Trump would veto Alabama abortion bill if it came to his desk: Chris Christie

The "This Week" Powerhouse Roundtable debates the latest in the 2020 race and all the week's politics, including new state laws on abortion.
16:59 | 05/19/19

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Transcript for Trump would veto Alabama abortion bill if it came to his desk: Chris Christie
I couldn't be more P proud to be part of an administration that has stood strong and stood without apology for the sanctity of human life. I think Alabama has gone too far. There's no exception for rape and incest. It's an extreme law. I would have the exceptions. We're a party that's a broad tent. Let us all agree that women's health care is under attack and we will not stand for it! If this is the fight that president trump wants, if this is a fight he wants is a fight he wants with American women he'll have and it's a fight he'll lose. Alabama making waves this week, near-total ban on abortion passed, signed into law by their governor. Let's talk about that with our roundtable. Jon Karl. CEO for democracy for America Yvette Simpson. Former New Jersey governor and now ABC news contributor Chris Christie. And Heidi Heitkamp sefshtd as democratic senator from North Dakota. Jon, let's start with this abortion battle. The president is up and tweeting about it. The president said this is pro-life,s with the three exceptions -- rape, incest and protecting life. Look, the polling for years has shown that majority of Americans support abortion rights but also support restrictions on abortions particularly late-term abortions. So, the Republicans have been working very hard to portray Democrats as extremists on this. Who want abortions under all circumstances, right until the baby is born or even beyond. This has been the message. Suddenly, Alabama comes around and puts forward a law as you saw, that pat Robertson is opposed to it. The president didn't directly criticize the Alabama law. But that's obviously -- Chris, it's kind of an axiom of abortion politics. Whichever party is painted more extreme losing on this. The president, if he was the governor of Alabama wouldn't have signed that bill. He's, you foe -- But would he stand up and fight it? The way you fight it as a governor you veto it. I think he would have veto this bill because it didn't contain those three exceptions. Listen, people are going to want to have the fight on this issue. Always going to be a big fight on this issue. You're right, how each party is characterized on this is going to determine. The Democrats will try to pin the president with the Alabama bill. Even as the president last night say he's not supportive of it. He didn't say that directly -- George, it's absolutely inherent what he said. If that's your litmus test on abortion, if that bill came to my desk as governor of new Jersey it would have vetoed it. How do you Democrats handle this? There's a huge problem that the Republicans have with this. Their base, which is largely evangelicals, believe life begins at conception. If life begins at conception, the conditions of conception shouldn't determine whether that life can continue. And so, when you look at that hard-core group of people who say we're voting on the supreme court, and we believe life believes at conception we want an administration that supports that and I think the president is on thin ice in not following the moral imperative. The person who is least happy with what happened was Mitch Mcconnell. He's been working very hard to paint the Democrats as the extremists. But, George, that's simply not true. If you believe life begins at conception, that you can't be for those exceptions. In our laws we allow for self-defense, we allow for self-defense as a justification for the taking of another life. That's what those acts are. They're self-defense from rape, self-defense from incest. Those results from acts you can't be required to do that. That's what Ronald Reagan's position was. And that's my position. The reality is, is that women have full control in making their decision if and when they have children. They should be making that decision in the privacy of their doctor's office and in their homes. All of these heartbeat laws are compicaing -- most women have been respecting the laws as they have been and are fine with it. I don't understand why we're having this conversation again. What it's doing -- look, it's not life. It's not birth. It's about control. Controlling women, their freedom and their bodies. No restrictions. I mean, what's happening right now, most states don't allow late-term abortions, and most people agree with that. The idea of a woman before she even knows she's pregnant has to make this very important decision. It's ludicrous. What Republicans are giving us is a gift. We'll March all the way to 2020. Thanks to all these states bringing forward this legislation. 70% of Americans support of women to make this choice. I see all those polls. I can tell you the polls are the same way in my state and I got elected twice as pro-life governor. I know what you're saying. The politics aren't nearly that simple. What's making it complicated, science is making this complicated. The more we learn about the government more people see how it works. You were a pro-life governor but ran as pro-life candidate. But you weren't actively running to ban abortion in New Jersey. No. But my position was the same as the president's position. So, Chris, when you look at your position you're saying that the innocent child who is the result of this heinous act is somehow -- somebody who should be terminated because of self-defense. That makes no moral sense at all. That's why this is so problematic. Listen, senator, that's your opinion. My opinion is different. I believe that if -- if your daughter or my daughter were the victims of a rape or incest, or their life was threatened, you'd want them to have that option. Clearly the Alabama law is designed to challenge roe V. Wade. It's not clear to me, though, that this is something chief justice Roberts is eager to take up. I'd think not. 70% of Americans feel like women should have the right to choose. And the idea that, I mean, unfortunately we're setting that up. All these states are bringing forward this legislation, lots of lawsuits. I don't think this supreme court, specifically justice Roberts, wants to tackle this because this is divisive. Supermajority of Americans agree with the law as it is. Overturning roe at this time is problematic and frankly, I don't know why we need to have the conversation. Alabama law I dont' think is not a good test case because -- The heartbeat is problematic, too. It's an easy one for him to turn down, because it's too extreme. It will be some of the subtle ones, heartbeat laws. Not nearly as extreme as the Alabama law that will be hard for the supreme court to completely dismiss without considering it. My guess is they wouldn't even grant on the Alabama law. Let's talk about 2020 more generally. Jon Karl, we just saw those three other Democrats still in 23 candidates, shy about drawing this phase. 23 candidates, shy about drawing direct distinctions. They're going to have to. Joe Biden is at the top. He's had an incredible start playing it very safe. But the lead that he's built up means you'll have to take on Joe Biden if you're going to be -- Moulton almost went there with the generation. The idea of this new generation of leadership. But, you know, Biden's strategy is clearly to already jump ahead to the general election, which means that if you're going to break through you're going to have to make the case that you are a candidate that can go up against Donald Trump. Are you surprised that he's continued to rise since joining the race? No. One of the things that I know from talking to the most liberal of Democrats they want someone who can win. When they see the polling numbers out of Michigan and Pennsylvania, and they see that this president already has got double-digit lead this candidate -- Biden has a double-digit lead over the president, they're okay, let's get on board and let's do the one thing we all want to do which is defeat Donald Trump. It's early. Going back to '08 at this time, Hillary Clinton was the foregone conclusion. We have to stop jumping to conclusions. I actually think a bigger field is good. We get to test these people, my neighbor would frankly be better than Donald Trump. Are they ready to be big and bold on policies that matter to Americans? Health care, climate change, education, immigration. Isn't that debate? I'll bring this to Chris as well, between big and bold on one hand and kind of Joe Biden out there saying we have to build consensus, build bridges to Republicans. That's pretty distinct paths. I disagree. Clearly, I represent the Progressive wing. Energy wins. Barack Obama was hope and change. We'll do this and we're going to do this now. Frankly, when you see 70% of Americans saying they want their health care and they want it now, they want it complete, they want to make sure they're not making these tough choices every day about paying medical bills and living in their homes. I think we really need bold. Guess what, you get the part of the base that typically does not show up and you get the regular base who's always going to show up. And Yvette and I agree on something. The bigger field for the Democrats is great thing. Let's keep them all talking. Let's keep all the people talking and, in fact, let's get that really Progressive wing of the party talking about medicare for all. I absolutely believe that this becomes a choice between the current system and medicare for all, that trump will be re-elected. If they make it a government-run health care system they'll be -- trump will call it socialism. He'll continue to hammer away at that. He'll make it the very easy choice. Donald Trump wins when he makes these binary choices very simple -- socialism or capitalism. They'll want to talk about the specifics of the plan. You know what, I'm not for socialism, not yet. Who is that going to work against? Lizabeth Warren. Cory booker. Cory booker, my senator said he's for medicare for all. That's news to me. I have never heard him say that for the decade of his public life. Biden is being very smart here. Biden saying to himself, this is all about beating Donald Trump. Just look at the polls everybody. On health care, let's admit, when president trump was campaigning he was campaigning against an idea. Now he has a record, and that record is going to court, saying, I'm going to take away your pre-existing conditions and I'm going to take medicaid expansion. While you're talking about extreme the Republican party has been extreme signing on a piece of litigation that will take away huge protections and let's have that debate and I think the truth is somewhere in the middle. I have never been a fan of medicare for all. How about a public option? How about all of the other ideas you'll see and when his position is his position articulated in that litigation he'll have a hard time defending. Jon Karl, the president was up and tweeting directly at everyone at the Sunday shows. Talking about basically laying out his record particularly on the economy. Fox News poll showed how the president was matching up against the Democrats. Biden doing the best. For all the Democrats right there, up about 11 points against Donald Trump. The president's team has been concerned particularly in the midwest about Joe Biden. Because, despite a strong economy, right now he's still trailing at least to Biden in some of those key states. No question that Biden is the candidate they fear worst. You hear governor Christie's words. It's hard to make that argument about socialism. The president is running on the best economy. He's right about this. Lowest employment rate in 50 years. Real wages are finally going up more significantly than they did while the economy was growing under Obama. That's the argument they want to take directly to the midwest and the states that got trump elected president in the first place. That's a tough argument for Democrats. Isn't it Heidi? Absolutely. When you look at what Democrats want, they want someone who can beat this president and they're willing to look at any range of issues as long they're in change from what we have -- whether it's health care, climate, we don't need to be, you know, arguing the extremes. We just need to see what we're seeing right now, ignoring the climate, ignoring the immigration problem, ignoring wealth disparity in this country those aren't a path forward. 70% of Americans, though, support medicare for all. Supermajority of Americans support green new deal. Bold action. I think people know exactly what it is. They're literally dying under the weight of our health care system. It's very real. That's what Democrats have to do. Stop talking about the policies. Let's talk about how it affects real people. If you talk to people who literally are dying because they can't insurance for pre-existing conditions, for cancer, they're like going bankrupt, you ask those people and they'll say give me my health care. Trump's numbers on health care are low. Trump's approval is well below 50%. The one area that he has high numbers is his handling on the economy. 56%. We literally came out. I talked about this last time. We just came out of federal shutdown, where federal workers were in the line getting free food after missing two paychecks. You can talk about the economy all you want. But people are still struggling. Wages have been stagnant. Inflation has caused everything to be more expensive. Let's talk about tax returns. George, George -- let me tell you, this is what Donald Trump is doing. I'm telling you, he's leaning back like I am and laughing. Let's hope the 12 months be Heidi and Yvette arguing with each other. We're not arguing -- both positions are better than trump's. The bottom line is this, Donald Trump will have a very clear message about economic growth, the development of the economy, during his time. No matter what, I saw Joe Biden say today -- yesterday rather, he inherited the biden/obama economy. If this economy is doing so well, why is the president behind? Because the president is a difficult figure for some people to support. Most people. Not most, he won the election the last time. Now, we know. The fact is, for some people his style, his bombastic nature is difficult for them. But that's right in a vacuum. That Donald Trump versus no one. Let's have it be. Whether it's Joe Biden or Elizabeth Warren, heaven please help me, Bernie Sanders, have them be a binary choice next is September to November, and you'll see those numbers change significantly. He's the least popular president in a generation. I think the folks behind him are behind him because he does take bold action. We don't agree with that action. By the way, Barack Obama's numbers were exactly the same as Donald Trump's right now at this exact same time in his presidency. So, do you want to say Barack Obama was the most unpopular president in a generation? I mean, you guys just say this stuff -- Barack Obama was not an unpopular -- No, no, but his attorney general was held in contempt. We'll have you all back in a couple weeks. We're out of time. When we come back -- as

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

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