'This Week' Transcript 7-7-19: Kevin McAleenan, Rep. Rashida Tlaib, Rep. Seth Moulton
This is a rush transcript for "This Week" airing Sunday, July 7.
A rush transcript of "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" airing on Sunday, July 7, 2019 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.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARTHA RADDATZ, CO-ANCHOR, ABC NEWS: Outrage over the border boils over, disturbing new images in a government report expose overcrowding and unsanitary conditions in detention centers. President Trump denies mistreatment of immigrants in those facilities.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP, UNITED STATES: I’ve seen some of those places, they’re clean, they’re good.
RADDATZ: Now the man in charge of it all, Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan responds live to those reports in a “This Week” exclusive, and he has promised to investigate a secret vulgar Facebook page mocking migrant deaths. Why did it take CBP so long to act? Plus Congress demands action.
REP. RASHIDA TLAIB (D), M.I.: You know what we’re doing today? We are putting America first.
RADDATZ: Democratic Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib joins me days after visiting detention centers in Texas. And –
TRUMP: Now is your chance to join our military.
RADDATZ: Marine Corps veteran Seth Moulton takes on Trump’s call to serve and defends his own 2020 campaign.
REP. SETH MOULTON (D), M.A.: I got into this race very late.
RADDATZ: Was that a mistake?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: From ABC News, it’s “This Week”, here now co-anchor Martha Raddatz.
RADDATZ: Good morning and welcome to “This Week”. So much to get to this morning from the president’s Salute to America to the explosive New York Times report that dropped last night with new first-hand accounts of the squalid conditions at a detention facility in Texas.
But we begin with our brand new ABC News Washington Post poll. The president’s approval rating at 44 percent. That’s a career high in our poll, and yet 53 percent disapprove of his performance, making President Trump the only president in modern history to have majority disapproval ratings for his first two-and-a-half years in office. And just 40 percent of Americans approve of how he’s handling his signature issue, immigration. The numbers there falling sharply along partisan lines. The overwhelming majority of Americans agree immigration as a whole will factor heavily into their 2020 vote.
And of course the backdrop, the growing evidence of a humanitarian crisis on the southern border. That New York Times article drawing from interviews with current and former Border Patrol agents detailing outbreaks of scabies, shingles and chicken pox spreading among the hundreds of children who were being held in cramped cells in a detention center in Clint, Texas. This comes just days after a government report also showed images of overcrowding in some detention centers, that report alleging many children were being denied regular access to showers or a change of clothes.
This Independence Day weekend these allegations have ignited a debate about American values and how people in government custody can and should be treated. President Trump is defending the handling of those detention centers and the man he put in charge has too. And Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Kevin McAleenan joins us now. We really appreciate you being here this morning. I know you have been concerned for months about the growing humanitarian crisis. You said it to us about six months ago on this show. But I want to begin with that I.G. report, your own I.G. report. We saw those disturbing images of the migrants in some of those border facilities and read from the report about overcrowding and unsanitary conditions, this from the report itself as well: Thirty-one percent of the children at these facilities have been held longer than 72 hours generally permitted under legal standards. Children at three of the five border patrol facilities have no access to showers. Single adults at one facility, some were held in standing room only conditions for a week and at another more than a month in overcrowded cells. And although standards require CBP to make a reasonable effort to provide a shower for adults after 72 hours, most single adults had not had a shower in CBP custody despite several being held again for as long as a month. When you read that, when you look at those images, what’s your explanation?
KEVIN MCALEENAN, ACTING SECRETARY, DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY: My explanation is that it’s an extraordinarily challenging situation, that since I saw you on December 30th we’ve had over 500,000 people cross our southern border. The predominant crossings are made by family units, unaccompanied children and then single adults. The dates you referenced, the first I.G. report was in – on May 10th, on May 11th I had a press conference at the border talking about our overflowing facilities and the challenging conditions in them. The second I.G. report was June 10th. One June 11th, I testified in front of Congress talking about the challenges in our facilities and that we needed action on the supplemental so that we could provide a better situation. On that night of June 10th, I went on Chris Cuomo and said no American should be comfortable with the conditions in our facilities. So we’ve been talking about this, we’ve been asking for help and we’ve been identifying solutions.
RADDATZ: But shouldn’t -- shouldn't the whole of government have been involved in this? What was the actual plan to deal with it? You've been talking about it all these months --
RADDATZ: -- but still you have this. And -- and I -- I want to read from The New York Times report as well. New York Times, El Paso Times had a report from the Clint facility in El Paso, they say it’s based on dozens of interviews with current and former border patrol agents as well as detainees, lawyers, some sworn statements. I read the portion earlier about diseases. The report goes on to say “The stench of the children's dirty clothing was so strong it spread to the agents' own clothing. People in town would scrunch their noses when they left work. The children cried constantly. One girl seemed like -- likely enough to kill herself, said the agents made her sleep on a cot in front of him.” The reports say agents were heartbroken seeing this. So back to this. Why couldn't you do more? Why couldn’t the whole of government come together? You knew there was a crisis.
MCALEENAN: Right. So we’ve done a tremendous amount. Since December 30th when we last talked about this, we had 20 medical providers in our facilities border-wide. Now we have over 200. We had the U.S. Coast Guard come in and support us with their medical corps, we had the Public Health Service Commission Corps. We have pediatricians in border patrol stations for the first time in history trying to help address conditions where children are coming across 300 a day in -- in those months, in April and May. One. Two, we’ve built soft-sided temporary facilities. These are spaces that are much more appropriate, high ceilings, more room for children and families. We’ve put them both in Donna, Texas, in South Texas as well as in El Paso to provide additional space. We did this all without the funding, hoping that we would get a supplemental to get ahead of the status. We’ve -- we’ve bought buses to transport people to better places.
RADDATZ: You talk about this press conference last week, you spoke about the Clint facility after an earlier A.P. report described inadequate food, water and sanitation. Here's what you said about the allegations at Clint.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCALEENAN: Unsubstantiated allegations last week regarding a single border patrol facility in Clint station in Texas created a sensation. That’s balanced somewhat since several media outlets toured the Clint station and saw the actual conditions there, a clean and well-managed facility and well-equipped process.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RADDATZ: The New York Times report is talking specifically about the Clint facility.
RADDATZ: Why did you call those allegations unsubstantiated?
MCALEENAN: Because there’s adequate food and water, because the facility’s cleaned every day, because I know what our standards are and I know they're being followed because we have tremendous levels of oversight. Five levels of oversight.
RADDATZ: So you don’t believe The New York Times report?
MCALEENAN: So, you're asking --
RADDATZ: “The stench of children's dirty clothing was so strong it spread to the agent,” they had scabies, chickenpox. Why did you say unsubstantiated?
MCALEENAN: You just referenced three things that were unsubstantiated: inadequate food, inadequate water and unclean cells. None of those have been substantiated. What I have an office of professional responsibility, independent office that oversees our operations report who went to Clint station in the same time period. We have the juvenile coordinator --
RADDATZ: Do you still think they're unsubstantiated, given the New York Times and the El Paso Times report, these specific allegations?
MCALEENAN: So I don’t know which specific allegations you’re referencing, but let’s be very clear, Martha --
RADDATZ: The ones I just read.
MCALEENAN: This is an extraordinarily challenging situation. We had an overflow situation with hundreds of children crossing every day. That’s why we were asking for funding for Health and Human Services, to provide adequate bed space so those children could be moved from that immediate border processing into a more appropriate setting for children. So I’m not denying that there are challenging situations at the border. I’ve been the one talking about it the most. What I can tell you right now is that there's adequate food, water and that the reason those children were at Clint station in the first place is so they could have medical consolidated, they had shower facilities for over a year there’s been showers there. So this is why we tried to provide a better situation for the brief time they’re supposed to spend at the border.
RADDATZ: The New York Times says that the agency's leadership knew for months that some children had no beds to sleep on, no way to clean themselves and sometimes went hungry, its own agents had raised the alarm, according to the story. Did you know anything?
MCALEENAN: OK, we have no evidence -- we have no evidence that children went hungry, first of all. Police station cells are not a good place for children, as I’ve said dozens of times publicly --
RADDATZ: Had agents raised alarms that you had heard about?
MCALEENAN: Of course we’re worried about it. Everyone in the entire chain of command was worried about the situation for children. That's why we’ve built soft-sided facilities, 1,000 spaces already, we’re building more that are going to be opening next week. We're trying to provide as much space and as much nice a setting as we possibly can while children are in our custody. But the big point was to move them to HHS. Let me give you an update on that. On June 1st we had 2,500 children in our custody. 1,200 had been with us over three days. Now that we have the supplemental from Congress, HHS has additional beds, we only have 350 as of yesterday afternoon’s report and only 20 of those children have been with us more than three days. So that's huge improvement based on the resources we asked for from Congress and were finally given.
MCALEENAN: Should -- should the president have used his authorities pursuant to the declared national emergency to redirect funds to address the conditions at the border more quickly?
MCALEENAN: So the declared national emergency does not apply to this scenario. This was a matter -- we had already taken action as soon as we could at the border to provide additional medical care, additional transportation, additional facilities within our exiting funding. We were going to have to reprogram it from other Homeland Security priorities. But we did that. And now that Congress has finally come through with the funding, we have been able to apply itexpeditiously because it those contracts were in place and underway.
RADDATZ: Let's turn to the private Facebook groups with offensive content. We can't show most of it, because it is so bad. It is allegedly associated with CBP agents. You have said the agency is going to look into that. ABC and others have reported that CBP leadership was aware of at least one group as far back as February 2018. You've served as acting commissioner since January 2017. Were you aware of this so-called 10-15 group?
MCALEENAN: I was not aware of this group.
RADDATZ: Do you know if your leadership was?
MCALEENAN: So, I have been made aware that we had an allegation in 2016 that was investigated, followed up on, and that discipline was meted out on an agent that made an offensive post on that website.
RADDATZ: Why wasn't the website shut down? Why wasn't that Facebook page shut down? Should it have been?
MCALEENAN: So, CBP does not control this Facebook page. This is a group of individuals on their off-duty time...
RADDATZ: Did the word go out to other agents or just that...
MCALEENAN: Actually we did put out a policy on being careful on social media, the responsibility to maintain your standards and comply with a code of conduct even in your private life, even in your personal views. But what can I tell you about this set of posts, as soon as they came to light, I directed an immediate investigation. It had already been reported to our inspector-general. They were already looking into it. We have already put several agents on administrative duties. We have issued cease and desist letters to more and this investigation is continuing, and the agents will be held accountable if they are CBP employees who did inappropriate things. I don't think it's reflective of the men and women we have...
RADDATZ: And I want to move quickly to the ICE raids. The president said ICE Raids that he delayed two weeks ago are going to be starting soon. When it was first made public, did you support the president moving forward with these new raids? And do you now?
MCALEENAN: So, a balanced enforcement process has to involve interior enforcement. You can't do this all at the border. That's why I have been going down to Central America to work on the origins of this crisis and address this human smugglers that are incentivizing and inviting people into this dangerous cycle in the first place. That's why we're enhancing our border security. That's why we've asked for Congress to change the laws, but it's also why we do need to do interior enforcement. We have situations where we have criminals, fugitives and people with final orders of removal from an immigration judge. ICE needs to be out there enforcing our authorities.
RADDATZ: And just one final question, it's also been reported some close Trump allies in the White House are pushing for your departure. You are still the acting DHS secretary. Do you expect to be formally nominated? Do you want to be?
MCALEENAN: I'm focused on solving the problems that we're facing right now -- addressing this humanitarian and security crisis at our border and supporting the men and women. If I could just give you one last close on our men and women, Martha, I have had the privilege of working alongside the border patrol for 16 years. I've seen them in midnight patrols, I've seen them in situations where they've lost a fellow agent in the line of duty. These are some of the finest professionals and some of the best human beings that I know. And they do their job with heart and they do their job with honor. And we're not going to let a few people that don't represent the rest of the organization besmirch their reputation. We're going to keep doing our job to the best of our ability.
RADDATZ: Thanks very much for joining us this morning, sir.
MCALEENAN: Thank you.
RADDATZ: Up next, Democratic Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib was at the Clint, Texas, border facility this week. Her account of what she saw and her response to the Trump administration when we come back.
RADDATZ: Up next, Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib responds to my interview with the acting DHS secretary and describes what she saw on the border this week. We’ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TLAIB: What we did today is try to bring the eyes and ears that you all can’t have when we go into these facilities. Today what I learned today in seeing the eyes of a father, a 14 year old, is that it’s not about children only. It’s also about the fathers and the mothers. But I will outwork your hate, I will outlove your hate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RADDATZ: Democratic Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib addressing protestors outside a detention facility in Clint, Texas this week. She joins me from Detroit. Welcome to “This Week”. I want to get your reaction first of all to Acting Secretary McAleenan.
TLAIB: So in regards to the – to the report – regards to what he was saying, it’s so contradictive of what we got in the inspector general’s report recently. I mean what I saw was a number of people at 14, up to 14 in one area sleeping on the floors, a number of them saying they didn’t bathe within 15 days where Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley went up to the water feature, you know, next to the – where the water comes out, she turned the knob and there was no water that was coming out. And when they – and literally every single woman confirmed what the one woman said, which is “I asked for water and they said go drink it from the toilet.” I think there was too many of us, I mean there was close to over 10 or 11 members of Congress, several of them were in the same cell unit where the 14 women or so was at. And then I was in another unit – area where the door they finally were able to open up the door for me to speak to a grandmother who has been there for 40 days and had not seen her grandson that she came with since then, who is also special needs.
RADDATZ: You were – you were – Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, your colleague who was at the border with you compared the facilities to a concentration camp. Do you agree with that comparison?
TLAIB: Absolutely, I mean there’s a number of experts that say this is – because it’s traumatic. I mean I don’t know how to explain to people what we saw when we’re explaining to people and they’re kind of looking back and saying well that can’t be true. I said but we were all there, I mean you have Congressman Castro, Melanie, Norma, all of us were there. We saw what we saw and we heard from the folks that were in the facilities, and some of them had not seen their children since being there. What you need to also know is do you know the mere touch, the mere even me holding the hand broke them down in tears? That tells you they’re under a lot of trauma that they are in a facility that is dehumanizing. And you know, this is a choice by the current administration, they are choosing to not allow asylum seekers to go through the legal process. They’re choosing to separate –
RADDATZ: Congresswoman, I want to stop you here for just a second. McAleenan has been sounding the alarm for months for resources to help the migrants, you voted against the $4.6 billion emergency border bill to deal with the surge of migrants, that included almost $3 billion to provide shelter and care for unaccompanied children. Acting Secretary McAleenan says those funds are critical to get children out of CBP custody and transfer, even if the bill didn’t have what you wanted.
TLAIB: Well I’m proud – I – exactly but listen to this, do you know what the CBP agents said on the ground, though Martha?
RADDATZ: Isn’t opposing aid contributing to this crisis?
TLAIB: Martha? Martha, do you know what they said –
RADDATZ: Just answer this.
TLAIB: What did they say on the ground? Ask a CBP agent. That’s the one thing, I can talk to the secretary and he can say throw more money at a broken system, at an inhumane system. Three agents took me aside, away from my colleagues and said more money is not going to fix this, that they were not trained to separate children, that they don’t want to separate two year olds away from their mothers. That’s not what they were trained for, that’s not what they signed up for in their service to our country. They signed up to protect the border, not to separate children, not to put people in cages. They all said this is a broken system, this is inhumane. I mean these are also human beings, these are also fathers and mothers themselves. A woman – I met a agent who’s a mother of five. They all don’t want to be doing this. They all know this is a choice. And let’s be honest right here, Martha, in the ‘80s, it was more that was coming across the border and we didn’t do this. We allowed the asylum seekers to go through the legal process. We allowed community-based agencies to take the lead and show us evidence-based approaches to making sure that people are in humane conditions, that they have medical care, that they are not going to go hungry. I mean this father told me he was there for four days and he’s just been eating potato chips, but more importantly he was gripping his son telling me “I just want my son to be an American boy. I’m here because I have no other choice.”
And I can tell you as a – as a mother of two but also as a child of immigrant – immigrant parents, I know my parents would have done the same thing for me to have a better future. But what our country is doing is creating a generation – a generation of children that will remember what our country did to them. And that to me – I will not vote for something that is broken and deteriorated and is inhumane. That is a choice that I make and a conscious choice. And I can tell you my district supports me 100 percent because they know this system is broken, they know that these agents, again, many of them overworked, suicide is up among CBP agents, look at the numbers, look at the inspector general’s report. All of us can’t be lying, all of us cannot be saying – we’re all saying the same thing, that it’s broken.
RADDATZ: I want to – Congresswoman.
TLAIB: So when I voted against it, when many of us voted against it – several – three I think, four or five of us voted against it, it was because we knew this was not the choice that we needed our country to move forward on. There is a better choice and we’ve seen it in the ‘80s, we need to do better than what we’re doing now at the border.
RADDATZ: I want to bring up that aid package again. In a column in the New York Times this morning the Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said that you and the three other progressives made yourself irrelevant to the process by voting against the bill. “All these people have their public whatever and their Twitter world,” she said. “But they didn’t have any following. They’re four people and that’s how many votes they got.”
TLAIB: You know people like us, people like me and Ayanna, Ilhan and Alexandria, we’re reflective of our nation in many ways. But many of us didn’t run to be first of anything, but more people like us have been missing in the halls of Congress. More people like us, people of color have been missing in the chamber because most of us – and Ayanna Pressley says it more beautifully, people that are closest to the pain needs to be at the table making these decisions. Guess what, we know what it feels like to be dehumanized. We know what it feels like to be brown and black in this country. And I'll tell you right now, we're not going to stand by and sit idly by and allow brown and dark-skinned children to be ripped away from their parents to be dehumanized.
RADDATZ: What would you say to Nancy Pelosi? What would you say directly to Nancy Pelosi?
TLAIB: Honor the fact we are there, that 650,000 people are represented by each and every single one of us, that there is some sort of, I think in many ways, something special about having a refugee, having a woman that, you know, has experienced alone what incarceration has done to her family, right. All of us have these experiences that I think have been missing in the halls of Congress. Honor that, respect that, put us at the table. Let's come up with a solution together.
But there is a better approach. They passed something out of the House. Still I will not support anything that is broken and that dehumanizes people. But guess what, Mitch McConnell sent you back that something that was worse. And I'll tell you right now, I mean, all you can do is focus on him. Uplift the women, especially the women of color, within your caucus that are out there because I'll tell you more people like us, more people like me that come out to vote, we win, all of us win.
RADDATZ: OK, I'm going to have to stop you there for time.
TLAIB: It is very disappointing that the speaker would ever try to diminish our voices in so many ways.
RADDATZ: I appreciate your comments. Very much, very much for joining us. Thank you so much. Coming up, the Powerhouse Roundtable tackles our new ABC News/Washington Post poll and Joe Biden's latest apology. We'll be right back.
RADDATZ: Could Texas be a swing state in 2020? FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver takes that on, plus the powerhouse roundtable when we come back.
RADDATZ: Ten Democratic presidential candidates campaigned in Texas on Friday hoping to win the support of a key national teachers union. A recent Quinnipiac University poll shows Former Vice President Joe Biden polling four points ahead of President Trump in Texas. And in 2018, a Democrat, Beto O'Rourke nearly defeated longtime Republican Senator Ted Cruz. So could traditionally red state Texas become a swing state in 2020? We asked Nate Silver, do you buy that?
NATE SILVER, EDITOR IN CHIEF, FIVETHIRTYEIGHT: First, let’s start with making the case for why Texas might be a swing state. And by the way, Texas has 37 electoral votes so when it flips, it’s a pretty big deal. Number one, it certainly has gotten closer in recent elections. Hillary Clinton lost by 9 points compared to Barack Obama losing by nearly 16 points in 2012. A bit more impressively, Beto O'Rourke lost Texas by only three points -- technically 2.6 points -- to Ted Cruz. Also demographically, if you came down from outer space and wound up in Texas, you might think this looks like a purple state given what I know about American politics.
Latinos made up 30 percent of eligible voters in Texas in 2018 and nationwide, Latinos voted for Democrats last fall by huge margins. You also have a big Asian population, a big African-American population, Houston and Dallas and Austin and San Antonio are all big, vibrant, increasingly dense and diverse cities. But there are a couple of things that give me pause. One concern for Democrats is that in Texas, if you poll registered voters, you’ll often see some pretty purple numbers. But who actually turns out to vote in Texas? Traditionally it’s older, more white, more Republican voters and so unless you have a poll of what pollsters call likely voters, you want to take these polls with a Texas-sized grain of salt. So could Democrats win Texas in 2020? Sure, there's a chance. But do I buy that Texas is already a swing state? No, I’m not ready to buy it yet. Ask me again in four years.
RADDATZ: So a Texas-sized grain of salt. Our thanks to Nate. The roundtable standing by to dive into all things 2020, including the latest from our new ABC News/Washington Post poll. We're back in just 30 seconds.
RADDATZ: --And lets bring in roundtable ABC News political analyst Matthew Dowd, ABC news correspondent Karen Travers who covers the White House for us, Steve Inskeep host of NPR’s Morning Edition and The Up First Podcast, and 538 senior political writer Perry Bacon Jr, welcome to all of you it's great to have you here and welcome to you Karen Travers a first here today, but Matt i wanna start with you, let's get right to the ABC News Washington poll out this morning, backed by a strong economy of course highest approval rate in office in our polling approval rate of 44 percent. Still well below 50 percent. What should any 2020 Democrats be concerned about looking at these numbers, even this far in advance?
MATTHEW DOWD, POLITICAL ANALYST, ABC NEWS: Well 44 percent is -- is like saying you’re the thinnest person at fat camp. I mean, it’s not a good number to go into as a president. And as you -- as we know from the polling, the average number that the president had in ABC polling over the course of his two and a half years is 39 percent. No president has been that low in that. I think there’s parts of the -- parts of the poll that the president can -- can celebrate, which is on the economy. His problem is every other issue he’s underwater on.
And Democrats have to be concerned that even at that point of low approval ratings and where the president stands today, they don’t have overwhelming leads when you go -- you go from adults to registered voters. They do have leads -- Biden has a lead, but it closes fast. So this is going to be an exceedingly competitive race from now until November 2020.
RADDATZ: Karen, big number that also stands out in our poll is the majority of the country approves of Trump’s handling of the economy. The stock market reached another high this week. So just playing off that, if that remains the case, is that simply the road to victory in your opinion?
KAREN TRAVERS, CORRESPONDENT, ABC NEWS: The Trump campaign hopes it is and that it’s enough to propel him, but that is the president’s best number on the economy and it’s just over 50 percent. The economy is the top issue for American voters and that’s why you’re going to see the Trump campaign try and make the president make that the centerpiece of all of his campaign rallies, his campaign message. But it’s everything else, then, that becomes problematic, because voters also say healthcare and immigration are also equally as important as the economy and on those issues, the president has high disapproval numbers and does and says controversial things with his policies.
RADDATZ: And -- and one of those big issues, of course, which we’ve been talking about all morning, Steve Inskeep, both parties seem to capitalize on immigration. You heard the DHS Secretary. How difficult it will be for Trump to run on the issue of immigration if this continues or if he doesn't get that wall?
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST OF NPR’S “MORNING EDITION” AND “UP FIRST”: Well he certainly ran on it in 2018, not very successfully but he believed that that was something that motivated his base voters. And there can’t be very much doubt that it does. We should remember that people who are more conservative have a different media diet and they're seeing a different narrative about what's going on in these detention centers and who’s responsible and the president does have a simple message -- if they don't like the conditions, they shouldn't come, something that he’s just said in the last day or so, and that people in more conservative media outlets will be saying.
We should also note in the poll, Martha, 44 percent approval rating is not good, as Matthew correctly notes. And yet in the same poll, when asked how people might plan to vote against various Democrats, the president gets up to 46%, 47%, 48%. There are people who disapprove of the president or who at least don't approve of the president's performance who are nevertheless saying in the same poll they're ready to vote for him. There are people who think he’s been unpresidential who are nevertheless saying in the same poll they’re ready to vote for him. That happened in 2016, it's the thing that could get the president back in the White House.
RADDATZ: And especially important -- especially important with those Independents.
RADDATZ: And Perry, the first look at polling since the -- since the first Democratic debate, the latest ABC News/ Washington Post poll shows Senator Kamala Harris did get a bump after the debate, but Joe Biden is still leading the pack. What do the latest polls tell you about what voters are looking for in the Democratic field.
BACON: We have had overall, the five post-debate polls.
RADDATZ: The debate seems a million years ago.
BACON: And the ABC poll was pretty strong for Biden. Biden still leads almost every poll. That said, the general trend in the last month has been Warren is gaining and Kamala Harris is gaining. Bernie Sanders is going down a little bit and Biden is going down a little bit.
Biden is still the front-runner. He's ahead in every poll.
That said, this debate performance was not great for him, and just shows up in the numbers that he's now, and Harris from fundraising to on the ground in Iowa is doing better and has a bit of momentum right now.
RADDATZ: Can the other candidates, Matthew, Democratic candidates really chip away atBiden at this point?
DOWD: Well, it shows. And in the aftermath of the debate, they can, because Joe Biden is sitting at 28 or 30 percent in our poll, in other polls he's down to 25 percent.
I mean, I think we're in a round, this is some soccer -- go women today, they're playing the Netherlands, so hope the women win -- we're in this sort of group stage and we're about to go into the knockout stage soon, probably in the advance of the ABC debate in September, is I think Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders are the two weakest sort of front-running candidates we have had in a party in a long, long time.
And I think once other candidates sort of demonstrate, get name ID, do well in debates, that's when I think those two are really in trouble.
RADDATZ: And Karen, we're also seeing President Trump, you see this all the time, President Trump going after Joe Biden. They're taking shots at each other. Does that help Biden, do you think, to be seen as a Trump opponent, or is it a little more attention that he wants?
TRAVERS: It helps because it allows him to make this a general election, it allows Biden to say this is all about who can best beat Trump. And if he's focusing on me, it means he's the most worried about me. So, it allows him to skip the Democratic primary at this point and focus on next year.
But it hurts because it means Joe Biden is getting it from all sides, he's getting it from his Democratic rivals and he's getting it from President Trump. But you're right, the president focuses on Joe Biden more than any other candidate. He makes comments about him in public statements, he tweets about him. Yesterday, he was also tweeting about Joe Biden, and that shows perhaps that he's paying attention to the polls, which shows Joe Biden leading him nationally and in key states.
But I also think that the Trump campaign feels that there are weaknesses about Joe Biden's campaign that Matt just mentioned that they can exploit and they'd like to see that match-up.
DOWD: Biggest asset that Joe Biden has is Donald Trump. The biggest asset Joe Biden has, because once -- he has electability and that's his biggest asset right now, and demonstrating to pivot up against Donald Trump is the best thing Joe Biden has.
RADDATZ: And Steve, the war of words between Kamala Harris and Biden continued this week over the issue of busing, going back to those debates, is their campaign argued over whetherthey really disagree on the issues. But yesterday, we heard this from Biden. An apology? Hang on just a second.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: Now was I wrong a few weeks ago to somehow give the impression to people that I was praising those men who I successfully opposed time and again? Yes, I was. I regret it. And I'm sorry if any of the pain or misconception may have caused anybody.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RADDATZ: OK, Steve, will that end it?
INSKEEP: Well he actually did say I'm sorry for any pain or misconception. It's an actual apology. In a sense, it ends it in that we have this endless river of news going on. And we're so far out from the election. And we may not even remember this episode weeks from now.
But it gets to the heart of Biden's appeal, and his political style, and the way he wants to sellhimself. He wants to tell voters I'm the guy who can work with the other side. I'm the guy who can get things done, even with people with whom I profoundly disagree. But it's also a reminder that Joe Biden has been around a long time. He's been around since the days when people who have been open segregationist were still in positions of power in the government, and he dealt with those people once upon a time.
RADDATZ: Perry, does this put the issue to bed?
BACON: I think it puts this issue to bed, yes. I think he's apologized, and that was what Cory Booker asked for, but it shows a weakness...
RADDATZ: But how about the fact that it was two weeks?
BACON: That's what I was going to say exactly that is that Cory Booker said he should have apologized literally 18 days ago. Biden got there now.
If you're going to move on this issue anyway -- this is the problem with Biden is, he has the wrong position in the current Democratic Party on a long list of issues, and either has to move, and he probably should move quickly as opposed to letting this -- he got attacked by Booker, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren on this issue. He probably needs to adjust and be willing to say -- like the Iraq war vote is going to come up at some point, his (inaudible) is going to come up at some point, he needs to figure out where in the party is...
RADDATZ: Does that turn into a huge apology tour?
RADDATZ: I'd rather have that than lose, but...
DOWD: As I said earlier, his greatest asset is Donald Trump, his biggest vulnerability is Joe Biden. And Joe Biden, the question is always going to be – and it’s not just this specific issue or another issue, is does he – a politician that got elected before eight track tapes came and went – does he fit the 21st century America and Democratic Party?
And over the steps he’s taken in the last 30 days, he’s showed he’s out of sync with where the country is today. The Democratic Party for sure.
RADDATZ: And Karen, that brings me to you because one of the things I love about your reporting is that you often tell us here at ABC about what you’re hearing from around the country.
You talk to a lot of radio hosts doing ABC News radio and the questions they ask you. Tell us what you’re hearing about what voters are thinking of all this?
TRAVERS: This is about Donald Trump’s personality, and every time we talk about policy, it’s through the prism of his personality. He announces something and it’s how he does it, how he plans to go down the path on healthcare or immigration.
And the president makes this all about personality because of the nicknames, the personal insults of other candidates. You’re never going to see the president get out there and give a detailed rebuttal to a policy position of Elizabeth Warren or Joe Biden.
That’s just not how he does politics. And when it is on his terms, voters recognize that, and then they’re not focusing on the policy, they’re focusing on the cult of personality of President Trump.
RADDATZ: So how do the Democrats get them back to focus on issues?
INSKEEP: I had an opportunity in South Carolina to talk with a bunch of Democratic voters a couple of weeks ago, and for Democrats as well it’s all about Donald Trump. And their question, voter after voter after voter, is who is going to beat this man?
That of course is why Joe Biden has seemed strong up to now because it’s presumed because he can beat this man. If other Democrats get to the point where they seem credible enough, we could see dramatic change in the numbers you just had in this ABC poll.
BACON: I think the Democrats are making a mistake in talking almost too much about the issues, like it’s not clear to me Americans want Obamacare to stay and some improvements of healthcare, it’s not clear to me they’re dying to have Medicare for All with no -- I do think the Democrats have to be careful.
Voters are concerned about Trump, he has a high disapproval rating. In 2016, most people did not vote for Trump. So we know there’s an anti-Trump majority in the country, the question is are the Democrats speaking to them in the right way.
And I think a smarter campaign would be to talk about how people don’t like Trump’s personality more than his policies I would argue.
DOWD: But presidential elections are always – they’re never fundamentally about personality or issues, they’re always about values. Those two things indicate something. And I think the Democrats have made mistakes in presidential elections. Obama did this well is that you have to talk about all of those things, personality and policies as it relates to a big, broad issue – a big, broad value that the American public cares about.
RADDATZ: And Perry I just want to get you quickly on the second quarter fundraising, which brought some truly staggering totals, Kamala Harris nearly $12 million, Bernie Sanders, $18 million, Joe Biden, $21.5 million and Pete Buttigieg $24.8, all really impressive hauls across the board.
But what do you make of Mayor Pete Buttigieg getting nearly $25 million, but sitting at only four percent in the latest poll?
BACON: I think it tells you and you see this in his campaign (inaudible) he doesn’t – he has a deep, intense coalition but not necessarily a broad one. He has very low numbers of African Americans for example who tend not to give money but who tend to vote a lot in that manner. So I think it doesn’t tell us very much.
I was surprised Biden who I think is the front runner should have raised more than the mayor of the fourth largest city in Indiana, so I was surprised Biden did not do particularly well, but I don’t think Pete needs to broaden his coalition and right now it is kind of coastal elites, even though he’s from the Midwest, it’s kind of coastal elites and you can raise money with them but not win many votes from them.
RADDATZ: And Steve, just very quickly, Congressman Justin Amash who’s been very critical of President Trump and his beliefs that he committed impeachable offenses announced on the 4th that he was leaving the GOP and today he said on CNN I still wouldn’t rule out a run – I wouldn’t rule anything out and perhaps that includes a run against Donald Trump, where would that go?
INSKEEP: Well everyone else is running, why wouldn’t he run? Everyone else is running. Whether it’s a real possibility, I don’t know, and of course you have to ask if you’re Justin Amash do you just take votes away from the Democrat in that scenario and help elect the – re-elect the president.
RADDATZ: And Matt, a very quick final word, I always do this to you because I know you’re not that quick on the final word. Your thoughts on the president’s salute to America?
DOWD: I would like to quote George W. Bush which he said about the president’s inauguration, that was some weird blank. I thought it was bizarre and instead of a celebration of the troops, it looks like he was using – instead of celebrating the troops, he looked like he was using the troops and the military to celebrate himself.
I think it’s going to come and go, his supporters love it, everybody that opposes Donald Trump hates it. It’s just another one of these moments. But it was – I think a rather bizarre celebration of July 4th.
RADDATZ: And that’s what it was about. He said the troops and he did stay on message most of the time –
DOWD: When he wasn’t talking about airports in the civil – in the Revolutionary War.
RADDATZ: Exactly, when the prompter was operating he definitely –
BACON: More (inaudible) than usual.
RADDATZ: -- definitely stayed on message. Thanks for all of you, it’s always great to see you, especially on a holiday weekend. Coming up, is it too late for Congressman Seth Moulton to break through in the crowded 2020 field?
Our conversation when we come back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Today we come together as one nation with this very special salute to America. We celebrate our history, our people, and the heroes who proudly defend our flag, the brave men and women of the United States military.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RADDATZ: The president stuck to his message on July 4th, using his speech at the Lincoln Memorial to honor American history and showcase American military might. A few days later, I sat down with Congressman Seth Moulton, one of the military veterans in the 2020 Democratic primary, who took issue with the president's speech. Moulton hasn't registered in the polls yet so I asked him what's keeping him in this race. But we started with his reaction to president's salute to America.
REP. SETH MOULTON (D), MASSACHUSETTS: I think that Trump believes that by saluting the troops and saluting the flag today, it makes up for his unwillingness to do so when it actually matters. You know, his unwillingness to answer the call to go to Vietnam, his unwillingness to confront Putin. That's what real service to the country is, is making a sacrifice to do the right thing for others and Trump doesn't understand that at all.
RADDATZ: But President Trump used that speech to call others to service.
TRUMP: To young Americans across our country, now is your chance to join our military and make a truly great statement in life. And you should do it.
MOULTON: Quite something, coming from someone who refused to do it himself.
RADDATZ: Do you give the president any room to say he's grown, he's grown to appreciate the military, he's learned from whatever he did in the past?
MOULTON: I’d love to be able to say that about the president because it would be good for America. But if that were true, then he would act presidential in conducting our foreign policy. He wouldn't continue to put our troops at risk by threatening war with Iran, by failing to stand up to Russia. We need a commander in chief who does the right thing for the country. He’s not keeping America safe, which is something that I’ve spent the majority of my career doing.
RADDATZ: I’m sure if he was sitting here, he’d say look, North Korea’s not testing nuclear weapons right now, they’re not shooting off ballistic missiles right now --
MOULTON: North Korea continues to refine nuclear material, they have more now than the beginning of the presidency, and we’re not anywhere near any sort of agreement.
RADDATZ: I first met Seth Moulton in 2007 at his parent’s home in Marblehead, Massachusetts as the Harvard graduate was headed back to Iraq for his fourth combat tour.
MOULTON: I think a lot of people look at me and say, you know, why do want to go back now? Why would you want to be a part of the war when its going so poorly. But I think this is most important time for people to serve.
RADDATZ: While home in Massachusetts, Moulton helped his Iraqi interpreter, Mohammed Harba, with efforts seeking asylum in the U.S.
Did he get asylum?
MOULTON: He did. He did. He was one of the many people in the world who came to America looking for asylum, a perfectly legal thing to do, which I think is something that’s lost in this immigration debate today, and he did so because he is an American hero too. He put his life on the line not just for his country - Iraq, but for his new country, America.
RADDATZ: Those strong feelings and that sense of service is what drives the 40 year old Moulton to run for President today.
MOULTON: You've got to stand up for your country and fight for its values when they’re most under threat. And that’s why I went back to Iraq. As much as I disagreed with the war, I knew I could have more of an impact by being there on the ground, influencing how it was fought every single day than just by being back home.
RADDATZ: On the campaign trail, Moulton has opened up about his PTSD and seeking help, recognizing healthcare is a top issue for voters. But he differs with the Democrats in the race, calling for universal government insurance.
MOULTON: The bottom line is everybody in America needs health care, because it is a human right. But we should get there by doing what Obama wanted from the beginning, which is a public option, a sort of Medicare if you would like it, that competes against private health care plans. And so you have options, you have choices. And that competition will bring down prices, bring down prescription drug prices for everybody.
RADDATZ: You have talked about Bernie Sanders' plan and compared it to the VA, it's not really alike, is that a fair comparison?
MOULTON: I think it's fair comparison, or at least is it's as close as we have in America today. And, you know, you saw on the debate stage was the Democratic Party just careening to the left, promising a bunch of free things, without any real strategy for getting these things done for the American people.
RADDATZ: Moulton didn't have the chance to make his pitch to voters on the debate stage last month, and he's unlikely to qualify for the second debate either. But he did have this advice for his fellow candidates.
MOULTON: I do think that Trump is going to be harder to beat than many Democrats like to believe. And if we spend all our time rehashing votes from 40 years ago in congress, rather than putting forward a positive vision for America, with realistic plans for how we can achieve all of our goals, then I think it's going to be real tough election for us. And that's why I'm running a campaign based on service, by on reclaiming patriotism from the right-wing politicians who think that they own it, on what it means from the Democratic perspective -- keep America strong and safe.
RADDATZ: And while it's not reflected in many polls yet, Moulton believes his message is resonating with voters, and he's not ready to give up the fight.
MOULTON: People are excited to hear a different perspective, and a different view of how wecan build the coalition that we need to beat Donald Trump and bring the country together to actually accomplish the things that we'd like to do, not just in 2020 with winning, but in 2021 with leading the country.
RADDATZ: So you're staying in.
MOULTON: Absolutely. But I've been in tough fights before, so I'm going to keep going.
RADDATZ: Our thanks to Congressman Moulton and for his service.
We have talked a lot about immigration this Sunday, asylum seekers, refugees, and those fighting to come to America. Well, for over 7,000 immigrants, the long journey to becoming anAmerican citizen ended this week in a tradition to honor Independence Day holidays, the oath of citizenship was administered in over a hundred ceremonies across the country. We congratulate these newest Americans.
And we also honor our fellow Americans who serve and pay the greatest sacrifice.
In the month of June, one service member died overseas supporting operations in Afghanistan.
That's all for us today, thanks for sharing part of your Sunday with us, and have a great day.
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