Transcript for Kamala Harris had a 'Trump strategy': Brazile on third Democratic debate
John is somebody that I actually got along with very well. He made some very big mistakes. John wasn't in line with what we were doing, and actually in some cases he thought it was too tough what we were doing, and he was the tough guy. President trump explaining why he fired John Bolton this week, his third national security adviser. We'll talk about that in a minute in our roundtable joined by Chris Christie, former governor of New Jersey, now a contributor at ABC and Donna Brazile now with Fox News, our chief political analyst Matthew dowd and Progressive strategist arshad Hasan, the former chairman of net roots. I want to get to John Bolton but begin with the debate and, Matthew, let me begin with you. You heard a lot of different takes on the debate this morning. The early take, no big change, Nate silver says Elizabeth Warren helped herself the most. What do you think? Well, I don't think there's any fundamental changes especially in the three people that lead it, but I do think it demonstrated there's about 40% of the democratic primary vote that's still very unformed. 60% is shared by Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden. 40% still ready to be formed and there's a number of candidates, Amy klobuchar you talked to, Pete buttigieg you talked to, kamala Harris, Beto O'rourke who have a chance to form that and so I think this race is still open, that the ability of somebody else, a fourth person to emerge, is real competitive as we head into Iowa so that's my takeaway. There's still a lot to be decided. The fault lines, Donna, did reveal themselves over the course of the debate. One of the things you saw especially on the big issues, especially on health care and medicare for all, it does appear now that it's Warren and Sanders basically against everybody else. You know, I think the big one on Thursday night, George, was Barack Obama. For the first time you saw Democrats basically, you know, coalescing around the affordable they didn't attack it, instead they said we want to improve it. We want to expand it and Joe Biden who everyone thought would walk into the debate sort of, you know, not in a mood to fight, he was in the mood to fight, at least for the first hour of the debate. But Democrats are still, as Matt said, they're still on a shopping spree. Arshad, who is going to win? Who will they end up with. Well, I mean I agree that there is -- that this was the time when some of the middle tier candidates could have risen up, but that's not what's happening. I think really in the next four to six weeks, if you are not one of the top three or four candidates, it's time to drop out. Right now it's Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and we'll see who is maybe the fourth or fifth. Boy, I look at that and, Chris, I don't see any incentive for anyone to drop out unless the money dries up. Only if money dries up. Donna and I were talking about it in the green room beforehand. Almost no one in our race in '16 dropped out until after the first voting in Iowa. Perry had dropped out earlier. There were a couple but most of the field stayed. I think the amazing thing about all the hype around the debates is that they really amount to almost nothing in terms of what happens on the stage in terms of an effect on the polls. You know, I thought booker had a very good night. I thought he was articulate. He, you know, had a couple of moments of humor. I thought he carried himself really well and he had the third most time of anybody on the stage. Yet, nothing is moving his numbers. Now, that may be a particular problem with Cory but I don't see anybody else, as arshad said, that's moving other than those top three and, quite frankly, Sanders to me looked Well, he was also having trouble with his throat that night. He was but not just his throat, I mean his eyes were bulging out of his head visually I could tell you because I was watching on TV. He looked disturbing to me. That he really looked angry. And I don't think that democratic primary voters want angry. I think they want effective. They want somebody with fire in the belly. He's not angry. He's a passionate politician who brings his emotions to the table. I thought he did an effective job and, again, I agree with you about Cory booker but kamala Harris also needed to break through because she's been stalling for the last couple of weeks and I think she walked in there with a couple of lines -- She had a trump strategy. She had a trump strategy and I think that will be -- Julian Castro was -- had his moment on Thursday night. Not a good one. Taking on Joe Biden. Well, sending that flare to Joe Biden, it turned out to be inaccurate, but then you look, several days after, Cory booker jumps on the issue of Biden's fitness. You've had both Biden and Warren and Sanders all now say they are going to have to put out their health records so that issue is in play now. Well, here's what I think. My takeaway from the debate and actually watching this for the last few months, this is not fundamentally going to be a debate about ideology, about Progressive versus moderate. To me the real debate seems to be the people that want to put somebody in place that's willing to bash trump as hard as they can in a personal way and somebody that's more -- has more of a calm demeanor and dignified demeanor and more respect, and the field seems to be separating in that. Julian Castro seems to have decided he thinks he wants to be that bully in the democratic primary, which to me isn't a great strategy. If you're going to run as a bully, you'll go up against the biggest, baddest bully in the general election and that person is going to win. You said something that others have said as well. Rahm Emanuel was saying this ideological battle doesn't matter. Do you agree with that? It does seem that difference over the scope of the program is It's more than that. I think that democratic voters, yes, these issues are very important, and we should be allowed to feel passionate about it. I don't think there's anything wrong with that. But there's more than that. I think the democratic voters are looking for a candidate who will put out a strong vision for what it means to be a Democrat and where America should be going next. I think that's why we see Elizabeth Warren slow and steady rise. She doesn't have to be super angry but she does feel passionately about what she feels, and she puts out a vision. She puts out a plan. To me that's the differential between Sanders and Warren. I mean, they're essentially saying the same things ideologically, but Warren looks reasonable in saying it, and Sanders looks angry. To me, listen, I've been known to have a little passion over time and -- I would say angry sometimes. That's right and let me tell you, when I was passionate, I did well, and when I was angry I did less well and that's the all right, so you're talking to somebody who lived it. When you say sit down and shut up, people don't like that so much. But if you're going after an issue with passion, on the teachers union or other issues, they really like that. So and I do think people were waiting for a breakthrough moment in the debate. Those are the people who are desperate, so Castro is desperate doing that kind of move. I thought Harris at times seemed desperate to make herself noticed on Thursday night. Elizabeth Warren clearly did not do that. She seemed to be biding her time a little bit, Donna. What do you make of this idea that if she does continue to have momentum in Iowa, does continue to make progress towards the nomination, will she have to move off of some of these positions? Well, it depends on what type of voter you're looking at. I think for Warren, her appeal is, you know, she is a teacher. She knows how to tell a story. She is telling a story about personal experiences, not only her own, but the experiences of so many Americans. I don't know if she has to move toward the middle in order to reach the type of voters that she needs to get in the primary. After all it takes 1,885 delegates because they're not counting us quote/unquote supers anymore in order to win the nomination and I think that she has a path. She has a path to the nomination. I look at some of these other candidates and say they got a path to say New Hampshire and Iowa and South Carolina and Nevada. They don't have a path to the nomination. They don't have to be a path to be -- The whole game comes down to in Iowa and New Hampshire who finishes in the top three because if you are not in the top three in Iowa and new Hampshire, you're not surviving. Elizabeth Warren to me right now is the only one right now that has a path to win both, and if she wins both, she's very hard to stop. Even if Biden holds on in South Carolina. If she wins both of those but if somebody like Pete buttigieg or Amy klobuchar surprises then it's a whole different race. Meantime, you just heard, Chris, Ted Cruz make the case about how Republicans have evolved over the last four years and the pitch that he sounded like the best pitch a Republican can make in 2020, focus on the economy. Do you think that president trump can get to that place to be making the same pitch? Well, I think he will get to that place because he'll be forced to. I mean, you know, he will -- he's someone who looks at the polls very closely, very carefully as we know and I think in the end he will understand especially if he's running against someone like Elizabeth Warren that that is the argument he's going to have to make that he's going to have to say to the American people, listen, there's lots of stuff about me you may not like but I'll tell you this, the economy is better than it's been in 40 years since Ronald Reagan and she wants to turn the economy on its head, she's a socialist and she wants the government to be socialist. That's going to have to be his argument. That's going to be his winning argument if he's going to win so I think he's going to have to get there but he doesn't have to get there now and I don't think he will. I think once it becomes a binary choice, and they're engaged that he will make that argument because he doesn't know who to engage with yet. The problem president trump has is under this great economy that has been discussed, he's been at 38% to 42% job approval number and there's no president dramatically improve their job approval number in the midst of a general election year, maybe one or two points. If he goes into the fall of next year with a 38%, 39%, 40%, 41% job approval rating, it doesn't matter who the democratic nominee is the Democrat will win if the incumbent -- It doesn't matter? I fundamentally disagree. Every single president who had under a 45% job approval rating has lost. If he was running against Hillary Clinton again, would it matter? I mean you can't say it doesn't matter -- Hillary Clinton -- Would beat. Would beat Donald Trump. As Republicans we take that race tomorrow. We'd sign up for it right now. Donald Trump promised millions of Americans that he will make their lives better. And the referendum next year will be on did he help you? Did he help the country? And I think overwhelmingly the country will reject Donald Trump in his approach to not just our economy but how he has managed everything under his watch so I think Donald Trump defeats Donald Trump next year. One of the big questions for Democrats will be, did the coalition that came out in force, women, minority, young people in 2018 actually come out in 2020 even if one of their preferred candidates doesn't get the nomination? Well, I think one thing that is clear to me now that this will be a turnout election. The democratic base matters in this race. So I do think it matters who the Democrats elect. If we don't elect a candidate who respects and values and really works with the base and that's going to make it a little bit more difficult. You'll have a low turnout election but I think that Democrats can organize and I really do believe in it and not always just in the same places we've been organizing, I think this will be a more national election because we'll be organizing everywhere. This is going to be a huge turnout. 150 million people plus will vote in 2020. The largest vote of total that we've ever seen before. And all the numbers say that among Republicans and among Democrats. We have the highest level of people's engagement than we had even in the 2016 election in November of the 2016 election. This is going to be a tremendous turnout. Millions of people have been helped to answer Donna. It's the lowest unemployment rate that we've had in decades. There are more people at work in America today than when Donald Trump became president and broadly more African-Americans at work, more hispanics at work, more women at work. And so, you know, a lot of us we get inside this bubble and we micro analyze everything. For a lot of families out there what they're going to be saying is you know what, four years ago I wasn't making as much or maybe I didn't have as good a job or maybe I didn't have any job at all and now I do and that's going to be what matters to them. Trump has to make that argument. Stagnant wages. They are not stagnant, Donna, they're not. More Americans are filing for bankruptcy. More Americans cannot pay their bills on time. You know, you can argue -- Wages aren't stagnant. You can argue it's sunny outside. I see the clouds. And we got to make sure -- is there that's the difference? They're identifying I guess highlighting where the election could be fought. A lot of people are pretty content with where the economy is. Not everyone right now but I think the trick for trump is going to be to get those voters to feel pretty good about where the country is right now but are kind of tired of the circus. I think fundamentally the job that trump has to do, which he's not done well since January 20th, 2017 is get out of his own way. The economy, Donald Trump's job aprofrl ratings should be 62% which is what it would normally be in an economy like this and it's not. It's 20 points lower and Donald Trump constantly gets in his own way by the manner with which he leads and the manner with which he relates to people. Can he fundamentally change in the next year? I doubt it but that's what he has to do. We haven't seen him change on matters of personnel. The latest example on John Bolton and how that all went down. Listen, that was one that was coming for a long time because they fundamentally disagree on how to conduct foreign policy. And so I think that John Bolton went in and he was John Bolton. The John Bolton we've all known for a long time. John hasn't changed. And I could tell you, you know, when the president spoke to me about John Bolton, and he said, listen, we don't agree much but I like having him around because I like hearing that point of view even though I don't agree with it and I guess he got tired of hearing that point of view and decides, okay, enough of that. The president wants to sit down with North Korea and basically wants to sit down with Iran. The president -- listen, we talked about this on the show before. This president believes if he sits down with anyone, he can convince then of his point of view. He's going to have to prove out whether he's right or not as we go forward here but that's fundamentally what he believes and Bolton doesn't believe that. Not only about trump but about any leader. He thinks there should be preconditions and other things. The people, though, who support trump because things are good or at least they're good for them are people who value stability, and this kind of behavior, always firing people, always, you know, throwing bombs in the international scene, that's not the kind of thing that will inspire confidence for those people who have it good and still want to support trump. So I think that there is a lot of opportunity for Democrats. The week of 9/11, he fired his national security adviser on Twitter. That's the kind of instability people are tired of. That's why they are going to look for a new leader. Not just in the democratic party but a leader for all America. I give Donald Trump credit for getting rid of John Bolton because I think John Bolton was -- we have -- there's less of a chance of war today with John Bolton gone. That's the last word. Can I say happy birthday to my wife, George? Of course you can. Happy birthday. Happy birthday. If happy birthday.
This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.