Trump mail-in voting attacks 'puzzling,' 'self defeating' to GOP officials: Swan

The Powerhouse Roundtable discusses President Donald Trump's suggestion to delay the election on "This Week."
12:06 | 08/02/20

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Transcript for Trump mail-in voting attacks 'puzzling,' 'self defeating' to GOP officials: Swan
And with that let's bring in our senior congressional correspondent Mary Bruce who's joined on the roundtable by Jonathan swan, ABC news white house correspondent Rachel Scott and fivethirtyeight's senior writer Perry bacon. I want to go back to you, Mary, Republican strategists targeting both president trump and Republican senators up for re-election, how does Joe Biden's team view this? Well, Martha, they certainly welcome any help they can get in this department. They're quick to point out that these groups especially the Lincoln project and some of these others, aren't just anti-Trump group but have become pro-biden. They see that as another problem for president trump. What strikes me in watching some of these ads is that these groups are able to do what Joe Biden can't, trying to maintain this squeaky clean image, now these groups are doing anything but, these ads aren't subtle, they're hitting trump where it hurts. Trying to beat him at his own game. The question though is, whether they're needling the president or are they going to sway voters? And Rachel, let's turn to the president's suggestion to delay the election. A move I frankly seen in authoritarian countries, but not so much here. It seems like a signal he recognizes his re-election chances at this moment have diminished, is this just a distraction what he's saying? Right, Martha, and I think the president is aware that he can't move the date of the election but what he can do is try and cast doubt on the process, but look the reality is, the president is down in the polls. The economy which many of his supporters is a sticking point for them is suffering. Less than a hundred days out from the election, his campaign has said it's now reviewing its strategy, pressed pause on TV advertising. Something they've spent millions of dollars on in the past several months. Not to mention that the president's new campaign manager has only been in that position for just over two weeks, so this is a campaign that's also dealing with a few shakeups in the final stretch leading up to election day. They're trying to refine what they believe is going to be their winning strategy trying to define Joe Biden and all the while the president is trying to cast doubt on an election polls show he's at risk of losing. Jonathan, the president's attempts to undermine faith in the election do seem to increase. I know you spoke to the president about this a few days ago, what can you tell us about that interview? Well, it's a puzzling effort. It's puzzling in the sense that it's self-defeating in the view of many top Republican officials. And the reason it's potentially self-defeating is because who are the people -- and this is a conversation I had recently with a top Republican lawmaker who's tearing his hair out about this and trying to persuade the president to stop doing this -- the people who are going to be persuaded by the president saying mail-in voting is a fraud, it's completely, you know, illegitimate, it's not the democratic voters, they don't listen to him. It's Republican voters and the Republican party is famous for its well-funded, sophisticated, you know, incredibly effective mail-in voting program and, you know, you have the Republican national committee, you have trump's own campaign putting out drives to get people to vote by mail, so it's the senior citizens, because overwhelmingly like to vote by mail who are sitting at home in Florida, who are worried about going to the polls during a pandemic. And then are hearing this president who they hang on every word he says in some cases telling them that this is fraudulent, so the Republican party better hope for nice weather on election day or a diminished virus, they could see this really backfire. I suspect based on not only my conversation with the president this week but by reporting around him this is more of a personal thing rather than broader strategic, this is Donald Trump in my estimation trying to set down a marker for him basically claiming after the results come in on election day that it's a stolen election and I think for democracy, one of the most concerning scenarios is, you could see a vote on election day in which Donald Trump is doing very well because his people have gone to the polls and Democrats have overwhelmingly voted by mail, and then as the results start coming with the mail-in votes, Donald Trump will say, I told you so it's fraudulent and try to launch various forms of litigation. And Perry, to Jonathan's point, not a single prominent Republican voiced support for the president's suggestion to delay the election. Mail-in voters as well, that's a real issue for the elderly. But you don't often see the entire party push back against him. Right. I thought it was important, we know that trump is likely to lie and to some extent cheat in the election, we saw that in the Ukraine scandal involving Joe we know that about president trump. What struck me this week was that Republicans in general, almost all of them, Martha, rebuked this idea of changing the election day, which is important because it tells me they might rebuke other ideas that trump has to undermine the democratic process. And the electoral process. Mary, I keep having people, come and say, do you think if he lost he actually would leave the white house? Well, the president certainly has floated that idea, there's some concern about that. Though the Biden campaign is quick to point out they do have ways to get an illegal tenant out of the building. What strike me this week the president repeatedly seems tried to undercut and question the legitimacy of an election, you don't do that if you think you're going to win. 57bd of course it's not just him questioning potentially moving the date of the election, but of course, we also saw him questioning the postal service in and of itself, which is a favorite target of the president. He has an issue with the postal service. Now there are questions about whether the president is trying to undermine the postal service, perhaps his postmaster general a trump donor, trying to create some delays in the postal service to further complicate this system. We saw Barack Obama earlier this week raising that same question whether this is another political move in essence to try and erode trust and faith in the postal service. Rachel, overall this is a blunt strategy to appeal to suburban voters also, warning of urban violence, is that a strategy that would work? Right, and rolling back that obama-era housing regulation that has overwhelmingly helped minority, low-income Americans. So the president here is trying to pitch white suburban voters that he won over in 2016, it doesn't appear that same message is sticking this time around. More and more polls are showing that more and more suburban voters are disapproving the president's handling on the job and his handling on race relations in this country. They're not the only ones to be heading to the polls in November, what message does that send to minority, low-income residents in affordable housing who are looking at the president's Twitter feed to learn that, according to them they're no longer welcome in majority white suburbs in this country. I want to turn to the veepstakes. What do you know about the late-stage deliberations? So I'm told by a source familiar with the discussion that it's unlikely to happen this week, they've kicked it a little bit down the road. You've seen a late effort by a number of Biden allies to kill the candidacy of kamala Harris. You've seen that panic rise to the surface in various news articles, and from the way it's been described to me by several people, Biden wants somebody who can be a partner, work with, who can be the same role he served for Barack Obama. But probably the most obvious person who fits that description is Susan rice and she has real politically liabilities and more energizing to the Republican base. Kamala Harris on the other hand is well vetted, has a long career in politics and obviously has been wanting to be president for a very long time, which has shaped her behavior in a more cautious way in the last decade. But people don't have a great deal of affection for her in Biden's inner circle. And they haven't forgotten that she effectively called him a racist on the debate stage, again, it's a tug and a pull and I don't portend to have any perfect wisdom of where they're going to land because it's been tightly held in a tiny group around the vice president. And Perry, Jonathan mentioned kamala Harris. We saw the close-up pictures of Biden's notes with kamala Harris' name at the top followed by "Do not hold grudges." What are you hearing? Just to be clear, I don't believe she called him a racist, I believed she criticized his integration. With that said, what I think is going on here, kamala Harris is probably the most logical candidate. National profile. Sitting senator. She's black in the era of we're having discussions on racial equality. That said, lot of Democrats are worried, if you pick kamala Harris, you put her ahead in the 2024 conversation, because Joe Biden might not run for a second term if you pick kamala Harris, you may in some ways anointing the next person forward and that's something people are nervous about, they're not sure they want to have Harris as a candidate, I think that's what's going on. Karen bass, the house member from California, she's not run before. I think that's the question is, Harris makes the most sense on a lot of levels, but do you want her as your nominee for the future? And Mary, I just want to close. We have about 30 seconds. Let's quickly talk about what you heard from Nancy Pelosi and treasury secretary Steve mnuchin. It really doesn't sound like they're close -- Americans who have lost that lifeline you would be hard pressed to listen to those interviews this morning and think that help is on the way. We're still very far away from a deal there. There isn't one in sight. Democrats are insisting those payments continue. Republicans who have struggled to come up with a plan are trying to come up with a short-term fix. Bottom line, you have millions of Americans who are really struggling to make ends meet without this payment and there's no deal in sight. This could take weeks, Martha. 30 million Americans without that paycheck. Thanks to all of you on this Sunday morning.

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

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