'Putin and Trump are picking their opponent': Rahm Emanuel on Sanders

The Powerhouse Roundtable breaks down the results from the Nevada caucuses and discusses implications for the 2020 race on "This Week."
16:14 | 02/23/20

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Transcript for 'Putin and Trump are picking their opponent': Rahm Emanuel on Sanders
As we come on the air this morning, Bernie Sanders is riding high. The clear front-runner for the democratic nomination. They're still counting the votes in Nevada, but no question he's the winner there, crushing the competition making good on his promise in that state to build out a bigger coalition of democratic voters. With half the precincts reporting from the caucuses, Sanders has 47% of the county delegates. That translates into 12 of the 36 national delegates up for grabs in that state so far. Joe Biden and Pete buttigieg battling for second, and right now Biden does have the edge in 19%, mayor Pete at 15%. Elizabeth Warren, Amy klobuchar and Tom Steyer further back rounding out the field. South Carolina, the next key vote Saturday before the race goes national on super Tuesday on March 3rd. A lot of big questions now. Is that make or break for Joe Biden and other moderates? Will Mike Bloomberg recover at this week's debate? Can any Democrat stop Sanders or does splintered opposition clear his path to the nomination? What will that mean for the Democrats' chances come November? So much to analyze and debate, so let's get right to our round table joined by Republican Chris Christie, former mayor of new Jersey, Rahm Emanuel, author of the new book you see right there, "The nation city," Yvette Simpson, CEO of democracy for America and Republican strategist, Sara Fagen, who served under George W. Bush. Rahm, let me take it to you from the beginning. Is Bernie Sanders unstoppable? He's the front-runner. He is stoppable. I don't know, but I would say this. The moderates have to coalesce around one person. If you have a divided field, we have seen this play out in the Republican primary in 2016. If there is not kind of a singular mano E mano. Then he'll get the delegates. But the delegation. It's clear right now is that everybody has a thread of logic why they should stay, resource as long as that happens, he will continue to have 45%, and that makes a majority. I do think people should take his entire strategy upends every electoral map that either president Clinton, president Obama or the midterms of '06 and 2018 put together. It's a different theory of the case, never been tested before nationally and never been proven successful for any Democrat either presidential or congressional majority. And Yvette, Bernie Sanders, he did not increase the turnout in Iowa, but he seemed to build that coalition in Nevada winning big with hispanics, and young people and liberals. The only groups he lost were seniors and African-American. He continues to struggle with older Americans. I think Joe Biden is still holding a lot of those folks. Pete buttigieg surprisingly is getting a lot of those folks in the older demographic. African-Americans, we'll see what South Carolina does particularly because you have older people who also happen to be black, but I know he's closing his lead according to polls. He needs more time with those groups and he has the momentum. He is the front-runner. I believe he will go into the convention with the most delegates. I think the biggest challenge is the establishment continuing to fight at him instead of saying, he's our front-runner. Why don't we coalesce around him? He's replicating what happened in the Republican primaries last time around getting 30% to 40%, splintered opposition gave Donald Trump the opening back in 2016. He did give trump -- trump did have the opening in 2016 because of a divisive Republican primary. I think the difference here though is Donald Trump was ultimately espoused. He was a Republican. Bernie Sanders is not a Democrat. 15 times he's been on the ballot in Vermont, and not one time did he say, put his name forward on the democratic nomination. He only runs as a Democrat because it's the path of least resistance to getting the nomination. I don't understand why Democrats feel compelled to hand ring around their convention rules around a person who is not a member of their party. You're shaking your head. First of all, Bloomberg is a Republican. Elizabeth Warren was a Republican. He had a record of voting with the Democrats for a long time. I think it was with the Democrats 95% of the time during his time in the senate. He's a democratic socialist. We have to continue to say that. So he is not one who believes -- We don't have to continue to say that. We should say that because it's the truth. It's different. Martin Luther king was a democratic socialist. Nelson Mandela was a democratic socialist. He believes in democracy, but believes that the economy should be looked at from a different perspective. What we're starting to see now is Pete buttigieg, and Joe Biden, and Bloomberg picking up the case that Donald Trump has been making for months. He's not going to say democratic socialist. He's going to say socialist, edge into communist. He is going to say socialist. He's been saying it. He's going to continue to say it and by the way, it's true. So, you know, that actually has an added benefit for trump because when you listen to Bernie Sanders and listen to what he wants to do, it is a socialist agenda, and he's running on it. As Rahm said, this is a different approach of going after the presidency, the way Sanders is doing it. I fear for the Democrats that Biden and buttigieg waking up last night to say, hey. Maybe we should stop attacking each other and start attacking Sanders, maybe a little too little, too late, and the last piece is, and I love to watch we'll talk about the debate I'm sure later, but, you know, this is tough. This is tough work to do, to do this, and Mike Bloomberg showed no matter how much money you have, if you have no damn idea what you are doing in this business, you have no damn idea what you are doing. He was awful, and that's leading to even more hope for Sanders. Here's the one point, and here's a classic why. Somebody better figure this out. You're in Nevada. The site of one of the worst mass shootings in American history, just two years ago. It's not that far in the rear-view mirror. Bernie Sanders' record on guns is horrendous from assault weapons to litigation. Not one person on that stage had the gumption or the wherewithal to mention it. Kind of in passing. A throwaway line with that many people dead? When you are talking about Democrats at a primary and his record on guns, it's more representative of Vermont than it is where the country and, and the Democrats. That tells you the candidates have not taken him seriously and they woke up this morning. They have to take seriously his record on guns. Many leaders March for our lives and that's because they understand his record was more about representing rural communities in Vermont than about gun violence than happens in places like Chicago or L.A. It's very different. As a person assigned by president Clinton to both pass the Brady bill and assault weapon ban, Bernie Sanders was on the side of the gun manufactures. My point is political, not policy. You are on a stage in Vegas with one of the worst mass shootings and nobody brought it up, dealing with him seriously. I think the broader point is Sanders hasn't really been vetted yet. He is the front-runner and it is coming to him, and we're starting to see the drip, drip of comments about communist leaders around the world and socialist leaders around the world and as Rahm pointed out, you know, he's been on the wrong side of the democratic party on guns for a long time. He has come around more recently. He's about to have a spotlight shown on him, and we'll see how he stands up. Who is the message? I agree with Sara about him being vetted, but who's going to do it? You know, the gun question wasn't asked. Now imagine this. Forget about the other candidates. We have done seven hours on medicare for all, and not one on this. On the panel, no one asked a question on guns. If it were a Republican panel with those journalists, you can guarantee guns would have been an early on question. That's the thing. Who will do the vetting? Secondly, which of those candidates will show the aptitude, George, to really vet Bernie Sanders? You have to give him credit. Sanders has stood up there in the middle of that stage when Donald Trump was in the middle of the stage. People were hitting him. Not that much. The press certainly was. The press, yes. There's two elements of a debate, right? That can hurt you. Either the questions being asked, and how the aggressive the panelists are at you, or your opponents. In this instance, Sanders has skated with both. They don't go after him. You are making the point about guns and I take that point, but that's not likely to be at the same residence in South Carolina. To pick up on Chris' point, the question is who will take these questions surrounding socialism to Bernie Sanders at the debate? I think right now -- here's a two-part problem. One, everybody's about to do that, and the problem is you need one person, and as this happened, we saw it in 2016. I want to get back to this one the coalition that president Clinton and president Obama put together, a coalition for congressional majorities in '06 and 2018, is totally different than anything Bernie Sanders is talking about. He doesn't care about that majority welcoming independent swing voters from the suburbs into the democratic party. This has been tried. You just saw it in great Britain. Jeremy Corbin went down dramatically, and this is upending. It may prove something that has not been proven in cultural and social issues that have upended that, and scrambled the egg so to say, but I think this is a strategy, and here's a test. Not one of the congressional Democrats who flipped red to blue district in 2018 have come out and endorsed him. That has to be one of the questions that Bernie Sanders is going to have to answer if he continues to get momentum. What does it mean for democratic senate candidates? What does it mean for democratic house candidates? You hear some critics warning if Bernie Sanders is at the top of the ticket that the Democrats could lose the house. I don't think that's true. We saw amazing historic election in 2018, brought on in part hatred by trump, but the new American majority is representing us, and they want to run for offices like the senate. Bernie Sanders is building a multiracial coalition, a multigenerational coalition. People are thinking about previous races. Trump showed us that people are voting a little bit differently. Even Barack Obama's race, people were coming out who traditionally come out. Whoever the nominee is, if it's Bernie Sanders, people need to get their folks to show up. We're not there yet. First of all -- Yes, it is. Take Illinois. Mm-hmm. Which is now solidly blue, but just ten years ago wasn't. You have three congressional members of congress. Yes. In the suburbs. Ask them if that's the choice P they want to have a democratic socialist at the top of the ticket. You said, congress, senate, statehouses where we districting is done. That's all up here. That is at risk. One of the things that helped Let's go to Sara Fagan. One of the things that helped Donald Trump even though he wasn't getting 50% is winner take all of primaries on the Republican side. That is not the case on the democratic side which increases the chances that Bernie Sanders will have a plurality of votes, but not the delegates he needs. Unless a few of these or Elizabeth Warren gets out and several moderates get out, I think that's guaranteed. He's going to have a plurality -- plurality. Excuse me. A tough word to say. Scrabble today. But I think importantly, you know, there's no reason for people to get out as you pointed out earlier. The reason is they want juice in this convention. So why would you get out? The more delegates you have, the bigger say you have in the nomination contest, and the more delegates you have, the more likely you are to be somebody in a cabinet. They could fall back to you. I think this is just a -- a challenge that Chris and I are going to enjoy watching for the next many weeks. And the other reason people don't have to get out now, is you're seeing on the Republican side, so much of the funding now for people like Elizabeth Warren comes online, and they won't run out of cash. You saw Warren off of her debate performance, and klobuchar in New Hampshire, raise significant amounts of money online. As long as they have that money, they're not going to get out. I think the other thing is the only dream for Republicans that is more than Bernie Sanders marching to this nomination is him not, and then them going to that convention and going to the second ballot and superdelegates -- if they ever throw this to Biden or someone else on the second ballot, this will be a destroyed democratic party, and the only thing better than running against Sanders and to have somebody else there with a completely divided democratic party. That's a fair analysis. If I were chairman Perez, I would get a big parliamentarian who understands the rules. You're going to need it. Rule number two, rule in politics, pick your opponent. Putin and trump are picking their opponent. This is not who we want on the ticket to lead it, and it's clear by what the congressional candidates -- everybody who's low to the ground that has flipped a red district to a blue district -- It's more complicated than that because the first vote of the convention is the vote on the rules. Are they going to change the rules? Will there be enough Bernie delegates to change the rules? This could get out -- not even More than an hour. One thing that could scramble this, and we don't know what will happen at the debate next Tuesday, and the votes in south Carolina. If Joe Biden does win Saturday in South Carolina, that gives him a boost into super Tuesday, and that dramatically increases the chances that Bernie Sanders cannot get a majority going into the convention and you will see a split on the delegates on super Tuesday. I think South Carolina is special for Joe Biden, particularly because he didn't come out of Nevada number one, and he's at a distant second or third at best in Nevada. If he wins South Carolina, I don't know what happens on super Tuesday. I still don't think he wins there. I think Bernie has a lot of these states and we'll see what the Bloomberg effect is going to do. Particularly if he has a better debate performance. We'll talk about that later. A better performance. It's not good. We can do a whole round table on that. What I want to say, George, is listen to what you are hearing. This is someone who is getting votes from the base of the Democrat party. Bernie Sanders is who I'm talking about, and the establishment is trying to figure out how to not give him the nomination. This is not what the party is supposed to do. If he gets the votes from your delegates -- Isn't that what he did to Hillary Clinton? Sure did. That's exactly what he did. Hillary Clinton had the most votes. That's what happened, okay? Bernie went in there at the convention and caused mayhem, had his people booing people at the convention and he was a sore now he's saying, well, I'm ahead, so everybody come together behind me. If he had done that four years ago, there would be a lot more people willing to do it. Nobody is going to be willing to do that. It was a different change. That was then, this is now? We're talking about not letting superdelegates override the will of the people. His will was not expressed. He didn't have the majority. There will be more Democrats and not less Democrats. You were right about one thing, and that is that he is amassing the delegates and getting more delegates than anybody else. What we're saying, just as this is fraught with political risk that has never been tried since 1992, and that we have to be smart about it, open-minded. You are right. He is amassing the delegates, but the rules that are written today, the last time this happened, I remember Richard J. Daly took Albert off the podium, and put a young congressman up there because he couldn't get the place together. The fact is you're going to need a parliamentarian, and a person who understands the rules backwards and forwards and the strength to see it through because at this point, I think to all the other candidates coming in third and fourth consistently, and do have a thread of money that in past years, they would be done by they have enough internet money, and they have to make a decision and say, do I stay in this, or do I understand this has to get to mano E mano?

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

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