'Mayor Pete is the new Beto ... there's no there there': Chris Christie

The "This Week" Powerhouse Roundtable debates the latest in the 2020 presidential race.
9:48 | 06/09/19

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Transcript for 'Mayor Pete is the new Beto ... there's no there there': Chris Christie
We have a president who wakes up every day and tries to divide the American people. Right now, we have a president -- president of the United States who bleeds hate and division. We have a president who's so small-minded and so petty in his instincts. We in the lgbtq community know when we hear phrases like make America great again, that American past was never quite as great as advertised. 19 Democrats in Iowa this weekend. Let's talk about it on our roundtable with our congressional correspondent Mary Bruce, Eliana Johnson, Chris Christie and Patrick Gaspard. Put on your political director hat to begin with, Patrick, I take Beto's point, these polls don't mean all that much in June but there's a trend there for Beto O'rourke. When you look at the entire constellation of what we're seeing in Iowa, what do you make of it? The horse race, I wouldn't put too much stock in it. But something interesting emerged from that poll. Two-thirds of all likely Iowa caucusans would much rather have someone who can beat Donald Trump. Rathers than someone who shares their positions on individual issues. Really powerful, electability seems to be as a primary point for the Democrats in this cycle against Donald Trump. It would suspect that should benefit a candidate like Joe Biden. And that's the question, Chris Christie, how long can Biden hold on? One of the few Democrats not going to Iowa this week, he'll go there the same day as president trump on Tuesday. Listen, I think -- I saw the same numbers that Patrick saw, the question is, how does that manifest itself? Now, when you look at Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren getting 31% of the vote combined in Iowa, that doesn't speak to electability to me yet, Biden still has the lead. But there's still enormous energy in the far left Progressive side of this and you can see that through a lot of these numbers. So, it's going to be really interesting to see how Biden deals with that. Divide and conquer -- Listen, the general strategy, you know, would be, keep them all in, he won't say a bad thing about anybody, he'll be saying great things about everybody on that stage, if he's smart. Keep them all, active, divided up, in that instance, that 24% It could. Mary, even though Beto was sliding a bit, mayor Pete a big surge over the last several months? Yeah, it's interesting to watch his trajectory. He's clearly getting a lot of attention. When it comes to Biden I do think he's not showing up here, right, he's taking this hands-off approach, this sort of wait-and-see style and it does seem to be working based on the polls. He has that name recognition. The question is, how long can that last? Eliana, but he was listening this week. First the position that he supported the Hyde amendment and then every other candidate pounced and he shifted pretty quickly. Absolutely. Governor, I'll be shocked if the president is lavishing praise on everybody. We'll get to that later, Eliana. No way. As for Biden and the Hyde amendment, you can change your position or not. The way -- it comes down to how you handle it. I don't think Biden handled this with the confidence of a frontrunner. He took a couple days, he had his campaign co-chairman go out and say he was maintaining his old position and then came out and changed it. He looked weak, I think, and the trump campaign's theory has been Biden will have trouble surviving a democratic primary because he's going to be pulled to the left. This is the first evidence we have seen of that. If it continues I think it's going to be difficult for him even if he does win the primary to challenge trump in a general election. He's considered the electable candidate because he's the most moderate of the bunch. This was a difficult instance for him. That's a great point. I think Biden's wobbliness on this issue really spoke to Elizabeth Warren's strength. He turned into an economic inclusion argument. Joe Biden doesn't want to be on the wrong side of that -- There's no way he could have hold on to that position -- through the primaries. The counterargument is, it's June, two days. As long as it's not a long-term wound -- But it raises a lot of questions going forward. If some ways that he's that moderate who can appeal to those trump voters, back over voting with Democrats, it raises questions if he's seen as going to the left and appeal to those voters. That may help him in a primary. It also raises questions about his campaign's handling on this. They're struggling to answer what happened between Wednesday when he still supported it and Thursday, just 24 hours later, when he changed his position. That raises questions about whether or not he can take on trump. George, the concern about Joe Biden is he never stays on the rails. That every time he's run for president he's gone off the rails on one issue or another. This is a judgment issue on Joe Biden's part. Mayor Pete, I'm willing to predict today mayor Pete is the new Beto. He's had this surge now. There's no there there. I think what you're going to see with him is the same you're seeing with Beto O'rourke. There's a certain stylistic appeal to him. He's still the 37-year-old mayor of South Bend, Indiana. When those lights get on, I suspect it's not going to be kind to him. I think he'll wind up in Beto territory. Maybe too early to make that kind of forecast, governor. But I think the judgment is, yeah, 55% of the likely democratic electorate will be women. What I'm saying is, this is about Joe Biden's style. The way he makes decisions and how he presents themselves to the public and his appeal is, he's the stable, steady, moderate guy who's going to be able to be contrasted to a president who at times seems erratic and hyperbolic. If he loses that, it's over for him. Done. He doesn't appeal to where the energy is substantively in the democratic party now. If he can't make that argument he's done. Well, I think that's exactly right. As an isolated incident, this may not matter. Before he announced the allegations from these women that he made them uncomfortable when he went into hiding for five days, and we weren't sure what he was going to say, and he was a little wobbly then. If this is a pattern the way he handles controversial issues, that's going to be tough. It's not a good sign. If this is a one-off it won't matter at all. One of the questions, how closely are people paying attention to all this happening? Right now, can he right the ship in time for the debates? The debates, he goes into that with a giant target on his back. Biden is prone to gaffes. Biden's come under a lot of criticism, can he withstand the pressure of campaigning? How is he going to handle a stage where he's taking all of that oncoming fire? Patrick, there's a lit bit of a hint of criticism from Beto of Joe Biden. But increasingly you're hearing them make contrasts that are generational, even Bernie Sanders who's not exactly -- a spring chicken -- Generational -- Who recently said we can't go back to the politics in the past in a clear, direct reference to Joe Biden. The debates will be like duck hunting season with Joe Biden being the duck there. That's only going to increase in the debates. You know, I have worked closely with Joe Biden, have known for a long time. I recall in 2016 when he saved Barack Obama who had performed poorly in first debate and Joe Biden came out and just acquitted himself so well that changed the narrative. I think your point before, George, applies to what you just said about the candidates and how they're going after Joe pieden. It's too early to go after Biden and make themselves a target. You might remember 2016, remember the early guys who went after trump -- Rick Perry, dead. Rand Paul, dead, it's too early for that. I think Biden, again, as I said before, he'll make it against trump in the debate. But he'll also do, he'll lavish praise on all them to make it more difficult to go after him. Oh, Elizabeth, I love when you supported this bill. Beto, you bring great energy to the campaign and you went after Ted Cruz and we all love that. Joe Biden as you know has that personal affability. There was a change in tone out on the campaign trail. Whether or not they said Biden's name, they skewered him on the Hyde amendment, and whether or not the campaign will admit it, that political pressure was pretty hard for him to ignore.

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

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