Democratic strategist on 2020: 'Super Bowl of politics is just starting up'

The "This Week" Powerhouse Roundtable debates the week in politics, including the 2020 presidential election.
9:23 | 01/06/19

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Transcript for Democratic strategist on 2020: 'Super Bowl of politics is just starting up'
If you can afford an army of lobbyists, an army of lawyers, an army of fought and paid for experts, then Washington works great for you. It's just not working for the people and that's why we're here today. That's why we're in this fight. Elizabeth Warren announced this week. Look at those crowds in Iowa yesterday. The 2020 race has begun. Let's bring back the table. Stephanie brown James, let me begin with you. One of the remarkable things about that trip to Iowa, and it's happening with all the candidates that explored, massive, massive crowds on the democratic side. Almost like the super bowl of politics is just starting up, and people are really hungry to see candidates who are authentic, and I think that there is three things that the Democrats are going to realize as they get out into the field of whoever is running, you know. One is you have to show leadership. Two is you have to be able to beat trump and three which is important is you have to be able to speak to the issues of what most Americans are going through right now, but also you have to be able to make sure that you are speaking in a way where different types of voters can understand, and especially diverse voters. I'm looking forward to this field starting to thin out because -- It will be awhile before it thins out. I think it will be sooner than we think because if donors or diverse voters don't get behind someone early, it will thin out a lot quicker. Do you agree with that? Yeah. I think if you have the former governor of Massachusetts already bowed out. I think it's going to be -- Patrick? Yeah. You will have an hourglass I think this is a unique time. The last time you had three successive presidents was Jefferson, Madison and Monroe, and that was followed by a one-termer and I think Democrats will be like 1992, very pragmatic. The ideology is can you win? Campaigns are very revealing. All your warts, all your strengths and I'm for a candidate that's 100% authentic. If you can't do that, fake it really well, and that's important because people want to see somebody that their personal story embodies their philosophy, and they are heads and tails of the same coin. Stephanie wants to see somebody take on trump, and I was interested to see that Elizabeth Warren didn't come up until a couple of hours into her appearance. I think Rahm brought up a great point about the mayor of Massachusetts, Duval Patrick. I think what's more telling than who is getting in and who is not. At a time when we need the most talent in Washington where we need it the most, people are bowing out. They are saying to heck with this, and the American people are forced to pick between 70-year-old retreads in many cases who got us in this mess to begin with. What are you talking about there? I believe Liz Warren is 69. Hillary Clinton is 71. Bernie Sanders, 77, Joe Biden, 76. President trump is 72. President trump, 72. Let's just talk about this. In order to move forward, we need new, fresh ideas, and I think that the democratic party, that champions itself to millennials and minorities, diverse candidates. I think they need to show they can reach out and put millennials and minority into leadership, right? 30 candidates will be running and they will be reflecting what you just said. The young, fresh voice on the democratic side is a woman who wants to eradicate fossil fuels entirely in this country. She officially has more followers than Nancy Pelosi. Are you talking about -- Alexandria ocasio-cortez. Huge up and coming voice and the fracture between the democratic party is do you want this Progressive left socialist agenda or do you want a more mainstream Democrat in Iowa to reach over and win over the votes that were lost in the rust belt? That will be the question, and I asked Julian Castro, how do you distinguish yourself in a field like this? I think the one or more candidates is not a problem. Jimmy Carter, and after watergate, there were 17. Donald Trump ran among a field of 18 candidates and he won the presidency. The more candidates isn't the problem. I think they have to figure out -- they have to pick a lane and there are three or four lanes that will be opened in this, and your goal is to finish in the top four or five in Iowa or in New Hampshire, and the field quickly goes down to that many candidates in the aftermath of Iowa and New Hampshire. I think they have to have a lane, and one of the things Elizabeth Warren was smart about is getting out early and getting a lane and she has the ideological lane which is the left lane, and she has the lane that are two-thirds of the votes cast there in the caucus are women. That's a very important part of the constituency, but they have to find the lane, and as I agree with Rahm and John, they have to be authentic in this process. I think it's much better if they are from a new generation. Do you think she is authentic though? I think Elizabeth Warren is definitely authentic. I interpreted her Instagram story announcement as being a sort of weird knockoff of Alexandria ocasio-cortez's. Wasn't she there first? Elizabeth Warren's was "New York" magazine's front page saying the front runner, and she is behind people, behind Beto O'rourke. We can only put so much into polling, but I would say her announcement right now on her -- her delivery so far, people are discussing whether or not it's dead on arrival. Go ahead. To your point about, you know, how do you distinguish yourself and picking a lane, here's what I would love to see. I would love to see from the jump and say, we're already together. We're already a ticket. That will be phenomenal and it should be a man and a woman in no particular order. We're going to run for president and vice president. What's your ticket? It's a very diverse, young and old ticket that speaks to voters all across the country. I'm looking forward to kamala Harris getting into the race, and what Joe Biden is going to do. Look. Jimmy Carter, president Clinton, president Obama all came from outside of Washington, all men. Obama was a senator by the time he ran. For an hour and a half. Exactly. You have now for the first time in a long time, former and present mayors. If you are outside of Washington, you want don trump to own Washington. Everything that comes with what people are disgusted. When we win, we come from outside to change something. If you are apart of that in Washington, you will never, ever be able to escape the problems or the way you talk about it. Let's talk a little bit about the Republican side. Mitt Romney came into the senate with an op-ed attacking president trump, and then went on TV a few hours later and said he is not running for president, but would not endorse. I haven't decided who I'm going to endorse in 2020. I'm going to wait and see what the alternatives are. I'm not running again and we'll see if anybody else does in the Republican primary or not, but time will tell. It seems like you have a lot of Republicans out there, John Kasich, Jeff flake, not wanting to run, and not wanting to be out of the conversation, in case things fall apart for president trump to pick up the pieces. I think you may have hit the nail right on the head. Most people, Republicans or Democrat, the letter is the first act right out of the gate. It kind of rang self-serving. It kind of rang for most people whom I have talked to, both my Democrat, Republican and independent friends, is Mitt Romney again, caring more about Mitt Romney than the people he was sent to represent. Now I can't get into Mitt Romney's head. That's not my business, and what I'm just saying is -- If you get into Mitt Romney's head, you probably won't stay there long. Ouch. President trump by the numbers, president trump's approval rating in the Republican party is 92%. That's going to be a tough road for any Republican that wants to jump in. No yes about -- no question about that. It's not Mitt Romney. That's not the answer, and no disrespect to him because I have always liked him up until he got frog legs. Now I don't know where he stands politically, and Republicans, if you are going to have someone primary trump, it has to be someone that I have more faith that won't be flip-flopping. He does -- Donald Trump has unbelievable support among Republicans today. That could obviously change if the economy starts to sputter and tank. I think it's a smart move for people in the primary. First you will get a lot of coverage. You will get a few things and be able to speak in a way against Donald Trump and not have to worry about things, and you can be at every debate and every one he does in the course of the primary. I think it would be a smart move, and I think the Democrats if you really look at it from their perspective, they would benefit by him moving more far to the right. There is going to be a pat Buchanan to this president. It's not going to come from that wing of the party, but he is going to have a primary because what happened in 2018 is a section of the Republicans that used to be rock rib Republicans and left that voted for Democrats. There will be an opening there. You have four things, the health of the economy, what the Mueller report says, what our process is and who at the end of the day in that process emerges what they do in build a coalition. Both Clinton and Obama built built coalitions that lasted to stand. Those are four things to watch. We're out of time. That was a great discussion.

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

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