It's 'better to lose the battle, win the long term war' on SCOTUS: GOP strategist

The Powerhouse Roundtable discusses the political implications of President Donald Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis on "This Week."
15:31 | 10/04/20

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Transcript for It's 'better to lose the battle, win the long term war' on SCOTUS: GOP strategist
Mucinex dm relieves wet and dry coughs. I say it all the time, we're rounding the corner. So far we have had no problem whatsoever. It's outside that's a big difference, according to the experts. We've had no negative effect. Now we're opening it up, and we're doing it at a level like nobody's ever seen before. It's a great thing. And we're going to be back in business very soon. I just want to say that the end of the pandemic is in sight. I want to thank everybody for the tremendous support. I'm going to Walter reed hospital. I think I'm doing very well. But we're going to make sure that things work out. What a difference a day makes. Who knows what the week ahead will bring. Let's talk about this in the round table. Joined by Rahm Emanuel, our chief analyst Matthew dowd, fox contributor former DNC chair Donna Brazile, and strategist Alice Stewart. Matt, let me begin with you. We're in uncharted waters, never seen anything like this before. The president facing a health crisis in the final weeks of a presidential campaign. What's your first assessment of the impact it's going to have on the country and the campaign? George, first thing is I hope we can simultaneously do two things which is send compassion and concern for the first lady and the president, and be so angry about the cavalier attitude and the cavalier way and the irresponsibility of this president and the white house has done related to the coronavirus and the protocols in place. They wantonly had a disregard for others and put people at risk. So I think the American public is feeling both of those things today. They hope the president recovers, and they're also upset that the president did not take this seriously enough. Even in his own actions to protect himself, the security of the country, and others. And we should be able to hold both of those thoughts simultaneously like the American public does. It sounded like Jason Miller was starting the beginning of a new message when he talked about the president was encouraging everybody to wear a mask and to social distance from his -- from his hospital room last night. But how much pressure has this put on Republican candidates up and down the ballot? Tremendous pressure because you need to lead by example. And look, when you have the ipsos poll showing 72% of those polled don't believe the president took these risks seriously enough, that does cause for great concern. And I'm encouraged that the president is now encouraging mask wearing, hand washing, and encouraging social distancing. But it certainly would have been helpful if that was the message out of the gate. Look, this poll, this election will boil down to the undecided voters. Look, the president's base will support him, Biden's base will support him. But these undecided voters, they do have concerns about how this has been handled. And leadership is about not just showing that you're in control but actually being in control. And to be in control, you have to lead by example. And heed the advice of public health officials and also talk the talk and walk the walk. And there's great concern whether or not this president has done so. And Donna, if the president does take on that new message, do you think it might work? I don't know, George, because look, the president has multiple opportunities to show leadership during this pandemic. I mean, just here in the district of Columbia when the mayor of D.C. Said that we had a hot spot and it was actually about a mile from the white house, there was no sense at the white house that this was a serious disease, that it was being transmitted right down the street from where they are. Look, I want to express what Matthew said because he's absolutely right. We can be sympathetic, we can pray that the first family along with their staff, the chair of the RNC, and my good buddy Chris Christie. Look, Chris, if you're watching us this morning, rest up. Listen to the doctors. Don't try to do your homework, and don't try to call me today. Take your medicine, and get better. Seven million people infected by this. 200,000 dead. And this president mishandled it from day one. I pray that he gets better, and he changes his mind about wearing a mask. We all pray that Chris gets better real soon and the president, as well. Rahm Emanuel, you also served as white house chief of staff for Barack Obama. It seemed like a case study yesterday at the white house for how not to bring important information to the public. Yeah. I want to compliment Donna for acting like a jewish mother for a second. A great moment there. What you did there at the white house was everything you're not supposed to do. And it continues to undermine the president's campaign because it was lack of information on a very, very important issue. And what they needed to do from get-go was hit the restart and say here's how we're going to be honest, here's how we're going to lead by example. Everything has undermined the edifice of what the president put up. Rather than this guy who's a boxer, he's looking vulnerable. Rather than in person when you looked at the "New York Times" tax story of this very successful businessman, he didn't pay any taxes. Piece by piece all the little pieces are coming apart about the edifice of what trump is to the public. I think the white house in this set of decisions has actually shown a disjointed -- you got a medical team that's saying he's okay, yet all the care he's getting shows he's a very sick patient. And that dissidence, that kind of information that's jarring is actually undermining the presidency and his candidacy now. I think with everything that to be honest that Joe Biden's doing is showing exactly what a president's supposed to do, how he's supposed to operate, and set a good example for heeding the science, public health, leadership, bringing the country together, and each one of those pieces of his campaign is showing that, and I think he's doing exactly what he needs to do to be the other choice. Matthew, you advise, of course, the presidential campaign of George W. Bush. If the president's team called you and said what do we need to do now to get back in this game, what would you tell them? I would first ask them, are you willing to really listen to what I have to say to you? That's what I would first ask. If they are willing to listen, I would say practice a level of humility that you have not been able to do for four years. Admit your mistakes. Admit you underestimated the disease. Admit you downplayed it. Admit that you didn't follow the protocols. Admit that you made mistake after mistake after mistake along the way. And then say, I'm going to do better. I'm going to conduct myself, I'm going to lead this country, I'm going to do this in a way. Campaigns are fundamental -- as you and Rahm and Alice and Donna know, campaigns are reflections of candidates. It's such a contrast to have the Biden campaign practice all the protocols from day one even though people made fun of them and followed science. The trump campaign and president practiced no protocols, didn't follow the science. That is a reflection two of different candidates. I would say the advice I would give is be something totally different than you've been for five years. Donna Brazile, I see you laughing. That strategy has worked for candidates in the past. If you apologize, admit wrongdoing, promise to change, it often turns things around. Matt knows that I'm a catholic, and you're right, that -- that applies to people of faith, that understands that you can, you know, say I'm sorry, you can apologize, you can ask for forgiveness. But that's not president Donald Trump. Look, he mocked Hillary Clinton after she lost her balance on 9/11. He mocked her. He ridiculed her. He did that in a public space. I am saying to my fellow Democrats, don't pay attention to these polls. You better get out there and work as if you really want it. I'm telling my fellow independents, if you really want a president who's decent, who's honorable, who will tell you the truth, than you'd better look at Joe Biden. I'm telling president trump supporters my Republican friends and neighbors, if he showed this much disregard for his wife and his supporters, think about how much -- think about how much he will care for you. No, this is that moment. I'm laughing not because this is funny, but I'm laughing because he's not going to listen. He doesn't listen. He doesn't play by the same rules everyone else plays by. Alice, I don't think the president and his team are going to take Matt dowd's advice. But you, of course, are a loyal Republican, as well. What do you think they can and should do right now? Well, certainly it would be nice if they would certainly listen to Matthew and Donna, and my advice would certainly be to -- to express extreme compassion for this country. They don't necessarily have to acknowledge every single mistake that has been made. But realize that, look, we cannot deny covid. Covid is certainly not a political issue. This is a public health issue. And moving forward, he needs to definitely tone down the rhetoric, tone down the incendiary talk. He can going into the next two debates with a lot less bull in a China shop mentality and come across as certainly much more compassionate. And I think the Biden campaign did a wise thing by taking down the negative ads against Donald Trump, at least for the time being to show that they are going to be a more compassionate and empathetic campaign. It would be helpful if the trump campaign would do so until we get out of the clear. But I am encouraged also by operation Maga, the grassroots effort that is across the country that has surrogates, the vice president, it has bus tours, it has boat parades going across the country, to reinforce the president's message. Look, I think his base is going to pick up where he is not able to rally right now while he's in the hospital. But he needs to broaden his electorate. He needs to appeal to these undecided voters. And coming out with a more compassionate tone, embracing the seriousness of this pandemic will go a long way to spring swing over the people that have not made their decision yet. Rahm, it seems the debate put the president in exactly the opposite direction. We have this new nbc/"wall street journal" poll out. Last poll had Joe Biden up by eight, this one by 14. This was done after the debate, before the president's diagnosis. Yeah. First of all, I want to say this is a lot of wishful thinking. Nothing we're suggesting is both Donald Trump or his campaign. It -- we take a total revolutionary change in thinking, and I don't think after 3.5 years of exposure he's going to all of a sudden adopt a tone of humility. It is not in his DNA. I do think one of the things -- I want to pick up what Donna said which is that I think why the vice president's campaign is doing exactly the right not only transparency but continue to campaign because I actually think it's a study in contrast. Because the president ignored all the public health, and actually what presidents do is show -- lead by example. And in this example, social distancing, wearing a mask, being actually at events that are organized in a way that keep people's -- express the underpinning of public health, good public health policy. And I would contend -- as I would say to the Biden campaign, I would continue to -- not unilaterally disarm, yes, you take the negative down, but you're leading by example, exactly doing the right type of campaigning. I also think if you step back, Nancy Pelosi is trying to work a deal out to get the economy moving. Vice president Joe Biden is trying to actually lead by example and show how you continue to handle the covid but on with your life. I think chuck Schumer's doing the right thing also. Fighting a supreme court nominee in that effort. So the Democrats are showing a way of both moving forward, leading by example, and stopping someone that shouldn't go forward. The supreme court case, rather nomination, could be another super-spreader event if they don't handle it right. I think all the Democrats are doing exactly right and projecting away, but also saying we're not going to rest. We have 35 days to go to fight for the future of this country. And that's the underscoring message of all three democratic leaders at this point. Matthew dowd it does seem like getting the supreme court nomination confirmed, getting justice Amy coney Barrett confirmed on the supreme court has overtaken everything else for the Republican party right now. Despite the fact that three Republican senators have now tested positive. They're saying the schedule won't change one bit. Yeah. It's an amazing insight to the approach. I saw a number of posts by prominent Republicans on social media saying, okay, if the Amy coney Barrett thing jeopardizes us keeping the senate, if it jeopardizes X, Y, and Z, it's worth it. So basically it's worth it no matter what. It's worth it even if -- if it puts people's health at risk to get another nominee through and on to the supreme court. It really is a case study into the idea that the ends completely justify the means in this. And it seems to be their only singular approach. You really can feel like they've assumed that the president is likely to lose, that there's a high likelihood that they're likely to lose the United States senate. What do they have left? To push through a supreme court nominee in a divided time in the country. I think it's a mistake to do. And I think maybe Mitch Mcconnell will realize maybe taking this vote days before the November election is a bad idea. But it really is a case study in the approach they have. You see any chances that Mitch Mcconnell changes his mind? Only if -- only if he doesn't have the votes. It's not about whether or not it's safe to go about the confirmation process, it's whether or not he has the votes. They can do this virtually just like they have done previous hearings before and go about moving forward with confirmation. But if he does see that he has the support to go ahead and approve for nomination, I don't see any reason why he should not. And even if it does risk us losing the senate, a supreme court nomination is a decades' long appointment which will be beneficial to Republicans and the conservative cause. And it is worth in my view and a lot of people view that, if it does cost us the senate, it is certainly better to lose the battle and win the long-term war with regard to the supreme court. George, he will move heaven -- Mitch Mcconnell will move heaven and Earth to get this justice through. But he won't get up tomorrow morning and call Pelosi and say, "I want to make a deal to ensure that those who are losing their jobs, who need unemployment benefits, those who need the Snapp program, he will not lift a finger for them, but he will move heaven and Earth for this judge." Rahm Emanuel? That's exactly the point. He's willing to do -- break all the rules, endanger people's health like they did at the white house, to get a supreme court nominee but won't do a single thing, just walk across the hall and say how do we get the economy moving again. Here's what I would do if I was chuck Schumer. I would say those three senators who have covid have a pre-existing condition. But because they have government-run health care, it's been covered for 30 years, pre-existing conditions. But now we're going to have a nominee shoved down the American people's throat 30 days before an election, and one of the major topics in front of the supreme court is are the American people continuing to have health care coverage that covers pre-existing conditions? Every one of those senators that contracted covid at that white house event now have a pre-existing condition. The question is how do we rule on that case? Amen. It is a big question coming up. Of course, we still don't know if any other senators have contracted covid. Many are waiting for results right now. That is all we have time for today. Thank you all for a great

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

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