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President Trump's repeal and replace Obamacare failed in the legislation; One person we have learned is dead. One has been injured as well in a shooting on the Las Vegas strip; Senator Lindsey Graham faces fallout at a town hall in his home state; Republicans are blaming Paul Ryan in failing to approve the legislation; Aired 4-5p ET
Aired March 25, 2017 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[16:00:00] ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: And we will all get together and piece together a great health care plan for the people. Do not worry! Yet worry could describe the White House move today. President Trump will almost certainly wrap up his first 100 days in office next month without a significant legislative achievement.
Let's talk it over with White House correspondent Athena Jones and political reporter Tal Kopan.
Athena, to you first. Going forward, what are you hearing about how the White House plans to perhaps change its strategy?
ATHENA JONES, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Ana.
Well, I think we are going to see earlier involvement from the White House, earlier on in the legislative process. This effort to repeal Obamacare was led and launched by House Republicans, putting forward this bill and the White House brought on to help sell it and it was a tough sell in the end.
Of course, Republicans have run for years on the idea of repeal and replacing Obamacare. But it was going to be done in three phases. The first phase was to get rid of everything they could in the law within the limitations of Senate rule. The second phase was administrative steps that HHS secretary, Health and Human Services secretary Tom Price could take. And the third phase was to be everything else, all the other changes that Republicans had long wanted to see to the health care law and what they want health care to look like.
The problem was that a lot of members just didn't believe they were ever going to get to phases two and three especially since you are going to need some Democratic support. And so, it was a hard sell all along.
I spoke with a senior administration official about some of the lessons learned and that official said that going forward you are going to see the White House play a more active role on the front end, in terms of language and in terms of strategy when it comes to talking about the future legislation. Big remaining open question is what might change or should change about the President's own sales effort when it comes to legislation in the future. We will have to see how and if that changes - Ana.
CABRERA: Tal, President Trump said yesterday we learned a lot about loyalty. What's the big loyalty question or lesson for the White House on health care?
TAL KOPAN, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: Well, you know, some sources are definitely saying that one thing the President learned about this is how difficult it is to negotiate with the freedom caucus.
But you know, what is really interesting is while the freedom caucus is getting some of the blame, and those are the group of conservative who is were saying that the Obamacare repeal plan wasn't enough for them. They wanted to see a further repeal. You know, while they are getting a lot of the attention and often seek a lot of the attention, it was also moderates in the middle who are really concerned about this plan and felt like some of the concessions that were made to those conservatives actually went too far for them and for their constituents and that they couldn't vote for it for that reason.
So it was a really interesting sort of code word we saw the President use their loyalty because it sort of sends a message to his party, you weren't with me here. But what is also interesting is he didn't actually call out any one specifically which is definitely something we have seen the President do in the past. So it was a bit of a shot across the bow, but certainly not one we know that the President is capable of, to people who cross him.
CABRERA: Tal, to your point about these Republicans having to represent their constituents, we heard from one of those representative Dave Joyce, who had repeatedly voted to repeal Obamacare back when that vote really didn't count because Obama was in the White House. But he wrote in a statement saying my prior votes to repeal all or parts of Obamacare underscore what I have long argued, we need a better health care system. And he says after listening to constituents, business leaders and medical professional throughout my district, I came to the conclusion the American health care act was not a better solution.
So I'm curious, Athena, if it would have mattered, if the President had maybe shifted in the way he was presenting this, if he could have done anything in terms of a better sales pitch or if it really didn't matter?
JONES: It's hard to know in the end what, what might have happened, but we know the White House has said look, the President and his team left everything on the field. We heard that phrase quite a bit in yesterday's press briefing by press secretary Sean Spicer who said this was personal for the President. He got really involved. He made numerous phone calls. Sometimes as early as 6:00 a.m. going to as late as 11:00 p.m.
But if you talk to some members of Congress, as some my colleagues have done, they say that there is a few problems with the President's sales pitch. One was that he didn't offer much of a rationale for them to vote on this bill besides the political one, which is give me a legislative victory early on in my first 100 days. They also said that he didn't seem very involved in the nitty-gritty
details and he wasn't able to answer specific questions about the bill. These members said it looked as though the President had left the details, the policy details to other staffers. And he wanted to talk more big picture. But a lot of members wanted to hear the nitty- gritty details from him and have him sell the policy, sort of detail by detail.
And the last thing here is we did see him travel a bit. He went to Tennessee and to Kentucky, but he didn't do some long, extended road trip to try to sell this repeal effort and he didn't even in those appearances, spend a great deal of time talking about the repeal effort beyond the sort of broad strokes and slogans that we have been hearing for the last couple of years on the campaign trail.
And so, it's hard to know if any, if he had done any more of each of those things if that would have made a difference, but it's certainly possible that we could see more of that or we could see that change that sales pitch change when dealing with future legislation -- Ana.
[16:05:39] CABRERA: Hindsight is always 20/20.
Athena Jones, Tal Kopan, thanks to both of you for the insight.
I want to dig deeper into how the President who promised so much winning might handle and react to so much a major loss. Joining me is somebody who know President Trump better than most, Michael D'Antonio. He is a CNN contributor and the biographer behind a book called "the Truth about Trump."
Michael, the President is spending the weekend at the White House. He is not at Mar-a-Lago, The first lady isn't there. He has no scheduled public event planned. So how does Mr. Trump react to losing? What do you think he is doing right now?
MICHAEL D'ANTONIO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I imagine he is spending a lot of time on the phone which is one of his favorite occupations and he might be watching us. He is very tuned in to what the media is saying about this process and about the failure on Friday. And I don't think that he is so much licking his wounds as he is trying to plot the next step. And for him it could be a surprising one. I could even imagine him planning to reach out to Democrats now that he has failed with the Republicans, he could be quite frustrated with them and looking for a creative new kind of coalition to get the victory that he wants.
CABRERA: It seems yesterday at least, he had a fairly muted response. He wasn't bombastic, he didn't seem angry. Does that surprise you?
D'ANTONIO: No, I don't think so. I think he is getting his feet under him stylistically as the President of the United States. He is not going to be as bombastic as the man we saw on the campaign trail. He may tweet in an intemperate way. And I think when he does his campaign appearances out in the states, he will rally the base.
But he is not going to blame a lot of people in Congress right now directly. I think he understands that there was nuance what was missing from his approach, you know. Getting legislation passed is like herding cats and I don't think he has done much cat herding before.
CABRERA: Well, it seems like this is a new reality for him because like you said, he is not in his usual element in terms of what he is surrounded by. He sold himself, however, as the ultimate deal-maker. Let's read a treat from him during the campaign where he wrote we will immediately repeal and replace Obamacare and nobody can do that like me. We will save dollars and have much better health care.
So how did this end up happening? How did the bill die?
D'ANTONIO: Well, I think one of the things that your news report noted, just before we started talking was that the President wasn't really aware of the details in the bill. And now that he is in the oval office, he is in a town where wonkery does mean something. You know, President Obama and before him, President Clinton were famously wonky when it came to the details in legislation, and so was Paul Ryan. And I think the members of Congress were looking for more from him. A better understanding of what the bill actually does. And would have done, and he wasn't prepared for that.
CABRERA: Was that part of the strategy to kind of give himself an out, if the bill fails so he could say, I wasn't directly attached to it?
D'ANTONIO: Well, he is always looking for an escape hatch, that's true. So when he approaches the end of the negotiation and could win or lose, I think he is already framing the discussion. He is going to find a way to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. And in this case it will be victory on a public relations basis.
So yes, he might have been preparing toward the end there to look for a different kind of coalition, look for a different approach. I heard in his comments last night that he was not very happy with freedom caucus, those guys on the far right, and was more sensitive to the Tuesday group. These are members of Congress more moderate. And those would have been the Republicans he knew in the tri-state area and I think his heart is really with them.
CABRERA: You talked about framing the conversation. I want to show you how Democrats are framing what happened. This what Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer said about the President's loss on health care.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[16:10:09] SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D), MINORITY LEADER: President Trump proved to be incompetent. There was no art of the deal here. Even his great technique, I'll threaten them, I'll pull out, then they will come back to me, didn't work.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: So did this loss weaken the President's brand for his credibility?
D'ANTONIO: I think it did weaken his brand, at least temporarily. And he does as Senator Schumer know that practice this strategy of threat. He wants to tell people something really bad is going to happen if you don't get behind me. I think he went a little too far after the loss, when he said well, we are going to let Obamacare blow up. Actually, he said it was going to first explode and then implode. I don't know how that happened.
CABRERA: Implode and then explode.
D'ANTONIO: They are quite different things. But you know that's not really the way to leave people. I think the American public does not need to be frightened out of its wits about what's going to happen with health care. So you know what I think is ironic, is Trump called Schumer a clown. Now we have Schumer calling Trump incompetent. And I would not be surprised if four months from today, we are talking about the two of them working together.
CABRERA: We can only hope for the sake of the country.
CABRERA: It's part of the game. But let's talk about the future. Because now that this bill has been pulled. The President essentially has said he's ready to just move on to other things. He told a reporter he is glad he got it out of the way. What do you make of his decision to just move on?
D'ANTONIO: Well, I think this was a terrible experience for him this past week. The week did not start out well with discussions. So the Russian involvement in our election, with the hearings on Capitol Hill. And it just got worse for him as time passed. So I think he was pretty glad to get to Friday night. Where he goes from here, he is talking about tax policy, that's almost harder to do than health care. The details may be a little easier for him to sell. But you know, this is another heavy lift. And I think he prefers to be out selling the political brand.
This policy work is really hard stuff as he noted. Who knew health care was so complicated? Well just about everybody knew. And it doesn't yield to this kind of leadership. He's going to have to roll up his sleeves and give himself more time.
You know, this whole process was three weeks. I think that's not enough time to get everybody organized and get people behind a bill, that a majority can support. You know, there's horse-trading involved in politics and in legislating that is very different than real estate. It's not all about profit and loss on the bottom line. There's so many factors that go into getting a majority in Congress to support legislation.
CABRERA: It's so interesting to hear them say they didn't give themselves enough time because that was exactly what Democrats were saying, is why are they trying to rush this through? Do you think that the Republicans essentially shot themselves by trying to push it so fast?
D'ANTONIO: Well. I think they did. They got themselves into this position during the campaign, though, saying the first thing we are going to do is repeal and replace and we are going to do it immediately.
I was once on the air with Scott Brown, the former senator from Massachusetts and he said well, this can be done in an hour. You know, I just about fell off my chair, you can't do a major rewrite of American health care in a month in two months in three months. This needs to go slowly, deliberately and politics is messy. This is not an easy thing to do.
CABRERA: Well, let's just be honest. Everything takes longer than you want or expect, especially when it's something that is so important.
Michael D'Antonio, thank you for sharing your thoughts tonight.
D'ANTONIO: Thank you, Ana.
CABRERA: Coming up, we are following an ongoing situation right now. Remarkably empty Vegas strip. That is because police have now barricaded a suspected gunman on a bus. We will have the latest details there.
You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
[16:18:34] CABRERA: Some breaking news just in to CNN as we take you live now to the Las Vegas strip. Right now, it is a lockdown, because of a suspected gunman barricaded in a bus there on the strip. You see a lot of police cars and not a lot of action. We have some brand new video also to show you, shot from the window of a hotel just one block off the strip where you see a lot more happening there.
Police say they are dealing with a shooting investigation. They believe their suspect is in the bus. That's on this screen. They are treating this situation like a barricade situation and they say one person was rushed to the hospital. But no word yet on other suspects or if anybody else is hurt or how the one individual rushed to the hospital got hurt.
The cosmopolitan hotel now is on the strip, has released the following statement regarding a shooting incident near the hotel. And I quote "Las Vegas metropolitan police department is investigating an incident that took place on Las Vegas Boulevard near the cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. We are cooperating fully with law enforcement officials and have had no further details pending investigation. Guests and co- stars as they put it should remain in a safe shelter until further notice."
So some scary moments and this follows earlier today, some bizarre moments, an armed stand-off, could it be related to a terrifying Las Vegas robbery in the wee hours of the morning? This photo was taken by a witness at the Bellagio resort and casino. And look there. That alleged burglar is wearing what appears to be a pig mask. Police say at least three robbers were wearing disguises. They smashed into a casino, jewelry store with sledgehammers. Nobody was hurt. Three people from that incident are currently in custody.
We will keep watch of what's happening again in the Las Vegas strip right now with this barricade situation involving somebody on a bus.
Let's move on now. Savannah Barish is a beautiful 11-year-old girl. She loves to dance, but now she can't even move her arms and legs. In fact, she can't move anything from her neck down.
This is Savannah before a car accident in 2015. Left her spinal cord severely damaged. She is now a quadriplegic. Yet she still loves to dance. Look at this, this video went viral. Little girl's spirit undeterred, look at the huge smile. Her mom, however, is worried. Medicaid is Savannah's primary form of insurance. Her health care coverage has been in limbo for such a long time but never more so than during this battle we have seen play out over the Republicans health care plan.
So now what? What is the future of health care in America? And how might people like Savannah be impacted. Savannah Barish and her mom Heather are joining me now.
Thank you, ladies, so much for joining me.
Heather, I want to ask you your reaction to the Republicans' pulling their health care bill?
[16:20:28] HEATHER BARISH, MOTHER OF QUADRIPLEGIC CHILD: Well I'm pretty excited.
CABRERA: Really? Why?
H. BARISH: Because well, because you know, the Medicaid coverage is actually what gives Savannah the ability to continue dancing. They supply her being out in the public. I don't have to keep her home- bound because she can get if she happened to get sick, I can get her the Medical treatment that she needs.
CABRERA: Help us understand what life is like - I'm sorry, we have a little bit of a delay so there's a pause there. But I do want to try to feel what it's like to be in your shoes because I can only imagine how challenging this is. My brother had brain cancer when he was 10. That kind of flipped our life and my family upside-down. But again, to be in your shoes, Savannah, do you think about how your life has changed?
SAVANNAH BARISH, QUADRIPLEGIC, 11-YEAR-OLD GIRL: Yes. But I know I have my family. To support me.
CABRERA: Yes. What is your life like? How has it changed?
S. BARISH: Well getting out of bed is not as easy.
CABRERA: Even the simple things like getting out of bed.
Heather, what kind of ongoing Medical care do you rely on for Savannah?
H. BARISH: Well, everything. She has to have a vent which actually today she doesn't have on. She is doing practice at breathing on her own. But she does have two vents at home that have supplied her respiratory needs for the last year and a half. We have to have specialized wheelchairs so she can be mobile and be out and about. We have 24-hour nursing at home because just you know she can have a problem with her troche and it can be become life-threatening. And all of that is new for us. I mean we never experienced anything serious until this random act of nature occurred.
CABRERA: No kidding.
H. BARISH: Just a normal day and flipped upside-down.
CABRERA: Wow, it's amazing to me to see such a positive attitude to see you smile, Savannah, the way you do.
Heather, I know you've talked about how Medicaid has been a lifeline for you and your family. How expensive would savannah's care be without Medicaid?
H. BARISH: I'm going to say we would probably be looking at over $10,000 a month easy. The respiratory Medical side of it alone is really expensive and then having nurses, available at the house 24 hours a day, seven days a week. There's just no way that you can afford that, even with a good income, it just, you can't.
CABRERA: Would insurance, other insurance cover that same stuff? That same care?
H. BARISH: So in the beginning I was still employed, actually. Working full-time. And my group benefits actually had exclusions on some of the Medical needs that she has. So those things would have still been paid out of pocket even with my commercial insurance.
CABRERA: Wow. Savannah, you have managed to keep your spirits so high. I understand your design your own stylish hospital gowns, how cool is that? And we have seen you are still dancing.
Savannah, what is your advice to other young boys and girls out there who might be facing similar health challenges?
[16:25:14] S. BARISH: Well, you have the choice to be positive or negative. And you should choose positive because there's still a lot of chance of doing the things you love.
CABRERA: That's the best attitude to have. That is so inspirational.
Heather, do you believe health care and the system that we have here in America needs to be addressed and that changes should be made?
H. BARISH: I definitely feel that there's -- it needs to be addressed. I mean, I don't know that I have all of the answers for how it should be addressed. I know that the way it's been for Savannah, it's been a life-safer.
CABRERA: Do you have any messages for your members of Congress?
H. BARISH: They really need to look at our children and see what impacts they're making to the children and not always the bottom line of everything.
CABRERA: Heather Barish and Savannah, our thanks to both of you for coming. We really appreciate it. And we wish you the very best. You are such an inspiration.
Always keep the positive attitude, Savannah.
S. BARISH: Thanks.
CABRERA: Thank you.
We're back in a moment.
[16:31:06] CABRERA: A quick update right now on a breaking news out of Las Vegas.
One person we have learned is dead. One has been injured as well in a shooting on a bus that was parked in front of the cosmopolitan hotel there on the Las Vegas strip. This is according to police. The suspect we are told is barricaded in the bus. A SWAT team and hostage negotiators are on scene, and are in the process of taking that suspect into custody. But again, one person dead know, another person injured as the incident continues to unfold.
Turning back to health care with, we go from here? For seven years, Republican lawmakers promised that given the chance, they would destroy Obamacare. But when it came down to it, House leaders walked away without even putting their repeal and replace plan to a vote. Republicans could not get all of their own party to agree on the legislation. Let alone Democrats. So what went wrong?
I'm joined now by Avik Roy. He is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and former health care policy for Mitt Romney.
Avik, thanks so much for coming on. I'm wondering what your thoughts are as you assess the situation? Where did the leadership fail?
AVIK ROY, SENIOR FELLOW, MANHATTAN INSTITUTE: Hey, Ana. So I wrote a piece for Forbes today about this. But it is really, you know, Paul Ryan yesterday in his press conference, he said that Republicans were having growing pains. That Republicans were trying to figure out how to be a governing party. And what he meant was the House freedom caucus and other right-wingers were the problem. That they were too used to being an opposition party.
But I would argue and I wrote in this piece that it's actually Paul Ryan who isn't really used to running a governing party. And this process from the beginning to the end was pretty shambolic.
CABRERA: So you believe it was Ryan's fault?
ROY: Yes. I mean he really didn't, when you do this kind of stuff, and by the way, if you look back on how Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama led the process that led to what we call Obamacare in 2009-2010, they took about a year to have a lot of hearings. They even invited a lot of Republicans like Paul Ryan to chip in with their views as to how the plan should develop. Senate Democrats engaged with Republicans even though Democrats controlled 59 and ultimately 60 seats in the Senate.
You compare that to this process, where a bill drops on a Monday evening, and Republicans are expected within 16 days, 16 days to decide whether they like this bill or not. Receive threats from the President that they are being disloyal if they don't like it. A bill that's going to affect one-sixth of the economy. Cut about a trillion-dollars in spending.
I mean, this process really was a bit of a mess. And again, that really goes to Paul Ryan because he didn't develop the consensus. He didn't try to forge agreement among the different parties, and he could have, as we got to the end of the past week, the house freedom caucus and the moderates were coming together on what a compromise could look like, but the President and Paul Ryan decided to pull the plug. They were sick of it. They wanted to go to tax reform. And here we are.
CABRERA: How could he have made a better case to get other Republicans on the same page?
ROY: He needed to move on two fronts. One, to attract the moderates, he need to adjust the system of tax credits in his bill so that lower- income people, particularly lower-income people in their 50s and 60s would not lose their health insurance. In fact, perhaps, get more attractive health insurance than they do today under the affordable health care act. That's what moderates really needed.
And what the House freedom caucus settled on as their goal, was to reduce some of the regulations in Obamacare that make premiums so expensive on Obamacare's insurance exchanges. Both of those goals could have been achieved in a reform bill. But Paul Ryan really didn't want to do that because the system that he put in, the American health care act, he didn't really want to change it enough to adjust it and to accommodate those goals. And so, he just threw up his hands and said, you know, I'm done with this. Let's move to tax reform. And that makes no sense because there was a substantive change that could have actually led to a bill that would have improved health care for a lot of people.
CABRERA: Could the President have done anything differently? Do you think he should shoulder any of the burden on this?
[16:35:04] ROY: Yes. You know, I think where the President fell short is he outsourced the important policy agenda to Paul Ryan. President Trump actually disagrees with Paul Ryan on health care. President Trump believes that everyone should have health insurance and the government should pay for it for the people who need the help.
Paul Ryan actually doesn't agree with that. He thinks that universal coverage equals big government. That it involves too much spending, too much government involvement in the health care system.
So when the President said OK, Paul Ryan, you develop the bill and I'll back you. That was his mistake. He should have had people in the White House develop a plan that reflects President Trump's principles and have Paul Ryan try to work with that as a way to build consensus in congress. And that didn't happen.
CABRERA: All right. Avik Roy, we will see where it goes. Maybe they are listening. We will take some of your advice moving forward. We appreciate your time tonight.
ROY: Thanks, Ana.
CABRERA: Still to come, in the hot seat, Senator Lindsay Graham facing constituents in a fiery town hall today less than 24 hours after Trump's signature health care bill got shelved. We take you there, live.
You are in the CNN NEWSROOM.
[16:40:15] CABRERA: The day after Republicans pulled their health care bill from the House floor, a GOP senator faces fallout at a town hall in his home state. People lined up to hear Senator Lindsey Graham in Columbia, South Carolina today. Remember, he wasn't actually one of the members who would have had to vote on this bill since he's in the Senate. But today he said he didn't like that GOP plan because it was too much like Obamacare. The senator also got pointed questions from constituents there on the investigation into Russia's meddling in the 2016 election. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: We have learned that the FBI's investigating Trump campaign operatives for potential ties to Russia. Here's my belief. It goes wherever it goes. No politician should stand in the way. We should let the FBI do their job and what happens, happens.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: CNN correspondent Polo Sandoval is joining me from Columbia.
All right. Polo, Senator Graham, we heard lots of cheers from the folks in the audience on the FBI and the Russian investigation. What else did you hear there?
POLO SANDOVAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I can tell you, Ana, that he certainly didn't take very lightly when there was a woman in the crowd in the audience said essentially used her opportunity as a question to accuse Senator Graham and also other Republican lawmakers of quote "obstructing" this ongoing investigation into those potential Russian links between Russia and the Trump organization.
So as a result we heard him fire back and in his own words, make it very clear that he had tried several times already to make it clear his position and of course that he supports the ongoing investigation.
But then the main issue of the day really, especially after yesterday, was this issue of health care and the tabling of that vote. I want you to hear directly from the South Carolina senator how he essentially feels about that and then of course the response from the crowd.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
Graham: Here's what I think about health care. Obamacare is a disaster. And it is - (
GRAHAM: We are down -- I tell you what, one thing I have learned -- the red card, the red cards are louder than the green cards.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANDOVAL: Yes. And as you may imagine there were plenty of red cards that were held up by the group who was taken part in this. This is now the second town hall setting that he takes a part in, in one month already, Ana.
But at the same it was interesting, there was also plenty of green, for example, especially when he talked about what comes next, with the issue of tax reform. And also most importantly reaching out across the aisle to some of his Democratic colleagues. Because I can tell you that I was quite surprised when I saw, of course, semi-green cards that went up when he was talking about, for example, the issue of climate change and it becoming a reality and also the issue of potential gun control as well - Ana.
CABRERA: It seems from what you have just shared that he was getting a lot of support on some of what people would consider the progressive issues. What was the make-up of this crowd?
SANDOVAL: It was interesting. And that's I think a very important point here. And the crowd, they are obviously it was a majority of, a majority of them were Republicans, but as it was, many of them were moderate Republicans. And they also seem to identify with some of the democratic individuals in there. Because yes, there were also Democratic individuals that were in the crowd as well. So just an interesting dynamic at play. Obviously, Columbia, South Carolina, is something that we do have that more moderate base that identify quite a bit with Senator Graham. But they were not afraid to express their opposition when it came to other, other items on the policy agenda as well -- Ana.
CABRERA: All right, Polo Sandoval, reporting. Thank you.
Stay with us here in the CNN NEWSROOM. We will be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
[16:48:34] CABRERA: Think of it this way, politics can be a little like poker. You got to know when to hold them, know when to fold them. And this week, President Trump and speaker Paul Ryan had to decide when to walk away. And on Friday, when to run. Does it make you want to break into song like it does me right now?
Well the President went all in on health care. He tried to bluff house Republicans with an ultimatum. But yes for the bill or be saddled with the shame of failing to repeal Obamacare. The President swore he was going to keep raising the stakes, insisting on a vote for his teetering health care bill. And minutes before the scheduled vote, the President folded his hand.
So how does the President's health care bet look now? Let's talk it over with former professional poker champ Annie Duke, now a decision- making expert and author of "how I Raised, Folded, Bluffed, Folded, Cursed and One million."
Annie, great to have you here with us. It should be an awesome discussion. I would love to get your take, what was Trump's biggest strategic mistake?
ANNIE DUKE, DECISION MAKING EXPERT: Well, I think there's a big difference between the kind of single-party, you know, two parties negotiating across the table.
CABRERA: One on one to the other?
Where? Those really kind of little to no cost to walking away from the deal to this kind of situation where you are negotiating at somebody, I guess in this case sort of the Democrats, but in terms of your coalition, it's really group decision-making with lots of competing interests. I think that's really different than the kinds of negotiations he has done in the past. I think he kind of ran head- long into that.
[16:50:03] CABRERA: Trump in "the art of the deal" talked about one of the things it's important to know is when to walk away to let the deal die. And in this case, he didn't walk away sooner, should he?
DUKE: Well, I think that you know it's the do this or else that can work very well in that negotiation across the table where things you can sort of move things along very quickly. I think it was the speed with which it happened and the stakes that he raised that too so quickly that was problematic. I think actually the big winners in this are going to be the freedom caucus.
DUKE: Well, because the bill was crafted initially I think more to please the middle. And the freedom caucus didn't really care, right, if they obstructed it. CABRERA: So they had a better strategy because they had less at risk?
DUKE: I think they had less at risk because they had always said that they wanted a full repeal from the beginning. And I think that they were always going to be the more difficult to negotiate with. So when the problem is when you bluff, like this, right, when you deliver this ultimatum, if someone calls your bluff, they generally end up having the power.
So I think this is going to create a problem for the administration going forward and trying to negotiate, for example, tax reform. Because the freedom caucus has shown clearly that they are willing to call the bluff. That they are not going to vote just because Republicans want this. And I think that's going to give them a lot of power going forward.
It might have actually been better I think to start off with a bill that was pleasing to the freedom caucus to get them to have buy-in. And then go to some - the Tuesday group and kind of try to move the bill over there because I think that there are general wanting to be more cooperative with the Republican Party.
CABRERA: So it might have been more easy for the President to kind of switch his approach in terms of who he was trying to bring into the fold. Instead he targeted the freedom caucus.
Now, you describe Trump in his negotiating style like this before the inauguration. You wrote Trump style, aggression frequently succeeds. Players use that strategy of amped-up aggression, always betting, always raising, moving other chip and in no-limits game.
So his aggressive style obviously didn't work here. Is this because this is politics and not business?
DUKE: Well, I think that it can work in politics when you actually have the power to have someone not be able to do this kind of calling against you. So when he was putting his cabinet picks forward for example, it was very difficult for anybody to stop him because the Democrats don't have the ability to do that. They don't have the majority. In this particular case, though, with this kind of hot- button issue, he again, it was his group decision-making where you had lots of competing interests with his own party. And so the aggressive stance, can you only take the aggressive stance if you're pretty high likelihood not to actually get called.
And in terms of the cabinet picks, he wasn't very high likelihood to get called in terms of this, I think that he was. And I think that's a problem. So it's understanding when is it OK to make those really big high stakes kind of ultimatums and generally it's when it is OK if you fail at it or if there's just very low probability that you're going to fail.
You can think about before the election some of his aggression, I think he felt like he didn't have a lot to lose because the polls were against him. So again, if it doesn't work out, there isn't a particularly big -- CABRERA: Kind of like the whole idea where can you go but up?
DUKE: Exactly. And that particular case of where can you go but up. With his cabinet choice there is was there's not a lot of opposition. So it was incredibly high probability to succeed. And you can always sort of put in another cabinet pick behind it. So it's not so big a deal if like --
CABRERA: In the case in terms if you were to advise him moving forward. He has talked about doing tax reform next. I mean, he hasn't had a lot of wins so far in his presidency. So he doesn't have a lot of political capital at his expense, does he? How would you advise him moving forward with tax reforms?
DUKE: So I think that there are two choices that he can take. One is, go to the freedom caucus first and then move center from there. Because you want to go to the people who are going to be more obstructionist to begin with and then allow the compromise to happen from there. And that gets the freedom caucus to have buy-in to the tax reform in the first place.
CABRERA: And you don't think he should reach out to Democrats, instead?
DUKE: That's the second choice. So I said there were two things that he could do, right. So the first would be is to take the tactic of going to the freedom caucus. The second is to say, well, I have lost the freedom caucus, so I'm just going discount those votes from my vote total how do I get that many Democrats to now come on board? And that's the other tactic he could take to take a more middle of the road approach. The concern that I would have there is what does that do with the more vocal part of his space. So I think he is in a tough spot now having failed at this because I think he doesn't have as much capital. I think the freedom caucus has a lot more power going forward. I think it's going to create a lot of problems for him.
CABRERA: Did he oversell himself as a negotiator?
DUKE: Well so, I think it's really interesting. Because we are seeing this so publicly play out which is actually kind of exciting for someone who is, what I do in terms of analyzing it. I think that it was, I don't know if he oversold himself as a negotiator in terms of the kinds of negotiations that he did before, but those kinds of negotiations are very different than this kind of group decision making which is a whole different type of negotiation and the skills don't necessarily transfer. And I think that on the public stage, you know, we just saw that. That maybe this skills don't transfer so well and he has got some sort of learning on the job to do.
[16:55:24] CABRERA: All right. Thank you so much, Annie Duke. We really appreciate you coming on.
DUKE: Thank you.
CABRERA: Offering your advice and expertise, when it comes to deal making. All right. Coming up, we are following this ongoing situation right
now in Las Vegas, remarkably empty streets there on the strip. One person is dead, one person injured. Police have barricaded the suspected gunman in a bus. The latest, from Vegas, next.
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