'This Week' Transcript 7-19-20: Rep. Karen Bass, Rep. Val Demings, Gov. Asa Hutchinson, Gov. Jared Polis, Rep. Donna Shalala

This is a rush transcript of "This Week" airing Sunday, July 19.

ByABC News
July 19, 2020, 9:04 AM

A rush transcript of "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" airing on Sunday, July 19, 2020 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.

ANNOUNCER: "This Week With George Stephanopoulos" starts right now.


REP. JOHN LEWIS (D-GA): We're one people. We're one family.




LEWIS: We don't want our freedom gradually, but we want to be free now.



RADDATZ: A civil rights icon known as the conscience of Congress.


LEWIS: Where is the heart of this body? Where is our soul?


RADDATZ: This morning, we honor his life, his legacy, and how he wanted to be remembered, in his own words.

And a record-breaking surge.


GOV. KAY IVEY (R-AL): The numbers just do not lie.


RADDATZ: A returning nightmare, long lines for coronavirus testing, long waits for results once again.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Taking anywhere up to eight days.


RADDATZ: Hospitals pushed to the brink again.


QUESTION: And that breaking point is close?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's very close.


RADDATZ: Schools and teachers caught in the middle.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am a teacher, and I don't want to die.


RADDATZ: This morning, a bipartisan look at this crisis with Governors Jared Polis and Asa Hutchinson, Representative Donna Shalala from hard-hit Florida.

Plus: Trouble for Trump? The latest from our brand-new ABC News/"Washington Post" poll, and analysis from our powerhouse roundtable.

ANNOUNCER: From ABC News, it's "This Week."

Here now, co-anchor Martha Raddatz.

RADDATZ: Good morning, and welcome to "This Week."

The coronavirus crisis is growing even more dire, cases increasing in more than 35 states. And we will dive into all of that.

But we begin by honoring John Lewis, who has died at the age of 80 after battling pancreatic cancer.

This is the scene this morning at the John Lewis mural, turned memorial, in Atlanta, and, in Washington, the flag over the Capitol flying at half-staff.

Lewis was a towering figure in the fight in civil rights, a moral compass whose message and life's work has left an indelible mark on our nation. He worked alongside Martin Luther King Jr., chaired the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.

In Selma, he was beaten at the hands of a state trooper on what's known as Bloody Sunday. And he was the last surviving speaker to address the March on Washington in 1963.

But his legacy will live on, his voice amplified as America reckons with racism.

One of his last public appearances, just last month, visiting the Black Lives Matter mural steps from the White House, the site of so many protests, amid an ongoing massive movement for racial quality.

His message in the aftermath of George Floyd's killing: "Just as people of all faiths and no faiths and all backgrounds, creeds and colors banded together decades ago to fight for equality and justice in a peaceful, orderly, nonviolent fashion, we must do so again."

Representatives Karen Bass, chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, and Val Demings, longtime colleagues of John Lewis, join me now with more.

And, Congresswoman Bass, I would like to start with you.

As soon as you heard the news, you tweeted a clip of an event you did two years ago with Congressman Lewis where he talked about how he wants to be remembered.

Let's listen.


QUESTION: What do you see as your legacy?

LEWIS: I have said to young people and people that aren't so young, I just tried to help out, just tried to help out.


RADDATZ: "Just tried to help out." It's such an incredible example of his humility.

Tell us what else his legacy means to you.

REP. KAREN BASS (D-CA): Oh, well, you know, one of the greatest honors of serving in Congress was that I had the possibility of serving with him.

And I think his legacy to our country is that he devoted his life to fighting for justice, fighting for justice and being a moral compass. You know, I think one of the best ways that we could honor him is to make sure that the Voting Rights Act passed that is sitting over in the Senate and has been there for over 200 -- 200 days.

So, I think that he just taught us so many lessons in that regard. And he's going to be so sorely missed.

That day, he was at an organization that I started. I wanted him to meet two generations of young people that he influenced. And I wanted them to have an opportunity to tell him what he meant to them. So, it was a memorable day for me.

RADDATZ: And I'm sure it was.

You have also spoken about how he insisted that you just call him John, not Mr. Lewis or Congressman Lewis.

Can you tell us more about his personality, his levity, and how you saw it shape his work?

BASS: Absolutely. You know, he's such a calm figure, but a calm figure that was rock solid. And so, yes, he said to me, Karen, would you please just call me John? And I said, no, Mr. Lewis, I'm never going to call you John. You are just an icon.

The nation lost an icon. That House lost the most respected member of the House of Representatives. And the Congressional Black Caucus lost a member of our family.

RADDATZ: I do want to ask you about one of your tweets. You called on President Trump to stay silent about Lewis' death...

BASS: Yes.

RADDATZ: ... saying please say nothing, please don't comment. Hours later, President Trump did tweet condolences for Lewis and his family, but it's no secret that John Lewis and Trump had an adversarial relationship. What's your hope for how the congressman will be honored in this time of political and racial division?

BASS: Well, I know he will be honored properly, again, because he was the most respected member of the House, respected by the Senate, respected by both parties. I remember one time when one of my Republican colleagues put an amendment forward that was going to cut money for voting rights enforcement. And Mr. Lewis was in his office, heard about it, ran on the floor, gave a speech. That Republican member publicly apologized and withdrew his amendment.

My concern -- and I'm glad that the president's tweet was appropriate after mine -- but I think that we need to have the flags at half-mast until he is laid to rest. And I believe that his legacy will live on.

Now, all of us, what we have to do is live up to his legacy. We need to continue that fight for social justice. And again, the first thing we need to do is to pass the Voting Rights Act and get it signed, because we're very concerned about the election coming up and voter suppression, and the fact that people are going to have to vote in dangerous conditions. They need to be able to vote from home.

And I know that if he was still with us, he would be leading that fight.

RADDATZ: And thanks so much for that.

And, Congressman Demings, I want to turn to you. You shared some very touching tweets about your time in Congress on Twitter, but I'd like to ask you about what his work meant to you before that. Of course, another civil rights leader died this week, as well, Reverend C.T. Vivian.

You grew up in the segregated South in the '60s and segregated schools. You were really quite young on Bloody Sunday, March 7, 1965, when Lewis was among the civil rights leaders who marched from Montgomery to Selma, Alabama. But what's your first memory of hearing about him, understanding what he was standing up for?

DEMINGS: Well, Martha, first of all, let me say -- let me express my condolences again to his family and, really, quite frankly, to our nation, because it really feels like a part of America died on Friday. John Lewis was larger than life. I don't think I've ever really met anybody like him. I was in awe of him as a young child growing up in the '60s. My parents were very tuned in. But I was also in awe of him until the day he died. He was powerful. He was larger than life. He was beloved. But the thing I remember so much about him is that he was so humble.

And I was just listening to Chairwoman Bass describe him. I, too, had those encounters with Mr. John Lewis, where every time I saw him on the floor, I would go up to him and say, "Hello, Mr. John Lewis." And he would say, "Well, hello, young lady." That part I really appreciated. But he'd say, "Hello, young lady. Please call me John." And I would say, "OK, Mr. John Lewis." He just made everybody feel like they were the only person in the room that mattered.

I had an opportunity to go on one of the Faith in Politics trips with him. I took my niece. And I remember him spending time with my niece like she was the only person in the room. But walking across the Edmund Pettus Bridge with John Lewis -- and I remember getting to the other side, and especially as a former law enforcement officer, and thinking about Bloody Sunday and how that day, John Lewis and others were basically tortured and beaten, but on this Sunday, we walked across, and the troopers were there -- very diverse group of troopers, I might add -- were there to welcome us and to make sure that we were OK.

And so that is a direct result, Martha, because of John Lewis dedicating his life to social justice and righting wrongs and making sure that we see more firsts in this country. And we owe him a debt of gratitude.

I just -- it will never be the same in the House of Representatives without John Lewis.

MARTHA RADDATZ, ABC NEWS HOST: But his influence remains. And I just want to go back to that, one of his last public images was on the Black Lives Matter mural here in Washington, D.C. How do you think his legacy will impact how history will see the current push for equality? What would you tell young people?

DEMINGS: John Lewis loved the young protestors. And, you know, demonstrated by his actions, he would always stop and take time to interact with them wherever they were and wherever he was. And so his legacy -- he sees it demonstrated every day in the protestors who are out there in all 50 states.

John Lewis has left us a great roadmap. And if we can continue to be half of the servant fighting for social justice that John Lewis was, then we're going to be OK. We have to continue to fight and finish the work, amazing work that Mr. John Lewis started in this country.

RADDATZ: Thank you so much, Representative Demings and Representative Bass. We really appreciate your time this morning and those wonderful memories.

We'll be right back with the very latest on the coronavirus pandemic and two governors working on solutions to get the virus under control.



DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NIAID: This is unprecedented in what it is. You know, one thinks about the worst nightmare of a infectious disease person who's interested in global health and outbreaks, and here it is, it's happened, you know, your worst nightmare, the perfect storm.

This is a really serious problem. It is truly historic. We haven't even begun to see the end of it yet.


MARTHA RADDATZ, ABC NEWS "THIS WEEK" CO-ANCHOR: More than 65,000 new coronavirus cases were reported Saturday as the U.S. approaches half a million new cases of COVID-19 each week. Those sobering numbers are presenting real hurdles for families concerned about getting back to school safely in the fall, for people waiting hours in long testing lines like these, and in many cases waiting days or weeks for results. The slow turnaround crippling a critical response tool, contact tracing.

We'll talk to two governors for a bipartisan discussion on how they're battling the virus in the absence of clear federal leadership.

But we begin in Florida, where there are more than 330,000 cases this morning and more than 40 hospitals with no available ICU beds.

Representative Donna Shalala joins me now from Miami.

And good morning, Congresswoman Shalala.

Florida is the epicenter of this pandemic, with record-breaking numbers. Just how bad is the situation in your district and in your state?

REP. DONNA SHALALA (D-FL): It's terrible. We have community spread, which means the virus is out of control. The lack of leadership in the White House and in our governor's office, they simply have not hit this with a hammer, which is what we needed to do, and starve the virus. They opened too soon. And they misunderstand what you need to do, or they understand it and they're not willing to do it.

Next week the Kaiser Family Foundation will report for the hotspot states that it's seniors, again, in nursing homes, and young people now. In my district, it's low-income minorities, Hispanics and African-Americans, who were forced to go back to work for economic reasons and because their employers demanded they go back to work. And they live in multigenerational situations, in small quarters, and the disease simply spread in those areas.

So it's the working poor, it's seniors, it's now young people, and it's totally out of control. We need to close down in Florida.

We've asked the governor to do that. And we've even asked him to do the simplest thing, and that is to require masks for everyone. He has not done that. Luckily, our mayors in South Florida have done that. But that's just a small piece because this disease doesn't know what county or what city it's in.

RADDATZ: Well -- well, with all those alarming numbers, I want to ask about hospitals. On Friday, Florida announced over 11,500 new coronavirus cases and a growing number of hospitals with those dwindling ICU bed capacity. You've got members of the National Guard have been called to staff a field hospital at the Miami Beach Convention Center this week.

You're a former HHS secretary. Should residents be concerned about being able to get care if they get sick?

SHALALA: Absolutely they should be concerned about getting care. And -- and apparently the president wants to take the COVID-19 money out of the HEROES Act that we passed in May, which makes no sense at all.

But the residents here are terrified. And I'm terrified, for the first time in my career, because there's a lack of leadership, and we simply have not gotten our arms around this. And talking about opening schools is ridiculous when you have community spread the way we do here.

And the superintendent has luckily been very disciplined about what the standards will be for opening schools.

But the real thing we need to do is we need to close down again. I said four months ago, if we don't do this right, we're going to have to close down again. That's our worst nightmare. And we're going to have to do that in Florida.

MARTHA RADDATZ, ABC NEWS HOST: There are obviously concerns about the economy. Mayor Gimenez says that is a concern and why he doesn't want to close down completely. So what about the economy? What do you say to people whose businesses will suffer?

SHALALA: Their businesses are already suffering. Miami -- my district, in particular -- really needs crowds. Last year, Miami Beach had a population of 90,000. They had 10 million visitors. Our economy will not come back until we meet this virus at its head and knock it down.

I care deeply about the economy. But first I care about human life. And with our hospitals filled and the lack of appropriate testing and getting results, the lack of medicines -- we've had to beg for medicines that would save lives. We simply cannot protect the economy if we don't protect the lives of the people in our community. And I'm particularly concerned because this disease is targeted towards seniors and towards the poorest in our community.

RADDATZ: I want to say, if you aren't seeing the leadership you think is necessary, what can Congress do? What can you do, in terms -- not only of health, but the economy?

SHALALA: Well, we're going to fight for the HEROES bill. The HEROES bill makes major investments in state and local government to keep our teachers, our police, our firefighters, and other municipal employees that are critical. It also invests in our health care system, in testing, in contact tracing, and it has a major investment in education, as well.

We need the HEROES bill. And the Republicans seem unwilling to make major investments to stop this virus and to keep our economy in some kind of shape so that we can really make a recovery. That's unacceptable. And it's unacceptable for people to die unnecessarily because Congress is not prepared to step forward.

We have already stepped forward. We passed that bill in May. Waiting for the Senate to act, waiting for the president to put a thumbs-up or thumbs-down is unconscionable. So we're going back this week with the expectation that there are enough members of Congress that care about their communities and care about all of our communities and that they will help us pass the HEROES Act.

RADDATZ: OK, thank you very much for joining us this morning, Congresswoman Shalala.

Joining me now are two governors from two states where the crisis is escalating, Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas, who's issued a statewide mask order that goes into effect tomorrow, and Democratic Governor Jared Polis of Colorado, who has been reversing his state's reopening, saying Colorado right now is on a knife's edge.

I want to start with you, Governor Hutchinson.

Arkansas set a new record for hospitalizations this week, as well as showing an increase in cases. If you just take a look at this graph, it is pretty clear you have a very serious problem. Several weeks ago, you said that you had not seen a correlation between the increase and lifting restrictions, but rather that the new cases were coming out of some of the essential industries that are open, like meat processing plants.

Is that how you still see it?

GOV. ASA HUTCHINSON (R), ARKANSAS: I do. But obviously, because we did see an increase in cases in the community not tied to where we have lifted restrictions, we did take the further step of instituting a statewide mask mandate. Not something I wanted to do, but it's something everybody can do to relieve the pressure on our hospitals, to give us a hope to bring down those cases.

And so we've taken the steps that are necessary. If we have to put in additional restrictions, we will. But there is, as you've pointed out, an economic impact. This last week, we reported -- it was reported that we have an 8 percent unemployment rate.

It's declined a couple of percentage points, which means people are going back to work. I think that is good, because that's about health, that's about livelihoods, as well.

And so, it's a balance that we're trying to achieve, with the first emphasis upon saving lives. That's why we institute the mask mandate. We will do more if needed. But we want to be able to see the data if we're going to have to put in additional restrictions.

RADDATZ: And, Governor Polis, Colorado is starting to see an uptick in cases and hospitalizations. You can see the graph there as well.

You went from saying you didn't believe a mask mandate was enforceable to issuing a statewide mandate in the span of one week. Even as recently as this past Tuesday, you said you were conflicted on the mandate.

What changed between then and Thursday, when you put out that executive order?

GOV. JARED POLIS (D-CO): Well, look, I mean, there's no governor that ran for office or gets up every morning saying, I want people to wear masks. And that's why Asa had concerns about it. So did I. We don't want to tell people what to wear or what to do in their lives. This is a free country. That's what we treasure here.

What we found in our state is, we had about 60 percent of our state that had a municipal or county mask mandate. And we simply found that they work. Two things. The areas that had mask requirements in our state had 15 percent to 20 percent more mask usage and lower spread of the virus.

So, looking at that data, with the desire to keep the economy open, to maximize the ability to return to school in as safe a way as possible for teachers and for students, the mask mandate was really an easy decision, after I saw that data.

RADDATZ: And, Governor Hutchinson, as you said, you also went from encouraging mask wearing to making it mandatory.

I know you have avoided being overly critical of the president, but listen to what he said to Chris Wallace when he was asked whether he would consider a national mandate on mask wearing.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No, I want people to have a certain freedom, and I don't believe in that, no. And I don't agree with the statement that, if everybody wore a mask, everything disappears.

All of a sudden, everybody's got to wear a mask. And, as you know, masks cause problems, too. With that being said, I'm a believer in masks. I think masks are good.


RADDATZ: Governor, how is that helpful to a governor like you, who wants people to wear masks?

HUTCHINSON: Well, I don't support a national mask mandate.

I think the states are addressing this. We took the steps that we needed to in Arkansas. Jared is taking the steps that he needs to do in Colorado. It is important that they set the national standard and example.

The president said he wears a mask. That's important. Now, let me just say, though, about the Congress...

RADDATZ: But he says he wears them in certain places. He's only worn one mask to -- as far as we know, in public, to Walter Reed hospital, where he essentially had to wear a mask. He's sending out very mixed messages.

HUTCHINSON: We need to wear a mask. That example needs to be set by our national leadership.

But let me go ahead and make the point that Congress needs to work together.

What I didn't hear before was that the Democratic Congress wants to work with the Republican Senate to come up with a compromise position that will help the states in terms of testing and education, and they can do that if they work together.

And that's what we do as governors. There is a partnership there. There's a lot of help coming from the federal government. So, it's not a time to be critical. It's a time to work together.

RADDATZ: And I just want to ask you this.

It doesn't really seem to be a battle the president is winning with masks. In the most recent ABC News/"Washington Post" poll, 66 percent of Republicans say they wear a face mask around other people, but that is far fewer than the Democrats.

So, what does that tell you about how partisan this issue has become?

HUTCHINSON: Well, we actually did some polling, and it was supported by both Republicans and Democrats, wearing masks.

There is a little bit of a marginal difference there. It shouldn't be about politics. I'm a Republican governor. Democrat governors have all -- we've put in mask mandates, based upon the circumstances of our state.

It's not popular. It's not something we want to do. It's not the first lever we pull. But it is one that, when the data says it's necessary, we do it.

And I think this is a -- the right approach that we have to take. No one wants to beat this virus more than the people of Arkansas. And so we're asking them to -- this is one thing they can do to help us to have school, to help us to keep our economy moving. And we're asking them to do it. And we're putting out the mandate to accomplish that.

RADDATZ: Governor Polis, do you think it has been too politicized with the masks?

POLIS: Well, we -- when we announced our mask requirement in Colorado, I was joined by a Republican mayor from one of our biggest cities.

I think what's important for people is -- to know is that this is not ideological. It's not partisan. It's science-based. Masks are a ticket to more freedom. It makes it less likely that businesses will be shuttered. It makes it less likely that people will die. It makes it more likely school will return.

If we care about those things -- I know we all do, Democrats, Republicans, independents, Greens, Libertarians, it doesn't matter, if we care about those things you're going to take that as a matter of personal responsibility to wear a mask, protect yourself, protect others, protect our economy.

RADDATZ: And governor, you said neighboring states like Utah, Arizona, are showing Colorado what will happen next if you don't regain your footing? What are you doing outside of that mask mandate? What comes next for you?

POLIS: Yeah, and so we have a lot of visitors in Colorado from many other states, because we have, you know, beautiful mountains, world-class recreation, so part of the mask requirement is to have that clarity of message. Colorado is a mask-wearing state. If you're coming here from a state where that's not the norm, not the custom, we want you to wear masks here to keep others safe, keep yourself safe.

It's also clear that wearing masks are not enough. And I want everybody to know that. Masks are not a way that we can live like we live last January or last year. They're an important part of it. But we also need to take social distancing very seriously, that means no large mixed groups. And we also have to be six feet from others whenever possible.

These things combined will allow Colorado and allow America to beat this thing and get back to normal sooner rather than later.

RADDATZ: We really appreciate you joining us this morning. Governor Polis and Governor Hutchinson especially there in and that bipartisan approach together.

Coming up, more from our brand-new ABC News/Washington Post poll, a big swing in the public's trust in Joe Biden and President Trump to handle the coronavirus pandemic. We'll dig into those numbers and look at what it wait means for the election with the roundtable next.


RADDATZ: The Powerhouse Roundtable is standing by, ready to go, next.



BYRON PITTS, ABC NEWS CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Fifty years later, has the dream been fulfilled?

REP. JOHN LEWIS (D-GA): The dream is still in the process of becoming a reality. It's not there yet. But we're on our way. And there will be no turning back.

PITTS: You're smiling?

LEWIS: Because I believe it. I believe it. I -- I don't think there's any way for that dream to be denied. It's -- it's part of the DNA of the American psyche.


MARTHA RADDATZ, ABC NEWS "THIS WEEK" CO-ANCHOR: That was our Byron Pitts with the late Congressman John Lewis on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial back in 2013.

And joining me now on the powerhouse roundtable is ABC News "Nightline" co-anchor Byron Pitts, our chief White House correspondent Jonathan Karl, Leah Wright-Rigueur, professor at Harvard's Kennedy School and an ABC News contributor, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, and Heidi Heitkamp, the former Democratic senator from North Dakota.

Welcome to you all.

And, Byron, you have had many poignant and profound observations about the fight for civil rights and equality. We just saw those excerpts from your interview with John Lewis.

Your thoughts this morning on his importance?


I -- I -- I think John Lewis symbolizes what's possible in America, right, what's possible with courage and conviction. This is a man from Troy, Alabama, a sharecropper's son. He wasn't the most eloquent. He wasn't the most dynamic member of the civil rights movement in the 1960s. But what a force he was.

You know, he was a -- John Lewis was 5'6" in dress shoes, right? As I described him on the air yesterday, he was an acorn who stood up to oak trees. This was a man who -- who, because he loved America so, because he was so optimistic about America, he believed that if he put in his life in harm's way, he could help make America better. He didn't do what he did because he was angry many America. I mean he was angry about circumstances. But he believed so deeply in our country that he thought he could make a difference. And he did.

RADDATZ: And, John, the president ordered the flag to half-staff yesterday to honor John Lewis. He did tweet about him yesterday afternoon, saying he was saddened to hear the news of his death.

But President Trump and John Lewis had had some very vigorous disagreements.

JONATHAN KARL, ABC NEWS CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Oh, they sure had. And the president waited some 14 hours before he said anything about John Lewis.

But John Lewis had, frankly, thought Donald Trump was a racist. John Lewis questioned the legitimacy of -- of Donald Trump's election victory because of -- of Russia interference. So this was -- this was, no question, about it, a tense relationship on both sides.

At one point, the president attacked Lewis, saying he was essentially all talk no action. And I -- and I loved John Lewis' response. I want to read it to you here. He said, I've been beaten, bloodied, tear gassed fighting for what's right for America. I've marched at Selma with Dr. King. Sometimes that's what it takes to move your country in the right direction.

He -- he stood up to John Lewis (ph) -- by the way, watching Byron at the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, I had a chance to interview John Lewis at the exact same spot 10 years earlier, on the 40th anniversary on the march on Washington, and it’s just -- it was one of the most remarkable moments that I ever felt interviewing anybody, standing there with the man who spoke at that very spot at the same march as Dr. King, really an incredible moment. And speaking with so much passion 40 years later, and as you saw, 50 years later as well.

MARTHA RADDATZ, ABC NEWS HOST: No one will ever -- ever, ever forget him, who’s ever met him. That is for sure.

But, Jon, I want to turn to that new ABC News/“Washington Post” poll out this morning, Joe Biden has a huge lead of 15 points against President Trump among registered voters, nationally, and people unhappy with the way he's handled the pandemic. We've seen the president focus on everything but the pandemic, this week.

And that speech in the Rose Garden Tuesday which was supposed to focus on Hong Kong, really basically turned into a campaign speech attacking Biden, he's doing that again this morning on Fox News. Why is he taking that approach?

KARL: Well, he believes he's got to take Biden down, he thinks Biden's been kind of being able to avoid criticism by staying at home, they always talk about him being in his basement. He's not technically in his basement, but he is spending most of his time at home in Delaware.

But our poll showed some really troubling signs for Donald Trump beyond the headline, top line number. It showed that Trump is actually trailing Biden on the question of law and order. This has been a central issue that the president has put forward, and Biden has a significant lead.

And even on the question of who do you trust more to handle the economy, it's a virtual tie. Trump is up two points. That’s within the margin of error.

So, they feel they have to -- they have to take Biden down.

RADDATZ: And, Chris Christie, there was a major shakeup in the Trump campaign this week. Campaign manager Brad Parscale was replaced by Bill Stepien, a former aide of yours when you were governor.

You said two weeks ago the president is losing. And he needs to change course. Will this do it? Would help?

CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), FORMER NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR: No, it won't do it, Martha, but it will help.

Bill Stepien ran both my campaigns in 2009 and 2013 for governor, he's an extraordinarily skilled operative, he's very good at the nuts and bolts of campaigning.

And his work now that they have a professional in charge of that campaign will add a point or two to the president just with the turnout work that he will do in the key swing states.

But, in the end, Martha, campaigns come down to the candidates, not to the operatives. The operatives are the one who get rich and write books. The candidates are the ones that win elections.

And so, for this to change, for these numbers to change, the president's going to have to change. As I said a couple of weeks ago, he's going to have to change both substantively and stylistically, his approach to the American people. If he does that, there’s 15 -- there are 15 weeks to go, and there's plenty of time for the president to come back and make this race he can win. A lot of big things will happen in these next 15 weeks.

But the core problem right now for the president is that what he's saying and doing is not working with the American people and he needs to change that. Changing campaign chiefs with Bill Stepien will help along the margins. Bill's very talented. But he will not win this election for the president, I think Bill would tell you that. Only the president can win this election for the president.

RADDATZ: And, Chris, even in the last couple of days, he almost seems to be doubling down with what he's been doing.

CHRISTIE: Well, listen, I think the president is a guy who often goes with his gut instincts and as a politician, you're often tempted to do that if you've had some success.

Let’s face it, the guy ran in one race in his life for the presidency of the United States, you know, beat 16 other Republicans, myself included, in a crowded and talented primary, and then beat Hillary Clinton, who Barack Obama said was the most qualified person ever to run for president.

So, there's reason for him to trust his gut instincts. But you have to look at the numbers. You have to look at the atmosphere.

What I’ve said to the president is, you cannot run the same campaign in 2020 that you ran in 2016. The country is different in 2020 than it is in 2016, and the attitude of our people is different because of the pandemic, because of the economic displacement that's occurred in the pandemic, and because of the racial tensions that are now in our country.

And so, these are all things that you need to consider when deciding on how to approach the electorate and sell your leadership and your plans for the future to them.

RADDATZ: And, Heidi, we're also seeing in these polls, president has lost significant ground among rural supporters since March, 72 percent supported him in late March, 62 percent in late May, and now down to 56 percent and his approval rating overall and for handling the pandemic among those voters is down too.

You have done a lot of work looking at rural voters. Should Trump being worried about the rural areas?

HEIDI HEITKAMP, ABC NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: He absolutely needs to take the rural area, the way he did in 2016. And I don't think that's going to happen.

He won North Dakota by 36 points. He's not going to win North Dakota by 36 points again. And so leadership is what's on the ballot. And I bet you the new campaign manager for the president wishes he was selling Chris Christie, and not Donald Trump, because Donald Trump has failed every leadership test.

And we now we're in crisis in this country, a health crisis, a racial crisis, an equality crisis, and people are looking for leadership. And what you see in these numbers, whether it is in rural America, urban America, suburban America, is, they want a leader. And they are saying, Donald Trump is not that person.

And I don't think he can recover from this, unless he changes the way he behaves. And he is not going to change the way he behaves. It is obvious. In every interview that he does, he goes back to the same dog whistles that he's always used to basically amp up the base. And the base will not get them where he needs to go.

I think one of the remarkable things about the poll is the loss of support among white evangelicals. That might be a result of the Supreme Court cases not turning out the way Donald Trump and white evangelicals would want them to.

But at every point along the way, leadership is on the ballot. And Donald Trump has failed to be the leader this country needs or wants right now.

RADDATZ: And, Leah, amid these sinking poll numbers, on Friday, Defense Secretary Esper effectively banned displays of the country Confederate Flag on U.S. military bases, going against the president, who said just days earlier that people love it, and that the flag is freedom of speech.

Is he becoming even more out of touch? Is it not just that he is who he is, but even more out of touch with where the country is?

LEAH WRIGHT RIGUEUR, ABC NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Well, he's becoming obsolete with everyone, except for his base and his base of support.

And one of the things that I want to point out is that this election isn't just a normal election. It's a referendum on how leadership works in the midst of a crisis. It's the worst of the worst situation. It's a global pandemic. It's a health care pandemic. It's a race relations pandemic.

And we have a leader who, rather than trying to embrace these various difficult and complicated factors and lean into the ways in which the country is changing rapidly, very, very rapidly, is instead doubling down on what his gut is telling him and what he knows and what his base knows.

And that's not going to expand. That's not going to win anything. The other thing to point out here is that there's a certain amount of irony in John Lewis dying in this moment, because we like to remember John Lewis as the politician, as the statesman, and things like that.

But he's also the activist, right? He's also the protester. He's the agitator.

And so, at a moment when Donald Trump is encouraging and authorizing the federal crackdown on protesters, peaceful protesters, across the country, but particularly in areas like Portland, we see, right, instead -- we should be celebrating this legacy of somebody like John Lewis, who really enables, right, the true sense, the truest sense of democracy.

We should be looking for a leader that is really pushing us to a better place, and really pushing us towards a nation that is egalitarian, that is equitable, that is about equality.

And, instead, what we see is a president who is shunning most things in even the simplest of ways.

RADDATZ: And, Jon, on top of all that, and on top of everything you have said, we have got these tell-all books that come out, the latest, Mary Trump, Donald Trump's niece, and really some extraordinary accusations in that book.

And she's done some interviews, the first one with our George Stephanopoulos. Do those books make a difference?

KARL: Well, Donald Trump certainly notices that -- those books, whether they're books that tell-alls that are just devastating critiques on him or those by his supporters, have been on the bestseller list.

But it's been telling that, more recently, it's been that book and John Bolton's book that have dominated the bestseller looks. And, look, I don't know if it makes a difference, but Mary Trump's book did offer something new.

The -- we have heard so little -- we have heard so little from the president. We know so little about his upbringing, his relationship with his -- with his parents and with his brothers. And we got a little bit of a window in that in Mary Trump's book.

So, in that sense, it does add something new to the equation here.

RADDATZ: And we should mention your book, Jon Karl, not a tell-all, but an excellent bestseller, "Front Row at the Trump Show."

And, Byron, I want to turn to the Democrats here.

The convention organizers for the Democratic convention told members of congress and delegates not to travel to the Milwaukee event. The New York Times saying there might only be about 300 people at that convention, and that includes media and security.

This is going to be very different. We've all covered many conventions. Does it make a difference, Byron?

PITTS: I think it will, right, because part of presidential campaigns, certainly in the fall, is momentum and enthusiasm. So what level of momentum and enthusiasm will the Democrats have with a virtual convention?

I think certainly if the election was held today, Donald Trump is in trouble. If it was held on Tuesday, Donald Trump is in trouble. But it's not, it's in November. A lot can change between now and then.

So I think Democrats should be careful about celebrating now that they think they can beat this guy. We all know that Joe Biden has his own vulnerabilities that have not been looked at closely, but they will be at some point. We don't know what the world will look like. We don't know where race and justice will stand in this country and how angry people, and who will be angry in the fall.

So, I think both sides have reason to be concerned, both candidates -- both men are flawed in their own ways, both have bases -- I think one can make the argument that Donald Trump's base is more enthusiastic, more passionate -- we have no doubt about nothing is going to change their mind. But I think a lot can change, not whether people will -- don't like Donald Trump, but will they feel engaged enough, will they not be exhausted and be willing to go out and support Joe Biden?

RADDATZ: And Heidi, one of the things they obviously want to show, no matter what this convention looks like, is unity. You've got the progressive side, the moderate side. How do you think Joe Biden is doing combining that? Is he going too far to the progressive side?

HEITKAMP: No, he's saying exactly what he said to win the nomination. He is bringing people in, getting new ideas. He's doing what he needs to do right now to prepare to be a president.

And I would say the only thing that can change -- that will change the trajectory of this election is Donald Trump and his behavior. If he can convince people between now and election that he is the leader that this country needs and wants moving into the future he's got a shot at winning re-election, but right now there's nothing to suggest -- I mean, boat parades aside, there's nothing to suggest that he has any increase momentum beyond his base and that's inadequate to win the election.

And Joe Biden is playing this exactly right. I know there's a lot of people, some on this show in the past who have said, oh, he needs to do this or he needs to do that, when you're up 15 percent in the polls, you need to keep doing what you're doing. And that's what Biden is doing. And I think he's preparing right now to lead the country, because when he takes over this, country is going to need a strong leader to begin to move this country forward again.

RADDATZ: And Chris, I have got about 10 seconds here to go, but I want to ask you, you made some news this week regarding your own political aspirations. You said you're definitely looking at a second go at the presidency?

CHRISTIE: Well, Martha, there's no reason for anybody to rule anything out.

But let's get this election done first and see what's going to happen over the next 15 weeks.

And I'll tell you this, Joe Biden is going to have a challenge. He's going to have a challenge when he has to get out there and greet the American people and speak to them, so let's see what happens in the next 15 weeks.

RADDATZ: OK, thanks so much for joining us, all of our roundtablers.

Nate Silver is up next with a different take on mail-in voting and what it might mean for President Trump's re-election prospects. Stay with us.



TRUMP: It's very bad what's going on with mail-in ballots, OK. As differentiated from absentee ballots where you have to go and you go through a process because you can't be there for some reason, but the mail-in ballot is going to be -- they're going to be rigged. There's been tremendous corruption. Tremendous corruption on mail-in ballots. So absentee ballot, great. Mail-in ballot, absolutely a good -- it makes no sense.


MARTHA RADDATZ, ABC NEWS "THIS WEEK" CO-ANCHOR: President Trump again this week repeating claims without evidence that widespread mail-in voting this November would lead to rampant fraud.

So, is there any truth to that? Here's FiveThirtyEight's Nate Silver.


NATE SILVER, FIVETHIRTYEIGHT: Republican voters do listen to President Trump when he expresses concern, usually without any evidence, we should note, about the integrity of mail ballots.

In our brand new ABC News/"Washington Post" survey, 78 percent of Trump supporters say they see mail-voting as vulnerable to significant levels of fraud. That compares to only 28 percent of Biden voters, and 49 percent of voters overall.

The irony is that historically this has been a pretty non-partisan issue. Plenty of Democrats and plenty of Republicans, including President Trump himself, have voted by mail or absentee ballots.

The top states for mail voting in 2016 included blue states, like Washington and Oregon, where voting takes place entirely by mail, but also red ones, like Utah and Montana.

But Republican voters now say they're less inclined to vote by mail. Just 17 percent of Trump supporters say they prefer to vote by mail in the new ABC poll, compared to 54 percent of Biden voters.

That may not be great for Trump because campaign operatives of both parties want people to vote as early as possible. Lot of things can come up on Election Day ranging from losing your car keys to, well, maybe your state has a big spike in coronavirus cases.

So I do buy that mail ballots are a concern for Trump, but not because of abuse or fraud. By consistently talking them down, he may be discouraging turnout among his own voters.


RADDATZ: Our thanks to Nate for that.

We'll be right back with some final thoughts on Congressman John Lewis.


RADDATZ: Thanks for sharing part of your Sunday with us.

Before we go, a final thought.

John Lewis helped pave the way for anyone fighting for justice seeking equality. His words and actions will continue to inspire generations to come.

As we leave you this morning, John Lewis, in his own words, his advice to graduates at Washington University in St. Louis in 2016, his reflections on growing up in the segregated south, and the importance of finding a way to get in the way.


REP. JOHN LEWIS (D-GA): I saw those signs that said white men, color men, white women, colored women, white waiting, colored waiting.

I'd ask my mother, ask my father, my parents, my grandparents, why? And they said, that's the way it is. Don't get in the way. Don't get in trouble.

But as the chancellor said, I heard about Rosa Parks. I listened to the words of Martin Luther King Jr. The action of Rosa Parks and the words and leadership of Dr. King inspired me to find a way to get in the way.

I got in the way. I got in trouble. Good trouble. Necessary trouble.