Klobuchar is 'the goldilocks candidate': ABC's Matthew Dowd

The Powerhouse Roundtable debates the politics of impeachment and the latest in the 2020 race on "This Week."
17:39 | 12/22/19

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Transcript for Klobuchar is 'the goldilocks candidate': ABC's Matthew Dowd
The mayor just recently had a fund-raiser that was held in a wine cave full of crystals and served $900 a bottle wine. I am literally the only person on this stage who is not a millionaire or a billionaire. So if -- -- This is important. This is problem with issuing purity tests you cannot yourself pass. I think this experience works and I have not denigrated your experience. As a official, I have been one. You did denigrate my experience, senator, and it was before the break, and I was going to let it go because we have bigger fish to fry here. You implied that my -- I don't think we have bigger fish to fry than picking a president of the United States Mayor Pete buttigieg getting the front-runner treatment at this week's final democratic debate of 2019. So let's bring in the powerhouse round table, ABC senior national correspondent Terry Moran, white house reporter aisha roscoe, political analyst Matthew dowd, and "Washington post" political column nis -- columnist Karen Tumulty. I want to start with you, Terry, and I want to go back to that senate trial. You heard what senator Jones said, with senator Johnson still at an impasse. I want you to read the tea leaves. You have been through an impeachment proceeding before. What do you see, and how do you see this trial proceeding? Mitch Mcconnell calls the shots. At the end of the day, the senate has the sole power to try impeachments. Because he is an institutionalist so some degree, he'll try to work with Democrats, but the rules of this trial will be laid down by Mitch Mcconnell. I cannot figure out what the strategy Nancy Pelosi has. The constitution says the house has the power, the sole power to bring an impeachment. The senate has the sole power the try an impeachment. I don't get what her leverage is here, and at the end of the day, the Democrats are going to come up short because they don't have the votes in the senate and that's what controls the process. Is there an argument? Noah Feldman testified and said, he hasn't been impeached yet because those articles aren't set up which will probably be moved pretty soon. It will be moved because eventually they'll get it and he says the house must transfer the actual articles to the senate for the impeachment to happen. It looks to me like they impeached him. They voted on a bill and that's an impeachment. A distraction for awhile. Karen, let me read what you wrote in your "Washington post" column. If things play out as the te usually do in the trump era, all of this will soon be subsumed in the next nuclear blast of chaos generated by a president who cannot be chastened or shamed. Once again, the house has made a notch in history. What's different this time, however, is that no one really believes anything will change as a result. So is there anything the Democrats can do? I think everything is frozen in place right now until congress gets back, but I do -- I agree with Terry. The chances of getting any kind of concessions out of Mitch Mcconnell are very small, and the risks of delaying this are quite high for two reasons. One is that it undercuts the house's argument that they had to move quickly on impeachment because it was so urgent, and the second is that it is -- it is depriving their presidential candidates of any oxygen, and the fact is if Donald Trump is going to be removed from office, it is going to happen next November. I suspect you will agree with Terry and Karen, but the Democrats really don't have much leverage here. They don't have much I think that what they may be doing is -- this is a holiday week right now. I don't know that it really matters if they didn't transmit the articles immediately, but it does satisfy a part of Pelosi's base who were kind of calling out to maybe try to use this and get some leverage, and it makes president trump twist a bit. I mean, talking to people at the white house, they were saying that the very same things that people are bringing up now, how does this work for Nancy Pelosi? If this is so urgent, why isn't she sending them over? President trump is tweeting, I want my trial immediately. You're getting that. You're making him twist a bit, and he wants it to go to the senate immediately. He wants to use this as vindication. I don't know that you are losing that much by delaying it. If they delayed it for months or a very long time, that's a whole different thing. I can't imagine that would happen, and let's look at the latest ABC news/ "Washington post" poll on impeachment. 71% of voters said the president should let his aides testify. That's Democrats, Republicans and independents. Will that make a difference on the hill? As they say back in Texas, merry Christmas, y'all. Happy holidays. Merry Christmas, y'all. I have always wanted to say that. We have got that nailed down. I don't underestimate Nancy Pelosi's ability to do this. She's proven it over 20 years. She's like the Bill Belichick of the house chamber. She knows what she's doing. The house. There's no real delay. They'll come back on January 7th. She understands she's going to have to send the articles over. The question becomes, is if four Republicans senators are willing to vote and make this a real trial. I think that's doubtful because what they would be voting as, is to make it harder for them to take the next vote because more evidence would be gathered in this. I think the public has a consensus in part on some of this, and a split in some of this. They have a consensus is the broad public thinks the president did something wrong. The broad public thinks the president should be held accountable, and the broad public thinks there should be a trial. The division is what the result should the president be removed from office? It's fundamentally split, and there's a divide in our country. There is a sense in the country that the president did something wrong, and in some way he should be held accountable. And Terry, this is the second impeachment trial you have covered. Or not trial, proceedings. You were with president Clinton back then. As Matt pointed out and we all know all along partisan lines, this one. Just give them some thoughts on the difference between the two, and what it says about where the country is now. The most striking thing in that poll is while this is a historic moment, it doesn't feel momentous, and that poll said only 62% of Americans say they are following these developments closely whereas in the Clinton administration, 82%, two-fifths of the country can't be bothered, and part of that is exhaustion with the constant drum beat of outrage and bitterness. Post-mueller. All of that stuff, and I think people are just tuning it out a little bit, and it doesn't feel as much. Without getting the country, "A," interested much less actually behind the process, we are split on that. It really feels like a nothing bird. Karen, you have also I think were in the chamber for both of those. Is it a combination of that and also, it's Donald Trump and he's telling people it doesn't matter. Doesn't feel like we have been impeached. The people I talked to on the road, they just want it over with as well. Yeah. As much as I was in the chamber in '98, and I was in the chamber this week as well, and it felt -- it did feel momentous and historic in '98, and everyone said it was historic Wednesday, but the fact is it just felt like another Wednesday on capitol hill. You know, two sides just sort of talking past each other, unlike in '98. None of the president's own party was actually saying there was anything wrong with anything that he had done, and finally there was nobody looking beyond this, and saying, we have got to sort of heal as a country. We have got to figure out some way to bring together as dick Gephart in '98, the democratic leader, the assumption was, we're at war with each other, and we're going to stay at war with each other. There's another fundamental difference between '98 and now which I think is problematic for the president, and everybody likes to compare the two in what happened with Bill Clinton. On the day Bill Clinton was impeached, he had a 73% job approval rating. When Donald Trump was impeached, he had a 43% job approval rating. That is 30 points lower, and I agree. It's almost as if the assumption now is everybody is political. It doesn't matter what the substance is. It doesn't matter what's really going on. We're all going to make political calculations and I think if anybody wants an answer about why Donald Trump got elected president, it's because we have ended up in this sort of political gamesmanship in reality TV where nobody pauses and steps up and says, quit making political calculations. What's the substance and depth of this issue? Let's turn to Donald Trump himself on this. You saw that scathing letter to Nancy Pelosi. We saw him at that rally making horrible comments about John Dingell saying maybe he was looking up from hell. What does it say about where his head is in this? I mean, this is a permanent stain on his record. He has impeached next to his name now. And I think while there may be the sense in the general public that this is just Donald Trump, this is another thing he's going through, I think this really matters to Donald Trump, and this really matters to president trump and because he's always concerned about his legacy. He wants to be the best president there ever has been and now he's an impeached president, and so that is something that will follow him, and you saw that in that six-page letter this week that was deeply personal against Nancy Pelosi. The third paragraph is talking about, you say you're praying for me. You know that's not true, and you're going to have to live with that. I mean, that's what he was bringing out this week, and some of it is just anger when he's talking about John Dingell and all of this. He's upping -- ratcheting up his rhetoric and he's been doing that for months. So I think that even though this may be something where the general public and everyone feels like this is just business as usual, I think this matters to president trump, and it matters to his behavior in what happens that. I want to turn to something else that happened to president trump this week, and that is in an editorial in "Christianity today," calling trump grossly immoral and saying he should be removed from office. That drew a strong reaction from president trump as well, but he has largely been embraced by evangelicals. Does that change, and what does it say about the evangelical community if they move on from this too? It says they are rock solid behind president trump, and that they see him for all of his flaws as a man. A warrior for their cause. Many evangelicals feel under pressure from a secular society and a changing America that actually threatens many of them believe their way of life, and this implacable, brutish guy in the white house is their guy, and I don't think an editorial will change that, although I do think that the voice of the Christian Progressive left is one that needs to be heard more. It's out there, but I don't see it budging evangelical support at all. It's amazing. If a person of faith -- if anybody ought to read this editorial because they took the quotes about Bill Clinton about we need a president of morality. We need a president of character. All of which everybody that supports president trump celebrated when they made that stand, and "Christian today" is not some liberal Progressive magazine. It's fairly conservative, and they are vehemently anti-choice, and vehemently pro-marriage, and anti-sexual union. They should read that at some point in time. We have to make a distinction. It's not evangelicals. It's white evangelicals because there's a large segment of evangelical population that's black or Latino or some other that is vehemently opposed the that. It's white evangelicals. I want to move to the 2020 race, and Karen, what you saw in the debate on Thursday night, we saw that just a few minutes ago, target Pete buttigieg. What does that tell you about where the race is right now? Yeah. It was, you know, sort of his welcome to the NFL moment. It was an, you know, everyone acknowledging that he has earned his front-runner status. He's the most surprising story I think of this entire election season, but I was struck that he was ready for it, you know? I think he probably got the better of Elizabeth Warren in that exchange over wine caves and swarovski crystals. After we learned what that meant. We have a beer cave. We call it the refrigerator, but yes. This idea that he's somehow an elite candidate -- Back with the thing he have wasn't the only one who wasn't a millionaire on stage. Exactly. What about Joe Biden? Key analysts say he had a really strong performance? He did. He was sharp. He was able to -- he was answering the questions, and he didn't have any really big gaffes which is an issue for him. I think the thing with former vice president Biden is that he's not necessarily consistent, right? The reason why this debate was good for him was because he showed that he can get through a debate and not make any big mistakes, but it's hit or miss with him because other debates, you don't know which Joe Biden is going to show up. He's running for president. Does it matter? Do you think these debates really change people's minds? If you think back a few debates ago, what happened then, are people thinking about that, or is it every debate matters? It's the most recent and that's all they'll remember. I think people are getting to know the candidates, and Biden's ability to get through the debate is one thing they'll put on the scale. I'm a Chicago bears fan. Our quarterback, Mitch trubisky has been terrible. Which we all know. Every time he throws a pass, is he going to make it through? You don't want to be that guy running for president. What people are looking for is solidity. Although one thing that Biden has shown is his sticky high. People are also not as far left as Twitter Democrats or the base. I mean, obviously Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are very, very strong, but here's a candidate flawed, has had trouble. He remains sticky high. The question though becomes for him, and I degree. I think debates matter. One doesn't matter. You can get a rise out of one, but if you don't have something to move on from it -- kamala Harris rose, and then couldn't stick with it. Pete buttigieg, his debate performances. I think this race -- Joe Biden has a very solid 30% of the vote across the country. The question becomes, is if Joe Biden loses Iowa and loses new Hampshire, how sticky is that number when he heads to Nevada and heads to South Carolina? That's the real question mark. Keep in mind in 2004, John Dean -- Howard Dean was ahead in the polls right now. What made you think of John We moved from impeachment. John Kerry was in seventh and ended up winning the nomination. The same was true in 1976. Nobody heard of Jimmy Carter. In December of 1975, he ends up being the democratic nominee. A lot can change, but Joe Biden has a problem in New Hampshire and Iowa right now. One debate has mattered was Elizabeth Warren, who got dinged for not making the numbers for her health care add up, and I think she's still trying to recover from that. What about Amy klobuchar? She has had really strong debates, but doesn't seem to break out of that pack. I mean, I think that for Amy klobuchar, that debate night was -- this was a great night for her, and it was a great night for her to set herself apart, and she is a bit on the rise. I mean, she has a ways to go, but this is a point when you want to make your mark. She's kind of hitting her mark at a point where it could matter, and it could make a difference. She's the goldilocks candidate. I think so. She has potential to surprise. We have about 15 seconds. Do issues matter? I heard people talk about issues and it was health care. Yes, absolutely. The Democrats' issue, and a good economy is going to be health care if that's what they run on, and the biggest issue for Democrats is they want to defeat Donald Trump. They'll look at who can sell the American public on the ability to make a difference in their lives. Health care will be their issue. Heard a lot of that on the road as well. Thanks for all of you for being here. Merry Christmas. Happy Hanukkah to everybody.

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

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