Full transcript of "Face the Nation" on February 2, 2020

On this "Face the Nation" broadcast moderated by Margaret Brennan:

  • Representative Adam Schiff@RepAdamSchiff
  • National Security Adviser Robert Obrien
  • Democratic Presidential Candidate Pete Buttigieg@PeteButtigieg
  • DNC Chair Ronna McDaniel@GOPChairwoman
  • Anthony Salvanto, CBS News Elections & Surveys Director, @SalvantoCBS
  • Ed O'Keefe, CBS News Political Correspondent, @edokeefe

Click here to browse full transcripts of "Face the Nation."


MARGARET BRENNAN: I'm Margaret Brennan in Washington. And this week on FACE THE NATION, Senate Republicans shut the door on further action in President Trump's impeachment trial while 2020 Democrats sprint to the finish line ahead of Monday's Iowa caucuses.

Plus, the Trump administration steps up its efforts to contain the coronavirus here at home, as the U.S. prepares to evacuate, and then quarantine more Americans from the epicenter of the crisis.

It's all over but the closing arguments, and a final vote to dismiss the articles of impeachment. Democrats see it this way:

SENATOR CHUCK SCHUMER: To not allow a witness, a document--no witnesses, no documents--in an impeachment trial is a perfidy. It's a grand tragedy.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But with only two Republicans joining them to support any additional trial proceedings, the result is all but inevitable. We'll talk with House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff and ask him what's next in the Ukraine quid pro quo investigation. Will House Democrats subpoena former National Security Advisor John Bolton to appear before Congress?

Plus, as the number of coronavirus cases explodes in China we'll talk with national security adviser Robert O'Brien about efforts to keep it from spreading in the U.S. Then, on to politics. 2020 Democrats stuck in Washington for the impeachment trial race to Iowa for the final hours of campaigning before the Monday night caucuses. Former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg is right behind frontrunners, Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden in our new Battleground Tracker. We'll talk with him about his chances for a win Monday.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: How about Buttigieg? Buttigieg. They call him Mayor Pete. You know why? Because nobody can pronounce his name. Nobody has any idea. Buttigieg.

MARGARET BRENNAN: President Trump hit the stump in Iowa, too, but with a lock on the Iowa Republican caucuses, he is working on the general election.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We're going to win the great state of Iowa and it's going to be a historic landslide. And if we don't win, your farms are going to hell, I can tell you right now.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Republican National Committee chairwoman, Ronna McDaniel, will be here. We'll ask her what the Republicans are focusing on while the Democrats duke it out.

All that and more, is just ahead on FACE THE NATION.

Good morning and welcome to FACE THE NATION. The number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. has risen to eight. A University of Massachusetts Boston student who traveled recently to Wuhan is the latest to be diagnosed. In China, the number of deaths stands at at least three hundred and four with more than two thousand new cases reported in the past twenty-four hours. The State Department has warned Americans against traveling to China, and the U.S. is making arrangements for the nearly one thousand Americans who are still in the epicenter of the crisis in Hubei province to fly home. Once they get here, they will be quarantined at one of four U.S. military bases for two weeks. There are also new restrictions going into effect at 5:00 PM today. Any American citizen returning from China will be asked to self-quarantine, and be monitored for symptoms of the coronavirus. If you are not an American citizen traveling from China, you will not be allowed to enter the U.S.

We begin this morning with President Trump's national security adviser, Robert O'Brien. Good morning to you, Mister Ambassador.

ROBERT O'BRIEN (National Security Adviser): Good morning. Thanks for having me.

MARGARET BRENNAN: How satisfied are you with the information that the Chinese government is sharing? Do we know where this virus came from?

ROBERT O'BRIEN: We don't now. We're-- we're working with the-- the Chinese authorities, their health authorities and the World Health Organization and our own folks to-- to get to the bottom of it. So far the Chinese have been more transparent, certainly than in past crises, and we appreciate that. And we continue to offer assistance to the Chinese. We've offered to send over CDC and other U.S. medical and public health professionals. And we have not heard back yet from the Chinese on those offers, but we're prepared to continue to cooperate with them.

MARGARET BRENNAN: There were a number of reports, though, that local government officials in Wuhan didn't flag this and, in fact, may have covered up the extent of this virus. Is Beijing being transparent now?

ROBERT O'BRIEN: Well, we-- we hope so. And-- and we've asked them for transparency. And we're starting to see-- your reporter in the intro had the-- the new numbers. I think there were two thousand more cases. We're up to almost fifteen thousand cases of infection in China. I think three hundred deaths. And we have eight here in the U.S. So right now, there's-- there's no reason for Americans to-- to panic. This is something that is a low risk, we think, in the U.S. But President Trump, from the day he took office, made protecting Americans and keeping them safe, whether it's from terrorists or criminal organizations or from viruses like the new novel coronavirus is top priority. So-- so we're taking steps to keep Americans safe and the government is functioning in that direction.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You know, China has allowed some World Health Organization experts in, but you are saying specifically you want American members of the CDC on the ground. What would their role be and why is China saying no?

ROBERT O'BRIEN: We don't know that. Look, we know what the role of our folks would be. We've got a very-- probably the top public health officials in the world are-- are resident here in the United States with the CDC and the NIH. We've got tremendous expertise. We've got the greatest medical system in the world. And-- and, look, this is a worldwide concern. We want to help our Chinese colleagues if we can. And-- and we'll see. We've made the offer, and we'll-- we'll see if they accept the offer. But-- but this is-- this is serious. It's serious for China. It's serious for the region and for the world. That's why we're taking the steps we're taking to protect Americans right now.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And you need American boots on the ground, essentially, doctors to actually be able to trust the information?

ROBERT O'BRIEN: Look, I-- I think we can be helpful if we're on the ground. Right now the Chinese are-- are providing information to us and we're taking that for what it's worth. But at the same time, we're monitoring ourselves. And-- and what we're especially doing is monitoring the situation here in the United States to make sure Americans are-- are continue to be safe from this virus.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You know the Chinese government has taken umbrage at some remarks by U.S. officials. And we know the U.S. and Chinese economies are inter-- interdependent in many, many ways. But this is what the commerce secretary said this week:

WILBUR ROSS: It does give businesses, yet, another thing to consider, because you had SARS, you have the African swine virus there. Now you have this. It's another risk factor that people need to take into account. So I think it will help to accelerate the return of jobs to North America.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Is that a fair description of the impact of this virus?

ROBERT O'BRIEN: Well, I think it's a fair description. I mean this is a public health crisis. This is not a-- a trade issue. We just signed a great "phase one" trade deal with China. We're negotiating--

MARGARET BRENNAN: But he is saying--

ROBERT O'BRIEN: --a phase two deal.

MARGARET BRENNAN: He is saying it will help the U.S. economy at the expense of China.

ROBERT O'BRIEN: No, I-- I don't think that's what Wilbur is saying. I think what the secretary of Commerce is saying is that we've got our ex-- our supply lines extended very far into places where we can't mitigate the risk always, either political risk or health risk or that sort of thing. So, American companies for many years pushed their supply chains out to Asia. I think what Commerce Secretary Ross is saying is there's a danger, there's a risk factor in doing that. And wouldn't it be better if we had supply chains and factories here in the U.S., so-- so that our folks weren't-- weren't--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Because if--

ROBERT O'BRIEN: --weren't facing some of the risks that you face when you're overseas.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The Chinese officials have-- have said they didn't take that in the way you're characterizing it. And the ambassador here actually just yesterday was saying it sounds like some are saying there's an economic benefit to the United States.

ROBERT O'BRIEN: Yeah. I-- I-- I don't think that's how the President views it.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Okay.

ROBERT O'BRIEN: I don't think that's how Secretary Ross views it. I think what-- what their-- what Secretary Ross is pointing out, though, is that when you extend a supply chain across the world to try and get cheaper labor and-- and cheaper the cost of goods, that there's a-- there's a risk in doing that. And he is-- he is saying that American companies ought to think twice before they extend the supply chain halfway across the world where you do have health risk, you've got political instability risk, you've got, you know, economic risk of-- of--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.

ROBERT O'BRIEN: --technology transfers. So-- so there are a lot of reasons to-- to consider keeping our-- our factories and our jobs here in America. We think that's-- that's good for the country. But that's-- that's-- that-- that-- that doesn't have anything to do with this virus. I mean, obviously, this is a terrible thing for the Chinese people. It's terrible for the world. And we want to do everything we can to-- and the President wants to do everything he can to help President Xi and to help the Chinese people deal with this terrible health-- public health crisis.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Now, we know the markets and the world are watching what happens with this virus. But I also want to ask you about the National Security Council and this decision we heard this week from the White House that there is an effort to block at least some of John Bolton's book, the man who had your job before you stepped into the role. The NSC says it contains significant amounts of classified material and his lawyers say that's just not true. Have you reviewed the book, personally?

ROBERT O'BRIEN: So-- so-- so-- so here's the thing, the-- the book is I-- I want to be very careful about talking about this because it could end up in judicial proceedings or-- or litigation. The National--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Meaning the White House is prepared to fight this, to block the release of the book?

ROBERT O'BRIEN: Well-- well-- well, here-- here's the thing, when-- when Ambassador Bolton came in or when I came in and you're read into sensitive, compartmented, classified programs and you see classified documents and you're involved in meetings where state secrets are discussed, you-- you sign a document, a nondisclosure agreement--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.

ROBERT O'BRIEN: --saying that you won't disclose that material. If you want to write a book afterwards or you want to give a speech or publish an article, you have to put that through the review process. And there are career-- career professionals who go through the manuscript and, very carefully, and determine whether there's classified material.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.

ROBERT O'BRIEN: They have been in touch with Ambassador Bolton's lawyer and-- and they'll continue to be in touch--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Since that letter this week?

ROBERT O'BRIEN: Yeah-- yeah. They'll-- they'll continue to be in touch. You've seen the letter. They'll continue to be in touch with Ambassador Bolton's lawyer, because what we need to do as the National Security Council is to make sure that state secrets and-- and important classified information that could jeopardize American lives are not released.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Did anyone on the NSC leak it?

ROBERT O'BRIEN: No--

MARGARET BRENNAN: And have you asked members of the NSC--

ROBERT O'BRIEN: Yeah.

MARGARET BRENNAN: --that question?

ROBERT O'BRIEN: I-- I said this before on the record. I-- I am very confident that that-- that the leaks of that book did not come from the NSC--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Is-- can anyone on the NSC verify what the pres-- what-- what Bolton has said? I mean, what about John Eisenberg, who is legal counsel for NSC?

ROBERT O'BRIEN: Well, well--

MARGARET BRENNAN: And was there at the time. Did Bolton memorialize these conversations he says he witnessed between the President and others telling him to get involved--

ROBERT O'BRIEN: I mean--

MARGARET BRENNAN: --with Giuliani?

ROBERT O'BRIEN: --I-- I think that's something that's going to be investigated, what-- what kind of notes Ambassador Bolton has or had or-- or didn't have. And-- and so but what the President has said, at least with-- with respect to the-- the allegation that Ambassador Bolton made, that he told him to call Zelensky, the President has said that did not happen. I believe that--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah.

ROBERT O'BRIEN: --Bill Barr and Mike Pompeo have said that that did not happen. And so, look, it's-- it's always-- it's always disappointing when someone who has--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.

ROBERT O'BRIEN: --access to the most confidential, close information--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah.

ROBERT O'BRIEN: -- a close relationship with the President, decides to leave the White House and do a tell all-book.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well--

ROBERT O'BRIEN: And-- and they're-- they-- look, if someone has--

MARGARET BRENNAN: We have to--

ROBERT O'BRIEN: --if someone has political differences, that's fine. We got to be careful--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Okay.

ROBERT O'BRIEN: --about the classified information.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Ambassador, thank you.

ROBERT O'BRIEN: Great to be with you. Thank you.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We turn now to the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff. Good morning to you, Mister Chairman.

REPRESENTATIVE ADAM SCHIFF (D-California/@RepAdamSchiff/Intelligence Committee Chairman): Good morning.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Jerry Seib of The Wall Street Journal wrote, unlike past impeachment debates over Presidents Nixon and Clinton, this one uncovered little to no common ground between the two parties. What do you think this impeachment accomplished?

REPRESENTATIVE ADAM SCHIFF: What's remarkable is you now have Republican senators coming out and saying, yes, the House proved its case. The House proved the corrupt scheme that they charged in the articles of impeachment. The President did withhold hundreds of millions of dollars from an ally to try to coerce that ally into helping him cheat in the next election. That's pretty remarkable when you now have senators on both sides of the aisle admitting the House made its case and the only question is should the President be removed for office because he's been found guilty of these offenses? I think it's enormously important that the country understand exactly what this President did, and we have proved it. I also think it's important that the Senate take the next step, having found him guilty, if, indeed, that's what they have found. They need to remove him from office because he is threatening to still cheat in the next election by soliciting foreign interference.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But you know the votes aren't there to remove the President from office. As you said, Senators Rubio, Alexander, Portman have all said in some way or another they found the act-- the actions of the President inappropriate, but not enough to oust him. So the bottom line here seems to be that the President will get away with what they're calling inappropriate. What are Democrats going to do? What do you do next?

REPRESENTATIVE ADAM SCHIFF: Well, first of all, to call solicitation, coercion, blackmail of a foreign power, an ally at war, by withholding military aid to get help in cheating in the next election merely inappropriate, doesn't begin to do justice to the gravity of this President's misconduct, misconduct that I think undermined our national security as well as that of our ally and threatens the integrity-- the integrity of our elections. Now, if the senators still won't act, even though, they know the truth now, even though they've acknowledged what the President did-- look, I still think it's enormously important that the President was impeached because the country is moving away from its democratic ideals. And I think by standing up to this President as we have, by making the case to the American people, by exposing his wrongdoing, we are helping to slow the momentum away from our democratic values, until that progress away from democracy can be arrested and we can return to some sense of normalcy and support for the founders' ideal. But I am not letting the senators off the hook. We're still going to go into the Senate this week and make the case why this President needs to be removed. It will be up to the senators to make that final judgment--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.

REPRESENTATIVE ADAM SCHIFF: --and the senators will be held accountable for it.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But given where the numbers are now, you've said in the past you would consider subpoenaing John Bolton in the House. Is it inevitable? Will you subpoena him?

REPRESENTATIVE ADAM SCHIFF: I-- I don't want to comment to this point on what our plans may or may not be with respect to John Bolton, but I will say this: whether it's before-- in testimony before the House or it's in his book or it's in one form or another, the truth will come out as-- will continue to come out. Indeed, Margaret, one of the astounding things, and this shows you just how disingenuous the President's defense is, on Friday night at midnight the President's lawyers at the Justice Department revealed to a court that they were withholding documents from the Office of Management and Budget showing the personal motivations--we can only assume because they're communications involving the President--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.

REPRESENTATIVE ADAM SCHIFF: --vice president or top people around him about the freeze. Now, they waited until midnight so that senators voting on whether to compel these documents would not have the-- that information. That shows you the lengths to which the President's lawyers are going to cover this up. But they're going to fail. Indeed, they failed already.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, you know, you lost this vote on witnesses by just two Republicans, two votes. Senator Lisa Murkowski, one of the potential targets for you, said the articles of impeachment were rushed and flawed. She was looking at the work you did. And when she announced her vote against witnesses, she went on to say, "Given the partisan nature of this impeachment from the very beginning and throughout, I've come to the conclusion that there will be no fair trial in the Senate. I don't believe the continuation of this process will change anything." How do you respond to this?

REPRESENTATIVE ADAM SCHIFF: Well, look, I would only say with respect to Senator Murkowski and the other senators as well, they are not mere spectators here. When the Senator laments that there's not a fair trial in the Senate, it's up to the senators to make it a fair trial. It is within their power to make it a fair trial with four votes, with four courageous senators saying no we're going to demand a fair trial no matter what this President may say. There would have been a fair trial. There would have been witnesses and testimony--

MARGARET BRENNAN: But is there anything you would have done differently?

REPRESENTATIVE ADAM SCHIFF: --so it's not as if she was powerless to do something about this. Look, there's nothing that I can see that we could have done differently because as the senators have already admitted, we proved our case. We proved our case. Now, the President's lawyers have said time and again, I think, hoping through sheer repetition to make something true that is, in fact, untrue, that the process in this impeachment was different than in Nixon and Clinton. In fact, the President had the same due process rights, which he did not avail himself of in this process as in the prior ones. That is not an excuse that should be used by any senator for not fulfilling their obligation to hold a fair trial. They're not spectators. They have control over the proceedings. And they could have insisted on witnesses and documents and for whatever reason, chose not to. And for those who would say, well, let's let the voters decide when the President is trying to cheat in that very election, and they don't want the voters to have the full information, they want the President--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah.

REPRESENTATIVE ADAM SCHIFF: -- to continue to be able to cover it up. That's just completely unsatisfactory.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But you could have stuck with that subpoena of John Bolton that you initially-- of his deputy, Charles Kupperman, that was seen as kind of a proxy for John Bolton that the House then pulled back from. And this is one of the chief criticisms of the case that you made, that you didn't take it to the courts, that the House could have had a win in its pocket and moved this forward. How do you respond to that? Was it a misstep?

REPRESENTATIVE ADAM SCHIFF: Well, first of all, yes, no, it wasn't at all. And I think it's a disingenuous argument for the President's lawyers to make for a couple of reasons. First of all, if we continue with litigation, as we are doing at this moment with Don McGahn, and we subpoenaed him nine months ago and we're still nowhere near a final resolution, it would probably be one to two years before we would have had a decision on John Bolton. That means the President would have been able to cheat in the next election with impunity because they could have simply delayed and played out the clock. But as we showed during the trial, it's worse than that because while the President's lawyers are in court, in the-- in the Senate court, saying the House should have made more efforts to overcome our obstructionism, they're making that remarkable argument in court on the very same day they were making that argument, in court other Trump lawyers were saying--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.

REPRESENTATIVE ADAM SCHIFF: --judge, you can't hear this case to compel Don McGahn to testify because you're not empowered to enforce congressional subpoenas. So they're arguing out of both sides of their mouth. The senators could see that. The senators should not allow them to get away with that.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Chairman Schiff, thank you for joining us this morning.

We'll be back in one minute with 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg. Stay with us.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

MARGARET BRENNAN: We are back with former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg. He's kicking off his last day of campaigning in Iowa from Des Moines. Good morning to you.

PETE BUTTIGIEG (Former Mayor of South Bend, Indiana/@PeteButtigieg/Democratic Presidential Candidate): Good morning.

MARGARET BRENNAN: It is--

PETE BUTTIGIEG: Good to be with you.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Good to have you. It is a very tight race out there in Iowa. It looks like a three-way fight between you, Senator Bernie Sanders, and Joe Biden. Looking at our latest Battleground Tracker poll here at CBS, Biden and Sanders are at twenty-five percent this morning. You are just a few points behind at twenty-one percent. How do you close the gap? How do you persuade moderates to vote for you instead of Biden?

PETE BUTTIGIEG: Well, it's about making sure that we have the right approach to defeat Donald Trump. We don't have to choose between revolution and establishment. There is another way that I think will be the most effective for governing and for winning. Remember, every single time my party has won the White House in the last half century, it's been with a candidate who was looking to the future, who was not associated with Washington, either didn't have an office there or hadn't had one for very long, and was opening a door to a new generation. And as I am talking to Iowans on the ground, they are focused on how their lives are going to change if we get a better President. That's why there's such an emphasis on making sure that we have the campaign that can win against Donald Trump and I will beat him.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you really think that trying to persuade people that experience is a negative is the best way to draw a differentiation between you and Biden?

PETE BUTTIGIEG: Well, what I'd say is that if you are looking for the person with the most years spent in-- in Washington, then, of course, you have your choice and-- and it's not going to be me. What I'm offering is a different perspective formed on the ground governing as an executive but also focused on bringing solutions from our communities to Washington. And I think that's the approach that most of the people I encounter are looking for. We're not going to be able to go up against this President looking to the same playbook. And, by the way, this isn't just what we need in order for winning this is what we need in order for governing.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Before you get to governing, though, you got to win the horse race. So how do you finish and how do you define success in Iowa? Is it top two?

BUTTIGIEG: I'll leave that to the pundits. But what I will say is it is, of course, very important for us to do well in Iowa. You know the process of actually proving that we can earn support, that we have the right kind of campaign organization, that we can turn folks out with enthusiasm, that starts right here tomorrow night. And we're very aware of that. And that's why I am not only going out there delivering this message to as many Iowans as I can get in front of but we've also built a ground organization that I am very proud of, that both in their approach and-- and the way that they are dealing with people, and in that message, I think is earning us support every day and are going to build that turnout, that precinct organization--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well--

PETE BUTTIGIEG: --that will help us succeed tomorrow.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You said it's important to do well. Your advisers told reporters yesterday out there in Iowa, that doesn't necessarily mean you need to win in order to show you're viable for Super Tuesday. Is that your strategy? Skip ahead to those Super Tuesday states?

PETE BUTTIGIEG: So, again, advisors, analysts and-- and pundits can figure out where the goal posts ought to be--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, these were your advisors--

PETE BUTTIGIEG: What I do know is we need--

MARGARET BRENNAN: --who were telling reporters yesterday--

PETE BUTTIGIEG: --a very strong showing. That's great. Campaign strategists will-- will focus on that. I am focused on Iowans' lives and a message about making sure that we not only replace this President but replace this President with somebody who is ready to deal with the issues from climate to gun violence to the changes in our economy that are deciding whether our lives are going to go well. We're counting on a good finish here in Iowa, going straight to New Hampshire and on to Nevada, South Carolina, and the other states.

MARGARET BRENNAN: All right. We're going to take a real quick break and come back with more of our conversation with Mayor Pete, so stay with us.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

MARGARET BRENNAN: Tune into CBS tomorrow for regular updates on the results of the Iowa caucuses across our broadcast and our digital platforms.

And on Tuesday, President Trump delivers the State of the Union, and we will have it here, beginning at 9:00 PM Eastern.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

MARGARET BRENNAN: Welcome back to FACE THE NATION. We'll continue our conversation now with 2020 hopeful and former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

I want to read for you the latest Battleground Tracker poll numbers we have forecasting Super Tuesday. That is those fourteen states that you were just talking about, trying to build support. Looking at those numbers, you were at five percent support among Hispanics, two percent support among blacks. Why do you think it's a challenge for you when it comes to winning minority support?

PETE BUTTIGIEG: Well, I am competing against some candidates who have had years or decades to demonstrate who they are and how they can win. I recognize that I am newer on the scene and we're at a time when no one is feeling the pain of living under this administration more than Americans of color. It's one of the reasons why there is such a focus on making sure that we are the campaign that can bring an end to that and that can turn the page. But the process of proving that begins right here in Iowa. And this is our best first chance to demonstrate the kind of organizational strength that will help build credibility with folks I talked to, especially when we're in the south who may appreciate and like our plans, but also want to know that I'll be in a position to actually deliver, to defeat Donald Trump, and to make good on those plans.

MARGARET BRENNAN: How do you stay competitive in those Super Tuesday states when you already have Mike Bloomberg on the ground and spending tremendously to build support? How do you stay competitive?

PETE BUTTIGIEG: Well, there's no question that with that kind of money, you can get a level of exposure and airtime. And at the same time, one of the things that is so important, especially in this stage of the process, is that politics isn't just about what happens on television. We're having such important moving conversations with voters who want to look you in the eye, ask you questions, understand who you are, challenge you. And I think that's the process that is ahead of us. It's one thing to arrive, arrive in the polls, arrive on the air or arrive on the scene. It's another to really go through that with voters. And even as the math grows and we're competing in more and more states, I think that will be where each of us makes our case. And I think that I've got the best case to make.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, you know, the Democratic National Committee changed the debate requirements. They say they tightened them. But in doing so they have opened the door to the possibility Mike Bloomberg could be on a debate stage in the near future. Senator Elizabeth Warren has taken issue with this change, and she's pointed out that the DNC refused to change the rules earlier, quote, "to ensure good, diverse candidates could remain on the debate stage." She is referring to Cory Booker and Kamala Harris. Do you think the field is less diverse because of the DNC?

PETE BUTTIGIEG: Well, I share the concern about diversity, and I don't envy the DNC's job of setting rules that campaigns like mine then have to compete under. But what I know is that we're going to take those rules as they come. I'm confident of qualifying. And I think anybody who has a realistic shot at the presidency should have to stand next to their competitors, defend and make their case.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But the comment from Elizabeth Warren was fairly sharp, and she seems to be in some ways referring back to, you know, some of the frustrations from 2016 when supporters of Bernie Sanders were saying, look, the system is rigged, the DNC is being unfair. Do you see that playing out again this time?

PETE BUTTIGIEG: I don't see a-- a thumb on the scale, if that's what you're talking about. And again, I recognize the DNC has got a challenge-- challenging job to do. I don't get a say in those rules. We compete under those rules, have from day one when we weren't sure that my four-- I had an exploratory committee with a staff of four, and we saw those requirements come out of the DNC and wondered if we were going to make the cut to be among those-- those twenty candidates who made it onto that first debate stage. And ever since have made sure that we were in a position to-- to compete. That's what we're doing right now, and I know that the DNC will continue to set the parameters. What I will say is that the less 2020 resembles 2016, the better.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm. Well, Senator Sanders, of course, was in that race last time. I know when we spoke, you and I, last, you talked about an essay you wrote when you were eighteen years old, praising Bernie Sanders at the time for his energy, his candor, his conviction and his ability to bring people together. What's changed now? Just you're neck and neck with him? Now you're trying to name him in your rallies and lay out why he is not the best guy.

PETE BUTTIGIEG: Look, I still admire the qualities that I admired about him when I was in high school, but we're at a moment right now where our country is dangerously, frighteningly polarized and divided and we're at a moment where we have an amazing historic majority to do big things. I mean, even more than the majority that was available to President Obama, let's say ten years ago. Among the American people right now, there is a strong appetite to step up and, for example, solve the health care issue. It's just that people aren't crazy about the idea of being kicked off their plans. There's a huge appetite right now to do the biggest transformation we've had on college affordability since the G.I. bill. It's just that some Americans aren't crazy about the idea of paying even for the tuition of the children of-- of millionaires and billionaires. My point is we've got a majority right now that if we can energize it and not--

MARGARET BRENNAN: But you-- you praised his ability to bring people together then, you don't think he can bring people together now?

PETE BUTTIGIEG: I think I'm the best candidate to bring people together now. And what we're seeing on the trail, including as I traveled to counties here in Iowa that swung in a big way from supporting President Obama to supporting President Trump, is that not only do we have Democrats dyed-in-the-wool progressives at our events, but we're seeing independents and a lot of people who self-identify as those future former Republicans I like-- like to talk about--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.

PETE BUTTIGIEG: --in my speeches coming together, not pretending we agree on absolutely everything, but ready for a change. And, actually, as united in what it is we're for, as what's-- what it is we're against.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Who is your Super Bowl pick?

PETE BUTTIGIEG: Well, I'm from the Midwest. So I-- I've got an affinity for the Chiefs.

MARGARET BRENNAN: All right. Mayor Pete Buttigieg, thanks very much.

We'll be right back with the head of the Republican National Committee.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

MARGARET BRENNAN: Joining us now is the head of the Republican National Committee Ronna McDaniel. Good morning. Good to have you here.

RONNA MCDANIEL (Republican National Committee Chairwoman/@GOPChairwoman): Good morning. Great to be here.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So President Trump will be the first American President to run for reelection after having been impeached. How do you turn that into an asset?

RONNA MCDANIEL: Well, we're already seeing it as an asset with our base. We've added six hundred thousand new small online donors since this impeachment began. We're seeing his approval ratings tick up. We're seeing independents come our way because the American people recognize this hasn't been bipartisan. This hasn't been held to the standard we've seen with past Presidents. And they really view it as Democrats pushing their agenda against a President they never wanted to see elected to begin with. And they fought him every step of the way. And they want-- and then they see the President signing the "phase one" deal with China, signing USMCA. He is governing while they are continuing to resist, and I think it's working in his favor.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So you've been fundraising--

RONNA MCDANIEL: Yes.

MARGARET BRENNAN: --off of impeachment, but the RNC is also picking up the tab, isn't it true, for some of the President's legal defense, his-- his lawyers, how-- how this is instead of creating some kind of fund like Bill Clinton did when he was impeached. Why did the RNC choose to do it this way?

RONNA MCDANIEL: Well, we do have a legal fund that is specifically for these types of things. It's not taking away from our ground game or helping with reelection and our infrastructure we're building in the states. It's, specifically, for legal expenses. And, guess what we're paying for it and not the taxpayers. The Democrats are doing this on the taxpayer dime. They are not getting the things done that the American people want. And we're helping to pay for some of these costs because we don't want to see our President impeached. We think he should be reelected. And that's what the majority of our supporters and investors feel at the RNC as well.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you know what the cost has been?

RONNA MCDANIEL: I don't know what the cost has been.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So I want to ask you about some of the polls.

RONNA MCDANIEL: Sure.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Your home state, in particular, out there in Michigan, an epic MRA poll shows that out there, President Trump trails all five top Democratic candidates. Who do you think is the toughest candidate for President Trump--Trump to beat? Joe Biden says you're scared to death of him.

RONNA MCDANIEL: Well, I'll just say this: Our internal polling, where we've been in all these states, our analytics, which is more accurate, shows the President in very good shape in all of these states. I am not concerned about any of them. Nobody has become the presumptive frontrunner. You're actually seeing more people get in the race. You're seeing an energy problem for Biden. You have a huge issue with his national security stances as vice president. And then with Bernie, he's gone way too far with talking about taking away people's health care plans and taking a-- a government control of health care. So we're going to be good against any of them because we've a record that the President can run on of seven million new jobs, wages going up. And you see in poll after poll that you do see people feel good about the economy.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.

RONNA MCDANIEL: They know that they are better off than they were four years ago. And that's what we're going to get to run on.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And you think that's your strongest argument? The economy?

RONNA MCDANIEL: It's a huge argument. I mean people have more money. They feel better about their future. They can send their kids to college. Their kids can get jobs after college. These are things that the American voter cares about.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But President Trump has already tweeted quite a lot in the past twelve hours or so about Mike Bloomberg. He told Fox, as well, he would love to run against him. Michael Bloomberg's already spent a quarter of a billion dollars on his advertising around his campaign. President Trump has spent just slightly over fifty million dollars. How concerned are you, not just about Bloomberg himself, but what he is building in terms of an operation that he says he will hand off to any Democrat who wins the nomination?

RONNA MCDANIEL: Well, he is building an outside-- operation outside of the party, which is like a Super PAC, essentially, once he is not a candidate. I am not concerned about that. From a party structure, we're working with our state parties, our county parties, our district committees. We're able to coordinate directly with the candidate. It's not an outside group. And the RNC is already on the ground in eighteen states. We've already trained five hundred thousand volunteers. We're going into 2020 with two hundred million dollars between us and the-- and the Trump campaign. So we are building the biggest infrastructure in the history of politics. I am not concerned about what Bloomberg's putting out. And his ads, I see them all the time, I think they are terrible. "Mike gets it done." What does he get done? I don't know. I don't know anything about him. We're not seeing him talking to the voters at the level that I think you need to be competitive.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah.

RONNA MCDANIEL: And the President is not afraid of anybody. Let's be honest. He punches at everybody.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Fair. But Mike Bloomberg has tremendous spending ability here.

RONNA MCDANIEL: He does.

MARGARET BRENNAN: He is not putting limits really on what he is willing to do to defeat President Trump. He's worth sixty billion dollars, and he is going to hand this off even if it's not him.

RONNA MCDANIEL: Well, President Trump went up against Hillary Clinton, who had significantly more money than he did. We have seen candidate after candidate with these huge war chests come in and think they can buy an election. And the American people don't like that. And President Trump--if you look at the crowds that we're seeing, which are bigger than ever, a hundred and fifty thousand people signed up to come to a rally in New Jersey--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.

RONNA MCDANIEL: --in blue New Jersey. If you look at the fundraising, if you look at the enthusiasm--

MARGARET BRENNAN: But Bloomberg's modeling a lot of what he is doing around what Trump did. It's a lot of digital.

RONNA MCDANIEL: Yeah.

MARGARET BRENNAN: It's a lot of TV advertising.

RONNA MCDANIEL: He is modeling it, but he is not Trump. That's the big factor. Bloomberg is not Trump. He is not going to get a crowd like that. I'd like to see him do a rally and try and even get a hundred people to come. I mean this is not the movement candidate Bloomberg. And I think he's got a real issue with the Democrat Party. I mean, listen, they just changed their debate rules and their structure for a billionaire and they refused to do it when you had Cory Booker and Julian Castro saying, listen, we deserve more diversity on the stage representing our party. And they said, nope, we're not going to change the rules for you.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.

RONNA MCDANIEL: But this billionaire can buy his way into the debate. Bloomberg had every ability to change the way he was raising money to qualify for the debates. But they are changing the rules for the billionaire. And I think that speaks volumes about the Democrat Party.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to ask you, though, about President Trump's relationship with-- I mean he's reshaped the party. But there are still traditional Republicans who aren't entirely comfortable with everything he does, including your uncle, Senator Mitt Romney, who voted for witnesses. He was one of only two Republicans who did so in this impeachment trial. The Conservative Political Action Conference has disinvited him from an upcoming meeting. And they're kind of-- they put up this ad online. There are TV ads against him. I mean do you think this is proper political retaliation?

RONNA MCDANIEL: I-- I disagree that--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Are you comfortable with that?

RONNA MCDANIEL: --the President's changed the Republican Party. I think the President's strengthened our party. And if you look at things that he's done--

MARGARET BRENNAN: I don't know if you saw that ad, but it was your uncle's face there--

RONNA MCDANIEL: I haven't-- I haven't seen the ad.

MARGARET BRENNAN: It says "disinvited," "not invited."

MARGARET BRENNAN: There are TV ads against him. I mean, do you think this is proper political retaliation?

RONNA MCDANIEL: I-- I disagree that--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Are you comfortable with that?

RONNA MCDANIEL: --the President's changed the Republican Party. I think the President's strengthened our party. And if you look at things that he's done--

MARGARET BRENNAN: I don't know if you saw that ad, but it was your uncle's face there--

RONNA MCDANIEL: I haven't-- I haven't seen the ad.

MARGARET BRENNAN: It says "disinvited" or "not invited."

RONNA MCDANIEL: Well, that's the grassroots part of our party, and they're upset. They're upset when people aren't supporting the President and supporting our party. And-- and they think if you're not supporting him, you're helping a Democrat get elected. That's a very common belief among the grassroots of our party. But I will say this President has stood for life. He stood for rule of law judges. He stood for tax cuts. He stood for deregulation, energy independence. These are Republican ideals.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But--

RONNA MCDANIEL: And he has made the RNC significantly stronger by supporting our party. And we will be stronger after him because of the investment he's put in data and digital and the things to make us strong beyond his presidency.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Okay, I understand you don't want to comment on your comfort and your uncle and the comments about him, but we do have to leave it there. Good to have you here--

RONNA MCDANIEL: Great to be here.

MARGARET BRENNAN: --in studio.

We'll be back in a moment with a look at how the Democratic race is shaping up in Iowa.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

MARGARET BRENNAN: Welcome back. Ahead of the Iowa caucuses tomorrow, we have a new CBS News Battleground Tracker this morning looking at the state of the race. These numbers are based on polling data from our surveys this week along with data on Iowa's voters and the caucus system. Former Vice President Joe Biden and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders are tied at the top of the field with twenty-five percent each. Former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg is close behind with twenty-one percent. Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren's at sixteen percent, and Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar has five percent support. Joining us now to make sense of these numbers is CBS News elections and surveys director Anthony Salvanto. So, Anthony, what do we need to look for, what do we need to keep an eye on?

ANTHONY SALVANTO (CBS News Elections and Surveys Director/@SalvantoCBS): Yeah. Now the fun starts. Now we get to the real stop, right?

MARGARET BRENNAN: Your fun starts.

ANTHONY SALVANTO: Well, it's going to be a late night I think. But here-- here's what we wanted to do. We took everything we knew about the interviews we've had with Iowa voters and caucus-goers and how a caucus works and everything we know about the Democrats in Iowa. And we put it all together and we say, okay, what could unfold tomorrow night? Well, what breaks this tie for Joe Biden. This depends a lot on first knowing how a caucus works. People are going to go in with a first preference, who they plan to support. But if their candidate doesn't do well enough, doesn't make what the party sets as this fifteen percent threshold--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.

ANTHONY SALVANTO: --then they can switch and Joe Biden is the second choice for a lot of people whose candidates very well might fall under that threshold. He could benefit from that. So if those folks move over to him, that gives him a boost. And there's another thing that could help Joe Biden, too, and that is in our measures, we see that his support is pretty evenly distributed across the state, that is important because to win the caucuses, you have to win delegates throughout the state, you can't just run up the score in one or two cities and that could help Joe Biden, too.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But he's neck and neck right now with Bernie Sanders.

ANTHONY SALVANTO: He is, but that would give him a boost. Now let me tell you about how Bernie Sanders might instead get the boost.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.

ANTHONY SALVANTO: First thing is that Elizabeth Warren comes into play here, because she is right near just above that key fifteen percent threshold line that the party sets . If she doesn't make that in some of those caucuses, her supporters could switch to Bernie Sanders. He's their second choice. That could give Sanders a boost. And the other thing that's going to be interesting here is that in our modeling, Bernie Sanders gets strong support in and around the cities, in Iowa. Now we could see a turnout boost for him there, which could help him at least in the statewide overall vote--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-Hm.

ANTHONY SALVANTO: --but he's going to have to spread out that support in order to get delegates everywhere.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And what about Mayor Pete Buttigieg? He's at twenty-one percent right behind Biden and Bernie.

ANTHONY SALVANTO: Yep. Also could benefit from some of the switching. Also could benefit if folks who are supporters of, let's say, it's Amy Klobuchar, let's say it's some of the other candidates who may not make that fifteen percent threshold. If they switch and some of them go to Biden but more of them go to Pete Buttigieg, this is the same also true for Elizabeth Warren, then that gives them a boost as well. All of which is to underline that in a caucus meeting, a lot of this movement is what makes the-- the night so exciting anyway.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And you're prepared with the coffee for a late night, you said.

ANTHONY SALVANTO: Yes, I think everybody should tune in, watch CBS News and CBS-- CBS-- CBSN and-- and-- and put another pot of coffee on and stay up with us.

MARGARET BRENNAN: All right. All right. Anthony Salvanto, thank you.

And now we turn to our political correspondent Ed O'Keefe who is out in Des Moines. He is fully caffeinated. And, Ed, what are you seeing out there on the ground?

ED O'KEEFE (CBS News Political Correspondent/@edokeefe): Margaret, it's fascinating. You know, voters are often asked to-- to-- they sort of debate between their head and their heart over who exactly they should ultimately choose. And this is very much become I think a head contest for many Iowa Democrats. If you're somebody who supports Bernie Sanders, you're pretty much there. You're ready to go. It's everybody else that is still struggling with this and we've been struck in recent days how they're all focused on making clear to voters that they believe they can defeat the President, whether they're doing that in their advertising or on the stump.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And that's interesting because it's not so much about be excited about me, it's about be excited about my electability in defeating the other guy. So how do they make that work?

ED O'KEEFE: And-- and we-- sure, well, let's-- let's walk through a few examples. For-- let's start with the former Vice President Joe Biden. He has completely stopped talking about his Democratic opponents. It's as if he's already running against the President. Most recently now raising questions about his fitness to serve by recalling what he said recently about injured service members in Iraq and even now questioning the administration's response to the coronavirus not only here in the United States but around the world. Mayor Buttigieg who you spoke to earlier, just in the last few days suddenly is reminding his supporters that there are other candidates in this race because he hasn't talked about them at all until recently, pointing out that if you're looking for somebody who spent forty years in Washington, Joe Biden is your guy, but Bernie Sanders can't necessarily unite the Democratic Party, and Elizabeth Warren's Medicare for All ideas are just not practical. So interesting that he's doing that. Sanders, if he pulls it off again, his volunteers are just so devoted to him they've come from all over the country to be here. We've met with some of them who've come from Oregon, from Kentucky, from Queens and Brooklyn to be here. And one thing to watch on caucus night, if turnout gets close to three hundred thousand in this state, that would be a record high. Most of that will be because Bernie Sanders turned them out. And the other thing to watch for is a potential increase in Latino support. It's a very small percentage of this state, mostly agricultural workers. But the Sanders campaign has been after them since last spring. The first piece of mail he sent to an Iowa voter was to Latino households in this state talking up his own immigrant roots. And in another sign of how desperate they are, Senator Warren has stopped taking selfies with her supporters and, instead, has turned over the responsibilities to her dog, because she needs to get on to other events. The selfie lines can run for several hours at times but they've given up because she needs to get on to other events and meet as many people as she can before she goes back to Washington.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So being a dog lover is now a requirement in some way. We've spent a lot of time talking to even the RNC chairwoman just now about Michael Bloomberg and his seeming war chest that is unending and his ability to compete. He's not there in Iowa. He's betting that doesn't matter ultimately. Well, what is the feeling? Is that going to play out?

ED O'KEEFE: That's right. He is-- well, it's funny, just in the last few days, Margaret, we've noticed that he now is advertising in Iowa as if to sort of remind Democrats that after this caucus there's still a primary contest that will continue playing out. He is very much in the back of the minds at least of these campaigns who realize that with his unlimited war chest, he could seriously put them away on Super Tuesday, especially a challenge for these candidates now who may only have about, you know, seven figures in the bank when Mike Bloomberg can write seven-figure checks, you know, for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and make some moves. And so it's something that they're very much worried about. The one who's actually calling him out most explicitly on the trail is Senator Warren who continues to raise concerns as you've pointed out already today about the fact that yet another billionaire's in the race.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Only seven figures in the bank, Ed says. So it-- it still looks fluid, is-- is the bottom line from what I'm hearing from you, though. Okay.

ED O'KEEFE: Yeah. And you know, we--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Okay.

ED O'KEEFE: --we've talked to-- to people who are making their final decisions this weekend, and-- and they'll have to do it by tomorrow night.

MARGARET BRENNAN: All right, Ed.

We'll be right back with a look at that selfie-taking dog out in Iowa Ed was just telling you about.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS)

MARGARET BRENNAN: And we will-- four Democratic senators competing in Iowa unable to campaign this past week. There were a lot of fill-ins or surrogates out stumping for them in their absence. No surrogate caught more attention than this furry one, Bailey, Elizabeth Warren's golden retriever. Bailey worked the crowd, and when Warren did return to the trail this weekend, Bailey took her place in a selfie line. Warren has taken over a hundred thousand selfies with voters so far in this campaign. And she finally enlisted some help.

And we'll find out tomorrow if Bailey helps his owner with Iowa voters. That's it for today. Thank you all for watching. For FACE THE NATION, I'm Ma