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Meet the Press - April 23, 2023

Gov. Chris Sununu (R-N.H.), Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Rachael Bade, Eugene Robinson, Marc Short and Amy Walter

CHUCK TODD:

This Sunday, the Biden-Trump rematch. As President Biden prepares to announce his reelection bid this week, our new NBC News poll finds voters don’t want him to run again, including half of Democrats.

PRES. JOE BIDEN

We’ve made a lot of progress and we’ve just got to keep it going.

CHUCK TODD:

And our poll also shows voters don't want to see Donald Trump run again.

FMR. PRES. DONALD TRUMP:

There’s no crime. I got indicted for no crime.

CHUCK TODD:

And yet, he has huge support within the GOP even after his arrest and he's the clear frontrunner. Is America ready for a Biden/Trump sequel? I'll talk to New Hampshire's Republican Governor Chris Sununu, who is considering his own presidential run in 2024. Plus, triggered.

ANDREW GILLIS:For this man to sit on his porch and fire at a car with no threat is just – it angers me so badly.

CHUCK TODD:

The wrong driveway, the wrong doorbell, and the wrong car – simple mistakes that all ended in Americans being shot.

LEE MERRITT:

Mr. Yarl was fighting for his life.

CHUCK TODD:

In a nation full of guns and growing distrust, what will it take to make knocking on a stranger’s door feel safe again? And, ethics scandal. After reports revealing Justice Clarence Thomas failed to disclose real estate transactions from a wealthy Republican donor, Senate Democrats call on the chief justice to testify.

SEN. DICK DURBIN:

They have to do something.

CHUCK TODD:

Why does the highest court in the land have the lowest ethical standards? I'll talk to the Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin. Joining me for insight and analysis are Politico "Playbook" co-author Rachel Bade, Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson, Amy Walter, Editor-in-Chief of The Cook Political Report and Marc Short, former chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence. Welcome to Sunday. It's Meet the Press.

ANNOUNCER:

From NBC News in Washington, the longest-running show in television history, this is Meet the Press with Chuck Todd.

CHUCK TODD:

Good Sunday morning. Americans are seething at their political leaders and at each other. That's according to a brand new NBC News poll we are releasing right now. They're dissatisfied with what seems to be inevitable. A 2024 rematch between Joe Biden and Donald Trump. As Biden prepares to formally announce his campaign for a second term early this week, just one in four Americans believe he should run for reelection. 70% say he shouldn't run. By the way, only 35% believe Donald Trump should run again, 60% say no. Only 5% of Americans actually want both of these gentlemen to run. And let me show you even more of this poll. 53% of 2020 Biden voters say he shouldn't run. 64% of Democrats who voted for Sanders or Warren in the 2020 primaries think he shouldn't run and 76% of voters under 35 think he shouldn't run. And what's the top concern for that? We asked voters, we didn't prompt them. We said “Why don't you think he should run?” Well, these were the responses. It almost is all about his age and his ability to do the job. Again, these are among Democratic primary voters. Overall, the President's job rating is not in a good place when you're seeking reelection sitting at just 41% driven by the 58% of Americans who disapprove of how he is handling the economy right now. Just 30% of independents approve of the job Biden is doing overall. But as Biden is fond of saying, he is not to be judged by the almighty but judged him by the alternative. And guess what? The alternative is even more unpopular among the American public. Let me show you here. Here's the feelings about Donald Trump. Just one in three Americans have positive feelings about him. A majority have negative feelings sitting at 53%. Among voters over all a majority believe that the charges in New York are serious enough because he should be held to the same standard as anyone else. 43% believe he's being unfairly targeted, and that's approximately the number that seems to stick behind Donald Trump on almost anything. And among Republican voters, it appears that the New York indictment only galvanized his support. We asked them whether this – “These charges were politically motivated attack and it means they've got to stand behind Donald Trump, or do these charges indicate that he's got a lot of distractions in his way, and that it's important to nominate somebody else who can focus on beating Joe Biden?” Well, as you can see here, it's no contest. Nearly 70% believe they've got to rally around Donald Trump right now because of these indictments. Only one and four Republican voters believe it is time to move on. And that translates into the Republican primary matchup here. Donald Trump with 46%. Now look, Ron DeSantis, that's a healthy number for somebody that's never run for president before. It's about the same spot that Barack Obama started in against Hillary Clinton back in 2007. And when you combine first and second choice here, you see that Trump and DeSantis could very well end up in a neck-and-neck race here. But that's the point. Donald Trump seems to be as strong if not stronger, with the groups that mattered the most when it comes to winning a Republican primary. Now there's one more major takeaway from this poll, as the Supreme Court keeps the abortion pill mifepristone available for now, putting a stay on the Texas ruling, which revoked FDA approval for the drug, abortion is energizing voters. Nearly 60% As you can see here, voters want abortion access to remain legal. And among – ready for this – among the 43% who told us that abortion is the single issue that drives them to the polls, they believe it should be legal by a 65-34% margin. This is another sign that the energy is on the Democratic side of this issue after Dobbs. When Roe v. Wade was law of the land single-issue abortion voters almost universally leaned Republican. 2024 Republican hopefuls met in their first Iowa cattle call last night, courting the caucus’, most important demographic, religious voters. Donald Trump didn't appear at the event. He sent a video claiming credit for the Supreme Court justices he appointed, while his former vice president took Donald Trump on, on the issue of abortion.

[BEGIN TAPE]

FMR. PRES. DONALD TRUMP:

I faced down vile attacks to confirm our three great Supreme Court justices Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett.

FMR. VICE PRES. MIKE PENCE:

I do think it's more likely that this issue is resolved at the state level, but I don't agree with the former president who says this is a state's only issue.

[END TAPE]

CHUCK TODD:

And joining me now is the Republican governor of New Hampshire – it's Chris Sununu, who himself is considering a run for president, Governor Sununu, welcome back to Meet the Press.

GOV. CHRIS SUNUNU:

Thanks. Thanks for having me.

CHUCK TODD:

Look, the last time you were on, and on many a program, you have made one declaration almost universal about 2024. Let me play a montage.

[BEGIN TAPE]

GOV. CHRIS SUNUNU:

Look, Donald Trump is not going to be the nominee, right? We're just moving on as a party, as a country.

GOV. CHRIS SUNUNU:

He's not going to be the nominee. That's just not going to happen.

GOV. CHRIS SUNUNU:

Here's the good news. I'm going to give you the good news. Ready? I love you. I’m a big fan.

BILL MAHER:

Thank you.

GOV. CHRIS SUNUNU:

But you're dead wrong. He's not going to be the nominee.

[END TAPE]

CHUCK TODD:

All those quotes were from February and March, none of them from April. You've seen the numbers, you've seen this shift, you've seen the energy. We’ve watched Governor DeSantis. What say you now?

GOV. CHRIS SUNUNU:

Yes, there's definitely a shift. But I still don't think he's necessarily going to be the nominee. Look, I think your poll is spot-on in all these areas, by the way. I think that's actually a great poll, and I hope folks listen to it. I'll say this, Republicans are rallying. They're supporting former President Trump over these indictments, right? And there's a lot of support there. Now, does it actually translate into a vote? We will see. I mean, most folks don't decide who they're voting for until about three weeks before the election. So there's a lot of politics to play out. There’s -- not even a single debate has been had. Other candidates are going to get in the race. So I just think it's so far away. And at the end of the day, we want a winner, right? Republicans want someone who can win in November of '24. Donald Trump is a loser. He has not just lost once – he lost us our House seats in 2018, he lost everything in '20. We should have 54 U.S. Senators right now. We don't because of his message. So Donald Trump is positioning himself to be a four-time loser in 2024. We need candidates that can win.

CHUCK TODD:

Isn't the problem, though, that a majority of Republicans don't believe what you just said, that he lost in 2020? Because the loser message should work, unless you don't believe he lost.

GOV. CHRIS SUNUNU:

Well, it's not just 2020, right? We got crushed in 2022. We should have 54 U.S. Senate seats. We don't because he is part of that message. We lost in 2018. So it's not just about whether he won or lost in '20, which he did, of course. But it's really about are -- we can complain about things, or we can make sure that -- you know, you can't govern if you don't win. And again, so he drags that ticket down. I think that reality is going to really come to bear in through the primary process. So I understand folks are supporting him. They think that a lot of the stuff with the DA is political, which I believe it is too, by the way. It's creating a lot of sympathy. He's playing the victim card, right? But believe it or not, former President Trump is now playing the victim card, and he's making some headway with it. But at the end of the day, it has to turn into votes. Look, I talk all the time about, you know, we want a fighter, right? Republicans want someone who's going to fight for them. But we also want a fighter that can win. He said he was going to go to Washington and drain the swamp. He didn't do it. He said he was going to build a wall and secure things. He didn't do it. He said he was going to give us health care reform and be fiscally disciplined, not add $8 trillion so -- to the debt. He didn't do any of those things. And so we want fighters that can actually win and take accountability.

CHUCK TODD:

Look, I will bring up the good news for you and your potential candidacy. The Republican voters who don't want Trump to run look like voters that would be inclined to support you. They look like New Hampshire Republicans, if you will. They're more educated, wealthier. They're more likely to identify as moderates. But here's the problem, they only represent 26% of all Republicans. Do you -- how do you appeal to that Trump supporter who's a bit motivated by grievance?

GOV. CHRIS SUNUNU:

Sure. Well, look, I'm a very principled, free market conservative, right? When you look at the Second Amendment, we're the best in the country, with personal freedoms. We need to remind ourselves as Republicans what we're really good at: limited government, local control, low taxes, individual responsibility. That's something that everybody can rally around. And frankly, in New Hampshire, as we say, “We're wicked good at, we're wicked good at that.” So when you look at the candidates that are on the ground and results-driven, I'll put my record of success behind, against almost any other candidate that would potentially step on the stage. And so results-driven winners are really who are going to drive the voter. We're still a long way away, again, from what the issues of the voter are going to be.

CHUCK TODD:

But if you pulled this off, if you became the nominee, you would defy a conventional wisdom that has been true now, for frankly, for 50 years. And that is, if you're an abortion rights supporter, you don't have much of a chance to win the Republican nomination. I want to show you something here. Among Republican voters, 68% believe abortion should be illegal most of the time. Only 28% believe there should be legal access to it. How do you convince those that believe that abortion – there shouldn't be much access to abortion, to support your candidacy?

GOV. CHRIS SUNUNU:

Yes, so that's where I'll really challenge you. Look, the next generation of Republicans, right, if you look at the polls from about 45 and under, when you look at their priorities, you know, banning abortion is not one of their priorities. It's not. You know, they care about all these other kind of things in a conservative, fiscally conservative way. They want kind of that new generation of Republican to step up. It's not kind of the old school way. And so kind of talking about those issues that are important to them, not just us and how we're traditional. If we stay in our traditional lanes, we're going to lose. There's no doubt about it. So whether it's me or another candidate that really connects with folks, that kind of inspires that next generation of Republican to get into that voting booth, that's what's going to be successful.

CHUCK TODD:

Do you think at this point, considering the chaos of the states and the confusion on abortion access, that the federal government needs to come up with a minimum access number, a floor for abortion access?

GOV. CHRIS SUNUNU:

Look, every time Republicans start talking about abortion, we're losing. We are. Because it is a states’ issue. That's effectively what Dobbs has allowed to happen.

CHUCK TODD:

Should it be, though?

GOV. CHRIS SUNUNU:

When it is a state issue--

CHUCK TODD:

It doesn't have to be.

GOV. CHRIS SUNUNU:

– the voters have direct accountability. I'm sorry.

CHUCK TODD:

It doesn't have to be. Congress can step in here. And in your opinion --

GOV. CHRIS SUNUNU:

They could, and they shouldn't. And they shouldn’t.

CHUCK TODD:

– do you think it should be a state issue, or do you think it should be standardized on the federal level?

GOV. CHRIS SUNUNU:

No, it should be -- it's a state issue. And every time a Republican talks about banning this, or this many weeks here or there, we are losing. We are. Every Republican potential candidate, take a piece of paper and write this down. It's a state issue, let the voters in the states figure it out. We shouldn't be talking about it on a national level. We're moving on, and that's it. That's the new way. I don't think 50 years of precedent should've been broken with Roe v. Wade. I don’t – I mean, this mifepristone stuff, 20 years of precedent, and one judge that no one even knows the name of is going to try to ban all that. That sends, that sends a lot of insecurity through the system in terms of our messaging as Republicans. Let's get back to what we do best: limited government, local control, a little bit of that "Live Free or Die" thing we have here in New Hampshire. That is a record to actually cross the finish line and have winners in November.

CHUCK TODD:

Let me ask you about a larger societal problem. These stories of guns, of people pulling guns on everyday mistakes – knocking on, pulling into a driveway, knocking on somebody's door. You have said you believe this gun violence issue is a mental health problem. How do we get to a point where we don't think we have to pull a gun in order to answer the door, or have a gun in order to knock on some neighbor's door?

GOV. CHRIS SUNUNU:

Yes, look, those are absolute tragedies. And unfortunately, they're happening more often than we'd like to see. The mass shootings are real, they're happening at an increased rate. But if you -- if the idea is, "Well, we should just pass more laws," if that was the answer, then why didn't Democrats when they ran the House, they controlled the Senate, they controlled the presidency over the last two years, why didn't they do anything? Because they know it's not about passing more laws. They know that places like Chicago that have the most, some of the most restrictive gun laws in the country still have some of the worst crime and, frankly, the most irresponsibility with the mass shootings in all of this. I'm a believer that you have to get to the crux of the issue, right? I'm the governor of one of the safest states in the country, where we also have some of the most flexible, pro-Second Amendment rules and laws in the country because we take those things very responsibly. We harden schools, we deal with mental health, especially in kids. We go after the core of the issue instead of saying, "Well, we should just pass more laws." If it were that easy, people would do it. But it's not. If it were that easy, even Democrats would do it. They didn't. So stop trying to take these tragedies, these human tragedies, and making -- trying to make political fodder out of them. It's a real losing effort, I think, on the Democrats’ part.

CHUCK TODD:

But, Governor, do you accept the premise that, frankly, New Hampshire is not like most of America? And I say this, it's a little more rural, it's a little more smaller state, a smaller population. It's a different situation in urban and suburban America. And so why do you think, why do you think that what works in New Hampshire is going to work in urban America? And let me ask this – all we've done over the last 20 years is loosen gun laws in this country, and where has it gotten us?

GOV. CHRIS SUNUNU:

Well, I would say that in urban environments, they've tightened their gun laws, right? They're trying these red flag laws. Look at the red flag laws in Chicago, just as an example. Over the past two or three years, you've had nearly 2,000 deaths by firearms and murders. I think the red flag laws have been actually implemented less than a dozen times, right? So as they try these new things, as they try these more restrictive laws in those urban areas that you're talking about, it's not working, right? So I guess that would just what we're doing here in New Hampshire --

CHUCK TODD:

You just advocated for a red flag law. I mean --

GOV. CHRIS SUNUNU:

– is working. What those areas are doing doesn't.

CHUCK TODD:

Right. Well, doesn't that tell you that maybe a red flag law isn't the answer?

GOV. CHRIS SUNUNU:

Well, that's right. That's right. More laws aren't the answer. More responsibility --

CHUCK TODD:

Well, no one said more laws, just those red flag laws.

GOV. CHRIS SUNUNU:

– dealing with mental health, actually having -- I'm sorry?

CHUCK TODD:

No, I'm just saying, the way these --

GOV. CHRIS SUNUNU:

I mean, supporting police, securing your streets, holding people accountable. Enough of this bail reform nonsense. Holding folks accountable so they don't feel like they can get away with everything. There's a lot of that going on across the country in a whole variety of ways, specifically in those urban areas you're talking about.

CHUCK TODD:

What is your timeline on deciding whether or not to run for president?

GOV. CHRIS SUNUNU:

Probably by lunch, something like that.

CHUCK TODD:

Are you, no I mean--

GOVERNOR CHRIS SUNUNU:

No, look, I mean --

CHUCK TODD:

Let me ask you this. Do you think you'll make a decision by the Fourth of July, publicly?

GOV. CHRIS SUNUNU:

Yes, I think everybody will have to make a decision by Fourth of July, get their exploratory committees. I think there's a lot of new candidates that are stepping up, saying, "Hey, wait, there's lanes here. There's a lot of opportunity here." Whether it's money to get your exploratory stuff done. A lot of folks want to get on that stage. I think the thresholds for the debate are going to be very low to start, in terms of polling numbers and donors. So I think you're going to have a very crowded stage early on, potentially.

CHUCK TODD:

In the last month of issues that have impacted the Republican Party, has that made you more inclined to run or less?

GOV. CHRIS SUNUNU:

Neither. It really is -- it's about family, it's about what's best. You know, I still have a state to run. I have a 24/7 job as governor, so I have to make sure we're maintaining that. What we can bring to the table, not overcrowding a field, and where I can be most effective for my party, not just for Chris Sununu. I want Republicans to win as a team in November of '24, and if I can be effective in that as a candidate or not, well, that will help make the decision.

CHUCK TODD:

All right, Governor Chris Sununu, Republican from New Hampshire. Governor, we await your decision and we expect you to come here and tell us first. Thank you, sir.

GOV. CHRIS SUNUNU:

You bet, buddy.

CHUCK TODD:

When we come back, an overwhelming majority of Americans, including half of Democrats, do not want to see President Biden seek a second term. I'm going to ask the number two Democrat in the Senate, Dick Durbin, for his reaction to those poll numbers next.

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back. It is not an easy time to be a Senate Democrat right now. They are stuck defending an unpopular president. More than half of Democrats say Biden should not run again, according to our new poll. They have a precarious Senate majority, as Senator Dianne Feinstein's absence has left some judicial nominees in limbo. And now in the wake of reports that Justice Clarence Thomas may have violated the law, never disclosing a real estate deal and expense-paid luxury trips from billionaire donor Harlan Crow, Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin has asked the chief justice of the Supreme Court and head of the judiciary branch of government, John Roberts, to appear before his committee, citing a quote, "steady stream of revelations regarding justices falling short of the ethical standards expected of other federal judges." And Democratic Senator Dick Durbin joins me now. Senator Durbin, welcome back to Meet the Press.

SEN. DICK DURBIN:

Good to be with you, Chuck.

CHUCK TODD:

And I want to start with this issue involving trying to create formal ethics standards for Supreme Court justices. You invited Chief Justice Roberts. He appears to have responded by saying, "Thank you. Go ask the judicial reform folks for somebody." Have you -- do you believe he has turned your invitation down? Some of us are debating whether that response is an official decline of your invite.

SEN. DICK DURBIN:

Well, I don't view that as an official response, and we're still waiting for the chief justice to answer my invitation. I think that's the first step that ought to be taken with the Supreme Court itself, with its leader, the chief justice. Make it clear that they are going to bring reform when it comes to ethics to the court and spell out what they're going to do. I asked the chief justice ten years ago the very question we're asking today: What is the Court going to do to bring its standards of ethics up to the level even of other courts in this country?

CHUCK TODD:

I want to talk about the specifics of Justice Thomas here and ask you this question. The sale of Thomas' mother's house and the adjacent lots without disclosure on that annual financial filing, would it be a violation of law if he were just on the circuit? Because in Section Five of the U.S. Code, it reads, "It shall be unlawful for any person to knowingly and willfully falsify any information that such person is required to report under Section 102, fail to file or report any information that such person is required to report." Point is, if this were a Judge Thomas, this is perhaps a crime. Now, it is not clear this would apply to Justice Thomas, is that your understanding?

SEN. DICK DURBIN:

That's exactly the point, Chuck. If this were another judge, if this were a member of Congress, and it happened that some Texas billionaire came in and said, "I'm going to buy your mom's house and the houses nearby and own this so she doesn't have to pay rent or a mortgage payment," you'd say to yourself, "Well, that's obvious. That's the sort of thing that needs to be disclosed.” That's a clear indication of a conflict of interest. Is there a question that should be raised? So yes, there's no question in my mind that the Supreme Court has exempted itself from the standards that apply to the executive and legislative branch, and even to other judges.

CHUCK TODD:

So, what could -- I mean, look, we have a separation of powers issue, and we could talk about that, right? The Supreme Court would have to decide where a law Congress passed to apply to the justices passed that test of separation of powers. That's a tough test to pass. What would legislation look like that would enforce an ethical code of conduct on justices?

SEN. DICK DURBIN:

Well, the code of conduct would look an awful lot like the code that applies to the rest of federal government and other judges. And basically, would have disclosures, timely disclosures, of transactions like this purchase of the justice's mother's home. It would also give standards for recusal, so that if there's going to be a conflict before the court and a recusal, it be explained publicly, and investigations of questions that are raised. It is the same standard that's being used across the board, code of conduct, ethics laws applied to the Court. Why this Supreme Court, these nine justices, believe they are exempt from the basic standards of disclosure, I cannot explain. And I think the chief justice should appear before our committee and explain something or explain the changes that he's going to make.

CHUCK TODD:

Why not invite Justice Thomas?

SEN. DICK DURBIN:

I think I know what would happen to that invitation. It would be ignored. It is far better, from my point of view, to have the chief justice here. Listen, this is John Roberts' court. We are dealing with a situation where history will remember it as such. I was there when he went through his confirmation hearing. He is an articulate, well-schooled man when it comes to presenting his point of view. I'm sure he'll do well before the committee. But history is going to judge the Roberts Court by his decision as to reform. And I think this is an invitation on May 2nd for him to present it to the American people.

CHUCK TODD:

Let me move to some politics here. A supermajority in our poll, Senator Durbin, 70% – you can't get 70% of Americans to agree on much, but 70% of Americans don't think President Biden should seek a second term. Does that give you cause for concern, especially when you look at the numbers inside the Democratic coalition? Particularly, younger voters are very skeptical of whether he should run again.

SEN. DICK DURBIN:

It's about 19 months before there's an election. Most people make their decision on the candidate 19 days before the election. So we're far in advance of any decision-making. Here's what we do know. This president has shown extraordinary leadership. On the foreign policy side, he has mobilized NATO and expanded NATO to respond to a threat by Vladimir Putin in Ukraine and beyond. He is moving forward when it comes to the relationship with China, which is much better for the American economy, I think, in the short term, and I think establishes long-term standards. Then when you look at the domestic front, Governor Sununu doesn't want to talk about it, but let me tell you, there is a realignment of American voters over this issue of choice in women's reproductive rights. The Republican Party is on the wrong side of history by a long shot. And we're seeing this realignment in elections. The recent mayoral election in the city of Chicago several weeks ago, one of the major questions, "What's your position on choice?" That would not have been a question raised in most mayoral contests before it. We also have the kind of leadership when it comes to climate change, which the American people are wanting, and we have a position that actually makes sense when it comes to gun safety. I listened to Governor Sununu, and it's mindless to think that we have the kind of death rate going on. It's the leading cause of death, gun violence, the leading cause of death of young people under the age of 21 in America. For goodness sakes, doesn't it tell the story? He says, "We want to have limited government." Well, I can just tell you, people want to be safe from assault weapons and the kind of profligate gun ownership that is not responsible.

CHUCK TODD:

I want to get you to respond to this morning's New York Times, though, on this issue of President Biden. They believe he hasn't done enough to reassure Americans that he's up to the job. They note this: "His standard line is: 'The only thing I can say is watch me,'” about the ability to be president and serve a second term in his eighties. "But Mr. Biden," the Times writes, "has given voters very few chances to do just that, to quote, 'Wlatch him.’ And his refusal to engage with the public regularly raises questions about his age and health." Again, this comes from The New York Times, not some right wing blog, about this. Should President Biden be doing more to show Americans that he's up to the job?

SEN. DICK DURBIN:

I think his schedule reflects an active person, mentally and physically, who is engaging with the American people on a regular basis. I don't know what more they are asking for. But I've been in meetings with him time after time. His performance tells me he's up to the job and does it well. Let's concede the obvious, what his age is. But let's look at the obvious. He's an active president who is meeting the challenges of America every day.

CHUCK TODD:

A coalition of more than 60 California progressive groups are calling on Senator Dianne Feinstein to resign now. I know you have not made that call. At what point does her absence make you rethink whether you should publicly also add your voice to the calls of asking her to resign her Senate seat?

SEN. DICK DURBIN:

Dianne Feinstein is my friend. She's my colleague. We sit next to one another on the Judiciary Committee. She's done extraordinary things in her public career. Let's face it, she's gone through several weeks of real travail over this shingles issue that she is obviously dealing with. She wants to come back. She said to Chuck Schumer on the phone last week, "I want to get on that plane next Monday and be there." I want her to come back too. But her future is in her own hands and her family's consultation. I wish her the best and I hope she can return very soon.

CHUCK TODD:

When’s the last time -- have you personally spoken with her by phone or any other means since she got out of --

SEN. DICK DURBIN:

No, I haven't.

CHUCK TODD:

-- the hospital? No?

SEN. DICK DURBIN:

No, I haven't.

CHUCK TODD:

Just Senator Schumer?

SEN. DICK DURBIN:

It's been several weeks. Schumer has, yes.

CHUCK TODD:

And when you guys organized with a 50-50 Senate, you had a mechanism that allowed for any sort of -- any tie committee vote to be where you could move that nomination to the floor for a full vote. You didn't include that when you guys ended up a one-seat majority. Was that a mistake?

SEN. DICK DURBIN:

No, I think we reflected the reality. A 50-50 Senate, if you have a tie vote, you can discharge it to the floor. When you have a 51-49 Senate, we have a nominal majority. And the rules reflect that reality. We have to have a majority vote coming out of the committee. If we don't have a majority vote, if it's a tie vote in the committee, then the nomination does not move forward. So that's the reality of the composition of the Senate today.

CHUCK TODD:

Okay. And any regrets on keeping Senator Feinstein on the Judiciary Committee at the beginning? I mean, this was not news to folks that she had some challenges.

SEN. DICK DURBIN:

Listen, she's served on this committee for decades, and served with distinction. And she stepped aside from the chairmanship and gave me an opportunity to serve as chairman, and wanted to remain on the committee for other issues that were important to her. It made sense, and I think it was the right decision at the time.

CHUCK TODD:

President Biden has said he's not going to negotiate on the debt ceiling at all. Is a point where that -- more Democrats are starting to question whether a no-talk, a no-negotiation stance, is -- whether that's really a good idea. Do you think that's still a good idea?

SEN. DICK DURBIN:

Listen, we don't need to default in this country. If we default on our national debt, it's going to cost our economy dearly. We're going to find businesses unable to proceed and people losing their jobs right and left. That is a terrible outcome. So let's do the responsible thing and not default, move forward on the debt ceiling. Now, we can have a fulsome debate on the budget, and we will. And I understand it on the spending levels, but not at the expense of jeopardizing jobs and economic growth in America. Don't default. Avoid default on our national debt.

CHUCK TODD:

You didn't say, "Don't talk." I did grab that. I mean, you --

SEN. DICK DURBIN:

Well, of course, we should talk.

CHUCK TODD:

Okay.

SEN. DICK DURBIN:

No, no. The conversation should be under way, but it should be on the budget resolution and on the appropriations process and entitlement reform, if that's part of the agenda. That should all be separate from the question of the debt ceiling. Don't default. Avoid default.

CHUCK TODD:

Senator Dick Durbin, Democrat from Illinois. Senator, thanks for coming on, sharing your perspective.

SEN. DICK DURBIN:

Good to be with you, Chuck.

CHUCK TODD:

And before we go to break, our Meet the Press Minute this week. Back in 1991, then Republican Senator John Danforth was Clarence Thomas' sherpa, as we call it around here, the chief supporter in the Senate for Clarence Thomas' nomination. And he shepherded Clarence Thomas through that contentious confirmation process. And he appeared on this program to discuss the new justice's judicial philosophy.

[BEGIN TAPE]

TIM RUSSERT:

Don't you have some concerns that you may be back here in the future seeking legislation to undo what Clarence Thomas has done on the court? No concern whatsoever?

SEN. JOHN DANFORTH:

No. I really don't, because I think that Clarence Thomas' view of judicial restraint is that judges should not be imposing their own philosophical views on the country from the bench. And therefore, I think that Clarence Thomas is going to be a judge who does not try to use the Supreme Court as a way of fostering his own political philosophy.

[END TAPE]

CHUCK TODD:

Clarence Thomas was one of two justices to publicly disclose they opposed what the Supreme Court did on Friday night. Up next, our new NBC poll shows voters don't want another Trump-Biden rematch. The panel is here, ready to discuss the impact of this poll next.

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back, panel is here. Amy Walter, editor-in-chief of the Cook Political Report, Eugene Robinson, columnist for the Washington Post, Marc Short, former chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence and Rachael Bade, co-author of Politico Playbook. Amy, let me start with the fact that we've seen these numbers, 70% don't want Biden to run again, 60% don't want Trump again. My favorite number is when you put it all together, there is 5% of Americans that actually do want to see the sequel.

AMY WALTER:

Which means they're related.

CHUCK TODD:

Yeah, America doesn't want this.

AMY WALTER:

No, they don't.

CHUCK TODD:

And both parties are about to hand us a rematch that's going to lead to unintended consequences. What vacuums are there that this creates?

AMY WALTER:

It creates a vacuum certainly for a third-party candidate. I mean, the great fear among many Democrats is the encouragement for other candidates to try to get on the ballot. We know there's already the no labeled effort, which Democrats have come out against vociferously. If you think about how close 2016, 2020 were, it doesn't take much for a third-party candidate to pull, to push this to one candidate or the other to win an Arizona, a Georgia. So that's the vacuum for other candidates to come in and to say to America, "Really? You know you don't want this. Come vote for me."

CHUCK TODD:

Yeah. You know, Rachael, we've been talking about how negative partisanship has been a definer of our politics. And now we're about to basically get negative partisanship nominees if we're not careful, right? We're essentially nominating these people because that's just all there is.

RACHAEL BADE:

Yeah. I mean, obviously. I mean, Trump's numbers right now, he seems to be solidifying things with the base right now with DeSantis, he's the top person to potentially take him out. His numbers are slipping. And this week we're going to see Biden announce that he's running again. And just to go back to the no labels point, if you look at the no labels map and who they're going to be targeting in this next election, a lot of these voters are Biden voters. And so with the margins being as close as they are, this is why Democrats are freaking out about this right now because it's going to be a problem for him.

CHUCK TODD:

Go ahead, Gene. Let's go to the Democratic side. This is obviously driven by physical concerns with Joe Biden. What's he got to do to fix this?

EUGENE ROBINSON:

Well, number one, announce. And number two, keep moving forward. I mean, there were a lot of people who didn't want Joe Biden to run the last time, right? And really, until Jim Clyburn endorsed him in South Carolina and he won that primary, he was not doing well. He was, what, fourth or fifth in Iowa.

CHUCK TODD:

By the way, the only part of the Democratic coalition where a majority of Democrats want him to run again are Black Democrats.

EUGENE ROBINSON:

Exactly. And so I think the party probably, and I think quite likely both parties, kind of go home to their nominees in the end. And so the question is whether the anti-Trump vote is more substantial than the anti-Biden vote. Which I think it probably is.

CHUCK TODD:

Marc, I've spent years being told by many a Republican consultant, "Don't try an electability argument with Republican voters. It never works."

MARC SHORT:

I'm not sure if it does, Chuck. I think there are principle arguments that also work. But, you know, I think it's an important data point for this moment, but polls are a good reflection of today, not necessarily the future. And I don't think there's any doubt there's been a lot of Republicans who have rallied around President Trump because of the perceived political prosecution in New York. But, you know, if we went by polls today, in 2008 Rudy Giuliani would've been our nominee. In 2012, Michele Bachmann. 2016, Scott Walker. And it would've been Bernie Sanders on the Democrat side. So there's a lot of headwinds still to face President Joe Biden.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, I want to remind people Barack Obama never – trailed Hillary Clinton in every single poll in the 2007 calendar year. Every single one.

EUGENE ROBINSON:

Was even worse.

CHUCK TODD:

He did not overtake her in the contest in the national polls until after he won Iowa.

EUGENE ROBINSON:

He won Iowa.

CHUCK TODD:

And so Ron DeSantis, in many ways, is starting as strong as any non-experienced presidential candidate. So – but I can't help but wonder, are we catching Ron DeSantis on the way up or on the way down?

AMY WALTER:

Well, I think he caught the wave after the midterms because it was a self-own by Donald Trump. That's when Trump is the weakest, when it's not that the forces that dislike him are against him, like we're seeing with the rally around the indictment. It's when he himself got himself into a precarious position, either with his tweets or in this case endorsing candidates in the 2022 election who were unelectable. It was a reminder that even though Biden may look really vulnerable, and even though the economy was really bad, Republicans can still lose if they put up candidates like Donald Trump. So he rode that wave. Now that we're not talking about the midterms anymore, we're talking about the enemies of Donald Trump going after him, it rallies the base.

EUGENE ROBINSON:

But we're also talking about DeSantis himself, though. And he came to Washington–

AMY WALTER:

It's not like Republicans suddenly don't like Ron DeSantis.

CHUCK TODD:

No.

AMY WALTER:

His approvals are as high as they were five months ago.

RACHAEL BADE:

But there are really bad signs. I mean, him coming to Washington this week, this was supposed to be a big moment for him to come to D.C., connect with his old colleagues, get a whole bunch of endorsements. And yet Donald Trump won more endorsements this week from Mar-a-Lago in terms of voter Republicans than DeSantis did.

CHUCK TODD:

Let me throw up these quotes. These are stunning, especially when you look at the Republicans that are commenting about their lack of basic relationship with Ron DeSantis. Both Florida senators claim they don't talk to – Governor Rick Scott: "DeSantis doesn't talk to me. So I don't know about DeSantis." Marco Rubio: "I haven't spoken to him in a number of months, despite South Florida being underwater." Greg Steube, Florida Republican: "To this day, I've not heard from Governor DeSantis.” He fell off a roof, and Donald Trump calls him.

EUGENE ROBINSON:

Calls him first thing.

CHUCK TODD:

And then, this is extraordinary, Rachael. A former member of Congress from Michigan, David Trott, called up to go on the record to use, I'm not going to repeat the word, but basically said, "DeSantis is not a likable guy," and used a more colorful word. The pattern is developing here.

RACHAEL BADE:

Yeah. Look, self-inflicted wound here. Be nice. Say hi to people.

CHUCK TODD:

The Mike Pence strategy.

RACHAEL BADE:

Yeah.

CHUCK TODD:

I'm sorry.

MARC SHORT:

I do think, Chuck, these endorsements are grossly overvalued. I mean, in 2016 when Donald Trump was on his way to a nomination--

EUGENE ROBINSON:

He had no endorsements.

MARC SHORT:

--the only two endorsements he had were Duncan Hunter and Chris Collins, who both ended up in jail, right?

CHUCK TODD:

The first two. And then he had Jeff Sessions and Chris Christie.

RACHAEL BADE:

But here's the problem, though. If you can't connect with your own delegation, I mean, Greg Steube told me that he had numerous times over the past five years in Congress, reached out to DeSantis to try to get a meeting to talk policy. Ignored every time. Actually, you know, told to show up at campaign events and then told, "You can't take the stage with DeSantis." This is a problem for him. And if he's going to alienate lawmakers who understand the electability argument and why that is significant, how is he going to connect with, you know, GOP voters who sort of vote with their gut?

CHUCK TODD:

Well, Marc, let me ask you to address it this way. You know how reticent people are to talk about people. The fact that there is a comfort now coming at DeSantis, what does that tell you about DeSantis right now?

MARC SHORT:

I think it tells you everything you need to know, Chuck. I think it's where a lot of Republicans view that he's an easier target. I guess my concern --

CHUCK TODD:

That's a dangerous place to be.

MARC SHORT:

It is.

CHUCK TODD:

I mean, when we were talking about Clinton/Obama, Clinton was the easier target back then, not Obama. And you would think it should be Trump is the easier target, and in this case it's not been.

MARC SHORT:

I think that's right. But I think at the same time, I wouldn't be as worried about the endorsements. I think for people of principle there's a bigger concern about what's happening in using a big-government Republican going after private-sector industries.

EUGENE ROBINSON:

Exactly.

MARC SHORT:

And I think that's a bigger concern for principle conservatives.

EUGENE ROBINSON:

The pursuit of Mickey Mouse is really crazy.

CHUCK TODD:

The two of you –

EUGENE ROBINSON:

It’s really crazy.

CHUCK TODD:

– should be a producer because you've just segued into a terrific tease for my next segment. When we come back, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has been picking a fight with the state's second largest private employer. I'm going to show you how important Disney is to the overall Florida economy, and why this battle could backfire.

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back, Data Download time. The feud between Ron DeSantis and Disney escalated yet again this week when the Florida governor proposed developing land near the amusement park into a state park or, even more snarkily, he suggested, a state prison. It was the latest volley in a battle that began last year when Disney executives criticized DeSantis' parental rights in education bill. It was dubbed the "Don't Say Gay Bill" by many opponents. But it has turned into somewhat of an all-out personal feud between a sitting governor and a business that is very crucial to much of the state's economy. Let me just show you how important Disney is to the state of Florida. This is Disney's annual visitors to the Disney World amusement parks. Over 36 million people in 2021. And just show you know, that's actually kind of low right now. Pre-pandemic, close to 60 million visitors. Just, you know – it works out to about one in five of all Americans, though of course there's some global visitors there. How about in tax revenue that Disney World generates? Well, Disney itself claims they collected over $1 billion in taxes in the calendar year 2022. That amount of money is more than the entire budget for many of Florida's state agencies. That's how crucial this is to the state of Florida. Let me go to the number of employees. It's the second largest private employer, over 75,000. This is central Florida's economy, if you will. Seventy-five thousand people employed Disney World, the only private company to employ more people in the State of Florida are – is the Publix grocery store chain. And then there's just the overall economic impact that it does for the entire central Florida region. One estimate by Oxford Economics put it at over $75 billion in economic impact to the state of Florida thanks to Disney World. This isn't just a mouse that roars. Politically, it could become a mouse that bites as well. When we come back, this week, we saw how simple mistakes could end in gun violence. In a nation full of firearms and fear, what would it take to make knocking on a stranger's door feel safe again?

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back. More than a quarter of Americans, 28%, say a family member, friend, coworker, or they themselves have been a victim of gun violence. It outnumbers self-identified political independents in our poll by two to one, as more Americans become part of a shared experience that they never wanted. I'm not interested in having a debate about gun laws. It's more of like, we have a societal and cultural problem. And I – it seems like it's now bigger than just a simple fight over the laws, Rachael. I mean, this feeling that you can't go to some neighbor's house, and you end up at the wrong door, and you might get shot.

RACHAEL BADE:

Yeah, yeah, I mean, talk about parents being afraid to send their kids to school. I mean, it is a fear that everyone has right now. And – and I'm going to take it back to laws because here in Washington, this was story number like 25. I mean, we're talking about everything else and, and not about this issue. President Biden was asked about it and he said, "Look, I can't do anything." Democrats, you know, Sununu pointed out, they didn't pass laws on this when they had –

CHUCK TODD:

That's very true.

RACHAEL BADE:

– the majorities in Congress. And now Republicans control the House. Nobody's talking about it up there, and yet everybody's talking about it everywhere else.

CHUCK TODD:

It seems that there needs to be some leadership to sort of change the culture that says, Marc, "You don't need to pull a gun first." Like that’s where we are. Like why – people are in a, "I've got to have my gun first." That seems to be the uneasiness.

MARC SHORT:

Well, I think that there's a devaluation of life, honestly, in our society, Chuck. And I do think there needs to be a greater appreciation for the value of life. But I also think that there's a lot of media focus, and rightly there should be, on these mass shootings. But respecting everyone who, who lost a life and mourn we, we mourn them, the reality is there's been 12,800 deaths by guns this year, 169 by mass shootings. There's a crime problem in our inner cities that we're not addressing. We focus a lot on the mass shootings without focusing on the real problem of crime in our inner cities. And there needs to be a bigger focus there.

EUGENE ROBINSON:

Well, it's not just crime in inner cities. It's crime in suburbs. It's crime in, you know, rural areas. I mean, guns are being used everywhere. It's a gun problem everywhere. And so again, getting back to laws. I mean, Florida after Parkland passed a red, red flag law. And that has been used thousands of times, like probably 10,000 times by now, to take guns out of the hands of people who are deemed, through a process, to be a danger to themselves or others. And I – who knows how many shootings that has stopped, but I'll bet it's some. It’s not – the number is not zero. So how else do we attack this –

CHUCK TODD:

Yean.

EUGENE ROBINSON

– cultural issue other than through laws?

CHUCK TODD:

Amy, I don't even know if we have a shared North Star on this, which is the goal – you would think a minimum goal that everybody could agree on is we should keep guns out of those who mentally aren't capable of having it, or who could be trigger happy for whatever reason. But we don't agree on – what –

AMY WALTER:

On how to judge –

CHUCK TODD:

What’s the –

AMY WALTER:

– that.

CHUCK TODD:

How do you do that either, how to judge it. I don't know if these red flag laws are constitutional. We have yet to see it tested, for what it's worth. So that's an issue. But it’s also -- we don't seem to agree that, "Okay, we've got to get rid of mentally challenged people from getting guns, but we don't know how to do it."

AMY WALTER:

Well, and we don’t -- I do think also what does "mentally challenged" mean, when so many of these shootings are literally, as you pointed out, spur of the moment, heat of the moment? If you have a gun nearby, suicides are also one on that list that you put forward, of the number of suicides that are aided by guns. How many of those would've been prevented if it wasn't as easy to pick up –

CHUCK TODD:

Here's what I’m uncomfortable with –

AMY WALTER:

– in your area?

CHUCK TODD:

– is that I would've had to say yes on that. I've had a family member and a work colleague touched by gun violence. I'm guessing everybody here knows somebody or has somebody. I mean, that's the part of this that I feel like our politicians aren't addressing this shared reality. Rachael?

RACHAEL BADE:

On mental health? I mean –

CHUCK TODD:

On all of it.

EUGENE ROBINSON:

On all of it.

RACHAEL BADE:

Yeah, I mean, you talk about trying to get some sort of united joint star -- united North Star that people can go to. I mean, you would think that, you know, Republicans always want to talk about mental health, Democrats always want to talk about gun control. I mean, there has to be some sort of overlapping area here. And like, you know, red flag laws have been successful in parts of the country. Could they do something more at a national level here, in terms of making sure that guns are not falling into the hands of the wrong people?

EUGENE ROBINSON:

But what's the one thing that every gun crime, every gun issue, incident, has in common? It's the gun. I mean, we have more guns than people in this country. That's the bottom line. And, now how we address that is a difficult problem.

AMY WALTER:

We – we also live in a –

EUGENE ROBINSON:

But it's the truth.

AMY WALTER:

Yeah. And we live in a society where it's heads I win, tails you lose. There's no such thing as compromise on any issues. Because somehow if there's compromise, I'm going to lose out.

CHUCK TODD:

But I want to do a political reality here, Marc. We've yet to see somebody who is seen as a Second Amendment supporter lose an election because of that issue.

MARC SHORT:

Well, sure, because I think that as many as we've talked about families that have been touched by gun violence, we also have family members or people we know who have also been protected because they had a gun, too, Chuck. And so it's a complicated issue. And I think you're right, it is a bigger societal issue than saying, "Let's grab everybody's gun."

CHUCK TODD:

Right.

RACHAEL BADE:

Politically, I mean, you talk about, you know, there hasn't been a Republican voter –

CHUCK TODD:

Right.

RACHAEL BADE:

– who has been sort of ousted because of this. And until you start to see -- or not a Republican voter, a Republican candidate, a Republican lawmaker. Until you see something like that, you're not going to see changes.

CHUCK TODD:

Abortion, is definitely salient –

RACHAEL BADE:

Right.

CHUCK TODD:

-- with swing voters. It's not clear yet that gun policy is.

EUGENE ROBINSON:

We'll see.

CHUCK TODD:

Yeah. That's all we have for today. Thanks for watching. We'll be back next week, because if it's Sunday, it's Meet the Press.