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STATE OF THE UNION

Interview With New Jersey Governor Chris Christie; Interview With Kentucky Senator Rand Paul; Will Joe Biden Join the Race?; Scott Walker Leads Iowa Polls; Jon Stewart's Legacy. Aired 9-10a ET

Aired August 2, 2015 - 09:00   ET

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


[09:00:10]

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): It's crunch time. With just four days until the first debate, Republicans race to security their spot.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: That's all they do, is debate. I don't talk about it. I get it done.

TAPPER: Senator Rand Paul will tell us how he plans to fend off Donald Trump.

Plus, Chris Christie taking on his rivals.

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Anybody can do well for a month.

TAPPER: He tells us how he's plotting his comeback.

And then: Jon Stewart.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm issuing a new executive order. Jon Stewart cannot leave the show.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

TAPPER: As Comedy Central's reigning king prepares to abdicate the throne, what mark is he leaving on American politics.

And the best political team in television will be here with insights from the campaign trail.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER: Hello. I'm Jake Tapper in Washington, D.C., where the state of our union is up for debate.

Just four days from now, the Republican presidential field will have its first chance to engage in face-to-face rhetorical combat. The top 10 contenders, as decided by polls, will line up on stage for the first debate. We are still waiting to see who will make the final cut. And then the

big question, of course, how will they handle Donald Trump? Will the leading candidate bring his flair for, shall we call it, drama to the debate stage? No one knows what and how the billionaire, who has never debated, will respond to a challenge such as this.

There's no denying, of course, his growing lead among the Republican pack. And if the other candidates want the party's nod, Trump is now the one they need to take down, first among them, perhaps, Governor Chris Christie, whose strength at the end of last year was undeniable, and whose support Trump is eating away at.

One poll suggests, if Trump were not in the race, Christie would be in the top three in New Hampshire. But, as of today, we still don't know if Christie will make the cut for Thursday's debate.

I asked him about it on the campaign trail in Dubuque, Iowa.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER: Thanks so much for joining us.

CHRISTIE: Happy to be here.

TAPPER: Normally, I know, when reporters bring up polls, it's a horse race question, and politicians and media critics look down on it. But it actually is important in terms of whether or not the 10 top Republican candidates get on the debate stage. And I know you want to be on the debate stage.

CHRISTIE: Yes.

TAPPER: My understanding is that you're kind of on the bubble right now. You might make it, you will probably make it, but you might not. Are you worried?

CHRISTIE: No, I will make it. I feel pretty good.

Yes, I will be very happy on Tuesday when the 10 names come out and I'm in there, because I think it's important. It's an important forum for me and for every one of us who is going to be on that stage, because, see, once you get on the stage, it's not going to matter whether you're number one, number five or number 10. You're going to have your opportunity to make your pitch to the Republican primary voters across America.

That's what I intend to do. And I'm confident I will be there on Thursday night.

TAPPER: What do you make of the fact that the people who are leading in the polls, Donald Trump, Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, who you characterize as being vague, what they're doing seems to be working, and what you're doing, with your specifics, does not right now?

CHRISTIE: Let's all take a deep breath. You know, four years ago, Herman Cain was winning right now. Eight years ago, Rudy Giuliani was winning right now.

So, I think we all need to take a deep breath. Campaigns matter, Jake. They matter. What you do matters. And it doesn't happen overnight. These folks in Iowa and New Hampshire particularly are notorious late-deciders on what they're going to do. So, they want to hear everybody, they want to see everybody. They want to digest all this stuff, and then they will make decisions.

And I think, when that times comes, the fact that we have been this specific for this long is going to really make it a benefit to us.

TAPPER: Leading nationally, leading in New Hampshire, doing well in Iowa is businessman, your friend Donald Trump. Rand Paul was recently asked about the fact that Trump is ahead in polls.

And Rand Paul wrote, "I think this is a temporary sort of loss of sanity, but we're going to come back to our senses and look for somebody serious to lead the country at some point."

Do you think Dr. Paul is diagnosing the problem correctly?

(LAUGHTER)

CHRISTIE: No, I don't.

Listen, I think that Donald is going to be as serious a candidate as Donald wants to be. And he's going to determine, through the depth of his answers and the seriousness of his answers, whether he's a serious candidate or he isn't.

That's what I mean by campaigns matter. Anybody can do well for a month in this business, especially if you have talent and you have personality. And Donald has both those things. So, let's see how it goes over the course of time.

I think Dr. Paul's diagnosis is premature. We will see what's going to happen.

TAPPER: You had a conversation with a voter who was asking about your record on guns. You said to him: "I'm still waiting for one fact from you, one fact about me being anti-gun. Give me one, one fact. You got one?"

Back in 2009, when you were running for governor, Sean Hannity asked you for an area where you might be moderate to left. This is obviously running for governor of New Jersey, not for the Republican primary in Iowa or New Hampshire.

[09:05:03]

CHRISTIE: Right.

TAPPER: And you said guns was an area where you would be moderate to left.

CHRISTIE: I'm a law enforcement guy. And so I always believe in making sure that public safety comes first.

But much of what I have seen over the last six years in the gun area has not been about public safety. It's been about grandstanding by politicians. And that's why I vetoed the .50-caliber rifle ban. That's why I vetoed a reduction in the magazine capacity from 15 to 10.

That's why I vetoed a statewide I.D. card for gun owners. Those things are not about doing anything with public safety. I have always believed that public safety is paramount. And we have got to make sure that we keep the guns out of the hands of criminals. That's what I meant when I talked to Sean. And that's what I mean today.

TAPPER: But you did earlier in your career support the ban on what gun control advocates called assault weapons.

CHRISTIE: Yes, when I was 31 years old.

TAPPER: You don't agree with it anymore?

(CROSSTALK)

CHRISTIE: Listen, I think it's a lot more complicated than I thought it was at 31 years old. And I have learned a lot in the last 21 years.

So, yes a long time ago -- by the way, I have changed a lot of my positions over time. Here's the thing. If you're a thinking, breathing human being, and life experience is something you take in, and you never change your mind, then you're stubborn.

I have learned from all my public service. And the positions I have today are positions that come from a long time, nearly 20 years in public life. And I think everybody should take that moment to be able to figure out where they stand after all their lives' experiences.

So, the only thing somebody can point to is something 20 years ago, then that means I have been fairly accident for the last 19.

TAPPER: There have been a lot of case this year, and especially recently -- in Cincinnati, we saw it recently, with that traffic pullover that ended up with a black man dead, killed by the police officer. We saw the Sandra Bland incident in Texas.

Do we have a problem here? Is there a problem nationally with police not treating African-Americans fairly?

CHRISTIE: I think that there's a problem across the country with our citizens and our police force interacting with each other in a positive, constructive way.

And we have seen it manifest itself in those examples and others, Ferguson or a number of other places you could talk about that that's happened. We need to engage in a different way. And you see what we have done in Camden. You know, in Camden, we brought in an entirely new police force and we trained them in a different way in community policing.

They're on foot. They're on bicycles. They're doing town hall meetings with the citizens, where they go and they talk about these issues. There will always be some police officers that don't act appropriately and there will always be some be some citizens who don't act appropriately towards police officers.

But we have a bigger problem. And I think that is reteaching both the community and the police force on how to work together.

TAPPER: On Friday, a number of candidates went to the Urban League and gave speeches. Hillary Clinton said -- quote -- "Race still plays a significant role in determining who gets ahead in America and who gets left behind."

Do you agree?

CHRISTIE: Listen, I think that there's still racism in our society.

All you have to do is look at Charleston and know that there's still racism in our society. And every leader in our country should be speaking out against that and should be doing everything that we can to provide opportunity for everyone, regardless of your race or your ethnicity or your gender.

So, I think we still have work to do. We are much better off as a country than we were 40 or 50 years ago. But we still have a lot of work to do. And there's still racism in our country. And for that, leaders have to speak out and be strong. And I think we have to continue to do that if we're going to be credible as a leader in, you know, America in the 21st century.

TAPPER: With all these tapes, these sting tapes against Planned Parenthood, I know that you defunded Planned Parenthood as governor of New Jersey. Ted Cruz says it -- he's willing to force a government shutdown to defund Planned Parenthood. Would you go that far?

CHRISTIE: We should just defund Planned Parenthood.

We shouldn't be throwing around threats like that. You know, it doesn't help. And we didn't do too well when we shut down the government the last time. So, I think everybody should take a deep breath, but we should be very firm as a party that this type of conduct by an organization, the harvesting and selling of fetal body parts, is just deplorable.

TAPPER: Now, Planned Parenthood's response is that the tapes are misleading and that none of the federal funding goes to pay for abortion; it's all for cancer screening and reproductive rights and that sort of...

CHRISTIE: No, all money is fungible, Jake. And they can't say that none of the money goes towards abortion. Of course it does. Of course it does.

Money comes into Planned Parenthood, and it is fungible. They can spend it on what they wish.

TAPPER: In an interview this week with CNN's Dana Bash, Mr. Trump called for deporting all 11 million undocumented immigrants in this country, and then letting what he called the good ones come back through an expedited process.

What should be done about the 11 million or so that are already here?

CHRISTIE: Listen, first off, I have had seven years in law enforcement as the U.S. attorney. There are not enough law enforcement officers, local -- local, county, state, and federal combined, to forcibly deport 11 to 12 million people.

[09:10:08]

I mean, and this is like building a 2,000-mile wall across the border that Mexico is going to pay for. It sounds really good. You pound your chest, but then the question is, how? How are you going to do it? I think the way to do this is E-Verify. If folks knew that they weren't going to get jobs, they would not come.

TAPPER: Well, what would -- what would you do with the 11 million who are here?

CHRISTIE: Well, listen, the folks that are here now, we're going to have to come to a solution on that that's going to involve using E- Verify as well.

TAPPER: Some sort of legal status, though?

CHRISTIE: Well, I don't know. We're going to have to see, Jake. We're going to have to see. But, first, we're going to have to convince the American people that we can actually control the border.

And they have to come to the conclusion I have come to, that these folks are not going to self-deport, and that we don't have enough law enforcement officers to be able to forcibly deport 11 million people, and then we need to come to a commonsense solution on it.

TAPPER: You will grant me that this is a specific you're not willing to offer, though, even though you're...

CHRISTIE: Oh, not yet, but I will.

TAPPER: You will?

CHRISTIE: Yes.

TAPPER: At what point?

CHRISTIE: Campaign's not over yet.

TAPPER: OK. At some point...

(CROSSTALK)

CHRISTIE: It's the next thing I'm working on.

TAPPER: Let me touch on foreign policy.

You have said that we have to be willing, if need be, to put boots on the ground to fight ISIS. What's the threshold? When would you do that?

CHRISTIE: Well, you have to see what success our allies were having.

My first alternative and preferred alternative is to arm the Jordanians, the Egyptians, the Emiratis and the Saudis to bring this fight to those folks.

TAPPER: Well, then why aren't they in it?

CHRISTIE: Well, they need more help. They need more help. They need better arms. They need more support from an intelligence perspective and they need to know that America's going to stand with them when the polls are up or down.

TAPPER: Ted Cruz also said this week that, if the Iran deal is consummated, it will make the Obama administration -- quote -- "the world's leading financier of radical Islamic terrorism" because of the sanction relief, at least $100 billion that the Iranians would get.

Mitt Romney, who is an opponent of the Iran deal, as you are, said that this rhetoric was way over the line and didn't help the cause.

What do you think?

CHRISTIE: Let's talk the facts of the deal. We shouldn't be getting the hyperbole. We should talk about the facts.

The fact that we have to wait 24 days to inspect a site if the Iranians object is outrageous. Jake, as you know, as U.S. attorney, that would be like me getting a search warrant, coming to somebody's house who I think is committing a crime and saying, here, I have got a search warrant, I will be back in 24 days to search.

TAPPER: Well, if it was a radioactive crime -- I mean, the idea -- the inspectors say that they would be able to discern whether or not there was radioactive material there 24 days later.

CHRISTIE: No, that's not any time anywhere, Jake. The president promised any time anywhere. And you cannot tell me that, in 24 days, the Iranians cannot move the elements of cheating from one area to another.

These are smart folks who've been cheating for years, by the way. From my perspective, the president has put us in an awful mess in the Middle East, even worse than it was when he got there, which seems to be almost impossible.

TAPPER: You say Cuba needs to change its behavior before the United States should extend to them any sort of olive branch. The argument from the Obama administration is, that's what we have been doing for decades and decades, and it's not working. It's the definition of insanity to do the same thing over and over and expect a different outcome.

CHRISTIE: What he's doing is not going to work, to absolutely just cave in to the Cubans.

And you saw what Castro did after that. After he's been given diplomatic relations, now he says he wants Guantanamo back and he wants reparations. Does that show that they have any bit of gratitude for the fact that we extended them that, that they're changing their behavior in any way?

The fact is, we're now going to send hundreds of millions of dollars down to Cuba in tourist activity and in other activities, in economic activity. None of that is going to get to the people of Cuba.

TAPPER: During your first term as governor, you were fond of saying that you can treat bullies in one of two ways -- quote -- "You can either sidle up to them or you can punch them in the face." You said, "I like to punch them in the face."

At the national level, who deserves a punch in the face?

CHRISTIE: Oh, the national teachers union, who has already endorsed Hillary Clinton 16, 17 months before the election.

TAPPER: Why?

CHRISTIE: Because they're not for education for our children. They're for greater membership, greater benefits, greater pay for their members.

And they are the single most destructive force in public education in America. I have been saying that since 2009. I have got the scars to show it. But I'm never going to stop saying it, because they never change their stripes.

TAPPER: This weekend is the 40th anniversary of the release of the amazing album "Born to Run."

I read something in the press that really upset me the other day, where you were quoted as saying -- and maybe it was a misquote -- but you were quoted as saying that, when it came to your favorite New Jersey musician, it was no longer the Boss, Mr. Bruce Springsteen. It was Jon Bon Jovi.

If this is true, I have to warn you, I might form a PAC, a super PAC, and run ads against you.

(LAUGHTER)

TAPPER: Would you clear this up? And how can you justify such an egregious flip-flop?

(LAUGHTER)

CHRISTIE: It's not an egregious flip-flop.

What she was asking was, what Laura Ingraham was asking both me and Mary Pat was, as a friend, who do you prefer, Springsteen or Bon Jovi?

[09:15:05]

TAPPER: As a person?

CHRISTIE: Yes, as a person. And Jon and Dorothea Bon Jovi are friends of ours.

TAPPER: Oh, they're lovely people, absolutely.

CHRISTIE: And they're good friends of ours. And that was the answer.

Bruce's music is still my favorite music. Come on. Are you kidding?

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: Thanks, Governor.

CHRISTIE: Thanks.

TAPPER: Appreciate it.

CHRISTIE: Thank you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER: And our thanks to Governor Christie.

Coming up: Rand Paul, once dubbed the most interesting man in politics, he's lately been laying low on the trail. But he is back, and he will join us for an exclusive interview about how he plans to break out at the Republican debate.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: Welcome back.

With just four days until the first Republican debate, candidates are preparing in their own ways. Advisers to Jeb Bush, Scott Walker and Rick Perry all say that the candidates are in intense prep sessions. Donald Trump's team, however, says he will wing it, underscoring his message that he is not a scripted politician.

And we have also heard that Rand Paul has been practicing with a Trump stand-in.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER: Joining me now from Davenport, Iowa, where he is practicing with the Single-A baseball team the Bandits in the land of "Field of Dreams," Iowa, Republican presidential candidate and aspiring center fielder Senator Rand Paul.

Senator Paul, thanks for squeezing us in between innings. We appreciate it.

[09:20:06]

SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thanks, Jake. Thanks for having me.

TAPPER: So, you've got a new ad, TV ad, about Planned Parenthood ailing in some -- airing in some of these early primary and caucus states.

Let's show a quick clip of that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, RAND PAUL CAMPAIGN AD)

NARRATOR: Planned Parenthood takes over a half-a-billion tax dollars every year. They perform abortions and sell baby body parts.

As a conservative leader, Rand is forcing a vote this week to end taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Now, obviously, Planned Parenthood disputes much of the content of that ad.

But let's talk about the substance of it. In your drive to defund Planned Parenthood, you've said that the reason that this nation can afford to do away with federal funding for Planned Parenthood, which -- which the federal funding supposedly does not fund any of the abortions. But the reason you've said you -- it can be done is because -- quote -- "We have doubled and tripled the funding for community health centers."

Now, it should be pointed out that the big increase in funding for community health centers comes from Obamacare, which you obviously voted against and you vowed to repeal.

Does this mean that you are committed at least to the money for the community health centers?

PAUL: Well, I think we can have disputes, you know, over abortion. Our country is divided. Some people are pro-choice. Some are pro- life.

But I think a lot of people, even a lot of pro-choice people, are upset by these videos. They, you know, manipulating the baby, turning the baby around to get the body parts and then selling the liver and the doctors cavalierly saying, oh, well, yes, liver is popular right now for sale, I think most Americans don't want their tax dollars going to this.

So, I think when something is so morally repugnant to so many people, why should tax dollars go to this?

And so I think most people do want to defend this -- defund this. And I think what you would find is, if you look at this, we have 9,000 community health centers that do everything that Planned Parenthood does, but they don't get into abortions.

So it would be much less emotional for everyone if we just funded community health centers and didn't fund Planned Parenthood.

TAPPER: Do you support continued funding for the community health centers, even though it was doubled and tripled from Obamacare?

PAUL: I do support a role for government in community health centers.

The specific bill, including it in Obamacare, obviously would make it such that I can't support that particular bill. But supporting some funding for community health centers, I think, is reasonable. And there are people who do need help.

But, really, Planned Parenthood is sort of a front for doing abortions. They say they don't use federal money, but how can you take money for the group and say none of it is somewhere benefiting the production and the -- the execution of -- of abortions?

So, really, I think that, if you look honestly and objectively, we have government funds going to -- a lot of government funds, $5 billion going to community health centers. I think, if you look at it objectively, people would say, why do we have to get involved with a group that's, you know, selling baby organs, you know?

So I think people -- even pro-choice people are upset by these videos. So, I mean, I think the country ought to wake up and we ought to get rid of this funding.

TAPPER: Right.

Senator Ted Cruz has said he's prepared to shut down the government, if that's what it takes to defund Planned Parenthood.

Do you support that?

PAUL: I support any legislation that will defund Planned Parenthood. But I don't think you start out with your objective to shut down government. I mean, if President Obama wants to shut down government because he doesn't get funds for Planned Parenthood, that would be President Obama's determination to shut down government.

But, you know, it's always a pointing-fingers battle, and it is the obligation of Congress, the power of the purse. That's an obligation of Congress, to determine how money is spent.

And so I've told people, I want thousands and thousands of instructions on thousands of items on how they should spend them. That's what Congress is supposed to do.

TAPPER: So, I want to turn to politics and the Republican Party and the race for president. You said this week that the rise of Donald Trump represents a temporary loss of sanity -- those are your words -- in the Republican Party.

Chris Christie, when I asked him about your quote, he -- he disagrees. He says that Trump is giving voice to legitimate anger.

Do you stand by the diagnosis of temporary insanity?

PAUL: Well, I think there are a lot of people upset. I'm one of them.

The reason I left being a physician -- you know, I'm not a career politician. I got involved in this because I was upset with Washington.

So, yes, Washington -- Congress has about a 10 percent approval rating. And I'm one of the 90 percent that disagrees with what Congress is doing.

So I think there is a vein of anger, yes, that represents some of those who are thinking about Donald Trump, but I think there's also going to be a serious debate, ultimately, starting this week, in the presidential debates, about who has the ideas that would fix the country.

Instead of getting so far afield in a lot of, I think, maybe empty talk, maybe we ought to talk about, should we have a flat tax? I -- I have proposed a tax code where you could do your tax return on one page, 14.5 percent for everybody, and then we talk about, is it a good idea to send more money to Washington or less money? I want to cut Washington, cut the taxes and cut the size of government.

[09:25:02]

TAPPER: Your Republican rivals have had some tough things to say about your foreign policy views. Chris Christie specifically has implicitly called your views dangerous, including this week. He said -- he suggested that you need to come to New Jersey and hear from the widows and orphans affected by 9/11.

Senator Lindsey Graham has said that, when it comes to foreign policy, you're -- you're weaker than Hillary Clinton.

How much are you going to talk about this on Thursday in the debate if your rivals come at you on this issue?

PAUL: We will make a clear distinction between myself and some of the others, that I'm a small-government conservative, one who believes in the Constitution.

I will do whatever it takes to defend the country, but I'm not interested or a believer that every intervention has been good for us.

Hillary's war in Libya made Libya a disaster, a failed state, and made us less safe. Many of the Republicans who are carping at my heels, those who want to be relevant in this debate, they supported Hillary Clinton's war in Libya. They supported sending money to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.

So, we will have this debate over who supports the president's foreign policy. And I think you'll find that the tables may well be turned. TAPPER: We're looking forward to it on Thursday.

Good luck, Senator Paul. Thanks so much for joining us.

PAUL: Thanks, Jake.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER: Coming up: Reports of a 2016 run for Vice President Joe Biden are gathering steam, family and friends urging him to jump in -- more on that story next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:32:00]

TAPPER: Welcome back. Some quick headlines now.

There is some breaking news on the search for MH370. Local officials telling CNN a new metal object washed up on the shores of Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean. That beach is where part of the wing of a Boeing 777 appeared earlier this week. An international team now working to authenticate both pieces as belonging to the missing Malaysian airliner which disappeared last year. Of course with 239 people on board.

There's a manhunt under way in Memphis where police are searching for a man who shot and killed one of their own during a traffic stop. (INAUDIBLE) Officer Sean Bolton, 33, was shot multiple times. He was discovered by a civilian who used Bolton's radio to call police to report the shooting.

And there's a new report this morning that Vice President Joe Biden is considering challenging Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination according to "The New York Times." Before Biden's beloved son Beau died in May of brain cancer he strongly encouraged his father to run. That the report says has led the vice president to talk with friends and family to explore the idea of jumping in.

But is it too late to overcome Hillary Clinton's lead? Are there enough frustrated Democrats to create an opportunity for the vice president? On that our panel will weigh in, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:35:58] TAPPER: Welcome back.

So there's this new report out this morning that says that Joe Biden, the vice president, and his son Beau in the months before Beau died of brain cancer, encouraged his father to run for president.

Will that plea be enough to spur Biden to challenge Hillary Clinton? Let's get into it with Van Jones, CNN political commentator, Jennifer Jacobs of the "Des Moines Register," Brianna Keilar, CNN senior political correspondent and Haley Barbour, former Mississippi governor. Thanks one and all for being here. So, are you hearing anything in Iowa about people maybe wanting Biden to run? Or Biden reaching out to Iowans?

JENNIFER JACOBS, CHIEF POLITICAL REPORTER, THE DES MOINES REGISTER: Not so much a hunger but there has been some reaching out. His inner circle has reached out to a limited number of friends of Biden in Iowa. They haven't really reached out to the extended Biden network in Iowa yet and they're not saying he has given a green light on running. He hasn't. But they're saying we would like to prepare just in case he does. So we're expecting an uptick of pro-Biden activity in the next few days.

TAPPER: Is there a hunger for Biden?

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, no. There's not. But listen, he is incredibly respected. He's a beloved figure in our party. But the reality is he's not so different from Hillary Clinton from the point of view of the rising energy in the party. The Clinton party was a very pro-incarceration party, anti-regulation for Wall Street, and being on triangulation.

The new party, the Elizabeth Warren wing, Bernie Sanders, Black Lives Matter, less incarceration, more regulation, and they hate the triangulation, they want authenticity. So, he checks the authenticity box but no other box in our party -- there's just no hunger -- they love him. There's no hunger for him.

TAPPER: Do you think that he could be a credible candidate if he got the nomination?

HALEY BARBOUR (R), FORMER MISSISSIPPI GOVERNOR: Well, I think if Hillary Clinton doesn't win the nomination, she's going to lose it to somebody like Joe Biden or John Kerry (ph), opposition on losing to Bernie Sanders, reminds me of 1968 when you had Senator McCarthy kick Johnson out but it was Hubert Humphrey who got the nomination and it would have been Robert Kennedy.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: It is I think too soon to say whether he is going to mount a run and we understand that the decision will come sometime in early September, I think that's the new time line. So that's been pushed.

But I also think we know that he's having some conversations with those who are close to him. Even if some of it is just listening to people who want him to run and he's not ruling it out. So I think a few months ago in recent months you might have said, you know, I really thought it was unlikely that he would mount a run. But he isn't ruling it out and nor should he if he's looking at the polls.

Hillary Clinton in the most recent Quinnipiac University poll 57 percent of those surveys say they don't trust her, 52 percent said they don't think that she cares about their problems. And you look at how Biden is registering and it's exactly the flip side. Nearly six in 10 Americans say they trust him and that they believe that he cares about his problems. TAPPER: Governor, as somebody who has thought about running for

president in the past is it too late for somebody like Joe Biden to get into the race?

BARBOUR: Not really. I don't think it's too late for him or Kerry (ph) or Elizabeth Warren for that matter.

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: You want them all in there.

BARBOUR: But what is stimulating this to be thought about is what Brianna talked about Mrs. Clinton's problems.

JONES: (INAUDIBLE) weakness from Hillary Clinton on stuff that you really wanted her to be stronger on. Listen he's a sitting vice president. He can wait until December if people want to. I think people have heard of him in Iowa. So, I think he can wait if he wants to.

But I think this is more about the troubling signs from Hillary Clinton, possibly in October, imploding in front of a committee in Congress much more than it is a passion for Biden.

JACOBS: It's hard to get caucus goers to get out to that vote. You've got to really organize and Hillary Clinton already has 60 staffers in Iowa alone. She has 11 offices.

Bernie Sanders has matched her. He has 11 offices in Iowa, as well. Fewer aides there.

But they're really digging in and fighting hard. And you know, talking to all of these people and every single county. It's hard to replicate that. It's -- anywhere else, you might be able to come in late. But Iowa it's tricky.

TAPPER: Let's turn to the Republicans now.

Scott Walker leading in the polls in Iowa. Last ones I saw anyway. He was at a forum sponsored by the Koch Brothers yesterday, and I've heard a lot of Democrats talking about this bite. Let's play it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[09:40:02] MIKE ALLEN, POLITICO CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Is President Obama a Christian?

GOV. SCOTT WALKER (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You're not going to get a different answer than I said before. I said, I don't know. I presume he is by his comments in the past but I've never asked him about that.

As someone who is a believer myself, I don't presume to know someone's beliefs about whether they follow Christ or not unless I've actually talked with them and understand that. But he said he has so I'll take his word. (END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: You're shaking your head. What's --

JONES: That's --

TAPPER: What's the problem with that answer?

JONES: It's disgusting. Listen as a professing Christian that is -- listen, that is a dog whistle. That is as close to fighting words as you're going to get. In other words you're going to have to all 320 million Americans to find out if we're Christian.

If someone is a professing Christian, as I am, as this president is, that is all that is required in our faith. Oh, I don't know. He's tap dancing around. What it does, it's a dog whistle saying that this guy is not honest.

But worse than that he's saying he's not honest because, again, there's that part of the debate, he's not really an American. He's not really a Christian. He's really a Muslim. And he's playing that on the side. It's disgusting and people are very offended by it.

TAPPER: I suspect, Governor Barbour, you don't agree with that assessment?

BARBOUR: Let's start off with the news guy asked him about it. This is not like he's making a speech like Hillary Clinton talking about the right to rise is not this and trying to take her whole speech to attack Jeb Bush. He got asked a question.

I am a evangelical Christian. You don't know that. You don't know what's in my heart. If I take you at your word that you're a Christian.

JONES: And that's what we're supposed to do --

(CROSSTALK)

BARBOUR: And that's all he did. He said I take him at his word.

TAPPER: Brianna, didn't Hillary Clinton give a very similar answer when Steve Kroft on "60 Minutes" asked the same question back in 2008 when they were in the middle of this primary battle? I recall her saying like, he is a Christian, I take him at his word, you know, as far as I know.

I mean, I remember Obama people complaining about her answer.

JONES: (INAUDIBLE).

KEILAR: And it speaks, I think -- let's talk big picture Scott Walker here. It speaks to what I think may be one of the biggest problems of his candidacy and that is answering questions. He has struggled repeatedly with this. This question that he answered here about whether the president is a Christian, and he says he is, he goes to church, Christian church. This isn't the first time that he's sort of messed up this question. At the very least bumbling through the question. The answer to this question.

(CROSSTALK)

KEILAR: That's right, back in February he was asked about this. But it's not just on this issue.

In February, he was asked about evolution, he was asked about foreign affairs and he outright said he was punting on them. That he didn't want to talk about it. This is a -- this is a weakness that Scott Walker will have to confront to be a very serious candidate.

TAPPER: So, we are all very excited about Thursday night's Republican debate. Let's do a quick around the table about what you're looking for. What's a key thing that you're looking for in the debate?

JACOBS: I'll be looking at Scott Walker and how these rivals handle him. He is the front-runner in Iowa. He has been the front-runner all year.

Mike Huckabee led in the polls with likely caucus goers throughout 2014. Scott Walker came in and took that title in January. So he is a soft target. He has never been pushed from the right before. So it will be interesting to see how these rivals deal with him.

TAPPER: Interesting. What are you going to be looking for?

JONES: I'm looking at Marco Rubio. I think -- listen a lot of stuff is snowflakes and soap bubbles. The long-term future of this Republican Party is in the hands of Rubio and people like him.

He's young. He's a fresh face. Not like Jeb. He's a real candidate unlike Trump. And frankly he's got foreign policy experience not like Walker.

I want to see can he break in and break out? Because honestly, he's the danger for us. If you're a Democrat you're looking at Marco Rubio, you're saying this is the guy we hope somehow gets snuffed out. We don't have to deal with this guy in this cycle or any other cycle.

TAPPER: What are you looking for?

BARBOUR: I'm going to look for discipline. I mean this is going to be hard. Probably disappointing for the public, because 10 people get to talk a total of 10 minutes each over a two-hour period of time. So discipline and short answers stand (ph) -- and a lot of these people have real records of accomplishment. It's hard to talk about what they want to talk about.

But the big question for me is, most important question, will Donald Trump say to the Republican audience, I will not run as a third party candidate? I will not run as an independent. I understand what happened in 1992, that Ross Perot gave the Clintons

the White House. And I will not do that because he has no chance to win our nomination. As long as he keeps saying, well, I might, I might.

TAPPER: Interesting. Brianna, very quickly.

KEILAR: Well, to be honest a lot of people are tuning in to see if there's drama here with Donald Trump being the wild card is some political version of Thunderdome I think is what they're looking for.

I'm curious if he shows up and is very serious, does have some discipline, if he is proficient in specifics when it comes to foreign policy. And also, if a number of these Republicans make a play for these disaffected voters in the Republican Party that Donald Trump is attracting.

[09:44:57] TAPPER: Very interesting.

Well, I know we're all going to be watching. Brianna Keilar, Governor Haley Barbour, Van Jones, Jennifer Jacobs of "The Des Moines Register," thanks so much. Great discussion.

Coming up. As he departs "The Daily Show" Jon Stewart has been joking about his secret meetings at the White House. What did the president really ask the funny man for? That's coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:49:34] TAPPER: Welcome back.

The news from "Politico" "The Daily Show" host Jon Stewart met privately at the White House with President Obama at least twice suggested to some critics that the liberal political (INAUDIBLE) was less about speaking true (ph) to power (ph) than he was about helping President Obama.

To others the visits just confirmed the unique and significant role that Stewart plays in our political culture. And later this week, Jon Stewart will bid that role farewell as he hosts his final "Daily Show."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JON STEWART, THE DAILY SHOW HOST: ...assignment in Kuala Lumpur, I'm Jon Stewart.

TAPPER (voice-over): 16 years ago when Jon Stewart took the (INAUDIBLE) of "The Daily Show" it would have been difficult to predict the stature he and his show would achieve. The location where candidates would come during a tough primary season.

STEWART: Tomorrow is perhaps one of the most important days of your life. And yet you have chosen to spend the night before talking to me.

(LAUGHTER)

STEWART: Senator, as a host I'm delighted. As a citizen, frightened.

(LAUGHTER)

STEWART: Your response?

HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It is -- it is pretty pathetic.

(LAUGHTER)

TAPPER: Or to declare a candidacy.

STEWART: I'm on your show to announce that I am a candidate for president of the United States.

TAPPER: That he would hold a well-attended rally on the National Mall.

STEWART: Are you ready to restore sanity?

TAPPER: Whether he would be perceived as so influential, especially among young voters that the president of the United States whom he obviously greatly admired would chide him to not feed cynicism.

Stewart's influence grew quickly with the election of President George W. Bush. When Stewart's politics found ripe targets.

STEWART: I spread Democracy. I'm a pusher not a user.

TAPPER: And Democrats hungry for anyone to challenge the Bush administration, turned to him.

SAMANTHA BEE, THE DAILY SHOW CORRESPONDENT: Jon, when the waters from Katrina began to rise it would have been easy to rush back to Washington. This president stuck it out for two more vacation days. What do you call that?

STEWART: What do I call that?

BEE: Mm-hmm.

STEWART: An abdication of all --

BEE: Oh, yes. I agree. Dedication!

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She is the one "Daily Show" reporter who makes the others look like a bunch of pussies.

TAPPER: The longtime correspondent Samantha Bee tells us that Stewart was an even-keeled captain of their ship with a clear eye on where they were headed. BEE: He's editorial point of view is always so sharp. And so we always went out into the field with a really clear point of view. And we would just hit that point of view again and again and again and again.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's all about us.

TAPPER: The media, especially CNN, we were frequent targets.

STEWART: The truth of what a reporter is saying is all in the direction their face is turned. News story. War story. Trust me on this. Total (EXPLETIVE) (ph).

TAPPER: But his influence was great and his researchers quick and able to find clips exposing politicians.

GLORIA BORGER, TV SHOW HOST: You have said in the past that it was, "pretty well confirmed."

DICK CHENEY (R), FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No, I never said that.

BORGER: OK.

CHENEY: I never said that.

BORGER: I think that is --

CHENEY: Absolutely not.

STEWART: He absolutely never said that. Hmm.

CHENEY: It's been pretty well confirmed that he did --

TAPPER: Also with a genuine eye for talent.

STEVE CARELL, ACTOR, THE DAILY SHOW: How do you reconcile the fact that you were one of the most vocal critics of pork-barrel politics and yet, while you were chairman of the Commerce Committee, that committee set a record for unauthorized appropriations? I'm just kidding! No. I was -- I don't even know what that means.

TAPPER: Some critics thought the show lost its edge with the election of President Obama who appeared on the show seven times for usually friendly chats.

STEWART: How many times a week does Biden show up in a wet bathing suit to a meeting?

TAPPER: Though other times the Stewart knife could cut.

STEWART: It wouldn't be, yes, we can given concern conditions.

TAPPER: And his skewering of the (INAUDIBLE) HealthCare.gov web site was something of a tipping point.

STEWART: I'm going to do a challenge.

I'm going to try and download every movie ever made, and you are going to try to sign up for Obamacare and we'll see which happens first.

TAPPER: Perhaps the most powerful moments were when Stewart realized his influence and used it such as when he shamed Congress for stalling the passage of healthcare legislation for 9/11 first responders.

STEWART: Before I rush in, you got to promise me, McCluskey, you got to promise me and my family that this will not affect the Swiss Pharmaceutical Company's offshore tax status. You got to promise me that. Or I'm not going in there. You're an (EXPLETIVE) (ph).

TAPPER: He's now credited with its eventual passage.

BEE: We don't claim that victory for ourselves. People have been in the trenches working on that for years and years and years, and they've been laying all this really heavy-duty groundwork. And sometimes it's just takes the little tiny extra push to get it over the hump.

TAPPER: Stewart's fans will miss him and so will the public square.

STEWART: You're making no sense.

Zero sense.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

[09:54:50] TAPPER: Coming up, the cheese steak dilemma that tripped up Scott Walker is this week's "State of the Cartoonion." Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: Welcome back.

Campaigning often requires indulging in some of America's finest cuisines such as the food staple the cheese steak in my beloved hometown of Philadelphia. But as Governor Scott Walker learned this week a culinary stop can cause an upset stomach politically speaking is this week's "State of the Cartoonion."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER (voice-over): This week Wisconsin Governor and Republican presidential candidate Scott Walker walked into one of the most sticky issues in the nation, the Philadelphia cheese steak wars in battleground Pennsylvania. Perhaps hailing from America's dairy land Walker thought his cheese expertise would prevail. It did not. Though he tried to avoid choosing between Pat's and Gino's in Passyunk Avenue by visiting both.

Others have fallen into the cheese steak quicksand. John Kerry in 2004 ordered his cheese steak with Swiss. Thank heaven it wasn't (INAUDIBLE) I suppose. President Bush then mocked Kerry by saying he knew the proper order was wiz with. That's with cheese wiz, supposedly the proper order. But to true Philadelphians provolone also shows some (INAUDIBLE).

Walker went with American cheese. Questionable. But what raised hackles among the tough Philly crowd was his cutting in line and not cleaning up after himself.

[10:00:00] Philadelphians can be tough. We once booed Santa Claus at an Eagles' game. To be fair the presents the previous Christmas had been rather wanting.

Kerry it should be noted did win Pennsylvania. So, when it comes to all this cheese steak back and forth, let's not overstate the role.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER: The dulcet tones of Skip Denenberg's the Cheese Steak song.

I'm Jake Tapper in Washington.

"FAREED ZAKARIA GPS" starts right now.