Republican strategists believe they will lose the House in 2018 midterms

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17:30 | 01/14/18

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Transcript for Republican strategists believe they will lose the House in 2018 midterms
One of the biggest challenges we have to our democracy is the degree to which we don't share a common baseline of facts. What the Russians exploited but it was already here is we are operating in completely different information universes. At a certain point, you just live in a bubble. And at's part of why our politics is so polarized right now. President Obama pack in front of the cameras with David Letterman this week. With that, let's go to "The roundtable." Chief white house correspondent Jonathan Karl. Mary Bruce. The editor of "The national review" rich Lowry. Patrick gx aspard. Political director for president Obama. And senior white house correspondent Cecilia Vega. The president, president Obama waning about a common baseline of facts. Senator David perdue said the president did not use those comments. That's the first point plank denial. It comes so long after. He said he didn't remember. As soon as the story broke, we we2e speaking to people at the white house, there was no denil whatsoever. The white house put out a public statement making absolutely though denial. We spoke to the members of congress that were this the room. No denial. Perdue put out something saying he didn't recall it. The bottom line is, the fundamental thing he was saying is that we want to have more immigrants from countries like Norway. Fewer from countries like those in Africa and Haiti. Nobody has disputed that. Mary Bruce, you were on capitol hill. It shot across the capitol. They went to the white house and thought they had a deal. Met the parameters outline bid the president. They get in the room, they're essentially ambushed, we're told Birks the hardline anti-immigration members of congress. It all blows up. They thought they had something here. It puts Republicans in an up credibly tricky position, once again be I their own president. You have many Republicans condemning the president's statements. Where is leadership on this? You have heard nothing from Mitch Mcdonnell, Paul Ryan has come out and described the comments as unfortunate and unhelpful. A lot of people would describe a parking ticket like that. Not a strong come democrndemnation. But denying it, he puts the supporters in a difficult position. He used a different but sleesly related vulgarity. He said s-house, not s-hole. That's not going to make a difference to anyone. So many ways to parse racial remarks. I would like to have a transcript. The general tenor of the discussion is it has been reported accurately. You have seen the reaction all over the world. The conservative, David from wrote what we have to fear most is not an open defiance of laws but an accumulating subversion of norms. That's what we have here. Why you're seeing such a reaction. Not only in the U.S. But straight across the globe from the African union. The European union. From the united nations. And Mary is right. There needs to be the voice of leadership, like Mitch Mcconnell. When I was 19 years old in 1986, I applauded Mitch Mcconnell. He was 1 of 31 senators who voted against Ronald Reagan's vie tow of apartheid sanctions. He said, my president is wrong. I'm looking for him to do the same thing in this moment. Sececilia? I was surprised how unfazed the people around the president were. There is no question by the people we have talked to that he said that in the meeting. Aides feel like this will be a boom for his base. This will help him in some ways when the media are in his tear IX. It will whip us into a frenzy. They see that adds a good thing. This has been a dog whistle for bigots. David duke. Richard Spencer. The daily Stormer. They're all applauding this right now. The problem is, this is starting to look like a pattern for this presidency. It's starting to define the presidency for many people of color in the country who make theme feel like they don't belong in this country. I wonder how truthful the white house aides are being when they say this is all a great thing. I can't believe they think this is a good thing to have congressman John Lewis on television this morning saying the spt a racist. No, and allies of the president truly do not think it is a good thing. If you go and go the a trump rally. You see those people out there who are supporting him. By and large, they don't want to be seen as racistings. Most of them are not raisists. 24r H are racists among them. But something like this puts them in a bad light. Is this strategy? No, this is not sttegy. Look, I don't think the president should speak this way. If it leaks out, it's going to be gratuitously insulting to a lot of people. If we' being honest, there are a lot of countries in the world that are to use a lighter term, basket cases. This was regarding the Visa lottery. A program that randomly sprinkles Visas around the world. That's not what the ox was. Last point. The prose posele is not to end it entirely. But to sprinkle it among other random countries. No. And his point, what he wants to do is move to more deliberate system that emphasizes merit and skill. He did say he wants more ewe peens from place like Norway as well. He was specific a Norway. Let's be clear and honest. They were removing the quota from the Visa lottery system toward those who have temporary protective status in the united States. There are 60,000 Haitians who have been here post earthquake. And the American people have been incredibly generous and partnered in way that is our tradition to protect the 60,000. The president, as we understand it from senator Lindsey graham and from dick Durbin made it clear we should get those people out. Those 60,000 Haitians. I have to say, rich, we shouldn't be doubling down on this whole some countries are in worse case -- places than others and basket cases. We're this a country that is made up almost entirely of people who have come and fled from places where they were being persecuted. Oppressed. Even you have to say some countries are in worse situations than others? I'm Haitian American. I had the graes privilege to represent our country in sub is a Har ran Africa. I know my history. We can't have this conversation in a historical way. George, you have roots in Greece. Between 1890 and 1920, about 400,000 greex came to this country because at the time, they were fleeing civil war, economic degradation. At time, Greece was seen as a place maybe not on the same scale or level as Norway. It does not mean that the American people didn't embrace the people who became greek-americans. Or the Vietnamese who came to the country at the end of the Vietnam war. These are some of the most patriotic Americans. By the way, far long time, some of the most Republican Americans. Yes. And the problem is, it's one thing to taukt merit and say we want to let in the best and the brightest. It's another thing to define the best and brightest by where they are from. That's what the president did. No, no. Sorry. We have an immigration system that allocates quotas based on what country you're from. We should move to a system that is based largely, not entirely, on merit. But that's paced on skills and education. This is not the early 20th century anymore. I want to bring this up. Both sides were working toward a compromise on all of these issues. Now, that's hit a wall. This outlines why this is such a difficult debate to have and why there was such optimism earlier in the week. It's been completely upsended by the government's comments. And now raised the risk of a government shutdown. Democrats have wanted to link this. They feel they have the upper hand, to say the least. Source say they will, if they retch a shutdown, drms confident they can have the president tone fallout ofthis. And privately, they feel like if a shut down does happen, it will be president trump and the Republicans who will take all of the blame. Which has flipped since Thursday. Exactly. They were fearful this would look like this is their fault. No one would say these comments were a good thing. But certainly, they will end up working to the Democrats' benefit in the end if the shutdown happens. In to be tear to the president, that Tuesday meeting was something. Yes, I was in the room. You were in the room for it. Following that, those contradictory tweets on the NSA legislation. It complicated the chances of passing it in the house. The tweet about closing the embassy in dprab. Condra dikted by his own embas embassy. The fight with "The Wall Street journal." You still have the issue of getting him under control, the weets under control. Every time he has had a moment where he's won praise, including praise from the Democrats. The first message to the joint sessions of congress. When he had his dinner with chuck and Nancy. And now now. He gets -- he gets this moment, and then a day or two later, he goes in completely the other direction. And all the goodwill is lost. What I'm hearing the from Republicans in congress is a distinct move toward pessimism. Republicans now in the house believe they are going lose control of the house in the midterm elections. It's not matter of whether -- More and more retirements. They say, I hear from top Republican operatives working very hard for the Republican cause saying it's not a question of how big a loss there is. Do they lose 25 seat ors a huge wave? 35-plus seats? You now, have I think we're up to 33 Republican lawmakers not seeking re-election. That doesn't bode well as they're heading into what was already expected to be a difficult election year. To Jon's point, when the president sends mixed messages. Tweets one thing, another thing in the meeting room, et leads Republicans with not a place to stand. It leaves them very little cover. So many don't know what direction to head in. That's a big problem. Do you pick up the same pessimism about the midterms? Yes. They're nef as catastrophic as portrayed. Day don't shake the base as much. The constituency is going down every one of these things takes him another step down is Republican women in the suburbs. They are swinging the other way. And if Republicans lose the house, that will be an enormous factor. ? You livid through a tough midterm in the Obama white house. I did. Early on we knew we were facing not just a waive but a tsunami. Or what president Obama called a shellacking. You can see the writing on the wall. It's not just the state-wide election in Virginia, in Alabama. A number of state senate districts in -- that were traditionally red that have swung decisively toward Democrats. It does feel as if there is significant slippage. And overhanging it all, still, the Russian investigation. We got a new answer this week from the president on whether or not he'll be willing to sit down with Mueller and testify. Let's watch. Would you be willing to speak under oath to give your version of those events? 100%. If Robert Mueller wanted to speak to him? I would be glad to tell him what I just told you. Are you pope to meeting with him? When they have no collusion, and nobody has found collusion at any level, it seems unlikely you would have an interview. The president did not commit to an interview. Repeated the word collusion eight times in 90 seconds. He used the phrase Hillary Clinton twit a quite a few times. Jon asked the question other the summer. There was a clear answer. Now we're back to will he or won't he? It appears the legal team is gearing up if for president to sit down with Robert Mueller's team? His team very much wants to sit down with president trump. They have a long list of questions for him. He says right now, there's no collusion. Do you think trump wants a sitdown or doesn't? I think he wants to. I think he's been eager to get his story out. I think his lawyers are very nervous about what happens in an V interview. Why they want to narrowly limit. There's ample reason. Reagan. Bush. Clinton obviously. Would you recommend that he do it? No. No. Ebb if he's innocent. And I kind of think he is. I'll go with the evidence. Even if he wants to tell the truth, he's so prone to boast ftness, to messing up the fact, I think they should resist it with ever fiber of their being. He could then get subpoenaed before a grand jury. Another possible big fight. Oprah 200. After last week's speech, president trump was asked about it. Can you beat Oprah, by the way? Yeah, I'll beat Oprah. Oprah would be a lot of fun. But I like her. I don't think she's going to run. I don't think she's going to run. He didn't seem happy with the question. It was reality TV. That was in the cabinet room meeting after all the 55 minutes. And they were throwing us out. I was like, one more question. One here many question. He was eager. Republicans are taking her very seriously. Very seriously. The possibility of an Oprah run. Who knows if she'll actually run? You're rolling your eyes. For two reasons. One, we're so far away from 2020 two, I hope and expect that this time around, Democrats are not going to have an early champion that's crowned but will have a wide-open primary. And lastly, I think Oprah had a very important message that she was trying to deliver about state of gender discrimination in her industry and in this country right now. And young women are leaning into that issue in ways that should inspire all of us. We should focus on that. I notice you and Jon said she would take the issue seriously. I don't think she would run. Trump con received of his run as a win-win. He would get more famous and his brand would be bigger. Oprah's brand can't be bigger. Trump has a hide like a rye nos rouse. No one has ever criticized Oprah. It was striking how quickly Democrats flocked to the idea. People on the INT Clinton campaign were very much, oh, I'm intrigued by this. Excited. Giddy, if you will. There were pitical hits in the briefing room when I pushed Sarah Sanders, I would love to be on Oprah's private jet. Her favorite things snuggy is under the chair. It's not serious until she gets a disparnling nickname from the president. Thank you all very much.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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