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Amy Walter and Tamara Keith on Warren’s poll numbers, Democrats on impeachment

Amy Walter of the Cook Political Report and NPR’s Tamara Keith join Judy Woodruff to discuss the week’s political news, including a new poll that shows Iowa voters favoring Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Sen. Cory Booker’s scramble to raise enough campaign money, and why a whistleblower complaint withheld from Congress may make some reluctant Democrats reconsider formal impeachment proceedings.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    Now let's turn to politics Monday.

    I'm with our regular duo, Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report and host of public radio's "Politics With Amy Walter." And Tamara Keith from NPR, she also co-hosts the "NPR Politics Podcast. "

    Hello to both of you. It is Politics Monday.

    So let's talk about this Iowa poll we were just discussing.

    Amy, what do you make of it?

  • Amy Walter:

    Well, Elizabeth Warren has had a great summer, and it shows.

    When you talk to folks who are in and around Iowa, that's what you are hearing. At the Iowa State Fair this summer, all the buzz was about Elizabeth Warren, and now it's borne itself out in this poll.

    And I do think it's important, yes, as Ann Selzer points out, that these things are fluid. Everything is fluid in Iowa. In fact, I remember going back to other Democratic primaries where, at this point, after a very good summer, it looked like Howard Dean not only was going to win Iowa, but was going to be the nominee.

    So was Hillary Clinton in 2008, who was doing quite well in the September Des Moines Register poll.

    But Iowa, it tends to be that, around Thanksgiving time, Iowa voters, even though they're paying a whole lot of attention, really get it into another gear.

    What's different, though, this year, I feel like that Iowa has taken just on a whole new dimension. It's always important. It's always — it sets the pace for the campaign.

    But this year, with the issue of electability so important in the minds of the voters, the winner then gets to make the case that they are a winner. Now, you can't say, just because you win a primary, that means you are going to beat Donald Trump, but folks are looking for a winner.

    And I think they're going to take cues from Iowa in a way maybe even more than we have seen before.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And so Elizabeth Warren gets a little bit of a bump out of this.

  • Tamara Keith:

    Yes.

    And if you have been out talking to voters, you have been hearing she is, at the moment, the excitement candidate. And part of the way her campaign has been showing that is, they don't want to talk about polls. They don't want to talk about horse race.

    But then they hold a really big rally in New York. And that is sort of another way that they're making an electability argument, which is to say, look, Elizabeth Warren can get a really big crowd in a very liberal urban place.

    You know who else did that in 2016? Bernie Sanders. I actually went to a rally in the very same park that Bernie Sanders held that looked a whole lot like that rally. And Elizabeth Warren is sort of capturing that mood at this time in the campaign, in a way that Bernie Sanders did last time.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Huge crowds, Bernie Sanders was getting.

    At the same time, we know that there are a number of candidates who are struggling. Those are the ones who are in the single digits in Iowa and in other polls, Amy.

    And, in fact, one of them, Cory Booker, has said in the last few days — he said it openly: If I don't raise $1.8 million in the next few days, I can't stay in this race, because of the pressure to do better.

  • Amy Walter:

    The pressure to do better.

    Plus, no campaigns die because the member who's running decides or the candidate decides, you know what, I guess I didn't want to be president.

    (LAUGHTER)

  • Amy Walter:

    They always run out of money. And it's hard to sustain money when you're not either moving in the polls or making any change, it looks like, in the other dynamic.

    He's been on the stage in all the debates. I think, personally, he's done a very good job. He's been very effective as a debater. But it hasn't seemed to really translate. And I think, for so many voters now, they like, basically, the known brands, and they're choosing between the known brands of Biden, Warren and Sanders.

    And they haven't been interested as much in looking around for those people who they don't know so well.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And, Tam — go ahead, Tam.

  • Tamara Keith:

    Yes.

    One of the challenges that Cory Booker has been facing and that several of the candidates have faced is the cost of acquisition of donors.

  • Amy Walter:

    Right.

  • Tamara Keith:

    And that is a very technical thing that I'm saying, but it's a real issue.

    They are — they are having to spend a lot of money on Facebook ads and other ways of going out and getting more individual donors. And that is all related to the Democratic Party's qualifications for the debates.

    It's really creating a dynamic that hasn't existed in past primaries.

  • Amy Walter:

    Yes, I have heard a lot of grumbling, the same grumbling you have, from campaigns saying, boy, if we didn't have to spend all that money trying to get these donor — online donors, we'd have enough money to be in this race.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    You're seeing that in a number of places.

    In fact, there's a story in Politico today quoting the former Iowa State Democratic Party chair, saying, "It's a national primary, based on the worst foundation, name I.D. and money."

    He said, "We're supposed to be the party of ideas."

    He's criticizing what the party is doing in squeezing these candidates.

  • Amy Walter:

    Right, in some ways.

    But I would argue part of the reason that Elizabeth Warren has been so successful is because she has been the candidate of ideas, because she has been the one candidate to really break through, not just with, "I have a plan," but she has a narrative.

    She has a narrative and a case that she's making for not just her, but for her entire presidency, that people are really attaching to. She's made it personal. She's — she's very much connecting with people beyond just — it's not just a, like, shiny object kind of attachment.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    But we could be heading for debates in the next — in the coming months with many fewer candidates on the stage.

  • Amy Walter:

    Right.

  • Tamara Keith:

    Right.

    And when you talk to voters, they are overwhelmed by the number of candidates. And, certainly, these debates have been overwhelming, in that when there are 10 people on stage, even — like, we try to talk about it on our podcast afterwards. And you can't even fit all of the candidates into the podcast afterwards.

    It's very difficult to manage. And so that's part of what the DNC is doing. But then you have candidates who say, but, wait, this is my only shot to get in front of people.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Completely different subject, all the news of the last few days about the whistle-blower in the intelligence community talking about the president having a conversation with the president of Ukraine, Amy, in which there may have been a promise.

    We don't know. It's believed to have been about pressuring the president of Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden.

  • Amy Walter:

    Right.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    So the question I have for the two of you is, is this leading some of those Democrats who've been resistant to pushing to going for a full-blown impeachment? Is it changing some minds?

  • Amy Walter:

    I think that's the question that Tam and I were both searching around for today, making calls and trying to figure out if it's really changed the dynamic.

    My sense from talking to some folks is, look, this is certainly a new wrinkle, because it's no longer about Mueller. I think the sense was, the Mueller report has sort of played its way out. And, yes, they could continue to have more hearings about some of the characters there.

    But this is an entirely different situation. There's still a worry. As you pointed out, we don't have the facts yet. And so what they were telling me is, we need to see that transcript. We need to understand what was actually said before we come out.

    But this is — this is definitely opening new territory.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    There was a member of Congress, Tam, I guess we have just learned this afternoon, freshman Democrat from Minnesota, Dean Phillips, who had been in the camp of no on impeachment proceedings, is now moving in that direction because of all this.

  • Tamara Keith:

    And there has been a slow movement of Democrats. The numbers do continue growing. And this is another thing that is weighing on some of them.

    Nancy Pelosi, yesterday — I believe it was yesterday — used stronger language than she's used before in referring to the way the administration is sort of stonewalling investigations.

    I think we will know more by the end of this week whether the whistle-blower complaint will be seen by the relevant congressional committees or whether this is going to be that same dynamic that's played out over any number of issues that Democrats in Congress have been trying to investigate.

    And, in some ways, they're just — they're just stuck.

  • Amy Walter:

    Yes.

    And if Republicans don't move, then the dynamics remain the same, too, right? If there's no movement either from Republicans in the House or a sense that Republicans in the Senate want to push this forward, then we're kind of back at square one, to your point.

  • Tamara Keith:

    And one tweet from Mitt Romney, the senator from Utah…

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Yes.

  • Tamara Keith:

    … sort of wringing his hands is not really a big movement there.

  • Amy Walter:

    Yes.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    All right, we heard it here.

    (LAUGHTER)

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Tamara Keith, Amy Walter, thank you.

  • Amy Walter:

    You're welcome.

  • Tamara Keith:

    You're welcome.

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