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KJZZ's Friday NewsCap: How Biden, Trump presidential campaigns will play out in Arizona

KJZZ’s Friday NewsCap revisits some of the biggest stories of the week from Arizona and beyond.

Former state schools Superintendent Jaime Molera of Molera Alvarez and Democratic strategist Tony Cani joined The Show to talk about GOP lawmakers pledging to send Gov. Katie Hobbs more border-related bills, a bipartisan group of lawmakers asking the governor to sign a housing bill and more.

Conversation highlights

MARK BRODIE: The race for president pretty well set. I mean not that it really wasn't before but it's basically official now. It's gonna be former President Trump against a current president, Joe Biden. Joe Biden will be in Arizona next week around the time of the presidential preference election, which by the way is still happening. Does like does, does Arizona's, what is our presidential primary, like does it take on less significance now, because we kind of know what the outcome is going to be basically?

TONY CANI: Yeah, I think it does take on less significance when it comes to like the national narrative or the state narrative about which candidate is, has the most momentum. People will still look at the number of votes and say, look X number of Republicans voted, that means XYZ. It doesn't really mean anything. I think that as a giant battleground state and the, the thing that the presidential preference election really is is it's an opportunity for the two sides to start practicing their, you know, the, the getting their organizers out there knocking on doors, trying to get people to vote. And so that is a big thing that's happening is that this is a big dry run for both the Democrats and it seems some of the Republican groups actually get their people to the polls and start to develop those relationships.

But you know, there's going to be a big news story about it and part of the new story is going to be the visit of President Biden in town. And so I think that's very intentional. And this is going to be a tough fight to see who wins our 11 electoral votes. And I think it's smart that the president's going to be here on that day, Jaime in other states.

BRODIE: Jaime, there have been, you know, even after, for example, former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley dropped out. There have been stories about, you know, how many Republicans voted for Nikki Haley or how many Democrats voted uncommitted as sort of a maybe a gauge of how enthusiastic people are about their candidates. Is there anything like that next week that we should be looking for based on the results here?

JAIME MOLERA: I, I don't think so. I, I think right now, I think Tony's right. It's pretty much set. So the, the mindset is gonna be how they start messaging those things are gonna work for them in November. And it, it starts now. You're gonna start to see campaigns be very aggressive and starting to come out the gate and start to put their organizations together so that they can build that coalition or those groups, they, they're gonna need in order to get out the vote, which is gonna be fairly significant.

The, the one thing I would say about the, the dampening of the this process, presidential primary is that I think the secretary of state and the Maricopa County record are very pleased because you're not going to see the debacle that we had for the last cycle. That was a lot of long lines and a lot of that, that if you're not a Republican, you cannot vote; if you're not a Democrat, you cannot vote. And so even though that's been saturated and people have talked about it, they still don't know. And so you're still gonna have a lot of folks come out and vote that, wait a minute, how come you're not allowing me to vote? So it'll be interesting, but you're not going to see the same kind of debacle that we had the last time around.

BRODIE: So Tony, you were a part of the Biden campaign, four years ago. So talking about, you know, sort of a general election begins now and, you know, his team has to start working on knocking on doors and messaging. Given that, you know, we see poll after poll that show President Biden is down in swing states, including Arizona. There's a new one from Fox News out this week that showed President Trump, former President Trump leading President Biden 49 to 45. What's the message for, for the Biden team?

CANI: I think the message for the Biden teams, they are going to be very aggressive about the sort of anti-democratic radical views that Trump has. They want to keep reminding voters about how unserious the Republicans have been about governing. You know, the challenges that the, even the House of Representatives have been picking, you know, a speaker and then, you know, he's going to be very aggressive about that. And I think that we've seen that already. He's been more aggressive than he was in 2020. And then at the same time, he's going to talk about the benefits to the economy.

And part of the reason why he's here in Arizona is because he, it's a great national story, too. The fact that, you know, the president signed the Chips Act that Mark Kelly, you know, was the sort of lead guy on and how all of a sudden in a state that really in 2020 it was hard for us. We were worried, we couldn't convince voters that the type of economic programs that we were running job creating programs would benefit them because there isn't a feeling that there's a lot of manufacturing in our state. And so that was a big problem. But now you look, we have one of the fastest growing manufacturing sectors in the entire country.

And so talking about that, the, you know, his, his fight to, to keep prescription drug prices low, you know, there's a, there's a string of victories that voters really haven't heard about. And so he's going to be doing the making sure people know about Trump, but there's going to be a lot more of that ribbon-cutting talking, about the benefits and, and, and, and, and hope that voters start to sort of perceive some of those, those wins as wins for him.

BRODIE: So, Jaime, you are not a part of former President Trump's campaign either time and not again, not this time, but, you know, for Republicans and in this case for President Trump, like, what is the messaging there? Because he has, he obviously lost Arizona four years ago. A number of his, you know, the candidates he endorsed two years ago, didn't do so well. So if you're a former president Trump, what is your pitch to Arizona voters?

MOLERA: Well, I think again, it goes back to that tried but true immigration issue and, and a broken immigration system. And again, when the immigration is at the top of the voters,, issues of things that have to be dealt with, it tends to favor Republicans. It's just historically that it's been proven. So the president's gonna be, or former president is gonna be pounding that issue. I think the other one-two punch is gonna be on the economy. They're still gonna be talking about inflationary rates, gas prices, all those things that hit the pocketbook. If they're focused on those issues and stay away from what I call the abortion issues or the social issues that tend to put Trump in the trap in that it, it plays to Biden's strengths. Then that's where they have to keep Republicans home.

And again, it goes back to Republican women, Republican women saying that those issues. And again, this is the third time I'm gonna say it, but that trump the other issues, no pun intended. But that's going to have to be their strategy. The, if they want to win Arizona, those are the things that are going to have to be at the top of their messaging.

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Mark Brodie is a co-host of The Show, KJZZ’s locally produced news magazine. Since starting at KJZZ in 2002, Brodie has been a host, reporter and producer, including several years covering the Arizona Legislature, based at the Capitol.