'Democrats should be a little frightened after this week': Jen Psaki

The "This Week" Powerhouse Roundtable debates the upcoming New Hampshire primary.
17:15 | 02/09/20

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Transcript for 'Democrats should be a little frightened after this week': Jen Psaki
We're advancing with unbridled optimism and lifting our citizens of every race, color, religion and creed very, very high. We were treated unbelievably unfairly and you have to understand, we first went through Russia, Russia, Russia. It was all . But this is a day of celebration, because we went through hell. Recriminations on Thursday and Friday. Quite a week for the president, for the country. Let's talk about it now with our roundtable. Joined by Yvette Simpson. CEO of democracy for America. Our chief white house correspondent Jonathan Karl, chief political Tamas analyst Matthew dowd, Barbara Comstock and Jen psaki, communications director for president Obama. Jon, let me begin with you. Where do things stand right now in New Hampshire? Well, look, this is Biden's last chance to pull it back. It's interesting to see him run the campaign that he didn't want to run. He was the guy who came in as the front-runner, wanted to save all of his firepower for Donald Trump and he's forced to run a campaign he didn't want to run. You agree with that? I do. You know, he's flailing. He came into the state saying he's not going to win. The question is, does he get to South Carolina? Which is where he expects to be save. I don't know. As his energy flails, South Carolina like to be with the winner. We see South Carolina respond, certainly happened with Barack Obama, responded to early results. There was something going on with the Iowa confusion that may have -- we saw mayor Pete get something of a bounce. I do think that people are taking a second look at mayor Pete. People are taking a second look at Amy klobuchar and we could see some impact from that in the New Hampshire outcome. Just to echo on what some of our colleagues have been saying, I think the Biden team is betting on holding on to south Carolina and being able to perform better in a more diverse state, but that's based on the assumption that the African-American vote will hang with him. We just don't know that yet. They're taking a look at Tom Steyer, Bernie Sanders. So that might be a tough bet for the Biden team. One of the things we're seeing, Barbara Comstock, Bernie Sanders basically a tie in Iowa, he's still ahead right here, he gets a win here, it's not inconceivable that he runs the table on the first four. That's right. The Republicans are positively gleeful to see the Iowa debacle and then to see Bernie in this pole position. It reminds me a lot of 2016 where everyone kept kind of staying in, thinking Bernie can't win and now he keeps winning, you know, if he wins here in New Hampshire, looks like it's very possible, then who's going to be the antiparty, nobody's going to get out. With the economy, 63% approval for the economy, he's running on socialism, only Amy klobuchar could actually say socialism is probably not a good idea. I think the Republicans are rooting for Bernie Sanders and the one thing that Adam Schiff accomplished during impeachment, the dispatching of Joe Biden. I also think it's never a good idea because Democrats were rooting for Donald Trump in 016, throughout the process and thinking he was the most vulnerable candidate, he wasn't in the end. To me, we have a pretty good idea the top two are going to be Bernie Sanders and Pete buttigieg. The most interesting thing out of this New Hampshire primary is who finishes third. If Amy klobuchar finishes third, that finishes off in my view Biden and -- what happened I think post-iowa, Pete buttigieg got some bump, but what really happened there was a beginning drift of Joe Biden. Where do Joe Biden's voters go? They initially went to Pete buttigieg. Those voters are going to Amy klobuchar. Whoever comes out of here, I'd add this, two-thirds of the voters in the remaining primaries are going to be women. In my view, a woman candidate alternative, whether it's Elizabeth Warren or Amy klobuchar going forward in this. There's going to be a woman candidate, female candidate alternative. Jon, one thing that's happening, Pete buttigieg making a move coming out of Iowa, he seems to be drawing more fire from the other candidates, from Biden, from Elizabeth Warren, a little bit for Amy klobuchar, than Bernie Sanders is. It seems Bernie Sanders' support is there and he's not going anywhere. Coming out of New Hampshire, you're likely to see a situation of Bernie Sanders against somebody else. Right now, it's buttigieg. That's why he's the target. He's also the most vulnerable. He's doing well in the first two states. But if they can cripple him now, he won't do well in Nevada. When brown voters vote and in South Carolina, when black voters vote. Where does the African-American vote go if Biden continues to fall? You know, that's the big question, which of course is why you're asking it. The buttigieg team will argue he finished second in Iowa among people of color. That's a small population of people of color. He's spending money in south Carolina to introduce himself. I think they look around and they decide who they think is the best candidate to beat Donald Trump and that's ultimately the question for every voter in this race. They may go to Bernie, they may be looking for an alternative to Bernie, I think it's up for grabs at this point. People always say that everybody wants a Barack Obama, all African-American votes went to Barack Obama after Iowa. It was before that. We were seeing some movement in the internal polling before that. We had an operation on the ground, we had organizing on the ground and it really takes a candidate that has that, and they that may be a challenge for Amy klobuchar. It does seem, Barbara, that the Democrats not only had a confusing result in Iowa but are torn internally over -- they're really just thinking who can beat Donald Trump and you're seeing candidates, they're willing to go in any direction that gives them hope on that. When you were interviewing Joe Biden he kept saying I don't understand. I don't understand. He really doesn't. I think what Pete buttigieg is saying, elections are about the future, Joe, and he's somewhat drawing future picture, I do think he's a little bit of the turn the page that George Bush was in 2000 following impeachment. He didn't want to talk about that. He wanted to talk about the future and what he was going to do and I think, who is going to be that candidate? Who has the infrastructure. I do think if Amy gets third here that will open up a new lane for sort of the center left. Does it open up a new lane or does it just give Bernie Sanders a free ride? I think it's very similar to 2016 and Donald Trump. Donald Trump kept getting 28%, 30% of the vote, because there was a multicandidate field he kept winning. Bernie Sanders may be the candidate who keeps winning primary and caucus after another. I think that's why many Democrats want this race to narrow quick. The problem in the field, it's not unlike Democrats, keep in mind in 1992, Bill Clinton won one primary in first 11 and ended up becoming the nominee. Most of the voters are looking for a goldilocks candidate, not too hot, not too cold, just right. Everybody's fine. They haven't found that candidate yet. But you're seeing Carville -- New attacks on Bernie Sanders. He's heard this all before. You're the democratic socialist, he embraces the label. You're Boeing to spend trillions and trillions of dollars. Yes, that's what's I'm going to do. He needs to expand the electorate. Exactly. He didn't do that in the Iowa caucus outcome. He also raised $10 million less in January than he did December. He needs to expand beyond. He's saying the right things. I was at dinner last night, he was saying, we need to be unified, people aren't feeling that. There's a lot of moderates and other Democrats who feel alienated. He's got that 25%. This guy had a heart attack. It's freaking out Carville. He got 35%, he got a significant increase of young people in Iowa and that's his base. Wait a second. Overall, the numbers were on par with 2016, way below 2008. Absolutely. I get that. What he's relying on is getting new voters, young voters to the poll. It was first contest that he could -- I think the biggest problem, vulnerability that Bernie has, that mayor Pete has, which is, you've been serving for 30 years, you've actually done nothing in the U.S. Congress, you passed nine bills, seven of which were resolutions -- He'll say he passed dozens of amendments. The problem is, I'm here, doing all this. You look at it, actually, what have you done? Have you done anything on healthcare, on education? Have you done anything on -- and that I think is Bernie Sanders' biggest vulnerability. Republicans already have the material from Hillary Clinton and other Democrats attacking Bernie saying, you can't work with anybody. A good point about turnout in Iowa not being high. Last night the democratic candidates, they were all just down the road here, had an event at the very same arena where Donald Trump will be on Monday, where he was four years ago, there were empty seats there, there was energy certainly in the Elizabeth Warren section, energy with Bernie Sanders section. But not -- this doesn't look like an energized party. I think a lot of people watch 2018 where you did see incredibly high turnout. New voters coming to the polls. Suburban voters, women voters, minority voters. You don't seem to have that feel in early stages of this presidency. It's still really early. A caucus is a huge commitment. Iowa is not necessarily a reflection of the diverse support that you get from Bernie Sanders, first of all. Second of all, a caucus requires a lot. So we'll see what happens. Traditional primary setting and whether Bernie fares better there. It all depends. I think there's going to be a huge turnout in November. Sao million people will vote in November in this. I think it all depends if you go into a convention without a majority nominee, how do you emerge from the convention, and if they emerge from the convention with great unity and all that, I don't think Democrats have to worry about turnout. And Jen, on today's facts, the last week has gone about as well as Michael Bloomberg could have hoped. A muddle a little bit of what we had. Bernie Sanders' surge sets him up for super Tuesday. Those two seem like the options. That's right, and look, there's an argument that's appealing to a lot of Democrats about Michael Bloomberg, he has the money to go the distance. I didn't make the rules. I don't think they're fair, either. Ultimately we need money to defeat Donald Trump. He said he's going to spend billions of dollars to beat Donald Trump. He has staff in every early state. He's outspent Donald Trump on Facebook. He outspent the combination of the top four Democrats. People are hearing that and they're taking a look at Bloomberg as well. That's true in many states across the country. The talk of Elizabeth Warren and money, they'll take Michael Bloomberg's money at the end of the day. They shouldn't turn it down. If Michael Bloomberg continues to move up on super Tuesday, that almost guarantees a brokered convention. Doesn't it? Michael Bloomberg hasn't been tested. He has a really checkered past. Especially with African-Americans with the stop and frisk record. He's not had to be in a debate yet. I think he'll flail. What does his base look like? Since the Barack Obama election, we have to know as a party, it will take someone who can inspire and excite, as great as Bloomberg has been, he doesn't inspire people to come out and vote for him. The harshest attack of our debate was Elizabeth Warren going after Michael Bloomberg. I don't see how he get -- he's playing out, this is -- Michael Bloomberg may win New Hampshire without being here, you know, how does he unite? How does he get Elizabeth Warren supporters? Matthew dowd, what to make of president trump's week, skillful state of the union, very skillful on how he outreach to African-Americans and other minorities, with outreach to his own base, we follow up on Wednesday with the acquittal, Thursday with that wild scene in the east room and the firings on Friday. To me, the most important part of the president's state of the union is the third of time he spent on the economy. Can he move the delta between the people who approve him on the economy and approve him on the presidency? The biggest fear of Donald Trump is no one running in the democratic primary, it's Donald Trump. Because Donald Trump, he has a capacity dm we saw on Thursday, do the crazy ridiculous things. I think if Donald Trump can be disciplined which is a huge ask, it makes it very hard for the Democrats. Any guarantee, Donald Trump will be chaotic and undisciplined. And his high water mark, he's at 49%. As good as it's been for Donald Trump. So this -- 63% on the economy and so the outreach that he did, whether you like him or not, people are starting to get used to this chaos and particularly if you have a grumpy 70-year-old -- 77-year-old Bernie Sanders being just as cranky but for this guy, the economy is good. No matter who the democratic candidate -- I'll bring this to Jen, 49%, yes, you could make the argument with an economy it should be 55%, 60%. 49% was about where Barack Obama was at going for re-election. In this kind of polarized environment that may be enough. That's right, it may be. Democrats should have their eyes open about that. Looking back at this week, Iowa democratic party got a lot of attention for good reason, for the disaster that was. But president trump is at 49% as you said, watching the state of the union I was struck by the fact that he was trying to sell his appeal to African-Americans across the country. I may sit here and think that's laughable but people watching may have bought that. He's a good producer, a good producer of visuals. He's now empowered after his acquittal, so it's little scary. Democrats should be frightened after this one. All the president needs to do with African-American voters is hold that enthusiasm for Democrats. The reality is, he's never had a real stronghold on the African-American community. The African-American community is not stupid. They knew that was a show. He has no real base there. He continues to lack a real, consistent base. What he has is some Republicans, black Republicans, trying to hold on to him. Even though a lot of those people have peeled off. I don't know how he gets African-Americans. That's the question, Barbara come stak, will the president get in his own way? Well, of course. The Democrats are giving him ammunition every day and they're getting in their own way and that's why you see people like James Carville and Rahm Emanuel, and the establishment Democrats, freaking out. Because the president has a great economy. The lowest unemployment for blacks, women. So, that's a good selling point when you target it into the swing states and then when you have Nancy Pelosi getting in the democratic presidential candidates' way this week also and being a foil and so I do think the Democrats have a big problem, particularly if it's Bernie, you'll have socialism in the way.

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

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