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CROSSFIRE

GOP Hopefuls Auditioning for Presidential Role?; Cruz Hits Dole & McCain

Aired March 7, 2014 - 18:28   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


NEWT GINGRICH, CO-HOST: Wolf, conservatives are here in Washington right now holding auditions out at CPAC.

PAUL BEGALA, CO-HOST: And fortunately for us, they're auditioning for scenes in the "Star Wars" bar scene. Debate comes up next.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: Coming up on CROSSFIRE, a Republican casting call.

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: We don't get to govern if we don't win.

GOV. RICK PERRY (R), TEXAS: It's time for a little rebellion on the battlefield of ideas.

ANNOUNCER: Conservatives are shopping for our next president. Should she be worried?

MIKE HUCKABEE (R), FORMER ALABAMA GOVERNOR: Four Americans were murdered at Benghazi. With all due respect to Hillary Clinton, it does make a difference.

ANNOUNCER: On the left, Paul Begala. On the right, Newt Gingrich. In the CROSSFIRE, Stephanie Schriock, a Hillary Clinton supporter, and David Bossie, a Clinton detractor. Who can beat Hillary Clinton? Is she really going to run? Tonight on CROSSFIRE.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BEGALA: Welcome to CROSSFIRE. I am Paul Begala on the left.

GINGRICH: I'm Newt Gingrich on the right. In the CROSSFIRE tonight, guests with a spark -- stark political divide.

The reality is if all we're doing in 2016 is picking a class president, maybe Hillary Clinton's lifetime of work and serious personality would be enough. But she's the face of Obama care, low job numbers and now a failed foreign policy. Republicans know this, so this week here in Washington, they're taking full advantage.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HUCKABEE: With all due respect to Hillary Clinton, it does make a difference why they died. WAYNE LAPIERRE, CEO, NATIONAL RIFE ASSOCIATION: They're laying the groundwork to put another Clinton back in the White House. We will be happy to tell Hillary Clinton in unmistakable terms we know what difference it makes even if you don't.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GINGRICH: Hillary as a person may be electable. Hillary as heir to the Obama administration's record of failure is something else.

BEGALA: Well, you know, our old friend, our mutual friend Zell Miller, one of my mentors in life, used to say a hit dog barks. The reason these guys are all barking like this at Hillary is they fear her. And I think they should.

GINGRICH: Sometimes the hit dog is right and then the bus is in trouble. We can trade Georgisms later.

BEGALA: Yes.

GINGRICH: In the CROSSFIRE tonight, Stephanie Schriock, the president of Emily's List and a Hillary Clinton supporter, and David Bossie, the president of Citizens United.

And since you're the guest host, you get the first opportunity here.

BEGALA: Well, great, thank you. First, thanks for having me. It's just lovely to be co-hosting again. I'm -- David, happy it's you and not Jon Stewart sitting opposite from me.

DAVID BOSSIE, PRESIDENT, CITIZENS UNITED: Let's see how you feel at the end. I've seen more than you do of Stewart.

BEGALA: But we go back a ways.

BOSSIE: We do.

BEGALA: And our audience should know that. Twenty years now you've been on this obsession, this anti-Hillary obsession. Whitewater and harassing her when she was first lady, opposing her when she was Senate candidate, opposing her when she ran for president. In those 20 years, Mr. Bossie, she's been voted the most admired woman in America for 18 of those 20, so you failed as a political stalker. And you just kind of need a new hobby, don't you, David?

BOSSIE: I don't think so. First of all, you just -- you and Hillary Clinton and the rest just won't go away. That's part of the problem why it gives us things to do and talk about.

Hillary Clinton, the crocodile tears that are being cried for her in all of those problems that she possessed in the '90s; and we were looking at them and they were very serious problem, Paul. And you'll acknowledge that the Whitewater case and the finances or the land deals were serious business, and that's why Congress was looking at it. BEGALA: It was totally phony. And after all those attacks, 24,613,243 Americans have voted for her: 24,600,000. Despite your best effort. David, I call that a failure. You're "0" for life taking on Hillary.

BOSSIE: We'll see -- we'll see how it works out for her in 2016. She's not been on the ballot nationally. Bill Clinton was. Bill Clinton beat us.

BEGALA: Like a drum.

BOSSIE: You know what? We gave back just as good as we got.

GINGRICH: Let me ask, if I might, Stephanie. I think -- I think there are substantive things I'm not going to get into with these two guys.

SCHRIOCK: Well, they've got 20 years.

GINGRICH: We go back a long time, both when I was speaker when we worked together and also, Callista and I made films and documentaries we're very proud of with Citizens United. So I just want to say that for the audience.

But let me ask you. I thought this week we had a really good example of the substantive burden she's going to be carrying. If you look at what happened in Crimea, you look at what's happened in Ukraine, you look at Putin. And I just want to show you for a second, Hillary with her reset button. I think it's worth rolling this for a second to see why I think she's got a challenge.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: We want to reset our relationship.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's do this together.

CLINTON: So we will do it together. OK?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GINGRICH: I just want to suggest that that laugh really -- when you look at this week, she is part of an administration which has so profoundly misunderstood who Vladimir Putin is and so profoundly misunderstood the nature of power and of politics as it relates to that region, that that's something -- you know, she's not able to just throw up her hands and say, what does it matter? This is a big deal. How do you explain the gap between reset and Crimea?

SCHRIOCK: Well, I think as secretary of state, Hillary Clinton definitely held the line against Putin. She's been very aggressive, continues to be. I think we'll hear that over and over again. Hillary is exactly the kind of leader this country is looking for. And we can see it in the polls every day. And it's not just Democrats, mind you, but she is leading across the board because of her leadership in the world and particularly in the United States with women and families.

So you've got both going on. I'm really pleased that she's out there speaking for us.

BOSSIE: First of all, the reset button, obviously, short-circuited. This is a ridiculous attempt, what they did there, that photo op.

Look, in her time Iran got the bomb. The Ukraine is underwater. Benghazi, the disaster at Benghazi. Our relationship with Israel so the worst it's been in a generation. She is a failed secretary of state and, Paul, that's what we're going to be focused on when she runs for president in 2016. Not all the things you want us to be talking about from the '90s.

BEGALA: Like jobs and health care and peace and prosperity.

BOSSIE: Let's talk about -- let's talk about Hillary care for a minute.

BEGALA: Let me talk about Benghazi first. First off, you went...

BOSSIE: You want to talk about Benghazi?

BEGALA: This is a record -- this is a record for my friends on the right. I timed it. You went 4 minutes and 48 seconds without -- you didn't personally, but the show went for 4 minutes and 48 seconds. To paraphrase Joe Biden, seems like my friends on the right have an idea of sentence structure being a noun, a verb and Benghazi. You guys have been on this for two years.

BOSSIE: You sound like the '90s. You are making this old news before it's old news. That's exactly what you're doing.

BEGALA: This has been litigated and investigated.

BOSSIE: Oh, my God. You're Henry Waxman all of a sudden.

BEGALA: Well, first of all, she'd been under oath for seven hours, House and Senate. There's an independent investigation. It's been investigated. How many attacks on embassies in consulates were there when Bush was president?

BOSSIE: I have heard this throughout the '90s, the dissembling, your putting off -- you guys making it old news when it's the first day.

BEGALA: How many?

BOSSIE: Four people died at Benghazi.

BEGALA: How many died in...

BOSSIE: Trying to make it old news.

BEGALA: How many died in the 13 attacks under Bush, and you didn't say a peep. This is politics. And David, you're...

BOSSIE: It's always politics, Paul. You guys attack George Bush all throughout his...

BEGALA: I did not attack him when those embassies were attacked and those consulates were.

SCHRIOCK: This is tragic, but let's keep in mind that the American people have been reading the same headlines we have been reading, and the truth is they're standing with Secretary Clinton. So much that they're ready to see her run for president of the United States.

BOSSIE: And I look forward to that -- I look forward to that campaign.

SCHRIOCK: I do, too.

BOSSIE: Not as much as I do.

GINGRICH: My one instinctive response which was a throwback to the late '90s when you said she can run on jobs.

BEGALA: Absolutely.

GINGRICH: Did you see this morning's jobs report? This is the weakest recovery since the Great Depression. And Obama care makes it weaker. Now how -- if this continues for two more years, how is she going to run on, A, if Obama care keeps decaying, which she said this week was so important we have to stick with it, B, if the economy stays this weak, how do you run on an unemployment and destroyed health-care system?

BOSSIE: She tried to develop, by the way, in 1993 with you.

BEGALA: Which was so good...

SCHRIOCK: I know, I know, it's hard. It's hard.

BEGALA: Go ahead.

SCHRIOCK: But -- no, it's clear that Hillary Clinton is her own person here. She's going to -- if she decides to do this, which by the way, we should keep in mind, she hasn't decided if she's running for president of the United States. But she has a good clear vision for economic opportunity in this country, and we are coming out of this recession. It has been slow, but it has been difficult.

BOSSIE: We're five years into a debacle.

SCHRIOCK: Let's also keep in mind that the Republican Party here has no vision for the future, but in fact, has a great vision for rolling us back decades on all sorts of issues that affect women and families in this country.

GINGRICH: So I just want to get this straight, because I'm trying to understand how people on the left think. One of the great virtues of being on CROSSFIRE. So -- so the unemployment going up this morning was a sign of progress? I just try to understand.

BOSSIE: That's what they're trying to tell you.

BEGALA: The number of jobs went up 175,000.

SCHRIOCK: The jobs went up. And that is really important. And that's what we should be looking at. We continue to add jobs every month. Is it as fast as we want? No, but we also have a Republican Party particularly, if I dare say it, in your former chamber, in the House of Representatives, that refuses to do anything to move this country forward, but loves gridlock and obstruction helped by Senator McConnell on the other side.

GINGRICH: But here's the most interesting thing in terms of the burden Hillary is going to carry. She has two burdens. One is Obama. Is she with him? Does she repudiate him? Does she dance in between?

The other, though, I thought was stated brilliantly by Bernie Sanders today in an interview. And Bernie went on to say, people are hurting, and it is important for leadership now to explain to them why they're hurting. I don't think that is the politics of Senator Clinton or the Democratic establishment.

I mean, isn't it fair to say that, if you watch it go around the country at $200,000 a speech, you watch the scale of money that she and her husband raised, you watch -- the associations are getting, the size of their super PAC friends, she represents the insider big- business, big-government, big-labor system, but that's going to -- and I think Bernie's going to run, and I think that's going to be his theme. That if you really want the old order, Hillary Clinton after 40 years in public life is really the old order.

SCHRIOCK: Well, the American people just disagree with you on this. I mean, she has been a champion for women.

BOSSIE: She's got old and tired ideas, and that will be born out in the campaign. That's a fact. Look, we've been running for years, but the worst president -- the worst president...

SCHRIOCK: I think you are...

BOSSIE: ... of the United States was Jimmy Carter. That's what we've been saying for the last 40 years. Now we're going to be running a campaign that Barack Obama was the worst president.

BEGALA: You also said that about Bill Clinton when you were running him out of office. You failed with that, and you're going to fail going after his wife the same way, Bossie. You wait and see.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: Hang on just a second. We take a break.

And by the way, Hillary, I know -- and I know you're watching. Don't feel bad. The pot shots these Republicans are lobbing at you, believe me, they are nothing compared to this. The friendly fire that they're turning on a couple of the Republican Party's own icons. Stay with us. That's next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BEGALA: Now, welcome back to CROSSFIRE.

We're debating what's happening right now at the Republican Party's circular firing squad, also known as CPAC. Normally, I don't mind at all watching the Republican Party tear itself apart but one thing today really got my attention.

Every patriotic American ought to be appalled to hear what Ted Cruz said when he insulted John McCain and Bob Dole. These are two genuine American war heroes, and yet the junior senator from Texas who, by my estimation, never served in the U.S. military or even in the Canadian army of his country of birth, he claimed that these war heroes were not principled.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: And, of course, all of us remember President Dole, and President McCain, and President Romney. Look, those are good men, they're decent men, but when you don't stand and draw a clear distinction, when you don't stand for principle, Democrats celebrate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BEGALA: Don't stand for principle. Well, today, Bob Dole, a 90-year- old war hero from the greatest generation who fought and bled for our country in World War II fired back. He said this, "Cruz should check my voting record before making comments. I was one of President Reagan's strongest supporters. He is right."

And Mr. Bossie don't you agree with John McCain that Ted Cruz should apologize to Bob Dole?

DAVID BOSSIE, CITIZENS UNITED: No, not at all.

BEGALA: Really?

BOSSIE: Not at all.

BEGALA: You guys are now about insulting war heroes saying they're not principled?

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: You did not stand by principle.

BOSSIE: First, I didn't hear in that clip Senator Cruz say anything about Bob Dole or John McCain's service. I heard him talk about political campaigns, the presidential campaigns. I think he was right.

He -- the reason that guys, that those men lost is they tried to be too much in the middle. That is where they lost the base and that's where they lost the election. BEGALA: Music to my ears, because elections are won in the middle. Let me tell you.

SCHRIOCK: I love that.

BEGALA: Mr. Bossie is conceding the center to my party and I hope it's Hillary Clinton, get ready for another four years of Democrats in the White House. You're giving up the center.

(CROSSTALK)

SCHRIOCK: In 2012, we saw a number of Republicans stand on principle in the United States Senate races, folks like Todd Akin and we saw how that works. So, I think this is great news.

BOSSIE: Those are different.

GINGRICH: I think it's very different. And I think, in fact, if you look at governors races there are a number of people like Scott Walker who have stood on principle, won decisively in blue states and maybe set a stage for an interesting 2016.

But let me ask you about the difference. Paul's right, we have a wide open party right now. There are no front-runners, there are just runners. Lots of people out there with lots of ideas and the range from, you know, Rand Paul to Chris Christie is a pretty wide range.

On the other hand, I have to ask you, you're for Hillary. Right now, I would say right now Hillary is the prohibitive favorite although I have to confess I thought she'd be the nominee until April. I thought the machine was so big the name was so big and she and her husband was so good that as late as April I thought she'd be the nominee. So, once again, I may be getting sucked in.

But doesn't your potentially have the opposite problem, which is Hillary coasts to a coronation, doesn't get any significant testing and suddenly finds herself in a general election she's unprepared for. Isn't there a certain cloying effect of having somebody so dominant after eight years of already being in the White House that there's no serious competition in 2016?

SCHRIOCK: First, we're already seeing an impulse today that she has -- she doesn't just have a lead like she had in 2007, this is a different situation. She is way far ahead. I mean, if you add up all the other potential Democrats in Democratic primaries, they add up to like 15, 16, 17, all of them. So this is a different situation.

You bring up a really good point. But I think this is actually what it's more like. There's energy already building. Groups like Ready for Hillary and Emily's List are already have so much energy on the ground like they want to go, they want to organize, they want to get involved in 2014 they're so excited. And we don't have a candidate yet.

So, I am actually excited about this opportunity to really build from the ground up state by state while we get to watch the Republicans beat each other up from one extreme to another.

(CROSSTALK)

GINGRICH: Before I yield to my good friend, (INAUDIBLE), I just have to say one thing. So, would you like to suggest that Hillary's got so much dynamic excitement, so much support and enthusiasm, she's going to turn the tide around this fall and you're not going to lose seats in the Senate, you're not going to lose seats in the House? I don't think so.

SCHRIOCK: Well, we are up against history. You know, six years into the administration, not always the best time for the party in power. However, we do have incredible candidates who are going to buck that history, including places like Kentucky and Georgia, if I may. We're going to pick up some Senate seats here.

BOSSIE: Let's get history straight here. Hillary Clinton was the juggernaut that she is now, she was it in 2007. Donna Brazile, other Democrat leaders were saying it is hers for the taking. It will be Hillary Clinton. She is the nominee without question. No one else can even come close.

And then this guy who had no name ID, no organization and no money, for that matter, ran to her left and beat her very late in the process. As a matter of fact, so late I actually made a movie -- I spent a lot of money and made a movie about her, hoping it was going to be seen, and, of course, the only people who saw it were the Supreme Court.

BEGALA: That was the only good thing about Hillary losing.

But I -- let me quibble a little. Fundamentally you're right, by the way, and so is Newt. These things aren't given away, OK? If she runs, I really want her to, she will be hosted vigorously in my party and that's America. That's good, OK?

So, I think you guys make a very valid --

BOSSIE: But you just called the circular firing squad when the Republicans are doing it.

BEGALA: Yes, here's the difference. You just said you want to double down on crazy. You're praising Ted Cruz, but nothing could be better for me, OK, is to abandon the center. Hillary runs, she is what she is. She's a centrist Democrat. She's a moderate progressive Democrat.

Ted Cruz, not a moderate Republican. He is the Republicans' McGovern, right? Who's a lovely man --

(CROSSTALK)

BOSSIE: I think he's more like Reagan.

BEGALA: We double down on lefty with McGovern and we carried one state. You think Ronald Reagan and Ted Cruz --

BOSSIE: There are many candidates, many candidates who are going to be able to articulate the conservative Republican message.

BEGALA: Tell me, please, give me a good weekend.

BOSSIE: I would be very excited.

BEGALA: Not as excited as me, my brother. This guy is a 40-state loser.

BOSSIE: You're in a fantasy world.

SCHRIOCK: The other thing here is this -- we have had four years of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

BOSSIE: A disaster, by the way.

SCHRIOCK: According to you and the Republicans who are so desperate to make it so. But the American people see it much differently, and that's why we see her leading in all of the polls, it's because she is a different person today.

(CROSSTALK)

SCHRIOCK: No.

BOSSIE: She did.

BEGALA: I think you're right. I think polls about 2016 are far too premature. But polls about her service as secretary of state are not.

SCHRIOCK: Yes.

BEGALA: So, take a look. David, just got to pull back today --

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: I want to get it right.

BOSSIE: You probably won't.

BEGALA: No, no, I'm a numbers guy -- 67 percent of Americans approved the job the secretary did, 67, after you guys had been attacking her day and night. And 69 -- by the way, of that 67 percent, 44 percent of Republicans say she did a good job. That's higher than Republicans say Mitch McConnell does a good job. And 69 percent say she is strong, despite all of your attacks on Benghazi, all your attacks on Hillary, people think she did a really good job.

Do you think voters are stupid if they don't understand?

BOSSIE: No. I think the mainstream media makes her into exactly what they want, which is a successful secretary of state. Her campaign is going to consist of Iran getting the bomb, Benghazi, Putin running all over the world with this reset clip being shown all over the place. And we're welcoming that campaign.

GINGRICH: All right. Stay here. We want you to weigh in at home on today's "Fireback" question. Which party has deeper divisions heading into the election? Tweet Democrats or Republicans using #crossfire. We'll have the results after the break.

We also have the "Outrages of the Day", including some advice to people who think the president shouldn't be taking a vacation during a global crisis.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GINGRICH: Welcome back.

Now, it's time for "Outrages of the Day".

I am outraged that anyone would be outraged because President Obama is spending the weekend in Key Largo. Yes, we're in the middle of an international crisis with Russia, and, yes, the president this week clearly demonstrated he's completely ineffective. But he can be just as ineffective in Key Largo as he can be at the White House.

So, my advice is: get off his back. Let the president be ineffective wherever he wants and enjoy your weekend.

BEGALA: Thank you, I think. I don't know. That was brilliant. I have to tell you, that was brilliant. I hope he enjoys his weekend.

For my part, I am outraged on who was excluded from the CPAC conference this week. They made room for anti-Federal Reserve, activists and anti-U.N. extremists, and pretty much every Hillary hater in America.

But both GOProud and Log Cabin Republicans were not allowed to sponsor the event or even to host a booth. Why? Because they're gay.

That's not even the worst exclusion form CPAC. The one I'm worst outraged about, you know who else they excluded? Me. Last year, I had the time in my life at CPAC debating my old friend Tucker Carlson.

So, CPAC guys, invite me. Come on. I won't bite. And, boys, I definitely won't kiss you.

GINGRICH: That is a real relief.

(LAUGHTER)

GINGRICH: Let's check on our "Fireback" results. Which party has deeper divisions heading into the election? Right now, 11 percent if you say Democrats, 89 percent say Republicans. So --

SCHRIOCK: There you go.

BEGALA: The people have spoken. David, can you defend your people? There are deeper divisions in your party, right? BOSSIE: I think you've got to deepen CNN's audience share. I think that's really -- are there Republicans watching? I don't know. I think that's an issue.

BEGALA: David Bossie from Citizens United, Stephanie Schriock from Emily's List, thank you both so much for joining us.

The debate continues, of course, at CNN.com/crossfire, as well as on the Facebook and Twitter.

From the left, I'm Paul Begala.

GINGRICH: From the right, I'm Newt Gingrich.

Join us Monday for another edition of CROSSFIRE.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.