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GOP congressman says Kushner and Ivanka Trump are the "power players" in Trump campaign

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Republican Congressman Michael McCaul says that it's President Trump's daughter, Ivanka Trump, and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who are the "power players behind the scenes" in the Trump campaign and its reshuffling.

Kushner, he believes, was behind the decision to demote campaign manager Brad Parscale. "Jared really is the brains behind the machine in the campaign," McCaul told CBS News chief Washington correspondent Major Garrett in an interview for this week's episode of "The Takeout" podcast. 

He said that Kushner and Ivanka Trump were "very disappointed" by the low turnout at the rally in Tulsa last month, the president's first since the coronavirus pandemic shut down the nation in March.

"Ivanka and Jared are power players behind the scenes. And I know they were both very upset with the way they talked up that rally, and very disappointing turnout. And it obviously didn't go as well as they had hoped. And I think they want to take it in a different direction now," McCaul said.

Listen to this episode on ART19

Highlights from this week's episode:

  • Congressman Michael McCaul on whether Trump campaign is "running on all cylinders": "No, not at all...I think no one's campaign is running on all cylinders."
  • Jared Kushner's influence in the Trump campaign: "Jared really is the brains behind the machine in the campaign."
  • Trump's chances of winning Texas: "I do think Trump wins Texas. The question is by how much, and what that down-ballot effect is going to be."
  • Importance of wearing a mask: "There's a perception that Republicans don't want to follow the rules...It's very important that people wear their masks."

Asked if the Trump campaign is "running on all cylinders," McCaul replied, "No, not at all...I think no one's campaign is running on all cylinders." He suggested that the coronavirus pandemic has made it difficult for President Trump to "connect with people directly."

President Trump has also suffered from a spate of disappointing polling that shows him trailing or even with Joe Biden, even in states Republican presidential candidates are generally expected to win. McCaul, who represents Texas' 10th Congressional District, predicted Mr. Trump would win Texas, but said, "You have to take it seriously."

"I do think Trump wins Texas. The question is by how much, and what that down-ballot effect is going to be," McCaul said, adding that his own race would probably be helped more by Senator John Cornyn's name on the ballot than Mr. Trump's. Cornyn is also facing reelection this year.

"My favorables are much higher than the president's — and John Cornyn's for that matter — so I feel pretty good about this one," McCaul said about his own reelection bid.

McCaul also talked about the importance of following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines to stay safe in the midst of the pandemic.

"There's a perception that Republicans don't want to follow the rules," McCaul said. Several Republican governors have resisted making mask-wearing in public spaces mandatory, and the president has also largely resisted wearing one in public. "It's very important that people wear their masks," McCaul continued.

McCaul discussed the president's response to nationwide protests against racial violence and police brutality, and he urged the president to stop focusing so strongly on maintaining statues of Confederate officials.

"I think what we need to is leadership at the top that can heal this nation," McCaul said. "My advice to the president is you've got the base, let's work on middle of America. Let's work on mainstream America. Because that's how you win the elections. And it's the right thing to do."

McCaul said that the president had missed a "golden opportunity to take the high road" in responding to the protests.

"I think he had a golden opportunity to take the high road and try to bring the nation together and heal the nation. I think the nation needs a lot of healing right now," McCaul said. "It is too divisive and it's too polarized politically, and I don't think a whole lot of people like it, to be honest with you. And I think that was a missed opportunity that he had. I think Ivanka and a whole lot of others probably would have presented different messaging."

McCaul, who is the ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and a fierce critic of the Chinese government, also weighed in on the U.S. relationship with China. He spoke about the popular app TikTok, and a bipartisan amendment in the National Defense Authorization Act to ban use of the app in the U.S. military.

"My kids have used it, I think everyone's children, it's very popular, and I warn my children and I warn others that all that is within the grasp of the Chinese Communist Party," McCaul said.

For more of Major's conversation with McCaul, download "The Takeout" podcast on Art19, iTunesGooglePlaySpotify and Stitcher. New episodes are available every Friday morning. Also, you can watch "The Takeout" on CBSN Friday at 5pm, 9pm, and 12am ET and Saturday at 1pm, 9pm, and 12am ET. For a full archive of "The Takeout" episodes, visit www.takeoutpodcast.com. And you can listen to "The Takeout" on select CBS News Radio affiliates (check your local listings).  

Producers: Arden Farhi, Jamie Benson, Sara Cook and Eleanor Watson
CBSN Production: Eric Soussanin, Julia Boccagno and Grace Segers
Show email: TakeoutPodcast@cbsnews.com
Twitter: @TakeoutPodcast
Instagram: @TakeoutPodcast
Facebook: Facebook.com/TakeoutPodcast

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