North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper on Trump and the midterm elections – “The Takeout”

President Biden’s re-election prospects are better after the midterms, a Trump-led ticket would not win North Carolina again in 2024, and Democrats defied expectations because the party’s governors were leading the way, according to North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper .

“I expect him to do that,” Cooper said of Biden’s bid for re-election in an appearance on The Takeout podcast. “I just had a conversation with him a few days ago. I support him. He was an amazing president. I told him I’m going to try and win North Carolina. If he makes the decision, I’m 100% with him.”

Trump won North Carolina in 2016 and 2020, but Cooper, chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, doesn’t see the former president winning his state again in 2024 should he be the GOP nominee.

“No, he won’t,” Cooper said. “I ran for governor in 2016 and 2020 and won at the same time Trump won North Carolina. I know the people here. I don’t think North Carolina will make that mistake again.”

Cooper said Democratic governors have defied medium-term expectations by championing achievements of the Biden presidency and suggested this is a roadmap for 2024.

“The results that were achieved in Washington helped what was happening across America,” Cooper said. “I think people are deeply concerned that another Trump will become President or someone similar to Trump. And that possibility is very, very real. We know the President has a track record of stopping Trump. He will have a track record of four years. One thing I’ve known about Joe Biden for a long time, you can never, ever count him. He always finds a way to get where he wants to go.

Cooper described the landslide gubernatorial defeats of Democrats Charlie Crist in Florida and Beto O’Rourke in Texas as “disappointing,” reflecting a harsh political climate influenced by inflation, crime and Mr. Biden’s low approval ratings.

“This would be a headwind year for Democratic candidates,” Cooper said. “And one of the hardest things in politics is defeating an incumbent governor.”

Cooper recognized the importance of Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis’ victory in Florida, highlighted by victory in historic Democratic stronghold Miami-Dade County in a 19-point loss. But he still hopes Democrats can still win the state’s 30 electoral votes in 2024.

“I believe that in the right year with the right candidates, Florida can still be in the game for the Democrats,” Cooper said. “We definitely don’t want to write it off.”

Cooper also called DeSantis “divisive.”

“It’s extreme politics that plays on people’s fears,” Cooper said. “Republicans have always been masters at playing on people’s fears. What we need to do is address these issues head-on. Training. The classroom is not a place for culture wars. We have to teach science and history and math and reading and we don’t have to put our kids in the middle. I think we can take care of that.

Cooper said Democrats still stumble when it comes to explaining their priorities and achievements. He didn’t disagree with California Gov. Gavin Newsom, who told CBS News ahead of the Midterms that Democrats are “overwhelmed by narratives.”

“Democrats are very good at getting things done,” Cooper said. “We’re not always good at how we talk about them. President Biden would tell you that himself. Working hard, fighting each other as it goes. That’s the conflict. (The media) focus on intra-party disputes about how we should do things. We need to keep working on how we talk about things.

He also pointed out that Democratic governors had their best midterm election since 1986, and credited activism related to voters’ concerns about abortion access.

“We understand that voters are not one-dimensional,” Cooper said. “We understood that with this horrific U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning women’s five decades of reproductive freedom, state capitals and state legislatures would now truly establish a constitutional right. Your zip code shouldn’t interfere with your constitutional rights, but that’s where we are now.”

highlights:

  • The Democrats lose the gubernatorial elections in Florida and Texas: “One of the hardest things in politics is to defeat an incumbent governor. Governors do so much work that affects people’s daily lives. And even if you’re not that good a governor, it’s still difficult to root one out. And this just wasn’t the time for Democrats to thrive in Texas and Florida. But they are still on the Democratic map. We need to go in there and look for ways we can improve the processes there. I don’t pretend to be an expert on how we do it, but I know these two states are too important to our country. Too many people live there. We must continue to work to ensure that we can make some progress in these two states.
  • Recipe for successful Democratic governors: “I think the Democratic governors did a much better job this time communicating to people what they are doing to influence the issues that matter. And it was multidimensional. We heard a lot of pundits when these swing states came up. The polls would swing one way or the other. The fact of the matter remained, Democratic governors stood firm in what they did and what they communicated as well — affecting costs to the families they care about but also reminding people that hey, the Democracy is on the brink. And we know that if we don’t elect Democratic governors, people’s abortion rights will be swept away. The combination of these issues won the day for the Democratic governors.
  • Democrats win seats in state legislature: “We haven’t paid enough attention to state governors, state races, and state legislative races for decades. Republicans have paid attention to this for decades, gaining control in many states where they shouldn’t. I think the Democrats woke up. By then, especially when President Trump came in, the Supreme Court started ripping away rights. We now have more matters to be decided at the state level. I think this time the Democrats have paid significantly more attention to the state governors and what’s happening in the state legislature. And I hope what we Democrats have learned is that we need to keep investment and attention, that the US Supreme Court is going to be there for quite a while. We don’t know what’s coming. Rights and freedoms that can be decided at the state level, who is the governor, who is the state legislature in these states will be very important to ordinary people.
  • Impact of the Midterms on Trump and the GOP: “I have given up predicting what is happening in the Republican Party. You know, I work closely with the Republicans in North Carolina. I think people expect us to try to work on solutions together. But since President Trump was elected, a majority of the Republican Party has pretty much told us that they favor autocracy as long as their husbands are in charge. And President Trump, the candidates he supports, had a bad night, no question. The question is will that transfer become a bad thing for Trump. I don’t know if Governor DeSantis will give him a run in the primary. I assume Trump will run. DeSantis has an uphill battle because it’s going to be difficult to shake off People because not enough Republicans have had the guts to stand up to him. They just didn’t do it. We’ll see if that changes.”

Executive Producer: Arden Farhi

Producers: Jamie Benson, Jacob Rosen, Sara Cook and Eleanor Watson

CBSN Production: Eric Soussanin
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