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tv   Inside Politics With John King  CNN  April 18, 2022 9:00am-10:00am PDT

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hello and welcome to "inside politics." i'm dana bash in washington. john king is off today. we begin with intensifying attacks across ukraine in russia's war. in the western city of lviv, a place that's been relatively safe, it was hit by multiple russian missile strikes. at least seven people were killed and 11 hurt, including a child. one blast shattered windows in a hotel housing ukrainian evacuees. in eastern ukraine, kremena in
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the luhansk region is now in russian hands. a ukrainian official says russian forces opened fire on a car filled with civilians trying to escape the town, killing four people. a top official is pleading with residents in luhansk to leave now saying there are no safe places left in the region. and ukraine is desperately trying to hold on to the port city mariupol amid intense shelling and fighting. russian forces are expected to close entry and exit to that city. they're going to do that today, according to that official as they introduce a pass system to restrict movement. president zelenskyy says several thousand children were taken from mariupol and nobody knows where they are. in an exclusive interview with my colleague jake tapper, president zelenskyy reiterated he will not give up any part of ukraine to end the war. >> translator: ukraine and the
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people of our state are absolutely clear. we don't want anyone else's territory, and we are not going to give up our own. >> let's get straight to matt rivers who is in lviv. that's a city that has really been spared from the intense fighting and the attacks. what do we know about the missile strikes that hit your city where you are overnight? >> yeah, no question that lviv has fared so much better in this war than so many other cities here in ukraine. and yet this relative lull, peaceful lull here in lviv was shattered this morning with four different fylf strikes landing across the city of lviv. according to a midday press conference with ukrainian officials they say that three of those missiles hit areas with military infrastructure involved. the fourth hit an auto repair shop. and we know that firsthand
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because my team and i went to the site of that fourth strike. when we arrived, we could see clearly on the sign of one of the two buildings that we saw burning, it said auto body repair shop. it was not a military base. it didn't have seemingly any strategic value. it just is seemingly another example of what we've seen russia do throughout this war which is target, intentionally or otherwise, this civilian area. so we spoke to the owner of this auto body shop. he said several of his employees were killed. they had simply arrived to work in the morning, brp to start their shift, open their doors around 9:00 a.m. to customers and the missile hit between 8:20 and 8:30. multiple people in his shot were also sent to the hospital. across the street we spoke to an elderly woman who lives by herself. she's about 500 feet away from where the missile struck. she was washing her face when her bathroom window was just blown in by the force of that explosion. and she is now considering moving to poland. something she wouldn't have
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thought she would have had to consider given the relative safety of being here in lviv. we had seen several weeks go by without any strikes in and around this area. it was a few days ago that several cruise missiles were shot out of the air by air defense systems here, according to ukrainian officials. but just two days after those air raid sirens went off, this morning the sirens went off and the strikes were successful, according to ukraine's military. >> matt rivers, thank you for that report. with me now is beth sanner, former deputy director of national intelligence. beth, we thought the russian strategy was to zero in on the eastern part of ukraine where putin wants to secure a so-called land bridge to crimea. what do you think the strategy is behind this fresh attack on lviv and the west? >> i think that there are two things going on. one is the use of missiles and artillery to soften things in
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the east before the infantry tank battles that will ensue. what's happening in the west is a lot of that is aimed at military targets. it looks like, you know, they are striking fuel depots, military depots where the weapons that we are shipping in might be stored. and, you know, 3 out of the 4 missiles. and it looks like they used precision-guided cruise missiles for this strike. didn't hit military targets, but it seemed like those ware houses were empty. >> what does that tell you as an expert on intelligence about where russian intelligence is that they hit mostly -- not only empty warehouses, but places where civilians were? the civilian part of it obviously we've seen and it is just horrific and monstrous what they are doing. but if their goal was actually a military one, what does it tell you about intelligence? >> so the precision strike
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missiles that they use should be able to hit exactly where they want, from what i'm seeing. so either they missed on the garage and they -- it was a failure and they have a high failure rate of these precision-guided missiles or they have bad intelligence. they also have bad intelligence that those warehouses were empty. you know, this has been a repeated problem for the russians in this war. they have terrible intelligence. they are not going to find spies in lviv to tell them where these things are, and the fsb, the internal service that's responsible for this, they are undergoing what looks like a pretty big purge because they have done such a bad job and also because putin thinks that they may be sources of the leaks and the intelligence that has gotten out by the americans especially. >> that's so fascinating. let's talk again about the eastern front. russia is ramping up attacks on mariupol where ukrainian forces are refusing to surrender.
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is that city important now, not just from a military point of view but from a psychological standpoint? >> it is. it's kind of the last stand in a way. one of the deputy defense minister for ukraine today -- yesterday talked about mariupol as being the shield that is protecting ukraine. and i think that shield is military and that the russian forces that are tied down there can then move into other battles. but i think it's also the psychological thing. and foreign minister also talked about how mariupol and the fall of mariupol, what happens there, may be a real red line for them in order to be able to conduct negotiations. how can they conduct negotiations with the atrocities that everyone is seeing in mariupol? so it is a huge psychological issue. but it's also going to be a big win for russia.
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and something that putin can say, oh, they actually seized something. >> you talk about negotiations. you heard president zelenskyy tell jake tapper, like that's not on the table. we aren't negotiating. is your sense, though, that if, in fact, mariupol does fall that that stance could change? >> no, i think that both zelenskyy and foreign minister kaleva have been clear there will be no military negotiations until the end of the donbas phase of this war. something is going to have to give for them to go back to the table because too much blood has been shed. they can't gosht with the russians right now and, frankly, the russians aren't negotiating with them. so it's kind of moot. >> yeah, no, that's a very good point. spain announced today that it will reopen its embassy in kyiv in the next few days. france and italy, the eu, slovenia, they are all resuming
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their diplomatic presence in ukraine. the u.s. isn't planning to do that as of now. you think that's a mistake? >> yes, i do think it's a mistake, and i think it's a hangover from domestic politics in my view. if we can remember back to president obama's term in office and the loss of diplomatic lives in benghazi and hours and hours of grilling of testimony of hillary clinton blaming the state department for the loss of life there. i think that that feeling has led to a very risk-averse state department and biden administration and they are really afraid of not putting any american diplomats' lives at stake, but there is not -- there are no diplomats inside ukraine right now. they're all in poland. and i think that we are not playing that right. we have to be able to take risks. >> so if you were asked by the president and tony blinken, the
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secretary of state, how big of a diplomatic presence should we put in there and where exactly should they be and so forth, what would your answer be? >> i mean, at a minimum, we should be sitting in lviv, and i think that we should put a couple of people who are volunteers, and i bet you we'll have a million volunteers, to reopen the embassy in kyiv. and that's the right thing to do. >> yeah, but such an important point about the hangover from the absolute tragedy of what happened all those years ago in libya. beth, thank you so much. really appreciate your insight. >> thank you. coming up -- no safe places left. that's how one ukrainian official describes the eastern area of the country. we're live on the ground in that region, next. beam and sizzling sounds] ♪
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only pay for what you need. ♪ liberty, liberty, liberty, liberty. ♪ intense bombardments in the kharkiv and luhansk regions. they also accused the russians of bombing residential areas where crowds of people were gathered, including hospitals. cnn's ben wedeman is live in the eastern city of kramatorsk. ben, what are you seeing there? >> well, what we saw overnight was a cruise missile hitting this town. nobody was hurt or injured, we understand, but it did cause a lot of damage. but this is nothing compared to what other towns and cities along the front line are experiencing. one town at 5:00 a.m. local time, kraminna, fell to russian forces. before that, local officials said because of the intensity of
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the fighting in and around that town, it was impossible for people to evacuate. nonetheless, some people tried and four of the five people in that car were killed. now the head of the luhansk military administration is saying that nowhere in eastern ukraine, where we are, is safe at that point. and certainly what we've seen in the last 24 hours, particularly overnight, is an intensification of bombardment. now there are dozens of cities without -- or towns without electricity, without gas. some of them have no access to the internet and officials everywhere, we spoke to the governor of kramatorsk where we are. today he said i've been trying. i've been trying. i've been urging everyone to leave this city as quickly as possible. still about a quarter of the population remains. most people who are here will tell you that it's my home.
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i don't want to leave. and some have a rather -- a bit of confidence that the russians will be stopped, but certainly given what we've seen today, basically strikes all over ukraine and intense strikes in this part of the country does not bode well. dana? >> not at all to hear people saying i'm going to be okay. i'm safe. it just is an eerie reminder of so many wars we've seen over history of people feeling that way. i just want to say as we were checking him out before we came to you, general eaton, who we're about to talk to, said he is very proud to be associated with people like you and your crew. and i couldn't agree more. thank you so much for everything that you're doing. that reporting. and stay safe, as you can. thank you, ben. with me now is retired major general and cnn military analyst paul eaton. germ eaton, i want to start with
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some news we just got. the u.s. is assessing that russia has added 11 battalion tactical groups to their forces in the east and the south of ukraine since last week. that's according to a senior u.s. defense official. so they are building their military postures there. what does that tell you? >> well, dana, a couple of things. one, that's a little bit bigger than a standard u.s. armored division when we talk about 11 tactical groups. that add at this out sounds a whole lot like last-minute commanding general requirements, and all i can sense right now is absolute chaos and confusion on the russian side as they try to absorb forces into a complex, a very complex maneuver. >> well, that's interesting. chaos and confusion. certainly we heard that earlier
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in the program when talking about the -- the strikes overnight in the west in lviv. but why specifically does this news tell you as a military retired general, why does it tell you that there's chaos in the russian ranks? >> the russians are and have proven to be incompetent at command and control. they are having a very hard time communicating laterally and up and down the chain of command. when you add forces in extremists, the u.s. can do that very well. very agile, practiced force. the russians, not so much. and to see that number of forces added into the offensive mix that we've got in the east right now, just strikes me as a very difficult command and control problem for the russians to be able to absorb that force and then to properly sustain that
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force. this army, this russian army has proven to be absolutely incompetent at giving their men what they need to fight the war. it is unsustainable to throw forces that you are not prepared to support logistically. >> meanwhile, from the point of view of the ukrainians, the military governor in eastern ukraine is warning there nor safe places in the region and one town in the front lines is under russian control. is this a tipping point moment? >> i don't see it as a tipping point moment for the russians in a good way. i see this as a continued failure on their part to man trained equipment to organize, to conduct a complex combined arms maneuver.
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the fact that there's no safe place in ukraine makes it all the more imperative that the counterbattery radar, the long-range killing systems, mlrs, himars, we need to get that into the ukrainian hands as quickly as possible. and if they are using ships in the black sea, and i believe they are, we have seen evidence of that, to launch cruise missiles, we need to put the russian navy on notice. nato naval forces need to step up their presence in the area, and we need to tell the russians that their freedom of naval action is about to be over. >> that sounds, from the perspective of nato and certainly the kinds of statements we've heard from the biden administration, wanting to not escalate militarily.
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that that would be pretty escalatory, but you're saying it's necessary? >> dana, we need to start taking the initiative on the nato side. we have allowed putin to focus on a very small part of the planet, and we need to open up his worry factors associated with his forces in the black sea. and elsewhere. we need to open up opportunities for him to be very worried about what may happen, and i think that this would be our chance to capitalize on the loss of the "moskva." >> they say they'll never surrender in mariupol, but the situation is bleak. russia is telling resisting forces, prepare to be eliminated and they are saying the
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remaining men will be filtered out, which is a terrifying term. what do you see when you look at what's happening there? >> this is an increasingly disastrous situation for the men and women of the south. the men and women along the corridor that you would make between mariupol and odesa. make no mistake, odesa is the prize here. we, nato, must not allow odesa to fall. that is a european problem. that is not a ukrainian problem. that is a european problem. and odesa and our ability to protect the economic critical zone for ukraine, we must do what we can to assist that. and all that means is increasing what we are delivering as quickly as we can and to develop
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long-range fires. >> so much to digest there. a lot of really important insight. thank you so much to major general and cnn military analyst paul eaton. appreciate it. up next, as putin's war drags on, thousands of ukrainians are facing a stark choice. stay in their homes in the war zone or flee to the very country attacking them? that's russia. stay with us. see him? he's not checkin' the stats. he's finding some investment ideas with merrill. eyes on the ball baby. digital tools so impressive, you just can't stop. eyes on the ball baby. what would you like the power to do? wet dishes? spots? cloudy glasses? when detergent alone isn't enough... ...add finish jet dry 3 in 1.
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day 54 of russia's brutal invasion of ukraine as millions of ukrainians flee to welcoming countries to escape war. many don't have that choice. in eastern ukraine, some residents have only one way out, and that is going toward moscow. cnn's selma abdelaziz joins me live with this story. >> dana, we spoke to one family that reached safety here in poland in a rather round-about and dangerous way. trapped in one of the cities in the east of ukraine, pinned down by russian forces, bombed and besieged, they say there was only one group out. once they reached russia, how do the get to safety here in poland? we followed one ukrainian american woman desperate to rescue her family. take a look.
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>> reporter: mila does not trust the man she's about to meet. he is a smuggler. she is anxious, looking for her mom and sister, hoping they are here. it's vida, her sister. brief joy, but there's no time to hug her mom. the smuggler wants to be paid now. 500 u.s. dollars for the pair. much more than most families fleeing war can afford. >> he doesn't want -- >> we pull away with her mom. we don't want our presence to cause problems. >> away from our camera, mila is extorted for more cash.
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getting to safety is dangerous. this is the story of one family's escape into russia after its troops bombed and occupied their city. they are from izyum, a city under siege. mila's phone was filled with videos like this. living in cleveland, ohio, she had no way to call her family. no way to find out if they were alive. so this is your room? we first met mila a day earlier at this refugee shelter where she volunteers. >> somebody saw that a missile hit my backyard. and i was crying so bad. i just didn't know -- >> how did you deal with that? >> i took that energy and convert it into something. >> reporter: she finally got a call, but it was not from izyum.
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>> i heard them for the first time after whole month. i was so torn. i was happy they alive, but i was terrified that they are in russia. and i don't know, should i be happy or should i be sad? >> reporter: mila's only option, she says, was to hire a smuggler to drive her family from russia to safety here in poland. >> somebody from poland gave me a number of people who transport, smuggling basically. obviously, it's dangerous. dangerous activity in russia. very dangerous. >> reporter: now they are reunited, but how did the victims of putin's war end up in russia? desperate to flee, they tell us they could only find one way out. a private driver offered a ride to the russian border. >> now they fill me in the details and it actually was even worse than i thought.
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and i already was terrified. >> were you scared to go to russia? >> i think i'm more afraid to stay with the war because it was hell and they needed to go somewhere to escape that. >> reporter: thousand of ukrainians have faced the same. many say they have no choice. it was go to russia or die. now what is unique about mila's story is that this family had mila, who has access to the internet, access to money, access to resources. essentially a way to get her family out of russia. for thousands of other ukrainians, that's simply not the case. they are stranded in a country they feel doesn't want them. a country that's bombed and besieged them. >> how lucky they were to have mila there to help them. thank you so much, salma abdelaziz. appreciate you for that report. up next, president biden's growing list of domestic and global crises tests his presidency. and democrats hold on power.
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margaret talev, francesca chambers and jeff zeleny. thank you so much, all of you, for being here. so jeff zeleny, i know we all have a sense that these numbers of joe biden's haven't changed much, but just to put up cnn's poll of polls, president biden's approval is 39%. his disapproval is 55%. he has had a tough go of it. >> he's had a tough year without question. these poll numbers are important but the numbers that are probably the most important are at the gas station and grocery store. that is what really people are feeling. average americans, even politically attuned americans aren't really following his poll numbers, but they are the gas prices. and the price of groceries. we all see how high it is. there's very little the profit either party can do about it, but he's stuck with it. one thing they're trying to, do he's traveling more, trying to get out of washington more. every president says i'm going to leave the white house more. he's actually doing it for a little bit this week. i was with him in iowa last week. he went to north carolina.
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he goes to new hampshire and washington and oregon state. i can't remember where he's travelled to three different states in one week. most presidents travel a little more than him. they're trying to make the case i've been infrastructure for you. i've done a lot for the economy, but it's people just aren't feeling it. the disconnect is real. >> you know who agrees with you? elizabeth warren. the senator from massachusetts. she wrote, democrats cannot bow to the wisdom of out of touch consultants who recommend we simply tout our accomplishments. instead, democrats need to deliver more on the president's agenda or we will not be in the majority much longer. >> yeah, but this is a controversial idea. this reflects the split in the party right now which is, do democrats work through this by promising more services, more help, more assistance, or do they work through this by preaching some degree of austerity and saying, we spent a lot of money to get through the covid pandemic and now it's time to tighten the belt and
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reprioritize and focus on bringing inflation without driving it into recession. those roughly represent the two conflicting strategic priorities for the democratic party right now. and that is going to play out through the midterms, but everyone is looking at 2024. and that's really what's driving a lot of this. >> that's so true. so on that, very interesting to see who is talking the most about inflation. when they're home talking to their constituents, for some of these people i'm going to show you, obviously on the campaign trail. democrats who talk most about inflation, this is quarom data. elizabeth warren. pramila jayapal who doesn't appear to be in any kind of tough race and don beyer. she's from washington, he's from virginia. when it comes to members who are going to be in tough races, the one who is talking the most, maybe the one who is for the most part only talking about it in a substantial way is sharice
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davids from kansas, where you grew up. >> that is where i grew up. you talked about playing out with the front line dems, probably because when you are looking at polling that is the number one issue. inflation and the economy are the number one issue for a majority of americans right now. you were talking about the split within the party about how to handle it. also a split about whether you talk more about what the accomplishments are, the number of jobs the white house says they've created. the supply chain issues. or if you just acknowledge, look, the numbers aren't good. we understand that the sort of -- i feel your pain that you heard from former president clinton. and that is the difficulty the white house is going to have to face moving forward. even if you agree that inflation is a problem, how do you solve it and how do you talk about it? >> i think if you look at the numbers, a lot of democrats themselves are not approving of the biden administration's performance. and if you talk to some democratic strategists, paul
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begala said democrats need to get in line behind biden. that would increase his approval rating. that's a lot of angst in the party. we'll see if the white house can pull people together and do a smaller version of the build back better. i remain skeptical that anything else will get passed this year. we're already almost may. we know what happens in may in an election year in congress. >> yeah, which is crickets. stand by, everybody. coming up, donald trump is betting on republican candidates who subscribe to his big lie. but will the mar-a-lago endorsements carry any political weight? we'll talk about that, next. bonnie boon i'm calling you out. everybody be cool, alright? with ringcentral we can pull bonnie up on phone, message, or video, all in the same app. oh... hey bonnie, i didn't see you there. ♪ ringntral ♪
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the republican primary in ohio is just over two weeks away. and former president donald trump is jumping swo into the fray. he endorsed j.d. vance in a very crowded gop senate race. trump also endorsed dr. oz in the pennsylvania senate race. and my panel is back with me now. two people who have something in common. they are celebrities. so there you go. you have donald trump endorsing them. again, in really crowded primaries. trump endorsed in ohio j.d. vance over a former state gop chair, former state treasurer, a well-known businessman and then in pennsylvania, dr. oz is running against david mccormick
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whose wife was in his administration. and his own former ambassador to denmark. what is your take on whether or not he is, as one source said to me this morning, a paper tiger, or these are going to matter? >> it's really interesting. they are going to matter. they may matter for trump as much as the outcome of the races. but i think it looks like there are really three patterns that we're watching play out. and one is that donald trump really believes in the power of celebrity. he wants to win these races in the general election and it's always going to be his instinct that fame and the ability to draw eyeballs will propel voters to the polls. there's a fair amount of him wanting to get revenge on the people who weren't with him. whether that's like directly not with him or whether it's like soft not with him. and vance is sort of an exception. i think trump's forgiveness of the past. the third is that we're seeing some of trump's own internal pressures. who does his wife want?
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who does hannity want? some of the influence that's pushing on him saying, go behind this person. he has acknowledged himself and everyone watching this that all of this is a gamble. i think in georgia, that's a very high stakes primary jockeying that we're seeing. and it looks like trump's top candidate is not in the strongest position. >> i mentioned celebrity, which you talked about. there's also a through line which is that they are supporting his lie. they are echoing his lie about the election. i want to read an excerpt from a big takeout "the new york times" did over the weekend. inspiring fear, hoarding cash, doling out favors, mr. trump is behaving not as a power broker but as something closer to the head of a 19th century political machine. >> when you look at the calendar, you mentioned ohio coming up. you also have georgia, north carolina, pennsylvania, alabama. all of those races will tell you a lot about the direction of the republican party, depending on whether the trump-endorsed
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candidates win or necessarily in alabama he pulled an endorsment of a candidate before that. but it will tell you about the type of candidates you'll get and, therefore, democrats are looking at that also and wondering, okay, maybe we can keep the senate depending on the type of candidates the republican party produces in some of these primaries. some of that won't be known, though, until later in the summer, early small when some of the other races like new hampshire or arizona also missouri have their primaries. >> jeff, you've been out covering so many of these primaries across the country. and yes, it is -- you were making this point, margaret, about these races. but it's also about 2024. that's the reason we're talking about this right now. >> for sure. >> what a former president does is like, okay, especially someone like trump. but it matters because it's telling about his own political prowess going forward. >> he is still the leader and loudest voice in the republican party. the question is, does it carry as much weight as it once did? we'll find out in may. ohio is the biggest example.
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and it wasn't just people were sort of trying to get the endorsement, which they all were. there's been an express from every one of these states down to mar-a-lago. people have been pleading with the former president for an endorsement. but in the final days before he announced the j.d. vance endorsement, all the republicans were trying to get him not to endorse j.d. vance. there are people who have twisted themselves into pretzels by saying they're so close to the former president. they so believe in the big lie. so it's been a loyalty test. we'll find out in the month of may how powerful he still is. you're right. this is all a precursor to 2024. does he still have the juice in the party he had before? as of now he has it more than anyone else, but it's probably not quite as much as it used to be. but may is a big test. >> if he doesn't do well and if his candidates don't win the primaries in a very robust way, that's probably really good news for governor desantis in florida or others who are trying to just kind of wait it out.
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>> it also shows some of the candidates in upcoming primaries if the prize for fealty is supposed to be the endorsement? that may not work out for you. may shape or impact some of that. >> we're seeing the endorsements have different effects. at north carolina, you now see him rising in the polls, whereas if you look at a state like ohio, j.d. vance, it's tough. >> we'll find out over the next two weeks. >> those are all really good points. are you ready for this dad joke? this tease? coming up, the egg-stravaganza returns. how was it? for the first time in two years, the white house easter egg roll is back in full swing. we'll take you there live, next. line? need. liberty biberty— cut. liberty... are we married to mutual? only pay for what you need. ♪ liberty. liberty. liberty. liberty. ♪
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president joe biden blowing the whistle for the first white house easter egg roll in two years. 30,000 visitors were invited for a egg-jucation-themed celebration. among the attendees, vice president kamala harris and doug emhoff, the second gianentleman. he held the first passover seder friday. i'm going to get straight to the white house to kate bennett who was covering this. i'm going to maybe avoid any more egg puns, but if you have
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any, go for it. >> you're cracking me up. >> oh! okay. well done. >> well, i will say, dana, the passover seder, the return of the easter egg roll, it's really the first time the biden administration has had a chance to entertain, you know, as we know typically the people's house is open for things like halloween celebrations and holiday, more robust holiday tours and the egg roll and state dinners, one of which i hear is in the works. certainly today's return of the easter egg roll after the break signals something for the biden administration which is having company again, opening the doors. 30,000 people were expected today. the weather has been a little iffy here in washington. so the -- there were crowds and weren't crowds of people running for cover, but overall kids and families were having a great time. i think it's important, again, jill biden, a lifetime educator is using her initiative. she's using what she knows.
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she made this eggucation themed event. lots of school, reading nook, all kinds of things but really centered around what she cares about. just nice to see the white house back open with people there. >> gosh, it sure is. looking at those images, it just feels like slowly getting back to normal. kate bennett, thank you for that. thank you for joining "inside politics." ana cabrera picks up our coverage right now. hello. i'm ana cabrera in new york. thank you for being with us. there is no safe place. deadly strikes in western ukraine, even as russia intensifies its eastern assault. russian missiles killed at least seven people in lviv. the smoke billowed just 43 miles from poland's border. for weeks, thousands fled violence seeking refuge in this


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