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Soon House GOP to Sell Senate on Obamacare Plan; Trump Condemns Anti-Semitic Threats But Says "Sometimes Reverse"; Trump Speech a Presidential Pivot; Oprah Rethinking 2020 Presidential Run. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired March 1, 2017 - 11:30   ET


[11:30:00] REP. LEE ZELDIN, (R), NEW YORK: Because when a person has $8,000 worth of deductibles and can't afford it, they feel like they don't even have health insurance although maybe they do. If you can't afford a policy, you don't have access to it. I do support the concept of making it easier to set aside money pretax to allow individuals to better afford the health care costs.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: And that's different than subsidies, you say?

ZELDIN: Well, that is. It's --


BOLDUAN: I'm asking because Rand Paul doesn't think so.

ZELDIN: You know, I believe that to allow an individual, as they are getting their paycheck every two weeks or monthly, however they're paid, and they're able to set aside a portion of their money pretax towards their health care costs, you know, that's a concept that I'm supportive of.

BOLDUAN: Also last night, the president pushed for a big increase in spending for various things, including the military, of course, and he also is pushing for a massive infrastructure bill, and even called for paid family leave, all of which clearly come with a very big price tag. How do you pay for it all, Congressman?

ZELDIN: Well, for one thing, with regards to the $1 trillion infrastructure plan, we'll see what all the details end up looking like. But there was an op-ed that was written towards the end of the campaign by now secretary of commerce, Wilbur Ross, where while it's a $1 trillion plan, it's partially paid for with tax dollars, partially paid for by tax credits, and a large bulk of the money paid for by private investment. I'm a big supporter of --


BOLDUAN: That's something that Barack Obama was a fan of.

ZELDIN: OK. I mean, one of the great things towards the end of 2015, a Republican Congress, a Democratic president, worked together for a five-year fully funded highway bill. Long term infrastructure planning is important regardless of your stripes, whether you're liberal or conservative, Republican or Democrat. We need to invest in our nation's infrastructure.

BOLDUAN: You are, of course, an Iraq veteran. With regard to the military spending that the president wants increased spending for, he says in part he's going to pay for it by cutting money for the State Department, which is foreign aid and money for diplomacy. Are you OK with that?

ZELDIN: Well, you know, it depends where exactly the cuts within the State Department end up playing out. You know, I don't like the concept of, you know, just across-the-board cuts. I would like to see -- there are individual pots of money for different purposes within the State Department. I do agree with the sentiment that where we have in the military, Department of Defense, we have geographical combatant commanders responsible for a military mission, I would like them to be able to focus as much as possible on their military mission and have the State Department be able to focus more on the diplomatic and State Department mission. So what I don't want to do is see a weakening of the State Department to the extent where the military is focused on more than military things.

BOLDUAN: Right, yeah. Again, devil is always in the details with these things, of course.

Before I let you go, Congressman, the last time you came on, we spoke, you said you wanted to see the president speak out more forcefully against the rash of threats against Jewish community centers. That's exactly -- speaking out about that is exactly how he started his speech last night. But earlier in the day, he talked about the issue with attorneys general, and the Pennsylvania A.G. said that the president said that the threats could have been made "to make others look bad." Do you see that as a possible motivation here?

ZELDIN: I think that the rising tide of anti-Semitism is being caused by individuals who have anti-Jewish, anti-Israel thoughts. They are trying to instill fear and hate amongst the Jewish population here in our country. It's happening on college campuses. It's happening targeting JCCs. We're seeing property damage targeting Jewish cemeteries. And it's not just in the United States. There's a rising tide of anti-Semitism all across the world, foreign companies, foreign countries. We're seeing it to a certain extent within the United Nations. I believe the cause of what's taking place here in our country and around the world is caused by individuals who have hatred in their hearts and their minds towards the Jewish people.

BOLDUAN: No question in your mind about that motivation, Congressman.

Thank you so much for your time as always.

ZELDIN: Thank you, Kate.

[11:34:27] BOLDUAN: Coming up for us, the tale of two speeches, from American carnage to American greatness. Was this a presidential pivot? Or the "P" word, we're not supposed to say it on the show. Is it a presidential pivot? We'll talk about it, next. Plus, she's the queen of all media. Will she take a chance at

commander-in-chief? Oprah Winfrey on why she may be reconsidering a presidential bid, next.


BOLDUAN: President Trump topping his prime-time speech to Congress by condemning threats against Jewish community centers and the recent wave of vandalism at Jewish cemeteries, something many were waiting to hear, welcomed by many. But this also comes after the Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro said the president told a group of A.G.s behind closed doors yesterday about the threat, quote, "You have to be careful because the reverse can be true." And also, according to Attorney General Shapiro, the president suggested it's done to make others look bad.

Arkansas's attorney general, Leslie Rutledge, was there as well. We spoke a short time ago.


[11:39:49] LESLIE RUTLEDGE, ARKANSAS ATTORNEY GENERAL: In the meeting with the president, with the attorneys general from across the country, as he spoke, he made it clear that this sort of discrimination and attacks on the Jewish community will not be tolerated, that we are all deeply concerned about those attacks. The president's daughter, son-in-law, and grandchildren are Jewish. The president made it clear this sort of discrimination will not be tolerated and he supports these communities. He started his speech last night talking about this. That optimistic speech we heard last night was the same sort of optimism, the great discussion that we had with him yesterday, talking about law enforcement issues and combating this sort of violence.

BOLDUAN: The Pennsylvania attorney general seemed concerned about it. Remember, said it wasn't really clear what the president meant. Was the president suggesting that the vandalism was done by opponents of his or Democrats to falsely create a headline that anti-Semitism is on the rise?

RUTLEDGE: I did not take away from the meeting with the president any of those things. I'm not sure why my colleague from Pennsylvania would make those statements other than for his own political interest. So I'm disappointed to hear those statements by my colleague. But I took away -- again, a great meeting with the president, a meeting with chief legal and law enforcement officers from the states talking about crime and violence across our country, how we can have the sort of partnerships that we need with the federal, state, and local governments working together to combat that and the drug epidemic across our country. It's a shame that the opportunity was taken, again, for just a political speech as opposed to meeting with the president about the serious issues the day.

BOLDUAN: But just to be clear, do you recall that the president did say you have to be careful because the reverse can be true about these threats and vandalism? RUTLEDGE: Again, I heard the president talking about, this sort of

discrimination will not be tolerated. The president came out strong last night talking about that. We had a great meeting with the president, talking about working together, combating violence across our country.

BOLDUAN: OK. So the president was expected to roll out, Attorney General, the new travel ban today. Late last night the White House postponed that in part because they say they don't want to step on the positive reviews of last night's speech. In your view, is the policy no longer an urgent national security priority?

RUTLEDGE: I believe that the president today and his team are talking about the speech, the things that he put forth in that speech, the travel ban, the executive order protecting our national security, it's still a top priority of our president. That's why he talked about it last night in his speech, that's why we're talking about it today.

BOLDUAN: Right, for that very reason, all we heard from the White House was they had to push this ban fast and with little notice because they needed the element of surprise, if you will, or in the president's words, the bad guys were going to get on planes and come pouring in. Should Americans be concerned here that that's what's happening because now they seem OK with the delay?

RUTLEDGE: Again, I think the president and national security advisers and law enforcement officials are continuing to look at individuals who may have ties to terrorist countries or to terrorists, and that is what the president is focused on, is protecting Americans.


RUTLEDGE: He talked about it in great length last night.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. Do you leave open the possibility -- you said the Pennsylvania A.G. has political purposes? Do you believe the White House is delaying the travel ban for political purposes?

RUTLEDGE: That's a question for the White House. I don't believe that they are. I think they want to focus on his speech last night, his setting forth an agenda he has for America, a speech of optimism. Everyone walking away, including CNN's Van Jones, noting that, during the moment, as he spoke to the widow of that brave SEAL that died, we saw him become the president. He is the president. And we have optimism across the country today after that great speech last night.

BOLDUAN: One of the biggest surprises yesterday was when the president told a group of anchors that he was open to legal status for millions of undocumented immigrants. Do you support the president on that?

RUTLEDGE: Well, again, that's the president's agenda. And if he does move forward with that, we will be working with -- as a state law enforcement official, working with federal officials, should they decide to move forward.

BOLDUAN: Do you agree with him, though?

RUTLEDGE: Well, again, I've spoken in depth with the president about that, and so I will reserve any comments until I see the plan and speak to him and others in the White House about it.

BOLDUAN: But legal status in general for millions of undocumented immigrants that are here, do you support that?

RUTLEDGE: Well, again, that's a question for federal officials, Kate. I appreciate you asking me. If that's something that they implement, then as the chief legal and law enforcement officer, I will be working with them to implement it. We have many individuals in Arkansas and across the country that are good, hardworking people living here in the United States. But unfortunately, we also have those individuals who are criminals and have committed violent acts against Americans. Those are the sorts of individuals that I know that the president and his team and law enforcement officials are targeting in terms of removing them from the United States, because they are --


[11:45:21] BOLDUAN: What about --


RUTLEDGE: -- violent dangerous criminals.

BOLDUAN: What about Dreamers? The president told a group of anchors that he is supportive of a path to citizenship for Dreamers. You've been a vocal opponent of the DACA program. Could you be on board with that?

RUTLEDGE: Again, if that's the direction the president and the administration decides to go, we'll work together with them. This is an opportunity to work with the federal administration and if -- as opposed to working against the administration because they were carrying out and putting forth executive orders and regulations through various agencies that were unlawful. So I am personally optimistic about the opportunities that we have to work with this president and his team.

BOLDUAN: Wow. Leaving open the possibility of working with the president on Dreamers and legal status coming from you, that says a lot.

Attorney General, thanks for coming on. I appreciate it.

RUTLEDGE: Thank you.


BOLDUAN: Coming up for us, does Oprah Winfrey want to become madam president? She's speaking out about a potential White House run in 2020. It's already happening, people. You may be surprised what she has to say about it. That's next.


[11:50:59] BOLDUAN: From American carnage to American greatness. 41 days since the inaugural address, a big difference. Listen.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.

We will look back on tonight as when this new chapter of American greatness began. The time for small thinking is over. The time for trivial fights is behind us. We just need the courage to share the dreams that fill our hearts.


BOLDUAN: Different speeches.

Let's discuss this. David Urban is here. He was a Trump campaign strategist, a corporate lobbyist as well. Symone Sanders is here, former national press secretary for the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign.

Guys, let's flip the script today. We're flipping roles.

Symone, you go first.

What went right with the speech last night?

SYMONE SANDERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Donald Trump read the teleprompter. Donald Trump practiced his measured tone. But I don't think that we should be leaping out of our seats for joy. He did the basic things you're supposed to do as president of the United States. But what went right, Donald Trump read the teleprompter, he had a measured tone, and he did not offend black people at the top of his speech. It's Black History Month.

BOLDUAN: 57 percent of the people that saw the speech last night had a positive reaction to it, Symone.

Let's go to David.

David, you play the opposite role now.


BOLDUAN: What went wrong last night? What went wrong last night?

DAVID URBAN, TRUMP CAMPAIGN STRATEGIST: Listen, I don't think anything went wrong.


BOLDUAN: Oh, you're punting. Play my game.

URBAN: I'm not going to play your game. Listen, if Lincoln gave the Gettysburg Address last night, everyone would say it was too short and lacked specifics this morning. So I'm not going to play the game.

I think the speech was an unmitigated success. It was optimistic, forward-looking, full of unity, strength., talked about, you know, where we're going to go in America on jobs and infrastructure. I think it was an unmitigated success. Everyone on this network and others couldn't throw a stone. The minority leader, Senator Schumer, last night was speechless and couldn't respond. Van Jones, as you noted here, had nothing but nice to say. There wasn't anything that went wrong with the speech last night. It was a homerun.

BOLDUAN: A homerun.


BOLDUAN: We've now talked about last night. Yes, we're only 41 days into this presidency. Let's talk about 2020. Why don't we? Oprah Winfrey, "on Bloomberg News," was speaking with Carlisle group founder, David Rubenstein, was asked if she would ever run for president. Let's listen.


OPRAH WINFREY, TV SHOW HOST: Never considered the question, even a possibility. I just thought, oh, oh.


DAVID RUBENSTEIN, CARLISLE GROUP FOUNDER: Right, because it's clear that you don't need government experience to be elected president of the United States.

WINFREY: I thought, oh, gee, I don't have the experience. I don't know enough. I don't know. Now I'm thinking, oh.




BOLDUAN: Symone, is this the new face of the Democratic Party you're looking for?

SANDERS: Look, Kate anything is possible. Clearly, if 2016 taught us nothing, it taught us that.

Before we get to 2020, we, as you know, have to get through midterms, have to get through 2017 and then 2018.

So, Yes, Oprah could run in 2020, but someone could pop up a year from now and they could be the Democratic candidate. We just don't know.


BOLDUAN: What do you think, David? Does it make you nervous? URBAN: It makes me not nervous at all. I love the campaigning,

Oprah, in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, and across the rest of America that voted overwhelmingly for President Trump. We love to see Oprah in all those states and hear her message. We welcome her to the race. We welcome all comers. I think the president, you know, as you saw in this race, vanquished a lot of folks on the Republican ticket and clearly had a great run across America.


BOLDUAN: Symone?

SANDERS: But, Kate, what Donald Trump did last night and what's happening right now is there's this populous rhetoric that sounds really good, but Donald Trump is doing the exact opposite. His administration is doing the exact opposite of what they claim to do for the American people. So you can talk about infrastructure, but the Democrats have put forth a trillion-dollar infrastructure plan.


[11:55:10]URBAN: I think, Symone, give -- I think --


BOLDUAN: Real quick, David. Real quick.

URBAN: Give us a chance. He has been here a few weeks. We're getting things going. One step at a time. We're going to repeal and replace the ACA. Infrastructure is a big agenda. This president is up for it, and get Congress to work with him. We have little doubt that it's going to be a great success.

BOLDUAN: That's how we're going to leave it with "give compromise a chance." We will leave it there today.

David, Symone, thanks, guys. Appreciate it.

URBAN: Thank you.

SANDERS: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Moments from now, President Trump meeting with top Republicans over the fate of Obamacare. Details on that ahead.


[12:00:08] JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you, Kate.

Welcome to "Inside Politics." I'm John King. Thanks for sharing your day with us.

President Trump's big speech last night the talk of the town.