'We know that trade wars create global recessions': Cokie Roberts

The Powerhouse Roundtable debates the impact of the trade standoff, gun control and the rest of the week’s politics with Martha Raddatz on "This Week."
9:45 | 08/18/19

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Transcript for 'We know that trade wars create global recessions': Cokie Roberts
ABC news' cokie Roberts. David Drucker. Alexi mccammond. ABC news political analyst, Matthew dowd. Welcome, everyone, this morning. Great to have you. I want to start with you, cokie. The president is clearly banking on a strong economy propelling him to re-election, but it's not really a do or die and you have no choice bl to vote for me or not. The president has had a great economy working for him and that's what's kept his approval ratings up although they don't go much beyond his base. When they do, it's when the economy is thriving, and he's scared and he should be scared because if the economy tanks he doesn't have anything else to fall back on. And David, we've seen him take credit for good economy and very good economic times and there are some strong indicators now, can he really distance himself from the bad if in fact the economy starts going down? Well, you know, all presidents wanted to take advantage of a good economy. They all claim credit. They shun the blame. I think for this president it would be more difficult than for his predecessor in particular, when we remember 2012, when Obama was re-elected despite a still struggling economy. Because it's the one thing that voters give him high marks on. Lot of voters out there who may not vote for him still give him credit for an economy that's good. The line that he used, love me or hate me vote for me. We kind of chuckle and that's trump being trump. In 2016, voters that both disliked president trump and Hillary Clinton, sided with the president. The now-president, 50% to 39%. In a recent Fox News poll taken this month, when they compared Joe Biden to Donald Trump and said if you disapprove of both, who are you going to vote for? 43% to 10%, Joe Biden over trump. This particular metric is a very big deal for him. And Alexi, you've been out talking to those voters. Polls aside. What are they telling you especially independents? If Donald Trump said it's not my fault, or it's the media's fault, or it's the fed's fault? Do they buy that? To your point, I think that's exactly what we can expect. If the economy tanks there's no chance that president trump takes that blame and says, I suddenly have a plan. He'll blame China, he'll blame the media. He'll blame the Democrats. They don't necessarily blame him for the state of economy or give him so much credit, though they feel like things are moving in the right direction nationally. What's interesting, though, is they talk about his lack of a plan on things like health care, social security, infrastructure. Things that reflect their lives. That's something that view president trump on not doing enough on. If the economy tanks, they told me -- they'll blame him and ditch him in 2020. And Matthew, you heard Peter Navarro, you've heard president trump talk about these tariffs with China, but clearly there's some concern there or he wouldn't have delayed those tariffs until after Christmas. Well, yeah. Not only is there concern politically, but there are economic concerns about how much the tariffs have affected what the economy has been. We're in a cycle to take Donald Trump out of this, a cycle of nine, ten years of growing economy, where there's a time at some point to say there's recession time. I think the problem that the president has, he doesn't even need to have a bad economy, if the economy just starts to slow down he doesn't have a residual amount of people that trust him in this country. So he's only boost -- he's leveled up to 42% by a good economy. With a bad economy he doesn't have a way to go to the American voters and say I have a plan, you trust me on this other presidents have had, when his support, when the economy slows down, he goes from the 42% to 33% and that's the huge problematic part for him. I want to -- Go ahead. I think, also, he's doing a bunch of things to make the economy worse. You know that trade wars create global recessions. We're seeing it in Europe and Asia. People are feeling it. And I want to move to guns, you heard those supporters, you heard what president trump said, it seems like he's backing off a little bit after those terrible mass shootings and saying, there would be some measure of a background check, do you see him backing off and is it because of what you just heard from those supporters? Look, I would be surprised if he didn't back off quite a bit. After mass shootings he comes out in favor of beefing up regulations on gun ownership and then he backs away. There's something that we need to understand where voters are on guns, who care about gun rights, single-issue second amendment voters. If you talk to them if you talk to them about background checks most of them are law-abiding gun owners and they had to submit to a background check to get, to purchase their gun. If you tell them beefing up background checks would mean, if you want to give your firearm to your brother-in-law or to your sister or to your wife because they need extra protection, maybe you're going to be traveling, if you want to go to a gun show and buy and sell that way, all of a sudden they dial back the supposed support, large support for expanding background checks. I think understanding the politics of this in congress, whereas a Republican, the best endorsement you can get is from the NRA still in a Republican primary that can impact where this goes. Cokie, talk about mental illness and we're working hard on mental illness. Mental illness in this country is a disaster. Our biggest mental hospitals are jails. That's where we treat people for mental illness. The president made it harder for people who do have some mental incapacity, he made it easier for them to get guns. But even so, suppose you said it was mental illness, it's not mental illness that causes nine people to die in 30 seconds. It's a high-gauge weapon that causes nine people to die. And there's -- following up on what cokie said, there's no data that the gun violence problem in America is related to the mental illness problem. The difference between 22 people getting shot -- or 21 people getting shot in El Paso is the difference between somebody with a gun and somebody without a gun in America. And this sort of faux thing that gets created, it's mental illness or it's video games. Every single other country in the world has a mental illness or people play video games. The only difference is access to guns. And I want to stop on this for a moment and move to 2020, obviously it's a topic there as well. You had John hickenlooper drop out this week. What difference does that make? I don't know if John makes a difference for 2020 race, luckily it's a little bit smaller for us. What it does change, I think, folks for chuck Schumer, democratic senate prospects moving into the 2020 election, I think a lot of folks like to focus on the senate election, but Democrats are still in a tricky situation if they don't reclaim control of the senate in 2020. John hickenlooper dropping out to possibly pursue, he hasn't announced yet, but I have heard from people close to his campaign he's very seriously considering this, senator chuck Schumer told him you can be the difference between Mitch Mcconnell being the minority leader in 2021 and Democrats taking control of the senate. Elizabeth Warren's consistent and incremental rise in the polls, we have seen folks like kamala Harris have this sort of significant bump after good debate performances but that has leveled back out before her debate performance. Same as Joe pieden. He took a dip in the polls after kamala went after him. Elizabeth Warren has been steadily climbing because of her ability to convey her message to people, that she has a plan. And it's not only Elizabeth, there are two things have happened. Elizabeth Warren's rise and Bernie Sanders' drop. I think those two things have mainly changed this race so far. In the end, Iowa is not going to decide the race. Iowa is going to limit who we're going to consider in the following primaries. I got to ask you one final question, word that the president might be trying to buy Greenland. Hey, there's a lot of beach front property. So, why not? He does this to inject himself into the news cycle and get us talking about him and things he want to do rather than the opponents and problems they see with him. It was a good week for for distractions, no distractions, no doubt about it. We just got their health care coverage, green land's health care coverage.

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

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