Generational divide in Democratic Party real, and Biden's 'got a problem': Mary Bruce

The "This Week" Powerhouse Roundtable debates the latest in the 2020 race and all the week's politics.
14:20 | 05/05/19

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Transcript for Generational divide in Democratic Party real, and Biden's 'got a problem': Mary Bruce
in the race? Or he hopes he's the nominee? I think he's the latest flavor of the day and I think, you know, next week it will be somebody else for the Democrats. The mayor of some town was on "Time" magazine yesterday so he'll be the flavor of week -- Mayor Pete buttigieg. All right, let's bring in powerhouse roundtable. Former New Jersey governor and ABC news contributor Chris Christie, democratic strategist Stefanie James brown. Jonathan swan, national political reporter for axios, and our own Mary Bruce. So, the mayor of some town. But let me ask you, you heard senator Sanders on this question of the new generation of leadership, this line that so many of his opponents are saying, he sounds like he's not going to exploit the youth of his opponents. I don't think that's going to matter. I don't think the youth kind of biden/sanders/warren wing of the party, I don't think that's where the divide is going to be. I think this divide is going to be all the energy is on the far left of the party, can someone like Biden who's off to seemingly a good start, can he survive? When all the energy is on the left side. I think this is very much a left/center argument inside their party. Who's going to come out of it and how are they going to manage that. Stefanie, this seems like we're seeing a real war for the ideological soul of the democratic party in this primary. Biden and Sanders represent two very different visions for the party and for America? Absolutely. But right now, we're seeing Biden is being very successful in his race right now. I mean, people like Joe Biden. He is polling 20 points higher than any of his other competitors. People think that he's the man to beat Donald Trump. Right now, they want a candidate who will not only be strong on policy but beat trump. I think it's actually being overblown how much people are talking about the ideological differences. People want someone who ease charismatic, someone who can beat trump and someone they can trust. What is the answer to the question that judge Jeanine was asking Mick there, why is the president so enthralled with tweeting about Joe Biden? Is that who he worries about? Trump, a couple of people have told him, at least one I know of, person who have told him stop elevating Biden. It's only helping him. Trump likes to define people early on. That's his whole game. I need to brand him. It's all through the lens of branding. That's what he's doing right now. Trump just looks the polls. It's not that complicated. He looks at the polls, Biden's at the top. I'll spend a lot of time beating this guy up. From any conversation with people around trump I don't think he's expressing, wringing his hands about what do I do about Biden? That's not how he is. People around him who see Biden as the biggest threat for very simple reasons -- the rust belt is where they need to win this election. And Biden can take a lot of these voters. And it's interesting how much Biden himself is talking about trump. When you compare what Biden has said in the last several events, versus your conversation with Bernie Sanders, Sanders is talking about Biden, Biden is talking about trump. I disagree with the governor. The generational issues are real, he has a problem with the under-30. I like Joe Biden, he reminds me of my grandpa. If I asked them, do they feel grandpa Joe can represent them? I got shoulder shrugs and awkward pauses. I asked a lot of voters, if it comes down to Bernie and Biden, how do you make that decision? Every single voter when it comes down to it they want someone, anyone to beat Donald Trump. Biden says he's going to be very tough on Margaret thatcher. By the way, that's why Biden I think is doing this smartly. Biden doesn't want to argue with any of those people. He doesn't want to argue with Bernie or buttigieg. Biden's like, you want to beat trump? I'm the guy. That has to be the argument. That recent poll helps him. Listen, I'm the guy who can do this and do this better than anybody else. That will override all this in the end. Democrats want to win. They do want to win. What's interesting about that same poll also showed that Democrats overwhelmingly, yes, Democrats are focused on beating trump, but they also really want to pivot on issues they're concerned about, they want someone to talk about health care and public education. The candidate that's both able to focus on how I'm going to beat trump but also I create some policy solutions is going to be the winning candidate. It depends on how they talk about it. If they start talking about it and feel drawn further, further left, it plays right into the president's hands. He'll brand Biden ultimately a socialist and that's a label much worse than sleepy Joe. The socialism label is one that can be cut -- Isn't there a fundamental problem or challenge the Democrats face? You talked an anger at corporate America, the economy, when we're looking at the lowest unemployment rate in 50 years. It's not just the big macro numbers, we're seeing real wage growth for the first time in a long time, how do you do as Democrats make the argument on the economy when the economy is doing so well? It's hard to make that argument for Democrats on economy. Health care can be a real issue that Democrats can control the narrative. Because it's hard for them to beat back the reality that the economy is doing well and trump of course is taking all the credit for it. They need to pivot on the issues they're strong on. Listen, if we are, a year from now, in the exact same spot economically, I don't think the Democrats have hope. I think in the end, that's what the way people vote in these elections. Especially the wage growth is a really important part of this. Because middle-class voters start seeing their wages going up they'll give the credit to the president, whoever's in the seat gets the credit. The president deserves the credit for what he's done. And I think it will be very hard for any Democrats to break through. Go from the guy who can't win to the guy who can't lose? I don't disagree with the governor on that. Look, that's why trump doesn't see his greatest threat is Joe Biden. He sees his greatest threat is the Jerome Powell, federal reserve is the threat to his re-election. I think Democrats know they need to be focused more on health care and energy and climate issues, on education, rather than just the economy. But, despite the strong economic numbers, the president's approval rating is still below 40%. It's not clear how much credit he's getting and continue to get from this economic -- His approval rating on handling the economy is at 56%. What, I mean, I don't think we have seen that kind of divide. All those issues will be a distraction compared to the economic numbers. I think people will wonder this week, why did the president have that meeting with chuck and Nancy as he calls them and agree to $2 trillion in concept -- Why did he do that? Because he's concerned that the economy won't last until November, and if he puts $2 trillion worth of stimulus into this economy, putting union trade workers to work, and building up the economies in the states, the economy will stay at this level or even better. This is an economic move by the president. This is to hedge against the concern of what the fed will do. The politics on that, I know this is not really the Republican party anymore, it's the trump party. He is the, you know, he's the leader of this party, but the idea of conservatives supporting a $2 trillion spending bill, especially in face of deficits we're seeing, is that -- does it make people nervous? No. You know what makes me more nervous, Bernie Sanders' listen -- Even Bernie Sanders will have a hard time competing with $2 trillion on infrastructure spending. Exactly the president's theory here. I'm going to get out in front of this issue. It's going to pump up my economy. What are they going to say about me putting building tradespeople to work to improve our infrastructures, our airports, the tunnels, this is going to be -- if the president pulls this off, not only for him great economically but a great political debate. Can the Democrats simultaneously talk about impeaching him and work with him on what would be maybe the biggest domestic policy that we have ever seen? And that's if this actually happens. I think that Democrats talking about impeachment right now isn't helpful for the Democrats' agenda. People want to talk about issues that are impacting them on a day-to-day level. Which is why Democrats should definitely pivot to talk about other issues other than the economy. Other than the impeachment and quite frankly, other than the Mueller report. A lot still has to be uncovered there. We need to focus on how we're going to protect our elections moving forward. I mean, we still haven't had any concrete solutions as to how we're going to make sure that no foreign governments are impeding the next election and so that's a real issue for Americans. And that sounds like Nancy Pelosi, that's basically her message to the party. Then, why are we seeing so many of 2020 candidates getting way out there, saying that trump needs to impeached, Barr needs to be held in contempt? They're going through there. Because they're spending time with primary voters -- Who want trump impeached. Where is the energy of the party, it's the primary electorate. When you're spending your time with activists you're going to hear impeachment come up a little bit. So, where is Pelosi? She was really direct saying Barr lied, suggesting that he committed a crime in his testimony before congress. What strikes me about her comments in week, you're seeing Nancy Pelosi emphathizing a lot more with members of her caucus frustrated and furious and a lot of the democratic candidates. She's not inching any closer to supporting impeachment. She's going further in her criticism. She really ripped into the president and into the attorney general this week. But she also has made clear the bar for impeachment hasn't changed. You still need bipartisan spot, buy-in from the public. She wants to focus on the agenda and wants to talk about health care and talk about issues she knows voters care about. It's a really tough challenge for her. Also, they also can't be tone deaf to not talk about the fact that, yeah, we do think Barr lied in his testimony. It's a balancing act. How much do you talk about what's happening right in front of you with Barr -- Let's be honest, it's farcical. How many deadlines has Jerry Nadler given. High noon deadlines. May 2nd. You must comply. Actually, no, we'll back off. Bill Barr you must testify. Monday morning, another deadline, pound sand will bill Barr's response to that. Keep doing that. The dirty secret is, they can hold him in contempt. It's been done before. It matters nothing. It goes through the courts. It will get dragged out. Bill Barr knows he has the power. When Mary turned the phrase of people being frustrated and furious, that reminded the last time that we held an attorney general in contempt. The Republican congress held Eric Holder in contempt over fast and furious and nothing happened, because that gets referred to the justice department for the prosecution. Eric Holder said I think I'll prosecute myself. Do you think bill Barr is going to have a different answer? You can forget it. That's what's going to happen. The problem, this left/center problem in the democratic party. Here's the thing, this left/center fight in the democratic party is, is taking them off of focus because those far left people as Jonathan pointed out who want impeachment, who want contempt of bill Barr, who want more subpoenas and more hearings, the presidential candidates are reacting to that. A lot of the congressional people in the house are saying, come on, man, we got to keep this majority in the house, we got to get focused on health care and other issues that may move those center voters their way. They don't seem ready to take the foot off the gas. That's all the time we have. Thank you for joining us. We'll be right back. Chris: My family and I own this building. My dad and I are very hands on and take pride in making sure our tenants have a good home. But it's not cheap.

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

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