ANNOUNCER: THIS WEEK with George Stephanopoulos starts right now.
MARTHA RADDATZ, CHIEF GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT, ABC NEWS: Bracing for Hurricane Dorian. The Category 5 monster storm packing 160-mile-an-hour winds and a life-threatening storm surge.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A bump in one direction or the other could have really significant ramifications.
RADDATZ: We’re tracking the latest developments with our team on the ground, one-on-one with acting Homeland Security Director Kevin McAleenan inside the government’s hurricane response command center. And the very latest on the horrific mass shooting in West Texas, at least five killed and more than 20 injured. And —
RADDATZ: Let’s talk about the — the tariffs.
RADDATZ: The latest round of sweeping tariffs take effect today. We travel to a key battleground state, speaking with business owners, farmers and consumers who will feel the squeeze. President Trump is touting his tariffs as a negotiating tool with China, but could Trump’s escalating trade war damage the economy and shake up his base? Plus, on ABC September 12th, 10 candidates, one night. Who will seize the spotlight at the next Democratic debate? The latest analysis from ABC’s political director and the powerhouse roundtable.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: From ABC News it’s THIS WEEK. Here now, co-anchor Martha Raddatz.
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RADDATZ: Good morning and welcome to THIS WEEK. Millions of Americans are on alert this Labor Day weekend, trading their plans for outdoor barbecues with intense preparations for an incredibly powerful Category 5 hurricane that forecasters are calling a monster. As with any forecast, Hurricane Dorian’s track has been in a state of flux, though this storm has been particularly erratic. One emergency management official saying the only thing consistent about this storm has been its inconsistency. This morning, President Trump, who cancelled a trip to Poland to remain the U.S. monitoring the storm, will visit the national response coordination center to receive briefings from federal emergency managers, who are preparing for Dorian’s impact.
I was there this morning and spoke with the acting Homeland Security Secretary and the acting FEMA administrator, but we begin this morning with a different emergency. Another deadly shooting in West Texas, leaving at least five dead. While it doesn’t appear preplanned, it’s equally if not more terrifying. A routine traffic stop turning into a suspect with fully loaded weapon wreaking havoc. ABC News Chief National Correspondent Matt Gutman is on the scene in Odessa, Texas with the latest in the investigation. And Matt, authorities are still trying to figure out exactly what happened. What do we know at this point?
MATT GUTMAN, CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, ABC NEWS: They are, Martha, and they’re still processing this scene behind me. They’re also trying to grapple with the sheer scale of this shooting. We are told there are up to 13 possible separate crime scenes here, spread out over miles between Odessa and Midland. And apparently began with that routine traffic stop, the shooter pulled over and then apparently shooting out the rear window of his vehicle, critically wounding a police officer. The shooter taking off, firing at motorists. At one point, ditching his sedan and apparently hijacking a postal vehicle, a white van. He continued on that rampage, opening fire on surface streets, outside a shopping center and then driving here to this movie theater.
Now, eyewitnesses tell us that SWAT Teams moved into this movie theater, flushing everybody out, telling them there was an active shooter. They thought the shooter was inside. And then I’m going to have our cameraman zoom into those cars behind us. You can see that white crushed van and the crushed police cruisers. That’s where the shooter allegedly rammed into these police cruisers, got out and began firing. And Martha, everywhere where I am right here, there were people, bystanders arrayed, cowering in the dirt, the sound of gunfire mixing with the whimpers of families, mothers covering children with their bodies, that shooter opening fire on police and civilians. Eventually police neutralized him but Martha, not before five people were killed, 20 were wounded, including a 17-month-old girl.
RADDATZ: So terrifying and sad, Matt. And do authorities have any information yet if this was premeditated or if the shooter just snapped after being pulled over?
GUTMAN: Law enforcement sources tell us right now they believe that this was not a premeditated attack. They don’t have much more information about that. They’re also not yet releasing the name of this shooter. And Martha, you may never hear them actually utter the shooter’s name.
Now, we do know that this is a 30-something white male who happened to be driving around with that semiautomatic rifle and multiple clips in his car at the time of that traffic stop. And you mentioned it earlier, it is very disturbing that there are people driving around with these kind of weapons in cities like Odessa and Midland who are a one routine traffic stop away from a bloody rampage like this, Martha.
RADDATZ: Thanks so much for joining us this morning, Matt.
Now let’s turn to the path of Hurricane Dorian. ABC’s Marcus Moore is in the Bahamas where they are starting to feel the hurricane’s force. I know those winds and rains, Marcus, are building up. What are you seeing now?
MARCUS MOORE, ABC NEWS: Well, Martha, good morning. We are now feeling the effects of Hurricane Dorian. Look at the palm trees off in the distance. There you can see them waving in the force of the wind. And we’re already feeling the tropical storm-force winds from this hurricane, that those winds stretched more than a hundred miles from Dorian’s eye. And we’re seeing these on and off periods of rain.But what you really notice right now are the strong and persistent winds and then the occasional wind gust that’s getting to the point, where at times, it can knock you off of your feet just a little bit.
We know that this is only going to get worse. It really took a turn around 2:00 this morning and it has not let up since. And we now know that this is a category 5 hurricane that will bring, is expected to bring winds at 160 miles an hour sustained here in this part of the Bahamas. It is the reason why officials here have warned residents and tourists to find safer ground. We know that a number of people have left and they’ve evacuated to shelters. But so many others, in some of the nearby islands, have decided to stay, and there’s a real concern for them asHurricane Dorian continues to work its way to the west.
RADDATZ: Thanks so much, Marcus. And stay safe there. And let’s turn to ABC News senior meteorologist Rob Marciano in Melbourne, Florida. Four states have declared states of emergency. What’s the latest forecast track showing on where Dorian may head next?
ROB MARCIANO, ABC NEWS SENIOR METEOROLOGIST: All right, Martha, Well, it’s going to hit the Bahamas first. This is a terrifying view of where it is and how strong it is. This eye is clear. The surrounding convection is intense. And it’s about to unleash the power of a category 5 on Great Abaco Island. And then slowly makes its way across the Bahamas. 36 hours of these kind of winds is what they’ll have. And the forecast track then takes it towards the Florida coastline.
We do have it stalling. We do have it moving north. The National Hurricane Center has that line offshore. But the cone of uncertainty brings the possibility of a direct hit Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday — look at this, it’s all week long, Martha. And you’re right, four states are going to be impacted by this. At the very least, a tropical storm force winds here in Florida where warnings have been posted, because we expect that to happen within 36 hours — Martha.
RADDATZ: Thanks so much, Rob, and Marcus as well. Both of you stay safe out there. Just a short time ago, we stopped by the National Response Coordination Center located inside FEMA headquarters here in Washington. I sat down with acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan. And I began by asking him what the forecast track is showing.
KEVIN MCALEENAN, ACTING SECRETARY HOMELAND SECURITY: Right, so the latest forecast, the storm is hitting the northern islands of the Bahamas right now. They’re starting to experience hurricane-force winds. It will go across the northern islands of the Bahamas, and then we exhibit it to stall out. Most models show it stalling out about 60 miles offshore not making landfall.
But that doesn’t mean it’s not dangerous. In fact, we expect hurricane-force winds to potentially hit the coast of Florida, and then a prolonged rain event, combined with a storm surge, that’s going to be very difficult as the storm starts to move northward, mostly like, up the coast of Florida and toward Georgia and South Carolina.
RADDATZ: But at this point, you’re pretty sure it will hit North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida.
MCALEENAN: The National Hurricane Center says that most of the models show it staying offshore and moving slowly north, but that means the storm effect will be prolonged on the coastline — a rain event, storm surge, and hurricane force winds potentially.
RADDATZ: Because this was so hard to predict, this hurricane, are there concerns that people will just stay in their homes, they won’t get out of their homes, they won’t do — they won’t take precautions.
MCALEENAN: Right, what we want people to listen to the state and local emergency managers, listen to the evacuation orders, make sure you’re prepared, make sure you have seven days of supplies, medicine, food, even pet food, really be thinking about those things that you might need for a prolonged event. So we want people to listen to state and locals and be very aggressive in watching this storm.
RADDATZ: And you’ve got President Trump coming here this morning. What do you tell him? What are you doing here in the center today?
MCALEENAN: Well, so, we’ve had lots of time to prepare for the length of the storm as it’s approaching the America coastline. So, we’re going to have all of the elements of the U.S. government — the secretary of defense, secretary of transportation, secretary of commerce, secretary of health and human services, it’s really a whole of government effort, and the president is going to make sure that we’re on the same page, that we’re tracking this, and that we’re going to be ready.
RADDATZ: And do you expect any mandatory evacuations in those areas?
MCALEENAN: So, that’s a state and local decision on mandatory evacuations. But, yes, as the storm gets closer, there will be counties that will likely face a mandatory order. There’s already some that are under voluntary evacuation orders now.
RADDATZ: And FEMA came under fire, as we all know, in 2017 for the handling of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. Can you guarantee that your agency is prepared for this storm?
MCALEENAN: So, I can guarantee that FEMA and all of our federal partners are doing everything they can to support our state and local partners that manage and execute the emergency response. We haven’t had a lot of time for prepositioned resources and assets, urban search-and-rescue teams, our incident management and assistance teams in Florida, in Georgia. We’re still assessing the damage in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. It’s better than originally anticipated, obviously. But, yes, we are fully prepared and ready to support the state and locals to respond to the storm.
RADDATZ: And I know Pete Gaynor, who was just walking through this facility, the acting FEMA administrator…
RADDATZ: … told Congress back in June that the agency was struggling to ensure that it had enough disaster responders in reserve, and was down about 1,000 employees. Has that been fixed?
MCALEENAN: That — that has been fixed. And we have 3,000 people already deployed across the federal government agencies for this storm. About half of those are direct FEMA employees. Again, those urban search-and-rescue teams and IMATs are already in place. But we have got a very experienced emergency response leadership team, with the acting administrator, Pete Gaynor, with Jeff Byard overseeing ops. These guys have done it at the state and local level. They have done it at the federal level. It’s a battle-hardened team right behind me here in the NRCC, who’s dealt with the storms in ’17 and ’18. So we are ready.
RADDATZ: And you talked about not making landfall, but there’s sustained winds, there’s rain. What are the concerns about the power grid in these areas?
MCALEENAN: Right. So, yes, there will be power outages, no question. And people need to be prepared for that. There will be storm surge. And, unfortunately, this aligns — this storm’s arrival aligns with what’s called the king tide, one of the times of the year when the tide is the highest in the Southeastern United States.
So that means the storm surge and some of the coastal flooding could be more significant. That’s something we’re watching closely and worried about. But a prolonged period, where there’s a rain event, where there’s a wind event, and storm surge combined could have really complicated results for some of the coastal counties from Florida up to South Carolina.
RADDATZ: And I want to ask you about these funds that were transferred. Homeland Security informed Congress in July…
RADDATZ: … that it will transfer $155 million from FEMA’s disaster relief fund to ICE…
RADDATZ: … Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The — your letter to Congress said that — quote — “Absent significant new catastrophic events, the fund would still have enough money to operate.” Doesn’t Hurricane Dorian qualify as one of those potential catastrophic events?
MCALEENAN: It is. But I want to emphasize that no potential transfers — no money has been moved yet. We have to do a notification to Congress in advance. Any potential transfers will not impact our ability to respond to this storm or any other storms in the rest of the hurricane season. There are two different elements of the disaster recovery fund. The major disaster fund has $25 billion in it. So, a $155 million transfer from the base fund is not going to affect our ability to respond and recover from a major disaster.
RADDATZ: Senator Chuck Schumer talked about the timing of this…
RADDATZ: … said it was — quote — “backwards and cruel” to talk about this FEMA funding at the start of the hurricane season. Republican Senator Shelley Moore expressed concern about transferring that money too. Why do this now, even though you say it will be somewhat delayed, right at the beginning of the hurricane season?
MCALEENAN: Well, the start of the hurricane season is June 1. It’s not in August. And we did notify Congress in July, so just to clarify on the timing. But we asked for this funding from Congress in the emergency supplemental. We needed that funding for Immigration and Customs Enforcement to respond to the ongoing humanitarian and border security crisis at the border. The Congress didn’t see fit to provide that funding. So we have to look at departmental sources across that have a limited impact, but will support the ongoing management of that crisis as well.
RADDATZ: And I want to turn to this mass shooting in West Texas.
RADDATZ: I know you certainly have a law enforcement background and a terrorism background. We know it started with a traffic stop.
RADDATZ: That is unusual. What’s your take on what’s happened there?
MCALEENAN: So, I don’t want to jump to any conclusions on this event. We’re monitoring closely the reports, the investigative follow-up from the state and locals, along with the FBI,. But it’s extraordinarily concerning to have that level, that length of an event, to have that many people injured and five killed at this point. It’s devastating. And it’s, you know, 300 miles from El Paso. So, this is a region that’s — that’s really felt the impact of mass attacks these — in recent weeks. And we’re very concerned about it. We will be following up aggressively.
RADDATZ: There have been more than 50 people killed in mass shootings this month alone.
RADDATZ: Should we consider these shootings a homeland security threat?
MCALEENAN: They absolutely are a homeland security threat. In our counterterrorism strategy and approach, domestic terrorism has taken a front line focus for us. Since April, when I became acting secretary, we set up a new office, targeted violence and terrorism prevention, with an explicit focus and balance on domestic terrorism, including racially motivated violent extremism, which we’ve seen much too much of in the recent weeks and months.
RADDATZ: Should DHS be devoting more resources to fighting this kind of crime, these mass shootings?
MCALEENAN: Right. We actually have a — a ton of resources devoted to this kind of crime across the DHS components. U.S. Secret Service, National Threat Assessment Center, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, they reach 40,000 people —
RADDATZ: But should there be more given what’s happening and that there are more frequent in this administration so far?
MCALEENAN: Right. Yes, that’s conversation that we’re having as an interagency team with the FBI, with the Office of Management and Budget to see what the right resource level is going forward to make sure that we can continue our very strong focus on the international terrorism threat and the prevention levels we’ve achieved but also make sure we’re balancing that out with effective efforts on domestic terrorism as well.
RADDATZ: OK. Thanks so much for joining us this morning, Secretary McAleenan.
MCALEENAN: Thank you. Good to see you.
RADDATZ: You too.
RADDATZ: Thanks again to Secretary McAleenan. He’s going to have a very busy couple of days. Coming up, as new tariffs go into effect today on more goods from China, I travel through the key battleground state of Pennsylvania to see how voters there are reacting to the president’s trade war. And later, one night, 10 candidates here on ABC. The powerhouse roundtable on what to expect from the next Democratic debate. We’ll be right back.
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WARREN: Do by herself, and then the rest of it we’ve got to pull Congress in. And to make that happen, you need crowds like this, people that are going to keep pushing from the outside. I figure, you’ve got a strong president pushing from the White House, you’ve got people all across this country who are motivated, that’s how you hold Congress accountable, that’s how you make real change.
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RADDATZ: Senator Elizabeth Warren has been drawing large crowds as she makes her case to democratic voters, an estimated 15,000 supporters there at a rally in Seattle last weekend. But how much does crowd size really matter? Is it a meaningful indicator of electability and a sign that she’s underrated by the polls? We asked FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver, do you buy that?
NATE SILVER, FOUNDER, FIVETHIRTYEIGHT: So, the big problem with presidential elections that people are always fighting the last war. Donald Trump turned out very large and enthusiastic crowds throughout 2016, bigger than Hillary Clinton’s as, of course, the president is still fond of pointing out.
TRUMP: We had the biggest crowds you have ever seen.
SILVER: And Trump beat his polls in the key electoral college states on election day. So it might be natural to assume that big crowds are picking up on something that the polls are missing, but over the long run this indicator doesn’t hold up.
Both Trump and Barack Obama drew big crowds on the trail. But there are also plenty of candidates who drew large crowds and then flopped. That includes John Kerry in 2004, and Mitt
Romney in 2012, and, of course, Bernie Sanders drew huge crowds in to 2016. To be fair, he did win some of those states where those rallies were held, but he didn’t win the Democratic nomination.
Now, look, if I were running a campaign, I certainly would have rather 15,000-person crowd
than 1,500 or 15, but crowds don’t provide a lot of data when we also know what polls say. Why is that? Scientific polls attempt to reach the entire voting population, but the people who show up at rallies are a self-selected group, and usually it’s easy to draw big crowds if your supporters are younger, if they’re concentrated in urban areas or college campus, or if they can just afford to take more time out of their day. And even the biggest crowds are relatively small compared to the number of people who will actually turn out to vote.
WARREN: Hello, Seattle!
SILVER: The 15,000 people that Warren drew in Seattle, for example, is a small fraction in the roughly 800,000 people who voted in the Washington Democratic primary in 2016. There are just a lot more people out there who actually vote and who turn up to rallies.
And just one more thing, you can actually find signs of voter enthusiasm in the polls. For example, polls of likely voters, those are people who are more likely to turn out to vote, or some pollsters ask people how much attention are you paying to the campaign. Elizabeth Warren does tend to do better in those kinds of polls. That’s a good sign for her. So, this is the case where Warren’s crowds really confirm what we see in the data more than it contradicts it. But overall, no, I don’t buy that crowd size tells us much about who is going to win the campaign.
RADDATZ: And our thanks to Nate. And we hope a big crowd will tune in when ABC hosts the third Democratic primary debate in less than two weeks. The top 10 candidates on the same stage for the first time on Thursday, September 12, right here on ABC. The Powerhouse Roundtable’s up next to talk about that. We’ll be right back.
RADDATZ: The roundtable is all here, ready to go. And a reminder: You can get the latest on politics with breaking news alerts on the ABC News app. We will be right back.
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JOE BIDEN, 2020 DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My word as a Biden, he stood at attention. I went to pin him, he said sir, I don’t want the damn thing. Do not pin it on me, sir. Please, sir, do not do that. He died. He died.
JONATHAN CAPEHART, JOURNALIST, WASHINGTON POST: There’s a story by my colleague at the Washington Post, Matt Viser, the headline, “As he campaigns for president, Joe Biden tells a moving but false war story. “
BIDEN: I was making the point how courageous these people are, how incredible they are. This generation of warriors, these fallen angels we’ve lost. And so, I don’t know what the problem is.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RADDATZ: Joe Biden attracting attention for all the wrong reasons this week. We’re going to discuss that and much more this morning with our roundtable. ABC News Political Analyst Matthew Dowd, Washington Post National Correspondent Mary Jordan. Asma Khalid, political correspondent for National Public Radio and ABC News Political Director Rick Klein. Good morning to all of you. And Rick, I gotta start with you because we’re all very excited here at ABC. The big debate on September 12th on ABC. Ten candidates on the stage. Walk us through the stage, how that was done. What — what’s your take on all of this?
RICK KLEIN, POLITICAL DIRECTOR, ABC NEWS: It’s an inflection point in the race because you have all of the candidates on one stage at one time for the first time. And right there center stage are the two polling frontrunners right now. In recent polls, Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren. That’s a bit of a change. Bernie Sanders has been fading a little bit and Elizabeth Warren has been picking up. Of course, she’ll be next to Kamala Harris. Interesting, Elizabeth Warren hasn’t faced either Biden or Harris in the previous two debates. I’m also intrigued by the two Texans, given the news yesterday and given the shooting in El Paso a couple weeks ago, to have Beto O’Rourke and Julian Castro next to each other in a debate in Houston I think raises some interesting issues and possibilities.
RADDATZ: And do you view this as a serious transition point for the Democrats in this campaign?
KLEIN: Something we’ve heard from Democrats around the country is they feel like it’s time to start winnowing things and to have fewer choices. And it’s not that the other candidates couldn’t potentially make another debate stage. They might. But I think for Democratic voters, this is the first opportunity to have everyone there side by side with some real contrasting visions for — for where they want to take the party and the country.
RADDATZ: And — and — and Matt, as — as Rick mentioned, this is the first time you have the two presumptive frontrunners, you have Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren on the same stage. Is this the kind of debate that primary voters really need?
MATTHEW DOWD, POLITICAL ANALYST, ABC NEWS: I think primary voters wanted a big open field to start but I think most primary voters are now — want this field more settled out. I think what — this is a key point in the race because we’ve now basically gone from half the field — we have half the field from 20-plus candidates now down to 10. And within the next two months it will be halved once again, we’ll get to five or six candidates by Thanksgiving in the course of this. I think this is going to be an interesting strategy of what Biden and Warren do. I think the best thing they could do for themselves would be not to go after each other. I think the conflict between them is not necessarily good for them right now. I think the ones who will be creating conflict are the ones that are outside the main center of the stage.
RADDATZ: And — and Asma, first of all, welcome to our roundtable. It’s great to have you here. You’ve been closely covering the Warren campaign. What do you see as her strategy in this, because she’s up there with Joe Biden?
ASMA KHALID, POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, NPR: Yes, I mean, I think for her, there has been a desire to present a clear policy contrast between herself and Joe Biden. And you know, folks should know that Warren’s long been a critic of — of Joe Biden. This predates her time even running in the presidential campaign. You can go back years, she was highly critical of Joe Biden’s ties to the — to the bankruptcy industry (ph), to credit card companies. And so for her, this is really an opportunity to highlight where she is and — and how she’s been calling for really — you know, it’s her talking point, but big structural change because she believes that Joe Biden represents a much more incremental approach to change in the party.
RADDATZ: And — and do you expect others to go after her?
KHALID: You know, I will be very curious to see how Senator Kamala Harris handles herself. I think that when we look at polling, we see that there’s a lot of potential overlap between Elizabeth Warren’s supporters and Kamala Harris’ supporters. I — I would venture to say that Kamala Harris is aware of that potential overlap as well.
RADDATZ: And — and — and that brings us to what happened in one of the last debates with Kamala Harris going after Joe Biden. And that strategy — she got a bump out of that but it didn’t really seem to work in the long run. What do you expect in terms of candidates going after one another.
MARY JORDAN, NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, WASHINGTON POST: Well, I know what people want. I’ve been talking to people in Ohio and they really don’t want Democrats to eat each other on the stage. They just want to know more about them at this point. It’s very interesting that Andrew Yang is getting a lot of excitement. He’s actually higher in the polls. He’s like this outlier, he’s 44. You know, the guy with the cap that said math. I mean, talk about like a new face, he’s kind of offering the excitement that we saw on the Sanders campaign. And he’s polling higher than Klobuchar and Booker. And so he would be someone to watch, because there’s still time for an outlier to kind of rise up.
RADDATZ: And Rick, what do you think it is about Andrew Yang — maybe beside the $1,000 promise.
KLEIN: Free money helps.
RADDATZ: Free money does help, yeah.
KLEIN: I think there’s something compelling about a guy that just seems to have played by the rules and done everything right and believes in math and believes in science and is able to say, look, how can you be more different than Donald Trump, as he says, as an Asian guy who likes math? That I think — there’s a clarity to that, that I feel like is compelling to people. And in a sense he’s gone viral in a whole range of different communities where people start hearing about him and sharing. And I think there will be more scrutiny on him as a result.
DOWD: Let me just — can I just say I don’t want to necessarily pour water on the Yang Gang, but we’re talking about…
RADDATZ: But you’re going to try.
DOWD: I’m not going to try, I’m going to reference the fact that he’s at two point something percent in the polls, so the difference between him and Amy Klobuchar and him and Booker, there’s nobody’s in the double digits except for three candidates, and that’s why this race, some people think there’s three candidates plus one or two more. Andrew Yang’s doing well for himself, but he’s at 2 percent in the polls.
JORDAN: But I will tell you why it matters, because he’s directly addressing the pain in the country. He’s saying that truckers don’t have jobs, that robots are taking jobs away. And I think the message…
RADDATZ: That robot thing seemed to have resonated.
JORDAN: It did resonate, because a lot of people don’t know how to use the latest generation of an iPhone, and they’re only like 60-years-old. He’s saying — basically he’s saying the middle class is hurting, and forget — a lot of talk about the 1 percent and the poor, but what about us? The average savings in a household of America is only $12,000. One year of college is many times more than that. And so they want someone like Yang or someone to say, help me. It’s kind of a big moment for the Democrats to retake the middle class.
DOWD: But the difference between him and Jay Inslee is four respondents in a poll.
KHALID: I agree with that. I mean, right, but just some degree — I do think that really what I am very curious, at the point when we see eventually see some fragmentation in the party — right now, Joe Biden benefits from an extremely fractured field. He has been extraordinarily resilient in poll after poll after poll. And when we even talk about Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, you know both have struggled to get support from kind of key constituencies in the Democratic Party, namely African-Americans.
RADDATZ: And Rick, to that point, can Warren overtake Biden if Bernie Sanders does not start fading out even more than he appears to be fading out?
KLEIN: I think there’s a conventional wisdom that they take from the same voters. I don’t know if it’s necessarily the case. I think they’re very similar ideologically. And I think, look, right now we’re down to as Matthew says, four or five candidates that can put themselves in a top tier. I think the danger for either Bernie Sanders or Kamala Harris is are you going to fade off of that? Does this become a one-on-one race at some point.
I think Elizabeth Warren has put a lot of things together in the last couple of weeks that would suggest that she has a really good matchup. But you look at how she positions herself as a candidate of revolutionary change, there’s a lot of Bernie Sanders in that. There’s a lot of not Joe Biden in that. There’s a pretty clean contrast.
RADDATZ: And let’s talk about those candidates who did not make the stage. We’ve got Tulsi Gabbard, Tom Steyer, Montana Governor Steve Bullock, do they have prayer going forward? What do they do when they don’t make these debate stages?
DOWD: Well, we all have prayer, so we all have — that’s always an option. I think if you’re not on the stage in Houston, the race is basically over for you and you have to figure out a way to get out of this race. And there’s even people on the stage in Houston that basically have no path to victory in this.
I think it’s fascinating to me about the complaints from Tulsi Gabbard and the complaints from Tom Steyer in this, saying that somehow the process was rigged or that it wasn’t transparent. These qualifications have been in place for months. And if somebody like Andrew Yang can make the qualification or Amy Klobuchar can make the qualification, then if you can’t make those qualifications of getting 2 percent in the polls it’s time you reconsider your race.
RADDATZ: And speaking of that, Kirsten Gillibrand dropped out this week. She was on this program a couple of weeks ago full of optimism. She seemed to be the voice of feminism, that was her campaign. Why did she fail?
JORDAN: You know, it’s always the X factor, right. She just didn’t break through. I think that there were many women. I think what’s even more interesting is why Warren is breaking through. She’s got a lot of young people joining her campaign. I think she had a consistent message. She was out there all the time. But in the end, there is kind of something about the believability — and that’s why Joe Biden is still a big factor in this race.
RADDATZ: I want to go back to Kirsten for a second — Kirsten Gillibrand — but is it gender? I mean, you say that Elizabeth Warren got ahead, you know, is on the stage. So — so, really…
JORDAN: I think it was a lot of things. There were a lot of people that didn’t like her. They just — she just didn’t — they just didn’t like her. And they didn’t like her record. And so I’m not sure if it’s just a gender thing. I think it’s a Kirsten thing.
RADDATZ: And I want to talk about what we started this segment with. And that was Joe Biden this week, and that gaffe, telling that war story where elements of it were true, but certainly it was a conflation of a lot of things that he has experienced. Do you think that harms him, or people just won’t care?
KLEIN: I think that story in particular shows the best of Joe Biden and the worst of Joe Biden. It’s him connecting and telling a really compelling story. It’s also him sanding away the edges and conflating things and maybe confusing details. I don’t know that any one of these makes a difference. But I think, cumulatively, it could actually matter. And it’s really up to voters. And people have made the comparison, to say, President Trump, with his misleading statements, is on another scale. All of that is true. But…
RADDATZ: But can he use that, in a way, saying, look, he does it too, or — I mean, he’d never admit that he did it, probably. He does that, probably — but can he use that against Joe Biden in a credible way?
KLEIN: Well, I would presume that Donald Trump will use it in some way, to say, this is a guy that is making things up all the time.
KLEIN: But, I think from Biden’s perspective…
DOWD: He would know.
KLEIN: That’s right.
DOWD: Donald Trump would know.
KLEIN: I think, from Biden’s perspective, though, and Biden’s supporters, they can say, look, when the vice president does it, it is to make a point in a more artful way perhaps and to connect with people in a genuine way. When Donald Trump does it, it’s often to demean and belittle.
RADDATZ: You were out with voters in South Carolina.
KHALID: I was out — yes, I was going to say, I was out — exactly.
RADDATZ: I was in Pennsylvania, as you saw. I didn’t feel it was resonating. Is it in South Carolina?
KHALID: I don’t think it resonated at all. And I should preface this by saying, I was out with Joe Biden at Joe Biden events. So it’s a slice of the electorate. But I specifically wanted to hear from people about this. And time after time, I was told, well, I put my foot in my mouth, we all put our foot in our mouth. There’s a sense that these qualities are almost endearing to voters. There’s — there’s a sense that they find him more believable because he makes missteps every so often.
JORDAN: And what I’m hearing is that people just say, come on, let’s focus on the big stuff.
JORDAN: It’s the economy, and it’s the character of the leader and the character of the country that we want going forward. And that’s what they’re saying. It’s like, it’s big time, it’s big stuff that we care about. It’s not about the stories.
DOWD: I think that I agree with that. And I think the problem for Joe Biden is, at some point, does it make an argument? It’s not about the gaffe. It’s about, does he fit today? Does he fit the 21st century, the party where it is today? And is he the best candidate? The age he is in and the experience he has, does he fit that? And I think it’s up to him to at the debates to decide that.
But I will say one other thing. Guns is — guns, I think, is what happened in Midland and Odessa in Texas, where, as we all know, I’m from, after what happened a month ago from El Paso, guns, to me, is going to be a huge, decisive factor in this election, up and down the ballot, because I think, when you have a democracy where 90 percent of the citizens say, do something, and nothing gets done, there’s going to be incredible frustration when that happens.
RADDATZ: Are you seeing that on the campaign trail, Asma? Guns?
KHALID: I would say, so, yes. I mean, we began to see that, I think, even during the 2018 midterms, where we saw the gun reform movement raise substantial amounts of money, I believe outspend the NRA in that cycle. And we hear it from voters. But in a Democratic primary, I’m sort of questioning to what degree that resonates, because you have all the Democrats more or less calling for the same reforms, whether it’s…
RADDATZ: Mary, you’re out there as well. Do you think people are really engaged at this point? I was very surprised with some voters, and I could go down lists, and a lot of people didn’t really know who the candidates were.
JORDAN: No. But you know what? It’s Labor Day weekend. And when — the next debate is a really important moment, because it’s kind of like back to school. OK, we have to pay attention now. It’s going to be — this fall, it’s one year out, still a long time, but people have not really been paying attention to everything.
I think the — what they are paying attention to, though, is money and the economy. And I think that’s where everybody is going to be looking about, what is Trump doing that’s good or bad? He promised to help the forgotten person. People in the Midwest still feel forgotten. And so I think he’s — now he has a track record. And so Democrats have to kind of say — point to all the things that he promised, especially for these forgotten people.
RADDATZ: And, Rick, I want to quickly turn to you about Georgia. George’s Republican Senator Johnny Isakson announced his retirement this week, meaning both Georgia Senate seats are in play in 2020. Do Democrats have a shot at either of those?
KLEIN: This potentially opens up the map for them. But I think there’s some numbers here that are important. We know that Stacey Abrams came close, 55,000 votes away from becoming governor of Georgia a year ago. But President Trump carried that state by some 200,000 votes, won by about five points.
So it’s different in a presidential year. And, as we know now, Stacey Abrams, their dream candidate, takes — takes — is now taking a pass on that race. She’s not going to run. It’s difficult. I think it says something, though, about the Democratic Party, if they’re able to be competitive in a state like Georgia at the presidential and the Senate level. That’s the path for the Democrats going forward. That is a growing segment of the party and I think Georgia is a huge opportunity for them now.
RADDATZ: And all eyes on Georgia. Thanks to all of you for joining us on this Labor Day weekend. Enjoy the rest of it. Up next, as economic concerns grow over the president’s trade policies, a key Republican senator openly questions Trump and the president has taken notice. My report from Pennsylvania on the impact of the trade war. Plus Senator Pat Toomey joins us live next. We’re back in just 60 seconds.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are finally responding to years of chronic trade abuses by defending our workers with tariffs and anything else that’s necessary. And anyone who doesn’t want to pay the tariffs has a simple solution — build your product in America, bring your factories back to Pennsylvania.
RADDATZ: That was President Trump speaking to supporters in Pennsylvania back in May. Since then, the tariff tit for tat has escalated into a full-on trade war. And this morning, a new set of tariffs goes into effect. Fifteen percent on billions in Chinese imports. It’s expected to have a greater impact on U.S. consumers purchasing everyday items like clothes, technology, sporting goods, even certain kinds of meat, milk and other dairy products. The trade war has contributed to the recession fears and volatility on Wall Street, but how will it affect the 2020 election? Will Trump supporters stand by the president despite the squeeze on their bottom line? We traveled to a key battleground state to find out.
RADDATZ: Our journey began in Allentown, Pennsylvania, where consumers will soon feel the pinch of Trump’s tariffs.
GREG BALDWIN, SCHUYLKILL VALLEY SPORTS: We’re going to have to be sensitive to it (ph) —
RADDATZ: Greg Baldwin is the V.P. of merchandising at this sporting goods store. He’s already bracing for the fallout and the sticker shock.
BALDWIN: The consumer will either have to trade down or actually we’ll see bigger dollars spent. Or they’ll forego the t-shirt or the cap or that other item that they might purchase with it. They’ll have to make choices. There — there will be compromises.
RADDATZ: But the consumer —
BALDWIN: The consumer will absorb it.
RADDATZ: Baldwin did not vote for Trump but he’s closely watching the president’s handling of the economy.
What do you think he’s done for the economy, if anything?
BALDWIN: Well, actually —
RADDATZ: I mean, can — what can you give him credit for?
BALDWIN: Actually, you know, I’ll give him credit for taking a tough stance on China and trying to level the playing field, because it is unfair. Unfortunately, there’s going to be some pain in this process.
RADDATZ: Just down the road we heard a similar story from business owner Chris Schmitt.
CHRIS SCHMIDT, EMMAUS RUN INN: If the shoe was costing $129 and now it’s going to go to $149, that’s — that’s a huge jump.
RADDATZ: But are average consumers worried about the price hike? We caught up with some shoppers and voters over at the Allentown Fair, where we found good old-fashioned fun.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Toss them in, win them out right here.
RADDATZ: Memorable music performances. Even for the generation that isn’t exactly from the Woodstock years. And a microcosm of America.
Can I ask you first who you voted for in 2016?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Donald Trump.
RADDATZ: And would you vote for him again?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
RADDATZ: Kathy Wiedmann (ph), a lifelong Republican, believes the economy is right on track and is solidly behind Trump.
WIEDMANN: I like Trump because he’s a nonpolitician that doesn’t spew what people want to hear. You know what I mean?
RADDATZ: Not everyone we met shared her opinion.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She’s a Democrat, I’m a Republican.
RADDATZ: Uh-oh. Uh-oh.
This Republican told me he will not be voting for the party’s likely nominee.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don’t like the man. I’m a Republican but I don’t like him.
RADDATZ: Do you worry about the economy right now?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Absolutely.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah, yeah, it looks good, but underneath it all, it’s not as good as they’re right to say it is.
RADDATZ: Pennsylvania delivered for Obama in 2012, but went for Trump in 2016, making it a crucial state for the president and for those 20 Democrats still in the race.
Are any candidates standing out to you? How about Joe Biden.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Joe Biden? Yeah, if he’s going to be the candidate and it’s Joe Biden or Donald Trump? I’m voting for Joe Biden.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don’t know who is running, so if anything, I’ll go for anybody else other than Trump.
RADDATZ: Leaving the fairgrounds, we traveled north trading this blue county for a red one.
Luzerne County is arguably the county that gave Donald Trump Pennsylvania in 2016, even though they hadn’t voted for a Republican here since 1988.
Trump’s trade policies and the vote from farmers could determine whether or not it stays that way. Over the past year, bankruptcy filings among farmers nationwide were up 13 percent, in part because of the second year of retaliatory tariffs on many U.S. agricultural products.
CURTIS FREDERICK, FARMER: This particular farm has been in the family since the 1930s. And we’ve been farming in this valley since the 1850s.
RADDATZ: Curtis Frederick voted for Trump in the 2016 primary, but not in the general election. He explained some of the difficulties that farmers are facing.
FREDERICK: It makes it more challenging to come up with a marketing plan to plan your future sales of grain. If the market is highly volatile, it makes you be more emotional in your choices, so that can be difficult.
RADDATZ: What are your concerns?
FREDERICK: My concern is that it doesn’t get figured out.
RADDATZ: And for now, there is no end in sight.
RADDATZ: And so joining me now is the Republican Senator from Pennsylvania, Pat Toomey. Good morning, Senator Toomey.
SEN. PAT TOOMEY, (R) PENNSYLVANIA: Good morning, Martha.
RADDATZ: You know, you’ve been one of the outspoken Republican critics of the president’s
tariff tactics. How concerned are you that these new tariffs will further disrupt both the U.S. and the global economy?
TOOMEY: Well, unfortunately, we’re starting from a very strong economy right now. You know, record low unemployment, accelerating wage gains. We’ve got a great economy. But I do think that the uncertainty caused by volatile tariff situation and this developing trade war could jeopardize that strength, and that growth, and that is, I think, that’s a legitimate concern.
And by the way, it goes beyond China, right. I mean, we saw last spring, the president threatened to, you know, one morning woke up and threatened to impose big, new tariffs on everything coming out of Mexico unless they cooperated sufficiently on an unrelated issue. That’s a country we have a free trade agreement with. So, the uncertainty that we have, the added costs from tariffs, I think they’re a threat to growth.
RADDATZ: You know, the president has repeatedly asserted China is paying for tariffs, not American consumers. Would you say he’s misleading the public?
TOOMEY: Well, it’s mixed, right. I mean, the Chinese currency has weakened. And to the extent that the currency is devalued, that does mitigate against the increased costs of the tariffs, because it just makes Chinese products cheaper to buy.
But I would underscore, there’s an important part that sometimes gets left out of that and that is that China is an important part of the U.S. supply chain. Many manufacturers buy components and supplies and materials from China. And while the devaluation of the Chinese currency can offset part or even all of the tariff cost for that manufacturer, if the manufacturer is competing with a European company or if someone from some other country in the world that doesn’t have tariffs, they’re buying those components at the lower cost because of the devaluation as well, and they’re not absorbing the cost of a higher tariff. So, it still puts American business at a competitive disadvantage.
RADDATZ: You know, you probably saw there I spent a couple of days in your state including right there in Allentown. And while some are very worried about the tariffs, others say it’s a temporary pain and they support the president’s plan. Why would you argue — what would you argue with them about it not being temporary?
TOOMEY: Well, I hope it is temporary. And I give the president credit for challenging China on some of its really egregious behavior. The theft of intellectual property and coercive technology transfers, that is unacceptable behavior. I would have preferred a different set of tactics, but the president deserves credit for challenging China.
My hope is that that’s what his focus is, not just the fact that Chinese clothing and shoes are popular among consumers. That’s not the problem. The problem is this abuse and threat of ongoing theft of intellectual property. If we get the Chinese to change their behavior in a meaningful way in that area, and then drop the tariffs, then we will have ended up in a better place. That’s what I’m hoping for. But let’s be honest. In the meantime, we’re doing damage. It’s a double-edged sword.
RADDATZ: And the president — you brought up — you brought up Mexico. The president has used a similar strategy before. He says his tariff threats on Mexico got them to help flow the stem of migrants. So, has the president ramping up the pressure, in effect, succeeded in some way to bring China back?
TOOMEY: I think it’s unclear, right? I mean, what we have seen so far as retaliatory tariffs. We haven’t seen a change in Chinese behavior. It looked for a moment there, some months ago, like we were close to a really significant deal. The Chinese seemed to have walked away. So I don’t think we will know until we actually have an agreement.
RADDATZ: And, Senator, I want to turn to gun control, with last night’s terrible mass shooting.
You’ve sponsored a bill to expand background checks on gun sales to online purchases and to gun shows. You have expressed some optimism that this may pass. Do you think you have President Trump’s backing and other Republicans?
TOOMEY: Well, I will tell you, I have spoken with the president repeatedly and recently about this topic. He is very interested in doing something meaningful. He hasn’t endorsed a specific bill. I think that would be premature. But he and I have an ongoing conversation about this. I know other interested senators are participating in that conversation. And our staffs, including the White House staff, are very seriously pursuing this. Martha, I can’t guarantee an outcome. I’m not sure where this all ends. But the president is very interested, I remain very interested in measures that would make it harder for people who shouldn’t have guns to get guns. And, you know, we’re going to — we’re going to take a very serious run at it.
RADDATZ: Thank you very much, Senator Toomey, for your thoughtful response. We appreciate it.
TOOMEY: Thank you.
RADDATZ: And we’ll be right back.
RADDATZ: And now we honor our fellow Americans who serve and sacrifice. In the month of August, five service members died overseas supporting operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. And that’s all for us today. Thanks for sharing part of your Sunday with us. Check out “World News Tonight.” And have a great day and safe Labor Day.