COVID-19 will affect Trump, Xi 'authority ... ability and capacity to govern': Emanuel

The Powerhouse Roundtable breaks down the latest in the 2020 race on "This Week."
15:34 | 03/08/20

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Transcript for COVID-19 will affect Trump, Xi 'authority ... ability and capacity to govern': Emanuel
So you want to face Joe Biden or Bernie Sanders, that's my question. I'll tell you, I was all set for Bernie because I thought it was going to happen. Mentally I'm all set for Bernie, communist, I had everything down. I was all set. And then we have this crazy thing that happened, right, on Tuesday. So now I'm ready for Bernie and now all of a sudden I have a whole different deal, two very different people. I think in a certain way Bernie would be tougher. President trump not the only one surprised by super Tuesday. Let's talk about this now on our roundtable. Chris Christie, Rahm Emanuel, former chief of staff to president Obama, and Alexis mccammond and Maryalice parks. Welcome to all of you. Rahm, let's begin with this super Tuesday fallout. We were here a week ago, I don't predicted the kind of finish that Biden had. The party has closed ranks behind him so fast. Faster than anybody ever predicted. And I would say, one thing that he's benefitted the democratic party, Montana. You have a state with no senate race is now in play. Governor bullock is going to run. That happened because of Joe Biden. If Bernie looked like he split super Tuesday or done better, you wouldn't have had a senate race. I think this happened faster. I do want to say the one rule of the last year whatever you think on Tuesday is not true by Thursday. How about the last decade? Well, I was just being generous. But I think -- it's my big heart. So I think everything -- look, a month ago, everybody was going to say Donald Trump, the economy, impeachment is over, shoo-in, today it's a difficult calculation given the virus and given all the other things that are happening. Until we get through three or four more I believe Joe Biden will be the nominee. And Steve running for senate is a good theory of Joe Biden as the nominee. Better down-ballot Democrats for someone like Bernie Sanders. Places that helped Democrats take back the house in 2018. Joe Biden helped campaigned for these candidates in 2018. That he's hoping to help in 2020 with down-ballot races in a way that he thinks Bernie Sanders can't help them. You saw Bernie Sanders who said he has Jesse Jackson on his side. He seems to be throwing all old possible Joe Biden votes in Michigan represents more than Michigan, it represents the general election to him, that saved his election in 2016. I think lit have a big psychological impact on him. If he wins there, a sign he'll be willing to fight this out. He fundamentally thought in 2016 more Democrats should have seen Michigan as a data point about Hillary Clinton's vulnerabilities. If he wins he'll be making the same argument all over again. Of course this isn't 2016, this is 2020 and running against Joe Biden is fundamentally different than running against Hillary Clinton. I'm not convinced that some of those arguments about trade and manufacturing are going to land against Joe Biden. Listening to Bernie Sanders right there, he's going to fight hard through Tuesday and beyond. But he started to signal that maybe not take this all the way if the numbers aren't there. There's a difference here, one of the differences here in 2020 for the Democrats, in 2016 Hillary Clinton was the bogeyman, Republicans wound up getting behind Donald Trump because we can't have Hillary Clinton as president. The exact opposite is happening this time. Democrats are looking at Donald Trump and he's the bogeyman to them. So even someone like Bernie Sanders who's not going to run for president again, he's 78, he knows this is his last shot, but he doesn't want to be the guy who's blamed for re-electing Donald Trump. One last thing about Michigan, I do think there's great potency to the trade issue. If I were the Sanders' people that's what I would be talking about. That's what the president's talking about, too. On fox, he continued there to talk about trade with Joe Biden. He sounded a lot like Bernie Sanders talking about Joe Biden. One thing that Joe Biden has that Bernie doesn't, the auto bailout which came out of the term, resources Sanders voted against it. The resources to save general motors and Chrysler, we used the resources to save the auto industry and the manufacturing jobs that are left in the auto industry came from the resources. Listen, but here's the thing, is Biden smart enough to do that? That's the other point I want to make is that, yea, Joe Biden is clearly the front-runner now but there's no theme to the Biden campaign. There's no theme to it. No organizing principle behind it other than I can beat Donald Trump. I'm the best person to lead the ticket. He better come up with something and that's an obvious. Alexis, one of the things that we saw Tuesday, turnout increased in Virginia and Texas, we saw Democrats come out and that was less a pro-joe vote than anti-Trump vote. Anti-Trump vote and to an extent an anti-sanders vote. They're giving them a real valuable alternative to someone like Bernie Sanders to vote for who they think can defeat Donald Trump. Joe Biden's message about beating Donald Trump maybe not be the most complex message, but they priorityize beating trump, to hammer that message and he can win 10 out of 14 states on super Tuesday is really important. For Michigan, it's not just trade it's health care. Michigan gave birth to the nation's awe or the workers. Think about how many union workers I have talked to, other reporters talked to who are torn over this idea of medicare for all. Having their health care they negotiated and replaced because of a government-controlled health care plan. I wouldn't discount another health care issue. Women's reproductive rights. That to me signals that he knows a lot of female voters in the democratic party are really grieving with Elizabeth Warren being out of this race. A subtle way to speak to voters. He may not get her endorsement before Michigan -- Her campaign basically said she doesn't owe anyone an endorsement. Does anyone think that Joe Biden isn't pro-choice? No, champions of these issues. These are inside baseball arguments. In the end, none of them should be talking about health care. If anybody should be, it should be Biden saying, Bernie wants to take your health care away from you. That's the argument in Michigan. Bernie shouldn't be talking about health care. Couple of things I think that Democrats need to step back, Bernie didn't produce a surge of vote. In fact the surge was on the moderate side not on the far-left side of the party. Repeating 2018. And number two, and I say this as a fund-raiser, money isn't everything. I used to say, the two billionaires got 8 delegates combined. That's not everything. Third, while this notion is important about identity, you had African-American voters overwhelming vote for Joe Biden. When Elizabeth Warren did not win women voters, didn't win them in Massachusetts. I think the analysis, and I go back to what Kennedy and Obama said, when they both ran, when speaking to religious leader he said I'm the democratic nominee who happens to be catholic not the catholic nominee running for president. What Joe Biden said the depth of his message in a broad coalition. We heard president trump start to look ahead to the general election, not sure he believes that Joe Biden is a weaker candidate than Bernie Sanders. But Alexis, this is now happening if Biden continues to do well on Tuesday and beyond against the backdrop of this coronavirus crisis, which really does seem to have kind of blindsided the white house, and they know now the impact could be severe on the general election. Well,, that's what's so fascinating. Something that I've been looking ahead to. Looking ahead to the spring and summer, if the markets start to tumble, continue to tumble because of coronavirus and the president has to go to congress and ask for an economic stimulus package of some sort, or packages of some sort, Democrats in congress will have to decide whether or not they're going to approve this package. Essentially potentially reelect the president. Political calculus isn't the only thing to consider when you're dealing with coronavirus and the economic impacts. That puts them right before the nominating conventions and the general election if it comes later in the summer. Chris, it seems the president's initial impulse on this to do anything possible not to spook the financial markets. Listen, I went through something on a smaller scale during hurricane sandy, and the fact of the matter is that the only way you reassure people is to be strong, to have a plan and to be aggressive. They want -- I remember the first visit I made, the day after sandy to the Jersey shore, I got off a helicopter, a 68-year-old woman came running toward me. The state police stopped her because she looked so upset. I let her come through. She grabbed me and hugged me, thank god you haven't forgotten us. We forget that people are full of fear not just about what they know but about what they don't know. The only way for the government to be effective is to be aggressive, strong and lay out a plan, people understand that this is serious and they don't feel like they're necessarily getting the truth. Dr. Ashton made the point, as well, Rahm, when people hear don't panic from a government leader they panic. Here's the thing, every crisis overwhelming force on the front end. By the time you do it if you wait three weeks you loss the initiative. This administration right now couldn't organize a one-car parade. What's devastating for Donald Trump beyond the fact that this requires science, management, data and being transparent, which are all his weaknesses, you're going to have a point that within two months you can't have big events together. If you look at presidential history, Franklin Roosevelt used to drive out into the country. President bush 41 was on a speedboat. The bush and Ronald Reagan would obviously go to their ranches. He won't be able to have his rallies. The office is isolating enough and his inability to get the admiration, that adulation from those crowds, will psychologically torment him He's not been willing to give up his rallies. On the democratic side they're cancelling events. Yes. They're working on public health officials to see if those rallies are still safe. The other thing that happened this week, the president called the governor of Washington state a snake. The idea that some Americans would have to in any way worry that they're not going to have the relationship with the federal government because they live in a blue state instead of a red state doesn't speak well to his ability to calm fears or keep people comforted in this kind of crisis. Chris Christie, the president's first tweet this morning attacking the media for the way we're covering it. He seems to want to go back to the playbook that works for him. Listen, there's still time to be able to be very aggressive because the severity of this in our country right now -- He lost the initiative. It's not the way I would have done it. So, you know, you still have time, though, to be able to put forward some very aggressive forward-thinking steps to be able to get people's confidence and so, listen, all the old playbooks will be out in a couple of weeks because we could be sitting here in July and August with conventions that aren't going to happen, depending on how this breaks we could be sitting here watching the NCAA tournament with no fans in the stands. So we're entering into a whole different social realm now. That everyone's going to have to react -- We haven't wrapped our heads completely around. My view is, on this kind of stuff, Rahm is right. We have been through things like this before, I had a quarantine -- Finish that thought. Rahm was right. Rahm was right. But when the ebola crisis went on, we had a nurse who came with an elevated fever to the airport, I made the decision to quarantine her for three days at the hospital. If she had ebola, the impact that would have had on the citizens was monumental. I was putting their public safety ahead of the interest. I think two things, in about five months, four months, this virus is going to affect both president trump and chairman XI and their capacity and authority to govern. That will be conclusion that it took a virus -- Those two go together. Meantime, we learned from a late-night tweet on Friday, he has a new chief of staff mark meadows. That's right. Axios reported that same night Mick Mulvaney was in Las Vegas on a guys' trip when he got canned by the president. Mulvaney told axios in a phone that the president and he had been talking about this since November about a potential change. We know that their relationship has been a little rocky over the last few months. Mark meadows is a staunch advocate for the president on the hill. We know the president loves and rewards loyalty. Meadows is going to replace Mulvaney. Staunch advocate. Another way to put this, this is someone who's good on television and he's basically been auditioning for this role for the last few months and we know as you said the president really loves to see his advocates who are willing to go in front of the camera day in and day out. Terrific discussion. That's all for us. Thank you for sharing part of

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

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