'(Trump's) version of American politics is his version of hunger games': Rahm Emanuel

The Powerhouse Roundtable breaks down the latest news on "This Week."
16:25 | 08/30/20

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Transcript for '(Trump's) version of American politics is his version of hunger games': Rahm Emanuel
The current president's cloaked America in darkness for far too long. If you entrust me with the presidency, I will draw on the best of us, not the worst. I will be an ally of the light, not the darkness. We will rekindle new faith in our values, new pride in our history because we understand that America is not a land cloaked in darkness. America is the torch that enlightens the entire world. President trump and vice president Biden making their acceptance speeches. Let's break it all down with the round table. Former Chicago mayor and Obama chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, Sarah Isgur, democratic strategist Karen finney, also a CNN political analyst, and former New Jersey governor Chris Christie. Governor Christie, I want to start with you. We have a brand-new poll out this morning. Our first post-convention poll, ipsos/abc news and it shows that the president's approval rating has not -- his favorability rating has not changed at all post-convention. Take a look. He has a 31% favorable rating, 31%, 59% unfavorable, basically where it was before the convention. Did he -- why didn't he get a bounce out of this convention? Rahm, we're having some technical difficulties. Let me ask you that question. Let me do this for Chris, okay? Speaking for Chris Christie. I have been waiting for this for a long time. Here's what I think is interesting is not only did Joe Biden improve his likability, his approval ratings and also drop in his negative, Donald Trump didn't do anything. So all this effort is somehow painting a picture of an empathetic, high quality person who cares about people and has this image actually that was not only wasted. It ran counter to 3 1/2 years of very fixed impressions, and I think this is basically those four days that were not days well spent, and the real reason also is it has this basically zigzag. One moment you're supposed to say, forget the 3 1/2 years of impressions. This man is a cuddly teddy bear, and then the second thing was all this darkness he was prevailing on was going to happen, and people realized, this is Donald Trump's America. This is not some America in the distant future. It is here, it is now, and they see Joe Biden as someone who can fix it. Another thing we saw in our poll is nearly half the country said they didn't pay attention to either convention at all, but Sarah, with a 31% favorable rating, less than a third of the country seeing you favorably, can you win re-election? Think back to 2016. He was the least liked kind -- candidate running in the United States against the second least liked candidate in the United States, and he won. Look at what their metrics for success were. There were no questions the Biden campaign went in to increase his favorability, to increase enthusiasm against his supporters or wobbliers. I don't think that was trump's metric of success. I think it was about increasing those economy numbers. He's 10 points up on Biden on the economy, and I think he wanted to move those, and I think he wanted to scare those wobbly Republicans who had been shifting away, maybe weren't going to vote into saying, look what happens if that guy wins. Governor Christie, you're back, right? I am. Okay. I'm deeply disturbed that Rahm was speaking for me. Trust me. I didn't like it any more than you did. I mean, what does he have to do? Let me ask you the same question I asked Sarah. He's got these really anemic favorability numbers. I think worse than he had four years ago, and Biden doesn't have the negatives that Hillary Clinton had. Does he need to do something, and if the convention didn't do it, how does he do it? First of all, the convention was not a traditional convention. The viewership numbers were way down, and the fact is no one got a bump out of this convention, not Joe Biden and not Donald Trump, but what the president needs to do is continue to do what he started to do on Thursday night which is to not draw a contrast on personalities, but draw a contrast on issues, and he started to do that I think very effectively on Thursday night. You're right, Joe Biden does not have the personal negatives that Hillary Clinton had, but he also doesn't have near the level of enthusiasm about him that Hillary Clinton had, and nowhere near the level of enthusiasm that the president has, and so the question becomes how does the president draw this into a binary race between his vision of America and Joe Biden's vision of America? If he does that, I guarantee you, Jon, this will be a very, very close race. He started to do it on Thursday night. He has to do it even more over the next 65 days. Karen, do you think Biden needs to be out there more? We're hearing now -- we just heard from Kate Bedingfield, the campaign manager that he is getting out this week. He basically left the stage to the Republicans for a full week. Well, I don't think I agree with that. I mean, the Republicans did themselves quite a bit of damage throughout this week with all their lies. I have a different take on what we really know at the end of two weeks. What we know as we look at what's happening in Kenosha, Wisconsin is a white 17-year-old with an ar-15 long gun approached police and was brushed off as he shot two and a black man with a cop holding him by the scruff of the shirt was shot seven times in the back while his three children watched. Those are the two visions of America. Donald Trump is trying to make this about who wants to stop violence. Black people want to stop violence. We have been living in violence since the beginning of this country. He's trying to make this about anarchy in the streets, but he's the president. He's trying to blame Joe Biden when he is the president. Why should Joe Biden be responsible for trump's failures? And all of this is a distraction from the complete incompetence, frankly, of Donald Trump as more than 180,000 Americans are dead from coronavirus, and we're learning very troubling things about the idea of the CDC suggesting that we test less and so we will get less results, so we'll know less what's going on. That's really what Democrats have to do, and what Biden has to do. Don't let Donald Trump take us off focus on what this election is really about, his incompetence, the danger that he himself creates. Him going to Kenosha, Wisconsin is like driving a Mack truck full of gas into a fire. That contrast of that imagery -- the contest of that imagery, comparing that to anything Joe Biden does is going to remind Americans that Joe Biden is a good, decent human being with a real plan to quell the violence in our streets, to do real policing reform, to move our country forward, and Donald Trump is a -- just full of chaos and anger and bile. That's what we're seeing in the outcome of these two conventions moving forward. Rahm? Two points her I would say is, look. The president is going to Kenosha, Wisconsin. Does anybody think for a moment he's bringing calm or chaos and conflict? And his version of American politics is his version of "Hunger games." Literally pitting American against American, and Biden has touched on something that Americans are exhausted of this constant conflict that actually, if you look at all the data, they see the president as exacerbating. May not be the source of it, but clearly not the solution either. Second I would say I want to bring up something governor Christie brought up. The fact is the president missed a major opportunity. He doesn't mention jobs or health care, or doesn't mention a single issue, and I'm not even sure it's in English, and I think Biden has laid out not only four weeks straight of issues of rebuilding America, what he's going to do on health care, what he's going to do on all these efforts and they have not only improved in the battleground states, but the advertising is specific on what he's going to do issue-wise, and I think the campaign is going to continue to do -- and draw on the Biden campaign. It doesn't say anything about the second term, and what Joe Biden is going to do very specifically on jobs, on health care, on the environment, on climate change, to bring America and move it forward as one country, and that contrast of unity as well as a specific plan is going to be Joe Biden's ace. Governor Christie, why does the president have a hard time saying what he's going to do in a second term? Well, this is -- I just disagree with the premise as of Thursday night, Jon. He laid out very specifically near the end of that speech the things that he wanted to do in his second term, and listen. I encourage -- I agree with Rahm on this. I encourage Joe Biden to go out, get out of the basement in Wilmington, you know, he says if you put a mask on, everything will be fine. I agree with him. Put a mask on and go out and articulate to the American people what your vision is. I think if he does that, one of two things is going to happen. Either the left wing of his party is going to revolt because Joe Biden is not saying medicare for all. He's not talking about green new deal. Joe Biden is not talking about huge increases in taxes or the center of his party, and independents are going to be very concerned because Joe Biden is going to have shifted even further left than he has shifted already. There's an opportunity here for the president to make Joe Biden go out and speak, and believe me, if that's what he's going to do over the next 65 days, this race is going to get closer every day. Sarah, the president spoke from teleprompter for well over an hour in his convention speech. Some people said he lacked some of the energy, but you made a point about what that signified, the fact that he was -- the speech might not have been tightly focused, but he was disciplined. He kept to the script. It was the main thing I was looking for on Thursday is what were we going to get, campaign rally Donald Trump who gets the headlines and gets the viewers, or disciplined Donald Trump that shows his voters that he's got this, that he's not the Twitter maniac that some people fear he By the time he got to new Hampshire, it all fell apart. That we've seen over and over again, but, you know, we have had poll after poll, and there are not as many undecided voters. They know who Donald Trump is, and that's what Rahm was saying. This is a referendum on that right now. 96% decided that three times fewer than we had in October of 2016. He went into that speech talking to his voters, trying to get turnout up, trying to have those people who were, like, I just don't know if I can do Donald Trump for four more years, but I'm not voting for Joe Biden no matter what. I may stay home or vote third party. He was talking to them and saying, look. I can stay on script. I can do this. I can deliver a speech and I'm not a maniac. They tried to do this, to make Bernie Sanders his running mate and not kamala Harris. It failed. The first week, they spent a whole bunch of time trying to tear up kamala Harris. Not only did it not work, it backfired, and they tried to spend their convention saying Joe Biden's campaign would be a Joe biden/bernie Sanders ticket. That's not going to work. Joe Biden has higher approval, lower negatives than Hillary Clinton and that's their problem because it's inverse to where the president stands in approval and disapproval. Karen? And I would add going to something governor Christie said, the enthusiasm for this ticket particularly with the addition of kamala Harris has been exciting. I mean, you have -- they raised $48 million in, what? 24 hours. The energy and enthusiasm is there. The point was you're trying to put out -- make your case. Donald Trump knows his base very well. He gave them what he thinks they needed to see, but the most important thing we have to remember is conventions do not decide elections. It is a lifetime between now and November, and we don't know -- there's so many unknowns between now and November. I think for Donald Trump, okay. So he can do one speech on a teleprompter. That is not a presidential record that he needs to defend make. He did not defend his record. Instead, they had to completely ignore, as I mentioned, is happening in the country, and the problem with Donald Trump is we know him. We know four years of his record, and also we know in our everyday lives what he's telling us is not true. So that discordance is part of why people are moving away from him, and again, the question is can Democrats continue to move towards Joe Biden? I think they can, in part, because Joe Biden does have a plan. In fact, he has been out there talking about issues. He now has kamala Harris. She is also talking about a plan, and they're king about how to address the challenges and the problems that people are facing right now like what is happening in Kenosha, Wisconsin where people are -- you have a mother crying out for justice. Where is the president? He could be doing something right now. He's not doing anything, and I think people, you know, sort of the mask is off, and people see it, and so but remembering that again, long time between now and the election itself. Wow. Go ahead. When does this end? You know, if Joe Biden -- if there's such enthusiasm and popularity for Joe Biden, why isn't he out there stoking that enthusiasm? He's hiding in his basement in Wilmington. He's unwilling to campaign. Oh, stop. Where do we hear this from, and, you know, the president gets criticized for going to Kenosha, and then Karen says, where is the president on Kenosha? If Joe Biden wants to make this race about the covid crisis, then what he should do is call these democratic governors in Wisconsin, in Oregon, the local democratic mayors and tell them to do their job, and have law enforcement do their job and stop the rioting in the streets. He hasn't been talking about it. He has been -- I want to say -- here's what I would say -- Rahm. Here's what I would say very clearly. Durgs -- during the Republican -- one, Joe Biden stayed specific to the issues. Two, very clearly, during the Republican convention, the equivalent of what happened in 9/11, that's how many Americans we've lost, and remind people in those four days, we've lost the equivalent of Americans on 9/11 and bring it back to the core issue of who has a plan. Thank you to our round table. Before we go, we saw a lot of speeches over the last two weeks. Dozens of them delivered on the biggest stages in politics, but to me, the most compelling was from Jacob Blake's mother Julia Jackson. We leave you with her words. Clearly you can see by now that I have beautiful brown skin, but take a look at your hand and whatever shade it is, it is beautiful as well. How dare we hate what we are? We are human. God did not make one type of tree or flower or fish or grass or rock. How dare you ask him to make one type of human that looks just like you? I'm not talking to just caucasian people. I am talking to everyone. White, black, Japanese, Chinese, red, brown. No one is superior to the other. The only supreme being is god himself. Please let's begin to pray for healing for our nation. Julia Jackson in Kenosha.

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

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