'This is truly a game of chicken': ABC News' Mary Bruce on government shutdown fight

The "This Week" Powerhouse Roundtable reflects on the biggest stories of the week and looks ahead to 2019.
17:27 | 12/30/18

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Transcript for 'This is truly a game of chicken': ABC News' Mary Bruce on government shutdown fight
Discussion have broken down. We expect this to go on for a while. A shut down looks a little different under a Republican administration. We won't be weaponizing the shut down like we believe the previous administration did. We could be in this for the long haul. Acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney saying the president is prepared to let the shutdown continue for sometime. We'll continue the discussion with Matthew dowd, reihan Salam, executive editor of "National recrew" and author of "Melting pot civil war," Mary Jordan national political correspondent for "The Washington post" and Mary Bruce. We have the double marys over here today. I love it. Mary, week two of the shutdown the president said he's in the white house waiting for Democrats to talk to him. He's made no effort at substantial negotiations. Where are we? What next? There's no end in sight. There's been no real attempt to negotiation at all. It's truly a game of chicken. Both sides are digging in. There's no real political incentive for either side. We know that later this week house Democrats will pass some kind of bill to reopen the government. It won't include the funding the president wants. The pressure will be on senate Republicans and Mitch Mcconnell. Once again Donald Trump is the X factor. It's astounding he canceled his trip to stay in Washington and work this out and it appears there have been zero conversations. I'm told president trump hasn't reached out to chuck Schumer or Nancy Pelosi. They haven't talked in 19 days. The more this goes on, it's more about politics and winning. And staying home. Matthew, can the president get out of this without folding in some way? Why doesn't he do it sooner? Why doesn't he do it before Nancy Pelosi? He put himself in a box. The lead up to this show talked about his own statements and the chaotic way he led in the midst of this. We've given up on the idea he's going to act presidential. What can we ask him to be in this new year? I would give him advise of Dwight Shoop with "The office." He said whenever I'm about to do something I ask would an idiot do it? If an idiot wouldn't do it, I shouldn't. The shut down can't go on obviously forever. There's many things not getting funded that need funded. Up until now, as Mary said, it's been all Republicans in charge. Nancy Pelosi taking over next week. It will be a different ball game from many different aspects. The president himself has put himself in the position where he shut down the government and now he doesn't know how to get out of it. Reihan, he's clearly looking to his base and trying to please his base. How effective is this if it drags on and on? When is he hurt with this even by his base, if at all? The president realizes there's a small number of Obama trump voters who were willing to give the president the benefit of the doubt on a wide range of economic issues and who agreed with him on hot button issues like immigration. He's tryinaise the salients of immigration and the wall in hopes of regaining that wall in hopes of regaining that constituency that drifted away from him in 2018. They gave him the benefit of the doubt because they thought he was not a conventional Republican. If you're looking at the first two years, when it comes to economic and domestic policy, he didn't govern like a different Republican. As much as he might want to raise the salience of that, it's not necessarily going to work the same magic when he's an incumbenpresident as it did when he was a challenger. Do you agree with that, Matt? The president didn't win the states that he won because of the wall. If you go back and look at the analysis and look at the midterms when he pushed this immigration thing, he lost those voters. That's what he's not holding on to in this. I think the president has to decide that he's going to lead in the consensus and do for the common good. I think it's almost impossible for this president to do. I want to go to the basics of this partial shut down. Mary Jordan, the president tweeted this week suggesting the shut down mostly impacts Democrats. I'm not sure how he came to that. This really does affect so many people. One government agency included this suggested language that furloughed workers send to their landlords. I would like to discuss with you the possibility of trading services to perform maintenance, painting, carpentry work, in exchange for rent payments. They walked that back. Do you think the president understands the shut down and who it effects? No. What people are saying is stop it. Just stop the political game. This is all about politics. It's not about the wall. I spent five years writing about Mexico. I've been all along the border. Talking about a $5 billion wall and shutting down the government because you've want that is kind of like investing in land line technology in the era of cell phones. There's tunnels everywhere. People can dig tunnels all along the wall. It's not about the wall. It's silly to blame the Democrats about this. It's a deflection. A lot of bad news for Donald Trump lately. The economy is erratic. The Mueller probe is coming down. It's not going to be good news for him. Again, he wants the boogie man. He wants the Democrats. Regular people are like stop it. Do the hard thing. Fix immigration. We want a lot of these people to come across the border. We need them in the nursing homes. We need them in these jobs. Do the hard thing. Figure out how to get Visas for people who can work. Toughen the border where we need it and stop talking about $5 billion on a concrete ball that makes no sense. To reihan's point, and if it echos, how long -- all of your predictions around the table on how long it can be last. If there are any lessons to be learned from past shut downs it could last until public frustration boils over. When you have 800,000 workers working without pay or furloughed, the impacts will be felt. Some of it may not have been felt over the holidays. Early poling suggests more of the American public are blaming the president and Republicans than Democrats. If they find the solution, how long does the solution last. They can only kick the can down the road for a couple more weeks. Until you hear the public out cry it's hard to predict. Mary? I don't think it will last too long. The president is good at knowing what the public wants and the public is going to see through this. Congressman Jeffries said the Democrats are open to enhanced border fencing, but not a wall. The idea of a wall is medieval, but the fencing is fine. Enhanced border fencing, you can dig a tunnel under that too. They voted for enhanced border fencing, wall funding in various configurations before. Because there were about 30 seats where Democrats won over districts that have historically been Republican that could be interesting going forward. With Donald Trump we're going to set another record. The previous record for a shut down was 21 days. I think we'll pass that. Donald Trump's already given up on the wall. He's talking about a fence with slats. He's given up on Mexico paying for it. I bet they still call it a wall. He calls it a wall with his base. Ultimately -- I agree with reihan, the solution will be something we pass that we're not going to call a wall. We're going to set a record over 21 days. Let's look ahead to that lovely prospect. In 2019 it's a whole new world for president trump. Starting this coming week. What do you expect? Is he prepared for that? I don't think he's prepared for it. They have a new chief of staff coming in. They'll have a new defense secretary coming in. They have an acting secretary in a number of places and they don't have an infrastructure in the white house able to deal with the amount of subpoenas. The amount of investigation. Nancy Pelosi will play this smart. She's going to pass bills on public safety, she's going to do something on guns, she's going to pass a bunch of stuff and she'll let her people chair committees. I don't think Donald Trump is going to know what hit him. Mary Bruce, that sounds interesting. But they do have to get something done. Democrats have to. They know there's a real danger in them overplaying their hand. They can't just investigate and issue subpoenas until they're blue in the face. They have to actually legislate. They're planning this anti-corruption push which is about setting a new tone. Trying to take on the influence of money and politics. It has very little to no chance of becoming a reality and getting the president's signature. It gives Democrats a chance to say there's a new sheriff in town. It also kind of dares Republicans. It puts them in a tough situation to vote against some of these issues. That's something you're going to see over and over. Democrats trying to box in Republicans. Reihan, you talked about Donald Trump appealing to his base. And wanting to do that. If that doesn't work, if he sees that falling away what kind of 2019 can you expect with Donald Trump? There are a number hings we haven't figured out. It looks as though he might have a deal with China. He might be able to broker some kind of compromise. That could be a significant victory. It's possible the stock market as in 1987 doesn't pretend some lanch larger economic correction. You can see a healthy economy through 2019 too. There are still ways he can turn this around. Relating to the border question, that we haven't discussed as much, the president achieved a big victory by getting Mexico to cooperate with U.S. Authorities in pursuing the remain in Mexico proposal. He did not declare victory. He didn't declare ownership of that victory, but further moves in the direction of fostering cooperation with the Mexican government. With Central American governments that could yield further victory. That's going to be a fleeting thing with Mexico. The president -- We'll have to see how that works. We'll see how long that works. Very quickly, Mary, I want to ask you each, 2019 is significant in another way. It's the year before 2020. We've seen some potential candidates. Gillibrand, Elizabeth Warren, kamala Harris, beta O'rourke, Corey booker, what are you expecting this year? Most people are saying in the next few months we'll have two dozen, maybe more, serious contenders. It could play out all the way to summer. Now you don't have to announce as early as you used to. You can have a star come out later. Yes, they need the ground game and to go to Iowa. It's a little different. This roll out is going to begin January 1st. It's going to go all the way through summer. Are you going to see any senators on the hill? They're going to be bouncing back and forth between Iowa and New Hampshire and D.C. So many said they were taking the holiday break to make the decision. Probably a lot of conversations around the holiday dinner table. A lot of them want to jump in early. Contrary to your point, in some ways they want to get a held start because the field is so big. You're looking at north of 30 Democrats. A lot of them are eager to make their mark. None of them are eager to have Donald Trump trashing them. This will be a wedding dress for the Democrats something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue. I think what you need to see is they need a woman to rise in this. An enormous amount of money will be spent. Because delegates are issued proportionately, this could last a really, really long time. It's going to be a long couple years. Thanks. We'll be right back. Thanks. We'll be right back. That's all for us today. A big thank you to everyone that works so hard behind the scenes to bring you "This week" every week. We leave you with the united States air force band performing "One voice." Have a happy and healthy new year. Performing "One voice." Have a happy new year. ?????? ??? this is the sound of one voice ??? ??? one spirit one voice ??? ??? the sound of one who makes a choice ??? ??? this is the sound of one voice ??? ??? this is the sound of one voice ??? ??? this is the sounds of voices two ??? ??? the sound of me singing with you ??? ??? helping each other to make it through ??? ??? this is the sound of voices too ??? ??? this is the sound of voices two ??? ??? this is the sound of voices three singing together in

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

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