Bloomberg's 'contentious past' on policing could hurt 2020 bid: NPR’s Asma Khalid

The Powerhouse Roundtable discusses the upcoming public impeachment hearings and the latest news in the 2020 election.
12:47 | 11/10/19

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Transcript for Bloomberg's 'contentious past' on policing could hurt 2020 bid: NPR’s Asma Khalid
Let's bring in the powerhouse round table. Mary Bruce, ABC news analyst Matthew dowd, NPR correspondent Asma Khalid and axios reporter Jonathan swan. Welcome to all of you. Mary, I'll start with you since you basically live on capitol hill. How do you see these public hearings playing out? You heard congresswoman Jackie Speier and congressman Thornberry. What are you looking at? This is about persuasion. We know what these witnesses are going to testify to. We read the transcripts. Democrats have to sell it to the American public. They have to build a compelling case about why the president abused his power and how that rises to the level of how the constitution describes bribery, high crimes and misdemeanors. Democrats will try to stay laser focused on the president's actions here to pressure Ukraine. They feel it's a cut and dry Cass and easy to sell to the American public. They're aware they have muddied up the messaging in the past. They'll have to cut through the that's not always easy. Exactly. I know she said this again, but it's so simple, even this seems muddied up in the last few weeks. What do you think the Democrats have to do differently, Matt? They have to continue to present their case that they presented over the last month in a clear and concise way. If anybody thinks the public's numbers are going to move dramatically, they're delusional. It's almost at the height level it was for Richard Nixon, as it was when he resigned. It's not going to move that much. I think they'll try to put forth such a compelling case for when it goes to the senate. I think it's all been muddied up. You were asking earlier about the whistle-blower. That's a distraction. The whistle-blower is the person who pulled the fire alarm. Then everybody showed up to say there is a fire and there was an arsonist there and the arsonist has admitted to starting the fire. The person that pulled the fire alarm has nothing to do with anybody. The Republicans are using that as a distraction, Asma. What else can the Republicans do? They've moved Jim Jordan to the -- He's a loyal defender of the president. I'll be curious to see the Republicans' ever-evolving in the Mueller investigation there was a steady line -- no collusion, no collusion. In this situation Democrats will have to present an air-tight case because we're hearing from some Republicans maybe this was -- I don't want to say a quid pro quo. Maybe some folks are acknowledging that was a possibility. Was it an impeachable offense? There's an ever-evolving defense from the Republicans. That's why we're seeing they've added to their witness list hunter Biden. Democrats would argue that's There's probably no way you'll see hunter Biden. Yes. Jonathan, the president seems to be using the same strategy, witch hunt, witch hunt, witch hunt part two, witch hunt 2.0. Is there a new strategy other than that? Even Mac Thornberry was talking about process. I think you're going to see both. Not I think. I know from reporting that you're going to see two things overall from the white house and from Republicans on capitol they're going to be emphasizing that none of the witnesses have firsthand knowledge. They're not the people who were in the room talking to the president. You'll see a lot of Republican questions to people like bill Taylor. Who do you hear this from? Who did they hear this from? Trying to emphasize the degrees of separation. The other thing they're going to do with, I believe, George Kent, the second state department witness, they're going to try to make this about hunter Biden. He admitted to raising concerns about hunter Biden back in 2015. I think that the Republican questioning in that particular hearing will be trying to create that alternative parallel narrative. We talk about people in the room or not in the room at the white house. We've heard from John Bolton's lawyer that he has some rather tantalizing details we haven't heard. He's not going to go up there unless a court tells him to go up there. What do you think the likelihood is and do you really need someone like Bolton? I think the likelihood is almost zero. Democrats I've been talking to over the last two days, they are not inclined to litigate this to have a court fight, even though the courts signalled they're willing to do it quickly. I think people misunderstand John Bolton. The assumption that -- some of the conversation I saw he was a trump quizzling. He was doing this out of loyalty. I don't believe that was the case. I think he does care about the separation of powers. If he's a trump quizzling he's doing a good job hiding it. He's signed a book deal with Jim Comey's book agents. I think at some point we'll hear damaging things from John Bolton. How important is it that there is someone like John Bolton or Mick Mulvaney, the president's acting chief of staff? Republicans argue you need that person to draw that direct would Democrats like to talk to him? Sure. Do they feel they need to to make a compelling case? No. Democrats would not be moving into this public phase if they didn't feel they have the goods, they already have enough evidence to move forward. They are quick to point out that every time a Bolton or Mulvaney refuses their subpoena, that's more evidence the president and the white house is obstructing. I want to turn to the 2020 race. Big news with the possibility that Michael Bloomberg might join the race. Here's how some of the candidates responded in the democratic field. If you want to run for president, that's fine. Don't think you can buy an election by spending millions of dollars. We have a strong field. Not sure we need someone else in it. In terms of he's running because of me -- last polls I looked at I'm pretty far ahead. Okay, then. Bloomberg said in March he wasn't going to run. Why run now? The sense is that there's nervousness amongst establishment Democrats and Democrat high-dollar donors. There's nervousness about Joe Biden as a primary candidate and there's nervousness about senator Elizabeth Warren as a general election candidate. If you talk to democratic voters, they're really happy with this field. Three quarters of Democrats are satisfied with their options. It's some of the more establishment voices. As the establishment democratic party always gets nervous in an election they feel they need to win, I think one of the things we do badly in media is we think an eternity is three years, three years, three months. To me this race looks like to me in the aftermath of watergate, 1976. In 1976 there were 17 candidates that ran. It was the most diverse field. U.S. Senators, former governors, vice president candidates. Who emerged? Somebody that was at 2% in the polls for most of the time, Jimmy Carter, who wasn't in an elected official at the time. Bloomberg polled at about 4%. Today. So I think there are today seven or eight candidates in the field or could be in the field if Bloomberg gets in that have the potential to be the democratic nominee. This is going to have lots of twists and turns. This is not Joe Biden's race. It's not Elizabeth Warren's race. It's not Bernie Sanders' race. I think this race could twist and turn throughout the primary process. Go ahead. It's fine to pull out 1976. It would have to be more rare than that. What Bloomberg is saying I'm going to ignore you Iowa and new Hampshire. And South Carolina. Forget you guys. And fund-raising. I'm going to spend a gob smacking pile of money on super Tuesday blanketing the country with TV ads. We've never seen anything like this before. Iowa and New Hampshire don't take kindly to being ignored. If he gets crushed -- There's evidence a democratic nominee can win without Iowa and New Hampshire. You're going to say bill Clinton. Every article we see is that we're in a disruptive time. The idea you can run a traditional race and win this is gone. We know the polls show there's plenty of room for wiggle room. There's a lot of potential for movement. It creates a problem for Joe if Bloomberg comes in, he's going into Joe Biden's lane. He's coming in with a ton of cash. The fact we know that Bloomberg is thinking about this step is because he's concerned that Biden is fading and it underscores about whether Biden can pull this off. Jonathan, who are the people out there who are saying, yes, Michael Bloomberg is finally getting in the race? It's funny. Asma will have a better view of this than me. When you try to find a blue voter in New Hampshire trying to find a Bloomberg voter in new Hampshire sure, it's more the donors craving a Mike Bloomberg. I wonder whether it's him and his ego. I don't know how many voters in Iowa and New Hampshire want him in. At this point -- I've met here and there somebody excited about a Michael Bloomberg candidacy. Part of Joe Biden's strength is his support among African American voters. Michael Bloomberg has a sketchy past around New York City policing and the me too movement. Does this create a great talking point with Warren and Sanders? Bernie Sanders likes to talk about millions. This gives him another one to rally against. They were quick to come out why they don't think it's a good moderates are wondering if Bloomberg entering the race gives Warren a boost. It also gives an opportunity to -- yes, it helps them post up against Michael Bloomberg. It gives people like Joe Biden and Pete buttigieg to prove out their Progressive mantle. I'll emphasize this. This is a race undecided at this point with 75% of the people saying they're satisfied, you have 75% of the people saying they're not solid in their choice yet in this race. I want to look at the elections this week. You heard Nate silver talk about the meaning of those elections this week. Still too close to call in Kentucky, but big win in Virginia. What do you read about that? I'm overly cautious about interpreting the results as being overly positive for Democrats. If you look at gallop polling, asking voters, Democrats and Republicans, are you enthusiastic about the race, usually the party out of power is more enthusiastic. That should be the Democrats. We saw them both equally enthusiastic. I don't think that's a great sign for Democrats. Mary, quickly. What I find interesting was the impeachment factor. Republicans thinking there would be this backlash to it. That didn't turn out to be the case, especially in Kentucky. If anything impeachment was firing up the Democrats. We'll see if they continue to be fired up after this next week and many beyond. Thanks to all of you for joining us today.

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

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