'This Week' Transcript 6-4-23: Vivek Ramaswamy & Rep. Mike Turner

This is a rush transcript of "This Week" airing Sunday, June 3.

ByABC News
June 4, 2023, 10:13 AM


ANNOUNCER: THIS WEEK with George Stephanopoulos starts right now.


MARTHA RADDATZ, ABC "THIS WEEK" ANCHOR: Revving up. This weekend the race for 2024 shifting to high gear as Republicans roll into Iowa.

SEN. TIM SCOTT (R-SC), 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: America's greatest days are ahead of her.

NIKKI HALEY (R), 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We’ve got a country to save. And I know together we’ll do it.

MIKE PENCE (R), FORMER U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: We have to resist the politics of personality.

RADDATZ: With the former VP and others set to jump in, the gloves come off between the frontrunners.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT AND 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Yes, I wouldn’t vote for him because he said you need eight years. You need six months.

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL), 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Don’t let anyone tell you they can do this in 24 hours or in six months.

RADDATZ: As President Biden takes an overall office victory lap on the debt limit deal.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Passing this budget agreement was critical. The stakes could not have been higher.

RADDATZ: This morning we’re live in the Hawkeye state.

Plus, presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy.

And Donna Brazile and Reince Priebus join the powerhouse roundtable.

Hitting back. Moscow accuses Kiev of drone strikes inside Russia, while the U.S. puts China on notice.

LLOYD AUSTIN, U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY: We will not flinch in the face of bullying or coercion.

RADDATZ: We cover it all with ABC's Tom Soufi Burridge in the war zone and House Intelligence Committee chair Mike Turner.

And –

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is absolute willful, intentional, hate.

RADDATZ: Fighting for transgender rights. A preview of the freedom to exist. A soul of a nation presentation.


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

RADDATZ: Good morning and welcome to THIS WEEK.

As we come on the air this morning, the fight for 2024 is in full swing. President Biden is using the bipartisan deal to raise the debt ceiling and cut spending as a preview of his 2024 re-election message, touting his ability to compromise with Republicans in a Friday night Oval Office address, the first of his presidency. Signing the bill on Saturday to avoid an unprecedented U.S. default, Biden adding to a list of legislative accomplishments while vowing to advance key Democratic priorities.

All of this as the list of Republican contenders aiming to oust him keeps growing. The crowded field of White House hopefuls swept through Iowa this week, meeting voters and sharpening their messages as several more candidates, including former Vice President Mike Pence, and former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, prepare to enter the race. But can any of them catch up to former President Donald Trump and his commanding lead in the polls?

ABC’s senior congressional correspondent Rachel Scott starts us off from Des Moines.

Good morning, Rachel.


And consider Iowa the starting line. The Republican road to the White House goes right through this state. And this was the first time that so many Republican candidates all shared one stage. But notably absence, the frontrunner in this race, former President Donald Trump.


SEN. TIM SCOTT (R-SC) AND 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: How's the great state of Iowa?

SCOTT (voice over): It's the unofficial kickoff of the Republican primary season. Eight White House hopefuls descending on Iowa for Senator Joni Ernst’s Roast and Ride Rally, shaking hands, signing swag.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I got your wife. Now I need to get you.

SCOTT: And making their big pitch.

ASA HUTCHINSON, 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And let me tell you, we have a battle to fight in 2024.

VIVEK RAMASWAMY (R) 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We are hungry for a cause.

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL) AND 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We can restore American greatness.

SCOTT: As a crowded Republican primary field looks to only be getting bigger.

MIKE PENCE (R), FORMER U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: Come this Wednesday, I'm announcing in Iowa.

SCOTT: Former Vice President Mike Pence set to make it official Wednesday, hopping on the back of a Harley as he hopes to break away from the pack.

The elephant not in the room, former President Donald Trump. The frontrunner visited Iowa earlier this week, but skipped the GOP cattle call. But Trump did sign this motorcycle helmet for the event. The 45th president so confident he'll win another term he also signed it 47. While trump traded jabs with his biggest challenger, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, early this week.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT AND 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The one who’s second is going down so much, and so rapidly, that I don't think he's going to be second that much longer.

DESANTIS: He used to say how great Florida was. Hell, his own family moved to Florida under my governorship. Are you kidding me?

SCOTT (voiceover): Trump went unmentioned by most candidates yesterday.

SCOTT: Governor DeSantis, what message does it send that you’re here and Donald Trump isn’t?

DESANTIS: I'm just happy to be here. I think the folks here are great and we’ve enjoyed our visit. We’ll be back a lot.

SCOTT (voice over): DeSantis, instead, casting himself as the way out of a Republican losing streak.

DESANTIS: We need to dispense with the culture of losing. Florida shows it can be done. We had red waves in 2022. The rest of the country, not so much.

SCOTT (voiceover): Former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley also calling for the party to turn the page.

SCOTT: Does the party need to be headed in a new direction?

NIKKI HALEY (R), 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Yes, I think the party needs a new generational leader. We've lost the last seven out of eight popular votes for president and that’s nothing that we should be proud of.

SCOTT (voice over): Just one Republican took Trump on by name, long shot candidate Asa Hutchinson, the former governor of Arkansas.

SCOTT: Does having more candidates help or hurt?

ASA HUTCHINSON (R), 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, it first sends a signal that when you're having these national leaders, they're saying, we need a different leader than Donald Trump. You know, that's a pretty powerful message.

SCOTT (voice over): Many Iowans are still all in on the former president.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Still, right here. He's the man to clean the mess up.

SCOTT (voiceover): But others are keeping their options open.

SCOTT: Have you made up your mind on who you will support in 2024?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have not. I am still looking. We’ve got a strong field and I'm still looking at all the options.

SCOTT: Are you undecided at this point?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I'm undecided.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, I need to hear what they all have to say.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know what, they all have good ideas. So, to be fair, why decide in the beginning?

SCOTT (voice over): Winning those undecided voters is a major challenge for these candidates.

PENCE: I'm well-known, but we don’t think we’re know well. I mean most people know me as vice president, as a loyal lieutenant, standing beside the president.

SCOTT: Iowa's king-maker and Saturday's host, Senator Joni Ernst, telling me voters openness is a signal that the GOP nomination is still up for the taking.

SEN. JONI ERNST (R-IA): They really take this very seriously. So, they – this is not flash in the pan. They want to carefully vet all of these candidates that are coming through the state.


SCOTT (on camera): Those Republican candidates not only slow to criticize each other, but also slow to criticize former President Donald Trump. They know he's still extremely popular within the Republican Party. But even voters that we talked to that supported Trump last time around told us this time they are keeping their options open, making it clear this could still be anybody's race.


RADDATZ: Rachel Scott in Iowa, thank you.

And just back from Iowa and joining us now is the youngest candidate in the Republican primary field, former biotech entrepreneur, multimillionaire and political newcomer Vivek Ramaswamy.

Welcome to THIS WEEK. It’s great to have you here, right back from Iowa.

You know, it’s early.


RADDATZ: We know where you are in those polls. Way, way down there. Things can change. But you are up against a former president, who is polling over 50 percent, a slew of other candidates. What’s your path to the nomination?

RAMASWAMY: First of all, we’ve actually studied this.

Good to see you, Martha.

In June of 2015, Donald Trump was polling at 4 percent in eighth place. I'm happy to say that we’re ahead of that and I think we’re going to take that same trajectory.

I'm the outsider in this race. I think you get to be an outsider once. I'm the first millennial ever to run for the GOP nomination for U.S. president. And I'm actually leading us to something. Too long many other conservatives have been running from something. I'm running to something. What it actually means to be an American.

I'm an America first conservative, but I believe that to put America first, we need to rediscover what America is. And I'm seeing the base across this country hungry for that message. And that’s how we’re going to win.

RADDATZ: And speaking of that base, you would have to convince hard core Trump voters to come over to you. How do you do that? How do you walk that fine line?

RAMASWAMY: I'm very clear with audiences. I said this to audiences in Iowa just this last week, America first does not belong to Trump. It doesn’t belong to me. It belongs to the people of this country. And I think we take that agenda even further if we’re doing it based on first principles and moral authority, as Reagan did, rather than on vengeance and grievance. And that’s what I’m bringing to this race.

RADDATZ: The RNC announced the requirements for their first debate, which will be August 23rd.


RADDATZ: One is to pledge support to the eventual nominee. You have said you would support Donald Trump if he is the nominee. Trump calls –

RAMASWAMY: I expect to be the nominee and I expect support in return. Yes.

RADDATZ: OK. But you have said you would support Donald Trump. Donald Trump falsely says the election was stolen. He faces possible indictment in three different investigations and has already been found liable for sexual assault.

Do you think Trump, as president, would be good for the GOP and good for the country?

RAMASWAMY: I'm running for president because I'm going to be best suited to lead this country to a national revival. That’s why I'm in this race.

RADDATZ: I know you think that, but you said you would support Donald Trump. So, answer that question.

RAMASWAMY: Oh, I've said that to get on the Republican debate stage I would support whoever the GOP nominee is. But I want to be really clear with you, I think a lot of those investigations against Donald Trump have been politicized, the New York one in particular.

But even more importantly, I think it’s up to the people of this country to decide who governs. That’s the constitutional bargain. And I view it as my responsibility, if I'm to win this race, it’s going to be by convincing Americans that I'm actually the best person to lead the country, not by eliminating the competition.

RADDATZ: Let’s -- let’s talk about Ukraine. You said in a speech in New Hampshire on Friday that you would not spend another dime of American money on a war that does not affect our interests. You don’t think the possibility of Russia taking over Ukraine is not -- is in our interest?

RAMASWAMY: I don’t think that’s a top foreign policy priority. But I did also in that same speech identify what is our top priority.

RADDATZ: No, I -- I want to -- I want to stick to this for a minute.


RADDATZ: You do not believe that Russia taking over Ukraine would be bad for our national interest?

RAMASWAMY: I do not think it is a top foreign policy priority for us. I don’t think it is preferable for Russia to be able to invade a sovereign country that is its neighbor. But I think the job of the U.S. president is to look after American interests.

And what I think the number one threat to the U.S. military is right now, our top military threat, is the Sino-Russian alliance. I think that by fighting further in Russia, by further arming Ukraine, we are driving Russia into China’s hands. And that Sino-Russian alliance is the top threat we’ve faced.

And what I've said is, I would end this war in return for pulling Putin out of that treaty with China. That’s actually (ph) foreign policy --


RADDATZ: How do you do this? No one tells Vladimir Putin what to do. That has not worked yet. And you said you would want to give them the Donbas.


RADDATZ: That would be rewarding Putin, wouldn’t it?

RAMASWAMY: I don’t trust Putin, but I do trust Putin to follow his self-interest. I don’t think he enjoys being the little brother in the relationship with Xi Jinping. And so what I think we need to do is end the Ukraine war on peaceful terms that, yes, do make some major concessions to Russia, including freezing those current lines of control in a Korean War-style armistice agreement.

RADDATZ: Which Ukraine – Ukraine really wouldn’t want to do.

RAMASWAMY: Which Ukraine wouldn’t want to do. And also a permanent commitment not to allow Ukraine to enter NATO. But in return, Russia has to leave its treaty and its joint military agreement with China. That better advances American interests and actually further deters China from going after Taiwan, which I think is a much higher priority for the United States.

RADDATZ: Let me ask you this, you want to be commander in chief. So, how would you decide what is in the national interest to use the U.S. military? What would the criteria be?

RAMASWAMY: What affects the lives of Americans here on American soil? Where are there military threats? Where are there threats to life here in the United States?

I think the border crisis. Two hundred Americans dying per day from the fentanyl crisis, 50 times the number that died on 9/11. That’s an American interest.

Semiconductor security. That’s an American interest, which is why Taiwan matters in a way that Ukraine doesn’t.

But I believe in America first principles, as George Washington did, by the way, avoiding foreign entanglements when unnecessary unless they’re essential for American interests. I share the George Washington vision of America first.

RADDATZ: Quick -- quick question on -- on China. You’ve seen them harassing our ships, our aircraft, that ship 150 yards from a U.S. ship. What would you do differently than the Biden administration is doing now?

RAMASWAMY: I would first abandon the divest-to-invest program. I think that’s actually been a mistake, decommissioning ships that actually have us hit a nadir around 2027, precisely when Xi Jinping could be looking to go after Taiwan.

But the second thing that I come back to it is, break up that Russian/China alliance because China’s bet is that they’re going to go for Taiwan, the U.S. won’t want to be in simultaneous conflict with two nuclear superpowers at the same time. But if Russia’s no longer at China’s back and vice versa, we’re in a stronger position.

And no other candidate in either party is talking about this. I think that’s the top threat we face. And that’s the focus of my foreign policy.

RADDATZ: I want a very quick question here in the end. You were introduced yesterday in Iowa as the intellectual godfather of the anti-woke movement.

Would you reinstate the ban on transgender members of the military?

RAMASWAMY: I would not reinstate a ban on transgender members. I would, however, be very clear that for kids, that’s where my policies are very focused. We should not be foisting this ideology onto children.

RADDATZ: But you would not ban transgender members of the military?

RAMASWAMY: I would not.

RADDATZ: OK. Thanks for joining us this morning.

RAMASWAMY: Thank you.

RADDATZ: We really appreciate it.

RAMASWAMY: Appreciate you.

RADDATZ: As we said, so much can change in this race between now and next year. Let's take a look back at the state of the GOP primary at this point eight years ago. There you see Donald Trump all the way down at 4 percent before he officially launched his campaign.

Here to help analyze it all are the two people who led national party committees in that election -- ABC News contributor Donna Brazile, and Reince Priebus, who also served as Donald Trump's first White House chief of staff.

Welcome to you, Reince. Hello, Donna.


RADDATZ: Let’s start with you, Reince. We know that Donald Trump is far and away the dominant Republican now. But do you see any chance that these lower tier candidates can rise up?

PRIEBUS: Well, the first thing all of these candidates have to look at is, can I win? And they're looking at three things. Number one, they're looking at Joe Biden. And they see, ultimately, he's weak and he can be beat.

The second thing all these other candidates are looking at isn't necessarily Donald Trump, it's Ron DeSantis. They're seeing Governor DeSantis is beatable in Iowa. And the last thing that they’re hoping for is that somehow or another something unforeseen is going to happen and somehow Donald Trump is going to disqualify himself through some unforeseen thing.

Last thing. They’re also looking at delegate math. If you – when you see this – this field through this prism, what you see is all of these folks looking at Iowa. Without Iowa, none of these other folks are going to make it. So, it all comes down to Iowa. It all comes down to delegate math and then momentum thereafter.

RADDATZ: But all of these candidates, all these huge number of candidates help Donald Trump.

DONNA BRAZILE, ABC CONTRIBUTOR: Absolutely. Look, 2024 is now looking like 2016 all over again, when 17 candidates sought the nomination. The chairman is absolutely right, it does come down to money and momentum and message. But on the other hand, it actually comes down to thinking about voters on a shopping spree. You already have a brand, a brand called Donald Trump. And everybody knows that brand. Whether you avoid him when you go down the aisle or you just absolutely embrace him when you look at the rest of the candidates.

But right now, the Republican Party is faced with a lot of candidates that people don't really know. And who they really know is Donald Trump. And his biggest vulnerability might be the legal challenges that he faces.

RADDATZ: And they are getting to know Ron DeSantis. What is -- you talked about him, but what is his path to the nomination? How does he differentiate himself? He’s not really going after Trump at rallies.

PRIEBUS: And that’s the thing is really not going after Donald Trump. And the problem that all of these folks have -- and I think with respect to Donna, I think the difference between this year and 2016 is that Donald Trump is the Bruce Springsteen of the MAGA movement. And these guys are a cover band trying to dethrone the Bruce Springsteen of the MAGA movement. So, they're banking on a lot of things happening between now and 2024. And I think that these other folks that are getting in, a Ron DeSantis, if they're not willing to go toe-to-toe with Donald Trump, smash mouth politics, it isn't going to work.

BRAZILE: But – but this week –

RADDATZ: Go ahead.

BRAZILE: This week we -- we're expecting two more candidates to – to hit the campaign trail. Of course my TV husband, Chris Christie, the former governor –

RADDATZ: Former ABC News contributor.

BRAZILE: Yes, well, I've got to call him what he is, but he’s going to jump into the race. And, of course, the vice president -- former vice president, Mike Pence. And, again, I don’t know if this will change the contours of this race because Trump is so dominant, but it will add texture and flavor to a party that really doesn't have a strong message.

RADDATZ: And, Donna, I want to pick up with you quickly. You hear some Democrats hoping that Donald Trump is the nominee, and yet some polls show that Joe Biden wouldn't do so well against a Donald Trump. Do you want Donald Trump as the nominee?

BRAZILE: I want what's best for America, and that is Joe Biden, who I believe is going to be a very strong contender, not just in winning his own nomination, but also in the general election. But I understand why some Democrats see Donald Trump as being weak and vulnerable given all of the legal challenges he faces. But I have to remind my Democratic friends, don't forget 2016. The Republicans know how to win in suburbs and other places where Democrats don't go in the rural areas, so we better be careful what we wish for and go out there and fight like hell.

RADDATZ: And, Reince, we’ve got about 20 seconds.

PRIEBUS: Well, look, Vince Lombardi said that confidence is contagious, but so is the lack of confidence. And I think Joe Biden has a lack of confidence. He's falling down. He's confusing. But most importantly, the American people have – have – have --

RADDATZ: I knew you'd get that falling down in there.

PRIEBUS: Have -- have – they have lost confidence in Joe Biden, which is why this field is suddenly exploding on the Republican side of the aisle.

RADDATZ: OK. Thanks very much. We're going to continue this conversation in a moment. Donna and Reince will be back alongside the rest of our roundtable to break down the 2024 race.

And later, is the war in Ukraine reaching a turning point? We're live on the scene.

Stay with us.



TRUMP: When I heard DeSanctis go out and say -- and talk about "Eight years, we need eight years." You don't need eight years. You need six months. We can turn this thing around so quickly. If you need eight years, who the hell wants to wait eight years?



You don't need eight years.

DESANTIS: You know, the former president says he can slay the deep state in six months. My question to him would be, "Well, you already had four years. Why didn't you slay it then?"


RADDATZ: The rivalry between the two frontrunners for the GOP nomination intensified this week. Let's bring in the roundtable for more.

Welcome back, Donna Brazile and Reince Priebus; our chief White House correspondent Mary Bruce; and Washington Post chief correspondent Dan Balz.

Welcome to you all. Welcome to you again.


Mary, I want to start with you. You're at the White House every day. You see the Biden campaign; you see the White House, obviously. What -- what's their view of this Republican field?

MARY BRUCE, ABC NEWS CHIEF CORRESPONDENT: I think, the bigger the Republican field, the better the Biden team thinks it is for them. Look, the more Republicans are chasing each other all over Iowa fighting it out amongst themselves while the president is back in Washington negotiating a debt deal to stave off an economic disaster, they think that makes Biden look presidential.

I think they also feel that, as long as this is Donald Trump's race to lose and he is still the frontrunner, that that puts them in a good position. Because the Biden campaign, and certainly the president, feels that he beat Trump before, that he is the best and uniquely positioned to beat him again. The question is whether that holds, because of course 2024 is not 2020.

RADDATZ: And, Dan Balz, you know better than anyone how these things can change and how quickly they can change. Trump -- it is still Trump's race to lose, however, despite the legal problems. Donna brought that up.

DAN BALZ, WASHINGTON POST CHIEF CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, I think that's right. It is his -- it is his to lose. He's in such a dominant position. And, you know, if we were sitting here six months ago, we would not necessarily have said that. He looked, coming out of the midterms, like he was a damaged candidate. But Governor DeSantis has had some problems in the early stage. And the former president has been strengthened in part because of some of the legal action that's gone against him, because it's rallied people around him.

And so his base is strong. He has the clearest -- the strongest base within the party. And everybody else, you know, as Reince said earlier, everybody else is going to have to figure out a way to go after him and deny him the nomination that otherwise is likely to be his.

RADDATZ: And, Reince, back to DeSantis, you -- you watched him in Iowa. You watched everybody. What was your takeaway from what you saw DeSantis do in Iowa and what he talked about?

PRIEBUS: Well, I think that he's got a great record. I think that he's trying to make a good case for an eight-year term. So he's trying to position himself as, "Hey, look, I'll give you everything Donald Trump gives you, minus a few tweets -- or the Truth Social, but I'm also going to give you eight years."

The problem is, is that DeSantis is hitting Trump for not getting enough done in the first four years, but DeSantis is saying, "But I need eight years to get it done."


I mean, it -- it's -- it doesn't really jibe well. But I think that his problem is going to be momentum after Iowa, because you look at New Hampshire;, you look at South Carolina, and you look at where that MAGA base is at.

I mean, Donald Trump is -- you know, like I said, I mean, he's a force of nature in the Republican Party right now. And what they're all waiting for are things that you cannot -- we can't predict. And we don't know what’s going to -- what the future holds.

RADDATZ: And, Donna, you -- I want you to talk about -- you brought up your TV husband, Chris Christie, former ABC News contributor, former governor of New Jersey. He's one who's directly taking on Donald Trump, way more so than anyone else.

Will that resonate?

BRAZILE: Absolutely. Let me -- let me say a good word about Chris Christie. And I hope he doesn't disavow his former TV wife now that I’m a political widow.

Here’s a point -- Chris knows how to beat him. Chris knows Donald Trump. He knows how to get into his skin. I think that is going to be a very --

RADDATZ: He didn't beat him last time.

BRAZILE: Well, look, winning isn't always about just declaring victory. It's also about how to take on a challenger like Donald Trump. It's a delicate dance to not only court the supporters without alienating them, but to also give the other Republicans candidates an opening.

I think Chris Christie is well-positioned, if he can raise the money, because the rules to get on the Republican stage this time, I guess there won't be kiddie -- a kiddie debate, is to have, you know, 40,000, what, 400,000?


BRAZILE: Forty thousand -- let me get it right.


BRAZILE: I wrote it down because I’m not a Republican.

RADDATZ: Forty thousand individual campaign donors.


BRAZILE: Look, so, Chris will have to do that. He will be a strong challenger. He will help the rest of the field.

I have to make fun of, you know, Mr. DeSantis. Hope to see him one day, so I can loosen him up. I think he can loosen him up a little bit.

He -- he said he's the best conservative running. He said he's more conservative than Donald Trump. That's the argument he’s going to make.

I don't know if that gains attraction because his agenda in Florida was not a conservative agenda. It was an anti-freedom agenda.

RADDATZ: And, Dan, let’s go to you. And then there’s Mike Pence, of course, and you got the North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum, another long shot. How did you -- especially Mike Pence getting in and how he did in Iowa?

BALZ: Yeah, I think -- I think the former president is in a very awkward position. He's running against the person who brought him on to the national ticket. Running against the person he served loyally for most of four years, until January 6th. What's his case against Donald Trump? At some point, it seems to me, he’s going to make an explicit case --

RADDATZ: Beyond January 6th.

BALZ: Right, which he, of course, did not mention at all yesterday. We'll see if he does when he announces this week.

He’s going to have to make an explicit case as to why Donald Trump is unfit to be president again, because he's going to take credit as he did in Iowa yesterday for a lot of policies that they -- that they had in those four years. So I think he's in a tough position.

But clearly, he sees an opening in Iowa, because in Iowa, you know, evangelical Christians have a strong voice in that -- in those caucuses. I think that he will -- he will push to try to find that space in order to break out in Iowa. It's a tough path for him.

RADDATZ: And, Mary, you covered the Biden campaign in 2020. You're obviously going to be out there again covering campaigns. Joe Biden navigated a similarly large field. Republicans have any lessons to learn from that?

BRUCE: It's a good question. I mean, I think back to 2020, I always think about that and for a long time there, Biden's campaign was basically written off for dead. He really fizzled in those early challenges.

A couple of things do stand out, right? He also had a consistent message. He still does. He's running basically on the same message now.

I do think he also benefited from that pile-on effect on the early frontrunners. I think back to that South Carolina debate where everyone sort of hammered Bernie Sanders. I’m not sure that applies here, though, when you're dealing with Teflon Donald Trump, who simply seems to welcome, you know, a larger field. He thinks that will help him.

So, I’m not sure how many of those lessons necessarily apply, because, of course, Trump seems to always break the mold.

RADDATZ: But everyone is watching.

Reince, let’s -- you talked about those new debate rules, Donna, the 40,000 individual campaign donors, 1 percent in multiple national polls, but this one, which is new, a pledge of support for the eventual nominee. Why that? Why now?

PRIEBUS: Well, it's really not new. We did it in 2016, if you remember the famous --

RADDATZ: Raising the hands and --

PRIEBUS: -- trip to Trump Tower to get the president to sign the pledge.

Here's the problem. National party, this is the nomination for the Republican Party. Republican Party has data agreements with all these candidates. Republican Party says, I’m going to give you all of our data, our most valuable resource, and you're going to use it and you're going to exchange data back to the RNC.

I am not going to give that data to a candidate that's going to tell me they're not going to support the nominee. So, if you want to get the data, if you want to run for our party nomination, these are the rules. There's lots of parties, go run in the independent party, go running the farm labor party, do what you want. But if you want to be the nominee of our party, you follow our rules.

RADDATZ: And will Donald Trump appear on the debate stage do you think?

PRIEBUS: I think he definitely will appear in the debate stage.

RADDATZ: You think he definitely will.

Donna, Democrats had similar debate requirements? Are these fair? Is this the way to go? Asa Hutchinson complaining about them?

BRAZILE: I think it's more than fair. If you're unable to strike fire in those early states, and to accrue the kind of support by getting five and $10 donations from everyday ordinary Americans and you're not really fit to, to, to run the gambit. And we all know the Republicans have different rules when it comes to, you know, accumulate delegates, and after you get out those early states is winner take all in a lot of those key Super Tuesday states on March 5th. So, if you can't strike fire early, you're going to burn out quickly.

RADDATZ: And Mary, I want to turn to the debt ceiling, which you've been covering for seems like --

BRUCE: Forever.

RADDATZ: Forever. President Biden, in his Oval Office address stressed bipartisanship. And that's clearly a message going forward. Is that enough?

BRUCE: Yes. Look, we clearly heard, you know, a big preview of the template to come with his campaign message, the White House feels very strongly that this fight was a good example of Biden's approach to governing, right, that he can show voters that he can make good on that promise to reach across the aisle and actually get something done while also preserving his priorities. Right. They don't feel like he gave up too much on his economic agenda here.

I will say, though, I think we have to be a little real about this. Negotiating a bipartisan deal when the global economy is on the brink of disaster is a little bit different than arguing as we've seen the President and the Speaker --


BRUCE: -- that you see change in Washington. Yes, I wouldn't hold your breath for a lot more of these kinds of bipartisan kumbaya moments going forward.

RADDATZ: And Dan, of course, whatever message the White House wants to give out and having the President in the Oval Office this week, we saw an image that stayed with a lot of people and that is the President falling down after that Air Force commencement speech. How does that play? We talk about this every week that voters are legitimately concerned about President Biden's age.

BALZ: Two things, Martha. One is we know that most Americans have no enthusiasm for a rematch between the former president and the current president. That's point one. But it doesn't mean that if that is the rematch, that people will not, in a sense, take traditional sides that they will move to the red camp and the blue camp, age is certainly a factor for both men, but more so for the president because he's older, and because he has shown some signs of that aging. But I think in the end, people will not necessarily make their decision on that, they're going to make their decision on what each candidate who's the nominee is offering the country and the arguments between the two about the dangers of the other becoming President. And I think ultimately, we get down to that in the final stage.

But as the President has said, age is an important issue. And voters should be thinking about that.

RADDATZ: Quick thought from you there Reince just to wrap it up.

PRIEBUS: Oh, well, look, I think it's to the debt ceiling and the most predictable thing. You know, it's as predictable as the Detroit Lions not making the Superbowl. I think Kevin McCarthy did a great job for both sides to say that they can win. But to Dan's point, you have to imagine that both parties are in a huge room. And they're talking to each other about who they want to emerge from that room. It's not the media. It's not people in the middle. It's not people reading necessarily all the things that you're all reading. And most likely you're going to get the people that at this point that Dan's referring to the President and the former president.

RADDATZ: OK, and we'll have to wrap it up there. Thanks to all of you.

Coming up, drone strikes hit civilian areas in Moscow this week ahead of unexpected Ukrainian counter offensive. We're live in Ukraine with the latest.

Plus, new video of that close aerial encounter with a Chinese fighter jet as tensions increase in the Taiwan Strait. We'll cover it all with White House -- with intelligence committee chair Mike Turner, next.


RADDATZ: House Intelligence Committee chair Mike Turner is standing by, ready to go.

We'll be right back.



SECRETARY OF STATE ANTONY BLINKEN: When you look at President Putin's long-term strategic aims and objectives, there is no question, Russia is significantly worse off today than it was before its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, militarily, economically, geopolitically. The Kremlin often claimed it had the second strongest military in the world. And many believed it. Today many see Russia's military as the second strongest in Ukraine.


RADDATZ: Secretary of State Antony Blinken outlining Russia's strategic failures in Ukraine and warning against any short-term cease-fires, as attacks increase on Russian-held areas and Ukraine readies a long-awaited offensive to recapture lost territory.

ABC's Tom Soufi Burridge is in Ukraine tracking the latest.

Good morning to you, Tom.

TOM SOUFI BURRIDGE, ABC NEWS FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, morning, Martha. Have a look at the devastation caused by a Russian missile here in Dnipro overnight. Where I'm standing, there used to be people's apartments. A two-year-old girl killed and three young boys seriously injured in this Russian missile strike, according to local officials.

It is a stark reminder of the brutality of Russia's war in Ukraine, which is now moving into a potentially decisive phase.


SOUFI BURRIDGE (voice over): Ukraine, stepping up preparations for its counter-offensive, taking the fight to Russia this week on multiple fronts, with brazen attacks on Russian soil, a swarm of explosive drones hitting a wealthy district of Moscow, with explosions just three miles from President Putin's country home, in video circulating online. Air defense active in the Russian capital. Russian areas bordering Ukraine now also under attack from drones and artillery.

SOUFI BURRIDGE: We're just a few miles back from the Russian border. These are rear guard Ukrainian positions. And with Ukraine now striking over the border into Russia, this whole area has become a more active front.

SOUFI BURRIDGE (voice over): On the eastern and southern frontlines, Ukrainian firepower hoping to weaken Russian positions.

SOUFI BURRIDGE: Well, we're just back from the frontlines. This is base camp for this Ukrainian tank platoon. They were involved in battles around the city of Bakhmut over the last couple of weeks. And with the Ukrainian counter-offensive promised soon, these guys are ready to move again.

SOUFI BURRIDGE (voice over): For now, they carry out probing missions to test the Russian lines.

SOUFI BURRIDGE: Most of the tanks in the Ukrainian military are made up of these T-72 Soviet-era models. The Ukrainians now have an unknown number of British-made and German-made advance tanks. But those tanks are being hidden from view.

SOUFI BURRIDGE (voice over): And inside this Ukrainian command center, soldiers watch live drone feeds down onto the battlefield.

SOUFI BURRIDGE: We've just seen a Ukrainian drone strike on this drone feed here, down onto Russian positions. You can see the smoke coming up just after.

SOUFI BURRIDGE (voice over): Colonel Bakulin in charge of 6,000 men.

SOUFI BURRIDGE: Is it fair to say that the preparations for the counter-offensive, the initial phase of it, are well under way?

SOUFI BURRIDGE (voice over): They're telling us current operations are building towards the counter-offensive, but it won't begin with a single strike. (END VIDEOTAPE)

SOUFFI BURRIDGE (on camera): And, Martha, the devastation caused by missile strikes like this one on a residential building overnight in Dnipro is partly why Ukraine keeps calling for more air defense systems. But it's also about protecting its troops on the front lines once that counter-offensive begins, the White House insisting Ukraine has the air defense capabilities it needs. Martha?

RADDATZ: Tom Souffi Burridge in Ukraine. Thank you.

Joining us now to discuss the war in Europe and heightened tensions with China is the chair of the House Intelligence Committee, Congressman Mike Turner.

Welcome, Congressman Turner. We appreciate your time.


RADDATZ: This is truly an important moment in this war, this counter-offensive, President Zelenskyy saying they're ready, but acknowledging Russian air superiority and saying a large number of his soldiers will die because of it.

TURNER: Right. I had the opportunity a couple months ago to meet with President Zelenskyy in Kyiv, and to meet with our troops, who are training and who are assisting in planning. And I'm incredibly optimistic. President Zelenskyy has made a great case that this is the fight to preserve democracy. And because of that, he has rallied the West and received incredibly, you know, technologically advanced weapon systems, including German tanks, as you were reporting, U.K. tanks, U.K. long-range missiles, and of course the Patriots, which are protecting Kyiv.

The upcoming offensive, they're ready for; they're trained for; they're equipped for. And Russia is not.

One thing that is amazing to see is the ingenuity of the Ukrainians. You know, we've seen recently where, using United States Patriot systems, they've taken down the Kinzhal missile, which was at the heart of Putin's boasting of the strength of his military, claiming that the missile was undefeatible. They defeated it. That -- that has a huge impact on the mental thoughts of Putin as he looks at this coming offensive.

RADDATZ: And -- and something else which will affect him, we have seen several drone attacks inside Russian territory in recent weeks. Who do you think is behind those and what effect do you think that is having?

TURNER: Well, I don't know who's behind them. And of course, there have been disclaimers by the Ukrainian government that they're not coordinating those. But, you know, one thing, the effect of this, is Putin is having to admit to his public that his air defense systems are inadequate. But it's been interesting to watch the disingenuousness, as he steps forward and said how -- you know, how awful of the Ukrainians to be attacking residential areas, when in fact that's what he's done this entire war. He has attacked civilians; he's attacked residential areas. The atrocities that Russia has committed in Ukraine are unmatched by anything that we have seen.

RADDATZ: And, Congressman, the White House has said it does not support attacks inside Russia. Do you?

TURNER: No. I think, well, certainly we have to understand that Ukraine needs to be able to defend its territory; they need to defend themselves from Russian aggression. The United States does not support, and our weapons systems should not, and are restricted from -- in fact, President Zelenskyy made a commitment that he would not use U.S. weapon systems in Ukraine. I think he's made that commitment directly to me when I saw him last. I believe that he's committed to it. And I think that, you know, the offensive that is being planned and prepared is about Ukrainian territory, with our support.

RADDATZ: And I want to turn to China. The U.S. had a ship transiting the Taiwan Strait this weekend. A Chinese ship came within 150 yards of that. We thank Global News for that video. They were onboard a Canadian ship. You heard Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin saying the U.S. won't stand for bullying or coercion. So what should we do?

TURNER: Well, what we're seeing is an unbelievable aggression by China. If you look at the balloon that flew over the United States, the Chinese police stations, the aggressiveness against our both planes and ships in international water, it goes right to the heart of what President Xi said when he stood next to Putin in Russia, where he said, "They're trying to make change that had not happened in 100 years."

Well, that change is the, you know, 100 years ago, World War I and World War II. That was about democracy versus authoritarianism. They're trying to, you know, flex their muscles and advance authoritarianism. We need to stand strong, and certainly this administration needs to stand strong against this type of coercion and...

RADDATZ: And what does that really mean? It means just continuing what we're doing, even these dangerous encounters?

TURNER: Well, I think it means calling them out. I mean, this is unacceptable. And when you have, for example, a balloon that transits all across the United States, and the administration doesn't respond until the game's over, until it's over the Atlantic, you start -- and when you have police stations that have been operating within the United States, that took forever in order for them to take action, you get this sort of sense of permissiveness, that I think the administration needs to step up and make clear that China has identified itself as an adversary, and we're going to treat it as such.

RADDATZ: And we have very little time here, but I want to go to North Korea. It's claiming to have successfully miniaturized nuclear warheads. Does the U.S. believe these claims are true?

TURNER: Well, I think this is what we believe. Right now, North Korea has nuclear weapons capability, the ability to hit the United States, to be able to hit New York City itself. With respect to North Korea, obviously the concept of deterrence, we have weapons; they have weapons, is dead. We need to go to deterrence plus defense. That means an aggressive missile defense system. We have an opportunity at Fort Drum, that Elise Stefanik has been active to try to get built out a missile defense system that would help to protect New York City. We need to build out that system. And we need to hold China accountable for North Korea.

RADDATZ: OK. Thank you so much for joining us this morning, Congressman.

Up next, as Pride month kicks off, we have a sneak preview of ABC's new "Soul of a Nation" special. Stay with us.


RADDATZ: To honor and celebrate Pride Month this June, ABC News will have month long coverage highlighting the LGBTQ+ community, including a one-hour primetime "SOUL OF THE NATION" special that takes an in depth look at the transgender community, the statewide bans across the country and those working to protect trans rights.

Here's a preview.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Senate Bill 150 bans gender affirming medical care for trans youth.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Restricts bathroom access and bans discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity in the schools.

SEN. MAX WISE (R-KY): We can make common sense decisions here that protect our children.

CHASE STRANGIO, DEPUTY DIRECTOR, TRANSGENDER JUSTICE: In Kentucky Senator Berg held the floor repeatedly urging lawmakers not to target young people.

SEN. KAREN BERG (D-KY): They deserve to exist.

STRANGIO: Her son Henry, a trans young person died by suicide.

BERG: This is absolute willful intentional hate. Hate for a small group of people that are the weakest and the most vulnerable among us.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKERS (in unison): Trans right are human rights!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Trans right are human rights!

BERG In 2015, my son Henry testified in front of the Senate Education Committee against a trans bathroom bill.

HENRY BROUSSEAU, ACTIVIST: I'm Henry Brousseau, I'm a junior a little bit Collegiate School. Unfortunately for me and other trans kids, going to the bathroom can be a scary experience. When I use the boy's room, there's no problem. When I had to use the girl's room I was constantly harassed and picked on.

BERG: All my child was trying to do was have the world agree to see him the way he saw himself. The day we went to the State Senate was the day said to Henry, I'm going to run for office.

JUJU CHANG, ABC NEWS ANCHOR (on-camera): He was fighting for LGBTQ+ rights.

BERG: Particularly trans. He was -- he hadn't --

CHANG: He was the center of the storm.

BERG: He was in the center of the storm. He knew more about what was happening in the individual state houses in this country. He was scared. He was for the first time in his life personally scared, Mom, I don't know if I'm safe to walk across the street anymore. My beautiful trans child had been attacked at least twice.

CHANG: Your son died by suicide but in the larger sense. What killed Henry?

BERG: He gave up on the world. He gave up finding its place in it. He gave up on being able to just find a lane to be in and not have to struggle.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) one of the nation's toughest anti-trans bills is now law in Kentucky.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: GOP lawmakers succeeded in overriding the veto on SB 150.

BERG: Children do not give up hope. Do not hurt yourself. And God forbid you not go out and hurt somebody else over this. We will get this right for you.


RADDATZ: The freedom to exist a "SOUL OF A NATION" presentation spotlighting the transgender community, including an exclusive interview with Oscar nominated actor Elliott Page, premieres Tuesday evening right here on ABC and streams the next day on Hulu.

We'll be right back.


RADDATZ: And that's all for us today. Thanks for sharing part of your Sunday with us. Check out "WORLD NEWS TONIGHT" for all the latest news and have a great day.