Original article published on RealClearPolitics by Ian Schwartz available here
CNN’s Anderson Cooper details the focus group: One of the states President Trump needs to win is Wisconsin where he barely defeated Hillary Clinton in 2016 by a little more than 22,000 votes. When we asked Randi Kaye to gather nine independent voters and ask them at this point in the campaign about the president and the burgeoning impeach investigation, they ranged from age 18 to 82. Of the nine, one voted for President Trump in 2016, four for Clinton, two didn’t vote and two wrote in other candidates.
RANDI KAYE, CNN REPORTER: Do you think an impeachment inquiry is appropriate?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Definitely appropriate.
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER (in unison): Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
KAYE: So all of you agree that impeachment inquiry is appropriate?
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER (in unison): Yes.
MAX PRESTIGIACOMO, WISCONSIN VOTER: I’m witnessing this President go out there and do things that are clearly, you know, following what’s in the, you know, the constitution about impeachment, high crimes and misdemeanors, and bribery.
KAYE: You, Lena, you’re an independent but you lean right, but you’re OK with the impeachment inquiry.
LENA ENG, WISCONSIN VOTER: Well, absolutely because I also feel like we need to follow the rule of law. And if something smells bad, we need to investigate it.
KAYE: Why are some of you convinced this call sounded like a quid pro quo?
BOB BETZIG, WISCONSIN VOTER: They put the material, the $319 million of aid, and hold just days before. What kind of a signal is that? It wasn’t on hold for two months and they’re going to — this was just days before.
MEGAN SMITH, WISCONSIN VOTER: We are looking to buy more javelins. I want you to do me a favor, though. I mean, it’s right there. It’s in the primary source released by the White House. And you read it word for word.
To me, I mean, I’m not a lawyer, I’m not a mobster, but to me it looks like a quid pro quo.
DANIELLE BERGNER, WISCONSIN VOTER: Why is our President ever asking a foreign president for a political favor like this? I mean, it seems so highly inappropriate.
BEN HOESKTRA, WISCONSIN VOTER: I’m not convinced that the withholding of aid a few days before we have enough evidence to say that that was related. I think that the transcript of the call is suspicious but I’m not yet ready to make a decision.
KAYE: How many of you see this phone call and this ask by the president of the United States to look into his political rival as an abuse of power? Raise your hand.
And what about the White House putting that phone call on a classified server?
PRESTIGIACOMO: The White House staff, even his own staff saw this as, oh-oh, you might have just done something impeachable.
KAYE: Another concern for these voters, text messages in which an ambassador tries to bury any talk of quid pro quo or conditions.
BERGNER: As someone who has worked in government in years past, when you get that message that says call me, it’s because somebody does not want a written record of something.[20:45:07]
KAYE: And about the State Department blocking some key witnesses from testifying?
END: That to me is huge warning signs and I think that’s going to be problematic.
SMITH: There’s nothing to worry about, then why hide anything? Be transparent.
KAYE: Fair to say though that this inquiry has affected all of your thinking when it comes to who you might vote for, is that fair to say?
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKERS (in unison): Yes.
BETZIG: Oh, absolutely. I think for me, it’s just one more level of distrust. If I can’t trust someone, I have a hard time voting for them.
KAYE: If the President is impeached but not removed from office by the Senate, how many of you would still vote for him? None of you. Rich, you lean right as well, even though you are an independent.
RICH (ph): Correct.
KAYE: Are you considering voting for Trump still?
RICH: No, because it looks kind of bad.
KAYE: So knowing what you know now about Ukraine and the impeachment inquiry, do you think he should be removed from office, raise your hand? Three.
COOPER: Randi joins me now. Interesting that they all want the inquiry to move forward, three just say at this point they believe the president should be removed from office.
I think we’re having — Randi, you’re having problem hearing me? Yes. KAYE: Right, Anderson. They really want to wait for all of the facts in this case. They want to see how it all plays out. I mean, obviously, they are very turned off by — can you hear me OK?
COOPER: Yes. Sorry. Go ahead, we have a bad delay.
KAYE: They are clearly turned off by what’s happening with Donald Trump. But they certainly — OK.
They are turned off. They are waiting for the facts. They are turned off by the President. They want to see how this is going to play out, of course. They want the full investigation. They do think that there’s something fishy happening here. But again, they want to see how it goes.
They don’t — certainly don’t buy the President’s explanation or the White House’s explanation that he was trying to just root out corruption in Ukraine.
But if you look ahead, Anderson, to the election for 2020 as far as our voters go. One is considering voting for Joe Biden, just one in the group. The others like Pete Buttigieg, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Andrew Yang. And one is considering voting for Bill Weld if he is the Republican nominee and Donald Trump is not. If Donald Trump is the Republican nominee, Anderson, not a single person in our group say that they will vote for him.
COOPER: Randi, thanks very much.