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Hillary Clinton Expected to Launch Campaign Today; Rand Paul's Rough First Week. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired April 12, 2015 - 08:30   ET


[08:29:58] VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: "STATE OF THE UNION" with Dana Bash is up at 9:00 a.m. and again at noon with a special edition. But right now it's INSIDE POLITICS with John King.

JOHN KING, CNN HOST: The wait is over. Hillary Clinton makes it official today.


HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Don't you some day want to see a woman president of the United States of America?


KING: Republicans rush to offer not so warm welcomes.


SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If Hillary Clinton is going to join with Barack Obama and the gun grabbers and come after our guns, then what I say is come and take it.


KING: And forget Elizabeth warren. Is this man a surprise threat to a Clinton coronation?


LINCOLN CHAFEE, FORMER GOVERNOR OF RHODE ISLAND: I'm Lincoln Chafee. And I'm a Democrat considering a run for President of the United States.


KING: Plus, Rand Paul also jumps in and rebuts Republican rivals who say he's not tough enough to be commander in chief.


SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I envision a national defense that promotes as Reagan put it peace through strength.

(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: Marco Rubio is next as the 2016 race shifts into high


INSIDE POLITICS, the biggest stories sourced by the best reporters now.

A big breaking news day as we welcome you this morning to INSIDE POLITICS. I'm John King. Thanks for sharing your Sunday morning.

Hillary Clinton makes it official today. She wants to be your next president.

With us to share their reporting and their insights on this big day: National Journal's Ron Fournier; Lisa Lerer of the Associated Press; Robert Costa of the "Washington Post"; and a familiar face on INSIDE POLITICS who's now the latest, great edition to our CNN political team, Nia Malika Henderson. Welcome to the fray.


KING: Well this much was inevitable even as we rightly call it breaking news. Hillary Clinton is running for president again. She begins today in just a few hours, we're told. And she will begin the overwhelming front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination. It's as close to a lock as you can get. And if you had to bet today, she also begins because of presidential election demographics and Republican Party dysfunction on a few big issues. She begins as the early favorite to win the White House in 2016.

And yet, Ron Fournier, as someone who has covered Hillary Clinton for more than two decades, you write in your most recent article "formidable but can be beat". Why?

RON FOURNIER, "NATIONAL JOURNAL": Spent the last three or four days in Iowa. What you hear out there specifically is that they're not so sure that they want this to be a coronation. Actually they don't want it to be. They want this to be a really contest. They have some doubts about her ability and her willingness to do the kind of retail politics that you have there. And they're taking a hard look at Martin O'Malley specifically.

KING: They're taking a hard look at Martin O'Malley, you say. We have some poll graphics. I want to put -- it's up, if we have it. She is 47 points ahead of her closest rival right now and that's Joe Biden. She's at 62 percent. Joe Biden is at 15 percent. We don't think he's running.

Elizabeth Warren who says she's absolutely not running is 52 percent behind. Then you get into the 3s and the 1s and the 1s. Now I remember Lisa Rick Santorum went from 2 percent to winning Iowa last time so it can be done, but really?

LISA LERER, ASSOCIATED PRESS: It can be done and I hate -- I hate to do this but I have to disagree with Ron.

FOURNIER: Why? I'm shocked. LERER: I know. It's bold. I just don't see it. She controls

the entire Democratic Party. And until Martin O'Malley or any of these other would-be challengers are ready to put on their big boy pants and come after her hard, I just don't see how you do it. Unless you take down the Cuba (ph) queen in this case and you have to go after her.

FOURNIER: I completely agree with that.

KING: Not just putting on your big boy pants, it's what's it about? What's it about.

LERER: That's right.

KING: Barack Obama -- by this point in 2006 no one thought he could beat Hillary Clinton but he had arrived. You had John Edwards in that field. You had (inaudible) in that field. You had Joe Biden in that field. No offense to Martin O'Malley and Jim Webb or Senator Chafee, who's going to be "STATE OF THE UNION". Governor Chafee is going to be on "STATE OF THE UNION" later. No offense to any of them, but they don't have the experience in politics that those guys had. And Lincoln Chafee wants to say, Hillary Clinton voted for the Iraq war, she's disqualified. Well, that's what Senator Obama did and he was against the Iraq war but does that have sway now with so much distance.

HENDERSON: No, I don't think so. I think most people, you look at Lincoln Chafee and you say who is Lincoln Chafee and why is he here? None of these guys that we talk about whether it's O'Malley or Webb, they don't come with any coalition. If you looked at Barack Obama, he came with sort of a coalition, African-Americans, he came with young people. In that way he was able to run a very effective, obviously winning campaign against Hillary Clinton.

None of these other people -- people don't know who they are -- that's the other thing. It's one thing to try to tear down Hillary Clinton. It's another to introduce yourself effectively to voters who don't know who you are.

LERER: And they're not particularly transformational inspirational figures.

KING: Right.

LERER: They're not known for being these amazing politicians.


FOURNIER: But the campaign has not started. You guys really think there's no way --

KING: I don't think there's no way. There's never no way. There's never no way. Anybody can be beat especially in today's politics. Just look at what's happened over the last several years. The surprises we've had, mostly on the Republican side. Look at Obama in 2008. It can happen. The question is there's nobody anywhere close to her right now.

The Democratic Party has made this investment.

[08:35:00] The question is she's her own biggest enemy right now. She's her biggest opponent right now.


KING: Who is she when she comes out of the gate, Robert? And you write a great story this morning of these Republicans already preparing. They think she's going to be the nominee. They think they need to spend the next two years while they're candidates or fighting amongst themselves going after her. Are they a little bit worried that they fought the Clinton wars before on the right and they lost?

COSTA: They are worried. And they look at Secretary Clinton's pre-campaign time. And they say that she's actually been pretty successful. One of the reasons Senator Warren is not running and you have all these lesser known rivals is because Hillary Clinton has moved to the left. She has made progressives more aware of her positions, they're more comfortable with her.

As Ron said, in Iowa, they want to see her campaign, they want to see a fresh tone and a new message. But when it comes to her politics at least she's more in step with them than perhaps she was in the Senate.

KING: Right. So the question is who is she? I remember her. You remember her when she was first lady of Arkansas, then she was first lady of the country, then she was senator, then she was presidential candidate, then she was secretary of state. Nobody in my lifetime doing this has reinvented themselves or reintroduced themselves so many times in so many different ways. So we'll see how she does.

She writes an epilogue. Her book is out in paperback now. She writes an epilogue that is teasing where she wants to go in this campaign. She says "I'm more convinced than ever that our future in the 21st century depends on our ability to ensure that a child born in the hills of the Appalachia or the Mississippi Delta or the Rio Grande Valley grows up with the same shot at success that Charlotte will." Charlotte being, of course, her granddaughter.

She's not saying the Clintons are dead broke anymore if you notice in that. But she is saying and she did some of this when she was in Arkansas with mixed success working in the Mississippi Delta on education and on hunger issues. This is a more populist Hillary Clinton. Can she sell that?

FOURNIER: But the problem is you can't sell what you aren't. She has to figure out who she is and make sure she sells that. I get worried when I read these kinds of stories that we've seen today where they're talking about how they poll-tested Barack Obama and how you separate yourself. Who is she?

KING: Who are you? Right. FOURNIER: And what are you going to do? What are you going to

do to make our country better? That's what she's got to be able to show. If she can do that in an authentic way and not be what she thinks Joe Benson wants her to be.

LERER: She has to thread the needle between being the fighting grandma, which I think is how she's going to come out. That's certainly what she laid on the epilogue. Who's going to fight for these populist economic causes and also being someone who can bring Washington back together.

I think in the general electorate there's a real desire to see Washington actually work. We don't know if that's possible. But she wants to cast herself as someone who can do that. And that is a more natural fit for her.

KING: "It's my turn" is not a compelling presidential message.




KING: And the Republicans, no doubt -- and we'll talk more about this later -- will make generational argument. She will be 69 on Election Day.

HENDERSON: That's right.

KING: Ronald Reagan was our oldest president elected. He was 69 on Election Day and the Republicans are going to make the argument that -- nice woman, great career in public service -- you're yesterday. We're talking about tomorrow.

HENDERSON: Yes, I don't know that they'll make that argument, "nice woman".

KING: You don't think -- ok let's skip the "nice woman".

HENDERSON: Yes. And I think what Democrats are going to try to do is say, listen, she's got this experience. It might mean that she's older, she's 69. But it also means that she knows the ways of Washington, that she knows leaders from her experience as secretary of state.

I think her challenge is going to be, how does she make people excited? That's something Barack Obama was able to do. There's one thing to be populist but can she also be aspirational? I think that's a real challenge for her because people are kind of bored.

KING: As a person -- not just -- look, she'll have history on her side. She will say I will be the first woman president. If you look at the demographics in the country, that's powerful. That's a nice weapon to have, you think. I think it has to be personal for her. One more quick point -- Robby Mook, who will be her campaign

manager and one key point; she has assembled a very different staff this time -- a lot of veterans of the Obama (inaudible), a lot of younger people, more high tech people, people, including her chairman John Podesta, who aren't afraid to walk in the room and say "no" to Hillary Clinton. That's important as we watch this play out.

But she's the candidate. She's going to have to set the tone and go through the pits. But Robby Mook says in a statement the campaign distributed and they wanted us to have. "This campaign is not about Hillary Clinton and not about us." Of course it is. Of course it is.

"We are humble. We take nothing for granted. We are never afraid to lose." Yes, you are.

"We always out compete and fight for every vote we can win. We know this campaign will be won on the ground, in the states". That fact's true.

FOURNIER: I found that fascinating. To get ready for today, I read one of my favorite writers this morning -- me. In 2013 I wrote a memo to Hillary basically based on reporting by people very close to her who really like her, really think that she needs to get her authentic self out there. They wrote through me in this memo to her that she needs to be accessible. She needs to be vulnerable. She needs to have a small and scrappy campaign. She needs to show that she's nimble and humble and honest and authentic, and above all fearless. Something she's never been is fearless.

So this memo is, she had only that kind of thinking. She's obviously got people around here who respect her, think she'd be a great president, think she's a decent person and want her to show that side of her for the first time. And we get back to your point, can she be that person? Can she finally be fearless? Can she be transparent?


FOURNIER: Look at what she did with the -- that's why the e-mail thing is such a bad deal. Because it's so counter to what she's promised -- what she needs to be to be a --

COSTA: When you surround yourself in presidential politics says so much about what you're going to do in your campaign --


COSTA: -- I think the hiring of Robby Mook -- someone who's in his 30s, who's run grassroots campaigns.

[08:40:04] And he's really saying Hillary for America, this is not Hillary for president. He's making it a grassroots campaign. Someone that's going to reach out to people, not take Iowa for granted. I think Mook's hiring is really going to be one of the key factors if she wins the White House. FOURNIER: I agree and we'll talk about this later. Her team in

Iowa is a reflection of Robby Mook but can she go out there and do the real retail politics, be authentic --

KING: You can have the best staff in the business it's still about the candidate. And to the point you made about the e-mails I don't want to -- we're going to move on but I don't want to do so without saying this. She still has some explaining to do on that one, to the congress. I personally think it's inexcusable for somebody who is the keeper of government records, if you made the decision to keep those records on a private server in your home, you don't get to be the only person who decides this is the government's property, this is my property. You needed somebody with a clean set of eyes -- independents to do that.

FOURNIER: Hear, hear.

KING: She didn't. Here we go. We'll see what happens moving forward.

FOURNIER: A lot of Iowa Democrats agree with you.

KING: A lot of Iowa Democrats -- and this will be part of the campaign not just with the Republicans and the testimony at the Congress. We'll see.

A lot more to talk on Hillary's big day.

Up next thought, Rand Paul's temper becomes an issue in his first week as a presidential contender.

And Marco Rubio, next out of the GOP gate.


KING: Welcome back.

For six plus years now Republicans have made the case that freshman Senator Barack Obama just wasn't ready to be president. And yet the first three official entries into what will be a crowded GOP field are -- you guessed it -- freshmen senators. Ted Cruz two weeks ago, Rand Paul this past week and Marco Rubio jumps in tomorrow night. Cruz had a big first week, a jump in the polls and a huge fund- raising.

Rand Paul entered the race with a stronger foundation but week one was a bit rocky; questions about his temper because, yes, he gets testy in interviews when you suggest he's changed his positions, like on Iran.


PAUL: You look at the evidence that Iran is not a threat, Iran cannot even refine their own gasoline.

There has always been a threat of Iran gaining nuclear weapons. (END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Or on say, cutting off aid to Israel.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Just to be precise, end all foreign aid, including the foreign aid to Israel as well, is that right?

PAUL: Yes.

That has not been a position -- a legislative position. We have never introduced anything to phase out or get rid of Israel's aid.


KING: Or on how to treat workers, say, who entered the United States illegally.


PAUL: What becomes of the 12 million undocumented workers in the United States? My plan is very simple. It will include work visas for those who are here and are willing to come forward and work.

I do not support amnesty. Millions of illegal immigrants are crossing our border without our knowledge and causing a clear threat to our national security.


KING: He got testy a few times, Robert, with people saying that he's been inconsistent. That's not the biggest issue. Whether you can sell that to reporters or they can fight with reporters. But when you're out there reporting in Iowa and New Hampshire, places even he conceded this week he has to win early somewhere. Rand Paul to prove he's not Ron Paul, to prove he's a potential a nominee not just an impact player in the race has to win somewhere.

Do conservatives see him as pure, as one of theirs, or does he have issues?

COSTA: Well, his father's supporters, those Ron Paul libertarians, they're skeptical about Senator Paul right now. They're wondering. Is he running as a movement candidate? Does he have a real platform he wants to pursue or is it about confining a new centrist moderate coalition, conservative coalition to get the nomination? People aren't really sure about where he's going. And if he doesn't have that hard base of 20 percent that his father had in Iowa and New Hampshire, it's going to be a struggle for him in a crowded field.

KING: You're going to see him on "STATE OF THE UNION" after this program. Please stay. Rand Paul among the interviews -- Dana Bash hosting the program. She asked Rand Paul because of the questions was more of these testy confrontations seem to come with female reporters so she asked him, do you have a problem?


DANA BASH, CNN HOST: Perception is reality sometimes in politics. So if you are the Republican nominee and you're on the stage with Hillary Clinton, a female opponent, you're going to have to pull your punches given the perception of you now?

PAUL: I think women have come a long way. Women are in positions not because they're women. They're in positions like yours because they're intelligent and they should be equal to their counterparts and treated equally.

But I can tell you that the interviewers in the last couple of days probably got it easier than what I gave to Eliot Spitzer on your program here probably about a year or so ago because the thing is that I'm unwilling to let people characterize things unfairly. And if someone's going to write an op-ed on me in the question, that's fair for them to try to do it, but it's also fair for me to try to set the record straight that they're editorializing the question.


KING: And you've got a frown on your face. Please.

HENDERSON: Well, you know, the problem here is that Rand Paul has changed his mind. Why doesn't he have a real answer to this? He can talk all he wants to about Savannah Guthrie and being a hostile interview. We all know Savannah Guthrie. She was not being a hostile interviewer in that instance.

It seems like every time this comes up in interviews this is what sets him off. He sort of says, are you going to believe me or are you going believe your lying ears?

KING: Or are you going to believe your videotape?

HENDERSON: Yes. Or your videos -- exactly.

LERER: You know his team wants to basically run a general election strategy. They were hoping Hillary Clinton's announcement would come at the same time as their announcement so they can run this campaign like a general election campaign. So they're trying to reach out to people who don't necessarily know Rand Paul in a very un- charming way. I mean he comes off as a Rand spleener (ph).

FOURNIER: Let me explain what I mean.

LERER: To casual political viewers, it's not really how you want to introduce yourself.

FOURNIER: And that's why it matters. In this instance he is both delusional and vulnerable. He's delusional if he thinks he really hasn't flip-flopped. He's vulnerable if he doesn't realize what the impact of that is. Mixing up with reporters, that actually is going to help him

with the Republican base. That's not a problem, but when he has a woman from (inaudible), a 65-year-old woman in (inaudible) asking why he's flip flopped on immigration. Why he's flip-flopped on Iran and he responds half as temperamentally as he did to that woman he's going to kill them in Iowa. If he responds like that on the debate stage, he's going to find himself in trouble. He's got to figure out how to control his temper.

[08:50:13] KING: And yet don't count him out because if you look at the numbers from last time Rick Santorum won Iowa 24.6 percent of the vote, 34 votes ahead of Mitt Romney. Ron Paul right behind that. So if he keeps what he has right now, Rand Paul will be an impact player in Iowa. The question is can he grow enough to win and can he grow to be a nominee?

I want to get to this quickly. Marco Rubio announces tomorrow night. This is the one I'm most fascinated with at the moment because of his growth potential. He has a lot of problems, Marco Rubio does, including the fact that his former governor Jeb Bush had raised more money early on.

But Marco Rubio in my view, let's talk about it real quickly, we don't have a lot of time, gets the American dream thing better than the other candidates. As an inspirational family story, you're going to hear a lot of things like this.


SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: I know that every chance I have ever had and everything that I will ever accomplish I owe to God, to my parents' sacrifices and to the United States of America.


KING: If he can grow inspirational, generational could draw a contrast with Hillary Clinton and I think a lot of Republicans think might be good.

FOURNIER: He's the best political athlete in the field.

KING: If he can grow.

LERER: Not only do voters like that kind of message. Donors, self-made donors like it, too.

COSTA: Jeb Bush remains a key threat for him. Can he get the money from Florida? Can he build a national fundraising base?

HENDERSON: Can he sell the fact that he's only been in the senate for a few years. He's kind of has the Obama problem.

KING: He's going to remind you he was the Florida speaker of the house before.

HENDERSON: Over and over again -- yes. KING: Everybody stay tight. Up next our reporters empty their

notebooks, give you a glimpse at tomorrow's news today including a sneak peak of how Chris Christie plans to prove his 2016 critics dead wrong.


[08:56:23] KING: Let's head around the INSIDE POLITICS table so our great reporters can share something from their notebooks, get you out ahead of the big political news to come.

Nia Malika Henderson.

HENDERSON: Marco Rubio tomorrow will become the second Latino in the Republican primary field. Jeb bush when he announces might become the third one. He's been called an honorary Latino, not only by his son but many folks I talked to in Florida. They think he's going to give Marco Rubio a big run in terms of getting the Latino vote. He got 60 percent of the Latino vote when he ran in Florida. Obviously speaks Spanish, has a very moderate record on immigration reform. A couple of states to look for -- Nevada, Colorado as well as Florida in terms of splitting that Latino vote -- it's going to be an interesting thing to watch.

KING: We'd love to watch that one as we go forward. Robert?

COSTA: In baseball Spring training just ended but in New Jersey another politician has been getting ready for the new political season. That's Chris Christie. He's been having town hall meetings in the Garden State. This week he's gone to New Hampshire. He believes he can mount a political comeback by returning to his strength -- talking to voters, engaging in a forum, having his personalities show. We'll see what happens, it's a crowded field. But he believes the force of his personality can be his weigh back.

KING: He's been missing for a while. It will be fun to watch Chris Christie. Thank you, Robert. Lisa.

LERER: One of the biggest questions about the nascent Hillary Clinton campaign is not so much about the candidate. It's about her husband. Last week President Bill Clinton told -- said in an interview he'd be taking a backstage role on the campaign. His schedule has offered other clues. On Tuesday two days after his wife announces he'll be in New York giving an award on global health. At end of the month he's headed for Africa for a meeting of his foundation.

The Clinton campaign has strategized that it's better despite the former president's considerable political assets -- he's the most popular politician in the country, it's better to let his wife take the spotlight and define herself.

That may not be as easy as they think it is. We all know after several decades in the political spotlight, nobody puts Bill Clinton in the corner.

FOURNIER: Well put.

KING: They really do have some experience in trying to do that.

FOURNIER: I spent the last four days in Iowa. I was really struck by the fact that if you ask any Democratic official in Iowa, they want a contest, not a coronation. And they're going to get a contest. It's very clear that Martin O'Malley most likely but somebody is going to give her at least a run for their money because that's what they want out there.

What really surprised me though is how the Clinton team gets this. It's a really smart team she's got on the ground there. They really know Iowa. They really respect Iowa. The leader of it, Matt Paul, is from Iowa. In addition to everything that you've heard about what she's going to do about a small campaign and being their intimate, they've also decided that they're going to use her celebrity in Iowa to raise up the visibility of Iowa -- rising young Iowa politicians. And to focus on some local issues that normally a presidential candidate wants that are important to Democrats to show that she thinks that her campaign is bigger than just her.

KING: We'll see if she can pass that test, shall we say? Iowa to Hillary Clinton is more than a four letter word.

FOURNIER: Exactly.

KING: I'll close to this. Today is Hillary Clinton's day, Monday is Marco Rubio's but Ted Cruz is looking to steal a little bit of their thunder. After opening his campaign with appeals to Tea Party conservatives and then Evangelicals, the Texas senator now looking to start a conversation with national security conservatives. He's going to be in North Carolina on Monday speaking to the conservative John Lock Foundation. And a central focus of his speech will be making the case that the world grew a lot more dangerous when Hillary Clinton was secretary of state.

Now Cruz as you might know causes a lot of grumbling among his Senate colleagues including Republicans sometimes especially Republicans for ignoring long-established protocol and repeatedly defying the party leadership. But his team insists the Monday speech is not meant to be rude to Rubio. They say it was on the books well before the Senator scheduled his announcement. And they say it will be over several hours before Senator Rubio's big event. We'll see if any bad blood comes of that.

That's it for INSIDE POLITICS. Thanks again for sharing your Sunday morning.

Stay with CNN throughout the day for our breaking news coverage of Hillary Clinton's big presidential campaign announcing including on "STATE OF THE UNION" which starts right now.