Return to Transcripts main page


Bill Clinton Defends Hillary; Obama Hurting Democrats?

Aired June 24, 2014 - 18:28   ET


STEPHANIE CUTTER, CO-HOST: Well, Bill Clinton finally put a stop to all the right-wing nonsense about his wife being out of touch. The debate starts right now.


ANNOUNCER: Tonight on CROSSFIRE, Bill Clinton comes to Hillary's defense, saying she's not out of touch. Will voters agree?

Is the IRS just incompetent, or are they breaking the law?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you have any evidence of that, I'd be happy to see it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I asked a question.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I answered it.

ANNOUNCER: On the left, Van Jones and Stephanie Cutter. On the right, Newt Gingrich and S.E. Cupp. Will today's primaries be the Tea Party's revenge? Plus, the "Outrage of the Day." Tonight on CROSSFIRE.


CUTTER: Welcome to CROSSFIRE. I'm Stephanie Cutter, joined by Van Jones on the left. And on the right we have Newt Gingrich and S.E. Cupp.

Today, Bill Clinton brought a little calming reality to the right-wing frenzy over their finances.


BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It is factually true that we were several million dollars in debt. Everybody now assumes that what happened in the intervening years was automatic. I'm shocked that it's happened. I'm shocked that people still want me to come give talks. And so I'm grateful.

DAVID GREGORY, NBC NEWS: But when you say you pay ordinary taxes, Secretary Clinton did say you, unlike other people who are really well off, who pay taxes maybe just off capital gains, can you understand as a political matter that that could strike people as being out of touch?

CLINTON: Yes, but she's not out of touch. And she advocated and worked as a senator for things that were good for ordinary people.


CUTTER: He's correct. And despite what you might be hearing from the right, most Americans agree with the former president. In fact, when CNN's pollsters asked how Hillary Clinton would do handling the middle class, 59 percent responded they thought she would do a good job. You don't get numbers like that by being out of touch.

So I have advice for both sides of this debate. Republicans, this is not going to work out the way you think it is. Hillary Clinton is on the right side of issues the middle class cares about.

At the same time, the Clintons need to be more comfortable with their wealth and stop being defensive about it. They work hard -- worked hard to get where they are, and every American wants to get there, too.

S.E., I do think that this is not working out the way that Republicans would like it to. She consistently wins the blue-collar vote. Fifty- nine percent of people in the CNN poll think that she does right by the middle class, and she has a long history of fighting for the things that they care about. I think, in elections, that's what matters most.

S.E. CUPP, CO-HOST: Yes, but I will give you another poll. Wa-Po poll had 55 percent of Democrats saying they want another Democrat to challenge Hillary Clinton. And 13 percent of Democrats say they don't want Hillary Clinton to run. That means --

CUTTER: That has nothing to do with whether or not she is good on the middle class.

CUPP: -- want an alternative to Hillary Clinton. So she's not anointed yet.

CUTTER: That is not what that poll is saying. If they say that they don't want her to be anointed --

CUPP: Let me finish. There's no way to positively spin the pre- campaign campaign tour in terms of her setting the right tone. She didn't do a good job. In fact, it does not help that her husband has to come to her defense. That doesn't look good either.

CUTTER: But they're not plucking Hillary Clinton out of nowhere and putting her in this debate. She has a lifetime of fighting for these issues. And having worked on some of these campaigns, you take a look at what somebody's record is before you can see if a narrative sticks. This narrative is not going to stick on her.

CUPP: You might be right. The Republicans don't win on this. I'm not disagreeing with you there. Tactically, this might not work out to our benefit. But you cannot spin that this has been a good tour. It hasn't.

NEWT GINGRICH, CO-HOST: This isn't currently about Republicans winning.

CUTTER: You think there's not a machine out there that's pushing this stuff?

GINGRICH: Yes, there's a machine out there pushing this stuff.

CUTTER: You've been in politics for a while.

GINGRICH: That's Hillary. I mean, the Republicans didn't rush over to Bill Clinton and say, "Please revive this story for another day. And do it so it will come up on Sunday so we can now get three or four days of us talking about it." This is not some clever Republican plot.

You have to understand the problem Bill has. Bill is -- Bill is to politics what Fred Astaire was to dancing. He's just automatically amazing. And he wants to have a Ginger Rogers who's out there dancing just as Fred Astaire did.

Instead, it's a little bit like watching Kim Kardashian get kicked off the set by Prince. Because she couldn't -- and he spent several days in a row going, "Come on honey, you can do it."

And he wants her to go out there, and she goes, "Oomph."

CUTTER: I think he --

GINGRICH: And so today he stood up courageously. It's nice that she was in the audience studying him. I hope she learned a little bit about how do this. But I just think there's a big problem, because I don't think as a candidate that she dances very well.

VAN JONES, CO-HOST: Well, I think there's a couple things going on here. First of all, I this that Hillary Clinton politically, what she's -- what she's fought for, the middle class loves and is for.

And I think if you put what she's up to and what she's been fighting for against any Republican -- "Oh, look, she's making mistakes; she's putting her foot in her mouth" -- that's -- you're just mad because Republicans have been doing that for the whole past two years, and now you finally got a Democrat making some mistakes.

I think that what she's got to do, she's just got to get comfortable. She's got to say, "You know what? There's no American anywhere that would turn down 80 million bucks. We got 80 million bucks. We're happy. We're not defensive about that. We want you to be able to be successful, too" and move on. I think the problem, she's not comfortable with it yet. She's not comfortable with that.

CUPP: But do you think, Van -- do you think -- do you think it really is a comfort issue? Or do you think that she just doesn't fit in with today's modern Democratic Party on these economic issues? JONES: Well, you have two things that are going on. There is an

economic left of the party that Elizabeth Warren speaks to and speaks for very well. She seems very, very comfortable. There's a general populism in the country where people are frustrated with Washington and they're frustrated with Wall Street. All that is not good for Hillary Clinton.

But you know what? Bill Clinton is just as rich as she is.

CUPP: Yes.

JONES: Bill Clinton is just as successful as she is, and Bill Clinton can get over that hump, because Bill Clinton is comfortable with the fact he's successful. I think she's not there yet. And a lot of women are not yet. I think --

CUPP: Is he going to be a help to her, or by comparison, a bad contrast?

CUTTER: I think that we're coming at this from the wrong place. Hillary Clinton is still, hands down, beating anybody in the head to head for presidential. Not that anyone has declared, including with middle-class voters.

JONES: By double-digit.

CUTTER: She is the one person in the race, you know, assuming that she gets into it, against any Republican, she's winning on this issue, because she has a lifetime of fighting for these issues. And you cannot underestimate that. Republicans haven't won on this since 2004.

GINGRICH: You are too good a professional to believe what you just said.

CUTTER: I can't believe you just complimented me.

CUPP: That's not going to be a compliment.

JONES: Wait for it, wait for it.

GINGRICH: No, no. You -- and you were very professional when you helped in '08, but here's the point. Here's the deeper point. Watching Hillary after first lady, consistently, like all first ladies, she's the most admired woman in America. And after the U.S. Senate, after four years of secretary of state and who are they matching against? No one who's run nationally.

Now, if the thing were reversed and you were looking at a Republican --

JONES: That's not true.

GINGRICH: Rand Paul.

JONES: Romney. And you have the Bush family. The Bush family has been running nationally since I was born. And she trounces Jeb Bush. I mean, you guys don't have anybody remotely in the league with her. I think that's what you're saying.

CUTTER: Yes. And you're saying that because of name recognition.

GINGRICH: Name recognition is a huge bonus.

CUTTER: Even if you account for that, she's still beating them.

GINGRICH: By a narrow margin.

CUTTER: She's beating them.

GINGRICH: With no issues before the campaign starts.

CUTTER: Well, let me just point out --

CUPP: You can bring those issues up. Let when point out what one lefty snark -- snark-monger -- I don't know, Anna Marie Cox of "The Guardian." I don't know where to put her politics. She's on the left.

She said that Hillary Clinton was essentially an insider who claims to be an outsider. She says, "She is truly well off and she is a truly terrible class warrior."

Does the -- does the left attacking Hillary Clinton, which they will do over the course of the next few months and years, is that -- is that going to be fatal potentially?

JONES: I don't -- I don't think so. I mean, representing the left of the party, you mentioned earlier that people want an alternative. I think that's healthy for the Clintons. You literally have people who say, "I hope Hillary gets it. She should be our general election candidate." But they do want her to be challenged. They do want other people raising some of these issues about Wall Street, about economic inequality and hopefully getting her a little bit tougher and ready for prime time.

But the idea that, whatever differences there are between my wing of the party and the Clinton wing are this big compared to the chasm between us and the people who are in the Republican Party, who seem to be perfectly happy to have stalemate here and no real answers for the middle class.

GINGRICH: First of all, the answers your party's brought to the middle class led to the longest recession since the Great Depression, has led to a dramatic decline in the ability of young people to get jobs, have led to enormous problems. But by the way --

JONES: We got a chance to pass; you guys won't let it pass --

CUTTER: Newt, let's remember, the policies that got us into the crash in the first place. Policies that you guys are still pushing. Tax cuts for those at the top. Nothing for the middle. Nothing to help people afford to go to college. Deregulation. Repeal of Wall Street reform. Leave people on their own to get their own health care.

JONES: I have a request for you now, isn't this whole thing a little bit ludicrous? The entire political class is sort of attached to Wall Street like a tick, just sucking as much money as it possibly can. And now we're all going, "Oh, my God. Hillary Clinton, she's rich." And -- isn't at the end of the day a big part of the problem that the whole political class is way off.

CUPP: Wasn't the whole middle class when Romney was --

CUTTER: That had nothing to do.

CUPP: Now we're giving Hillary a pass, right?

CUTTER: This is not his connection to Wall Street. It was his claiming, what was it, a hundred thousand jobs that he created? When he actually bankrupted companies and laid people off.

GINGRICH: So how many jobs have the Clintons created, other than the Clinton Foundation? I mean --

CUTTER: Twenty million.

CUPP: One million.

GINGRICH: One million?

CUTTER: Twenty.

GINGRICH: Twenty million?


GINGRICH: You mean with the Republican Congress.

CUTTER: Oh, you guys were too busy doing other things that had nothing to do with jobs.

GINGRICH: Nice try.

JONES: Those were my 20 million jobs.

GINGRICH: OK. We spent all this time talking about the Clintons. They are fun. And they may be important in 2016. But they are irrelevant in 2014.

Next, I'll explain the real problem Democrats should be talking about.

But first, today's "CROSSFIRE Quiz." How many people are employed by the Internal Revenue Service? Is it 17,000, 43,000, or 93,000? We'll have the answer when we get back.


GINGRICH: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. All four of us are here tonight. Here's the answer to the CROSSFIRE quiz. About 93,000 people work for the IRS. But we still don't know how many may have broken the law because their computers keep crashing and their e-mail keeps disappearing.

So, let me share with you a problem that should trouble Democrats even more. In the middle of Iraq's collapse, Syria's collapse, Ukraine's collapse, the Veterans Affairs scandal, the IRS scandal, and 60,000 children illegally crossing the border, Democrats need to ask themselves -- how badly is President Obama going to hurt them on election day?

At this point in 2010, the president's net approval rating was plus 4. Now, it's minus 14. That's 18 point swing. If the Republicans won the House when the president was plus 4, imagine what is going to happen this fall if he is still minus 14.

I mean, Van, doesn't that level of disapproval worry you for the fall campaign?

JONES: You know, it would worry me, except I look at who we are up against. First of all, you guys right now are kind of riding high. You jumping up and down on the pogo stick. Every scandal you can find.

1998, as you know, you guys start to have Bill Clinton (INAUDIBLE) and wound up actually losing. It's a long way between now and November. I think there's a lot of cross current out there in the country.

And the other thing I say this, I'm trying to figure out what Republicans want to do when they win. They used to talk about repealing Obamacare, haven't heard that very much recently. Used to be all against the gay community, haven't heard that lately.

So much of the Republican agenda is now unpopular even among Republicans, all you got is scandal. I would be worried about that. Are you worried about that?

CUPP: You know, it's a fair point. And Republicans have -- look, Republicans are going to do very well in 2014. That said, the transition from 2014 to 2016 is going to be tough, if we don't start pushing our economic messages and our solutions, instead of just these scandals.

But let me just take issue, these are not little scandals. You said we've been jumping from little -- these are big scandals. And if the American people equate the government with the IRS, and the V.A., I could go on and on and on, this does not bode well for a Democratic agenda.

CUTTER: Well, S.E., I want to take issue with something you said. You said the Republicans would do very well in 2014. Where, exactly?

If you look at some of these priority Senate races, in Iowa, Bruce Braley is up 4 points in the head-to-head. In North Carolina, Kay Hagan, despite tens of millions of dollars of ads run against her, she's up for four. Jeanne Shaheen up 10.

Democrats are running very smart campaigns in these tough Senate races. We have history running against us. The president is, you know, is down in the polls.

CUPP: Yes, I'll say.


CUTTER: You know, there is a lot going on in the world that is being -- that he has to deal with.

CUPP: Being up 4 in June isn't great. And we've got a long way to go.

CUTTER: Republicans have been running a significant amount of negative ads against Democrats for many, many months.


CUTTER: Historical trends against Democrats and they are holding their own. They're running very good campaign. So, I just -- I think that you guys are celebrating a little too early.

CUPP: Maybe. But I'm OK about it.

CUTTER: You're celebrating --

GINGRICH: No, I'm not celebrating at all. I think we have to work very hard and put out a positive agenda. I think we have to do a lot of things. But plus-4 for an incumbent U.S. senator, she is still below 50. Shaheen is not --

CUTTER: Yes. In a state that is very for Democrats to win it.

GINGRICH: Right. And she's below 50, as incumbent senator --

CUTTER: Mitch McConnell.

JONES: But I just want to talk about this sort of like almost addiction to scandal that's going on. You have some things that are real. The V.A. thing is real. It's disgusting, it's despicable. We should be united as a country, forget partisanship.

My dad is a veteran. This is not acceptable.

And then you have other stuff -- you know, this IRS thing, I feel like -- I just want to say, number one, progressive organization including, making news here, my 501c3 was not approved by the Obama IRS. The progressive groups coming in very hard -- this is what happened.

After 2010, a bunch of groups jumped in left and right trying to get 501c3 status, and a lot of groups, including Tea Party groups, said they want to use those C3s for the next election. That's illegal. You use a PAC for an election not a C3. And that's when we all got put in an empty (ph) box, including leftwing groups and we never talk about that.

CUPP: But, Van, the American people feel as though they've been stonewalled on this story since its inception. They've been stonewalled by an administration very quickly handed them a couple of low level bureaucrats in Cincinnati. That didn't pass the smell test with anyone.

Then they got Lois Lerner who wouldn't answer any questions. Now, emails are disappearing. Now, the media is even on it. "The New York Times" is burying an IRS story on A-19 and putting a phony scandal about Chris Christie on the front page.

JONES: I'm going to give you something. I am not going to sit here and try and defend all the bureaucratic shenanigans at the IRS. I don't know enough about it. And frankly, if e-mails are disappearing, stuff like that, that worries me, too.

But the fundamental point that the IRS should not -- should not -- be giving 501c3 status to groups who say they want to influence politics, that's across the board and that is right. And you have rightly --


CUTTER: One of those groups that wants the C3 status is actually running a candidate in Mississippi tonight against an incumbent Republican. There's a primary going on in Mississippi. And I think that this should be a concern for Republicans.

If McDaniel wins, this is what Republicans are saying about McDaniel, he's dangerous. This is what Republicans, not Democrats, he's extremist, he's despicable. His victory helps keep Senate Democratic control of the Senate.

Why are they saying such bad things about him, Newt?

GINGRICH: Because they're trying to re-elect Thad Cochran. It's a very tough race.


CUTTER: Very problematic, Newt.

GINGRICH: And this state senator shocked everybody in the Mississippi establishment all of whom had doubled down on Cochran who had been there for 42 years. So, they're being mildly hysteric.


GINGRICH: But I'll make a prediction right here. The next senator from Mississippi is a Republican, period.

JONES: But aren't you concerned, honestly, Newt, seriously, you've got a guy in terms of McDaniel, he's attracting enthusiastic support from white nationalist organizations.

CUTTER: You guys are going to own him. JONES: Anyway, I'd be concerned about that.

CUPP: We'll have the results tonight. We've got to leave it there.

Stay here. We want you at home to weigh on today's "Fireback" question, should there be term limits in Congress? Tweet yes or no using #Crossfire. We'll have the results after the break.

We also have the outrages of the day. And mine is nothing to sneeze at.


CUPP: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE.

Now, it's time for my outrage of the day. The date March 10, 1959. Pennsylvania germaphobe Johnny Garneau files his patent for the first service table and the sneeze guard was born. Now, it's required by law in all retail and self-service food bars.

But germ-wielding scofflaws refuse to be contained by such capricious barriers. You've all seen them, the old man at the salad bar who sticks his finger in the salad dressing, the insolent child who puts his snot-covered mitts all over the desert bar.

Well, today, they all got a new champion for their cause, when none other than the president himself made the defiant reach over the sneeze guard at a Washington, D.C. Chipotle, or Chipotles as he called it.

Twitter did not take kindly. @newsy642 proclaimed, "Get on the other side of that sneeze guard, you monster." And @jgreendc called for impeachment and exile.

Look, the president is free to contaminate his own kitchen, but when it comes to the people's restaurants, have you no decency, sir?

CUTTER: Seriously?


GINGRICH: This is going to be another one of Van's Republicans --

CUTTER: Is that called a sneeze guard.

CUPP: That's called a sneeze guard.

CUTTER: Did you see him sneeze?

CUPP: I didn't. But I wasn't there.

CUTTER: Did you see him touch anything?

CUPP: I don't know. I wasn't there.

But the sneeze guard's there for a reason. (CROSSTALK)

CUPP: They patented it for a reason.

CUTTER: Yes, but I think we need better things to talk about. Thank God there's a World Cup game that we can talk about.

CUPP: Indeed, that is more important than the health of our nation.

CUTTER: God forbid somebody gets a cold.

JONES: If somebody does get a cold, at least we have Obamacare.

Now, let's check on our "Fireback" results. Should there be term limits in Congress? Right now, 87 percent of you say yes, 13 percent of you say no.

CUPP: We talked about this.

JONES: What's your view?

CUPP: No, because I asked, are they popular? And we all agreed they're popular.

JONES: But they're terrible.

CUPP: But to a person, no one at this table is super-supportive of term limits.

JONES: We have term limits in California and it's been terrible. One good thing, because forcing all these and the Latino community has a lot more political strength, only good thing. Everything else has been terrible.

CUTTER: Newt, you know more about this than anyone sitting at the table. But I think that there needs to be some mechanism that electives have to feel like they have to fight for reelection, that they have to earn their keep in Congress. The biggest problem there is gerrymandering where you're redrawing districts where they're just not competitive races.

GINGRICH: Well, although as we're discovering, you can have a gerrymandered primary and all of a sudden, you're in big trouble, because the gerrymander doesn't stop somebody to run you against you in your own situation.

JONES: Absolutely.

Well, listen, the debate is going to continue online at, as well as on Facebook and Twitter. Join us tomorrow for another edition of CROSSFIRE.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.