Read more transcripts from Face the Nation here.
MARGARET BRENNAN, CBS NEWS: It's Sunday, June 24. I'm Margaret Brennan, and this is FACE THE NATION.
Outcry over the president's policy of seizing migrant children from their parents who cross the border illegally forces him to halt those separations midweek. But that sharp reversal leads to confusion and chaos when it comes to trying to solve the immigration crisis.
No one has a solution. So the border crisis has become a political lightning rod.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D), MARYLAND: This is a policy -- and understand this -- this was a policy invented, implemented, and executed by President Donald Trump.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They want to use the issue, and I like the issue for election, too. Our issue is strong borders, no crime. Their issue is open borders, let MS-13 all over our country. That's what's going to happen if you listen to them. So we're being very, very tough.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRENNAN: We will talk to Tennessee Republican Senator Bob Corker and a key member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, Jim Jordan. Plus we will ask Maryland depth Congressman Elijah Cummings why Democrats won't put politics aside and vote with Republicans.
Then we will hear from voters in Arizona, where immigration is a fact of life. What do they think of what's going on in Washington?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm 100 percent behind Donald Trump. We finally got a leader that does something.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think that we're stepping on the grounds of human rights. You know, under Republican or Democrat, I think that this is just escalating very, very dramatically and very, very badly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRENNAN: And in a new CBS News/YouGov Battleground Tracker survey, voters nationwide weigh in on immigration and more.
Plus, plenty of analysis on all the news -- all coming up on FACE THE NATION.
Good morning, and welcome to FACE THE NATION.
Protests continued over the weekend, as the Department of Health and Human Services announced that there are 2,053 minors still in their custody, but that they knew the location of all of the children and created a task force to reunite them with their families.
The agency says that 522 children previously in the custody of Customs and Border Protection have been reunited with their families and another 16 children will be by later today.
But the question of a permanent fix for what to do with the families who cross the border illegally is stalled in Congress, despite pressure building for all sides to come together and address the controversial issue of immigration.
We begin with Tennessee Republican Senator Bob Corker, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee. He joins us from Chattanooga this morning.
Senator, do you believe the U.S. was committing a human rights violation by separating migrant families?
SEN. BOB CORKER (R), TENNESSEE: Well, Margaret, it obviously is not something that is realistic. It's not something that appreciates these young children, and certainly was done in a ready, fire, aim way, obviously.
There was no preparation for it. I can't imagine any American's heart not going out to these families, knowing these children are being separated. And then where were they going?
So, I'm glad the administration took the steps they took. That's led to another crisis, if you will, because of the 20-day rule that exists. And so, you know, the administration obviously made a large mistake. I know that some in the White House want to use the immigration issue as a -- as a force to activate the base for elections, but obviously the president realized that was a mistake.
And now it's up to us in Congress to work with them to come up with a longer-term solution.
BRENNAN: Well, on that solution, you're supporting legislation that would essentially allow for longer-term detention of families, but to be held together.
Isn't this just indefinite detention at taxpayer expense?
CORKER: Yes, so, look, Margaret, I wish that we had passed the bill, the House could have made it better, that came out in 2013 that was comprehensive.
We keep trying to deal with these micro-issues, all of which are important, whether it's DACA or this issue. I realize that, before the election, that's very unlikely to occur, but we need to deal with the whole of the issue. We have got worker needs in our country. We have got this issue of, we do need to be a nation of laws.
And so we need to look at the whole thing. In the interim, between now and November, it's likely we will only deal with some of the micro-issues, and the issue just raised is a problem. So, we have got to deal with them.
BRENNAN: Do you even have the votes to deal with that micro-issue in the Senate?
CORKER: I hope we will. I know that Jim Jordan's coming on next. I know the House has some things that are coming up this week.
But I hope that will be the case. I think that the Cruz/Feinstein bill, while I'm not sure every detail has been laid out in it yet, but the fact that you have got two people with such ideological differences coming together on this issue does bode for some hope in the Senate.
BRENNAN: I want to ask you about really kind of an American values question. If you take a look at the latest CBS News poll, our Battleground Tracker, it says 73 percent of Republicans say those who enter the U.S. should be punished as an example of toughness, while 27 percent said they should be treated well as an example of kindness.
What does that say to you about the identity of your party right now?
CORKER: Margaret, look, I -- we do need to be a nation of laws, and we need to get this right. And we need to cause legal immigration to be easier than it is.
We have got needs in our country. I have just never been a part of a group that hated someone for wishing something better for their life. Maybe they have a little different color of their skin, and they speak differently. I just have never hated someone who traveled through tough conditions to try to come to a place where they could realize their dreams.
And so I'm just not part of that group that wants to punish. What I do want to do is make sure that we have...
BRENNAN: But the majority of Republicans polled identify as part of that group.
CORKER: Yes, I understand.
And I think it's a shame that what we have done with immigrants is to try to cause them to be a part of a terrorist group. I mean, many of these people truly, especially in Central America, are living in terrible conditions.
And, again, we need to be working with Central American governments, many of whom I have met with, on the issues there to make sure that, in those countries, there's more opportunity to live without threat of crime.
But, look, we need to enforce our laws, and when people break them, obviously, especially over and over again, there needs to be "punishment" -- quote, quote.
But, look, again, we have got to realize, these people are wanting to live in a place like we live. We're the most fortunate people on Earth to live in this country.
CORKER: That's why people are drawn to us. And, again, I don't -- I don't want to enforce laws out of a sense of hate or animosity towards people who want to live a life like I do.
BRENNAN: I also want to ask you about a fight that you have been willing to have with the president, and that's over trade and tariffs.
BRENNAN: You recently accused your fellow Republicans of being cultish for not trying to block the president and support your action to rein in his ability to escalate through more tariffs.
Do you see any ability for Republicans to stop the president?
CORKER: I do.
And, Margaret, if I could make sure people understand, there's a 201 Section of the Trade Act that right now is against China dealing with washing machines and solar panels. There's a 301 component to deal with their theft of our intelligence here in the country, their theft of what our companies are using to create products.
That's not what I'm speaking to. The president broadly has used Section 232 of the Trade Act, which is national security. It's absolutely an abuse of his authority. It's being used against our European allies, Canada, Mexico, and many other countries. It has successfully...
BRENNAN: And the president's not backing off.
CORKER: He's not.
It has successfully united the world against us. There's not a person at the White House that can articulate why they are doing this, other than to create leverage on NAFTA.
And I don't know of a senator that isn't concerned about the broad use of this. So, the amendment, Margaret, is just to say that, if he's going to use 232, which has never, ever been used in this way, it's absolutely an abuse of authority, if he's going to use it, once he completes negotiations on tariffs, he should bring it to Congress.
It's our responsibility. By the way, Margaret, you know, a tariff is a tax on Americans. The president cannot put taxes...
BRENNAN: How do you get this passed, though?
CORKER: Well, I think -- I think there's a jailbreak brewing. I really do.
I think people, especially as these tariffs are being put in place against us, these countermeasures, and as people realize that 22,000 companies, 22,000 companies have asked for exemptions, the White House is only -- or the Commerce Department has only dealt with 98 of those.
There's no basis to deal with them. It's not unlike what happened on the immigration issue, where there was no preparation.
CORKER: Are they going to grant these exclusions based on political contributions?
BRENNAN: Senator, we have got to...
CORKER: Or are they going to base them on something else? So we're getting ready to have a similar situation...
CORKER: ... to what happened on the immigration policy. And I'm hoping there will be a jailbreak, and that we will move towards passing this legislation.
BRENNAN: Well, we will watch it for that jailbreak, Senator. Thank you for joining us.
CORKER: OK. Thank you.
BRENNAN: We turn now to Ohio Republican Congressman Jim Jordan. He's a member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus. He's just outside Columbus this morning.
Congressman, thank you for joining us.
REP. JIM JORDAN (R), OHIO: You bet. Good to be with you.
BRENNAN: Thank you. How should Americans view those fleeing across the border? Should they view them as victims or as criminals?
JORDAN: I think we should -- America's the most welcoming country on the planet. But you got to follow the law.
And Secretary Nielsen has been real clear. You show up to a port of entry, your family will be kept together, you will go through the process, and we will see if you're actually a legitimate asylum seeker.
What I do know is, when ICE was in our office just a week-and-a-half ago, they told me 80 percent of the folks seeking asylum wind up not getting it, they are not actually eligible for it.
So, we want to sort that all that, do it in a way that is consistent with the law
BRENNAN: Well, the administration also has narrowed the definition for claiming asylum as well. You can no longer claim you're a victim of gang violence.
JORDAN: This is 80 percent, 80.
This is straight from the folks at Immigration and Customs Enforcement. So they're telling me the number; 80 percent aren't actually legitimate asylum seekers. We need to sort that out.
But, yes, we want to welcome folks who come here for legitimate reasons. We want to do it by the rule of law, who follow the law. We want to welcome them here.
But, mostly, what we want to do, Margaret, is the mandate from the 2016 election was real clear. The American people made Donald Trump president, made Republicans the majority in the House and the Senate to build the border security wall, stop chain migration, end the sanctuary city policy, reform our asylum laws, get rid of the visa lottery, and then also deal with the DACA population.
That legislation, which was consistent with that mandate and the promise we made to the American people, was on the floor just three days ago, and fell a few votes short of passing. Got 193 votes. That's the focus that we should be...
BRENNAN: Well, it failed.
JORDAN: That should be our focus. And that should be the legislation that should be passed in House.
BRENNAN: It failed. And the president now says this compromise bill is kind of a waste of time. What are you going to vote on that?
JORDAN: Well, the compromise bill was pulled because it was going to get a lot less votes.
If our leadership had whipped -- had put the same whip effort behind that immigration legislation, Chairman Goodlatte's legislation, it would have passed. It was that close to passing. So, let's focus on that.
BRENNAN: Do you know something we don't know? Has that vote on the compromise bill been canceled?
JORDAN: It hasn't been canceled. But the reason it was -- it wasn't -- it was supposed to happen Thursday night.
JORDAN: Then it was supposed to happen Friday. And it still hasn't happened.
JORDAN: And the reason it hasn't happened is because it would have got a lot less votes than the conservative bill, the one that is consistent with the mandate of the election, consistent with what we told the American people we would do if they put us in office. That bill got 193 votes and was just 19 votes short of passing on last Thursday.
But when it comes to that question of a narrow issue that Senator Corker was talking about, simply allowing families to be detained together, and getting rid of this 20-day limit...
BRENNAN: ... that has affected this separation policy, would you support something like that in the House...
JORDAN: We're all...
BRENNAN: ... like is being proposed in the Senate?
JORDAN: Yes, but Chuck Schumer is the problem.
My colleague Mark Meadows has a bill that would address the situation, keep families together, but do it in a way where we can actually find out and follow the rule of law.
Senator Cruz has a bill. But Chuck Schumer says, no, no, no, we're not going to bring it up, because the Democrats, really deep down, what they care about is catch and release. What they want is open borders and what they want is the political issue. They don't want to solve the problems.
They don't want to keep families together and adjudicate this and have it go through the hearing process and do it in a way that's consistent with the rule of law. They don't want to do that.
Chuck Schumer was clear. He held up the pen and said, we're not going to support Mr. Meadows' legislation or Senator Cruz's legislation. So, yes, I'm for fixing that.
BRENNAN: Do you think the administration has handled this...
JORDAN: My good friend Mark Meadows has introduced a bill.
BRENNAN: Do you think this -- the administration's handled this family separation issue well? Should there be an investigation into how this was carried out?
JORDAN: The president has issued his executive order. The problem is...
BRENNAN: It's a temporary fix, as you just said.
JORDAN: The problem is the 20-day rule, the Flores decision.
JORDAN: And now that is in conflict with keeping families together for a longer period of time, because the rule says you have to -- you can only detain children for 20 days.
We want to do that in a way that keeps the families together, so we have legislation to address that. But, again, as I said, Senator Schumer doesn't want to support any legislation to fix the problem.
BRENNAN: Well, I want to -- there's so much more we could talk about on this topic, but I want to ask you about one of the committees you're on and a deposition this week, or some testimony this week from the FBI agent...
JORDAN: Peter Strzok.
BRENNAN: Exactly, Peter Strzok, who, for our viewers, was removed from the special counsel investigation for some disparaging text messages he had sent about the president.
What do you want to know from him?
Well, we're going to have a lot of questions for him. But I think some of the things are, who did he talk to in the course of the Russian investigation? Because remember a couple of key things, Margaret.
On July 31, 2016, Peter Strzok opens the Russia investigation. He was the lead agent on that investigation, after being, of course, the lead agent on the Clinton investigation as well. He opens that investigation. Eight days later, there's a text message that says, we will stop Trump.
One week after that, on August 15, is the text message that says, we have an insurance policy. So, obviously, we will want to dig into that. We will want to know, who were you talking to at the time? How many times did you travel overseas? Did he talk to key people?
For example, do you think Peter Strzok may have talked to Glenn Simpson or Christopher Steele? Those are the kind of questions that I think need to be asked. And I will look forward to this deposition. It's scheduled for Wednesday of this week.
BRENNAN: We will be watching for that.
Congressman, thank you.
JORDAN: You bet. Thank you.
BRENNAN: Coming up next, we will talk with Maryland Democrat Elijah Cummings. He made that emotional plea to his Republican colleagues on Capitol Hill last week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CUMMINGS: We need you. Those children need you. And I'm talking directly to my Republican colleagues. We need to stand up to President Trump. We need you to join us in telling him that we reject this mean policy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRENNAN: We are back with Maryland Representative Elijah Cummings. He is the top Democrat on the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which is the chief investigative committee in the House. I will ask him about some of that in a moment.
But I want to bring you back to the topic of the day, which is immigration.
President Trump describes the Democrats as purely resistant, obstructionist, being pro-criminal and pro-open borders. What exactly is the Democrats' platform on immigration?
CUMMINGS: That we want to be humane. We want to make sure that these families are reunited after the president created this false crisis.
And we want to get these families back together again. We want to get rid of this zero tolerance policy that has been announced by the president. And we want to make sure, as Senator Corker says, that people are given an opportunity to pursue and legally pursue an opportunity to be a part of the United States of America.
BRENNAN: When you say the zero tolerance policy, for President Trump, the change there has been to criminally prosecute...
BRENNAN: ... those who cross the border with their children.
BRENNAN: Are you arguing that that should not be the case? They should not be considered criminals?
CUMMINGS: I think these are -- basically, these are misdemeanor charges.
The problem is, is that Sessions, Attorney General Sessions, has said, as you stated a little bit earlier, that gang violence and domestic violence could not be used anymore with record to asylum.
Well, everybody has a right to assert an asylum request. Here, we have a situation where they have basically cut off -- and Jordan said it too. They basically cut -- are trying to cut off people from even having that opportunity to assert asylum. So...
BRENNAN: And gang violence is obviously being discussed because it is such a huge issue for those fleeing from El Salvador.
CUMMINGS: Yes, and it also -- and, as far as domestic violence, it affects women tremendously.
BRENNAN: So, the administration argues, though, that if you went back to the Obama era policy of prosecuting these individuals in civil proceedings, that is allowance for what they call catch and release, that individuals wouldn't be detained, they'd be set free into the middle of the country, and simply asked to come back.
CUMMINGS: Well, what -- if you look back at the statistics, you will see that basically what happened was, a large -- a huge percentage of those, an overwhelming percentage of those people were given ankle bracelets, and basically allowed to stay with their families, and then -- and they returned to court to go through the process.
And I think that's a much humane -- more humane way to deal with these...
BRENNAN: But you understand that to a large percentage of America, that sounds like it's a get-out-of-jail-free card.
CUMMINGS: No. Yes, I can understand that.
But what we're doing now, I think, is far worse. We're placing kids -- and, by the way, kids who will be harmed for the rest of their lives -- and that's, by the way, child abuse -- we're placing them in a bad situation.
And, again, this was something that worked and it was a lot less expensive. And, by the way, and we have -- we have no clue as to what this is costing the United States, and how these contracts are being given out. The urgency right now is to get these young people back with their parents.
BRENNAN: I want to ask you about sort of the question of the tone or lack of civility right now.
Over the weekend, Sarah Sanders, the president's press secretary, was refused service at a restaurant in Virginia because of who she works for. Her father, the former governor of Arkansas, also tweeted out a photo showing MS-13 gang members, or claiming that's who these men were, and called them Democrat Nancy Pelosi's campaign committee.
Some heard that as racist. What do you make of this kind of discourse right now?
CUMMINGS: First of all, I think, as far as the restaurant incident, I think the restaurant owner should have served her. I really do.
But this tone is horrible. But, again, I think President Trump has created this. Since he's become president, and even before, he's basically given people license to state things that are ugly, and those things then turn into actions, as we can now see.
But we have got to get away from this, and we have got to concentrate on what is important at this moment. And we have got to get a -- he's got to be more competent.
Even the policies that he likes, he has not been very good at executing. And so we have got to find a way to address that.
BRENNAN: Very quickly, anything that you wanted to respond to in terms of Peter Strzok, the FBI agent...
CUMMINGS: I'm looking forward to hearing from him. But the Republicans have not told us anything. We don't even know whether we will be invited, Democrats, to the deposition.
Thank you very much, Congressman.
CUMMINGS: Thank you.
BRENNAN: We will be back with more FACE THE NATION in a moment and a look at what the voters are saying about immigration.
BRENNAN: Coming up next, CBS News political correspondent Ed O'Keefe traveled to Phoenix late last week, where he spoke with four voters, two Republican, and two Democrat.
They had a lot to say about immigration. Here's a preview.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ED O'KEEFE, CBS NEWS POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: You're Arizonans. How would you describe Washington, D.C.? Is it swampy, as the president suggests?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's a very confused battlefield, is the way I hear. The news changing every day. And I think that the narrative that's being brought out is very -- we're on very polar opposite sides of what we're hearing, right?
So I think that we're drifting away, further and further away from a middle ground.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would say definitely divided, which makes it kind of tough to really side with a significant -- like a singular senator or legislator or the president sometimes. So I think it's also just a pretty divided area.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You get two different stories. You know, the president says one thing. He has to lock up the children, and then he says it's because of the Democrats. Yes, it's real frustrating, and scary, too.
O'KEEFE: We look at that situation as it unfolds these past few days. We see Congress struggling to come up with some kind of a solution. Who's to blame for this?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, we have a border. It's illegal to cross the border without permission.
O'KEEFE: Who in Washington should take the lead on trying to come up with a solution?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Congress.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Department of Homeland Security, I think.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The last thing I want to see is a giant wall across our country. I mean, we're not China. We're not Berlin.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRENNAN: Some strong feelings.
We will hear more from those voters when we come back.
BRENNAN: We will be back in just a moment with a lot more FACE THE NATION. So, stay with us.
BRENNAN: Welcome back to FACE THE NATION.
We have some brand-new, CBS News/Yougov battleground tracker poll numbers looking at how the immigration crisis could affect the midterm elections. CBS News elections and surveys director Anthony Salvanto is here with us, along with CBS News political correspondent Ed O'Keefe, who traveled this past week to Arizona, a border state with a very competitive Senate race, to talk with a focus group of voters about immigration, the president, and more.
So, Ed, what did you find?
ED O'KEEFE, CBS NEWS POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, we spoke with four voters, two Republicans, one with very strong feelings about the president, one that leans conservative, and two Democrats. And, you know, they didn't have much in common. But what they did have in common is strong feelings about immigration, and who exactly they think is crossing the border.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're being inundated with people from all over the world. They come across that border. And we don't know anything about them. And a lot of people have lost their lives on account of them. And MS-13.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This country is a country of immigrants.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Noah (ph), your parents came here from somewhere else.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, well, I'm talking MS-13. You know what MS-13 are?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So we're going to deny people a safe haven because there's a few bad ones?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's not just a few bad ones. There's thousands of them.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One of my biggest concerns is that with such opposing forces of opinion that -- that lead the country where it is. So when we're dealing with somebody like Trump, the issue that happens there is that coming out of the gate there's so much toxicity in the statements that are made.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm a Mexican immigrant.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am a United States citizen. I am not here to rape anybody, nor is my family, nor am I here to sell drugs, right. I condemn those people. I did it the right way, right. You could say -- I didn't come here seeking asylum. That wasn't my case.
O'KEEFE: When you guys see what's transpired in the last few days, these stories about young children, kids up into their teens, being separated and put in different facilities.
Kareen (ph), when you see those images of --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, it breaks my heart. You know, a woman can't watch that without -- without feeling, you know, a desire to, you know, to stop that. And do they have the -- the way to take care of them the way they should? You know, they're laying on sleeping bags with aluminum foil, you know, wrappers on them. So, yes, it's hard to watch.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, a lot of those people are here illegal. They come across the border. They knew they were -- when they come across that border, they were coming illegally.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So I kind of see like both sides of it. You know, I see like the absolute humanitarian aspect of like wanting to help the people out. But then the same -- or the opposite side of that -- that coin, you know, trying to keep like our own citizens safe.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRENNAN: Anthony, you hear people talking about immigration as a threat, or as an American values here in this conversation. What does this mean for some of the very heated races that we are seeing? What are you seeing out there in your poll numbers?
ANTHONY SALVANTO, CBS NEWS ELECTIONS AND SURVEYS DIRECTOR: Well, what you heard from the gentleman, that description of gang members, is something that we're hearing in the polling from the president's supporters, from Republicans, whether they live 20 miles from the border or 2,000 miles from it.
We asked them to describe who it was that they thought was coming across the border, and why. And you did see the president's supporters more likely to say that at least some were gong members and criminals. But folks on the left, and Democrats, a lot of independents, describe them as people looking for work. Describe them as people who are fleeing violence. Those very different conceptions affect what you think of policy because that affects what you think of the people who are impacted by it.
And then we see these big differences on what happens next. So, to your point about what happens in the midterms, you've got big differences on whether the government should prioritize reunifying the families who've been separated with Republicans saying it's a lower priority, Democrats saying it's a higher one, and Republicans saying the president has fixed this problem. Democrats saying that he hasn't. And there are more Democrats who say it will be a factor in their vote in the midterms coming up.
BRENNAN: Ed, what is -- when Pete was talking about MS-13 and feeling threatened, that's not a huge issue in Arizona.
BRENNAN: Where is that sense coming from?
O'KEEFE: He -- he told us, he made clear early on in the conversation that he, frankly, watches a lot of Fox News and -- and listens to talk radio. And I think it seems that some of it is coming from that. He used to live in California and says he saw communities in southern California transform over several years.
It's an experience that mirrors what a lot of the president's supporters, and what a lot of people who fear these, you know, illegal immigrants have said in the past. And what I found most striking, though, is that he expressed less concern, I think, for the plight of these families than others at the table. And that is actually reflected in the polling this week. There's a sizable chunk of Republicans, or supporters of the president, who say they are less concerned about the plight of those families and more concerned about enforcing immigration policy.
I think there are other people in this country who would be quite shocked by that because they see keeping families together as a more American ideal. But, you know, it's an incredibly emotional issue for people out there because they're on the border. And it's something that has dominated, especially local politics, for several years.
BRENNAN: And the president thinks this is a good issue to run on. He's said that going into November. But what about Texas, Arizona, Florida, some of these very competitive races?
SALVANTO: Right. In Texas, you know, the Democrats would like to try to pick up a Senate seat, but the incumbent senator, Ted Cruz, we find in our polling has a substantial lead. You know, that's a -- that's a high hurdle for Democrats to get over.
In Arizona, another border state with a hot Senate race, our polling finds that the Democrats have a very good chance to pick up a seat, but they may have to trade it for Florida. And that's another place where we polled, where it looks like the incumbent senator, Bill Nelson, is in trouble. Governor Rick Scott is running against him and has a slight lead.
But, you know, in all of this, what it -- we see these big differences in when people describe the way in which we ought to approach the immigration problem between the idea of toughness and the idea of kindness, and what kinds of values that represents. We've got people who say that because they've committed a crime, they have to be dealt with in a tough and very punitive manner. And we've got people who say that being kind reflects American values. Those big differences seem like there's a massive gap between us that I think will have to be borne out as these races go forward.
BRENNAN: So, Ed, apart from the emotional, tell me about the economic. What did you hear from voters?
O'KEEFE: Yes, this actually was quite revealing because, you know, Republicans have been saying that they plan to campaign on the strength of the economy, on the success of their tax reform plan. They had very different opinions, divided opinions on immigration. But when it came to the economy, look at how much they agreed things are actually doing all right.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
To borrow an adaptive phrase that Ronald Reagan once used, do you feel you're better off than you were two years ago?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's tough to answer. I would say yes. I would say yes, that I am. Just having looked at like, you know, how the S&P 500's been trading, like Nasdaq and things like that, I would say that, yes, that I am up.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Better off than two years ago? Yes. The tax plan has put more money on my paycheck.
O'KEEFE: So you've seen a difference?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Personally, I've -- I mean, in the past two years, I've seen an increase in wage because I switched jobs, right? So I'm changing another jobs to make more money as a salary base.
I'm not an economist. But, I mean, if I'm seeing gas prices go up, I'm seeing mortgage rates go up, that concerns me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm satisfied with the economy. It's going on. It's going to get better. It's upward bound.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRENNAN: So, Anthony, are people going to vote their pocketbooks and put aside the immigration upset?
SALVANTO: Well, across the board, people do say the economy is good. They say their local economy is good. They think the national economy's good. It's true that optimism is high. And it's pretty clear that that is buttressing the president's approval rating, keeping them at least very steady. The folks opposed to him are a little bit, a little bit less optimistic, but even they think the economy is pretty good.
BRENNAN: All right. Thank you both.
We'll be right back.
BRENNAN: Now for some political analysis.
Shannon Pettypiece is a White House correspondent for "Bloomberg News," Leslie Sanchez is a CBS News political contributor, Paula Reid is a CBS News correspondent, and we talked Ed O'Keefe into sticking around for another segment.
I want to pick up on what actually -- what the president just tweeted, which was, we can't allow these people to invade our country. That language there, Leslie, some will read that as code.
LESLIE SANCHEZ, CBS NEWS POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Sure.
BRENNAN: Senator Corker said the president's trying to activate the base ahead of November. What is achieved here?
SANCHEZ: Absolutely. It's a cringe-worthy statement because for the last multiple decades, many within the Republican Party are trying to say, do not dehumanize one group over another. Don't say those people versus our people. We need more inclusive language. When you say, these or those, you're separating them from the base, the core, of fundamentally trying to protect America, as if it's a different thing. For some it will galvanize because it sends a message that I am focused on ensuring that we are putting the best foot forward in protecting the U.S. sovereignty, protecting America's borders, and distancing them from us.
BRENNAN: And -- but the president would argue that this is about, as he would lay out, you know, merit-based immigration. This is not about letting people -- he uses language that describes sort of flooding, coming over the border, uncontrolled situation.
SHANNON PETTYPIECE, "BLOOMBERG": Yes. I don't even think it's code. I think he is very clear in what he is saying. And when he talks merit-based immigration, he is very clear, I mean those comments he made in private in the Oval Office that he wanted more people from Norway and, you know, fewer people from Africa and African nations, he's very clear about where he is on this.
And this issue of immigration is one of the most powerful issues for his base. From the moment he announced his candidacy, when he came out and made those remarks that Democrats gasped at about some immigrants being murders and rapists, that lit a fire under his candidacy very early on. A lot of his supporters saw that and said, who's that guy, I want to vote for him.
And I was at that Duluth rally on Wednesday. And the moment that the crowd was the most engaged were those conversations about immigration. That's when they're most engaged. That's when they're most fired up.
This is a key issue for him. When I talk to people involved with the campaign, they say he cannot go soft on immigration. His supporters want that wall.
BRENNAN: What's so interesting is that what you're describing is a motivating thing for people to go and vote.
But, Ed, then their elected representatives, when they get here, immigration becomes something that is totally paralyzing.
BRENNAN: And they can't legislate around it.
O'KEEFE: And it has been this entire century. These two parties haven't been able to sort it out. They're going to try again in the House we think this week.
You talked to Jim Jordan earlier about this sort of compromise bill. Compromise among Republicans, because this is something that just poisons the well among Republicans so much these days.
This bill is unlikely to passion, according to aides, according to what Congressman Jordan suggested. And that is fine in a short-term political sense for several moderate Republicans who will go home to swing districts this fall because now they'll be able to say, well, at least we tried. At least we had a vote. And we're on the record as supporting, you know, changes to dreamers, and money for the border, and all these other things, and the Democrats voted against it. But it's not going to solve the problem.
And, yes, there are attempts right now to perhaps address this issue of family separation. But even over in the Senate, there's real -- no real appetite to have these discussions.
And, you know, I just -- you look at this issue this week, and, you know, we talk about family separation. I think one thing we have to remember in this immigration debate, in most cases, the people crossing the border have already been separated from their family. They left Guatemala. They left El Salvador. And maybe, as a society, and as journalists, we should be worrying not just about what the American Congress is going to do, but what's the El Salvadoran congress going to do? What's the Honduran congress going to do? What the Guatemalan national assembly going to do? Because something's not going right. And, if the United States were perhaps, as a society, as journalists, as lawmakers, as a president, focused a little more on them and say, what can we do to keep them here, perhaps, you know, this issue will start to mitigate itself.
SANCHEZ: That's the balanced part of the coin. And if you remember the date going back in 1996, when we were talking about reform in the '90s, even decertification of Mexico, which Clinton had to face in 1999, was about Mexico not handling the Norco trafficking, all the drugs crossing over.
SANCHEZ: So it was putting pressure on Mexico, different parts of Latin America.
You don't see -- and the -- and the argument was, there's no bilateral relations. It's going to really damage. But there is not a conversation about specifically what is happening, the push/pull within those countries. You just see the humanitarian crises.
PETTYPIECE: Well, the president -- I mean the president does have two solutions. One, pull aid from countries like El Salvador, who are not taking immigration seriously. And, two, put in NAFTA an immigration clause that if you don't crack down on immigration, we're going to punish you.
PETTYPIECE: So a solution that is far different than a lot of people are probably thinking, but that's his approach.
BRENNAN: Paula, I want to ask you about those children who are directly affected right now. There are still about 2,000 in U.S. detention that the administration is trying to reunify.
According to our latest poll, though, this is interesting, when asked if there should be a high priority to get kids and their parents back together, 75 percent of Democrats said it's not a high priority -- or, sorry, it is a high priority, while only 23 percent of Republicans said it was a high priority to reunify.
PAULA REID, CBS NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's interesting to look at the administration. Clearly they're aligned with their base. Because in the hours following this executive order, we were talking to top Justice Department officials and there was no plan and it didn't appear any consideration to -- how to reunify these children with their parents.
And as of right now, this number stands at about, as you said, 2,000. Customs and Border Patrol, they were able to reunify about 500 kids. But as of right now, they say they know where the 2,000 children are, but there is no grand plan for how to reunify them. And in about three weeks, unless Congress takes action, or a judge in California agrees to modify this rule that says you can only keep a child in federal detention for 20 days, they're going to have to, once again, start separating families again and have to add to that number.
So it is really surprising that in -- over the course of this week, reunifying those children with their families has not been a top priority.
BRENNAN: And that is that Flores ruling, that time duration you talked about.
And Senator Corker was saying they -- he thinks there might be some way to legislate, to give the administration essentially more time, but that just means keeping families behind bars.
REID: Exactly. And then you're going to run into litigation over whether or not you can indefinitely detain children. And children will then be forced to sort of decide -- do you want to argue to stay with your family in detention indefinitely up against the 700,000 case backlog, could take years, or do you want to be separated from your family? But as of right now, the executive order, it did not change the administration's policy. They will continue to prosecute every adult who crosses the border illegally. The only difference is now they're trying to keep families together while they do that. But, obviously, no clear solution on that 20-day deadline yet because it doesn't seem like Congress is going to get anything passed.
BRENNAN: Shannon, the president doesn't like backing down. And that's essentially what he did in this reversal, though he's still pushing this as a campaign issue.
PETTYPIECE: I mean he even acknowledged publicly that this was a very difficult line for him to walk between being tough on immigration and seeming like he didn't have a heart. I know this was something that they struggled with.
Within the White House, it was very obvious, once this became a visual story, once there were photos, once there was audio, that -- that something had to be done. But that executive order also did something where it knocked the legs out from under a lot of attempts in Congress. It pulled away any leverage Congress had to say, listen, we have to do something immediately. Look at the videos, look at the photos, look at these sounds, we have to act. Once that executive order was out there, it took a lot of pressure off Congress. So if there was maybe a 10 percent chance something would happen, I think it's probably now probably around a 2 percent to 5 percent chance.
O'KEEFE: Yes. No, it took the legs out from under it. And, again, they'll try this week. There is -- even if this House compromise bill fails, there are proposals to just focus on the family, so to speak. And -- but even that may not make it through.
And the issue over in the Senate is, you've got two competing proposals that would essentially allow the families to stay together and the question will be, do they stay behind bars together or can they be released. Catch and release is something the president campaigned against and Republican's don't like.
SANCHEZ: I think there are many Republicans who feel it was an unnecessary evil, just to put stark contrast on that. But there's a -- if you back up on this issue a little bit and you look, the president found America's pain point. And it wasn't so much even the pictures as the audio. And a lot of Republicans I talked to, even bundlers, people that put big amounts of money together, said, when they heard the cries of the children, without visual, being separated, that was the moment where America knew this was too far. And that's when the president retreated.
BRENNAN: Leslie, where are Democrats on this, though? Because you aren't hearing an alternative proposal being put forward.
SANCHEZ: This is exactly what they're going to say. So if the political -- if the president's political pulse, he's very acute at understanding where this movement, where this wave is. This is breaking up the status quote and the establishment Republican base that's never done anything more, many Republicans would argue, than 10 percent better than the Democrats. This is actually forcing border security and some sort of enforcement on the U.S./Mexico border.
Now we're talking about even a pathway to citizenship for DACA. Hard-liners would never have had that kind of conversation. So it's really -- in some ways people say it's the pressure on the Democrats. It's the pressure on the Republicans. And if you think about it, it is a very galvanizing issue, to her point, for November. I am doing something about it. It relays -- it kind of increased the collective consciousness on it. And while we always said, to Ed's point, that immigration is taboo because it depresses ethnic minority votes, this conservative Latino vote. In this case, it galvanizes the rest of his Trump base.
PETTYPIECE: Yes. And -- and for years Republicans have wanted to avoid immigration. It's the third rail of Republican politics. I've never seen Republicans fight over anything as strongly as they fight over immigration.
SANCHEZ: No. No.
PETTYPIECE: And this president has forced that issue to the surface. He has forced them to talk about it, forced them to confront it.
BRENNAN: Ed, jailbreak is what Bob Corker forewarned.
BRENNAN: Another issue among Republicans is trade policy right now.
O'KEEFE: Right. Going to be a huge issue in Midwestern states. Going to be a huge issue in the race to succeed Corker in Tennessee because these are states that rely on manufacturing, on the manufacturing sector, and they're going to take a hit. And I think people are already worried about it.
BRENNAN: But there's fear among Republicans to stand up to the president on this.
O'KEEFE: Totally, because they'll end up like Bob Corker or Mark Sanford in South Carolina. The problem is, they're going to start getting phone calls. They're going to be confronted by voters as they go home on the weekends and they're going to be able to come back to the president and say, I have no choice, you have to be able to tweak this.
BRENNAN: Paula, real quickly. On Peter Strzok, the FBI agent, and this deposition this week. What do Americans need to pay attention to here?
REID: Well, this is the -- this is the next phase of undermining the origins of the Russia probe. And after we had the inspector general report, there are some text messages that Strzok sent for which there is no explanation. There is nothing that is going to satisfy the, you know, regular Americans. There's no reason that you would want to call a candidate you're investigating a, quote, f-ing idiot, or talk about the way his supporters smell.
So this is going to be really fertile ground for the president and Republicans who want to undermine the origins of the Russia investigation, because not only was Strzok leading the Clinton investigation, he was also leading the Russia investigation, and working with Mueller until he was fired over these texts. So that's definitely going to be something we will hear more about.
BRENNAN: All right. Thanks to all of you.
We'll be back in a moment with a look at a big change for women in Saudi Arabia.
BRENNAN: Today marks the start of a new era in Saudi Arabia. Women are being allowed to drive legally for the first time. It's a practice taken for granted in most of the world. But for the Saudis, it's one more sign of changing times.
CBS News foreign correspondent Holly Williams reports from Riyadh.
HOLLY WILLIAMS, CBS NEWS FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: Women here in Saudi Arabia have finally been given the green light to drive. But at the same time, the Saudi authorities have been arresting women's rights campaigners.
WILLIAMS (voice over): At the stroke of midnight last night, the second it became legal for them to get behind the wheel, these groundbreaking Saudi women hit the gas.
WILLIAMS: (on camera): How are you feeling?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm glad. I'm so happy and excited.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I came from my home by myself. And no one can stop me.
WILLIAMS (voice over): It's been 28 years since a small group of brave Saudi women began demanding the right to drive, illegally taking the wheel, risking arrest, and shaming their government.
But they didn't get anywhere until the arrival of Saudi Arabia's new reforming crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman. He's also allowed girls to play sport in public schools, opened cinemas for the first time in decades, and permitted music to be performed in public. A taboo for many conservative Muslims.
Saudi rock band Most of Us wrote this song in support of women drivers, with apologies to Steppenwolf.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (singing): Get your motor running.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At the same period at the end of the '50s back in the west, where liberation happened suddenly, so people are going through the same here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (singing): and whatever comes your way.
WILLIAMS: But for Saudi women, legal equality is a long way off. They still need a male relative's permission to travel overseas or get married. And in recent weeks, several women's rights campaigners have been arrested. The government says they conspired against it. Others believe they're being punished simply for criticizing the authorities.
BRENNAN: Our Holly Williams in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
We'll be right back.
BRENNAN: That's it for today. Thank you for watching.