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This is a rush transcript of ‘Fox News Sunday’ on July 17, 2022. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
SHANNON BREAM, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: I’m Shannon Bream.
President Biden back from his high-stakes trips to the Middle East and a meeting with the world’s largest exporter of oil as high gas prices fuel public anger at home.
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I’m doing all I can to increase the supply for the United States of America, which I expect to happen. The Saudis share that urgency.
BREAM (voice-over): The president asserting the overseas visit was all about reasserting influence in the region, but getting slammed for that fist bump with the Saudi prince, while Americans still face high gas prices and the country hits another record on inflation.
We’ll ask Jared Bernstein, a member of the president ‘s Council of Economic Advisors, about rising recession fears.
Then, former President Trump claims he’s already made a decision on 2024. He’s just not telling anyone yet. We ask Florida Senator Rick Scott how the timing of that decision will impact the Republican Party and midterms, only on “FOX News Sunday”.
Plus, our Sunday panel breaks down brand-new FOX News national polls.
All, right now, on “FOX News Sunday”.
BREAM: And hello again from FOX News in Washington.
President Joe Biden back at the White House and not bringing solutions back with him from the Middle East, to the many poetical problems like sky-high gas prices plaguing him here at home. New FOX News polls we will bring you this hour show majority of Americans disapprove of the job he’s doing and his handling of the economy. That as the hotter than expected June inflation report leaves Wall Street bracing for another big Fed rate hike to cool it all down.
In a moment, we’ll ask White House economic advisor Jared Bernstein what the plan is to address the surge in prices.
But first, let’s turn to Aishah Hasnie live at the White House with more on the controversy surrounding the president’s trip — Aishah.
AISHAH HASNIE, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Shannon, good morning to you.
The president is back home from a very busy four-day trip to the Mideast, overshadowed by one moment.
HASNIE (voice-over): It was the fist bump seen around the world. The president with Saudi crown prince Mohammed Bin Salman, the man the U.S. holds responsible for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
BIDEN: He basically said that he was not personally responsible for it. I indicated I thought he was.
HASNIE: The broadly criticized greeting was called shameful and worse than a handshake by Khashoggi’s employer and the publisher of “The Washington Post.”
And Khashoggi’s fiancee tweeting: The blood of MBS’s next victim is on Biden’s hands.
BIDEN: I’m sorry she feels that way, I didn’t come here to meet with the crown prince. I came here to meet with the GCC and nine nations.
HASNIE: The president’s Mideast tour which focused on security across the region began with meetings with Israeli and Palestinian leaders. Biden embraced the Trump era Abraham Accords, announced aid to the Palestinians, and brokered a deal with Saudi Arabia to open its airspace to flights into and out of Israel.
The president said he also discussed energy with a major oil producer.
BIDEN: I’m doing all I can to increase the supply. I expect we’ll see further steps in the coming weeks.
HASNIE: That would be a welcome relief for Americans who are now paying an average $4.50 a gallon for unleaded, down slightly from the record just a month ago. Meanwhile, inflation is soaring and so is the price for just about everything. Groceries, household items, and even airfare is up significantly from a year ago.
But the White House argues that consumer price index for June is, quote, out of date because it doesn’t reflect the recent drop in energy prices.
Even Democrats though have had enough.
REP. ELISSA SLOTKIN (D-MI): I think people can feel and see spin and I don’t think they like it.
HASNIE: Inflation is what West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin blamed for single-handedly tanking any hopes for climate change and energy funding in the party’s latest economic package.
The president vowing to step in with executive action as progressives lash out.
REP. JAMAAL BOWMAN (D-NY): It’s infuriating, it’s frustrating. But it’s kind of predicable.
REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D-WA): We’re going to have to just elect a couple more Democrats.
HASNIE (on camera): And, Shannon, the president comes home to some pretty new brutal numbers. According to a brand-new FOX News poll just released today, just 25 percent of Americans approve of his job on inflation, 40 percent approve of his job overall — Shannon.
BREAM: Our Aishah Hasnie reporting live from the White House for us, thank you so much today.
Joining us here in Washington, White House economic advisor Jared Bernstein.
Thank you for being with us on “FOX News Sunday”.
JARED BERNSTEIN, WHITE HOUSE ECONOMIC ADVISOR: My pleasure, Shannon.
BREAM: So, it’s been almost a year to the day since President Biden last year said that no serious economists thought that we would enter a period of unchecked inflation. We were at 5.4 percent then. We’re at 9.1 percent as of this week.
How did the White House get this so wrong?
BERNSTEIN: Well, that actually was the dominant forecast at the time and we were very much citing forecast across the board, including those of the Federal Reserve. And I think there are number of issues.
One is that there were some unforeseen things that occurred. For example, a war in Ukraine. Now, Ukraine and Russia are both bread baskets and energy baskets for the world, and those have put considerable upward pressure on prices.
So, for example, inflation, which is unacceptably high — let’s get that clear right out of the gate — went up 1.3 percent in June. Again, an unacceptably high increase. Half of that increase is energy prices alone.
Now, since then the price of gas has come down 50 cents a gallon. There are now 20,000 gas stations across this country where gas is below $4 a gallon. Still too high, but that’s moving in the right direction, giving Americans some much-needed breathing room. Now, they need more and we’re working on it, but that is a move in the right direction.
BREAM: OK. So, let’s talk about how American families are feeling because we have brand-new FOX News polling on this. Seventy percent of people out there that we polled this week said your family has had to cut back to afford necessities. We also ask them to look forward, because we know these numbers we just got reflect backwards.
So, looking forward, we’re also asking them have they had a financial hardship over the last six months, 75 percent, and where they think this is going. They also have a negative impression of where we will be a year from now. So what exactly are you doing?
BERNSTEIN: So, that’s a great question, and I think the key word in there is “affordability”, OK? Economists like to talk about inflation. For real people, what that means is what they’re paying at the pump, what they’re paying in their everyday lives and their household budgets.
This was a kitchen table issue for President Biden as he grew up, and that’s why he has dispatched best to do everything we can to help.
Now, right now, on the docket, something that Democrats are actually aligned on is a plan to lower prescription drug, drug cost. Now, I think everyone who hears me say that probably give some kind of an applause. Everyone wants to see that happen, but while presidents have tried to make it happen for decades, it still hasn’t occurred.
Now, we pay two to three times for prescription drugs what Europeans pay for precisely the same drugs. So it’s time to stand up to big pharma, come together, do something on the affordability there.
We also have plans for lowering health insurance premiums, OK? Thirteen million people will see an increase of $800 on average in their health insurance premium if we don’t extend the expansion for coverage under the ACA, under the Affordable Care Act.
These are issues that are on the docket that should be concluded before August, and frankly, should be concluded on a bipartisan measure, because if you care about inflation — and every policymaker should, certainly President Biden does — it’s time to stop pointing fingers and take action.
BREAM: It sounds like his domestic agenda, though, is imperiled in part by Senator Joe Manchin. There are talks about doing something big on climate change, closing loopholes along with these other things that are agreed upon, but he signaled this week he doesn’t want to swing for the fences.
He was — he has been a fly in the ointment for the president for a lot of his domestic issues, but he’s gotten a lot of praise for blocking spending and bigger packages, you know, from economists across the spectrum who say Joe Manchin actually did the White House a favor by putting the brakes on some of that spending.
It doesn’t sound like he’s in the mood for anymore.
BERNSTEIN: Well, let’s talk about swinging for the fences when it comes to — good baseball metaphor. So, seasonally correct there. For — on clean energy, because that’s precisely what this president intends to do.
He recognizes the urgency of taking action against climate change and building up our clean energy industries, which are so important for good American jobs going forward. And if there’s no legislative path forward, then he will take the executive order and rule change path. Now, I shouldn’t say he will take, I should really he’s already taken.
So this president has tackled aggressively climate change measures already. For example, he’s tapped the Defense Production Act to significantly ramp up the production of clean energy. He has set the most rigorous emissions standards yet to be set in this country, and he has helped to jump-start the offshore wind industry.
Now, those are all measures that he took by the power of the pen from executive action and rule changes, and he will continue to do that.
Now, on spending, let me say something on spending. I was looking at these numbers this morning, that’s what I do on Sunday morning, to prep for our conversation.
The budget deficit is down $1.7 trillion, with a T, this year, all right? That’s nine months of the fiscal year. So that’s nine months of this fiscal year. A $1.7 trillion reduction in the budget deficit, a 77 percent decline, the largest on record.
So I think when it comes to spending, I think the record is strong.
BREAM: To be fair, we are coming off of — you know, everybody would agree if you’re looking at hard data, off of —
BREAM: — enormous pandemic spending.
BERNSTEIN: Totally fair point.
BREAM: When you look ahead, the Congressional Budget Office says if you look at years 2023 through ’32, they say 1.6, you know, is going to be the deficit number that’s going to be added every year, and that we’re going to have the worst ratio with regard to GDP within a matter of a few years.
BERNSTEIN: So, you raise a totally to totally legitimate point, which is that when you’re coming off a period of high spending, they’re going to see some decline.
But here’s the thing, if you look at the percentage contributions to that $1.7 trillion in deficit reduction, 26 percent of that decline is due to increased receipts, increased revenues, 18 percent is a function of lower spending. So, spending fell 18 percent. Revenues went up 26 percent, even faster.
Now, how do we get faster revenue increases in an economy that is taking, you know, kind of hits that we’ve been talking about? It must be a much stronger economy than a lot of people are saying, and in fact that’s the case.
So, no denial at all about the unacceptability of these elevated prices, and we talked about some of the actions we’re taking, particularly in the energy space, but also when it comes to ports, getting goods from ship to shelf. We’re doing every thing we can to help ease price pressures. Congress needs to step up and do a lot more.
But underlying that is an economy with the strongest labor market in generations spitting off revenues that are up 26 percent this fiscal year.
BREAM: OK. Let’s talk GDP, though, because it was negative in Q1. The Atlanta Fed is signaling it’s going to be negative in Q2. I mean, technically, that meets the definition of a recession.
Does the White House acknowledge that we are likely in a recession?
BERNSTEIN: So, this often gets confused. So, the technical definition of recession is actually not two quarters of negative GDP.
BREAM: It’s generally accepted.
BERNSTEIN: Right. But it has to do much more with a number of economic variables. They are actually doing better right now.
So, payroll growth. That’s one of the things of the folks who date recessions when they tell us when they start and stop, they look at payroll, but they look at consumer spending.
Payrolls and consumer spending are actually very strong on the payroll side and strong on the spending side as well. And in fact, one of the things we’re seeing is people are traveling a lot. They are kind of taking up some of that pent-up demand they didn’t get to tap during the downturn, during the pandemic.
And that’s contributing to strong consumer spending, strong retail sales, job growth, and unemployment rate of 3.6 percent for the past four months.
It is very hard to conclude that we are in a recession when you look at the payroll and the job gains that we’ve seen.
Now, it is tricky to look around the corner here, and I’m not going to predict quarters down the road, but I think right now, you’ve got inflation headwinds big time in this economy, not taking anything away from that.
But you also have some very strong tailwinds that are boosting consumers. Now, some of that has the American rescue plan’s finger prints all over that, especially the fact that families, at least on aggregate, have quite solid balance sheets, businesses as well.
BREAM: Well, to that point, let’s talk but some of the headlines dealing with household, how their wallets are doing.
BREAM: The first headline, consumer credit card debt and annual percentage rates are headed to an all-time high. Next headline, car repossessions are surging. And the next one, Americans are eating into their pandemic savings to handle inflation.
BREAM: We know that consumer sentiment has been hitting record lows in recent months.
What happens if American consumers, spooked by all these things, they know what their own spreadsheet looks like, stop spending?
BERNSTEIN: Well, look, I mean, it’s a 70 percent consumer spending economy. So that question kind of answers itself.
Let’s unpack some of the numbers who just brought. You talked about debt levels — and, look, when interest rates are going up and the Federal Reserve is, of course, aggressively pivoting to do their part on inflation, something the president has very much endorsed, that’s always going to increase the cost of servicing your debt. But if you actually look at the numbers on this, debt service as a share of income is near historic lows.
So why is that?
You said it yourself. People have very high levels of savings on aggregate. I want to be clear, there are lots of folks who were struggling with this – – with this high level of inflation. But, you know, as a macroeconomist, when you look at the stock of savings in the economy, it’s up — up there in the trillions.
And you said it exactly correctly, Shannon, folks are tapping those savings to continue to keep consumer spending strong. Now, I am here to tell you that would not be the case where it not for the American Rescue Plan getting shots in arms and checks in pockets. So, the residual of that is still being felt.
BREAM: There are limits to the savings though.
BERNSTEIN: There are.
BREAM: And we look — and we look at wages up, but inflation far outpacing nearly every sector for people.
“The Wall Street Journal” puts it this way: The greatest tragedy for American workers. They are suffering the largest reduction in real wages since the 1970s. They have fallen in 10 of the last 13 months. They’ve now fallen more since President Biden took office than they did during the recession caused by the financial crisis.
BERNSTEIN: So, you made what I think is a really important point here, which is that, yes, savings — elevated savings from the Rescue Plan and other measures are very much helping to support consumer spending, the real buffer in this time of elevated inflation. But you said that can’t go on forever, and you’re exactly right.
What you need in the backdrop is a strong labor market, because that’s where most people get their incomes from. We have the strongest labor market on record in history by many conventional metrics. Nine million jobs since this president got here.
There’s a lot of talk about all these economic headwinds. If you look at this tailwind of job growth, 375,000 jobs per month in the past three months.
Now, you made a point about wage growth. Wage growth is actually pretty strong in nominal terms, but inflation is so high. And that’s what the president’s agenda is all about. Helping families afford prescription drugs, lowering their health insurance premium, something that Congress — I’m looking at the Capitol of the window here — something that Congress needs to act on before the August recess, and I’m talking bipartisan.
You know, I have heard Republicans say for the many decades I’ve been here — they want to lower prescription drugs. President Trump talked about lowering prescription drug costs.
We pay two to three times what people in other countries pay for the very same drugs. That is just an unconscionable tax on our seniors.
BERNSTEIN: And we shouldn’t — not only does that help people’s bottom line in terms of affordability, it saves Medicare $100 billion over ten years. So we should do that tomorrow to answer your question on affordability.
BREAM: We’ll see if they’re listening to. They are just down the block here on Capitol Hill.
BERNSTEIN: I’m talking loud enough for them to hear me. So, sorry. I get fired up about this.
BREAM: There’s plenty that they seem like get together on. So, we’ll see if they get your passion.
Jared Bernstein, thank you very much.
BERNSTEIN: It’s been great talking to you, Shannon.
BREAM: Good to have you with us.
Up next, former President Trump’s endorsement has been a boon for some, a bust for others this election cycle. We will bring in Senator Rick Scott to discuss that and whether a `24 announcement by the former president could help or hurt Republicans’ efforts to win back the Senate.
BREAM: Republican voters are eager to see their party take back control of Congress in the fall midterms, but there are concerns in recent weeks that some of the Senate candidates running in and even those winning Republican primaries could do more harm than good.
These fears coming as former President Donald Trump teases a third White House bid, potentially announcing before midterms are even over.
Joining us now, Florida Senator Rick Scott, who leads the Senate Republicans’ campaign arm.
Senator, welcome back to “FOX News Sunday”.
SEN. RICK SCOTT (R-FL): Always great to be with you, Shannon.
We’ve got great candidates. It’s going to be a great year. We’ve just got to raise our money and run our races.
But I — the Biden agenda is horrible. This inflation — I mean, what Jared Bernstein talked about, he’s not talking to real people. People are getting their cars repossessed. People have to go to food banks.
I mean, this — gas prices, food prices. American public are frustrated because this is hurting so many people in my state.
So I think this is going to be a bloodbath for the Democrats this year.
BREAM: OK. So assuming that you have a good year, Republicans take back the Senate and the House, the question is then what will you all do to make things better?
An opinion piece over at MSNBC says the GOP keeps slamming Biden over inflation, but it has no solutions to offer.
It says: We all get how politics works. The party out of power blames the party in power for everything that’s bad. But in this case, inflation is directly impacting the lives of all Americans. What is the GOP plan to reduce it? Americans deserve an answer.
So, Senator, what is your answer to that question?
SCOTT: Sure. Well, I put out a plan. You can go to RescueAmerica.com.
But here’s what we have to do. We have to balance the budget. This is caused by reckless spending.
We’ve got — I mean, every proposal Democrats have is spend your money. Spend more money.
We’ve got to reduce taxes, reduce fees, reduce the size of government. We’ve got to become energy independent.
Don’t go to Saudi Arabia and begged money — them for fuel. Go to Texas and ask them to get more fuel. Fix the supply chain.
The Biden demonstration is a bunch of do-nothing people that all they do is blame.
Balance the budget, start with that. That’s the simplest thing we have to do. But we’ve got to figure how to balance our budget, and we can do it.
And reduce the cost of government. It’s way too high. Stop spending money.
BREAM: The government is good at that under Republicans and Democrats alike. There is a spending fever here in Washington and you mentioned lowering taxes.
Because that point came up, I want to bring up what the president said in Cleveland just a few days ago, talking about tagging you with the issue of taxes.
Here’s what President Biden said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Rick Scott from Florida, who heads up the Republican Campaign Committee, he put out the plan. What does the plan do?
It makes the system less fair by giving — wanting to tax everybody making under $100,000, significantly more on average a lot more money. It actually raises taxes on those working families because he thinks you don’t pay enough in taxes already.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BREAM: OK. Your response to the president?
SCOTT: Well, first off, I’ve always cut taxes, never voted to raise taxes. The Democrats and Biden even now want to raise taxes in every tax bracket.
But here’s what I believe: We’ve got to get Americans back to work. If you’re able-bodied, you don’t have young children, you know, incapacitated dependent, get to work. When you go to work, guess what? You pay taxes, you pay income taxes, and you pay sales tax and you buy things.
But what the president wants to do is every proposal he has is to raise everybody’s taxes. My proposal, do what I did as governor, get people back to work. When I was governor, we added 1.7 million jobs. That’s how you get everybody to have skin in the game.
But the Democrats, they want to spend your money. Their idea on how do we do — reduce premiums for somebody? It’s not to, you know, create a better delivery system in health care — no, it’s to raise your taxes.
And we already have $30 trillion worth of debt on the Biden agenda is to take it to 45. That’s why we have the inflation we have. That’s why gas prices are up.
Why is gas up so much? It’s because Biden and the Democrats, they have — they have an agenda to get rid of fossil fuel. That’s horrible for this country. We should be energy independent.
BREAM: Well, to take on the agenda change that you would like to see will require more GOP senators in the Senate. But let’s talk about some of the headlines as you are working to lead that effort.
“USA Today”: Rick Scott leads the Republicans’ bid to regain the Senate. Those candidates are struggling.
“Washington Post”: Candidate challenges, primary scars have GOP worried about Senate chances.
“New York Magazine” says six awful GOP candidates who could save the Democratic Senate.
And “Axios” says this: Top Republicans once confident about winning control of the Senate in the midterms fear they will blow it after nominating several deeply flawed candidates in winnable states, according to conversations with GOP strategists, pollsters and other officials.
What are your expectations? Is there overconfidence among Republicans?
SCOTT: Well, there’s an election, we have to work hard.
But we have — we have great candidates. We have — we could potentially pick up six seats. We’ve got great candidates all across this country.
The Biden agenda is horrible. We feel — you know, look, we have to raise our money, the Democrats are raising money.
If you want to help go to — text WIN to 55404. But we have great candidates. We’re going to — we’re going to have a great year.
Look, it’s nice of the Democrats to talk about our candidates, but since (ph) they got Warnock. Warnock.
Here’s where they have to do. They have — they’ve all lied about their position, they — Warnock, Kelly, all of them, oh, they’re all moderates, and then they vote with Chuck Schumer 100 percent of the time.
So they have to go home, they have to explain why they vote with Chuck Schumer and why they vote to cause gas prices go up, why they vote for more government spending. That’s what they have to do.
We’re going to have a great year.
BREAM: So, you mentioned fund-raising. “Axios” took note of this yesterday and they said the Senate GOP money flop. That was their headline.
They said: Top Senate candidates turned in poor numbers and key races from Arizona to New Hampshire. It’s as if big GOP donors either don’t realize a Senate majority is in reach or wrongly think it’s a sure thing and it’s clear they don’t like a lot of the Trumpy candidates.
That comes in contrast to Democrats having some major hauls.
So where are you on fund-raising? Why the deficit compared to the Democratic candidates?
SCOTT: Well, historically, Democrats have been able to raise more money than us. But we’ve had record funding at the National Republican Senatorial Committee. We’re going to raise more.
I’m talking to our candidates every week. They’re out there raising money. You got — look at Ron Johnson, his fundraising. Look at — look at Herschel Walker and look at Marco Rubio.
We have great fund-raising, but we need more. The Democrats are doing a good job this year raising money. That’s why I tell people, you’ve got to help us.
We have every reason to believe we can win. People are fed up, just fed up with the Biden agenda. They are sick and tired of $5 gas, food prices up, all this stuff. They are sick of it.
So we just got to raise our money and get our message out.
BREAM: OK. One of our brand-new FOX News polls, and we’re laying out a lot of these exclusively this morning, is who cares more about people like you. We asked voters.
They give the edge to Democrats, saying more of them care about voters then do the Republican Party.
So, how do you work to change that perception at a time people are really hurting? And that matters going into the midterms.
SCOTT: I think, first off, you have to show up. I know when I’ve done my races. You show up. You talk to as many people as you can. You listen to their problems.
I did it yesterday, all day yesterday at a variety of events, listening to people’s issues. But, you know, that’s how — that’s how we have to do it. And I shook hands with half a million people while I was governor.
Yesterday, I probably shook hands with 200 or 300 people, talked to them about their issues. We had a significant Hispanic event yesterday.
Hispanics are going to vote our way because they are fed up with the government. They are fed up with the public school system. They’re fed up with the government that’s caused their prices to go up.
So we just got to get out there and talk to them. When we do, we win and we’re going to have a great win this November.
BREAM: So, let’s talk about one of your most prominent constituents down there, former President Trump. They’re saying essentially that he’s made a decision about 2024.
Here’s one of the headlines about the timing potentially of an announcement, says, Donald Trump looks to fall launch for 2024, potentially upending midterms, going on to say, some Republicans fear an announcement will undercut them at a time they have a strong chance of retaking the House and Senate.
It goes on to quote a prominent Republican strategist, says: Of all the selfish things he does every minute of every day, it would probably be the most. Everything we are doing that is not talking about the economy is going to be a disaster.
Do you have a sense of the president’s decision, of his timing? And are you worried about — you know, how it impacts the midterms? Does it turn it into a referendum on him versus these economic issues?
SCOTT: This year is going to be a referendum on Biden. It’s pretty simple. Midterms are referendum on the president’s strategies, which are horrible.
So, this is — this is not going to be about ’24. It’s going to be about ’22. And I tell people all the time, we got to continue to focus to win this November. We have every reason to believe we can win.
But this is going to be about gas prices and food prices and the Democrats wanting to defund the police and critical race theory, things like that. It’s going to be about three issues — inflation, my kids getting a good education, and living in a safe community.
And the Democrats on the wrong side of those issues. Every Democrat, they voted on the wrong side of that issue for years.
BREAM: Does President Trump change the topics, change the conversation if he gets in before the midterms?
SCOTT: I think — Shannon, I think it’s all going to be about what’s happening in your family right now. People are focused on what happens to them.
That’s — I mean, you know, they care about their job and the inflation. I mean, take Florida as an example. The cost of living — the cost of living in Florida is up $770 a month, a month. All right?
Inflation in Florida is up almost 14 percent since Joe Biden got elected. That’s the issue that people are going to focus on. They know that the Democrats are causing this with reckless spending.
And, Shannon, they want to spend more. They got a variety of bills. They want to spend more money.
People know you can’t keep doing that. Families can’t do it. Why would — why would anybody believe your government can do it?
BREAM: Yeah, the polls show us over and over again, including the new polls we got out today that people are hurting and they blame the Biden administration at this point. We know you’re working around-the-clock on those fall races. We’re following them all.
Senator Rick Scott, thanks for your time.
SCOTT: Thanks, Shannon.
BREAM: Up next, we’ll bring in our Sunday group to discuss the new Fox News polls on how the president is handling the economy and inflation, as well as how he’s doing with groups critical from the midterm wins.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We agree on the need to ensure adequate supplies to meet global needs. Energy producers have already increased production. And I look forward to seeing what’s coming in the – in the coming months.
MOHAMMED BIN SALMAN, SAUDI ARABIA CROWN PRINCE: The kingdom will play its role in this era as it announced to increase the level of the maximum sustainable production capacity to more than 13 million barrels. Beyond that, the kingdom will not have any further production capacity.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BREAM: President Biden and Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman striking slightly different tones during meetings about increasing the global oil supply.
Time now for our Sunday group.
Joining me now, senior politics reporter for “Axios,” Josh Kraushaar, former Democratic National Committee Communications Director Mo Elleithee. Kevin Roberts, president of the Heritage Foundation, and former State Department Spokesperson Morgan Ortagus.
Welcome to all of you.
It has been a busy week and weekend for the White House.
Morgan, I’m going to start with you because the White House, do they have any deliverables that they can talk about from this trip because already we see the Saudis and others pushing back on some of the things the White House has touted as accomplishments on this trip.
MORGAN ORTAGUS, FORMER STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESPERSON AND POLARIS NATIONAL SECURITY FOUNDER: It’s a little messy, but also they went 17, 18 months without going to the region, and so they sort of had to. So I think they probably should have set expectations lower. You’re going sort of with egg on your face. You’ve been pursuing a policy with Israel and Saudi’s arch enemy, their arch rival, the Islamic Republic of Iran. They have not been able to negotiate a deal. They probably won’t. And if they get the Iranians to sign on to anything, it’s going to run into headwinds from Menendez and other Democrats before you even get to the Republicans.
So, you were going to the region, hat in hand, having treated it as a very transactional relationship, asking for things that the Saudis are probably not willing to give. They did sign the Jerusalem Declaration in Israel where they said Iran would never get a nuclear weapon. I thought that was positive. Saudis appears to have opened its airspace up to Israel flights, at least for Muslims going to Saudi Arabia. So, that’s something. Thank you to Abraham Accords, that I was a part of in the Trump administration, for that happening.
But, largely, I think that they’ve squandered 18 months with the Middle East. And so low expectations because they just haven’t placed the emphasis that they needed to with the allies. They were placing all their emphasis with the Islamic Republic of Iran.
BREAM: Well, and there were a lot of people on both sides of the aisle who did not want them to go. They didn’t think it was a good look for us to go there. And our Fox News polling shows, when we asked, what do you think of President Biden’s handling of the U.S.-Saudi relationship, 32 percent approve but, Josh, 55 percent disapprove.
JOSH KRAUSHAAR, AXIOS SENIOR POLITICS REPORTER: Look, this was part of a big, strategic pivot from the Biden administration. In the past, when they’ve talked about Saudi Arabia, it’s been about human rights, Khashoggi. They haven’t talked about our strategic interests and getting more energy production and also forming a bulwark against the — Iran. Those are two very important strategic goals.
I think, as Morgan was saying, they’ve kind of gotten back on the right track, but the messaging has been mixed and the Saudis don’t seem willing to fully play ball. We don’t have a real announcement getting the type of energy production we were hoping for, the type of oil extraction that we thought they may announce before Biden came back to Washington. And, yes, Saudi Arabia is allowing some – some airspace to go over Israel, but we haven’t seen the type of wide range agreement that some people expected during this trip.
BREAM: So, and also we had the fist bump, as we were showing there, the fist bump heard around the world. And among the critics of that are Congressman Adam Schiff, a Democrat, who tweeted this, “if we ever needed a visual reminder of the continuing grip oil-rich autocrats have on U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East, we got it today. One fist bump is worth 1,000 words.”
MO ELLEITHEE, FORMER DNC COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, GEORGETOWN INSTITUTE OF POLITICS AND PUBLIC SERVICE AND FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: I mean, yes. Right, look, it — this wasn’t a great thing. No — I don’t think anyone wanted to see the president of the United States going off and giving a bear hug to an autocrat who is responsible for the murder of a journalist who lived in the United States. No one wanted to see that. But I’d rather see a fist bump from the president of the United States than a bearhug from Vladimir Putin, or from Xi in China, because that’s the alternative. The alternative is that we give up our strategic positioning in the Middle East and Russia and China are dancing around ready to swoop in. I think the president is right to keep human rights on the agenda. He is right to pressure the crown prince on Khashoggi. But, at a time when we cannot afford to give Russia and China that kind of a foothold in the Middle East, and at a time when inflation is – we’re seeing soaring gas prices, we don’t want to do anything to exacerbate the situation with oil. This trip was a necessity.
BREAM: So, let’s talk about the president’s performance on a couple of those issues. Our new Fox News poll shows that when we are – when we ask about economy and we ask about inflation, the president is upside down by double digits in the negatives, Kevin, on those.
KEVIN ROBERTS, PRESIDENT OF THE HERITAGE FOUNDATION: Well, they’re very much related to this previous threat, Shannon, and that is that, yes, I tend to look at policy from the standpoint of the forgotten American. People on the Gulf Coast and the Rocky Mountain west, regardless of their politics. When they see that fist bump, while they understand that presidents have to travel abroad, as Mo and organ have said, they also understand that there’s a lack of fist bump when it comes to American oil and gas production. That’s the solution to the problems you present in your question.
If we want to lower inflation, we have to attack energy prices. We shouldn’t be going to autocrats around the world doing that, we should be re-ramping up production here in Texas, in Wyoming, in North Dakota, places the president doesn’t like to travel. I have no problem with a president of the United States traveling internationally, but if he want to attend to these problems in the polls, which we feel every time we fill up our tank, we go to the grocery store, stop giving fist bumps to autocrats and start giving fist bumps to the forgotten Americans.
BREAM: So, let’s talk about the climate situation, because Democrats had really been pushing for this big package that would have gone after climate change issues, billions of dollars on that, closing tax loopholes, those kinds of things.
But enter Joe Manchin, Josh, as we often due, on Capitol Hill. The president’s coming back to the situation where Joe Manchin has put the brakes on a lot of what he wants to do. I want to play some of the Democrats who are now openly talking about how mad they are at Joe Manchin.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D-WA): I’m extremely disappointed because this isn’t just one or two Democrats’ agenda. This is the Democratic agenda that he has been obstructing since the very beginning. And I think, again, it just shows very clearly that he is unable to close a deal, that he — you cannot trust what he says.
REP. CORI BUSH (D-MO): Mr. Fossil Fuel Industry in the Senate? How is he the one making the decision of our climate investment?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BREAM: And, Josh, we all have a sneaking suspicion, and hear are the whispers here in Washington, that there are other Democrats hiding behind Joe Manchin on these issues.
KRAUSHAAR: It’s true. And, look, Joe Manchin is the Lucy pulling the football away every time from the Democratic Party, and they have a right to be frustrated in a 50/50 Senate, but they’ve got to think about the interests in West Virginia back home for Joe Manchin, who’s up for re- election in 2024. I mean Joe Manchin is in one of the most Republican states in the country. It’s an energy-producing state where any move to green energy, and any move to regulate the fossil fuel industry is going to be very unpopular. And I think they’ve put — Democrats have put all their hopes and raised their optimism unrealistically that Joe Manchin is suddenly going to give them this competence social spending package that’s going to involve tackling climate change. It never really was in the cards. Joe Manchin never has had the political interests to really play ball fully with his colleagues in the Democratic Party.
BREAM: So, you talk about he is obviously always trying to appeal to the voters at home for him in West Virginia where it makes a big difference.
We’ve also got a polling here on President Biden, how he’s doing with key groups that he needs to win in the midterms and potentially if he’s running for reelection. He’s upside down again with a lot of these groups, with women, with moderates, with people under age 30, with independents. I mean that is 72 percent disapprove and 27 percent approve.
Mo, those are tough members going to the midterms.
ELLEITHEE: Yes, no, they are absolutely tough numbers. There’s no way to sugarcoat it.
But I will say this, the president’s got to continue to get out there and make a case on the economy. That’s number one, number two, number three.
Having said that, the best thing Democrats have going for them in these midterms is that they’re running against Republicans who are, in state after state after state, particularly in the Senate — the House is a different story, but particularly in the Senate, where you’re seeing races that, in an environment that should be devastating for Democrats, are far more competitive because of the Republican candidates. And the environment has changed. The conversation has changed over the past few months.
So, I think Democrats have a lot of work to do, and they have to do it, because if those numbers continue to erode, it’s going to be near impossible. But there is time, and the Republicans have allowed the conversation to change in a number of states, enough that Democrats are still in the mix.
BREAM: All right, we’re going to talk about a lot about those races.
We’ve got to take a quick break here first.
Up next, more polls and a look at which party has the edge in both fundraising and voter enthusiasm headed straight into November.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): I think it’s a close election almost everywhere, and it’s a 50/50 country. So, I think it’s way too early for either side to be assuming they’re going to have a great election, or a disaster, for that matter, this fall.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BREAM: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell hedging his bets this week on whether Republicans will win enough seats in midterms to retake control of the Senate.
We are back now with our panel.
And I want to throw up our overall congressional vote preference, just Democrat versus Republican, in our new Fox News polling. Republicans still have a three-point advantage here. But, Kevin, you know, like I asked the senator, there are these conversations about, is the GOP overconfident, should they be managing expectations a little bit?
ROBERTS: Well, as a movement conservative, I always want people to be excited about going to the polls. And so I want to deliver that message. And your poll indicates that, that there’s been a dissipation in support by — for both sides by both Democrats and Republicans. And I think it ought to be a warning sign for people who are conservatives for two reasons, Shannon. The first is that the climate has shifted. The political climate has shifted some since the Dobbs decision. I say that as an ardent pro- lifer. But politics also is a related reality.
But the second is that it really does come down to candidates. And – and I think that while the conservative movement has done a good job of helping to recruit some good candidates, the thing that still hasn’t happened, and it is a bit of a frustration for us at Heritage and across the conservative movement, is that there isn’t a unified set of policies around which a conservative House majority and a conservative Senate majority wants to govern.
We’re trying to keep their feet to the fire and that because, as I like to say, for me, it’s far more important to be conservative than it is to be a Republican. I think, to sum up here, that if the Republicans were to do that in their House and Senate races, that you would start to see the American people come home and deliver large majorities.
BREAM: Yes, so as we talked about, it’s about the candidates.
“New York Magazine” has this headline, “Six Awful GOP Candidates Who Could Save the Democratic Senate.” They talk about Oz in Pennsylvania, Walker in Georgia, Master in Arizona, Laxalt in Nevada, Greitens, who hasn’t won, he’s got the primary spacing in August but – in Missouri, and current Senator Johnson in Wisconsin. They go on to say, fortunately for the donkey party, Republicans have some Senate nominees with real weaknesses.
So, Morgan, which races are you really watching for this potential?
ORTAGUS: I think Georgia, you know, definitely. And especially when you look at the Trump-backed candidates like J.D. Vance in Ohio, Blake Masters, we’ll see, he still has the primary as well. But, you know, I think that it’s a little too early for – for what “The New Yorker” just wrote about, the – it’s very early. People are not doing general election ads yet. Democrats have clearly gotten a bounce in funding post-Dobbs.
But the – but the — especially when you’re looking at a statewide race, the Fox News poll number that really struck me was that Democrats and Republicans are both extremely motivated to vote by 67 percent. That’s not something that I think any of us have seen in recent polling, at least in this election cycle. And so that, I think, is what really stuck out to me, because when you get into these statewide races, they’re normally a few points apart anyway. And so, does this hold?
I remember in 2018, during Kavanaugh, we all got really excited and thought, well, maybe we’re actually not going to lose. And we famously did. So, we’ll see if this enthusiasm holds. But that 67 percent number should stick out to ever Republican Senate candidate.
BREAM: Mo, which of these races do you think are the best options for Democrats?
ELLEITHEE: Look, I think Georgia is a really fascinating state where you’ve got a competitive governors race and a competitive Senate race. And the current polling shows them going and splitting –
BREAM: Split, yes.
ELLEITHEE: Going in opposite directions in a way that’s very helpful to the Democrats in the Senate.
I think Pennsylvania is one of the Democrats’ biggest pickup opportunities. A really fascinating race with two very colorful candidates. A state that has been very purple and a battleground state at the presidential end of the Senate level, but should be the kind of state that looks good for republicans in an environment like this is not looking good for Republicans right now.
I think Ohio is a fascinating race right now. A state that has been slipping away from Democrats over the past decade in a very real way. They’ve got — Democrats have a candidate there who kind of fits perfectly what – what the voters would want in a Democrat. And the Republicans have an exciting candidate, the one who, as a Democrat, I’d say has some problematic comments. It’s just a more competitive race than anyone would have inspected in an environment like this.
And I think what’s been said, right, the conversation has changed. The conversation, especially in the past few months, because of the Supreme Court decision on abortion, because of the shootings in places like Buffalo and in Texas. They’re — people were anxious. There’s a lot of economic anxiety. But that economic anxiety is now spreading into other aspects of people’s lives in a way that is not helpful to Republicans. So, I think — right now I think the Senate’s a jump ball.
BREAM: OK. So, we had the economy at the top of the list of what people are worried about, but crime and other things too that Republicans feel like are going to be good issues for them, but you mentioned the others that have people concerned as well.
We also are all looking ahead this week to the primetime hearing of the January 6th committee on Thursday night. And there’s been a lot of conversation about whether this taints President Trump’s ability to run again. The committee is not — they have no power to prosecute, and they also don’t seem to be cooperating with the DOJ, Josh, at this point.
What is the point of this committee?
KRAUSHAAR: Look, the primetime hearing, and this could be the final hearing about the January 6th riots, it’s going to be what Trump knew and how long he knew it. And they’re — the political impact of the hearings writ large, I don’t think it’s going to have a dramatic impact on the midterm elections, but what it might do is give some Republicans some second thoughts about supporting former President Trump again.
And, speaking of the midterms, there’s reporting that he might want to announce –
KRAUSHAAR: Before the November midterm elections. That’s the last thing Republicans want because it will do what Mo has been talking about.
BREAM: Refocuses on him.
KRAUSHAAR: Refocused the elections on a personality rather than the policies that are (INAUDIBLE).
BREAM: Well, and another one of our polls asks people, do you want President Biden, President Trump to run again. Democrats, 51 percent of them said they’d be OK with President Biden running again and 67 percent we’re going to say that — of Republicans say that they would be good with President Trump being their guy again on the ballot.
ORTAGUS: I’ve certainly seen that on the campaign trail. I mean there’s still a lot of Trump enthusiasm. There’s probably a difference between donors and where the grassroots are, but he ran in 2016 without the donor base, right, and he still famously became the president.
I think what we’re going to see going forward is that, especially on a – on a trial like the – like the January 6th hearings, I don’t think you’ll ever see another instance where Republicans aren’t involved. The argument that Republicans made not to be involved is very process-oriented. Well, Nancy Pelosi didn’t let two people on. And even during the Trump impeachment over Russia-gate, even during all of that, you had Republicans standing up and defending him in a way that you don’t have in these primetime hearings because they’re not involved. I think it was a mistake.
BREAM: OK, very quickly, Mo, I want to ask you, does the committee potentially do Republicans a favor if they so tar in some way President Trump that he can’t run, and that solves the big interparty fight for 2024 potentially? Quickly.
ELLEITHEE: Maybe, but I think this committee’s goal is more about saving the republic than saving the Republicans. And so having Donald Trump never back in the Oval Office, I think a lot of people would be OK with.
BREAM: All right, gentlemen, and lady, we’ve got to leave it there. Thank you, panel. We’ll see you next FOX NEWS SUNDAY.
Up next, FOX NEWS SUNDAY says farewell to a friend this week. World War II Medal of Honor Recipient Herschel Woody Williams, who served this country for a remarkable 77 years. More about his legacy when we come back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): With Woody’s passing we have lost a deeply selfless American and a vital link to our nation’s greatest generation. His story echoes the service of so many Americans who faced the horrors of war so that liberty might triumph over fascism.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): Woody knew that true gratitude for our nation’s service members ran even deeper than metals. He made giving back a lifelong mission.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BREAM: Heard from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell there, giving a final salute to one of America’s true heroes this week. And receiving a big honor here in Washington. They’re talking about Herschel Woody Williams, who served in the battle of Iwo Jima. And he was the last surviving Medal of Honor recipient from World War II. Marines carried Williams’ casket into the Capitol Rotunda Thursday where he laid in honor. It’s a tribute reserve for the nation’s most distinguished private citizens.
Williams died last month, leaving a special legacy, the start of a foundation to honor gold star families, those whose loved ones made the ultimate sacrifice.
Here’s Williams telling us about it on this program in 2018.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HERSHEL “WOODY” WILLIAMS, LAST SURVIVING WWII MEDAL OF HONOR RECIPIENT: We’ve got memorials for veterans all over this country in most communities. But do we have anything that pays tribute to those families who sacrificed one of their own? No, we don’t. I’d like to see these — one of these on every home that has somebody serving in our armed forces. I think it would do something for the community. I really do. And then this, of course, would say to those people in that community, that family gave more than any of us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BREAM: He’s a true hero.
The ceremony was one of Williams’ last wishes. He was 98 years old.
That is it for today. I’m Shannon Bream. I’ll see you tomorrow and every weeknight for “FOX NEWS AT NIGHT,” 12:00 a.m. Eastern, 9:00 Pacific, on Fox News Channel.
Have a great week, and we’ll see you next FOX NEWS SUNDAY.
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