'I think a lot can be achieved' in Biden's term: Rahm Emanuel

The Powerhouse Roundtable discusses the week's politics and the presidential transition on "This Week."
15:28 | 12/20/20

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Transcript for 'I think a lot can be achieved' in Biden's term: Rahm Emanuel
Millions of us hoped the presidential election yield a different result. The electoral college has today I want to congratulate President-Elect Joe Biden. I had a good conversation with Mitch Mcconnell today. I called him to thank him for the congratulations. Told him although we disagree on a lot of things, there's things we can work together on. It was a long-time coming. After the electoral college this week, Joe Biden and Mitch Mcconnell had their first conversation since the election. Let's talk about that with our round table, Chris Christie, Rahm Emanuel, the CEO of democracy for America, Yvette Simpson and Republican strategist Sara Fagen. Rahm, let me begin with you. Some nice words there between the President-Elect and Mitch Mcconnell. What realistically can be achieved? That deals with what -- a lot can be achieved. One of the things you saw this week is that the moderate Republicans and Democrats who came together created the space for what looks like a $900 billion pandemic relief bill. I think that in that area, whether it's on minimum wage, whether it's on obviously rural broadband, whether it's on -- they're about tos in the omnibus bill an end to surprise medical billing. There's a lot of things that can get . That's the focus of President-Elect Joe Biden. I think it's interesting that both president Biden and senate majority Mitch Mcconnell know each other by first name. They know how to work with each given that both ends of Pennsylvania avenue are divided, the other piece is it's divided by the middle, which means the agenda has to focus that way because you won't break on either extreme which will snap the entire process. Sara Fagen, what happens in the Georgia race makes a difference, a majority one way or the other. That could make a big difference on things like judicial appointments. Even with that, it means the center of gravity in the senate, no matter what is going to be with the most conservative Democrats, the most moderate Republicans. Yeah, I think that's right. I think the fact that senators came together to get what we think will be a pandemic relief bill done in a few hours is a positive sign in moving the country past some of the most partisan gridlock. These challenges are going to remain. The country is very deeply divided. We see it playing out in Georgia where it's an incredibly close election and where many, many trump voters, 70 million, a big percentage of them, still are upset about this election and think that some wrong doing was done and the president may, in fact, have won. That remains a huge challenge and hurdle for the senate as we get into the next administration. Chris Christie, talk about that. We saw the president saying he's going to go to Georgia, yet he continues to attack the state's leaders. Is there a way he can thread the needle here and does he want to? Well, the question, George, is -- of course there's always a way to thread the needle. The real question is does he want to? I don't think he's shown any indication he does. I suspect you'll see a very similar performance at the rally he'll hold the night before the election ase gave the last time he was in Georgia. How that will play out, I don't think anybody knows. There's no question there's a large number of voters in Georgia that the president's appearance will motivate. I don't know what impact the president's language on the election and the validity of the election is having down there. We probably won't know until after election day on January 5th in Georgia. It's not a question of whether the needle can be threaded. It could be if he wanted it to. I don't know that he wants to. I haven't seen any indication publicly that he's pivoting off that message. Yvette Simpson, the question for Democrats is how do they keep their enthusiasm high now that Donald Trump is leaving office? You know, I think part of what we're seeing in Georgia is an indication of that. I think you've got a lot of energy. Organizers are leading the way in Georgia. We have a lot of establishment folks outside and in the beltway following the lead of these organizers. You've seen record turn out in early voting and record registrations. Hopefully that leads the Democrats to figure out we're better and stronger when we work together. I unfortunately am not pleased with the bill negotiated for a lot of reasons. I think you'll hear a lot of Progressives talk about that that $600 payment is not enough as we go into January. It's lower than the median rent in most states, if not all, across the country. The real question going forward, George, is who will the Biden white house serve? Will they serve people first or special interests? There's a lot to be seen as we continue to fill out these positions and see what the balance of power looks like in the senate. Rahm, what's the answer to that? Two things. One thing on what governor Christie said. I think there's a division between Mitch Mcconnell's interests and Donald Trump's interests. Mitch Mcconnell needs Georgia to fall towards to Republicans. Joe Biden needs it to fall to Democrats so the senate is not a killing field for his agenda. I think there's a deep part of Donald Trump that wants to see these Republican senators go down as a way to show without me on the ticket you can't win. I'm not sure Donald Trump is interested in seeing the two senators in Georgia win. There may be a part of his motivation to prove a point here on his way out. To Yvette's point, there's a strategy that the Biden administration -- incoming administration is focusing. They know there's a constraint -- and Joe Biden and kamala Harris between them have about 45 years of work in the U.S. Senate, not counting the staff there. There's limitations and boundaries on what you can get done when it's so divided. The cabinet is making some overtures to the Progressive wing of the party knowing that on the policy front it will be constrained on what you can do. One of the things they have to focus on is in this election you saw Republican states go for Progressive things like Florida for minimum wage, Missouri did for expanding medicaid. Those are indications if you do a rifle shot approach, don't overshoot, you can get a Progressive agenda and Republicans and Democrats can support it if it's not overly ambitious, but targeted and specific. Sara, Rahm pointed out that president trump and Mitch Mcconnell don't have the same interests. They clearly have different interests when it comes to the senator Mcconnell doing everything he can to accepting the vote from the electoral college. It's not clear whether he's going to succeed. It's clear the president is continuing to keep on his campaign with reports of screaming matches in the oval office over the weekend. Yeah. I mean, I think this is -- it's troubling. The reality is the electoral college has met. The top Republican now in government has spoken. The Republican party needs to accept that Joe Biden has won this election and needs to move forward. That's not to say the president doesn't have a voice in the party. He's obviously going to continue and may, in fact, run again in 2024. In some respects Mitch Mcconnell is in a stronger position today because of what you pointed out earlier, which is even if Republicans take the senate, it's closely divided, he's going to become a bigger power broker than he was before. Nothing will get done without Mitch Mcconnell's stamp on it. For the ultimate dealmaker who has a good relationship with the President-Elect, I think we can see some progress in this country which we had not really going back over a decade, even before trump. There was the division produced post the affordable care act, not a lot. Any progress is defined by what Sara Fagen was saying, is destined to disappoint Progressives. Absolutely. We can take a lesson from Progressive growth in the house and the trump followers. When you serve people, which is what we did I think early on, that was the exon in the Barack Obama administration. That's what he was talking about is serving people, whether in rural America, urban America, you serve people first. Particularly at this time. I think that's going to be unifying. I think you'll be able to bring the country together. The question is are you not going to serve people? That would be a failed strategy, particularly because we know that 2022 is around the corner. Democrats, once we get into power, we say we got to pace it out, slow it down. Then Republicans get the chamber back in the senate if we get it this time and we can't do anything. Isn't that just reality? That means now we can't win. Isn't that just reality if you're dealing with a 50/50 senate or a 51/49 senate? It depends on how you characterize it. I don't understand why Republicans have characterized their mission is to not take care of people. The reason why so many regular Americans will say on the frges rallied around Donald Trump was because he made this promise to serve them. Ultimately he did not. It's supposed to be Republicans and Democrats together. Hothey get there, let's fight about that. The idea that 99% of Americans who are suffering under the weight of policies that have benefited the 1%, the pandemic that has not served people has suffered on the Republican side and Democrats. Hopefully we can rally around that going forward. Chris Christie, how do Republicans define themselves in the post trump era? We don't know whether the president will announce if he's running in 2024. He's taken about $60 million in campaign money since the election that he can take with how do Republicans deal with the overhang of president trump? George, what we need to deal with are the issues and facts on the ground that people care about. I will tell you, what I heard most people in my neighborhood talking about this week is the nations beginning. That's an extraordinary accomplishment first and foremost by our scientific community and it's an extraordinary accomplishment for the president and his administration. We should be talking about Republican competence, Republican ability to get things done when dealing with covid going forward. I will tell you, George, one of the biggest fails you'll hear about in the next week happened in my home state. It's extraordinary. The department of health in my home state missed the federal deadline by a day in submitting their paperwork to get our elderly in nursing homes and assisted living facilities vaccinated. Instead of starting tomorrow with our elderly, and 7,100 of them have died in my state, we're going to have to wait another week in New Jersey until the 28th of December for our elderly to get vaccinated. The Republicans should be focussed on is saying we have this ability to fight the covid virus. Let's get after it and make sure we do it right and get life back to normal with our economy and our health of our citizens as quickly as possible. We focus on that message the American people will be drawn to us. Rahm, it's a reminder of whatever else Joe Biden wants to achieve as president, covid is going to dominatagenda at least until the summer. And its impact on health and the economy. I would go back to what senator Werner was talking about. This attack or the espionage is aew threat that we'll just begin to unravel. You use the metaphor the dog that caught the car. This may be the dog has caught the truck. Everything you turn around on Donald Trump has left America worse off than the day he walked in. There's not a single place on the economy, unity, health care, our standing in the world, our vulnerability. Across the board Joe Biden has to hit -- that's why the team assembled has to be ready on day one. I don't think that's fair. I didn't think you would, Sara. I didn't say it because I thought you thought it was fair. You tell me where America is better than where it was when he walked in on the 17th of January. Rahm, you know -- Our standing in the world -- A disease hit our shores and within a year there's a vaccine. The first half of -- That has nothing to do with Donald Trump. It does absolutely have a lot to do with Donald Trump. It's not just Donald Trump. It's his government. It's the medical community. I think -- of course the medical community, of course the scientists. Nobody is disputing that. I will say this about Donald Trump -- he deserves much criticism for the way he's handmself after the election. However, there's something about what he doesn't know that's been of benefit to this country. He is a bull in a China shop when it comes to getting things done. He sometimes makes big mistakes. On this, his pressure on the fda, his demand of his government to move faster and break down barriers was a benefit to the country. We should give him credit for that. It's fair to criticism him for having cooky meetings in the oval office with Sidney Every president gets -- He should deserve this credit. Every president gets evaluated from what was the status of the country they walked in on and when they leave. If you think it's better off, welcome to that reality. I don't believe you need history to judge this president was a loser and failure and left America worst off. Tse are always complex problems. Of course they are. On the balance sheet he has positives and negatives. The negatives outweigh the positives. The compassionate evaluation from Rahm. Merry Christmas.

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

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