FOX NEWS: GOP strategist Karl Rove, columnist for "The Hill", Juan Williams, former Democratic Party chair, Donna Brazile, and cofounder of "The Federalist," Ben Domenech.
WALLACE: Democratic frontrunner Joe Biden promising he's going to be much tougher on his rivals in this week's presidential debates in Detroit, and we're back now with the panel.
Well, Karl, what do you expect from this next round of Democratic debates, and how do you explain the fact that despite his performance in the first debate, which was almost universally panned, that Joe Biden is still leading this Democratic field in the latest Fox poll this week by better than two to one?
KARL ROVE, CONTRIBUTOR: Yes. Well, he's got the biggest name ID, the biggest reputation, the biggest knowledge base. And also the attack by Harris was -- was a cheap shot. It turned out that they both had the same view, that they opposed federal government imposing busing but they accepted local school districts imposing busing. So, you know, that's what happened in her situation and they ended up being the same.
Also, Harris turned out to be a -- a not so good candidate. We've now seen her flip-flop on -- is she in favor of the Medicare for all, getting rid of all personal health insurance are not? She's been flipping, flopping on that. She's been flipping, flopping on a couple of other issues. She's not very clear. So she got a little bit of a bump, but she's falling back. They don't have a good alternative yet to Biden.
Having said that, what matters is who's got the best ground game in Iowa and does somebody seize a moment like Barack Obama did in 2008 and turn that ground game and the moment into a surprise upset in Iowa?
WALLACE: Juan, Biden will be standing Wednesday night between Kamala Harris on one side and Cory Booker on the other, both of whom have hit him on his record on race.
Given the fact that -- that support in the African-American community is the strongest pillar of his support in the primaries, that's where he really separates from the rest of the field, how hard do you expect them to go after him on Wednesday night?
JUAN WILLIAMS, POLITICAL ANALYST: Oh, it's going to be tough. I mean he's going to -- it's going to be a pincer movement just visually as you describe it.
Look, Biden lost seven to eight points in most polls after the last debate. The big winner was Harris. I disagree with Karl on this. I think Harris has proven to be a very strong candidate, able to move up in the polls, move up in terms of fundraising, move up in terms of name ID. People just know who she is given what you just talked about with Andrew Yang.
The second thing is that it's forced Biden to try to shore up his support. This week we had an NAACP convention in Detroit. The Urban League as in Indianapolis. Biden's out there with a new criminal justice plan. He's gone to South Carolina to apologize for saying that he worked with segregationists in the past.
And the reason for that is the cautionary tale of Hillary Clinton back in 2008. She had all the big endorsements. It looked like she had strong black support and then here comes Barack Obama, who does well enough in Iowa -- he wins Iowa, in fact, and then goes to South Carolina, which is going to set the parameters for all the southern primaries that follow large black constituencies and Obama beat Clinton by 29 percentage points in South Carolina and goes on to win it all. Biden doesn't want to see a repeat of that scene.
WALLACE: Donna, where do you see this Democratic race at this point going into these debates?
DONNA BRAZILE, CONTRIBUTOR: Well, first of all, I'm very excited. Night one is going to be the most exciting day, for two reasons. One, we have Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. I mean we have a progressive lane that we all know has been congested over the last couple of months and we're going to see which of those two have a real good plan for Medicare for all and many of the other -- ending college debt, et cetera.
WALLACE: But, wait a minute, they say that they're friends and they're not going to attack each other.
BRAZILE: Well, they may not attack each other, but they -- they will have to distinguish themselves. Elizabeth Warren has been coming up in the polls. She has a plan for everything. Even a plan for defeating Donald Trump.
So I think night one is going to be interesting. But, you know, night two is not just about race and Joe Biden and his standing. Night two is also these other candidates who are trying to play catch-up. They didn't have enough time, as you just heard from Andrew Yang, to introduce themselves. Night two is going to be also a very good evening for Democrats in the country.
WALLACE: Meanwhile, Nancy Pelosi and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez met on Friday for half an hour to try to work out their differences. There they were afterwards.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI, D-CALIF.: It's like you're in a family. In a family you have your differences. But you're still a family.
REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ, D-N.Y.: I'm looking forward to us continuing our work and, as always, I think the -- the speaker respects, you know, the -- the fact that we're coming together as a party.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: So, Ben, do you think that it's all sweetness and rainbows and lollipops in the Democratic caucus? And -- and, seriously, how much do you think AOC and the other members of "the squad," the more progressive members, threaten Pelosi's control of the caucus?
BEN DOMENECH, "THE FEDERALIST": I think it's a significant long-term threat for the Democratic Party. Families can be dysfunctional too and in all sorts of ways. And I think in this circumstance, you know, we saw this week the power of Nancy Pelosi work in one way. You had, you know, the Mueller hearings sort of go down the way that she actually thought it was going to go down, a disappointing summer reboot if it was the movie version of the book. You had her getting all of her conference together really when it came to this budget deal, including AOC at the last minute making the decision to support that.
But in terms of what's going forward, with the future looks like for the Democratic Party. The fact is that these young members, who have come in, have a real message, a theory of the case that is a critique of the Obama administration, that under -- that they view it as being -- having taken a route was too pro-corporate in lots of different ways, of not going down a road differently on health care perhaps that they would have liked to see in that -- in that case. And they're very much of a progressive mind-set on all these different areas and they're not going away.
They have huge microphones. They have a huge following. It's only going to increase. And I think that in the long term, this type of -- of divide within the Democratic Party could prove difficult when it comes to winning national elections. They plan into President Trump's argument that the Democratic Party is too radical for the moment. So even if you don't like him, even if you don't like where he is, this is what you have to look forward to in a future administration.
WALLACE: But -- but what about the argument that Nancy Pelosi made when she wasn't being so consolatory, hey, these are just four congresswomen, four votes, when they had the big bill about humanitarian aid to the border, all they got was their own votes.
DOMENECH: The votes that they have are far less important than their ability to reach out and change the narrative. This is what we saw with the Tea Party as well. The fact that they had a certain number of members who were in -- of this particular mind-set was far less important than what they represented. The ability to challenge significant statewide politicians. And to, you know -- in Karl's own state of Texas, knock off someone as powerful as David Dewhurst in the case -- the case of Ted Cruz, sends a message to Washington.
Now, these are just four members of Congress. Of course this is not the kind of movement that we've seem take on nationally. But I do think it's one that is growing and it's going to particularly grow among young, left of center voters.
WILLIAMS: They are best known among Republicans according to the polls. And why is that? Because they are convenient foils for Republicans to say, oh, all this Democrats are socialists.
We were just talking about the ongoing race. Who's the leading candidate? Oh, Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren. These aren't radicals.
DOMENECH: And their agenda -- but their -- their --
BRAZILE: And they're energizing the party --
DOMENECH: But their agendas are going to end up closer to where AOC and where Omar and where these other candidates are than they will to the Joe Biden of just four years ago.
BRAZILE: But -- but they have been -- they have energized the party. They're helping to redefine the party. But they are not the -- at the leadership table. Nancy Pelosi is still the leader of the Democratic Party.
ROVE: Yes, but they are systematically calling for challenges to Democrats. It's not an accident. They're challenging the Jerry Nadler from the left. They're challenging the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee from the left. And as a result, Democrats are being pulled to the left.
How many people would have normally stood up there and said, yes, I'm for the green new deal after the goofy piece of document that they laid out talking about cow flatulence? How many people would have stood up and said, we're in favor of some of these other things that they're doing?
They are driving the narrative. I agree with Ben, they -- their -- their control is not in numbers, it's in the voice. And the voices is going to get larger because the Republicans are going to pay attention to it, the media likes it and they have mastered social media to a degree that it really is driving -- driving a lot of incentive in the party (ph).
WALLACE: What about that argument, Donna, that, yes, I mean in terms of their effect on the House is limited, but in terms of their effect in the national conversation and politics, in other words, as an inside game, the caucus, there's an outside game, Twitter followers?
BRAZILE: Well, look, they have a lot of Twitter followers. But you know what, we need people who can move legislation. We need people who can move votes. They are very good in terms of helping to grow the Democratic Party, but I don't see them right now setting the narrative for 2020. Not yet.
ROVE: Well, look, nobody knows what the House Democrats have done in the way of passing bills, but they know lots about AOC and Tlaib and Omar and Pressley in this -- this element. And its only going to get worse.
BRAZILE: And we have President Trump and his tweets to also thank for that.
WILLIAMS: And I think the GOP has been broken down by Trump. I mean the GOP is just basically the party of Trump behind that. I don't think you can say that about the Democrats.
ROVE: Nice dodge. Nice dodge, Juan, trying to change the subject as --
WALLACE: You're -- you're all pretty good at that.
WALLACE: I want to say, I thoroughly enjoyed the last two or 3 minutes. I just sat there and watched the panel work.
Thank you, panel.
BRAZILE: Well, Chris, as a -- as -- but as a woman, I am so proud of them. Proud of them.