'Biggest asset Joe Biden has is Donald Trump': Matthew Dowd

Martha Raddatz talks Trump's Fourth of July celebration, the 2020 presidential race and the rest of the week's politics with the powerhouse roundtable on "This Week."
13:45 | 07/07/19

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Transcript for 'Biggest asset Joe Biden has is Donald Trump': Matthew Dowd
Let's bring in our roundtable, ABC news political analyst Matthew dowd, ABC news correspondent Karen Travers who covers the white house for us. Steve innskeep and fivethirtyeight senior political writer Perry bacon, Jr. Welcome to you. Karen Travers a first here today. Matt, let's get right to the poll out this morning. Backed by a strong economy, of course, the president has reached his highest approval rating in polling of 44%, still well below 50%. What should any 2020 Democrat be concerned about looking at these numbers? Even this far in advance. Well, 44% is like saying you're the thinnest person at fat camp. I mean, it's not a good number to go in as president. As we know from the polling, the average number that the president had in ABC polling over the course of his 2 1/2 presidency, is 39%. No president has been that low. I think there are parts of the poll that the president can celebrate which is on the economy, his problem is every other issue he's under water on. Democrats have to be concerned even at that point of low approval rating and where the president stands today they don't have overwhelming leads when you go from adults to registered voters. They do have leads, but it closes fast. This is going to be an exceedingly competitive race from now until November 2020. Karen, and a majority of the country approves of the president's handling of the economy. The stock market reached another high this week. Just playing off of that, if that remains the case, simply the road to victory? The trump campaign hopes it is and enough to propel him. That's the president's best number on the economy. The economy is the top issue for American voters, and that's why you'll see the trump campaign make the president make that centerpiece of all of his campaign rallies, his campaign everything else becomes problematic. Healthcare and immigration is equally as important to the economy, on that the president has high disapproval ratings. And one of those big issues, one that we've been talking about all morning, Steve, 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? Well, he certainly ran on in 2018 not very successfully. But he believed that was something that motivated his base voters. We should remember that people who are more conservative have a different media diet and they're seeing a different narrative of what's going on in these detention centers and who's responsible. The president has a simple message -- if they don't like the conditions they shouldn't come. Something he said in the last day or so. That people in more conservative media outlets will be saying. We should also note in the poll, Martha, 44% approval rating is not good. As Matthew correctly notes. Yet, in the same poll, when asked how people may plan to vote against various Democrats, the president gets up to 46%, 47%, 48%. There are people disapprove of the president who don't approve of the president's performance who are nevertheless saying in the same poll they're ready to vote for them. That happened in 2016. It's the thing that could get the president back in the white house. And Perry, the first look at polling since the first democratic debate, the latest ABC news/"washington post" 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? We have had overall, the five post-debate polls. The debate seems a million years ago. ABC poll was pretty strong for Biden. Biden still leads in almost every poll. 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 wasn't great for him, showing up in the numbers now. Harris from fund-raising, from on the ground in Iowa, has a bit of a momentum right now. Can the other democratic candidates really chip away at Biden at this point, Matthew? It shows in aftermath of the debate, they can. Joe Biden was sitting at 38%. He's down to 25%. I think we're in the round, some soccer, go women today, they're playing the Netherlands today. We're in this group stage and we're about to go into the knockout stage soon. Probably in advance of the ABC debate in September. I think Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders are the two weakest sort of front-running candidates that we have had in a party in a long, long time. I think once other candidates do well in debates that's when I think those two are really in trouble. 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? It helps because it allows him to make this general election. It allows Biden that this is all about who can best beat trump. It allows him to skip the democratic primary at this point and focus on next year. It hurts because Joe Bidens getting it from all sides, from his democratic rivals and from president trump. But you're right, the president focuses on Joe Biden more than any other candidate. He make public comments about him. He tweets about him. Yesterday, he was also tweeting about Joe Biden, that shows perhaps he's paying attention to the polls which shows Joe Biden leading him nationally and key states. I also think that the trump campaign feels there are weaknesses about Joe Biden they can exploit. Biggest asset that Joe Biden has is Donald Trump. He has electability and that's his biggest asset right now, going up against Donald Trump is the best thing Joe Biden has. And Steve, the war of words between kamala Harris and Biden continued this week over the issue of busing. Going back to those debates, since their campaigns argued over whether they really disagree on the issues. Yesterday, we heard this from an apology? Hang on just a second. 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. Okay, Steve, will that end it? He said I'm sorry for any pain or misconception is an actual apology. In a sense it ends we have this endless river of news going on. We're so far out from the election. We may not remember this episode weeks from now. It gets to the heart of Biden appeal and his political style and the way he wants to sell himself. He wants to tell voters I am the guy who can work with the other side. I can work with the other side. 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 segregationists were still in positions in the government. He dealt with those people once upon a time. Perry? I think it puts thiissue to bed. He apologized. Which is what Cory booker asked for. It shows a weakness -- How about the fact that it was two weeks. Exactly that, Cory booker should have apologized 18 days ago. If you're going to move on this issue, anyway, this is the problem with Biden, he has the wrong position in the current democratic party on a long list of issues, and he either has to move and he probably has to move quickly as opposed to letting this -- getting attacked by booker, Harris, Elizabeth Warren on this issue. He had to adjust -- he needs to figure out where in the party -- apology tour? Exactly. 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 is, does he fit the 21st century American and democratic party? Over the steps he's taken in the last 30 days he showed he's out of sync with the country is today. The democratic party, for sure. Karen, one of the things that 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 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? 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 a path on healthcare. Or immigration. The president makes it all about personality because of the nicknames, the personal insults of other candidates. You'll never see the president get out there and give a detailed rebuttal to a policy position of Elizabeth Warren or Joe Biden. That's how he does politics. When it's on his terms voters recognize that, and then they're not focusing on the policy they're focusing on the personality of Donald Trump. How do the Democrats get them back to focus on the issues? I had an opportunity to talk with democratic voters, for Democrats as well, it's all about Donald Trump. And their question, voter after voter and voter, who's going to beat this man? That's why Joe Biden has seemed strong up until now because it seems he can beat him. I think the Democrats are making a mistake in talking almost too much about the issues. Americans want Obamacare want to stay and some improvements to their health care. I think the Democrats have to be careful. Voters are concerned about Donald Trump. He has a high disapproval rating. We know that there's anti-Trump majority in the country. The question is, are the Democrats speaking to them in the right way? And think a smarter campaign, people don't like trump's personality more than his policies, I would argue. Presidential elections are always -- they're never fundamentally about personality or issues. They're always about values. I think the Democrats have made mistakes in presidential elections. Obama did this well. You have to talk about all of those things, personality and policies as it relates to a big broad value that the American public cares about. And Perry, I just want to get you quickly on the second-quarter fund-raising, which brought some staggering totals. Kamala, nearly $12 million. Bernie Sanders, $18 million. Pete buttigieg, $24.8 million. All really impressive hauls across the board. What do you make of mayor Pete buttigieg getting nearly $25 million, but sitting at only 4% in the latest poll. I think it tells you, he has a deep intense coalition but not a broad one. He has very low numbers of African-Americans. 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. I'm surprised that Biden didn't do particularly well, but I don't think mayor Pete has to broader his coalition. Thoefb it's coastal elite and you can raise money with them and not win many votes from them. Steve, just very quickly, congressman Justin Amash who's been very critical of Donald Trump and his belief that the president committed impeachable offenses. Announced on the fourth, he's leaving the GOP. Today he said, he still wouldn't rule anything out, perhaps that inchewed a run against Donald Trump. Everyone else is running, why wouldn't he run? Whether it's a real possibility I don't know. You have to ask if you're Justin Amash, do you take votes away from the Democrat in that scenario and help re-elect the president. Matt, very quick final word. Your thoughts on the president's salute to America? I'd like to quote George W. Bush, what he said about the president's inauguration, that was some weird blank. I thought it was bizarre. Instead of a celebration of 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. I think it was a rather bizarre celebration of July 4th. He said the troops and he did stay on message most of the time. When he wasn't talking about airports. Exactly. Thanks for all of you. Always great to see you especially on a holiday weekend.

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

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