Full transcript of “Face the Nation,” September 3, 2023

On this “Face the Nation” broadcast, moderated by Robert Costa

  • Nikki Haley, former U.N. ambassador and 2024 presidential candidate 
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders, Independent of Vermont 
  • Former Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan
  • Ashley Etienne, CBS News contributor and Democratic strategist, and Terry Sullivan, Republican strategist
  • Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo

Click here to browse full transcripts of “Face the Nation.”    

ROBERT COSTA: I’m Robert Costa in Washington.

And this week on Face the Nation: The fall campaign season heats up. Politics enters a disaster zone. President Biden spent part of his Labor Day weekend touring damage left behind by Hurricane Idalia in Florida, notably absent, potential rival and the current Republican governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis.

(Begin VT)

JOE BIDEN (President of the United States): Well, no, I’m not disappointed. He may have had other reasons.

(End VT)

ROBERT COSTA: With four months to go until the first primary contest, we will take a closer look at the state of the presidential race.

GOP candidate Nikki Haley joins us. We will ask her how she’s keeping up, as the former president continues to dominate the polls.

And we will speak with Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who recently delivered a speech in an early primary state, calling on the Democratic Party to do more for working-class voters.

What about a potential independent ticket? We will talk with former Maryland Governor Republican Larry Hogan, who is a leader of a bipartisan group that could launch a presidential bid. Will Hogan be on it?

(Begin VT)

FORMER GOVERNOR LARRY HOGAN (R-Maryland): I have not closed the door to that.

(End VT)

ROBERT COSTA: We will have analysis from political strategists Democrat Ashley Etienne and Republican Terry Sullivan.

Then: As President Biden gets ready to travel to Asia for a meeting with world leaders this week, we will hear from Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, who just got back from her trip to Beijing. What did she accomplish amid growing tensions between the U.S. and China?

It’s all just ahead on Face the Nation.

Good morning, and welcome to Face the Nation. Margaret is off today.

Labor Day weekend typically begins the unofficial end of summer and traditionally is when presidential campaigns ramp up.

So, we begin this morning with Republican presidential candidate, former U.N. Ambassador and former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley.

Good morning, Ambassador Haley.

NIKKI HALEY (R-Presidential Candidate): Good morning, Bob. Great to be with you.

ROBERT COSTA: Ambassador, let’s begin with Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, who appeared to freeze up before cameras in recent days for the second time in two months.

His doctor then issued a statement saying McConnell, who was hospitalized earlier this year after a fall, is able to continue to work — quote — “Occasional lightheadedness is not uncommon in concussion recovery,” the doctor wrote.

Ambassador, you said this in recent days. The Senate is — quote — “the most privileged nursing home in the country” and McConnell needs to — quote — “know when to leave.”

Do you believe it’s time for McConnell to step down from his leadership position?

NIKKI HALEY: Bob, I am completely for term limits. I’m completely for mental competency tests for anyone over the age of 75. And I’m not saying that to be disrespectful.

Here, you have Mitch McConnell, who’s done great service to the country. You have Dianne Feinstein, who had a great career. You’ve got Nancy Pelosi, who’s been there a long time. At what point do they get it’s time to leave?

They need to let a younger generation take over. We want to go and start working for our kids to make sure we have a strong national security, to make sure we have a stronger economic policy, to make sure that America is safe.

And we can’t do that if these individuals refuse to give up power. This is not just a Republican or Democrat problem. This is a congressional problem. And they’ve got to know when to leave. It is time to pass this down to a new generation of conservative leaders that want to take our country to a better place.

ROBERT COSTA: So, just to be clear, when Republican senators come back to Washington, should they have a leadership shakeup on the table? And should they talk about potentially having somebody else come in as the leader in the Senate?

NIKKI HALEY: I want this for Republicans and Democrats. I want to make sure that they all know it’s time to go.

There’s a reason the American people want term limits. It’s because they don’t want people staying there forever. They don’t want people drunk on the power. They don’t want people to think they’re the only ones that know how to run Congress, because, right now, what has Congress done for you lately?

We have an open border that’s out of control. They’re spending like drunken sailors. We’ve got continued issues, whether it comes with education, whether it comes with the debt, whether it comes with how we’re going to have national security. We need people at the top of their game.

We have too many issues on the table that need to be dealt with. We can’t continue to have these people who think they know better than the American people. The American people are saying it is time to go. If they would approve term limits, the American people would show that.

But, until then, they’ve got to know that, look, we appreciate your service, but it’s time to step away.

ROBERT COSTA: So you’ve talked about competency tests. But let’s dig a little deeper on that. There are age requirements for serving in the house, 25 years old, 30 for the Senate, 35 for the presidency.

Should there be an age limit on the presidency, in your view, and maybe a constitutional change or legislative change?

NIKKI HALEY: I think there should be mental competency tests. And I don’t care if they’re for everybody 50 and older. I don’t care if they’re for the entire Congress.

These are basic tests, Bob. These are, tell us where you were born. Name four words that start with the same letter. How many grandchildren do you have? These are basic questions that anyone should be able to answer. And the way you do that is just, when a candidate files to run for office, incumbent or newcomer, they have to give their financial disclosures.

They should also give a notice from the doctor that tells about their mental capacity. I think that we need that. We can’t stand watching Dianne Feinstein sit there and be told by an aide how she should vote. We can’t worry about Mitch McConnell being frozen at a podium. We can’t have Joe Biden forget where he is.

Our enemies are watching all of this. And every time they have an instance like that, America is less safe, because our enemies think we’re out of control. And that’s got to stop.

ROBERT COSTA: You talked about spending.

In just a few weeks there’s an important spending deadline in Washington. A potential government shutdown looms if they don’t come up with a spending agreement to keep the government funded. Do you believe Republicans should take a hard line And what exactly should they do with this looming?

NIKKI HALEY: Well, I think Congress needs to do their job.

You know, Biden has pushed us into — into socialism-lite. He’s spending on every single thing. And they’ve forgotten the role of government. Government was intended to secure the rights and freedoms of the people. It was never meant to be all things to all people.

So, as we go into this, I have said that Biden has spent already $5 trillion in his term, but Republicans have spent too. We’ve watched them open up earmarks for the first time in 10 years. We’ve watched the 2024 appropriations bill has $7.4 billion in earmarks. Democrats have $2.8 billion in earmarks.

So, all of them are spending like drunken sailors. And it’s our tax dollars that they’re spending. What we’re saying is, I had to balance a budget when I was governor of South Carolina. Americans have to balance their budget at home. Why is Congress the only group that refuses to balance a budget?

They need to go in there and do the hard work. They need to make sure that they are giving money back to the taxpayers.

ROBERT COSTA: The question…

NIKKI HALEY: They need to make sure that money is not being wasted.

ROBERT COSTA: The question is…

NIKKI HALEY: And so I think they need to do their job.

ROBERT COSTA: The question, though, Ambassador, is, what exactly should they do in terms of the negotiating position they take?

For example, Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia has just said in recent days that Republicans should not vote to fund the government unless an impeachment inquiry begins against President Biden inside of the House of Representatives.

Is she right or Is she wrong to take that position?

NIKKI HALEY: She’s one of many that are going to throw things on the table like that.

What I’m saying is, Congress needs to do their job. Balance a budget. I have said I will veto any spending bill that doesn’t take us back to pre- COVID levels. The only group that talks about closing down the government or playing these games are members of Congress.

The American people aren’t talking about that. The American people are telling Congress, do your job, balance a budget, stop the spending, stop the borrowing, eliminate the earmarks, claw back the hundreds of billions of dollars of unspent COVID dollars.


NIKKI HALEY: Go after — instead of 87,000 IRS agents going after middle America, go after the hundreds of billions of dollars of COVID fraud that we know exist.

These political games, the American people have no — no use for it. They just want them to do their job. It’s not that hard.

ROBERT COSTA: Over the past…

NIKKI HALEY: It’s why I continue to say we’ve got way too many lawyers in Congress. We need an accountant. I’m an accountant. That’s why I want to put an end to this and start having government work for the people again.

ROBERT COSTA: Over the past week, former President Donald Trump, the front-runner in the race, he pleaded not guilty to criminal accusations in Georgia.

When you were on that debate stage in Milwaukee, which has earned you some good reviews inside of the party, inside of the Republican party, you raised your hand and said you would still support him if he was convicted of a crime and the nominee next year.

Do you stand by your decision to hold up your hand on stage and back Trump should he be the nominee and be a convicted felon?

NIKKI HALEY: Well, what you saw were candidates on that stage said that they would do exactly what they signed and pledged to do, which is support the Republican nominee. That’s what we are saying.

I don’t think President Trump’s going to be the nominee. I think it’s going to be me. But I will tell you that any Republican is better than what Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are doing.

ROBERT COSTA: Even if they’re convicted of a crime?

NIKKI HALEY: We know that a vote for Joe Biden is a vote for a President Kamala Harris.

It — first of all, he’s innocent until proven guilty. But you are implying that the American people are not smart. The American people are not going to vote for a convicted criminal. The American people are going to vote for someone who can win a general election. I have faith in the American people.

They know what they need to do. And so I think that, yes, I will support the Republican nominee always. And I will make sure that that person — we’re going to pick someone that’s going to beat a President Kamala Harris, because we can’t have a President Kamala Harris, or we’ll never get our country back.

ROBERT COSTA: How are you going to consolidate, quickly, the non-Trump vote in this primary?

We’re now in September, just months away from the early voting.

NIKKI HALEY: It’s not about consolidating a non-Trump vote. It’s about consolidating where Republicans want to go.

I believe Republicans want to stop the crazy spending. I believe Republicans want to bring crime down and go back to law and order. I believe Republicans want transparency in schools. I believe Republicans want to secure the border. And I believe Republicans want to prevent war and have a strong national security.

That’s what we’re talking about. It’s not about a person. It’s about a country. And it’s not just about Republicans. It’s about independents.


NIKKI HALEY: It’s about conservative Democrats that know that we’re going in the wrong direction.

ROBERT COSTA: Ambassador Haley, we’ll see you soon on the campaign trail. We really appreciate you taking the time on a Sunday morning. Thank you.

And we now go to Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who is joining us from Burlington.

Good morning, Senator Sanders. We appreciate you being here.

SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS (I-Vermont): Good morning, Bob.

ROBERT COSTA: Senator, President Biden is touting the latest jobs numbers, but your recent speech in New Hampshire painted a bleak picture of the nation’s economic reality.

When you met with President Biden at the White House in recent days, what exactly did you tell him, Senator? And did you warn him, like you warned in New Hampshire, that — quote — “Democrats must reject the corporate wing of the party”?

SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS: Well, Bob, what I have said publicly time and again is that President Biden and his administration have made some real progress in addressing issues that have not been dealt — dealt with in decades.

We finally took on the pharmaceutical industry, and we’re beginning to make some progress in lowering the cost of prescription drugs. A lot more has to be done. After years of talk, we finally invested in rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure, roads, bridges, water systems. Manufacturing is coming back in America.

So, I think we’re making some progress. But everybody knows that, for decades now, not just under Biden, not just under Trump, but, for decades now, what we have seen in America is an economy in which the very, very wealthy are doing phenomenally well, while working families are struggling.

Today, Bob — we don’t talk about it much — we have more income and wealth inequality than we have ever had in the history of the United States. This is way before Biden. But what we’re seeing now is 60 percent of our people living paycheck to paycheck.

We have a health care system which is totally broken. We pay the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs. We’ve got 18 million households where people are spending 50 percent of their income trying to pay the rent or pay a mortgage. So, we have some structural problems in America.

The Biden administration has made some progress. We have got a long way to go. And what the Democratic Party has got to do is have the guts to take on corporate greed, which is unprecedented, all over the economy.


SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS: The people who own the large corporations are enjoying record-breaking profits. We got to create an economy that works for all, not just a few.

ROBERT COSTA: Senator, you met with the president. You discussed these issues. You just heard from Ambassador Haley. She was attacking Vice President Harris.

Are Democrats doing enough to support Vice President Harris and she faces these kinds of attacks?

SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS: Well, I think the issue is, are Democrats doing enough to win back a working class which is leaving the Democratic Party?

And what, in my view, Democrats have got to do is say, really, do you really want to vote for a Republican Party which wants to cut Social Security? We got to expand Social Security. Wants to cut Medicare. We have got to expand Medicare to include dental, hearing and vision.

We got a Republican Party out there that doesn’t even recognize the reality of climate change. So, I think, Bob, what this campaign is going to — should be about is a contrast between the ideas that work for the working families of this country and what the Republicans stand for, which is more tax breaks for billionaires and paying allegiance to the needs of corporate America, not ordinary Americans.

ROBERT COSTA: But is the administration doing enough? I listened closely to your speech in New Hampshire. The administration’s recently taken action on marijuana, for example.

But should it do more with executive power? It’s taken action on prescription drug negotiations with Medicare. But should it do more? I mean, you — you’re out there saying they should be tougher.

SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS: And the answer is yes. Bob, the answer is, yes, it should.

Some of it can be done through executive orders. A lot can be done through legislation. And what I think has got to happen — this is my own view — is, I think, what the president has got to say is, give me 50 — at least 50 Democrats in the Senate. Give me control over the House of Representatives.

And, by 50 Democrats, I mean real Democrats, not corporate Democrats like Manchin and Sinema.

And, if you do that, within two or three months, we’re going to reform health care to move it toward a system which guarantees health care to all people, not just huge profits for the insurance companies. We’re going to lower the cost of prescription drugs, so we’re not paying any more than the rest of the world.

We’re going to rebuild our economy to work for ordinary people, and I think that’s got to be the message. Contrast a progressive agenda for working people versus a Republican agenda.

ROBERT COSTA: Senator, I know you don’t like to talk politics, but you’re the one who went to New Hampshire, an early primary state you’ve done very well in over the years.

You support President Biden 100 percent. You’ve made that clear. But for any reason, if President Biden decides not to seek the Democratic nomination, is a run by Senator Sanders for the nomination on the table next year?

SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS: Bob, I think we spend too much time speculating.

I think President Biden is going to be the nominee of the Democratic Party. And I think, if he runs on a strong, progressive agenda, he’s not only going to win; he’s going to win by a strong vote.

And I will tell you why, because, when you look at a Republican Party, it’s not only that you have a president, a former president, who has been impeached twice, indicted four times. These are people who deny women in this country the right to control their own bodies. Really? Is that where we are in 2023, not recognizing the reality of climate change, wanting more tax breaks for billionaires?

That’s what their agenda is. So I think that, in any kind of serious campaign, President Biden and the Democrats will do quite well against that reactionary agenda.

ROBERT COSTA: What do you — what do you say, Senator, though, to some of your longtime supporters who are frustrated because they don’t believe the Biden administration’s done enough?

They may not share your view of how things have gone. And they’re thinking about Cornel West, or they’re thinking about Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. What’s your message to them as they drift toward those others?

SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS: Well, my message to them is that we are living in an unprecedented moment in American history.

Donald Trump is not only a pathological liar, has not only helped wage an insurrection, if you like, to prevent President Biden from taking office, not only is denying American democracy, moving against the American democracy.

So I think, at this moment, Bob, we have got to bring the progressive community together to say, you know what, we’re going to fight for a progressive agenda. But we cannot have four more years of Donald Trump in the White House.

ROBERT COSTA: Do you worry about the progressive vote staying home?

SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS: I think, if the Democrats come up with a strong agenda that speaks to the needs of senior citizens in this country — and that means raising Social Security benefits, expanding Medicare — if we speak to the needs of young people, and that is having a lot to do with student debt, if we demand that the wealthiest people in this country stop paying their fair share of taxes, if we come up with a progressive agenda, I think we’re going to win, and win big.

And when we win big, we have to make it clear that we stand with the working class of this country against the kind of corporate greed that we now see.

ROBERT COSTA: Senator, quickly, you are also the chairman of the Senate Health and Labor Committee.

Progressives, voters are looking to you as well for action. You’re investigating Amazon warehouses right now. Are you committed to issuing a subpoena for Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, to come testify or not?

SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS: Well, we’re going to take one step at a time.

Right now, what we’re working on, Bob, is major reforms in primary health care. We don’t have enough doctors, nurses, dentists, mental health providers…


SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS: … in this country. We’re working hard on legislation to do that.


SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS: We brought Mr. Schultz from Starbucks before the committee. We are looking at Amazon. And we’ll take it one step at a time, but certainly have no fears.

ROBERT COSTA: We got to…

SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS: You know, at the appropriate time, we may well do that.

ROBERT COSTA: Thank you very much, Senator Sanders. We appreciate you taking the time on a Sunday morning.

Face the Nation will be back in one minute. Stay with us.


ROBERT COSTA: Former Maryland Governor Republican Larry Hogan joined us on Friday with more about what he thinks about the GOP presidential feel.

(Begin VT)

FORMER GOVERNOR LARRY HOGAN (R-Maryland): Look, I think there’s too many people in the field.

You should not be in the race if you’re — if you don’t make the debate stage, you likely should consider getting out. If you’re on the debate stage, and you’re willing to stand up and challenge the leader that’s at 50 percent — if you’re unwilling to challenge Donald Trump, you should get off the stage.

You know, Ramaswamy, for example, is up there being a cheerleader and a fill-in for Trump. He shouldn’t be running for president. He should — he obviously is trying to apply for a job for Trump. But if you’re in there running for vice president, or you’re trying to be a Cabinet secretary, or you’re trying to become famous, or write a book, or get on television, you should get the heck out of the race.

We need to narrow it down to find a leader who can get the Republican Party back on the right track and that could get us back to winning elections again. And it’s not going to happen with 11 people in the race.

ROBERT COSTA: Who specifically? Former Congressman Will Hurd didn’t make the debate stage. Should he get out?

GOVERNOR LARRY HOGAN: You know, Will is a great friend. I have tremendous admiration for him. I agree with him on so many issues, but it’s — he’s not going to be president.

And he didn’t make the debate stage. And I think he contributes a lot to the discussion. He and I see a lot of things eye to eye, but, yes, I don’t think that, at this point, he should be in the race.

But I don’t want to go through the list of which one — which one should get out and get in the process…

ROBERT COSTA: But time is of the essence, Governor.

GOVERNOR LARRY HOGAN: I think it’s — it’s a decision they have to make.

What I’m — I’m having conversations — most of these folks are friends of mine. I’m talking with other leaders in the party that — who share this concern, this issue that you’re getting to.

And I think we’re going have to continue to have those discussions and try to get people to — but I’m giving private advice to many of the people running. I think other leaders are going to come together, and we’re going to have to figure out, how can we convince people to put aside their own egos and their own goals to just make sure we do the right thing for the country and the party?

ROBERT COSTA: How do you force that conversation?


ROBERT COSTA: It’s a difficult one.

I have covered politics for years. Most politicians wake up, they look in the mirror, they see a future president. It’s tough to have that kind of conversation.

GOVERNOR LARRY HOGAN: It’s very, very tough, which is why it hasn’t happened yet. But I’m holding out hope that we’ll — we’ll get this figured out.

And I’m — you know, my total focus at this point is trying to make sure we can get a challenger that’s going to win this nomination that’s not Donald Trump that can get us back to winning elections again and can win the race in November.

ROBERT COSTA: You said you were going to talk to your friends in the traditional Republican wing of the GOP, a party still dominated by Trump.

How would you describe the level of concern? Is it quiet concern,a twiddling our thumbs right now among donors and traditional Republicans? Or is there a real alarm that it’s September and Trump’s dominating?

GOVERNOR LARRY HOGAN: I think there’s a real alarm. And it’s becoming more and more real.

I mean, people were somewhat hopeful that we would be in a different place by now. And now they’re starting to come to the realization that, hey, this is — we might actually have Donald Trump as the nominee and Joe Biden as the nominee. And this is something that 70 percent of the people in America do not want.

They do not want Donald Trump or Joe Biden. They don’t want a rematch. And they don’t think these are the two best choices to be running in the race.

ROBERT COSTA: What about a late entry from Governor Brian Kemp of Georgia or Governor Glen Youngkin of Virginia? It may not be possible to get on the ballot in Iowa and South Carolina, in those early states.

But could you see a late entry trying to make a play for the convention?

GOVERNOR LARRY HOGAN: Well, it seems like the opposite of what I have been saying.

You know, we’ve got 11 people in the race. We have six of my former gubernatorial colleagues already in the race. I’m not sure whether one or two more is going to fix the problem. I also just don’t think it’s going to happen.

I mean, they’re both great governors. I campaigned and helped both of them. But October 15 is the deadline, and they — all this talk about somebody’s going to get in at the end of the year or next year that’s not going to happen. It’s — it’s six weeks away.

(End VT)

ROBERT COSTA: We will have more of our conversation with former Governor Larry Hogan after a break.

We will be right back.


ROBERT COSTA: If you miss an episode of Face the Nation or want to see an extended interview, you can find it all on YouTube or on our Web site. Or, if you prefer to listen, you can subscribe to our podcast. Just search Face the Nation.

We will be right back.


ROBERT COSTA: We will be right back with a lot more Face the Nation.



Here is more of our conversation with former Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, who is an honorary co-chair of the bipartisan group No Labels, which could put together a third party presidential bid.

LARRY HOGAN (Former Maryland Governor): No Labels is not an effort to try to help Donald Trump and to be a spoiler for Joe Biden. I don’t think there’s a soul in this organization that’s – that’s trying to promote Donald Trump. And, you know, it’s – it’s — we don’t get into the process and how and why.

Basically, you got to think about, how do — why are we in this situation? We’re in this situation because we have two potential terrible nominees of the two major parties that 70 percent of the people in America don’t want. That’s what No Labels is about. It’s a citizen saying, maybe we have to try something else.

ROBERT COSTA: To your — the point you just made, does that mean a Republican, like yourself, in your mold perhaps, or even you, has to be at the top of the No Labels ticket, should there be a No Labels ticket?

LARRY HOGAN: I think we should only put together a ticket in the event that it’s Trump and Biden. Again, I’m still – again, still trying to work — make sure we can get a good Republican nominee. And this doesn’t — is no longer necessary.

But it has to be a good ticket that can actually win. You know, I would only be in it to win it. Nobody’s trying to spoil anything. This is about actually receiving a majority of the votes.

And I would say the last time we had somewhat of a successful third-party run it was Ross Perot who dropped out of the race and had all kinds of problems, and came back in and still was at about 20 percent. But he was a Republican who ran as an independent and took – you know, most people would argue, I think he drew from both sides, but it didn’t, you know, hurt the Democrat, it hurt – hurt the Republican.

ROBERT COSTA: And the Ross Perot experience in 1992, he gets about 19 percent of the popular vote –


ROBERT COSTA: But it’s very difficult to win the White House in a system that’s the Electoral College.

LARRY HOGAN: It’s – that’s very true. It’s — you know, it’s something that’s never really happened. I mean, but we’re at a point where we’ve never been in America, so we just don’t know.

And – and you know that things change. We have eight months to figure this out. We don’t know who — where we’re going to be as a country. We don’t know who the potential candidates might be. But it very well may be the first time in our history where the American public is really hungry for something like this.

ROBERT COSTA: If people are frustrated with the Democrats and the Republicans, maybe they are looking for an alternative. But No Labels, the group you’re the honorary co-chairman of, has not released its list of donors. They are under the cloud of the election law where they can not be disclosed to the public.

Do you believe No Labels now, or at some point in the future, is going to have to offer Americans clarity about who’s spending money on No Labels in order to win the public’s trust if they want to move forward?

LARRY HOGAN: Sure. Well, you know, it’s a tax exempt, you know, citizen — grassroots citizen organization, just like thousands of others. And that’s just what the rules are. They’re not a political party. They – they don’t have a candidacy they’re behind. They’re not backing on.

If, in fact, it became a campaign, they, obviously, would have to follow all the same rules that all the rest of the campaigns do. But right now there’s just an awful lot of attacks and criticism because they’re really worried that this – this kind of citizen uprising is gaining a lot of traction and they’re really concerned about the two weak nominees that they might be faced with.

ROBERT COSTA: Well, to your point, there is concern, especially among allies of the White House, that a Democratic independent ticket would pull from Biden.

But let’s — let’s be real. If Trump is going to end up — looks like the nominee come January or February of next year, are you, Larry Hogan, open to being atop a No Labels ticket as a Republican-type candidate with No Labels?

LARRY HOGAN: It’s not something I’m pursuing.

ROBERT COSTA: I know it’s not – we know you’re not pursuing it, but is it – is it at least open door?

LARRY HOGAN: It – it – it – I’m hoping we don’t get to that point. I have not closed the door to that. If I believe that we can actually win the race, we have a strong ticket, that those two major candidate are weak, we might have to try to pull off something that’s never been done, which is sort of what I did in Maryland.

ROBERT COSTA: Do you believe there’s actually going to be a No Labels ticket or not next year?

LARRY HOGAN: I think there’s a good likelihood that there — there could be. I – I don’t know the odds. And, you know, there’s a lot of things that have to happen.

Again, I’m still hopeful that – I don’t — I’m not sure sitting here today that Donald Trump and Joe Biden are the two nominees of the major parties or whether this ever lifts off the ground. But if in fact that’s the case, I do believe that this group has a chance to get access to the ballot in all 50 states. And if they put together, you know, a really great ticket and ran a perfect campaign, that they would actually have a shot to be, not just a spoiler, but to be in it to win it.

ROBERT COSTA: Former Governor Larry Hogan of Maryland, we appreciate you coming by FACE THE NATION.

And we’ll be right back.


ROBERT COSTA: We’re joined now by CBS News contributor and Democratic strategist Ashley Etienne, and Republican strategist Terry Sullivan.

Good morning to both of you. Thanks for being here.

ASHLEY ETIENNE: Good morning.

TERRY SULLIVAN (Republican Political Consultant): Good morning.

ROBERT COSTA: Ashley, let’s begin with you.

We heard from Senator Sanders. He met with President Biden. He said the White House, other Democrats need to do more to pay attention to working people across this country. Is there concern inside the Biden administration — you worked inside of it — about their connection with working voters across the country?

ASHLEY ETIENNE: No, I watched the senator’s interview. I mean he — he opened up by giving the president a lot of credit for what he’s done, negotiating to lower drug costs, record economic growth, 13 million jobs created, manufacturing is roaring back. So, yes, I mean I agree with the senator. You know, we’ve made a lot of progress under this current president that supported working Americans, but there’s still more to be done. There’s no question about that.

But what I do appreciate is he’s acknowledged the president’s great work in – and how he’s done it really together with Republicans as well to move a lot of these big bills and big landmark legislation forward.

ROBERT COSTA: Terry, you managed Senator Marco Rubio’s 2016 presidential campaign. You know what it means to run against former President Trump. You did it. It wasn’t easy for Senator Rubio and your campaign. Every Republican struggled.

When you watched Ambassador Haley this morning, and you watched Florida Governor Ron DeSantis in recent weeks, what do you see in the Republican race right now? Is there actually an opportunity for Haley to get some traction, or are they stuck in the single digits?

TERRY SULLIVAN: Yes, you’re right, I – I have experience losing to Donald Trump, so I — I know what it’s like. The – and, you know what, at the moment, this is what we’re watching all of these candidates do. Unfortunately, they’ve got to engage Trump. Hope is not a strategy. And last time there was a lot — in 2016 there was a lot of hope that you could be the last one when, you know, there’s no way Trump can get over 50, and there’s all these different things. And so I think with – with – with Haley and a lot of them, they’ve got to be able to go after the guy in first place. He’s the de facto nominee. He’s the de facto incumbent. If you don’t engage him and take him on, he’s going to skate to victory.

ROBERT COSTA: What about impeachment? We talked a little bit about it with Ambassador Haley because Representative Taylor Greene of Georgia is talking about moving forward quickly with an – an impeachment of President Biden.

Inside of the White House you’ve worked with President Biden, you’ve worked with Vice President Harris. Are they preparing for a fall impeachment season?

ASHLEY ETIENNE: Well, more importantly, I ran the impeachment war room for Speaker Pelosi. The first impeachment war room. And I will tell you, the greatest difference is, there’s no evidence here. There was actually evidence when we moved to impeach Donald Trump. If you recall, he actually gave us the evidence, the recording of his phone call with Zelenskyy asking for dirt on Joe Biden. So that’s – that’s really — I mean we have to take a step back and really approach impeachment with a level of sobriety and seriousness.

ROBERT COSTA: But how do they see it this time around, the Democrats, as they – as they come for Biden?

ASHLEY ETIENNE: I mean my recommendation to the – to the – to the president would be to treat it as a side show that it actually is at this point. There is no evidence. They’ve had five years to drudge up some evidence on Hunter Biden and all they found is a – is a gun charge and tax evasion and with no relationship to President Biden. So – so, the point is, is, I mean, I wouldn’t get overly exercised or excited about an impeachment inquiry that’s base – that’s baseless and has – has no – no evidence and no foundation.

But – but here’s the – here, can I just say one more thing? The – the problem that we have is – is this politics of retribution, right? The American people don’t want it. You know, this would be the – the greatest – – if they move forward with an impeachment inquiry, be the greatest devastation, not just to their majority, but even to their speakership in 2024.

ROBERT COSTA: Well, how do the House Republicans see it? You’ve worked for congressional Republicans for a long time, Terry. Is Speaker McCarthy and others, are they going to go along with this push to impeach Biden? And, politically, how do they really see it?

TERRY SULLIVAN: Yes, look, I think he’s – the speaker is sober enough to realize this is not a great long-term political play, but he’s got to appease the base within his caucus and that’s – that’s an issue here.

And we’ve seen it on both sides. Look, these — these impeachments don’t help — dating back to Clinton — do not help the – the party that is – that is doing the impeaching. Historically speaking, the – the beneficiary of it is — is the president who’s getting impeached. And so I would caution the Republicans on this going after Trump – or, I mean, going after Biden seems like a really poor decision politically.

ROBERT COSTA: And we talked at the beginning of the program about Senator Mitch McConnell. He’s facing questions about his health. His doctor says he’s fine to serve. Inside the White House, how are they handling the age question when it comes to President Biden?

ASHELY ETIENNE: With a lot of humor. I mean they’ve — they’ve handled this issue quite a bit. It’s not a new issue to them. They’re – they’re very clear about – about the issue. But — but, you know, I’ve worked for two – my – two of my bosses, both Speaker Pelosi and Biden are – are 80 years old. And I’ve seen – you know, I’ve watched firsthand how Speaker Pelosi handled Donald Trump masterfully, you know. And I’ve seen Joe Biden up close and, again, you – you — you’re talking about an unprecedented record of bipartisan legislation, big things for the American people that he’s gotten done.

So, for me, age is nothing but a number. And it’s very personal. What you’re seeing with McConnell is a serious issue. And I — I do believe his staff is really doing him a disservice. They need to figure out what’s going on him (ph). It’s serious in a way that we’ve — it’s not as serious with Biden nor with Pelosi and others.

ROBERT COSTA: Terry, you’ve worked for some conservative senators over the year like senator – the former senator from South Carolina, Jim DeMint. You know that conservative Senate world. Are they going to see this as an opening? For now, those like Senator Rick Scott are being pretty hands off, but are they going to try to nudge McConnell out in the coming weeks?

TERRY SULLIVAN: Yes, look, no is the short answer. The — we’ve had very old United States senators since – since the first United States senators. This is nothing new. And it’s not even really an age issue if the argument is – I mean, look at Fetterman. So, you’ve got it on both sides of the aisle. You’ve got – you’ve got older – I mean Senator Feinstein. You’ve got this. Look, they’re going to — they’re not inclined to – to push out one of their own on either side clearly.

ROBERT COSTA: When you look at the elections, we’re always talking about 2024, but I’m paying attention to 2023, these off year elections as well. You’re going to have legislative elections in Virginia. Glenn Youngkin, the governor, the Republicans out there talking about them a lot. Elections in Kentucky, Mississippi, elsewhere this fall.

What are you paying attention to? Because they’re often a good read on what’s going to happen the next year?

ASHLEY ETIENNE: Well, I’m paying attention to the issues that voters are – that are driving voter turnout. That’s what’s going to be important to me. Is it going to be abortion? Is it democracy? The frugality of American democracy? Is it the economy? What’s going to turn out voters? But specifically these independent voters that are going to make the difference.

ROBERT COSTA: What do you think is going to really get them out this fall?

ASHLEY ETIENNE: Well, I think it’s going to be abortion. I think it’s going to be democracy. It’s those two issues. And that’s –

ROERT COSTA: Same issues from 2022.

ASHLEY ETIENNE: Absolutely. And that’s what the president and his campaign are banking on. They’re going to make those issues central to his argument. One we know for a fact – well, according to polls, 70 percent of independents don’t want — they don’t want a candidate who’s anti-abortion. And when it comes to democracy, half the country believes that Donald Trump is guilty of having cheated the election.

So, those are going to be two issues that they’re going to keep very central to the argument because it drives the Democratic base, but it also drives independent moderate Republican voters. And they’re going to make the difference in all of these elections.

ROBERT COSTA: Ashley’s point about democracy brings up the question of former President Trump facing four criminal investigations, indictments. How is that going to affect, not just the Republican race — and we’ve talked about that a ton – but how could it affect the general election next year?

TERRY SULLIVAN: Yes, who the heck knows. I mean, let’s be honest, nothing that – that — about Donald Trump’s campaigns have ever been – been conventional or easy to predict. So, I do think that we’re in unknown territory here.

And just as, you know, oddly enough half of America thought that being indicted was going to tank his – his campaign, the other half thought that it was going to – to be a rallying cry. It turns out it’s the latter at the moment. I mean since he’s been indicted, for the first time in New York his polling numbers have gone up on the Real Clear Politics average.

ASHLEY ETIENNE: They’re not staying there, Terry, yet.

TERRY SULLIVAN: Yes, but that’s – well, but they’ve gone up.

ASHLEY ETIENNE: You get a bump but you don’t get –


ASHLEY ETIENNE: You have to sustain the numbers. You know, we’re political people. It’s all about (INAUDIBLE) sustaining the numbers.

ROBERT COSTA: We — we could keep this conversation going all morning. We might just do that. But, for now, we’ll be back in a moment.


ROBERT COSTA: President Biden said last week there were positive signs in the August jobs report as wages outpaced inflation. And the number of jobs added to the economy exceeded expectations. On Friday we spoke with Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, who just returned from her visit to China, and began by asking her why CBS News polling shows the administration’s economic efforts are not resonating with some Americans.


GINA RAIMONDO (Secretary of Commerce): I think the reality is that inflation still exists and it – it is, you know, something that people see on a daily basis when they go to the grocery store or pay their rent or pay their mortgage. And we have to know that. You know, that’s still a challenge for folks.

That being said, if you look at where we are today, compared to when the president took office, it’s an unbelievable story of progress. The economy — we’re among the strongest economies in the world. We all went through Covid, right? Europe did. China did. Asia did. Yet we have emerged the fastest and the strongest.

So, I don’t want to minimize what Americans are feeling. And that’s why we get up and go to work every day. But this economy, by any measure, is doing incredibly well and much better than anyone could have predicted, I think, three years ago when we started.

ROBERT COSTA: The White House is working with Congress to hammer out an agreement on a short-term funding measure to avoid an October 1st partial federal government shutdown.

When you talk to business leaders right now, are they worried about this deadline and what a shutdown could mean for the U.S. economy?

GINA RAIMONDO: Yes, they are worried. They are very worried. They are, I think, in some cases, frustrated that this is how government operates. You know, what businesses need to be successful is – is predictability. You know, predictability. Some semblance of, you know, regular order. And so these sorts of disruptions that are mainly driven by politics, it’s a – it’s a challenge for the economy and have the potential to set us back. So, I do hope that there will be a speedy resolution.

ROBERT COSTA: Secretary, you are the first commerce secretary in five years to be on the ground in China in recent days. What progress, if any, do you think you made on the ground there?

GINA RAIMONDO: I think we made a great deal of progress. In terms of concrete deliverables, I was able to open three specific lines of communication with the Chinese, which is a huge step forward. We haven’t really had any contact in more than five years. So, we agreed to share information about export controls. We agreed to open a dialog on commercial issues, which is so important because China has not treated U.S. business fairly and so it’s – we’ve got to put those issues on the table. And we agreed to have exchange around trade secrets, another area where businesses need to — deserve to know that their trade secrets will be protected in China.

ROBERT COSTA: You said on the trip that, quote, increasingly I hear from American business that China is uninvestable because it becomes too risky. So, what exactly did you get in terms of those assurances from the Chinese that would really give confidence to American business leaders?

GINA RAIMONDO: They said that they would talk to American businesses and begin to address these issues. Like, for example, one of the complaints I hear frequently from U.S. business — by the way, business who are used to doing business in difficult parts of the world — they say that, you know, China’s regulations are not at all transparent. You know, they’ll raid a business in March and not explain what went on for many months. They will arrest folks, but not provide due process or tell you what happened. And so when I expressed these concerns, I was heard. I wasn’t given any promises.

But one thing that I think we can take a bit of heart in is, it’s in China’s interests, it’s in their economic interests, to have foreign direct investment and to make sure, you know, they had a very good economy when they were market oriented and reform minded.

ROBERT COSTA: Do you trust the Chinese at this point, after all of your conversations, after digesting what happened on your trip, do you trust them?

GINA RAIMONDO: Trust is probably not the word I would use. We need to see action. And until we see action, there can be no trust.

ROBERT COSTA: And they hacked into your own e-mail account, so that might have hurt the ability to have a trustworthy relationship.

GINA RAIMONDO: Exactly. And I said that. You know, hacking my account erodes trust. Undermining American workers by over subsidizing certain industries erodes trust. Treating American businesses unfairly on the ground erodes trust.

ROBERT COSTA: When you were over there, did you get insights, if any, about whether the Chinese economy is slowing down and how concerning would that be for the United States?

GINA RAIMONDO: I think there’s no question that it is slowing down, and certainly they’re having real, real significant challenges in the real estate sector, which they readily acknowledged when I was there. But again, the — to my mind the facts are quite clear in this regard. When China was more market oriented, open, you know, a little bit more transparent, their economy did very well. And more recently, as they have closed down and become more arbitrarily in the way they administer regulations, the economy is quite challenged. So, time will tell.

ROBERT COSTA: And I’m often out on the campaign trail, Secretary, and I know you stay out of politics, but one thing I’m hearing from so many Republicans across the country, especially governors, they want to block Chinese companies from making investments and buying farmland in the United States.

Does the Biden administration and do you support Chinese companies making investments and buying farmland in the United States?

GINA RAIMONDO: We have to be very, very careful. We have to screen every investment and make a decision as to whether it hurts our national security or not. Not every investment from China into America is — harms our national security, but many do. And so it’s a case-by-case basis, looking into the facts and being as tough as we need to be, but also being, you know, realistic and not hyperbolic, just being — like I say, practical. It’s time it to be practical, pragmatic and serious about managing every aspect of this relationship.

ROBERT COSTA: Secretary Raimondo, we appreciate you taking the time. Thank you.

GINA RAIMONDO: Thank you. Have a great Labor Day weekend.


ROBERT COSTA: You can watch the full interview on our website,

We’ll be right back.


ROBERT COSTA: As millions of students stream back to school, there is concern over the mounting learning loss many children experienced during the Covid pandemic.

Mark Strassmann reports.


MARK STRASSMANN (voice over): Across America, the three-year pandemic erased decades of incremental gains in public schools and widened gaps between top and bottom performers.

ANDREW HO, HARVARD PROFESSOR: I hope that results like these are that wake- up call, right. My kids, our kids weren’t in school.

MARK STRASSMANN: Harvard Professor Andrew Ho is talking about widespread learning losses. In one study, today’s third through eighth graders need roughly four months more instruction in math and reading to catch up to pre-pandemic students.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The declines that we saw because of the pandemic won’t just automatically undue themselves.

MARK STRASSMANN: Another post-pandemic issue, a doubling of chronic absenteeism in some states. After years of remote learning, millions of parents and kids see little point in going to school.

Of particular concern.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How to make sure that extra inequality that the pandemic caused doesn’t become permanent.

MARK STRASSMANN (on camera): For many schools it’s shaping up as a daunting exercise in catching up. Pressure on teachers, pressure on schools, because there’s no way kids can learn if there’s no one to teach them.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are starting the school year with classrooms that do not have assigned teachers. It is a very real crisis.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You can post a job and there — no one will apply.

MARK STRASSMANN (voice over): In 2021, the Biden administration gave school districts another $122 billion. Twenty percent of that was earmarked for helping students recover academically. Among the spending, in-person and online tutoring. But experts say real gains will only come by working harder, faster, longer.

HO: The challenge right now is how to make that more appealing and to give the public a sense of urgency that we don’t seem to currently have.


ROBERT COSTA: That was Mark Strassmann reporting.

And that’s it for us today. Thanks for watching.

For FACE THE NATION, I’m Robert Costa.

(ANNOUNCEMENTS) Full transcript of “Face the Nation,” September 3, 2023

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