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Politics chat: Pence declines to endorse Trump, TikTok ban and young voters

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MIKE PENCE: It should come as no surprise that I will not be endorsing Donald Trump this year.

AYESHA RASCOE, HOST:

It's a little bit of a surprise. That, of course, is Mike Pence, Donald Trump's vice president. He was speaking on Fox News Friday. NPR White House correspondent Asma Khalid is here to discuss that and more political news. Good morning, Asma.

ASMA KHALID, BYLINE: Good morning, Ayesha.

RASCOE: So I don't know how damaging Pence's nonendorsement will be, but it does seem damning, particularly given how other Republicans who've been critical of Donald Trump nevertheless are backing him for president again.

KHALID: You're right. I mean, there are a long list of Republicans who essentially, as Donald Trump became the presumptive GOP nominee, quickly lined up to endorse him. You know, I'm thinking of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell from Kentucky, New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu and then, of course, the governor of Georgia, Brian Kemp, whose name really intrigued me because I'm sure you recall, Ayesha, that he refused to buckle to pressure from Trump in 2020 and overturn the results of the election there in Georgia. I will say, you know, none of these endorsements are real ringing endorsements of the former president, but it does seem - and they say - that they think that Trump would be a better alternative than Biden in November. I will say that I think Mike Pence's announcement to me was nonetheless very intriguing because he is the most high-profile Republican to publicly say he will not back Donald Trump. And I am curious to watch if there are others who in the coming months follow suit.

But I think one big question this November is who falls in line. We've seen that Trump has problems with a portion of the traditional Republican Party and voters who are repelled by the kinds of comments Donald Trump made last night in Ohio when he said some migrants are not people and predicted a, quote, "bloodbath" if he loses. Whether those folks do come around or whether, on the flip side, Joe Biden, who has troubles with a portion of his base, with young voters, people who are voting uncommitted in the primaries - whether they come around. And I think we saw a sign of that just last week. Biden - a group of senior White House officials, traveled to Chicago in part to alleviate voters' frustrations there around the Gaza crisis. They met with Arab American and Muslim leaders, and Chicago is important because it's the site of the Democratic convention where Joe Biden will officially be nominated.

RASCOE: So, Asma, you've been reporting on Kamala Harris' role in the campaign, you know, Vice President Kamala Harris' role in the campaign. What stands out to you as you've looked into that?

KHALID: Yeah. Well, I got a story on Morning Edition, so a quick plug for that for folks listening in, about the VP's role tomorrow morning. You know, I think that like many vice presidents, she is the chief campaign surrogate. She has the opportunity to travel more than a president who might get pulled away to deal with some crises, per se, here in Washington. I think what's also interesting, though, is that the Biden campaign believes that she has a unique appeal to women, voters of color and young people. And so, you know, we saw this past week she visited an abortion clinic in Minnesota. She was the first president or vice president to do this. This coming week, she'll be visiting the site of the Parkland school shooting, where back in 2018, 17 people were killed. Gun violence, we know, is a huge concern for young voters.

And I think one thing that's been very interesting is that the VP is not just trying to mobilize voters. You know, there are a lot of people who have concerns about Joe Biden's age, and I think the flip side of that is her showing that she is competent and a real leader, and she'll have many months ahead to do that, to try to do that.

RASCOE: So in all seriousness, if we're talking about appealing to young voters, one thing they probably won't find appealing is a ban on TikTok. So where does that stand?

KHALID: Well, last week, the House passed this bipartisan bill on Wednesday, which I think is very noteworthy in itself because the House does not do much of anything on a bipartisan basis these days. It gave TikTok's parent company an ultimatum - either sell the company to an American buyer or be banned from operating in the U.S. Fans of the app are not fans of this at all. They also point out that if it's such a national security threat, then why is the Joe Biden campaign using it? The fate of this bill is now in the hands of the Senate. Biden has said he will sign it if it comes to him. But, yeah, young folks are livid. A Pew Research Center survey last year found about a third of 18 to 29-year-olds regularly get their news from TikTok, so this puts Democrats in kind of an awkward position.

RASCOE: That's NPR's Asma Khalid. Asma, thank you.

KHALID: Always good to talk to you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Ayesha Rascoe is a White House correspondent for NPR. She is currently covering her third presidential administration. Rascoe's White House coverage has included a number of high profile foreign trips, including President Trump's 2019 summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi, Vietnam, and President Obama's final NATO summit in Warsaw, Poland in 2016. As a part of the White House team, she's also a regular on the NPR Politics Podcast.
Asma Khalid is a White House correspondent for NPR. She also co-hosts The NPR Politics Podcast.

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