'This Week' Transcript 1-21-24: Gov. Doug Burgum, Quentin Fulks & Jon Finer

This is a rush transcript of "This Week" airing Sunday, January 21.

ByABC News
January 21, 2024, 9:01 AM

A rush transcript of "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" airing on Sunday, January 21, 2024 on ABC News is below. This copy may not be in its final form, may be updated and may contain minor transcription errors. For previous show transcripts, visit the "This Week" transcript archive.





DONALD TRUMP (R), FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT AND 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And she's not going to make it. She has no chance. She's got no way.

NIKKI HALEY (R), 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When he gets threatened, when he feels insecure, he starts lashing out.

RADDATZ: Donald Trump and Nikki Haley go after each other in New Hampshire.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We just really need a younger generation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nikki Haley does not stand a chance.

RADDATZ: As Ron DeSantis sets his sight on the next primary.

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL) 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm asking for your support when South Carolina votes.

RADDATZ: But after Trump's blowout victory in Iowa, can anyone stop him?

SEN. TIM SCOTT (R-SC): We need a president who will unite our country.

RADDATZ: And are Democrats ready for a rematch?

KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If it is Donald Trump, we've beat him before and we'll beat him again.

RADDATZ: This morning, it's your voice, your vote. Two days to the New Hampshire primary. Rachel Scott is live in the Granite State. We speak to Trump ally Governor Doug Burgum and Biden campaign official Quentin Fulks. Rick Klein breaks down the latest numbers, and our powerhouse round table weighs in.

Plus --


RADDATZ: The U.S. launches a sixth round of air strikes on Houthi targets in just ten days. With tensions soaring in the Middle East, Deputy National Security Adviser Jon Finer joins us as the White House tries to prevent a wider war.


ANNOUNCER: From ABC News, it’s THIS WEEK. Here now, Martha Raddatz.

Good morning and welcome to THIS WEEK.

We are now less than 48 hours from the first votes being cast in New Hampshire as former President Donald Trump looks to build on his commanding lead in the GOP race. Trump is feeding off his huge win in Iowa, where he beat his distant rivals by 30 points. And as he looks to lock down the nomination, Trump is piling on his closest competitor, Nikki Haley, who's hoping New Hampshire's independent streak can give her campaign new life.

But it all looks to be setting up a Trump/Biden rematch that many voters on both sides seem to dread, with President Biden making his case for a second term as he struggles with low approval ratings and continuing questions about his age.

We'll tackle it all this morning, and we begin in snowy, beautiful New Hampshire where the clock is ticking down as the candidates scramble for last-minute votes across the state. And that's where ABC’s Rachel Scott joins us now from Manchester.

Good morning, Rachel.

RACHEL SCOTT, ABC NEWS SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Martha, good morning to you. Here in New Hampshire, this is increasingly becoming a two-person race between Donald Trump and Nikki Haley. And the final stretch, the former South Carolina governor doing something she has largely avoided doing for months, criticizing Trump.


DONALD TRUMP (R), FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT AND 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And I believe that New Hampshire is going to speak very loudly and clearly.

SCOTT (voice over): Fueled by his landslide victory in Iowa, a confident Donald Trump touching down in New Hampshire, looking to close out the GOP race fast. Two days out from the primary, the former president taking direct aim at his closest rival, Nikki Haley.

TRUMP: I know her very well. She's not tough enough. She's not smart enough. And she wasn't respected enough. She cannot do this job.

SCOTT: He says if you’re the nominee, then Republicans are not only going to lose the White House, but they're going to lose races up and down the ballot. Your response?

NIKKI HALEY (R), 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I mean Trump says things. Americans aren't stupid to just believe what he says. The reality is, who lost the House for us? Who lost the Senate? Who lost the White House? Donald Trump, Donald Trump, Donald Trump.

SCOTT (voice over): Trump’s attacks against his own former U.N. ambassador have turned more incendiary by the day. From mocking her birth name, to falsely suggesting that Haley, an American citizen and daughter of legal immigrants, is not eligible to run for president. Those racist claims echoing birther conspiracy theories Trump once pushed against former President Barack Obama. Haley says, it's just proof she's getting to Trump.

HALEY: I know President Trump well. That's what he does when he feels threatened. That's what he does when he feels insecure.

SCOTT (voice over): And some Trump voters brushing off his rhetoric.

CAM WHALE, NEW HAMPSHIRE VOTER: I don't take that stuff really too seriously. I – it’s kind of part -- one part of his personality. I care more about actions than what he's saying.

SCOTT (voice over): Coming off a disappointing third place finish in Iowa, Haley is putting it all on the line here in New Hampshire. She's hoping that the state's large swath of independents will swing the state her way, cashing voters like Kathy Piazza from Alton. She voted for Trump in 2016, and Biden in 2020, but now she's leaning toward Haley.

KATHY PIAZZA, NEW HAMPSHIRE VOTER: It’s the chaos and the drama over the last, you know, eight years. I'm just so over that. I mean it’s time to move on to someone that has a younger perspective and fresh ideas. Someone that really can make change.

SCOTT (voice over): For months Haley has largely held off from attacking Trump. But with just days to go, a notable shift.

NIKKI HALEY (R), 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Do we really want to go into an election with two fellas that are going to be president in their 80s? We can't have someone else that we question whether they're mentally fit to do this.

SCOTT (voice over): It all might prove to be too little, too late.

SCOTT: Should you have gone after Trump harder?

HALEY: This was never about – it was about, how do you get the field smaller. We now have the field to where it’s a two-person race. Now that it's a two-person race, we're talking about the contrasts.

SCOTT (voice over): Haley was dealt a blow on Friday night when Tm Scott, the South Carolina Republican she appointed to the Senate, endorsed Trump, not her.

SEN. TIM SCOTT (R-SC): We need a president like Donald Trump.

SCOTT (voice over): So now Haley's team, which once predicted a landslide victory, is suddenly lowering expectations, hoping for a strong second place finish. And Florida Governor Ron DeSantis clearing the way, shifting his resources away from New Hampshire into South Carolina.

SCOTT: Governor DeSantis, standing here today, do you believe that you can defeat Donald Trump and become the Republican nominee?

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL), 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: As long as I'm -- as long as I'm in the hunt, that tells me that I have -- that I'm seeing a pathway. The minute I don't, then I'm not just going to do this for, you know, just for my health.


SCOTT (on camera): DeSantis has canceled several media interviews he had planned for today. His campaign says it's all a scheduling issue and says that he is moving forward with his campaign events over the course of the next few days. But he is trailing in this state behind Haley, and it's unclear if he will even be here as the results are coming in on Tuesday night, Martha.

RADDATZ: Thank you so much, Rachel.

Now for a look at the latest numbers coming out of New Hampshire. Political director Rick Klein is here with the breakdown.

Rick, Nikki Haley seemed to be closing in on Trump in recent weeks. Is that the case still?

RICK KLEIN, ABC NEWS POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Yes, Martha, the -- when Chris Christie dropped out of the race, it made a lot of people in Haley's orbit think she may actually be able to win the state of New Hampshire. And you saw things start to get really close. A wide race suddenly narrowing. There were a few polls that even had it inside single digits. But just in the last couple of days something else changed, Vivek Ramaswamy dropping out on caucus night. And you can see here, just in the last week, Nikki Haley’s numbers going up a little bit, Donald Trump's numbers going up even more than that. Right now that race solidly into double digits. Maybe more in the range of 14 or 15 points. Ron DeSantis, meanwhile, has faded in New Hampshire. He may not even get delegates out of New Hampshire if he doesn't get to 10 percent.

And here's why these early states matter. The map and the math just gets harder for any challenger from here. Right after the New Hampshire primary on Tuesday, the next one up is Nevada. Nikki Haley isn't even competing in those contests for delegates. Then comes her home state of South Carolina, which could be hugely impactful because both Trump and DeSantis are strong there.

Then you just have a couple of more scattered contests before the race essentially goes national. By March 5th, Super Tuesday, almost half of all the delegates will have been awarded. So, things happen really, really fast in this race. And if you don't break through in these early states, it gets harder and harder from there.

RADDATZ: And back to New Hampshire. Republicans hoping to take down Trump really are looking to New Hampshire as their best shot to do so given how many independent voters live there. How could those voters impact Nikki Haley’s bid in the state?

KLEIN: That’s precisely right, Martha. In the -- New Hampshire’s just different than Iowa because independents, undeclared, people that aren't affiliated with either party, they get to actually vote in a primary if they want to. And they do tend to do that. About 40 percent of New Hampshire voters are independents. And get this, in 2012, when Barack Obama was running for re-election, so the Democrats didn’t have a primary, 45 percent of the Republican primary electorate were actually these independents, or undeclared party affiliation voters. Those are the kind of numbers that Nikki Haley needs. And she may need more than that. And to get most of them to vote for her if she's going to be competitive against Trump.

And here's one big reason why. If you – if it’s just about Republicans, Donald Trump romps. He did it in Iowa and he does it in voter perceptions across a range of issues. We asked this question just right before the caucuses and then right after Iowa, who -- which candidate do you think is the best position to win in November? Before the caucuses, it was Trump, 68 percent of Republicans said he was the most electable candidate. Then after Iowa, 80 percent. So, if the race is about Republicans, Republicans, despite what the polls show about how competitive Nikki Haley would be against -- against Joe Biden, Republicans really think Donald Trump's got the best shot.

RADDATZ: And on Iowa, Rick, you said Trump rocked the voters, showed us on Monday just how strong a grip he has on them and – and the party.

KLEIN: Yes, this is striking to me because it's not just that Donald Trump won by a record-shattering 30 points in the caucuses. It's how much what he has said has taken hold inside the party.

This is from our entrance polls in Iowa. Two-thirds of Republican voters falsely believe that Joe Biden was not legitimately elected president of the United States. And a similar margin, about two-thirds believe that Donald Trump would be fit to serve as president even if he is convicted of a crime. That means that there were voters who voted against Donald Trump last week in Iowa who still believe he would be fit to serve if he were convicted.

RADDATZ: And that, Rick, is a stunning statistic. Our thanks to Rick.

Joining us now is North Dakota Governor, and former 2024 candidate, Doug Burgum, who has now endorsed Donald Trump.

Good morning to you, Governor. Thanks for joining us this morning.

You spent more than $12 million of your own money to run for president, saying you had the best chance of pulling the country together. You are now endorsing Donald Trump. So, you believe he has the best chance of pulling the country together?

GOV. DOUG BURGUM (R), NORTH DAKOTA & FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, Martha, I'm endorsing Donald Trump because I've had an opportunity to serve as governor under President Trump and under President Biden. President Trump and I were both elected on the same day back in November of 2016. I had endorsed him then. I endorsed him in 2020.

And as we know, during the time that President Trump was in office, I mean, we had peace and prosperity in America. And under President Biden, we’ve got chaos around the world.

You know this better than anyone. You’ve traveled more. You know the countries. But between the Middle East, Eastern Europe, what’s going on with China, the world is on fire and -- and our -- as -- when I was campaigning, we were running on three things, the economy, on energy policy and national security and how those three things are all interrelated.

And Joe Biden is taking us in the wrong direction on all of those, 180 degrees the wrong direction, and -- and not -- I'm confident that President Trump is -- he’s going to be right on the economy, right on energy policy, and right on national security.

RADDATZ: Let’s talk about something else that is very important. Free and fair elections are the heart of our democracy. You have said that Joe Biden won the 2020 election.

So, why would you support someone who falsely claims that the election was stolen over and over and over again?

BURGUM: Well, as you and I would both agree, free and fair elections are the foundation of our democracy. In states like North Dakota, we’ve got 100 percent confidence in that happening. But whether it’s 1960, the year 2000, 2016, there was -- there was concern raised by the -- you know, the Hillary Clinton campaign 2020.

This is something, as a country, that we’ve got to work hard to face (ph). And I think we’re --


RADDATZ: But, Governor -- but, Governor, you have -- you have said the election wasn’t stolen and you’re supporting someone who says it was.

BURGUM: Well, I -- I know that we’ve got -- certainly, we’ve got irregularities. When we went through COVID, and we had these mail-out ballots, that creates all kinds of opportunities for mischief. When you’re mailing out more ballots to a -- in a state than there are registered voters --


RADDATZ: Do you think the election was stolen now, sir?

BURGUM: -- you know, I think average American voters, that’s a problem.

RADDATZ: Sorry, do you think the election was stolen now? Now when you look back?

BURGUM: No, I'm not saying that. But I'm just saying we -- no, I'm not saying that. I'm saying that I think that we have to -- going forward, we look forward. We have to make sure that Americans have confidence in these elections because we know that when -- we know that the social media companies and the media companies have admitted that they suppressed stories leading into the November 2020 election, that they’ve admitted to all that.

And so, Americans lack confidence in this, and that’s why -- that’s why we’ve got to make sure going forward that we have confidence. Democracy doesn’t exist unless people can trust the outcome of an election.

RADDATZ: And I -- I want to talk about New Hampshire. It’s just days away. Donald Trump has taken to referring to his opponent Nikki Haley by her given name, a mangled version of that, Nimarata, the kind of thing he did with Barack Obama, using his middle name, Hussein. He’s also reported -- reposted false conspiracy theories, saying she is not eligible to run for president because her Indian immigrant parents were not yet American citizens. She was born in South Carolina.

Why do you think he is doing this?

BURGUM: Well, I just -- all I know is that I believe this election, the primary election is going to be over after Tuesday. President Trump is leading in all 50 states. We’ll be talking about --


RADDATZ: No, please answer the question, sir.

BURGUM: I think that’s the time --

RADDATZ: Answer the question about why you think Donald Trump is doing that.

BURGUM: Well -- I think it’s politics. You know, Joe Biden launched his campaign a couple weeks ago with a set of personal attacks on President Trump. He talked about -- President Trump, he talked about the lawfare that they’re mobilizing to try to slow him down as a candidacy.

He didn’t talk about violent crime in our cities. He didn’t talk about the open border, where we’ve got a massive invasion and now we’ve had more fentanyl deaths than four Vietnams in our country under Joe Biden the last three years. No, he talked about attacking his opponent. That’s politics around the world and it’s politics in America.

RADDATZ: So, do you think that’s the kind of politics that Donald Trump is using going after Nikki Haley’s heritage that will bring the country together?

BURGUM: I think that the – I mean you could ask me the question about, you know, what did Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris say the – you know, the vicious things they said about Joe Biden, even during debates nationally televised within that party. This is all in the norm inside of – for north – for politics in our country. But once we agree as parties, we get behind candidates. The Democrats got behind Biden in 2020. I'm confident Republicans are going to get behind President Trump because they’re concerned about the direction that this – the world – the world is going and the direction the United States is going.

RADDATZ: I – I just want to say something quickly here. The campaign has made a huge issue of 81-year-old President Trump – President Biden’s age and mental acuity. But take a listen here to this clip of Donald Trump, the 77-year-old, when he confuses Nikki Haley and Nancy Pelosi.


DONALD TRUMP (R), FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT AND 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: They never report the crowd on January 6th. You know, Nikki Haley – Nikki Haley – Nikki Haley – you know they – did you know they destroyed all of the information, all of the evidence, everything. Deleted and destroyed all of it. All of it. Because of lots of things, like Nikki Haley is in charge of security. We offered her 10,000 people.


RADDATZ: Your reaction to that?

BURGUM: Well, I – I've been on the campaign trail. And I know when you’re going around the clock it’s – it’s possible to, you know, to make – make – and on – say, use words that don’t fit into sentences. But I would say, you know, having been with the president last week in Iowa and in New Hampshire and watching him go for 20 hours a day, I know that he’s got – he’s got the strength, he’s got the experience to lead. And I think that if we’re going to have, you know, the gaffe tape, you know, run that this morning on Joe Biden, there wouldn’t be enough time on this show.

So, I think it’s a – again, this is the choice that America's going to have and – and right now I – focusing on the policy. The policy’s on the economy, energy, national security. The world was safer and more prosperous under – under President Trump.

And right now, the appeasement of Joe Biden, I mean, this looks like Neville Chamberlain's time, where the appeasement with Iran, I mean, funding Iran for – the terrorism that’s being funded by the Biden administration is putting Americans at risk around the world. And – and – and it’s a – whether it’s started with the failed withdrawal from Afghanistan, which you’re familiar with, you know, or our failed – our failed sanctions against Russia – we’ve turned Russia into China’s discount gas station and now, you know, Russia was the largest supplier of energy to China. And China – China’s importing 10 million barrels of oil a day. They’re the most dependent country in the world on –

RADDATZ: Governor –

BURGUM: – on energy and – and then here we're with a set of energy policies that are empowering our – our – our – our adversaries, Iran, Venezuela and Russia.

RADDATZ: Governor, we’re just – we’re just about out of time with you, but we thank you for your time this morning.

Up next, ABC’s Mary Bruce is on the campaign trail with Vice President Kamala Harris, and we’ll speak to a top official from the Biden 2024 campaign.

We’re back in just two minutes.


RADDATZ: The Biden team is hitting the campaign trail as the president faces low approval ratings and questions from voters on whether he's up for another term. So this week our chief White House correspondent Mary Bruce took those questions to Vice President Kamala Harris.




MARY BRUCE, ABC NEWS CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: At 81 years old already, and hoping for another four years, voter concern about President Joe Biden's age and fitness for office is growing.

We asked Vice President Kamala Harris about that when we spent the day with her in the first Democratic primary state of South Carolina. She brushed it off and defended her running mate's mental sharpness.

VICE PRESIDENT KAMALA HARRIS: I spend a lot of time with President Biden, be it in the Oval Office, in the Situation Room, and other places. He is extraordinarily smart. He has the ability to see around the corner in terms of what might be the challenges we face as a nation, or globally.

BRUCE: But it doesn't seem that that's getting out and resonating with Americans, with a lot of your supporters?

HARRIS: Well, I mean, listen. You've -- you're here with me in South Carolina. You saw, every room we went in, the numbers of people who are there, applauding quite loudly. They're there because they believe in what we're doing and they want to see us continue to do this work.

BRUCE: But some Republicans are trying to make the not-so-subtle case that Biden may not make it through the next four years, and that their real opponent in 2024 is the vice president.

FORMER GOV. NIKKI HALEY, (R) SOUTH CAROLINA & REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We cannot afford a President Kamala Harris. we won't survive it.

BRUCE: As Donald Trump barrels towards the GOP nomination, Harris has been ramping up her presence on the campaign trail, by our count visiting at least 18 states in just the last six months. She's taking a leading role on issues like voting rights and abortion.

HARRIS: In this year of our lord 2024, the government should not be telling women what to do with their bodies.

BRUCE: Both Biden and Harris face negative approval ratings, and though some recent battleground state polls show Harris actually outperforming Biden in hypothetical match-ups against Trump, both come up short to the former president. Harris, however, remains confident they will win this race.

HARRIS: If it is Donald Trump, we've beat him before, and we'll beat him again.

BRUCE: But that confidence has even some top Democrats concerned, urging the campaign to be more aggressive.

BRUCE: Why not go out and attack Donald Trump, go after his legal challenges? What are you guys waiting for?

HARRIS: Well, let me just tell you something. I am of the school that you either run without an opponent or you run scared.


HARRIS: I have learned that to be a fact, and that is the way that I feel about any election. So absolutely not. You can't take anything for granted. And we have a duty, a responsibility, to earn this re-elect.

BRUCE: Polling shows Biden and Harris are struggling to sell their accomplishments to the American people. Congressman Jim Clyburn, whose support in South Carolina resuscitated Biden's 2020 campaign, says he's especially concerned about their standing with black voters.

BRUCE: How concerned are you that this key constituency may sit this one out?

HARRIS: You got to earn the votes. And the votes are going to be earned based on, one, in a re-elect, have you actually responded to the needs of the community? We have a responsibility to communicate. We've done really good work. Our challenge will be to let people know who brung it to them.


RADDATZ: Our thanks to Mary for that. We're joined now by Biden principal deputy campaign manager Quentin Fulks.

Welcome to "This Week," sir.

I know you saw the gaffe by Donald Trump, and you heard Governor Burgum’s response. But age and mental acuity are a big concern with President Biden among voters. Our recent poll with Ipsos found 69 percent of those polled do not think the president has the mental sharpness to be president. That is up from 43 percent in May of 2020.

I know these are polls, not votes. But how do you get past this issue?

QUENTIN FULKS, BIDEN PRINCIPAL DEPUTY CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Well, first of all, thank you for having me on this morning, Martha. It’s great to be with you.

Look, when it comes to the president’s age, we have a simple formula for that, and that’s results. You know, age equals wisdom equals results and experience. And President Biden because of his age has come to the table and brought people together from both sides of the aisle to deliver results for the American people where there’d be historic bipartisan infrastructure bill, whether it has been bringing people to the table, the job creation, making sure that inflation is down -- the president has been delivering results.

And our best answer to this is to continue to communicate about the things that people care about, Americans care about.

This election is not going to be about age. This election is about freedom and democracy and the fact that Democrats under President Biden’s leadership believes that people deserve more freedom, not less, and Republicans want to roll that back and rip it away.

RADDATZ: Whether you believe the polling or not, and surely, you have polling of your own about age, that is what your opponents are hammering about President Biden. Donald Trump talks about it constantly.

FULKS: Well, look, I think that our opponents are hammering that because they have no platform and nothing else to think about. I’m sure it’s much easier for them to talk about age than it is to talk about the fact that they want to rip away a woman’s right to choose or take away reproductive freedom from a third of women across this country that are living under national abortion ban because of Donald Trump. I’m sure he’d much rather talk about anything except for that.

I’m sure, it’s, you know, not good for them to talk about an economy that’s booming with job creation up, consumer sentiment up, inflation going down. It’s much easier for them to talk about age than it is to talk about those things. And so, they’re going to do anything and say anything to avoid talking about what’s really at stake.

Donald Trump has come out of the gate saying that he pledges to be a dictator on day one, bragging about the fact that he ripped away a woman’s right to choose and took away her reproductive freedom. This election is about freedom and democracy and our campaign is going to stay focused on taking that case directly to American voters.

While Republicans continue to try to distract from the fact that they have no platform, their vision for America is one that makes it less safe, and less personal freedom from individuals all across this country, and, of course -- so, of course, they’re going to do anything they can to avoid talking about those issues.

RADDATZ: Well, Mr. Fulks, one of the things you have been talking about and the Biden campaign, you have said we could expect him to restore abortion rights guaranteed by Roe, ban assault weapons, cap the price of insulin for everyone, and forgive billions more in student loan debt.

But he’s been trying to do that this term, it has not happened. How can you possibly think it will in the second term?

FULKS: Well, you know, look, I would say that the president has forgiven $132 billion in student loans debt for millions of Americans and he has capped the cost of insulin.

Look, when the president said that he wants to finish the job, these are the things that he talks about.


RADDATZ: Just for Medicare recipients.

FULKS: And establishing office -- he’s established an office for gun violence prevention and we have to do more to ban assault weapons while Republicans under Donald Trump continue to say that we need thoughts and prayers when kids are being gunned down in schools.

And so, this is a continuation of work that the president has already been doing and we’re going to continue to push to do more of that and communicate that to voters.

RADDATZ: Just a reminder, you’d need 60 Senate votes for abortion access and an assault ban weapon -- assault weapons ban.

Let’s move on. Democrat Dean Phillips in Minnesota, the Minnesota congressman who is running a primary challenge to President Biden, said for the first time, he would consider running on the No Labels ticket.

Are you concerned about that, that it would take away votes from President Biden?

FULKS: Look, Martha, at the end of the day, there’s only going to be two parties that have an ability to get to 270 electoral votes, and that’s going to be Joe Biden as a Democratic nominee and whoever emerges from the extreme Republican primary that’s going on right now.

So, you know, look, we’re going to stay focused on the issues and make this about freedom and democracy. The Americans that have the most at stake understand that and they’re not going to be fooled by anything else.

There are only two options of who’s going to be the president of the United States and that’s either Joe Biden or whoever the Republicans put forth, and our campaign is going to continue to make sure that we’re delivering a message to draw that contrast about what this election is all about, and that’s restoring democracy and protecting freedoms from millions of Americans across this country.

RADDATZ: Recent polls show the campaign is underperforming with Black voters compared to 2020 exit poll.

South Carolina Congressman Jim Clyburn has said he is very concerned about this. Vice President Harris -- I know you just saw that -- told Mary the campaign has responded to the Black community’s needs.

But if that’s the case, why has support for President Biden dipped?

FULKS: Well, I think what a lot of people are expressing is urgency. They sense a sense of urgency because of the threat that Republicans posed to, you know, America right now and that’s precisely why the president and the vice president are running for reelection to make sure that that doesn’t happen.

When it comes to African American voters, I want to be very clear about this, that no administration has done as much for the African American community as President Biden and Vice President Harris. We’re talking about Black wealth being up 60 percent, the racial wealth gap being the lowest that it’s ever been in recorded history.

We have to continue to take this message directly to African-American voters. And our campaign has done that we've come out of the gate with very large buys targeted at African-American voters organizing in their communities to send a clear signal that one, we don't take them for granted, two, we recognize that we need to earn their support in this campaign and communicate with them all the ways in which this administration has done all the work that this administration has done to make their lives better. And that has to also be in juxtaposition to the contrast of what the other Republicans are putting forward.

There is going to be a choice in this election. And we have the choice about all the things that I just laid out that President Biden and Vice President Harris have done for the African-American community, and what's on the Republican side, which is ripping away health care, pledging to repeal the ACA that would drive African-American uninsured rates through the roof.

RADDATZ: And Mr. Fulks --

FULKS: And so that's the choice that African American voters are going to have.

RADDATZ: We're just about out of time. But I thank you very much for that. We'll see you again.

We'll have much more on the 2024 race with the Powerhouse Roundtable. But up next, a top White House National Security Official responds to concerns about escalating conflict in the Middle East.



SAMY ZYARA, ABC NEWS GAZA-BASED PRODUCER (on-camera): We are in the soup kitchen here in Rafah, which thousand people they are coming to take the food from here. We met Maryam (ph) (INAUDIBLE). She is pregnant. And she has four kids. She used to walk one kilometer to get the food every day. Maryam (ph) she's really frustrated. The situation it's really catastrophe the people they are (INAUDIBLE).


RADDATZ: That was ABC News Gaza-based producer, Samy Zyara reporting on the dire humanitarian situation in Gaza. It's just one of the challenges facing the Biden administration as concerns about escalating conflict throughout the region grow.

Here to discuss it all is White House Deputy National Security Adviser Jon Finer. Great to have you here this morning, Mr. Finer.

I want to start with this very serious attack in Iraq yesterday, ballistic missiles, rockets fired at al-Assad Air Base, injuring several Americans, possible traumatic brain injury. This follows an attack on Christmas day, where we had a very serious injury. What can you tell us about it this morning?

JON FINER, WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Well, you’re right, Martha, it was a very serious attack using a capability of ballistic missiles that pose a genuine threat. Through the skill of U.S. forces, many if not most of those missiles were shot down before they impacted the base, but some of them got through. And the United States has demonstrated in the past, when these attacks have – have taken place in Iraq and Syria that we are going to respond. When we deem it’s necessary to reestablish and try to establish deterrence in these situations and to hold these groups accountable that continue to attack us.

I'm not going to get ahead of any decisions the president may make, but you can be sure that we are taking this extremely seriously and we’ll have more to say about it soon.

RADDATZ: We – we’ve got Yemen as well, where there are retaliatory strikes. But it goes to the point that they strike, we strike back, they strike harder, we strike harder. So, look at Yemen in this vital shipping lane. Even the president said it’s obvious the Houthis have not stopped their attacks on – on ships, including U.S. ships. So – so where does this end? It’s in this stage of tit for tat.

FINER: I guess I’d say a few things about what’s happening in Yemen. One, these commercial vessels have every right under international law to apply the sea lanes that go around the Arabian Peninsula in the Red Sea and elsewhere. And the United States, and a coalition of our maritime partners, have established a presence in that region to try to safeguard their ability to do just that. This is not an attack just on the United States. This is an attack on the entire global economy and – and the world is standing up and saying they won’t tolerate that.

In terms of how this is playing out, I think one thing that’s important to keep in mind is deterrence is not a light switch. It requires a pattern and a practice of activity over time and can’t be accessed based on a snapshot of what’s happening at any given moment.

But the purposes here go well beyond deterrence. We are also seeking to degrade the Houthis ability to continue launching these attacks. They have stockpiles of advanced weapons provided to them in many cases, or enabled to them in many cases by Iran. And we are taking down – taking out these stockpiles so that they will not be able to conduct as many attacks over time. That will take time to play out.

But our approach is also diplomatic. We’ve imposed sanctions on the Houthis. We have gotten dozens of counties to issue statements condemning their attacks. We’ve gotten a statement from the U.N. Security Council resolution condemning these attacks and asserting the right to self-defense. And we are going to stay on top of this until/unless they stop.

RADDATZ: But – but you – you mentioned Iran's role in these conflicts. Iran's foreign minister said the following on Wednesday, “the security of the Red Sea is tied to the developments in Gaza, and everyone will suffer if Israel's crimes in Gaza do not stop. All the resistance fronts will remain active.” This could take a very long time.

What is your decision making when you are not going after Iran directly?

FINER: First of all, I’d say we totally reject the justification and the rationale that because there is a conflict going on between Israel and Hamas in Gaza that entitles a group to take actions, military actions, against the entire global economy, against shippers, frankly, from countries that have nothing to do with that conflict, who are traveling through the Red Sea and the Arabian Sea and other places. That is totally illegitimate under international law, and – and we stand wholly against it, as do our partners.

Beyond that, we’ve said that Iran has been complicit and is involved in any number of these conflicts. We’ve said they were broadly complicit in the attack that Hamas perpetrated against Israel on October 7th, even if they were not directly aware of it. You’ll find that they’re obviously strong supporters –

RADDATZ: Right. So – so why not allow military action?

FINER: They’re, obviously, strong supporters of Hezbollah in – in – in Lebanon, which is also waging attacks against Israel, and they support the Houthis and the Shia militia groups that are attacking us in Iraq and Syria. We have held Iran responsible for this in a number of ways. First and foremost we have taken military action against sites in Iraq and Syria that are also tied to the IRGC, which supports these militias. We have said quite clearly that we hold Iran responsible for the groups, the proxies that – that it supports, and that it provides weapons to.

Beyond that, I'm not going to sit here and say we are going to take this or that action ahead of decision making, but we have been quite clear, and we have been quite willing to take action to hold Iran responsible for these attacks in the past.

RADDATZ: And I want to turn to Israel, and we just have about a minute left here, but we cannot forget the horrendous attack on the Israelis, but you saw Samy there in the beginning. Look at the response. People are starving. More than 20,000 people have died. There’s devastating effects. You have said you had concerns about the way Israelis are conducting this war in the past and hoped things changed.

Have things changed, and what will you do about it?

First of all, Martha, you're -- you're absolutely right that we have stood up for Israel's right to take defensive actions against Hamas so that this threat cannot be perpetrated against them again. But we've also been quite clear that the way in which Israel conducts this conflict is of great concern to us.

We have seen in recent days and weeks a -- the beginning of a shift in a phase of the conflict that we have been calling for, where we would like Israel to focus more on high-value targets, on Hamas leadership, and we have seen them start to do that. We think that has to continue to take place over the course of the weeks and days ahead.

But we have also been quite clear that there needs to be more humanitarian assistance going into Gaza. They have taken some steps that have been constructive, opening a crossing from Israel into Gaza directly, through Kerem Shalom. They have announced in recent days that they're going to allow flour to be delivered to an Israeli port in Ashdod and then brought into Gaza.

These are small but consequential steps, but they are also not enough. And so we're going to continue to put the pressure on and continue to try to work, day in, day out, in excruciating detail, to make sure that the humanitarian assistance in Gaza is improved, as this conflict shifts to a different phase.

RADDATZ: OK. Thank you so much for joining us. So much more needs to be done.

The powerhouse roundtable is up next. We'll be right back.


RADDATZ: A live look there at Manchester, New Hampshire. Under 48 hours to the New Hampshire primary, so let's bring in our Powerhouse Round Table, Former DNC Chair Donna Brazile, Former Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, Politico Playbook Co-Author Rachael Bade, and "Washington Post" White House Bureau Chief Toluse Olorunnipa. Welcome to all of you. It's great to have you here for the first time.

A quick lightning round before we return to New Hampshire. I'm going to start with you, governor, as you looked at Iowa.

LARRY HOGAN, (R-MD) FORMER GOVERNOR: Well, you know, look, Iowa is not like the rest of the country and for the past 24 years, the winner of the Iowa caucus has not been the nominee. But it was a big win for Trump. I think it was end of the line for DeSantis, and I think New Hampshire is going to be a lot more indicative of what's going to happen with the rest of the race.

RADDATZ: Toluse?

TOLUSE OLORUNNIPA, WASHINGTON POST WHITE HOUSE BUREAU CHIEF: One of the big bumps that Trump got of Iowa was this electability number that we saw in those polls. More Republican voters think he's going to win in November and that's what he needs. If he wins in New Hampshire, that will improve his ability to show voters that he is electable, that he can beat Joe Biden in November, that he can bring the party together (inaudible).

RADDATZ: Momentum, momentum, momentum.


RACHAEL BADE, POLITICO PLAYBOOK CO-AUTHOR & ABC NEWS CONTRIBUTING POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. My takeaway is that this primary is over. I mean the record there was that in a contested election, you know, Republicans ran away with the win by, what, 12 points? And he won by 30? Haley and DeSantis are still sniping at each other. DeSantis isn't out of the race. It's -- I mean, when I was out there, it really felt like this thing was baked. The turkey was fully baked.




BRAZILE: We're far from over. The voters in New Hampshire always like to give their own stamp of approval. That said, over 6 in 10 voters in Iowa were over 50 years of age. So they braved the cold. I mean that is enthusiasm. I know I'm over 50. God help us, if I had to brave minus 0 to get out and vote for Donald Trump, but I also believe what we saw in Iowa, we might also witness in New Hampshire. The enthusiasm gap is huge for Donald Trump.

RADDATZ: Let's look at the latest poll. CNN just released with the University of New Hampshire and those numbers are pretty darn strong for Donald Trump. 50 percent for Trump, 39 percent for Haley, 6 percent for DeSantis. What do you see in there, Donna?

BRAZILE: Well, I see, again, enthusiasm. He's winning college-educated and non-college-educated. I mean, when you win 98 of 99 counties in Iowa, that tells me you have momentum. His voter are going to stick with him no matter how many convictions, how many court appearances, Donald Trump is the leader of a mass movement that continues to grow in this country. Now, we all have to come to the reality, this is a movement. This is not a candidate who's basically the standard bearer for the Republican Party; he is leading a movement.

RADDATZ: And Rachael, what does all of this say for Nikki Haley? She has had 39 percent. She wanted to win that race; we'll see how that plays out. Tim Scott endorsement --

BRAZILE: -- standard bearer for the Republican Party. He is leading a movement.

RADDATZ: And Rachel, what is all of this say for Nikki Haley. She's -- she's had 39 percent She wanted to win that race. We'll see how that plays out. Tim Scott endorsement, not a great week for her.

BADE: Yes, fellow South Carolinian sort of jabbing at Haley thereby endorsing Trump. I mean, look, it's really hard to see her path right now. Everybody says that people right off Nikki Haley. And she often will come, you know, from behind and surprise people. And she has done that in this race. She's done it in the past. But her window here is increasingly closing. I mean, with DeSantis still in the race. You know, her folks are now trying to say that she doesn't have to win New Hampshire, she only has to come in second. But even if she wins in New Hampshire.

You know, this is a totally different electorate than a lot of the rest of the country. Forty percent of folks in New Hampshire have four-year college degrees, she traditionally does well, with those types of voters, that's not going to be the case elsewhere. It's also not going to be the case elsewhere, that independent voters can come out and actually support her in this primary. So even if she does well there, you know, it still seems like a long shot for her. And that's just the reality on the ground.

RADDATZ: And Toluse, what do you see when you look at New Hampshire, especially Nikki Haley?

TOLUSE OLORUNNIPA, WASHINGTON POST WHITE HOUSE BUREAU CHIEF: Well, this is Nikki Haley's last best chance to throw a punch at Donald Trump. And we've seen her pulling a lot of those punches. Now she has decided to talk about his age, talk about his mental acuity, talk about the debt that he ran up. But she has not gone for the jugular, the way that Donald Trump goes after his opponents. And so, this is her chance to do that she's not going to have that chance if she doesn't win in New Hampshire.

And so, it's been a little surprising to see that she has not been as strong against Trump, as you might expect for someone having their last chance to take down the front runner in the race.

RADDATZ: And Governor, let's talk about the Republican race. You have done everything your strategy is basically anybody but Trump.

LARRY HOGAN, (R) FORMER MARYLAND GOVERNOR: Well, let me just jump in here with the rest of the group on New Hampshire give a little contrary, I mean, obviously, it's looking very good for Donald Trump. But New Hampshire sometimes really surprises us. That's the place where things happen that you don't expect to happen. Look at Bill Clinton. Look at John McCain, and the fact that she's only down 11 with a lot of momentum. It's not going to look anything at all, like Iowa.

And I think what you're going to see is a lot of independents. There's no Democratic primary, independents that want to stop Donald Trump. This is the last line of defense. Republicans, the 50 percent of Republicans that don't like Trump. Tuesday's their day, so she got a couple more days. Let's -- let's -- let's see what plays out. But it's not it's not impossible for her. If she over performs expectations, I think she rolls into South Carolina with a lot of momentum.

RADDATZ: And what's the path after South Carolina?

HOGAN: Well, I think you know --

RADDATZ: I mean that's a rough race for her.


HOGAN: But, you know, things the whole narrative can change. I think if she really comes out strong in New Hampshire, when people aren't expecting her to, she goes home and does well in South Carolina. We'll be talking about an entirely different race.

BRAZILE: But Reagan lost in Iowa in 1980, he came back, Hillary Clinton lost in Iowa in '26 (ph) -- in 2008. She came back in New Hampshire. But to come back in a state like New Hampshire, you have to actually go up and work every county, every town. And she done that. Her -- and look, I understand her father was ill and she went home to check on him. And I hope he's doing better.

But the fact is, you don't even see a John McCain-like movement by Nikki Haley, that Governor, the Governor Sununu he's done a fantastic job. He got fire in his belly. You don't see how far. So, where's she going?

HOGAN: Yes, I think the people in New Hampshire take their vote very seriously. They always make up their mind at the last moment. And so, you know, it's --


RADDATZ: And let's not forget, number three there. There are three people in this race.

HOGAN: Not really.

RADDATZ: (INAUDIBLE) supposedly.


HOGAN: I think the DeSantis campaign ended in Iowa.


HOGAN: It's a two-person race.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's taking a break.

RADDATZ: Is DeSantis last -- is he gone this week?

OLORUNNIPA: It's very possible. We saw him cancel a couple of media interviews, it's very possible that he looks at the results. And --

RADDATZ: People really don't do that.

OLORUNNIPA: Right. And he has been saying that his biggest regret was not doing more media. And so, there's a very strong chance that he looks at the results in New Hampshire and decides that this is his chance to get out of the race and preserve his options for 2028 and beyond.

RADDATZ: And that's what he looks like he's doing, he's looking --

HOGAN: All the --

RADDATZ: -- way far beyond 2024. At this point, looking towards 2028.

BADE: Yes, I mean --

HOGAN: And DeSantis staying in the race actually helps Trump because if he gets out those votes.

BADE: (INAUDIBLE) that's absolutely, that's absolutely right. It's interesting. I was in Iowa last week, and I asked a lot of Trump supporters who about DeSantis. Has he been ruining his chances for 2028 by staying in this race? A lot of them told me yes, that they used to like him, and they no longer like him because of the campaign that he's run.

But no, look, I mean, I was at his election night party. We were talking about this in the green room. And it felt like there was just a total break in reality. I mean, the DeSantis campaign, all his allies, they were cheering, he had visited 99 counties.


BADE: Not won a single one. And yet they were cheering like they had won this great victory. It just felt like there -- it's really hard to see his path. If you can't do well in Iowa, then where is he going to do (INAUDIBLE) --

HOGAN: And after months of guaranteeing a victory there.

BADE: Exactly.


HOGAN: He was a very distant second place.

BRAZILE: But, Martha, I think it needs to be said that the WMUR which is in every household in New Hampshire --

RADDATZ: -- in New Hampshire.

BRAZILE: I've lived in New Hampshire at times (ph).

RADDATZ: Our great (ph) affiliate.

BRAZILE: A great affiliate. The fact that Nikki Haley turned that debate down, I mean she's received so much momentum from participating in these debates. Looking like (inaudible). She turns it down and you know what? She has been flat-lined. I don't see a path for her.

HOGAN: I kind of disagree. She was trying to make it a two-person race. Trump wouldn't come. Why should you debate with the person that's at 5 percent?

RADDATZ: And any guarantee that she would do better after a debate? Do you think she made the right choice?

OLORUNNIPA: It's hard to see that. She does need a moment and she hasn't had a moment. We've seen other candidate in -- before New Hampshire, have a moment. Hillary Clinton having her moment --


OLORUNNIPA: -- we didn't see that from Nikki Haley.

BRAZILE: (Inaudible).

OLORUNNIPA: Don't forget, Bill Clinton came in second place and he was the comeback kid.


BRAZILE: And when you are not on TV...

BRAZILE: She's no Bill Clinton.

BADE: Literally, all of our momentum that we have seen in the polls has come from good debate performances. So I was surprised by her turning it down.

RADDATZ: We were all very surprised by that --

BADE: Yes.


RADDATZ: -- and disappointed as well. You heard Rick Klein talk about this before, but according to our entrance polls from Iowa, 65 percent of GOP voters think that -- they don't think President Biden legitimately won the presidency. You heard Governor Burgum dance around that even though he says it was not stolen. What does the Republican Party look like as if -- if Donald Trump goes ahead as the nominee?

HOGAN: Well, it's very concerning. I mean it's just hard to fathom that that many people could be completely wrong, and after just looking at the cold hard facts, but Trump has been very effectively, you know, hammering this message for a long time and it's sinking in. However, it's only working with that base of Trump voters in the Republican primary. It's not going to be an effective argument in the general election.

RADDATZ: But it's --

HOGAN: Swing voters are not buying that argument.

RADDATZ: -- a very, very different Republican Party. And we have lots and lots to talk about in the coming months and we will have all eyes on New Hampshire this week. And we'll be right back.


RADDATZ: And that's all for us today. Thanks for sharing part of your Sunday with us. Be sure to tune into "ABC News Live," Tuesday night, starting at 7:00 p.m. Eastern for special coverage of the New Hampshire primary results. And have a great day.