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Cruz And Sanders Face Off On The Obamacare; Trump: Obamacare Replacement Could Take Until Next Year; Kellyanne Conway: "I Don't Think CNN Is Fake News"; Trump Falsely Claimed Murder Rate Is "Highest" In 47 Years; Trump: Ivanka Treated "So Unfairly" By Nordstrom. 12:30-1p ET

Aired February 8, 2017 - 12:30   ET



[12:30:23] SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: -- here in Canada. You know what? You would get the healthcare that you need.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: Now, Bernie mentions Canada quite a bit. I know quite a bit about Canadian healthcare. I was born there. You know, Bernie, that maybe the best argument against your position as, you know, look what it composes.

SANDERS: Yes, that's right.


DANA BASH, CNN ANCHOR: That was one of the lighter moments in last night's lively CNN town hall debate with Senators Ted Cruz and Bernie Sanders over the future of Obamacare. The senators stand on polar opposite sides of the healthcare debated each vigorously defended his point of view. But Sanders, pushing to fix and even expand Obamacare, and Senator Cruz vowing that Republicans won't break their promise to repeal it.

Now, Republicans have lots and lots of ideas about replacement, but they don't appear to be coalescing around one legislative plan yet to make that happen despite President Trump's promises on the campaign trail to do it on day one.

He said on Sunday, well, replacement may not happen until next year. It was really fun and I have to say just point of personal privilege here. I know I'm kind of on a high, like a dorky high, because it was fun to be part of a long discussion on policy. And on that note, I want to play one exchange that the senators had last night that really I thought was illustrative of the very deep philosophical divide between Democrats and Republicans on how to deal with healthcare. Take a listen.


CRUZ: Access to healthcare is rust.

SANDERS: She has access, but she wouldn't have enough money.

CRUZ: And using their doctors --.

SANDERS: You have access right now. Go out and get a really great health insurance program. Oh, you can't do it because you can't afford it. All right. That's what he is saying.

CRUZ: Access to what?

SANDERS: You want to buy one of Donald Trump's mansions? You have access to do that as well. Oh, you can't afford $5 million for a house? Sorry. Access doesn't mean a damn thing. What it means is whether people can afford it, can get the healthcare that they need.

CRUZ: And they can't under Obamacare.


BASH: And it's really is the fundamental divide. Never mind the healthcare system being incredibly complicated, especially now that you have an entitlement basically that has to be unwound if you are a Republican and has to be done gently, but also the fact that Democrats for the most part -- I mean not Democratic socialists, but for the most part they believe that it should be a right, and Republicans believe that if it's a right, that just means you should have access, and it shouldn't be mandated, and that has been the age-old problem that has made this so hard, right?

SARA MURRAY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: You're right. It also makes it really hard for Republicans to move forward on this because while Obamacare does have a lot of issues and, you know, a lot of Americans have had issues with it, the hardest thing to do politically in Washington is to take away a benefit that you are getting from the government. It can be political suicide.

And so for Republicans trying to come up with how the fashion this (inaudible) plan, they have taken in the White House and taken very seriously the notion that you can't just cut people off healthcare without them knowing what's next, what their options are, what their potential access points are, but even then, it is essentially impossible to envision any Republican plan that will provide coverage for as many people as Obamacare provides coverage for, and there's just no easy way out of that box.

BASH: And Glenn, I get the sense -- obviously we know that Republicans on the hill are understanding that more and more, and there's a very big tension between the promise and the reality, but do you get the sense that that is becoming more apparent to President Trump and his aides?

GLENN THRUSH, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Oh, I think it was an interesting moment in the briefing room yesterday. There are many interesting moments in the briefing room. But when Sean Spicer was asked about the President's comments about pushing this back to 2018, he said something -- I'm paraphrasing here -- that we're much more concerned with results than we are with the process. Essentially, what he was saying is Congress, you take care of this, and I will stand off to the side and figure out what it is that I like, what it is that is preferable, what it is that's polling well that week.

And that is exactly the opposite of the process that we saw when this thing was passed, when Rahm Emanuel was driving the process. So I thought it was an interesting illustration. Not only of how ACA is going to play out, but how the real government -- look, this flurry of executive orders and stuff, everyone who covers Washington knows that that's the low-hanging fruit. Dealing with Congress is where the rubber --

BASH: Yes.

THRUSH: -- hits the road and it's interesting to see that in probably one of these first battles, the White House is going to step back and let Congress do it.

BASH: Yes, step back, and yet Margaret, he can step back as much as he wants, but this is called Obamacare and whatever comes next will be called Trumpcare, whether he is super involved or not.

MARGARET TALEV, BLOOMBERG: And that's right and President Trump's instincts to distance himself from risk or to separate himself from blame right now really interesting you can see it across the board whether it is terrorism and homeland security policy or whether it's the Obamacare debate, you know, if there's a terror attack, it's the judge's fault, and if this repeal goes wrong, it's going to be Congress's fault.

[12:35:13] And this is very complicated stuff because what President Obama managed to do for all of the problems that Obamacare has had or the Affordable Care Act has had is to do this paradigm shift where it is now not just medicare and medicaid that are considered rights of Americans. It is essentially healthcare. It's healthcare through the private sector. That was the deal with the Republicans to get it done.

But now that is the American expectation, and so the box that the Republicans and President Trump are in now is how to take away the kind of stink of this that the public doesn't like while keeping all the benefits, which are very expensive.

BASH: And the market doesn't work that way, right.

TALEV: While giving people tax rate.

BASH: Exactly. The market is going to get rattled. I was communicating with a Senior Republican on Capitol Hill yesterday after the debate saying it's hard, but we're going to get it done. You're going to be surprised. It's going to happen. Have you seen any evidence of any plans?

DOMENICO MONTANARO, NPA: No, in fact, I think that it's --

BASH: That I haven't seen. MONTANARO: It's gone the opposite direction. I mean you saw Senator Corker start to talk about how there haven't been any serious discussions about a replacement bill. You still have Paul Ryan saying, now the Speaker of the House saying that we will legislate this bill within the year.

BASH: Right.

MONTANARO: But you heard Donald Trump move away from that language talking about how we're a couple of weeks away. He is putting the final strokes on his plan, and then saying, well, it will be dealt with in 2017.

BASH: Right. Which both can be true, but they can legislate this year and not make it go into effect --


BASH: -- until later, but -- what's the if? And what's the if?

MONTANARO: And then what's real is really hard it decipher here because there aren't a lot of plans that are specific that are making their way to the final, you know, place here within these committees. But, you know, the fact is when you step back from this, government intervention on almost anything is the bright line dividing line in this country on politics, on almost everything.

I mean, the healthcare makes up 17 percent of the U.S. economy. It's a big reason why those town halls in 2009 and 2010 became such a big deal, and it's why Republicans are recognizing now it's really easy to be against something that's really difficult and complicated to implement. It's really hard to be driving the train, especially when Republicans used to be the party of management and that's not what they've been under President Obama.

BASH: And there's going to be a whole new series of town halls when they go home for break.

MURRAY: Right.

BASH: President's week, which is a week after next, but we'll save that for another day. And up next, the fight over fake news has the President at odds with one of his top advisors. A must see interview and what it really means. Stay tuned


[12:41:43] BASH: It's the third week of the Donald Trump presidency, and the administration's relationship status with the fourth of estate, the news media is in tatters. The core of the problem? A President who attacks media when they report things he doesn't like instead of saying he disagrees or he's disappointed, he labels it fake news. And yet, the President's senior advisor told Jake Tapper yesterday she doesn't share that sentiment.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) KELLYANNE CONWAY, SENIOR PRESIDENT ADVISER: No, I don't think CNN is fake news. I think there are some reports everywhere in print, on T.V., on radio, in conversation, that are not well-researched and are sometimes based on falsehoods. All the place intrigue stories I can't even tell you. Think about how small our staff was and how small our budget was for a presidential campaign.


BASH: Glenn? We've all done the palace intrigue stories. It's because there's palace intrigue, right?

THRUSH: Yes, it's a very small palace.

BASH: It is a very small palace.

THRUH: And so there's a lot of intrigue. And think also I think the point that she was reporting too we've all done this reporting. The campaign mentality of this very small group of people, he's not translate well, so running a government and I think we have story this week illustrated that this is -- and this is something that they understand, we interviewed 40 to 50 people. My colleague Maggie Haberman and I, and there was finally an understanding they are going to need to step up and they're going to need the change the fundamental way of managing things, co I think actually Kellyanne articulated it very, very well.

You can't transfer this kind of home made operation to running the greatest country in the world.

BASH: Sara, you were there from pretty much day one, on the Trump campaign when it was this small band of brothers and maybe a sister, and now it's them trying to run a government.

MURRAY: It's them trying to run a government and it's not people who were there with Donald Trump on day one. It's not people who were there with Donald Trump on day 365. A lot of these people came in very late in his process, very late in his campaign, and a lot of them sort of got plucked from different areas. They're not a cohesive group that knew each other really well, that worked together really well before.

And they all have different strengths, trying to sort of coalesce and use those to put out, you know, legislative priorities to get things done, there is still a lot of jockeying to sort of increase your power center, and I do think that when we look at how they change going forward, that's a reflection of Donald Trump. Donald Trump does not like to be embarrassed. He does not like to look bad on television, and the travel ban was a very dark moment for that administration.

BASH: And yet, going back to kind of, you know, where we started this conversation about fake news and about trying to and feeling like you have to back check a president of the United States for saying things that are just flat wrong, that's something else that Kellyanne Conway had to do with Jake Tapper yesterday. This time about what Donald Trump said about the murder rate. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP (R), UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: I'd say that in a speech, and everybody was surprised because the press doesn't tell it like it is. Wasn't to their advantage to say that, but the murder rate is the highest it's been in I guess from 45 to 47 years.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST, "THE LEAD": To say that there was a spike in murder rates in between 2014 and 2015 is true to say -- and to say we need to bring that down and we need to have law and order, all of that fine.

[12:45:06] He said it's the highest murder rate in 47 years, and the media doesn't report it. And again, Kellyanne, the media doesn't report it because it's a lie.

CONWAY: I think he is relying upon data perhaps for a particular area. I don't know who gave him that data.



BASH: OK. Kellyanne Conway, the fact that she decides to defend him because she believes in many of the causes that he believes in, but is the person who also agrees to go out and take the heat and take the questions on things that are, frankly, indefensible to try to come up with a way to answer it because that is, I guess, her job.

TALEV: I think this has a much different trajectory in month six than it does in week three.

BASH: Meaning? Meaning you think that the president is going to change or that the people who are trying to defend are going to say you're on your own?

TALEV: Right now you have the Republicans in Congress, the House and the Senate, enough of the Republican establishment, and enough of the American voters kind of saying let's see what happens, let's see how this happens. You can talk about poll numbers and the president is historically, you know, high unfavorability ratings as such, but still the infrastructure of Republicans and a good chunk of America wants to give him time for these things to play out.

It gets -- this gets much more difficult and complex after a number of kind past momentums, you know, going on for a long period of time and maybe Congressional Republicans will lose patience. I think when it comes to the relationship with the media, there is the rhetoric and the optics, which are the President beating up on the veracity of the media, and then there's the day to day of what's happening which is cool sprays, press briefings, a lot of access that have eyes on the President and his desire to be able to communicate through that media to get his messages out very consistently.

And this is a little bit of the dichotomy in where the rubber meets the road. You know, the reason that the American public is hearing these messages about how terrible the American press is can the American press is broadcasting and carrying --

BASH: And you mentioned the media and things -- other things that make Republicans uncomfortable. There's something that the President did this morning that is probably going to make and already making Republicans very uncomfortable, which is this happens when they get uncomfortable when he tweets about any business. This time he tweeted about is daughters. Here is what he said "My daughter Ivanka has been treated so unfairly by Nordstrom. She is a great person, always pushing me to do the right thing. Terrible."

Now, as a daughter, I would hope that my father would defend me and would defend anything that I did, but if my father was President and this was sort of on the border, I'm not so sure.

MONTANARO: Well, I mean, maybe she's OK with it. We don't know. But what she -- what he does with these businesses and the impact that a lot of -- you know, businesses love certainty, and when they're want sure when they wake up in the morning if their business is suddenly going to be in the line of fire on Donald Trump's tweets, that makes for a problematic situation if you are somebody who is, you know, concerned about that business. You know, the Nordstrom situation had to do with the fact that because people were boycotting Nordstrom, fewer people were buying the brand. They wound up discontinuing the line.

BASH: Basic business, which Donald Trump should understand.

MONTANARO: Yes, they were slashing prices 40 percent. You know, in addition to that, you know, this lawsuit that Melania Trump filed, they argue in there that she's losing potentially $150 million because she has gained this new prominent position where she could have made money off of, you know, accessories or jewelry or makeup lines because of allegations that were made by a newspaper. You know, these things all do continue to raise --

BASH: Yes.

MONTANARO: -- the conflict of interest.

BASH: No question.

MONTANARO: Yes and undermining the press when they're putting out just straight facts is one way that you keep your message out there.

BASH: OK. Want to put this on hold because I'm dying to know what's in each of your notebooks, some of the best in the business here. Up next, that's what is going to happen.

These reporters are going to empty their notebooks, including one thing still looming large on President Trump's to do list.


[12:53:23] BASH: Let's head around the "Inside Politics" table and ask our reporters to get you out ahead of the big political news just around the corner. Glenn. THRUSH: I think you have to look for the grown-ups table. I think Secretary of Defense Mattis, Tillerson at States, and Kelly at DHS are going to form their own little group and make decisions relatively independently of the White House.

BASH: That will be interesting.

MURRAY: The White House has been very active, but one big thing that is missing is Donald Trump's legislative agenda. They insist they can do everything at once, but so far we haven't seen legislation on paying for a wall. We're not seeing legislation on Obamacare coming out of the White House. We are not even sure exactly what they want to put in a tax plan. It's still early. There is still time. Donald Trump is meeting with his leg affairs team today, but kind of a gaping hole on that agenda so far.

TALEV: A lot of eyes on the Japanese leaders' visit in a couple of days, but there's another really important meeting that's being planned for behind the season and that is Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, couple things I have my eyes on or the huge profile that Iran who's going to take really eclipsing the Middle East peace debate that's going on and some questions about how Russia politics, Syria politics plays into that. So I think golf game and there assign a lot of planning for that coming up.

BASH: No question.

MONATANARO: You know, Donald Trump said, and I quote, "If you look at what certain countries are doing to this country, I mean they've totally taken advantage of this country. Could be Mexico, could be China. Nope, that was Japan in 1987 and 1988." Donald Trump, that was his whipping boy. It's like mad libs. Donald Trump may not change, but the target does.

BASH: And it's our -- tends to be our friends, Mexico, Japan, so forth.

[12:55:05] OK, so because I'm a sub today, I'm going to install a new rule that hopefully that everybody will live by, which is if you are on the show and you are parodied by "SNL" you get to sit through it and watch it and we can all talk about it afterwards. Roll it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Glenn Thrush, "New York Times", boo, go ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I want to ask about the travel ban on Muslims.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, it's not a ban.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not a ban. The travel ban is not a ban, which makes it not a ban.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But you just called it a ban.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because I'm using your words. You said ban. You said ban. Now I'm saying it back to you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president tweeted and I quote --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- "If the ban were announced with a one week notice --"

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah, exactly. You just said that.


BASH: OK, you're way better looking. Can we all just say that?

MURRAY: Yes, absolutely.

BASH: I have to say like the people he tweeted that, and I want to just reinforce that. Does that make you feel better?

THRUSH: That makes me feel better.

BASH: OK, Good.

THRUSH: Now you said it in public.

BASH: You're welcome. Anything? Two words?

MURRAY: Your moment?

THRUSH: It's like my bar mitzvah all over --.

BASH: Muzzle Tough. Thanks for watching "Inside Politics". my colleague Wolf Blitzer is up after a break.