Sam Donaldson Pleads With John Kasich to Run Against Trump: ‘Don’t Be a Wuss!’

Longtime ABC journalist Sam Donaldson unburdened himself on CNN, Thursday night, pleading with moderate Republican John Kasich to run against Donald Trump in the 2020 GOP primaries. He also blamed the president for the escalating problems with Iran. According to Donaldson, it’s all because Trump scrapped Barack Obama’s Iran deal. 

As the interview was about to end on CNN Tonight, Donaldson blurted out a rallying cry for Kasich: “You're a moderate Republican conservative. You're one of the last people to stand up against Donald J. Trump in 2016. And you tell us, well, ‘I can't run for president.... What's wrong with you? John, don't be a wuss.” 

 

 

Trump seems to be occupying a lot of Donaldson’s thoughts. Regarding Iran, he blamed it all on ending Obama’s nuclear deal: 

We had an agreement with Iran, which would curtail Iran's ability to produce a nuclear weapon, maybe for 10 years. International inspectors were telling the world Iran is abiding by the agreement. Trump comes in and blows it up. Well, what happened after that? Here we are. Here we are, tit-for-tat. And Nicholas Burns is right. And the General is right. 

 

 

Finally, he had some tough words for Biden on his botched segregationist comparison. Donaldson called it the “mother of gaffe[s]”:

What mother of gaffe to two use segregationist senators as an example. Where is he living? He wants to be president of the United States in 2021. So he goes back to 1970. So look there. That's wrong. And I think he knows it now, because he could have done two things. He could have done nothing and let the storm roll over him. It will go away, or he could have apologized directly and been fully apologetic. Instead, he doubles down on Cory Booker. This is terrific. You should apologize to me, he says. And he throws kerosene on his own bonfire and energizes his opponents. 

But, of course, this criticism only came because Biden might fail at defeating Trump: “Well, yes, but is he going to copy Donald J. Trump and beat Donald J.? You can't beat Trump at his own game. You can beat Trump on a game of honesty, of truth, of matters, of facts. And that's the game Joe Biden is capable of carrying.”

 

 

A transcript of the segment is below: 

CNN Tonight
06/20/19
10:41 p.m. Eastern

DON LEMON: Former Vice President Joe Biden called Senator Cory Booker last night after Booker said on this show that Biden's recent comments about working with segregationist senators were insulting. Booker had called on Biden to apologize, but a source says no apologies where exchanged. But what do Biden's comments say about his 2020 strategy? 

Here to discuss now with the great Sam Donaldson, Sam, good to have you on, good evening to you. You know, Biden is under fire for praising the civility of his time working with segregationist in the Senate. His ability to reach across the aisle has actually been, you know, a major theme of his campaign, you know, so far. He wants to be the candidate of compromise. Watch this. 

JOE BIDEN: I've worked across the aisle to reach consensus, to help make government work in the past. I can do that again with your help. For me, for me, to me, our principles must never be compromised, but compromise itself is not a dirty word. The Republicans are my opponents. They're not my enemy. They're not my enemy.  And there are people who say that you can't work with the other side. Well, if that's the case, prepare your children for a totally different U.S., totally different world. 

LEMON: OK. So Sam, listen. For three years for now, you know, Republicans on Capitol Hill have been in lockstep with President Trump. For eight years before that, they worked to stymie virtually everything Barack Obama did, along with Joe Biden. So, you know, is this what Democrats want to hear? 

SAM DONALDSON: I don't know. But it's what I want to hear. Biden's right. You got to work with somebody else if you have a common interest. And the fact that you don't agree with him or her on some other interest is not the point. So Biden is right to say I can do that. What mother of gaffe to two use segregationist senators as an example.  Where is he living? He wants to be president of the United States in 2021. So he goes back to 1970. So look there. That's wrong. And I think he knows it now, because he could have done two things. He could have done nothing and let the storm roll over him. It will go away, or he could have apologized directly and been fully apologetic. Instead, he doubles down on Cory Booker. This is terrific. You should apologize to me, he says. And he throws kerosene on his own bonfire and energizes his opponents. 

LEMON: It's very Trumpian. 

DONALDSON: Joe, if you want to be president, you've got to change your tactics. 

LEMON: It is very Trumpian, don't you think, to double down? 

DONALDSON: Well, yes, but is he going to copy Donald J. Trump and beat Donald J.? You can't beat Trump at his own game. You can beat Trump on a game of honesty, of truth, of matters, of facts. And that's the game Joe Biden is capable of carrying. 

LEMON: One of the big 2020 issues for Democrats has been reparations for slavery. Yesterday, there was a hearing in the House about that. Do you think the conversation is moving in the right direction? 

DONALDSON: I do. I think it's the right direction. None of us were alive when we did this as a nation. We —  bondage of human beings, a terrible sin against humanity, and blood on our record, but we can do something about it now from the standpoint of not only saying to ourselves and the people in this country, “We're sorry. We're going to make amends. But to the world, the United States is that beacon of humanity's hope.” And if we let down our standards, well, we're ruined and the world is poorer for it. If we stole our standards and say, look what we're doing, we want to make amends. I think it does us all a good. The problem, Don, figuring out the structure for reparations, you can't just throw a bunch of money at everybody and say, here, take some money. 

LEMON: How do you do it? 

DONALDSON: It's got to be a structure that makes sense. If I were that smart, I would run for president. But I think there are people out there who are working on it. 

LEMON: I want to talk to you about Iran. You know, you spent decades covering the White House and heard a lot of Pentagon briefings. Is the American public getting the information it needs about what's going on with Iran? 

DONALDSON: I think it's getting some information. Of course, we can't hear everything that's happening. But the problem was, and I heard your previous guests and they pinpointed. We had an agreement with Iran, which would curtail Iran's ability to produce a nuclear weapon, maybe for 10 years. International inspectors were telling the world Iran is abiding by the agreement. Trump comes in and blows it up. Well, what happened after that? Here we are. Here we are, tit-for-tat. And Nicholas Burns is right. And the General is right. 

LEMON: General Clark, yeah. 

DONALDSON: Yeah, General Clark. If we do that, what happens next? Well, we went into North Vietnam. What happened next? We went into Baghdad, yes. What happens next? And people now say, oh, we can strike Iran. Are you kidding? What happens next? 

LEMON: You know, people think that the briefings are fiery now. They should have been watching them when you were in that briefing room as a reporter. Now, that was fire. 

DONALDSON: I am just an old broken down soldier who is fading away. 

LEMON: We appreciate your — 

DONALDSON: Old reporters never die. Thank you, Douglas. 

LEMON: We appreciate your service. 

DONALDSON: Can I just say one thing now? I know you're pressed for time. 

LEMON: Sure. 

DONALDSON: John Kasich, you were -- had a good record in Congress. You had a good record as a popular governor, two terms in Ohio. You're a moderate Republican conservative. You're one of the last people to stand up against Donald J. Trump in 2016. And you tell us, well, ‘I can't run for president. Are you -- what's wrong with you? John, don't be a wuss. You're going to leave it to, who, the former Massachusetts Governor William Weld to take him on? Get in there, John. Lightning could strike. You'd make a pretty good president. 

LEMON: I expect my phone to ring shortly, very shortly after this from John Kasich. 

DONALDSON: Mine too. 

LEMON: Thank you, Sam. I appreciate it. 

DONALDSON: Always a pleasure, Don Bro. 

LEMON: Yeah. We'll be right back. 

NB Daily Campaigns & Elections 2020 Presidential CNN Video Sam Donaldson Joe Biden Donald Trump John Kasich
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