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Interview With Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow; Interview With Former Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu; Hillary Clinton Set to Announce; Interview With Kentucky Senator Rand Paul. Aired 9-10:00p ET

Aired April 12, 2015 - 09:00   ET


[09:00:18] DANA BASH, CNN ANCHOR: It's D-day, declare for president day. Hillary Clinton's announcement is just hours away.


Hillary Clinton launching another bid for the White House. The Democrat who says he may challenge her. Republican presidential candidate Rand Paul on the Clinton trust factor. And expectations for Hillary 2.0.

Good morning from Washington. I'm Dana Bash. Her announcement video is made, and Hillary Clinton's new campaign aides have their finger on the send button. In just a few hours, she will make it official, her candidacy for president of the United States, an entry into the 2016 race that has already been going on around her and about her for months.

We are covering all angles of this story.

And we begin with CNN's Mark Preston, who is at the Clinton campaign headquarters in Brooklyn, New York.

Mark, you're not in a ballroom. You're not waiting for a big speech. This is intentionally low-key. Explain why.

MARK PRESTON, CNN EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Well, Dana, no question about that.

In fact, when Hillary Clinton ran for president in 2008, they made a tactical mistake. In many ways, people were upset with the Clintons, certainly her candidacy, because there was a sense of entitlement, that she should have won that seat. Out of nowhere came Barack Obama.

Fast-forward to where we stand right now, 2015, Hillary Clinton realizes now that she needs to reconnect with the voters. We have heard that from her own husband, Bill Clinton. He said that in a recent interview. Not only will we see it in this video today. We expect it to be low-key. We expect it in the coming week when she heads out to Iowa, when she heads to New Hampshire, Dana, she will not be doing these large events.

She will be doing these small events in people's living rooms, small events, reconnecting with voters. Now, Dana, I have to say, once that video is sent in a few hours, expect that top campaign officials in the building behind me will start picking up the phone. They will be calling senior Democratic officials across the country, elected officials, telling them about the candidacy and telling them why they should support Hillary Clinton -- Dana.

BASH: Game on. Game on. Thank you very much, Mark.

And Hillary Clinton's first trip after announcing will be to Iowa, which, of course, holds the first presidential contest of 2016.

And CNN's Joe Johns is in Des Moines.

Joe, we all remember Iowa was the beginning and end of Hillary Clinton's 2008 campaign. She got trounced by Barack Obama. She even lost to John Edwards. So, it's noteworthy that that's her first stop, right?


And I think talking to Clinton supporters over these last many months, Dana, you get the sense that you learn from your mistakes. And though no one in Hillary Clinton fledgling, if you will, campaign is talking about it right now, one of the great mistakes of 2008 was not getting off to a good start.

Right here in Iowa, she was outorganized by then-Senator Barack Obama. And connecting with people means meeting them where they live, talking to them on their own level. We have already seen some of that from that mission statement that came out in advance of this expected announcement.

The expectation now is that they're going to try to show a more humble Hillary Clinton, willing to fight for every vote, the rollout seen as a soft start, a humble beginning, if you will.

What to expect on the ground here, assuming that announcement does come today, Democratic strategists telling me to expect an extraordinarily tightly controlled and stage-managed campaign with lots of message discipline to try to avoid some of the missteps and in fighting we saw last year.

And some of that, of course, you see already in the radio silence coming from her inner circle about today and the coming week, Dana.

BASH: It's true. The silence is deafening. Thank you so much, Joe.

And I want to turn now to our senior political correspondent, Brianna Keilar.

Bri, what are you hearing from your sources?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: They are really trying, the campaign, certainly to show that they are aggressively fighting for votes. But, you know, before this even gets off the ground here, Dana,

with Hillary Clinton's announcement on social media, a sign that this race is really on, because you have in a video provided to CNN by Jeb Bush's camp, really, he is already taking her on in what's essentially a prebuttal.

We know that Hillary Clinton, we found out through the epilogue to her paperback book, that she will be talking about opportunity for all Americans. Well, guess what Jeb Bush is talking about in this? That every American should have the right to the American dream. And she also tries to tie -- he also tries to tie Hillary Clinton to President Obama. Take a listen.


JEB BUSH (R), FORMER FLORIDA GOVERNOR: We must do better than the Obama/Clinton foreign policy that has damaged relationships with our allies and emboldened our enemies, better than their failed big government policies that grow our debt and stand in the way of real economic growth and prosperity.


[09:05:00] KEILAR: So, as we await here in these -- in the hours ahead of this announcement, you are seeing very much this is game on, Jeb Bush, along with other Republicans, taking aim so much at Hillary Clinton, rather than just amongst the Republicans, Dana.

BASH: Even more so, I would say. Brianna, thanks for that reporting.

And with me now are two women, both Democrats, who served with Hillary Clinton in the Senate, Senator Debbie Stabenow of Michigan and former Senator of Louisiana Mary Landrieu.

Thanks for joining me.

I want to actually start with you, Senator Stabenow in Michigan. If Hillary Clinton came to you and said, Debbie, give me some advice, what should I do now that I didn't do before, what would you tell her?

SEN. DEBBIE STABENOW (D), MICHIGAN: Well, Dana, it's great to be with you.

And I have to say, in Michigan, she should keep doing what she's been doing, standing with us in the auto industry, fighting for the middle class. The great thing about Hillary Clinton is she understands we have not completely come out of the recovery unless every American has a fair shot to succeed. And she understands that, right now, we actually have folks working two jobs or three jobs, trying to hold their head above water.

And she wants to make sure it's one good-paying job with benefits, where you can really be in the middle class. So, from a Michigan standpoint, I would say, just keep speaking out, keep fighting, keep doing what you have been doing. BASH: OK, so that's message. What about something that she

really has to do, which is connecting with voters? What would you tell her?

MARY LANDRIEU (D), FORMER U.S. SENATOR: Well, Dana, I think she does that beautifully. And if Hillary will just be Hillary, and if we will all allow her to just be the extraordinary leader that she is, her campaign is going to be beautifully, beautifully done.

BASH: What does that mean?

LANDRIEU: Well, she's smart. She knows the issues. She's probably one of the most experienced people to ever run for the office of president.

And, as Debbie said, while Washington might be focused on the nuts and bolts of the campaign, and how Iowa, New Hampshire, and the ins and outs, voters are really focused on the future. They want a leader that they can count on to deliver for them, to represent them, to deliver on their hopes and dreams for the American dream.

And while the recovery has been very robust under Democratic leadership in the White House, we have got to go forward. Not everyone has come out of that.


LANDRIEU: And important jobs need to be created. And I think that Secretary Clinton -- and there's a nice ring to President Hillary Clinton -- can really bring that hope and that aspiration to the American people.

BASH: And, Senator Stabenow, what Senator Landrieu just said about needing to have a candidate for the future, that seems to be part of the problem that she's having with the liberal base. They don't see her as the future; they see her as the past. And, ironically, they see, many of them, your colleague in the Senate Elizabeth Warren as somebody who really fires them up and stands for liberal ideals.

Why is that? Why is that not Hillary Clinton's area that she's doing well in?

STABENOW: Well, Dana, first of all, Elizabeth is terrific. And Hillary and Elizabeth and I and all of us, Mary, when she was doing a terrific job in the Senate, all understand it's very much about the future.

I have to say, electing the first woman president would certainly be a big step in the future. And Hillary's also part of a special new club I'm proud to be a part of -- Mary is as well -- called the grandmas club.


STABENOW: And I have to tell you, once you have that first grandchild -- I will never forget 2007, in the middle of an incredibly hectic campaign, Hillary took the time from her campaign plane to call me, say congratulations because my granddaughter was born. And I was proud to say I got there before she did.

But the truth is that, once you hold that baby, you are all about the future. So, I have absolutely no doubt in my mind she's doubling down like I have, like Mary has. It's about what's going to be there for our grandkids.

BASH: You know, on that point, the grandmother issue, running as a woman, as Senator Stabenow just talked about, particularly the female issue, she didn't do that so much the last time around. She sort of shied away from it.

And her aides are saying, this time, she's not only not going to shy away from the woman card, she's going to play it up, and make a point that this would be historic, to have a first female president. Should she be doing that?

LANDRIEU: Well, Dana, I think all leaders are well advised to be who they are.

She is a woman. There is no doubt about that. She makes many women and men proud. She's really been a remarkable leader for women, not just in the United States and people, but all around the world. And she should just let that shine.

But I'm telling you, we served with her in the Senate, Debbie and I both.


LANDRIEU: And she's an amazingly collaborative leader. She listens. She's strong when necessary, but soft when you have to be to bring people along in a difficult -- we have got some real challenges in this country.

And we need a president that's focused on the future like she is and knows what to do to get the economy stronger and real for everyone. And there are some tough issues.

[09:10:02] STABENOW: Right.

LANDRIEU: And sound bites, bumper stickers are not going to help.

And that's really our friends on the other side. I mean, they're really good at tearing people down, but people right now want us to build up America. They want us to build us up and be stronger and better. And she does that better than anyone.

BASH: Senator Stabenow, I want to ask you about the Iraq War. You voted proudly against the Iraq War in 2002.

STABENOW: Right. BASH: As everybody now knows, that was one of the big reasons

why she lost the Democratic nomination to Barack Obama, who opposed it, back in 2008.

Do you think that she -- given your differences on that, and it was a key foreign policy issue, do you think that she has the judgment to be the president on foreign policy, from your perspective?

STABENOW: I absolutely do.

You know, Dana, that was a very, very tough situation. And watching her now go forward, as she was secretary of state, rebuilding alliances that were completely destroyed during the Bush presidency, not only the Bush great recession, but then everything that happened around the world, her ability to begin to rebuild that, to create a platform for this administration to be able to go forward, to actually be able to talk to somebody.

I have absolutely no doubt in her judgment. And, frankly, there's nobody running for president, man or woman, that knows every leader, has relationships, is smarter, tougher, more experienced to walk into what is a very difficult world that we're now in.

BASH: And last question for you now, Senator Landrieu.

You know firsthand how it is to run as a Democrat on the ballot when people are tying to tie you to Barack Obama. Clearly, they are going to be doing that to Hillary Clinton, and going to be saying that she is going to be running a third Obama term.

How do you think, given your experience, losing your seat in large part because you were tied to President Obama, what should she do? Should she embrace him and have him campaign for her, or should she keep her distance?

LANDRIEU: Well, first of all, when she and all of us continue to remind the American public the extraordinary work that President Obama has done to end the Bush recession, save the auto industry in Detroit, restore the confidence in our economy, and restore millions of jobs, you know, it's going to be not as far of a walk for people to get that, while the recession is not yet over, who do you trust to make it real for everyone?

You know, Republicans have offered nothing. They really have turned to be the party of personal degradation. They just tear people down, instead of building up. So...

BASH: So, if she came to you and said, what do you think, should I have the president campaign for me, based on your experience?

LANDRIEU: Absolutely. I mean, absolutely. I mean, we are one Democratic Party.

STABENOW: Absolutely.

LANDRIEU: And, absolutely, we are one Democratic Party. And the president has a great deal to be proud of. As you know,

I don't agree with him on every policy. I don't agree with President Clinton-to-be, Hillary Clinton, on every policy. But we're one party, and we are proud that we have led this country out of a desperate situation economically to where people now have hope. And let's just keep that going. And I think that what a President Clinton will continue to do.

BASH: Senator Landrieu, thank you for coming in. It's great to see you.

LANDRIEU: Thank you.

BASH: Appreciate it.

And, Senator Stabenow from Michigan, appreciate seeing you too.


BASH: And the attack lines against Hillary Clinton, as we have been talked about, they are already coming rapid-fire from her Republican opponents.

I will talk with new GOP presidential candidate Rand Paul about that and more up next.


[09:17:25] BASH: A new poll has Republican Senator Rand Paul with a slight lead over Hillary Clinton in a hypothetical presidential match- up in two key swing states.

The Quinnipiac survey finds Paul leading Clinton 44 to 41 percent in Colorado and 43 to 42 percent in Iowa. Senator Paul was touting those polls all week long as he announced his presidential run.

I caught up with him on the campaign trail in Iowa.


BASH: Senator, thank you very much for sitting down with me. I appreciate it.

Let's start with the news of the weekend, Hillary Clinton announcing for president. Over the past week, you have been really critical of her when it comes to the issue of trust, talking about Benghazi, talking about the donations to the Clinton Foundation.

How far back do you think is fair game? Do you think Monica? Do you think Whitewater? Do you think the travel office issues? What should be in the realm of the public debate now?

SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: You know, I'm not sure that I will get to decide what's in the realm or not, but I do think that there is sort of a history of the Clintons sort of feeling like they're above the law. They said they weren't going to take donations from the Clinton

Foundation during the period of time she was secretary of state, and there are questions whether they did. Since then, there are questions of them taking millions of dollars from Saudi Arabia from the sultan of Brunei, countries that really have an abysmal human rights record and women's rights record.

And so I think really -- it questions the sincerity of whether or not she would be a champion for women's rights when she accepts money from a country like Brunei that stones to death people for adultery. And realize that this is men accusing women of adultery, not women accusing men, because the men have the only say in the legal system in Brunei.

So, it does really -- it makes it difficult to -- for her message to appear sincere when she's taken money from these foreign countries.

BASH: You say that you don't get to decide, but you do get to choose where you criticize her and where you don't.

PAUL: Right.

BASH: How far back do you think is fair game?

PAUL: I think that her public policy and public life will be fair game.

BASH: Some of your critics on the Republican side...

PAUL: Oh, I don't have any critics, do I?

BASH: I know, shocking.


BASH: You do have critics on both sides, as you know.

But some of your Republican critics argue that you are actually to the left of Hillary Clinton on foreign policy, that she's more hawkish than you are.

PAUL: Yes.

Here's the interesting thing about this, though, who's aligned with President Obama, whose foreign policy is closest to President Obama. Interestingly, many of the hawks in my party line right up with President Obama.

Think about the big issues we have had in the couple -- the last couple years. The war that Hillary prominently promoted in Libya, many of the hawks in my party were right there with her.

[09:10:03] Their only difference was in degrees. They wanted to go into Libya as well. They just: Well, we want boots on the ground. Some of the hawks in my party, you can't find a place on the globe they don't want boots on the ground. BASH: And that's their point...


BASH: ... that you're to the left of all them.

PAUL: No. No.

My point is, is that they are actually agreeing with Hillary Clinton and agreeing with President Obama that the war in Libya was a good idea.

I'm not agreeing with either one of them. They're over here both for war. I'm over here saying that that war made us less safe, that it made radical Islam or allowed radical Islam to rise up in Libya. There are now large segments of Libya that are pledging allegiance to ISIS, supplying arms to the Islamic rebels in the Syrian war.

President Obama supported this. Hillary Clinton supported this. And so did the hawks in my party. Only, they differed only on degrees. I didn't support the arming of the Syrian rebels, because I felt like it would make al Qaeda and ISIS worse. I didn't support the bombing of Assad.

President Obama supported the bombing of Assad, and so did the neocons in my party. So, really, they're together in supporting many of these interventions. And I have been the one not supporting these interventions, because I feared, if you bombed Assad, you would allow ISIS to go stronger.

There are two million Christians in Syria. And you know what? If you asked them who would they choose, they would all choose Assad over ISIS, because they see the barbarity of perhaps both. But they see the utter depravity and barbarity of ISIS. And so bombing Assad probably isn't a good policy. These are great foreign policy questions. They will be great debates. And I look forward to having them.

BASH: Is there an area where you think Hillary Clinton was successful as secretary of state?

PAUL: I think really that the issue in Benghazi is an enormous issue, because it's whether or not, as commander in chief, she would be there for the 3:00 a.m. Phone call.

I think Benghazi was a 3:00 a.m. phone call that she never picked up. She didn't provide the security, not just that day, for nine months, dozens and dozens of requests for more security all completely ignored by Hillary Clinton.

BASH: But the question is, was there something that she did that was good?

PAUL: That's what I was trying to think. I was trying to get through the things I remember that aren't so good and trying to think of something good. I'm not so certain of that. I think she took her eye off a very important zone. She was also

a big believer in putting arms indiscriminately into the Syrian civil war. I think that made ISIS stronger.

BASH: One last question about Hillary Clinton.

Over the past week, as you well know, there has been some criticism of you and about your interaction with female interviewers, questioning whether you have an issue with women. You said that you get equally annoyed with men and women. I get that.

PAUL: That's probably true.

BASH: I get that. But 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, are you 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 a year or so ago, because the thing is, 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 in the question.

BASH: What about if you are on the stage with Hillary Clinton? Will you be cognizant of the fact that she would be a female opponent?

PAUL: You know, I'm always polite. And even in all the interviews where I'm accused of maybe being too aggressive, I have never yelled or screamed. I don't get out of control. I do try to be polite.

And I have always treated it that way. I would treat her with the same respect that I would treat a man. But I wouldn't lay down and say, oh, I'm not going to respond out of some sort of -- and I think that's a -- that would be a sexist sort of response to say, oh, my goodness, she deserves not to be treated as aggressively because she's only a woman.

I would never say that about anybody. And I don't come into our interview thinking, OK, it's a woman vs. man kind of interview. I just think, she is going to ask tough questions, he will ask tough questions, and I have got to be prepared.

BASH: Well, that's good to hear. On those tough questions, let's talk about defense spending. You

-- when you first came to the Senate, you proposed decreasing defense spending by about $164 billion, and then, in the past couple of weeks, really, you have proposed increasing by $190 billion.

PAUL: Right.

BASH: Why the change?

PAUL: I have proposed several five-year budgets. And for me, the most important thing of the five-year budgets has been to balance. So, all of my five-year budgets have balanced.

The last one I produced was a couple of years ago, did actually increase defense spending above the military sequester. But I did it by taking money from domestic spending. My belief has always been that national defense is the most important thing we do, but we shouldn't borrow to pay for it.

So, there really is a division in our party. One of the other potential presidential candidates put forward an amendment, and he said, I'm going to increase defense spending, but I'm going to borrow the money and make the debt worse.

[09:25:09] So, I put up what's called a side-by-side. I put up an amendment saying, yes, I too believe in strong defense, but I don't believe in borrowing it.

So, what separates me from the rest of the Republican field is, I believe in a strong national defense, but I don't think you should borrow money from China to do it. So, my amendment distinguished myself from the rest of the Republican field, because I said I will only pay for events by cutting spending elsewhere.

BASH: That may be true, but you're also somebody who's trying to prove that you are not weak on national security. So, by proposing an increase in military spending before you announce for president, it could look like pandering.

PAUL: Well, three or four years ago, we did the same thing. So we have been for quite some time proposing increases in military spending, but always the point isn't really so much how much or what the increase is, that I believe any increase in spending should be offset by decreases in spending somewhere else.

And this is a key point, because this differentiates me from the rest of the Republican field, who, many of them, are profligate spenders for defense. Many liberals are profligate spenders for welfare. And they get together. That's the union in Washington. Right and left come together, and they are spending us into oblivion.

So, the point is, I am different. I will not increase spending for anything, unless it's offset by corresponding decreases in spending elsewhere in the budget.

BASH: Let's talk about a social issue, gay marriage. In New Hampshire, you said, "I will fight for your right to be

left alone."

I realize that you believe gay marriage is a state issue, but why do you believe, just as a core principle, as a libertarian, that people should be left alone, but not when it comes to their right to marry somebody they love?

PAUL: I do believe people ought to be left alone. I don't care who you are, what you do at home, or who your friends are, you know, what -- where you hang out, what kind of music you listen to. What you do in your home is your own business. That's always been who I am. I am a "leave me alone" kind of guy.

BASH: But not when it comes to marriage?

PAUL: Well, no. I mean, states will end up making the decisions on these things.

I think that there's a religious connotation to marriage. I believe in the traditional religious connotation to this. But I also believe people ought to be treated fairly under the law. I see no reason why, if the marriage contract conveys certain things, that if you want to marry another woman, that you can do that and have a contract.

But the thing is, is, the religious connotation of marriage that has been going on for thousands of years, I still want to preserve that. You probably could have both. You could have traditional marriage, which I believe in, and then you could also have the neutrality of the law that allows people to have contracts with another.

BASH: Anything you want to tell me about your first week? Any highlights, low lights, regrets?

PAUL: Let me think. It's been just kind of a piece of cake.


PAUL: I don't know. Everybody has been so nice to me, I mean, everywhere I go. And...


BASH: And, meanwhile, back on planet Earth...

PAUL: Yes.

No, actually, the people have been, the media not always so much, but the people have been very nice to me. And we have had extraordinary turnouts. We had a couple thousand people in Louisville. We had packed rooms in New Hampshire. We had packed audiences in South Carolina.

We just got off stage in Iowa with probably, I don't know, 700, 800 kids with so much energy, all -- a lot of them saying they want something different, someone who will defend them on criminal justice and won't take away all their rights and privileges if they make a youthful mistake, people who do want a more reasonable and rational foreign policy.

BASH: Thank you, Senator. Appreciate it.

PAUL: Thank you. Thank you.

BASH: Appreciate your time.


BASH: And up next: It may look like Hillary Clinton is the inevitable Democratic presidential nominee, but she does have a new potential challenger on the left, former Rhode Island Governor and Clinton Senate colleague Lincoln Chafee.

And he will join me when we come back.



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


BASH: Hillary Clinton enters the 2016 presidential race as the clear favorite among Democrats, but she's still likely to face a primary challenge. In fact, the man who joins me now made a surprise announcement this week, that he's launching a presidential exploratory committee. It's former Rhode Island governor and former senator, Lincoln Chafee.

Governor, thank you so much for joining me.

You know, you have an unusual history when it comes to party affiliation. You were appointed to the Senate back in 1999 as a Republican to fill the seat of your late father. You lost to a Democrat then you ran for governor as an independent. Now, you're a Democrat considering a run for president. Why?

LINCOLN CHAFEE (D), FORMER RHODE ISLAND GOVERNOR: Well, first of all, this is Senator Clinton's big day and I congratulate her on her entrance into the race. Voters should have choices in races and -- so it's going to be a great debate I hope in the Democratic primaries.

As far as my evolution, certainly the Republican Party changed and I never changed. And as I became an independent and one governorship as an independent, my values never changed whether it's on fiscal responsibility or on environment issues or on using the tools of government to help the less fortunate, keeping us out of the quagmires we see overseas. I've never changed. Protecting civil liberties and now I'm a Democrat. I'm very comfortable as a Democrat and look forward to the primaries and the debate ahead.

BASH: And Governor, you said explicitly that you're challenging Hillary Clinton primarily because of her vote for the Iraq war. You famously were the only then Republican to vote against the Iraq war back in 2002. But do you really think there's still enough anger left, this was a long time ago, to propel your candidacy based on that?

[09:34:31] CHAFEE: Well, I enjoyed working with Senator Clinton. We overlapped for six years and we served on the environment and public works committee together and we worked on some breast cancer issues. We worked on endangered species together. I enjoyed that.

But that vote for the Iraq war, that was a moment in time, Dana, where the Vietnam era had ended, the Berlin wall come down. There was lasting peace ahead of us if we made good decisions particularly after September 11th when people were angry and they were scared. And that was just a moment in time where the premise for going into Iraq was so false that there were weapons of mass destruction -- she didn't do her homework and we live with the ramifications today. And so you may say that's 12 years ago, but we live with it today and it's a big motivator for why I'm running.

If you show lack of judgment, lack of doing your homework then, what can we expect in the future?

BASH: You have called Hillary Clinton a Democratic Bush enabler and you said that when you endorsed her opponent in 2008, Barack Obama.

What about now? Do you think that her foreign policy (INAUDIBLE) or appropriate maybe her ideals and her goals are appropriate looking at the world now?

CHAFEE: As I said, we're going to have a lot of areas of agreement domestically, but I have a lot of areas of disagreement internationally.

And yes, I would say even her tenure as secretary of state was kind of a muscular top down unilateral too close to the neocons, too Bush like. And you could say after her tenure as secretary of state, what kind of accomplishments did you have? And there were precious few.

BASH: Let's talk about domestic issues.

As you well know, there is a lot of enthusiasm out there for Elizabeth Warren because of her populous approach to economic issues.

Do you consider yourself somebody who wants to fill that void since she's saying she's not running?

CHAFEE: Yes, absolutely. There's no doubt that Senator Warren's absolutely right about what's happening to the middle class and she's just been a prophet about this for a number of years. And that's what makes any community, whether it's a state or a city or a country or anywhere around the world strong is having a robust middle class.

And so she's right. I have a great record of voting against the Bush tax cuts which widened that disparity of wealth, that hurt the middle class, led to the great recession. And so I'm proud of my record and would like to have Senator Warren's support and her legion of followers.

BASH: I'm sure you would.

You know, when you left the governor's mansion you're in -- in your own state of Rhode Island, you left only one term -- after only one term rather, and you had an approval of only 25 percent. So, if you, you know, kind of have that low standing in your own state how are you going to get support around the country?

CHAFEE: Well, I came in in a tough time.

Rhode Islanders had some of the highest foreclosures, highest unemployment, our cities and towns were going bankrupt. People were stressed out. They were angry. Every little thing was difficult as I tried to turn Rhode Island around and of course any time you're raising taxes you're making people angry. I had to do that, raise beach fees made people angry. But at the end, and that's why I'm running, Rhode Island is better off.

We had the biggest drop of unemployment, the rate of unemployment than all but four states. That's a great record of accomplishment and I'm proud of helping our cities and towns get out of bankruptcy. Even our capital city of providence was eligible. That's not true today.

BASH: You -- a little known fact. You went to boarding school, high school with Jeb Bush back in the day. Were you friends and what do you know about him personally? Do you think he could make a good president?

CHAFEE: Yes, we were friends. We lived in the same dorm together and we've bumped into each other the same time since. And so we'll see what happens coming down the road.

BASH: Do you think he would make a good president? He's not his brother, obviously. He has got different views on things.

CHAFEE: So, now we have three Bushes to compare, the father, George W. and now Jeb. So, we'll see how it goes down in the campaign.

BASH: OK. Lastly, you sounded like you were pretty far in this morning in our discussion. Are you definitely going to run?

CHAFEE: Well, the process is to form the exploratory committee but, yes, I want to be there November, December, and January on the stage debating these issues.

[09:38:56] BASH: OK. Certainly will make it interesting. Governor Lincoln Chafee, good to see you. Appreciate it. And how will Hillary Clinton navigate that and other rough waters

that she is going to encounter in a second presidential run. How much of this effort will be a reaction to the failed bid last time around. Republican and Democratic heavy hitters are going to weigh in when we come back.



CLINTON: Although we weren't able to shatter that highest, hardest glass ceiling this time, thanks to you it's got about 18 million cracks in it.


BASH: Joining me around the table now is Republican Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, Ana Navarro, Republican strategist and Jeb Bush supporter, Paul Begala, Democratic strategist and co-chair of pro-Hillary Clinton super PAC, and Joe Lockhart who was the White House press secretary for President Bill Clinton. Thank you all for coming in.

Joe, let me start with you. A video on a tweet. Does that really -- I get they're going to try -- they're trying to lower expectations and slow roll, and all of that. But like -- does that really rise to the occasion and the event that this is and maybe should be?

JOE LOCKHART, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY TO PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON: Well, I don't think it's any just one thing. I mean, I think by the middle of last week people were aware she was going to do this. People were talking about it. The millions of people who are going to be out organizing, helping that have been waiting for this are now building in excitement.

And so I think you'll see, you know, a video but then you'll see her travel around. And there's a long way to Election Day. I don't think there's any constituency in America that's dying for this campaign to start earlier.

BASH: I have one political consultant.

LOCKHART: Political consultants. And you know what? We're against that. We all agree we're against that.

[09:44:54] BASH: You know, I was talking to a Democratic friend of mine who said, you know what? Why not go to Seneca Falls and her adoptive home state of New York, the Women's Suffrage Museum and just -- if you're in, go all in on -- especially on sort of the idea that she would be the first female president?

ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You know, we haven't seen the video. So, we're talking about something that we haven't seen. But frankly, it feels so anticlimactic. You know, we've known it's coming. It feels ho-hum, low energy. But it's also safe, it's scripted, it's controlled which is very Hillary.

I think, you know, it's hard to make a video exciting. Frankly, unless she comes out juggling fire I don't know what she could do in a video that would make it exciting. I would have like her to go to where she gave that final speech in 2008 and say, I am retaking up the torch. And, you know, I'm here to fight again. But -- and tomorrow we're going to see from Marco Rubio a spectacle, a performance.

BASH: Yes.

NAVARRO: A great background. An awesome speech.

BASH: All right. Let's dive into, dare we say, substance and issues.

Congresswoman, I just want to read the -- a part of the epilogue, this new epilogue of her book "Hard Choices" that she has put out to kind of signal where she's going. She wrote, "Too few of the children born in the United States and around the world today will grow up with the same opportunities as Charlotte," talking about her granddaughter. "You shouldn't have to be the granddaughter of a president or a secretary of state to receive excellent health care, education, enrichment and all of the support and advantage that will one day lead to a good job and a successful life."

Obviously she's (ph) going (ph) for the income and equality issues and sort of the populous message that she helps will resonate.

REP. MARSHA BLACKBURN (R), TENNESSEE: But what she is doing is pointing specifically at what have been the failed policies of this administration, 5.5 million more people in poverty.

The labor force participation rate lower than it has been since 1978, and she knows that all women want more and better and want the gift of opportunity for their children and grandchildren. But this administration has on so many different fronts short circuited that and has made the situation worse. They've closed doors for people rather than opening doors. And that is going to be something Hillary Clinton is going to have to decide, is she going to run on the Obama record or is she going to change that?

Because what has happened in the past eight years makes it much more difficult for our children and grandchildren to have a fruitful, productive free life.

BASH: What about that, Paul? You know what's going on in that world. You've been in that world for decades. It is not easy to run as a third Democratic term, you know, and that's certainly what she's going to try to do. I mean, there hasn't been a third term of a party since George H.W. Bush in 1988. He came off a pretty popular presidency with Ronald Reagan.

How does she deal with that?

PAUL BEGALA, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Here's what (INAUDIBLE). In Labor Day of that election year, 1988, Ronald Reagan was at 52 percent. Barack Obama, "NBC/Wall Street" journal poll, 51. So he's right in zone.

I think a president can thank you but he can't elect you. So George W. Bush and God bless him, he was 33 on Labor Day before that election. So John McCain was toast. He had no chance. (INAUDIBLE) Barack Obama...


BASH: So, it's right for her to be running on his policies?

BEGALA: ...Bush killed McCain. You have to have a record to build on. That's what she's talking about in this clip. You can't just say, oh gee, Barack Obama was great. Well, my husband was great. You have to have your own ideas moving forward.

Her husband was 102 but there are two laws (INAUDIBLE) Clinton (INAUDIBLE) to politics (ph) that come to mind with it (ph). First is elections are about tomorrow, not yesterday. OK. In that little clip she's talking about tomorrow, and elections are about you, not me.

This is where the Republicans are going to make a mistake. They will attack her personally. They can't help it. Not you, Congresswoman, but some of your male counterparts. You saw Senator Paul earlier, Dana, in your interview. They can't help it. They want to personally attack Hillary. That is not the way to do it. The way to do it is the way -- frankly you're doing it talk about ideas and issues that affect people's lives.

NAVARRO: But you know, Paul, I think you just hit it. You said elections are about tomorrow, not yesterday.

Frankly, it's hard to look at Hillary Clinton. It's hard to look at this table and not think about yesterday. We have been talking about the Clintons now for decades. They were people that were important (ph) that are going to vote in this election.


BLACKBURN: They've been running for president for 10 years. And so -


LOCKHART: You can make the same argument about who you're supporting.


BASH: Before -- we have to take a quick break let me just -- to your point about how people are attacking her on the Republican side. The issue of trustworthiness.

There was a poll out this week in some of the key swing states that shows that she has a problem with that. Colorado, 38 percent say yes. Iowa, 43 percent say yes. Virginia, 40 percent say yes. So perhaps, you know, you don't think it's the right strategy but it seems to be working because that's all Republicans are talking about.

[09:49:48] LOCKHART: Well listen, the one thing that I have found from the Republican playbook is they never know when to move off something. Whether it was the impeachment and all the stories around President Clinton, or Benghazi where they brought this up with Hillary Clinton. There's one thing to go in and raise some issues but, you know, it's never enough. And they never get back to issues that really matter to voters.

And those are the things that Hillary is talking about in her epilogue, about the ability for people who are not in the privileged class to get ahead, to get an education, to get good health care.

So, I expect that they won't be able to help themselves. That they'll be a dozen people jumping all over trying to get attention going after it. And it has never worked and it never will work.

BASH: OK. Hold that thought. We're going to take a quick break. We are going to come back and we're going to talk a lot more about Hillary Clinton. And because we have two people who know him well Bill Clinton, asset or liability for his wife this time around. Stay with us.



KATE MCKINNON: I am running because I want to be a voice for women everywhere.

DARRELL HAMMOND: Did someone say women everywhere?

HAMMOND: Hillary would make a great president. And I would make an even greater first dude.

MCKINNON: Thank you, Bill. That's nice.

HAMMOND: Hillary, isn't it crazy that phones can take videos now. If they could have done that in the '90s, I'd be in jail.

MCKINNON: Great, Bill. I love jokes about that.

HAMMOND: I get it. This election is about you. I don't want to hog your limelight. I am leaving. Look at me go. Bye. I'm gone.

MCKINNON: Aren't we such a fun, approachable dynasty.


BASH: "Saturday Night Live" wasting no opportunity to poke fun at the Clintons. And we are awaiting Hillary Clinton's official announcement for her presidential bid.

And back with me around the table Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn, Paul Begala, Ana Navarro and Joe Lockhart. All right. Both of you know Bill Clinton very, very well. He

had said, I'll start with you, Paul, that he is going to be more of a back stage adviser this time. Do you believe it knowing Clinton?

BEGALA: Well, sure. The thing is it's going to be about Hillary, not him. That's right.

But I love this. This is my problem with smart people. They think too much.

This LeBron James...

BASH: Are you talking about Bill Clinton?

BEGALA: No. I mean, you.

Does LeBron James help Cleveland Cavaliers? Gee, I don't know. Don't over think it. My party has at its disposal the two most talented politicians in my lifetime, Barack Obama and Bill Clinton. Should she use them? Gee, I don't know. Is that a trick question? I mean, come on. What are we doing --

[09:55:03] BASH: No. But that's not the question. The question is whether -- of course that's a no brainer. The question is whether he should be out giving the kind of speeches and interviews that got her in trouble in 2008, Joe.

LOCKHART: I think I have to agree somewhat with Paul. You've got -- I think there was a survey out recently by the most respected people in the world. Bill Clinton came in just short of the Pope and Hillary Clinton was the most --


BASH: Public role. Public role.

LOCKHART: Public role. Let me take it one step back because it applies to both of them.

BASH: Yes.

LOCKHART: The campaigns where you really learn something are not the campaigns you win. The campaigns where you learn something are the ones you lose because you have a lot of time to think about it.

And I think both Hillary and President Clinton have looked at that. And I think he will be different this time. I think it's a huge asset. I think you will see him publicly but I think he's learned over time that his value is to go out and sort of, you know, rev the base up and go out. But it's not to make the case for her and it's not to make the case every time to defend her.

It was -- it was --

NAVARRO: Bill Clinton is both an asset and a liability. He's an asset because he's a terrific (INAUDIBLE). He's an asset

because he can raise funds. He's an asset because he has been there and can give advice. But does Hillary Clinton want to follow a Bill Clinton speech on the stage?

BASH: OK. Hold that thought. Hold that thought. Because I do want to talk about your party, Marco Rubio. He is announcing tomorrow that he's going to run for president.

Quickly get to you but starting with you, Congressman. Do you believe that he is the kind of future for your party that -


BLACKBURN: I think people are excited to see all of the candidates that are running on the Republican side. I mean, we've got a team full and a deep bench that are out there running.

And here is the difference. Hillary Clinton with Obama and with Bill Clinton reminds people of the things they don't like. The Clinton scandals, Obamacare, which people want to see repealed. Keystone pipeline, which they want to see passed. Those are the reminders that are out there every time you have Bill Clinton and Obama out there. When they look at our bench, they see people that are new faces, that are very diverse that have big 10 ideas.

BASH: OK. Thank you very much. I'm going to get you, we're going to be back live at noon eastern. We're going to get you on Marco Rubio and much more.

Thank you very much all of you. We appreciate it and we'll be right back. Stay with us.


[10:00:08] BASH: Thanks for watching STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Dana Bash. We'll be right back here at noon eastern with live coverage awaiting Hillary Clinton's presidential announcement.

Fareed Zakaria, "GPS," starts right now.