Luntz: Sanders likely to be 2020 Democratic presidential nominee

This is a rush transcript from "Your World," May 16, 2019. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT: We want immigrants coming in. We cherish the open door that we want to create for our country.

But a big proportion of those immigrants must come in through merit and skill.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Well, President Trump making merit-based immigration a top priority. Have a skill? You have a good shot at getting here, but let's just say he's got a lot of convincing to do.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi calling the use of the word merit itself condescending. A sign yet another immigration fix by yet another U.S. president could be floundering?

Welcome, everybody. I'm Neil Cavuto.

And the president says it is long overdue. But his plan for prioritizing who gets into this country is proving as controversial as the problems he's trying to fix.

Among the things the president is now calling for, overhauling the way green cards are handed out, restoring integrity to what he calls a broken asylum system, and speeding up the deportation of criminals.

There's a lot more to this.

And who better to ask then our Kevin Corke, who is at the White House with more?

Hey, Kev.

KEVIN CORKE, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Great to be with you, my friend.

Now, there is little expectation, to be clear, that the president's proposal, as it's currently constructed, has any chance of becoming a law before 2021. But the idea, Neil, of fighting for it and pressing Democrats to defend their opposition to it, well, that's a bit of policy and politics all rolled into one.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TRUMP: Today, we are presenting a clear contrast. Democrats are proposing open borders, lower wages, and, frankly, lawless chaos.

We are proposing an immigration plan that puts the jobs, wages and safety of American workers first. Under the senseless rules of the current system, we're not able to give preference to a doctor, a researcher, a student who graduated number one in his class from the finest colleges in the world, anybody. We're not able to take care of it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CORKE: About this, under the current circumstance, about 12 percent of immigrants are admitted based on their employment skills, Neil -- 66 percent are admitted into our country because of family ties.

Here's what the White House would like to do. They'd like to flip it, 57 percent by employment and skills, 33 percent family, 10 percent on humanitarian and other grounds. And, of course, they would like to end the visa lottery.

Democrats, as you pointed out, well, they're smirking at the idea of merit- based immigration.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. NANCY PELOSI, D-CALIF.: It is really a condescending word. Are they saying family is without merit? Are they saying most of the people who have ever come to the United States in the history of our country are without merit because they don't have an engineering degree?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CORKE: No, that's not what they're saying.

As you know, there are a number of countries that have merit-based immigration systems, among them, Australia, Canada, Germany, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, and others. This is, frankly, Neil, about as much as the president can do to get the GOP on the same page, at least structurally get them on the same page.

There will be some pushback, but the idea is still the same. We got to fix the problem. And it begins here and now -- Neil.

CAVUTO: Kevin Corke, thank you very much, my friend.

Well, the president says that a merit system will have America succeeding, just like it has in all those other countries that Kevin just listed. Nancy Pelosi, though, has been calling it condescending. So where's this plan going?

The Washington Examiner senior editor Kelly Jane Torrance, Republican strategist Ken Chase, Democratic strategist Rob Portman.

Robert, what is bad with just saying, you come to this country, we prefer that you have something that can help this country, a skill set or an ability that can advance this country, as well as yourself?

ROBERT PATILLO, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, Neil, two points.

One, on this idea of the merit-based systems, what we're bringing in is more competition for American students who are graduating with hundreds of thousand dollars in student loan debt. So now you're competing with people from around the world by having 57 percent of the visas going to people who have these -- quote, unquote -- "college degrees" or careers, so on and so forth.

The place where we need the most immigrants is in the agricultural community, in processing and working in our fields in America.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: Well, wait a minute. The president never said about only hiring engineers. He didn't say only hiring software developers. He's just saying that this...

(CROSSTALK)

PATILLO: He said that he wanted brilliant people.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: No, no, no, no, I did hear him. He was looking at making sure that those who come here add something here to the country, just like when my parents came on the Irish and Italian side, something that could help advance themselves and the country.

But, Kelly Jane, the issue then becomes that it is the president wants this, so the other side doesn't want this. The other side complains about this, so the president is making the wrong priorities. I guess the bottom line is that this doesn't advance. And that would be a pity.

What do you think?

KELLY JANE TORRANCE, THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER: I agree, Neil.

I think this is actually a very good plan. And I think it is a pity that it's unlikely to pass. As you say, Democrats don't want to give the president anything that might be seen as a win.

But, listen, the immigration debate in this country has mostly been about illegal immigration. And, of course, legal immigration involves far more people. And it really can have much bigger impact on the country.

I thought one of President Trump's lines that I thought was really good in the speech was, we discriminate against brilliance. He talked about you might even have people who are educated here in America, great skills, but they can't stay here because they don't have a family member here that can sponsor him or her.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: But it's a little bit more than that.

And, Ken Chase, the one thing that's last one -- and I know that it gets to say, OK, we only want engineers, we only want these type of guys, when, in fact, legal immigration is just about at its highest levels ever.

In the most recent year one, 1.25 million became American citizens. And that has been unabated and undeterred through the Trump administration. Actually, it's picked up the Trump administration, through the Obama administration.

So this is a separate area when dealing with the green card issue. And I do appreciate what Robert is saying, but I also wonder, Ken, whether the president failed by offering an olive branch on, let's say, DACA, the kids of illegals who are here through no fault of their own, are in this sort of legal limbo.

If he had done something like that, wouldn't he had been able to say, all right, I have got a substantial package here for everyone to debate?

KEN CHASE, CONSERVATIVE POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, Neil, the DACA ship has sailed, and that's not -- there's not going to be a DACA deal.

Over 70 percent of Americans...

CAVUTO: But he didn't even try. He didn't even try. You see what I mean?

CHASE: Well, he did try.

CAVUTO: Like, if you're looking for support on this, you could at least be bargaining on all levels here and that everything's up for debate.

CHASE: So he sat down with Senator Schumer and Speaker Pelosi, and they couldn't get to step one, which was border security.

Obviously, we need border security. Over 70 percent of Americans are in favor of meritocracy. We're moving away from the days where the C-plus student gets into Princeton because his uncle pulls some strings or somebody gets the corner office and a vice president title because they know the right person, they were born to the right family.

This is a country built on ideals of a meritocracy. And somewhere there's a 22-year-old girl studying mathematics and engineering in Juarez, Mexico, who can't get into this country because of the discriminatory policies that we have, where she's discriminated against because she doesn't have an uncle pulling strings.

And that's wrong. And the president recognizes that. The American people recognize that as well.

CAVUTO: All right, there it a distinction, though, between the legal immigration, which I said and what you touched on, Robert, in the beginning, and then dealing with the illegal stuff.

And I'm wondering if any of this has moved the ball forward, if Democrats are not going to work with the president, the president is not going to make some sort of offer on DACA. People -- I can understand each side's frustration. Then we're back to the emergency that's very real at the border, the 100,000-plus migrants for two months running that are trying to get in, and will likely be that or more this month.

And there's no sort of middle ground or no sort of idea that anyone has advanced, including the Democratic Party, to fix that.

PATILLO: Well, I think what we have to do is look at a comprehensive system.

We can't do this piecemeal. We can't say, we're going to handle visas here, we're going to handle DACA here, we're going to handle border security here.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: But it seems like the only way things are getting done, piecemeal, a little bit more funding for a wall, emergency measures at the border to deal with migrants, hiring more judges, because that's apparently all either party can do.

PATILLO: Well, we had an agreement in 2013 with the Gang of Eight, which was a bipartisan agreement.

(CROSSTALK)

PATILLO: ... by the Freedom Caucus.

CAVUTO: I know. Didn't happen, right? Didn't happen.

PATILLO: So, we have to revisit that.

CAVUTO: Kelly Jane Torrance, that's what worries me.

I worry that you're right and everyone is right, talking about comprehensive reform, it doesn't happen. So is the president right, maybe cynical in saying, I'm going to do this piecemeal? And is that even enough?

TORRANCE: No, I think you're right, Neil.

And we have had many attempts at comprehensive immigration reform. No big deal is going to please everybody. And so that's why I think you do have to work on smaller things.

I have to say I was a little surprised, in a way, by this approach, because it does recognize that immigration is important and builds this country. And it doesn't lower the numbers of legal immigrants coming into the United States every year.

And I do think, hey, we have these issues. Employers are looking for highly skilled workers. America needs great people to be great in the future and have more economic growth. So let's look at what we need to do to do that.

CAVUTO: All right.

TORRANCE: And I do think just because it does include some these other things, don't pass it by for that reason.

CAVUTO: Yes, I know there's so many parts that everyone wants to get done. I understand that, but it doesn't get done. So you might as well do it in parts.

We shall see.

But, guys, I thank you very much for taking the time.

I do want to bring your attention to the corner of Wall and Broad, because this was a shocker. And the trade situation with China actually deteriorated today, the Chinese saying they don't know anything about another meeting on trade, also indicating, you know, we have $3.5 trillion dollars to play with to support our economy if the president goes nuts with these tariffs.

But look what happened. Stocks were up, the Dow up 214-plus points. We have essentially wiped out the losses we had on Monday. We still have another day to go. Anything can happen. But it's a remarkable comeback. And it was built on better-than-expected earnings out of some big names like Wal-Mart and Cisco. So, there was that.

All right, after this, here's how important Pennsylvania is to Joe Biden. He just made Philadelphia his campaign headquarters, for good reason. Hillary Clinton lost Pennsylvania. Joe Biden is determined not to.

Ronna McDaniel, the RNC chairwoman, on that -- after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CAVUTO: All right, this is an interesting poll, the latest Fox News poll that shows the president doing quite well when it comes to the economy, not so well when it comes to the immigration issue.

Is that making Republicans nervous, especially when another poll shows that the former Vice President Joe Biden is leading the president by double digits in a hypothetical matchup in Pennsylvania, a state the president own?

Now, I should stress I believe the election is still a few months away.

But, having said that, is it something that my next guest is watching? She's in town, obviously, maybe to rejoin the president, who will be in New York City later tonight, the Republican National Committee chairwoman, Ronna McDaniel.

By the way, we did call, as we always do, the DNC chairman, Tom Perez. He was not available today.

But Ronna is.

So, thank you very much for coming.

RONNA MCDANIEL, CHAIR, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: Thanks for having me.

CAVUTO: Let me ask you about it.

It does seem to me kind of big, because the president has at least expressed this emergency at the border that Democrats said wasn't there. And then people like Jeh Johnson started coming out, Barack Obama's homeland security secretary, he's right about that. We might differ on the details, but he's right about the emergency.

So he cites the emergency, and voters give him lower marks on this immigration issue. What do you think?

MCDANIEL: Yes, I would be interested to see what their marks are for Congress.

I mean, I do think it signals that voters want to see immigration solved and they want to see a resolution in Washington. And the president continually goes back to Democrats and says, OK, let's come together on this.

And I think today's a step. Let's look at other countries, like Canada and Australia, that do merit-based immigration. We have jobs that we need to fill in this country. Let's agree on the things that we know we can agree on.

Six years ago, every Democrat voted for merit-based immigration in the Senate. They all said this was a commonsense solution. So maybe we start there.

CAVUTO: Do you wonder, like, on the immigration issue, I mean, it isn't -- I mean, my parents on both sides, Irish and Italian, they came in. What can you bring to this country?

You might be surprised. My family, they are very handy.

MCDANIEL: They brought you, yes.

CAVUTO: But, I'll tell you something. It didn't go down the gene pool.

(LAUGHTER)

CAVUTO: But there was that sort of thing, well, what can you add to the American system? Do you have someone you can be with, so it's not the government saddled with taking care of you?

And it was just built into our immigration system. Now it's veered into a whole 'nother area, where we're separating kids, and kids are being mistreated.

So, how did this deteriorate to the point it is?

MCDANIEL: I think it's unfortunate that there aren't things that we can come together on right now.

I do think the public is hungry for bipartisan solutions. We know...

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: But I think Americans, Ronna, don't even know that other countries have such a system, a merit-based system, right.

MCDANIEL: They don't. Canada, I mean, you -- it is a merit-based immigration.

And you also have to wait a long time. You have to guarantee that your family won't go on state aid for a significant period of time if you bring a family member in. I mean, there's just a lot of restrictions in other countries. They're commonsense.

We do need more workers in this country. We have a big gap between our numbers of jobs that we have open and the ability to fill them. So these are good things for our country. It'll help our economy. We have people who want to come here legally.

So let's figure out a way to make that happen.

CAVUTO: And record numbers are coming in legally.

But the way it's painted is, this is the administration that's behind separating families. This is the administration that is not doing enough to help these kids in detention centers, when that's a fairly recent phenomena that exploded and apparently is contributing to our authorities at the border getting sidetracked baby-sitting, rather than policing the border.

MCDANIEL: Well, Neil, the separating of families started under the Obama administration. It went through the courts. And they forced that.

CAVUTO: They never did, per se, but...

MCDANIEL: Then the president took executive action and said, we're going to stop that.

And the president has said, we need help at the border. We are being inundated.

CAVUTO: Was that what the emergency funding was for, for that?

MCDANIEL: Well, the -- when the president did the executive order, he said, we're going to stop the separations, yes.

CAVUTO: No, no, no, I'm talking about the $4.25 billion to $4.5 billion that he requested. What would that be used for?

(CROSSTALK)

MCDANIEL: It had humanitarian beds in it. It had more agents.

CAVUTO: Yes.

MCDANIEL: It also had building infrastructure and the wall, which you're hearing from border agents it makes a difference.

I was with the president in Texas, and we heard from people who live there who are dealing with it on the front lines saying, absolutely, a barrier helps. We have seen it in El Paso. We have seen it in Tucson, where crossings go down over 90 percent when you have a barrier.

There are so many things that we need to do. And, obviously, the asylum claims are up. They're skyrocketing 1,700 percent in eight years. Our courts are backlogged with 800,000 cases. We can't process them quickly enough.

This is a crisis. And this is what politicians are sent to Washington to do, deal with tough issues, solve them.

CAVUTO: But they don't.

(CROSSTALK)

MCDANIEL: But the president is trying over and over and over again.

CAVUTO: Right. Right.

So, they criticize him for doing it in a piecemeal way, not to address DACA. I understand where he's come from. They have tried comprehensive. Comprehensive doesn't work because you need everyone comprehensively involved. And they're not.

MCDANIEL: He keeps bringing them. Here, let's work on this, let's work on this.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: So, what happens then? I'm told this is dead on arrival now. Do you worry about that politically backfiring on Republicans then?

MCDANIEL: I think it's a shame if it's dead on arrival. I heard Nancy Pelosi's clip today. She's obviously out of step with the majority of her party, where they were six years ago.

Why won't they sit with this president and work on anything? They're more worried about investigations and bringing more subpoenas forward and not saying, how do we solve the problems that the American people sent us here to fix?

I think it comes down to Election Day in 2020. Which party is actually trying to get things done?

CAVUTO: Well, are you worried about that one poll, though it's one poll? But, in Pennsylvania, you know, he trails by double digits against Joe Biden.

MCDANIEL: Well, the unemployment is at record low in Pennsylvania because of this president and his economic policies.

CAVUTO: Well, that surprised me all the more.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: Do you worry that -- with numbers like this -- you and I have talked about before -- he should be up double digits, right?

MCDANIEL: I think it's early.

CAVUTO: So, what is holding him back?

MCDANIEL: Listen, this is a president who is getting pummeled every day -- 93 percent of the news coverage is negative.

The results of this administration are not being touted. And Joe Biden hasn't had his unfavorables go up yet. Hillary Clinton had very high numbers.

CAVUTO: Is he the one you guys are most worried about?

MCDANIEL: I'm not sure he's the one.

CAVUTO: Oh, really?

MCDANIEL: I'm not really worried about any of them right now.

I think the president, with our economic numbers, with what he has achieved with this economy, I think voters go in and say, where's the country? Am I better off than I was four years ago?

And the answer is going to be a resounding yes, and President Trump wins. But we're going to take everybody seriously.

CAVUTO: So it's not the temperament issue? Because I have always been looking -- numbers like this, whether you want to give the president credit or not, markets are strong, economy is strong, unemployment among all key demographics...

MCDANIEL: Wages up, yes.

CAVUTO: On paper, he should be like Ronald Reagan sailing into this thing, and he's not.

What do you think holds him back, the press thing notwithstanding?

(CROSSTALK)

MCDANIEL: That is a big part of it, though, when nobody is hearing the results.

CAVUTO: Do you think he has anything to do with it, yes, the tweeting or whatever, getting off-message, or...

MCDANIEL: I think most people go, let's look at the results.

CAVUTO: But they're not, right? I mean, that could change. But they're not.

MCDANIEL: I have seen his numbers stronger in a lot of these battleground states.

CAVUTO: Yes? OK.

MCDANIEL: I just got some good numbers back from a key state today that were very, very strong.

So, from an RNC perspective, I feel very good about where we are.

CAVUTO: And it's still early.

Ronna McDaniel, thank you very, very much, the RNC chairwoman.

CAVUTO: we will have more after this.

And then Mayor Bill de Blasio, we left him out, right? That's who she is worried about -- after this.

MCDANIEL: Not really.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CAVUTO: All right, to read the latest polls within the Democratic Party and the 20-some-odd people who are now running for president, Joe Biden is running away with it.

But when it comes to who has the best chance of finishing the nominee of the party, Professor Cornel West is a big fan of Bernie Sanders. He was when he was running against Hillary Clinton. He is all the more now that he is running against Joe and all those others.

And he says, when all is said and done, it will be Bernie, as it should be. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CORNEL WEST, PROFESSOR, PRINCETON UNIVERSITY: There's a number of socialist experiments that have failed and there's a number of capitalist experiments that have failed.

There's a number of capitalist experiments in the United States that has failed. Health care is a sick market. We have got some healthy markets, we keep them. That's a sick market. You need public intervention.

The history of slavery, the history of Jim Crow, the history of patriarchy, the history of not allowing the personal dignity of gays and lesbians and trans, those are failures for us as a capitalist society.

But where we can intervene -- and we intervene democratically, we intervene constitutionally, but we intervene with strong organization and mobilization. That's what brother Bernie stands for.

CAVUTO: But what if we can't afford it? I mean, but what happens under Democratic...

WEST: Oh, we can afford it.

CAVUTO: Wait a minute.

Under Democratic and Republican presidents, our debt has piled up to the point that it's $22 trillion. Now, Bernie Sanders is a fan of raising taxes, particularly on the upper end up dramatically, to address that. And you are for that, right?

WEST: No, but you got to keep in mind, my brother, from Reagan to Trump, we have been increasing military budgets continuously.

And that's for Obama, Clinton. That's across the board, across the board.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: As a percentage of GDP -- you're right. All that spending has gone. I'm not -- I don't apologize and make apologies for any party on that.

WEST: That's right. Right.

CAVUTO: But we can't afford the government we have now, so how are we going to afford even more than this later?

WEST: Well, no, I think the argument is that poverty, jobs with a living wage, women's rights, those are issues of national security, in the same way the military is issues of national security.

This is what Martin Luther King Jr. understood, militarism, racism, poverty, materialism, because we got a spiritual crisis too. You agree with me on that?

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: Well, but we have spent trillions fighting the war on poverty, with noble goals, right?

And I'm just wondering. The actual percent of those impoverished has remained roughly the same through that period, through Democratic and Republican presidents.

So, I guess what I'm asking you is, is more the answer?

(CROSSTALK)

WEST: No, we did a good job with poverty for our precious elderly.

But the problem was, instead of going for full employment, with dignity of labor, we went welfare programs. Welfare programs are qualitatively different than full employment.

That was a major battle that we lost in the '70s. And that goes back to when liberalism itself began to response to its own failures.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: What was the part we screwed up? I didn't understand you there, that we went to welfare or that we -- that our goal was full employment?

WEST: No, no, we should have gone full employment to ensure that people have assets with a living wage.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: Well, that is what Donald Trump is doing now. Isn't he trying that now?

WEST: Well, no, no, no. But it's not a living wage, though.

The statistics are good. I give brother Trump credit for that, but it's still grotesque wealth inequality. It's still no workers' control at the workplace.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: It's better than it was.

(CROSSTALK)

WEST: The numbers are better than it was, absolutely.

(CROSSTALK)

WEST: I give him credit for that.

CAVUTO: The lowest unemployment rate they're looking at it in, what, 50- plus years?

WEST: No, that's true.

CAVUTO: Would you give the president any credit for that?

WEST: I give him credit for that, absolutely.

But the issue has never been just the statistics. The issue has to do with, are there jobs with a living wage? Are there people working two jobs still living in poverty? Are we able to deal with the grotesque wealth inequality, the 1 percent owning 41 percent of the wealth and three individuals having wealth equivalent to the 50 percent of the population?

You can have wealth inequality and still have good numbers. We're talking about the quality of life of our fellow citizens, just not the statistics.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: I hate to be blunt, but is that enough to win an election? You make a lot of very, very good points, Professor. But do you think that is enough to win election?

The rap against Bernie Sanders -- and you're quite right. He was ahead of all of this stuff, whether you like or agree with his points of view.

WEST: Yes, absolutely.

CAVUTO: But he was saying this decades ago.

Having said that, the rap against him, can't win, can't win, can't win.

You say?

WEST: But I don't know why. He could have beat Trump back then, if the Democratic Party had treated him fairly, and allowed the Clinton machine to get out of the way.

We can beat him this time. We're going to generate the enthusiasm. You just watch us, though, brother. You watch us.

CAVUTO: All right, but if Joe Biden were the nominee, it's not going to happen, you seem to be saying, right?

WEST: I just don't see it.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CAVUTO: All right, he might not see it, but a lot of polls seem to indicate right now that Joe Biden could be the nominee, and not Bernie Sanders.

Well, by the way, there are other Bernie Sanders predictors out there, including pollster Frank Luntz, who says that that man is the odds-on favorite to be the nominee and beat Joe Biden -- after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CAVUTO: How is this, a protest on the very day you're announcing for the presidency of the United States?

Mayor Bill de Blasio has been dealing with it. He's the 24th candidate in the race. There will be others.

Stay tuned.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CAVUTO: All right, it's no secret that Harvard professor, liberal icon Cornel West likes Bernie Sanders, telling me earlier on FOX business that he thinks Bernie Sanders has what it takes, not only to win the Democratic nomination, but go all the way and beat President Trump.

My next guest was looking at a lot of the numbers, even those that showed the former vice president leading by a country mile, and saying, you know, I don't see it ending up the way everyone else sees it ending up.

He too thinks that Bernie Sanders has a very good shot at capturing the nomination. His name is Frank Luntz. You might have heard of him.

Frank, good to see you.

FRANK LUNTZ, POLLSTER: Good to see you.

And let me just explain that it is so early in the process. And I'm looking forward to the first presidential debates at the very end of next month -- they are only five weeks away -- to see what happens when you get 20 candidates standing up for the first time right next to each other.

We have never seen anything like it. And unlike the Democrat -- Republican debates in 2016, the Democrats are going to have more of a jungle debate, which means that you will be -- your name will be chosen out of a hat, so it won't be the front-runners in one debate and then the kiddie debate with the also-runs the next day.

We have no idea who's going to stand next to each other. And at that point, then you can start to see which candidates have the sound bites, which candidates have the stamina, and which candidates are going to go after Donald Trump and the candidates who are going to go after each other.

CAVUTO: But that's not what I'm asking. I'm asking, do you stand by your prediction that, when all is said and done, Bernie Sanders will be the nominee?

LUNTZ: At this point...

CAVUTO: Right.

LUNTZ: ... in mid-May, Sanders has a fund-raising operation second to none. He has a clear defined base of support that is not as wide as Joe Biden, but it is significant.

And the difference is, it's deep. There are people who would be prepared to stand in line for 48 hours to get the chance to vote for him. So, in this early moment, if you asked me which candidate has the best likelihood of standing at the end, then, yes, I think Bernie Sanders does.

CAVUTO: That's interesting. And you're right. It is very, very early, Frank.

I am curious, though. There is a view that he's way too far left to ever win the presidency. The party tried that. That is with George McGovern in 1972. And you know what happened, accede to the passionate base, and they get passionately beaten up.

You don't think that would happen here?

LUNTZ: I do think -- yes, I do think that would happen. I think Bernie Sanders is one of the least electable candidates that the Democrats have.

But saying that, about 60 percent of Democrats, their number one priority is beating Donald Trump.

CAVUTO: Right.

LUNTZ: About 40 percent, their number one priority is electing someone who thinks the way they do and willing to fight for their progressive agenda.

Now, there are only so many candidates, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, in that camp that is more ideological. At this point, that ideological camp is smaller than those who want to defeat Donald Trump.

And so that also helps him get through. Neil, Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Florida, those are going to be -- those four states are going to do more to determine the election than the other 46 states combined.

And Sanders is very strong in Iowa and very strong in New Hampshire.

CAVUTO: All right, now, we know there's this one poll -- and like you said -- and I think it's always good to keep reminding us it's very early in the process.

These polls in Pennsylvania that show Joe Biden up by double digits in a state that Donald Trump won. And that shocked a lot of Democrats, shocked a lot of people in general. And he is in competitive races in a lot of those industrial states he picked up.

So how is that happening, when the economy -- and I don't care your political viewpoint -- when the economy is inarguably so strong?

LUNTZ: Well, that's the question I keep asking.

And it's something that you should ask the Trump administration. Why is it that you have got the strongest economy in 50 years, the lowest black unemployment, the lowest Latino unemployment, you have people now that -- over 70 percent of these jobs are being found by people who are outside the work force?

CAVUTO: So why is he not getting more bang for the buck?

LUNTZ: Because I think some of it is his own communication. Some of it is his own language, that the president doesn't always realize that the tweet or the statement in the rally that brings his people a standing ovation doesn't always work with independence or conservative Democrats.

CAVUTO: You think he could win, Frank, with just his base again? If it game that just relying on that base, which is pretty loyal, could that get him over the finish line?

LUNTZ: It doesn't, because that's 48 percent of the vote or 47 percent of the vote.

That the only way for the president to win reelection is that he has to get some people who didn't vote for him last time.

CAVUTO: But wait a minute. He got elected that way the first time, so why can't he just duplicate it again?

LUNTZ: Because the Democrats aren't going to be so foolish as not to go to Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin.

The Democrats know why they lost. And...

CAVUTO: So, they will park themselves in those states, right, like they have already indicated Joe Biden's going to make Philadelphia his headquarters, right?

LUNTZ: If Joe Biden is the nominee, Joe Biden wins Pennsylvania. Let's -- let's be candid here.

And I think that's something that your viewers are going to need a lesson in Democratic politics and Democratic ideology, and they're going to get it in the debates. They don't think like Republicans. They don't vote like Republicans.

Their whole life isn't like the Republicans. And we have to understand what elects a Democrat in a Democratic primary. And Joe Biden is perfect for Pennsylvania. Bernie Sanders is perfect for Iowa and New Hampshire, because he's right next door.

And, frankly, we haven't talked about Kamala Harris, who California is now early in the process. She's raising a ton of money from that state. It's her home state. And she's going to have an awful lot of delegates early in the process, because California moved.

CAVUTO: It's all proportional, though, right? They all -- it's not winner take all, right?

LUNTZ: Which is why we deserve another prediction on your show, which is that I don't believe at the moment of the last vote, any Democratic candidate will have a majority of the delegates.

I think we are going to see a lot of horse-trading. We're going to see a brokered convention. And Democrats don't like that. They don't like these behind-the-scenes deals that will give someone the nomination.

CAVUTO: OK. You should run the other way, because that's my prediction, we're going to have a brokered convention, because the math doesn't support it being settled by the time they get to a convention.

LUNTZ: Exactly, Neil.

CAVUTO: Well, that's the riddle that is our conundrum, my friend.

It's always great seeing you. Be well.

LUNTZ: Thank you. You too.

CAVUTO: Frank Luntz, political genius.

President Trump, by the way, is not ruling out a war with Iran. And that had a lot of lawmakers very concerned, what do you know that we know don't?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CAVUTO: All right, President Trump was asked today if we are going to war with Iran. And it's the answer that is surprising a lot of folks.

Jennifer Griffin at the Pentagon with much more -- Jennifer.

JENNIFER GRIFFIN, NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Neil, after coming under pressure to support claims that the Iranian threat to U.S. forces is real and justifies a military buildup, U.S. officials say they are in the process of declassifying several satellite photos they say show cruise missiles aboard small Iranian vessels.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

QUESTION: Mr. President, are we going to war with Iran?

TRUMP: I hope not.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GRIFFIN: U.S. officials have taken great pains to emphasize the American forces sent to the Middle East, including an aircraft carrier and strategic bombers, are to deter Iran, not start a war, something President Trump reiterated before meeting the Swiss president at the White House today.

It's notable that, since the U.S. doesn't have an embassy in Tehran, and has not since the 1979 Revolution, that the Swiss serves as U.S. representatives in Tehran.

Democrats on Capitol Hill are demanding briefings from the acting defense secretary and chairman of the Joint Chiefs, who are not planning to do so until next week.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PELOSI: I like what I hear from the president, that he has no appetite for this, even though some of his supporters are rattling sabers.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GRIFFIN: It's not the first time the U.S. military has seen missiles on Iranian small boats. Just four years ago, the U.S. Navy saw one of those boats headed to Yemen.

They tracked them with another aircraft carrier, and the Iranian boats turned around. And last year, when the U.S. Navy saw this boat carrying suspected Iranian weapons, they boarded the boat and confiscated the weapons.

Earlier this week, U.S. forces in the region were placed on high alert, and the State Department announced it was reducing staff at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, which many say is exactly the retreat that the Iranians are trying to provoke -- Neil.

CAVUTO: Jennifer Griffin, thank you very, very much.

So, what do they know that we don't know? A top lawmaker in the know on what he knows -- after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CAVUTO: All right, the president says he hopes there won't be a war with Iran. I think there are quite a few other people on this planet who agree, but where are we going here? What kind of intelligence does he have that would warrant the military buildup we're seeing in the Persian Gulf right now?

Adam Kinz -- Kinzinger, I should say, is a member of the House of Foreign Affairs Committee. Delighted to have him with us now.

Congressman, thank you for taking the time.

REP. ADAM KINZINGER, R-ILL.: You bet, yes. Thanks.

CAVUTO: I know there's so much you can share. And I appreciate that.

But you have heard from some abroad who question the intelligence that he was operating under and whether it might have been contributing to this internal fight or disagreement at the White House of whether it merits this response. What do you think?

KINZINGER: No, I think it absolutely merits the response.

The idea -- some are putting out there that the president is, like, looking for a war. And all you have to do is listen to anything the president says, and you know that his knee-jerk reaction is not to start a new war. It's actually to pull out of some of these things. That's where there's been disagreements.

The fact is, if you have indications, which we did, that American personnel or troops were threatened by Iran, it would be military malpractice not to be robust in a response, because if you have a robust response in the region -- look, Iran knows, if they provoke the United States, they are going to get their faces crushed in.

That's -- they know the .

CAVUTO: So, doesn't it seem odd to you, then, Congressman, that -- you're right. Iran would certainly know that.

And these attacks on oil rigs and tankers and an oil station in Saudi Arabia that was pegged to Iran or those who work on Iran's behalf, why would they try to tempt the tiger in the middle of a military buildup the likes we haven't seen in decades in that region?

KINZINGER: I think it's because maybe for domestic audience, maybe to just kind of get a little upper hand.

They're going to take the president right to the point they think they can get away with something without provoking a military response. So, if sabotaging a Saudi tanker...

CAVUTO: You don't think it's someone else maybe trying to sink us into something?

KINZINGER: No.

CAVUTO: I mean, I do know about these images, satellite images of Iranian boats with missiles on them.

KINZINGER: Yes.

CAVUTO: All well and good. Others are saying, these weren't offensive. These were in response to what the U.S. might do. I don't know what the truth is there.

But you -- you don't think that other players could be kind of manipulating us?

KINZINGER: No, I think we know that. We know if we're going to be manipulated.

And here's the other thing. Just look at Iran's behavior in the region. In Yemen, they overthrew the legitimate governor -- government of Yemen. They give the Houthi rebels weapons in the civilian areas, so that they're bombed and killed.

Look at what they have done in Syria. A quarter of American soldiers that died in the Iraq War were a direct or indirect result of Iran itself. So, they have been the one that's been provoking us from the beginning.

So I don't think it's anywhere out of the realm of possibility that they're trying to take this up to where they think it would provoke a response and fall just short of that.

CAVUTO: What would we do?

KINZINGER: Well, I think, look, if it came to that trigger point, if American troops or our allies were threatened, I think we'd absolutely devastate the Iranian military complex.

We can do it quickly. That's the great thing about having the military we do, spending the resources on it we do.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: You don't think it's someone like a John Bolton who is going off the reservation...

KINZINGER: No.

CAVUTO: ... pushing the president into something he really doesn't want to do?

KINZINGER: No, not at all, because I think...

CAVUTO: OK.

KINZINGER: ... look, the fact that we have a robust presence there makes military conflict far less likely. You're not inviting, you're not showing weakness.

And the other thing is, look, the men and women of this military are really good. And we have given them great equipment, that if we have to do a devastating response, we can do it without putting them in too much harm's way.

CAVUTO: We hope.

All right, Congressman, thank you very, very much.

KINZINGER: You bet, yes.

CAVUTO: In the meantime, Mayor Bill de Blasio, angry protesters confronting his announcement that he's running for president of the United States.

How's that for a kickoff?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CAVUTO: All right, that makes it 200. I'm lying.

All right, I'm just talking about Mayor Bill de Blasio, the latest entrant in the presidential sweepstakes, but a controversial one at that.

Bryan Llenas following it closely in Battery Park, New York -- Bryan.

BRYAN LLENAS, CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Neil.

Well, it appears that people that know Mayor Bill de Blasio the most don't think he should run for president. Close friends and also former aides telling Politico that his decision to run is -- quote -- "insane and idiotic."

New Yorkers themselves aren't too fond of de Blasio, the latest Quinnipiac poll finding that just 42 percent of New Yorkers approve of the job he's doing.

Dozens protested this morning outside of "Good Morning America"'s studio during de Blasio's interview. Critics say New York City has gotten worse under his leadership. Homelessness is at a record high, the subway system is a mess, and the city's public housing is in disarray.

In his three-minute announcement video, the mayor said he would enact his progressive New York City policies nationwide, like $15 minimum wage and free pre-K for all. He's also going right after President Trump.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL DE BLASIO, D-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We know a con man when we see one. We know his tricks. And I feel strongly he just has to be confronted.

And he likes to give us a little nicknames. I will give him one back, con Don.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LLENAS: The president's tweeting de Blasio is -- quote -- "a joke" -- Neil.

(LAUGHTER)

CAVUTO: All right, Bryan, thank you very much, Bryan Llenas.

All right, the Peebles Corporation Democrat Don Peebles joins me right now, had been entertaining a run for the Democratic mayoral nomination.

He probably could have gotten it back then. Of course, now he's seeing the guy who he's considering running against marching off to the White House.

So I guess he's the next president. What do you think?

(LAUGHTER)

R. DONAHUE PEEBLES, CHAIRMAN AND CEO, PEEBLES CORPORATION: I don't think that that -- remotely possible.

I think it's interesting. Most of these candidates right now on the Democratic side have no chance of getting elected president or winning the nomination.

CAVUTO: Well, one of the 24 will.

PEEBLES: One of them will get nominated as the Democratic nominee. And...

CAVUTO: And you don't think it's going to be the mayor?

PEEBLES: I don't think it's going to be the mayor.

I think he -- I mean, many are running for vice president. De Blasio is not even running for vice president. He's running for secretary of HUD. He's running for a Cabinet position.

Think about it. He's termed out. He's done what people think is a horrible job as mayor. The governor just got reelected to a third term, so there's no place for him to go.

His wife is actually considering running for city council. So they're looking -- he's looking for a job. And if people will finance his gallivanting around the country, probably each day he's out of New York City is a good day.

CAVUTO: Well, you know, I don't know if you read Errol Louis in today's New York Daily News.

And while he was talking about how daunting his odds are, he did say that he never lost an election, won his races for city council, public advocate, mayor in a crowded field twice.

So he's proven skeptics wrong, maybe because expectations are so low.

PEEBLES: I didn't -- by the way, I predicted and picked de Blasio to win the Democratic nomination back in '13. I thought he had a very good chance to do it.

CAVUTO: But you weren't impressed by the field, right, that he...

(CROSSTALK)

PEEBLES: No.

I mean, I think -- yes, I mean, Anthony Weiner was the front-runner, until he got in trouble again.

CAVUTO: I remember well.

PEEBLES: And so, I mean, that wasn't a big...

CAVUTO: But he comes back and says -- now, I don't know if you saw this ad that he was running or promotion. Of course, there was the one, right, a producer pointed out, where he's in the back of a limo, which probably , I understand, doesn't send the right message.

PEEBLES: On his way to working out, probably.

CAVUTO: Sure. Sure. I do the same thing. But I stay in the car and just...

(LAUGHTER)

CAVUTO: But is it your sense that maybe, given his record -- crime is at a record low in New York City. Now, he is running the city at the time, so he can take a bow for that.

And then he will parlay this to those in the rest of the country, wow, you run New York City, that's a big deal?

PEEBLES: Well, I think look, think about it.

There's more -- I don't think I can think of any time period where someone announced for president and people in their own state and city were booing them. I think I have never seen that before.

CAVUTO: Well, there is that.

PEEBLES: So, that's -- I mean, but the people who know him...

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: Wouldn't you be curious, like, hey, why are they booing the guy, maybe I should find out more about the guy?

PEEBLES: No.

(CROSSTALK)

PEEBLES: The mayor of South Bend, Indiana, with a population of 102,000 residents, is much more popular nationally than this mayor.

The challenge is, is that he hasn't done a very good job.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: All right, but you got to get through the whole nomination process. And right now, I'm told that it's Joe Biden's race to lose. Here we are in May of 2019 saying that.

Do you buy that?

PEEBLES: Yes.

In fact, you -- the last time I was on your program, I mentioned that I thought Joe Biden would be the Democratic nominee. And then Kamala Harris would be a wise choice as his running mate.

I still think that it's Biden's to lose. I mean, he would have to go out of his way to lose it.

CAVUTO: But it always happens. Whoever the consensus favorite is loses. It was Hillary Clinton.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: But most are known for the unexpected, right?

PEEBLES: Sometimes.

CAVUTO: Jimmy Carter, no one saw him coming. Bill Clinton, no one saw him coming, right?

PEEBLES: I mean, sometimes.

CAVUTO: Yes.

PEEBLES: I mean, look, Michael Dukakis won because Gary Hart floundered and hurt himself.

CAVUTO: Right.

PEEBLES: I don't think Joe Biden is going to make the mistake. And I think that the party is going to run to more experience. And there's so many people running to the left, including de Blasio.

CAVUTO: Are you going to run for everything? Everyone says, hey, there's a fiscal conservative, and he's still a Democrat.

PEEBLES: I mean, look, I have thought about mayor of New York before.

And, right now, I'm enjoying being a businessperson and observing.

CAVUTO: OK. One day at a time.

All right, very good seeing, Don Peebles, a very successful, very influential Democrat.

In the meantime, that will do it here.

"The Five" is coming up right now.

Content and Programming Copyright 2019 Fox News Network, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Copyright 2019 ASC Services II Media, LLC. All materials herein are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of ASC Services II Media, LLC. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.