny this week in Washington, following reports that an online group targeted Supreme Court Justice Brett Cavanaugh at a Washington area statehouse, forcing him to slip out the back door. The restaurant said the justice and other patrons were, quote, “unduly harassed”.
The White House was less definitive.
KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We condemn intimidation, we condemn any violence. Peaceful protest — people should be allowed to be — to be able to do that that.
REPORTER: In a restaurant?
JEAN-PIERRE: If it’s outside of a restaurant, if it’s peaceful, for sure.
CORKER: All of this against the backdrop of the president’s low poll numbers and American’s complaints about high gas prices, economic uncertainty, even flight delays scuttling their summer plans.
CORKER (on camera): Meanwhile, the president as you know, Mike, is preparing for a trip to Saudi Arabia and that trip comes amid heavy criticism of the kingdom’s human rights record. And with that in mind, he actually penned an op-ed overnight in “The Washington Post”. In it, the president said he was looking to reorient, not rupture long-standing relations with an important ally in the region — Mike.
EMANUEL: Kevin Corke reporting from the White House — Kevin, many thanks.
Joining us now, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.
Mr. Secretary, welcome back to “FOX News Sunday”.
PETE BUTTIGIEG, TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY: Thank you. Good morning.
EMANUEL: Let’s start with travel hassles during the busy summer travel season. We’ve had weeks of cancellations and delays amid a pilot shortage. This comes as there are complaints from passengers they’re not being treated well by the commercial airlines.
And after American taxpayers gave the commercial aviation industry $54 billion during the pandemic, can you understand why some taxpayers feel like they aren’t getting their money’s worth from the airline industry?
BUTTIGIEG: That’s right. A lot of passengers have experienced frustration, including me and millions of other Americans. Now, we’ve seen some improvement over the course of the summer, but still not an acceptable level in terms of performance, cancellation, and delays.
So, here’s what we’re doing about: we’ll collaborate with airlines when they’re ready to take steps that are positive and proactive, whether that’s improvement in pay that are helping with hiring or flexibility in customer service.
We’re also going to enforce passenger and consumer rights. And this is not new for us, as matter of fact, it was last year that I announced the stiffest fines ever imposed under our consumer protection program for airlines that were failing to provide refunds to passengers after they got stuck with cancellations. As a matter of fact, we have just concluded other 10 investigations on airlines on these issues, and have launched another 10 or so that we’re going to pursue to make sure that the consumers and passengers are protected.
At the same time, I do want to emphasize again, we’ve seen movement in the right direction. You know, I gathered airline leaders after the Memorial Day travel weekend. We saw a really high level of cancellations and delays there.
The July 4th travel we can we just came through which had some of the busiest travel days of the year, definitely fewer cancellations and delays. The numbers I just saw from last few days, they’re around 2, 2-1/2 percent, still higher than they should be. It’s never going to be zero.
But we really want to see them push toward 1 percent or so with realistic scheduling, responsible customer service, and all the things airlines need to do to properly service the tickets that they are selling to passengers.
EMANUEL: U.S. commercial pilots must retire at age 65 by law. NBC did a study finding, quote, by 2029, not a single baby boomer will be able to legally fly commercial aircraft. As they leave, they take not just a substantial part of the labor force with them, but also decades of expertise and experience in the air.
I’m told Senator Lindsey Graham is talking with colleagues about potentially raising that retirement age for commercial pilots to 67. Would you support that?
BUTTIGIEG: Look, these retirement ages are there for a reason, and the reason is safety. I’m not going to be on board with anything that could compromise safety.
Now, what’s clearly the case is we need to cultivate, train, and support a new generation of qualified pilots. As a matter of fact, just last week, I was out with some programs that are helping to cultivate that interest in students and support them as they get their hours and get those qualifications.
The answer is not to keep the baby boomer generation in the cockpit indefinitely. The answer is to make sure that we have as many in as good pilots ready to take their place, to have a stronger pipeline. We’re backing that up with FAA programs that support high school and college curriculums to get into aviation.
And, of course, ultimately, it will be for the airlines and those employers to hire and retain excellent talent.
And, you know, this is an issue we’re seeing across the aviation sector, across the transportation sector at large — the importance of having competitive pay, great job quality, so that we can bring in and keep the people that are going to be needed to power America’s transportation sector.
EMANUEL: The White House had a major victory last year passing a massive infrastructure package. Supply chain issues and inflation are driving up at the price tag. You’ve said that basically the funding rolls out over five years. We’re seven months into that process.
What are you and your team doing to try to move things along?
BUTTIGIEG: Well, we have been announcing a new program every few days pursuant to that infrastructure law.
Right now, for example, we’re in the middle of rolling out up to a billion dollars in airport improvements. And these are going out to airports across the country. Orlando is going to see about $50 million to help expand gates and allow them to have more capacity and accommodate more passengers. Chattanooga is going to see improvements that help passengers move more smoothly through the airport.
And we’re not forgetting smaller, more rural facilities that might not be household names, but could mean a huge amount economically to those regions. The Chamberlain, South Dakota, for example, their general aviation terminal right now is a mobile home. We’re going to fund them to have the kind of terminal they really need in order for flight operations to grow and to succeed.
So, we’re proud of what we’re doing. Whether it’s this airport terminal program going to 85 airports around the country that we’re working on that this week, or initiatives to eliminate railroad crossings that can be both a headache and a safety hazard in communities across the U.S., or, of course, so much funding going to fixing roads, bridges, and other facilities that people need in order to get where they need to go safely and conveniently.
EMANUEL: Quick follow-up, how quickly people see improvements in those airports?
BUTTIGIEG: So, the funding is flowing now, and obviously depends on the project a little bit. You know, constructing a whole new gate or a terminal takes longer than some of the more modest improvements. It really varies from airport to airport.
And this is an important thing to point out: we’re not creating all of the designs in Washington. We know that it’s local communities and individual airports or facilities that are going to know what their needs are. We’re trying to trying to provide more of the funding.
But again, those dollars are going to be moving quickly. And I’ll tell you, even before you see the improvements finished, you’re going to see a lot of construction jobs associated with putting them in.
EMANUEL: Will we see any projects that resemble some of the historic infrastructure investment years ago such as when the nation built the interstate highway system?
BUTTIGIEG: Sure. We’re funding a lot of improvements for roads and bridges, too, but we’re doing it in a better way I would say than what has been on the past. You know, there are a lot of lessons from choice of the `50s, `60s, and `70s. A lot of communities can point to where highway that was put in the period where they didn’t pay attention to the community or listen to the community. It really cut up and separated a lot of our towns.
And so, we’re also funding ways to reconnect those communities when a rail line or a highway overpass is doing as much harm as good. We’re going to do it better this time.
The 2020s I think is going to be remembered as a period where we set up infrastructure that we’re going to be proud of for an entire century. And I’m thrilled to be part of the process of working with states, working with cities, working with communities, working with airports and transit authorities, to get that work done.
EMANUEL: Let’s go to a red hot issue in Washington. Your husband tweeted after Justice Brett Kavanaugh left a Washington restaurant due to protesters. The tweet reads: It sounds like he just wanted some privacy to make his own dining decisions.
Is that appropriate, sir?
BUTTIGIEG: Look, when public officials go into public life, we should expect two things. One, that you should always be free from violence, harassment, and intimidation. And two, you’re never going to be free from criticism or peaceful protest, people exercising their First Amendment rights.
BUTTIGIEG: And that’s what happened in this case.
Remember, the justice never even came into contact with these protesters, reportedly didn’t see or hear them. And these protesters are upset because a right, an important right that the majority of Americans support was taken away.
BUTTITGIEG: Not only the right to choose, by the way, but this justice was part of the process of stripping away the right to privacy.
As long as I’ve been alive, settled case law in the United States has been that the Constitution protected the right to privacy. And that has now been thrown out the window by justices, including Justice Kavanaugh who I recall swore up and down in front of God and everyone including United States Congress that they were going to leave settled case law alone.
So, yes, people are upset. They’re going to exercise their First Amendment rights.
BUTTIGIEG: And as long as that’s peaceful, that’s protected.
Compare that, for example, to the reality that as a country right now, we’re reckoning with the fact that a mob summoned by the former president – –
EMANUEL: All right. Let me follow-up, Mr. Secretary.
BUTTIGIEG: — attacked the United States Capitol, for the purpose of overthrowing the election and very nearly succeeded in the preventing the peaceful transfer of power.
EMANUEL: But —
BUTTIGIEG: I think common sense can tell the difference.
EMANUEL: But as a high-profile public figure, sir, are you comfortable with protesters protesting when you and your husband go to dinner at a restaurant?
BUTTIGIEG: Protesting peacefully outside in a public space — sure. Look, I can’t even tell you the number of spaces, venues, and scenarios where I’ve been protested.
And the bottom line is this: any public figure should always, always be free from violence, intimidation, and harassment, but should never be free from criticism or people exercising their First Amendment rights.
EMANUEL: All right. Let me ask you a campaign question, sir. Do you expect President Biden to run for reelection in 2024? And if not, will you run?
BUTTIGIEG: Yes, I do expect him to run. I’ll support him.
And let me tell you why he’s going to have a lot to be proud of and I’m going to choose my words carefully because I’m appearing as an official and this is not a campaign related appearance.
But I’m proud to be part of this administration that has done such work to bring America back from the brink of a recession, to create record job growth, to build achievements that would not have been thought possible just a couple of years ago, like the bipartisan infrastructure law that I have the honor of working on.
You know, people scoffed at the idea that you could get anything done on a bipartisan basis in Washington. And yet, the president delivered it, and that’s after years and years, multiple presidents, multiple congresses coming and going, promising infrastructure bills without any results. This president, this administration, got it done and I’m proud to be part of that.
EMANUEL: Mr. Secretary, thank you and thanks for making time this morning.
BUTTIGIEG: My pleasure, thank you.
EMANUEL: Up next, the impact of the Supreme Court ruling on abortion and how it could change the trajectory and outcome of November’s midterm elections. We will speak with two Senate leaders, next.
EMANUEL: Right now, Senate Democrats are in negotiations to bring back parts of the president’s Build Back Better agenda, which fell apart last year. To get it done, they’re trying to find agreement without the help of Republicans on prescription drug pricing, climate spending and tax increases on the wealthy.
But Senate Republicans are pushing back and threatening to pull support from another major bill in the process. In a moment, we will speak live with the Senate majority whip, Democrat Dick Durbin of Illinois.
But, first, from Wyoming, Senate Republican Conference chair, John Barrasso.
Senator Barrasso, welcome back to “FOX News Sunday”.
SEN. JOHN BARRASSO (R-WY): Thanks, Mike.
EMANUEL: Okay. So Senate Leader Mitch McConnell’s trying to have Democrats choose between that bipartisan bill to help the U.S. semiconductor industry versus a Democrat-only climate tax and prescription drug package. Is that because if Democrats all stick together, he has limited options?
BARRASSO: Well, the American people are furious right now, and it’s all about inflation. That’s what this election is going to be about, and the future of our country.
Only — 88 percent of Americans think the country is heading in the wrong direction. So what we’ve seen now is the Democrats see the handwriting on the wall. The president’s own pollster said this is the worst environment he’s ever seen in his lifetime for Democrats.
So they’re trying a Hail Mary pass. Chuck Schumer said he’s once again trying this Build Back Biden and trying to bring it back, rise it from the dead.
A trillion dollars in taxes, Mike.
BARRASSO: More government spending, piling on in the Green New Deal.
Look, does anybody actually believe that raising taxes by a trillion dollars is going to help inflation? Or the taxing the companies that produce our oil, our gas to help — that’s going to lower the cost of energy? Not a single Republican is going to support this, Mike.
And, Mike, to my friend Joe Manchin from West Virginia, whose vote is going to be necessary for this —
BARRASSO: — I would remind him that Joe Biden’s popularity in that state it is as low as it is in Wyoming. Only 17 percent. Joe shouldn’t walk the plank for Joe Biden.
EMANUEL: Part of that partisan Manchin-Schumer proposals expected to include, as you mentioned, bringing in about a trillion dollars in revenue. With what we’re told, half expected to go towards deficit reduction, half towards energy and healthcare spending.
Is there an economic argument to be made that now is not the time for that kind of spending?
BARRASSO: Well, what we’ve seen is with the last big Democrat-only spending bill, it made inflation a lot worse. Democrats, the economist who worked for Bill Clinton, Barack Obama said, don’t do it. It’s going to bring out all this inflation. Joe Biden ignored their advice, denied that there was inflation.
The American people know what they want. Families are really hurting all across the country. When I talk to people around Wyoming in terms of inflation, they’re spending $100 a week more now than they were last year just to — just to keep up.
And, you know, they said, what do you really want? You want enough money to be able to fill your tank with gas. You want enough money that you can buy a week’s worth of groceries and you want to have enough money to pay the bills at the end of the month.
But Joe Biden is not going there. Oh, no. He’s going to higher taxes, more government spending and attacking American energy. That is not the solution the American people are looking for, which is why only 1 in 10 Americans support the direction of the country right now.
EMANUEL: Senator, let’s talk midterms. Republicans believe they have a golden opportunity to win back the majority. But if candidates like Herschel Walker, Eric Greitens and Dr. Oz are not winning over the voters, is there a possibility the GOP could blow this opportunity?
BARRASSO: Well, I’m very optimistic about the future, election coming up in November.
The number one issue is inflation. And in all the issues that people care about, they look to Republicans as the solution on inflation, on energy, on the economy, on the chaos at the border, on crime in the cities.
And all of those nominees that you just mentioned — and some are already the nominees, others are still in primaries that haven’t been decided — what we know is they understand their states. They understand the pain that people are having in those states.
And right now, you have candidates running as Democrats, who just this past week — in Ohio, the Senate and the governor candidate refused to even show up or be seen when President Biden came to their state. People are distancing themselves as Democrats from this administration.
I’m very optimistic about our opportunities in November.
EMANUEL: There are a few reports that former President Trump could announce a third run for the White House before the midterms. Are you concerned that combined with the Roe v. Wade reversal could really galvanized and energized Democratic voters ahead of the midterms?
BARRASSO: Well, people will make their own decision as to what they vote on and how they decide to vote.
I will tell you, when President Trump was in the White House, gas prices were half what they are today. Inflation was non-existent. The border was secure. We were energy independent.
BARRASSO: Joe Biden’s heading to Saudi Arabia hat in hand saying “please give us more energy” because he’s killed energy in America. We need to get back to energy dominance, not energy dependence. And President Trump got us there.
EMANUEL: Your fellow Wyoming Republican, Congresswoman Liz Cheney, who’s been perhaps the most outspoken critic of former President Trump, is in the primary fight of her life.
Do you see any path to victory for Congresswoman Cheney?
BARRASSO: Well, Wyoming politics is very personal, Mike. It’s face to face. It’s town to town.
And as you know, Liz and I disagree. I voted against impeachment on President Trump. She was for it. I voted against the partisan January 6th Commission. She’s all in on that.
Now, the election isn’t for another month. The travel that I’ve done around the state, I think she has a lot of work to do if she hopes to win the primary.
You say who’s leading right now? The people that are doing the best are the people that are selling advertisements, and FOX News is doing very well.
EMANUEL: She has encouraged Wyoming Democrats to cross over and vote for her. Are there enough Wyoming Democrats out there to make a difference in her race?
BARRASSO: Well, number one, this wouldn’t be the first time that Democrats cross over and flip their registration to vote in Republican — in Republican primaries. They’re really not that many Democrats out there. And even the chairman of the Democratic party of Wyoming, said there are not enough Democrats to do that.
EMANUEL: Senator Barrasso, thanks so much. Always good to speak with you, sir.
BARRASSO: Thanks, Mike.
EMANUEL: Joining us now from Illinois, Dick Durbin, the number two Democrat in the United States.
Senator, welcome back to “FOX News Sunday”.
SEN. DICK DURBIN (D-IL): Good to be with you.
EMANUEL: Lawmakers passed the first gun reform package a month ago, first significant gun reform in three decades. And yet, this week, your beautiful state was rocked by a mass shooting in Highland Park.
Sir, do you see any appetite for additional legislation, whether it’d be on guns or other root causes?
DURBIN: Well, I certainly hope so. I hope that my colleagues will take a look at what happened in Highland Park. It’s less than a week ago.
And what happened that day, of course, seven people were killed. Scores were injured by a killer who got on top of a building and took a military weapon — now, Smith and Wesson military and police weapon — and fired off up to 90 rounds in just a few seconds. People were scattering and running, and sad things happened.
We found a 2-year-old who is protected by his father’s dying body and he was finally reunited with his grandparents because he lost both his father and his mother to a shooter.
This week, we had good news. An 8-year-old who was hit by this killer is starting to speak again. He’s coming out of critical condition. Whether he’ll walk again is anyone’s question at this point.
The question we have to ask ourselves and I’ll ask my colleagues: Is this what we want in America when people families bring out their kids for Fourth of July parade that some killer can take a military style weapon and fire off 90 rounds into a crowd of innocent people and killing so many others (ph)? I just don’t think that that’s consistent with America’s values or its Constitution.
EMANUEL: Senator, the suspect in this week’s shooting evaded your state’s red flag laws. Is there a loophole there to be closed?
DURBIN: Well, certainly. And if you look across the nation, we have to be much more vigilant because there are over 10 million of these military assault weapons that have been sold, some say as many as 20 million.
There are 400 million guns in America and they’re arguing — some are arguing, we need more guns in the hands of more people.
It certainly hasn’t made us a safer nation. We’ve had over 300 mass shootings this year. I didn’t know when we took this Fourth of July break that Illinois and my state would be touched personally as it has been in Highland Park.
But ultimately, every senator, sadly, every senator has to face the prospect to have their own Highland Park before this is over.
EMANUEL: To be fair, though, if it were just about gun laws, wouldn’t Chicago with some of the toughest gun laws in the country be a safer city?
DURBIN: Let me tell you something, quickly, Highland Park is not Chicago. It’s a suburb of Chicago, a small town, a great small town. It’s the first place you would have chosen to go to a Fourth of July parade with your son or grandson or granddaughter.
It’s a wonderful community and to say, oh, Chicago is so dangerous. Yes, it’s dangerous, but so is St. Louis and so with towns Jackson, Mississippi, and others have a murder rate as well.
It’s a fact that we proliferated so many guns — the police that I sat down with privately on a regular basis say, Senator, you just don’t have any idea how many guns are out there and they’re so easily accessible.
The gun industry has made a lot of money out of this, but America is not safer because of it.
EMANUEL: Let me be clear. I want to express my heartfelt condolences to the people of Highland Park. And, of course to you, sir.
Let’s talk policy on Capitol Hill. Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer is having conversations with your colleague, Senator Joe Manchin, trying to do a slimmed down version of Build Back Better.
What are the natures — what’s the nature of those conversations? Take us inside the conversations and what’s left to be ironed out.
DURBIN: The centerpiece, of course, is high prices — the prices of prescription drugs.
And even before this period of the economy, American families all responded that the price of prescription drugs are just too high. People sometimes can’t afford the medicines they need to stay alive. They wonder why the same drugs made in America cost a fraction of what we pay for months in countries like Canada and Europe, and they wonder why we haven’t done anything as a nation to bring down the cost of prescription drugs.
The Democrats, Chuck Schumer, and all of us are working towards bringing down these prices to say to people who are facing insulin dependent diabetes that the cost of their drugs and insulin will be less than not more than $35 a month, dramatic changes, bringing down prices that families struggle with every single day.
Now, Senator McConnell has stepped up and saying, I’m going to stop this effort to bring down prescription drug prices. I don’t want you to do it and you shouldn’t do it. And if you persist in this effort to try and do it, I’m going to stop the bill that gives us better competition with China.
The semiconductor industry is central to economic growth and job creation in this country. We’ve lost ground on it, and we’ve got to build a change that. And McConnell has said he’s going to stop that bill and he’s going to do it if we should violate the pharmaceutical companies’ plea to us not to lower prescription drug prices.
The bottom line is this, American families need help in paying their bills and they need help in lifesaving drugs being affordable. The Democrats are leading that. Senator McConnell opposes it.
EMANUEL: There are Democrats right now pressing for structural changes to the United States Supreme Court. Here now is Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): Congress, we have the – we have the possibility when we are strengthened by the repeal of the filibuster or even the change to a talking filibuster or a standing filibuster. In doing so we can codify Roe, we can codify — and all of the other cases that the Supreme Court indicated that they would threaten. We can codify same sex marriage. We can codify the right to contraception. We can codify interracial marriage. We can do it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
EMANUEL: Is she firing up the base that major changes are coming when, in fact, you don’t have the votes in the Senate?
DURBIN: Well, I can tell you that the bottom line is, she wants to change the filibuster rule when it comes to voting rights and other issues. I support that. I think that we ought to make exceptions to the 60 vote requirement when we get down to fundamental questions like this. And it’s really up to the senators, who are currently serving, the 50 Democrats. Two of them decided not to vote with us on one of these rule changes earlier. Whether they’ve changed their position on that since the Supreme Court handed down this decision, taking away the constitutional rights of Americans, I don’t know, but I’ll be asking them next week.
EMANUEL: As chairman of the Judiciary Committee, what do you say to progressives calling for impeaching some of the conservative justices?
DURBIN: I don’t think it’s realistic. I can tell you, there is, in my mind, a clear conflict of interest when it comes to Justice Thomas and issues related to the January 6th insurrection. His wife is actively involved politically. Going so far as to give direct advice to the president’s chief of staff during this crisis. I would think that Justice Thomas should recuse himself from any decisions that relate to the January 6th episode. Already he was the single vote earlier on a case related to that issue. I think it’s a mistake.
As to whether he’s going to be impeached, that is not realistic. But he should show good judgment.
If this court is going to be credible, it has to be as a political as possible. Exactly the opposite has been happening.
EMANUEL: Senator, a lot of headlines this week about Democratic governors, including your own J.B. Pritzker of Illinois. Do you think gridlock here in Washington could potentially create an opening for one of these Democrats to challenge President Biden in 2024?
DURBIN: Well, I’m not looking ahead six years, I’m looking ahead to this week and whether we can come together, Democrats and Republicans, and get something done in Washington, bring down the cost of prescription drugs, deal with this issue of semiconductor chips, which has frozen economic expansion in this country. Let’s get this agenda underway.
And the election, in just a few months, will take care of itself. And the one years off is certainly over the horizon from my point of view.
EMANUEL: Senator Durbin, thanks very much for joining us.
DURBIN: Good to be with you.
EMANUEL: Up next, we’ll bring in our Sunday group to discuss the seeming disconnect between voters’ impression of the economy and the White House.
KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We are in a strong – we are stronger economically than we have been in history.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
EMANUEL: White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre claiming the U.S. economy’s strong despite inflation not seen in four decades and recession fears on the minds of many Americans.
And it’s time now for our Sunday group.
“USA Today” Washington bureau chief Susan Page, Fox News political analyst Juan Williams, Fox News contributor Ben Domenech, and NPR national political correspondent Mara Liasson.
Panel, welcome. Great to have you around the table.
MARA LIASSON, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Good to be here.
EMANUEL: So, Susan, let’s start here.
We have a strong jobs report this week. The White House took a bit of the victory lap. But a new Monmouth poll says only about 10 percent of the country thinks the country is heading in the right direction. What about the disconnect here?
PAGE: Yes. Well, and it was a good job support. And the news on employment continues to be strong. Perhaps we won’t head into a recession. Mixed signals on that.
But inflation just overwhelms everything. Inflation affects Americans every time they fill up their tank of their car, it affects them every time they go to the grocery store to buy something. So that is the economic indicator that just defines people’s sentiment that the nation is headed in the wrong direction.
One other number from that Monmouth poll. Only 10 percent of Americans think the country is headed in the right direction. That is a devastating in historic number.
EMANUEL: Ben, less than four months out from midterm elections, and you’ve got the Democrats trying to get some of the spending across the finish line. The slimed down Build Back Better. Is that putting Republicans in an awkward spot?
DOMENECH: I don’t think so. It’s — this is something I think now where you have certain things baked in for this election, and they’re not going to change. The kinds of uncertainty, the kinds of questions that Americans have about their pocketbook issues, not just energy prices, as Susan said, but the other effects that they’re seeing, they know – that run through our economy in lots of different, challenging ways are just things that I don’t think this White House or the Democratic Party are going to be able to turn around in time to change things for November.
EMANUEL: Juan, you want to jump in?
WILLIAMS: Well, I think that, you know, time is short. I think everybody agrees on that. But I do think that if you look back over the last three weeks, Mike, Democrats are in a better position than we would have anticipated, not just because of the good jobs numbers that we saw on Friday. But you think about it for a second. Gas prices actually are headed down. They’re still too high, but they’re headed in the right direction.
In addition to that, you have to stop and think about the January 6th committee, which has had success in terms of penetrating public consciousness and public opinion. In terms of the bringing chaos, Trump’s chaos to the forefront of the conversation again.
And then you think about the abortion decision. You think about the gun massacres that have taken place. You touched on that with Senator Durbin. A lot of these issues don’t play well for Republicans, play well — better for the Democrats and make the Republicans look like a radical party.
DOMENECH: I don’t believe, Juan, the January 6th committee has gotten anywhere near close enough to penetrating broader – the public conscious. I think that the numbers that you see, in fact, in response to the decision on Dobbs v. Jackson don’t support the idea that there’s going to be a dramatic change in terms of Democrats getting a huge vote number out.
And the gun issue, while it does play against Republicans time and again, it doesn’t actually have this kind of election changing format that I think you would need to see.
WILLIAMS: Well, I think if you look at the generic numbers, just the generic numbers, do you prefer a Republican or a Democrat in November, those numbers have narrowed. Some polls even have Democrats now in the lead over the last three weeks over these issues.
EMANUEL: Let’s bring Mara into the mix.
So, the president’s out with an op-ed this morning basically defending his meeting with Saudi leaders and saying that he’s restored stability to the Middle East region.
EMANUEL: What do you make of it?
LIASSON: Yes, the op-ed didn’t mention the word “oil,” and that’s what he was accused of, you know, downplaying human rights, which the Saudis have violated a lot. To go hat in hand to ask them to pump more oil. That op-ed didn’t mention that.
But, look, the Middle East is a really important region. The president has to go over there. He’s trying to tout his accomplishments. And it’s a difficult position to be in because he wanted to make Saudi Arabia a pariah. I think that’s the actual word he used. And instead now he’s going to be meeting with those leaders.
EMANUEL: Susan, we learned early Friday morning about the assassination of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan while he was out campaigning. Talk about his role in terms of his relationships with U.S. leaders over the years.
PAGE: Well, he met with four of them I think when they were president. He was – he built strong U.S./Japan ties. He was, I think, especially important in getting Japan to move past its World War II legacy on military fails. He built a stronger Japanese military. He took a particularly interesting stance towards China. Talked to the China — Chinese leader, recently stood up for the rights of Taiwan, the need for others (INAUDIBLE) definitely a very powerful, the longest serving Japanese prime minister in its history. A big loss and shocking in Japan for there to be gun violence.
EMANUEL: Ben, another major shakeup, a political shakeup, in London with Boris Johnson announcing that he will be leaving office. Here’s how Fox Nation host Pirs Morgan explained it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PIERS MORGAN, HOST OF “PIERS MORGAN UNCENSORED”: I think Boris Johnson has a massive problem with the truth. Just finally come back to home, Boris Johnson. And then when he was caught, he did what Boris Johnson always does, and he tried to lie his way out of it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
EMANUEL: Was Boris Johnson’s departure about policy or politics?
DOMENECH: Well. first off, let me – let me say my condolences to a former member — editor at “The Spectator,” where I am also editor at large now. So, pour one out for Boris.
He is the third prime minister in a row brought down by Boris Johnson in certain respects, which I think we should appreciate. He is — he’s an incredible figure and someone who I think certainly changed the dynamic. But part of the problem here is that Boris stopped being Boris. And by that I mean he stopped being the kind of populist that conservatives could have confidence in when it came to forming the kind of coalition that led to getting 14 million votes in 2019.
The problem for them now is that forming that coalition again, I think, will prove to be very impossible. And just one thing that I think we should appreciate about politics in the U.K. is that, you know, as much as people may speak in high Dutchen (ph) about honesty or scandal or something like this, this is such a farcical reason for him to be pushed out on so many different respects. It had a lot more to do with the failure of Covid related policies, his break with a lot of the things that he stood for before he ascended to the PM position and not to do to spending too much on parties or drapes. It would be the equivalent of getting rid of Gavin Newsom for going to the French Laundry. It doesn’t really track as being very serious.
EMANUEL: Juan, what do you make of Johnson announcing his departure, but sticking around until conservatives pick a new leader?
WILLIAMS: Well, I think, you know, Johnson’s a lot — we were — Ben’s talking about him as a populist leader. I think he’s a lot like Trump in that regard. And we see that, you know, Trump is the kind of man of nine lives, always reinventing himself, trying to retain the position of power. Clearly the conservatives in Britain got rid of Johnson. Republicans, conservatives here are still locked into Trump. But I think Johnson wants to influence who might come next. His successor. Maybe he thinks he might be re-elected at some point. And he’ll make a lot of money on the speaking circuit, writing, I’m sure, maybe back at “The Spectator.”
But I think –
DOMENECH: We’d love him. He could also come back to America.
WILLIAMS: What – what I think he does – he will – he does want to have some influence on the Brexit deal, what comes forward with Brexit.
WILLIAMS: As well — and I think this is of more global concern, the Ukraine. He’s been a great friend to President Zelenskyy and the Ukrainians. And I think lots of people want to make sure that that remains in place.
EMANUEL: All right, panel, we’re off to a great start. We have to take a break here.
Up next, a string of mass shootings adding to calls for new gun reforms and change here in Washington. We’ll discuss the response from some of the nation’s governors leading the charge.
Plus, what the fight between Ron DeSantis and Gavin Newsom could foreshadow for 2024.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You all heard what happened today. But each day we’re reminded there’s nothing guaranteed about our democracy. Nothing guaranteed about our way of life.
GOV. J.B. PRITZKER (D-IL): If you’re angry today, I’m here to tell you, be angry. I’m furious. I’m furious that yet more innocent lives were taken by gun violence.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
EMANUEL: That’s President Biden and Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker both reacting to the horrific July 4th parade shooting but in somewhat contrasting tones.
And we’re back now with the panel.
So, Mara, you heard different responses from the president and the Illinois governor. Some people criticizing the way the president responded and elevating Governor Pritzker’s response. Your thoughts.
LIASSON: Yes, I mean, there are some Democratic activists who wanted the president to be more fiery. Substantively, there’s not much difference between Pritzker and the president. They both want gun safety laws, including, you can’t buy a gun until you’re 21, you have to have a universal background check. Those things are supported by huge majorities of Americans. In some polls over 80 percent or 90 percent are for those measures, and they can’t get passed by Congress. And that’s, I think, the real root of Democrats frustration.
PAGE: I think — I think it’s all about 2024 to.
LIASSON: Well, then there’s that.
PAGE: You know, I think – I think Governor Pritzker is one of several Democrats who want to run –
LIASSON: If Biden doesn’t, yes.
PAGE: If Biden doesn’t. Maybe if Biden does. I mean I think some of this – this – the rhetoric we’re hearing now is aimed at saying to President Biden, maybe you should reconsider whether you’re going to announce that you run for another term.
PAGE: You know, you see such an ease among Democrats about what’s going to happen this November and then what the prospects are looking two years down the road.
EMANUEL: To pick up on that, you’ve got Governor Gavin Newsom, from California, going after Governor Ron DeSantis in Florida, running ads in Florida. Is this about raising his profile? And is he considering a primary run against President Biden?
PAGE: It’s hard to imagine why the governor of California is paying campaign funds to run an ad in — against the Florida governor in Florida unless he’s looking down the road. There are both those governors, I think, have ambitions for the White House. We’ll see how it goes for each of them.
Ron DeSantis, definitely annoying president — former President Trump by being pretty open about his ambitions there.
EMANUEL: Ben, do Florida voters give a darn about what Gavin Newsom’s saying, and are those ads going to make any difference, or do they just make them feel better about their governor being out there in high profile?
DOMENECH: In the last couple of years, two years, I believe, the – look — more than 11,000 people moved from California to Florida, bringing with them about $1.9 billion worth of business, according to the Americans for Tax Reform. So, I think that there’s definitely some movement and it’s not in the direction of California.
But to pick up on Susan’s point, I do think that these are kind of signals to the White House signals to Joe Biden and signals to Democratic donors that you don’t have to necessarily do this again. And you saw the piece in “The New York Times” this morning. You see the piece that in – that ran in “The Washington Post.” You see other pieces that are coming out now about increasingly open skepticism that Joe Biden can run again given the levels of unpopularity and the levels of difficulty that this White House has faced.
EMANUEL: Feels like (INAUDIBLE) –
: And look at the polls in – about the number of people who don’t want Trump to run again, Republicans.
DOMENECH: Yes (ph).
LIASSON: Pretty similar to the numbers of Democrats that don’t want Biden to run again.
EMANUEL: OK, Juan, the more immediate political concern, balance of power up there on Capitol Hill. You’ve got some Republican candidates who seem to be struggling a bit to connect with voters. I’m thinking of Herschel Walker, Dr Oz, Eric Greitens and perhaps others.
What is that doing to Mitch McConnell’s hopes of being the majority leader in the new Congress?
WILLIAMS: Well, I think, you know, you just have to look at his behavior. Right now he seems like he’s upset about the possibility of the Democrats passing this prescription drug bill that you discussed earlier in the show, and also the competitiveness bill. I think the Democrats clearly want to say, we are doing something. We can get things done. And Mitch McConnell’s tactic over the years has been to stall, to obstruct, and he’s employing that tactic now at the risk of looking hypocritical because he supports these bills in the past.
So, the question becomes, what does he think? And I think it’s about just what you said, Mike, which is that he’s worried now that it looks better for the Democrats with weak – with week Republican nominees running for these Senate seats. You know, the numbers in Georgia have shifted recently with suddenly Senator Warnock doing much better against Herschel Walker. You look in Pennsylvania, similar shifts. And I think that Senator McConnell is well aware of it.
EMANUEL: Ben, what are you hearing in conservative circles? How much alarm is there? Is — we’ve seen in the past they thought they could take back the majority in previous election cycles and it didn’t work out. So, are the Republicans going to squander this opportunity?
DOMENECH: Well, they’re great at it, but ideas don’t run for office, people do. And that’s part of the problem that they’re facing here in the sense that you can have ideas of going against the Biden agenda, of emphasizing energy independence, of not, you know, embracing, you know, some of the more radical policies and high spending that has been embraced in the last couple of years. But if your – if your people who were out there on the trail vocalizing this have significant personal challenges, that makes it tougher to do.
That being said, every indication we have in terms of the overall perspective, the right track wrong track, the level of shifts that you’ve seen, and in some of these special elections and the like seem to indicate a Republican wave year that may, as we’ve seen in wave years before, end up sending a lot of people to Washington who no one ever expected to make it there.
EMANUEL: So perhaps some races that are not getting front and center attention could be surprises. Places like New Hampshire, Colorado, Arizona?
DOMENECH: Certainly, I think, and I think Nevada is going to be one of these races that could end up being critical in terms of determining whether McConnell is the majority leader or not.
PAGE: But, you know, there are really two models that we see. One is that you have a wave election that really sweeps away their Democratic majority in the House. I think even Democrats are pretty pessimistic. They think that is going to happen.
But there have been cases where Senate candidates have been able to shield themselves to — from a wave to some degree. And so Democrats do hope to hold on to even just a 50/50 split because think of the difference in Joe Biden’s last two years or second two years of his term as president if he has a divided Congress, or if he has a Congress that is united under Republican control.
EMANUEL: And, Mara, Roe v. Wade. As a female panelist, what’s the impact on the midterms?
LIASSON: That’s – well, that’s the big question, how will these issues, like gun violence, Roe v. Wade, will they energized Democratic voters enough to close that enthusiasm gap and make a difference? We don’t know that yet. I think the economy is still the number one, two, and three issue driving voters concerns this year.
EMANUEL: Folks feeling it in the wallet when they go to the gas station, where they go to the grocery store.
LIASSON: Yes. Yes, that’s usually – but, look, the reaction to Roe was pretty intense. The reaction to the gun violence is intense. And Democrats are hopeful that those kinds of issues can help in — energize their base.
EMANUEL: Juan, do you think Democrats hold on or do you think we’re looking at a Republican Senate?
WILLIAMS: I think that’s up in the air. I would — I would have thought earlier that there was more likelihood that it would lean Republican. I don’t think that at the moment. But in terms of the House, this goes back to the fact that Americans have gone through the pandemic. They’re upset about gas prices. And they’re just angry. And we see historically they vote against the incumbent in these midterms. It happened to Clinton. It happened to Obama. It happened to Trump. And I think it’s likely to happen in the House again.
EMANUEL: All right, panelists, thanks so much. We’ll see you next Sunday.
Up next, a final word on the week ahead.
EMANUEL: And that’s it for today. I’m Mike Emanuel. Have a great week and we’ll see you back here next FOX NEWS SUNDAY.
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