Return to Transcripts main page

THE SITUATION ROOM

Trump: "Will Not Be Happy" With A New North Korean Nuke Test; Trump Op-ed Attacks Media, Touts "Profound" Changes; Standing By For Trump Rally Marking 100th Day; Trump Skipping White House Correspondents' Dinner; TTrump Biographers' Insights Into His First 100 Days; Aired: 6-7p ET

Aired April 29, 2017 - 18:00   ET

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


[18:00:00]

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump in campaign mode as he marks his 100th day in office calling his White House honeymoon (inaudible) the most successful in U.S. history. Tonight the president is celebrating with a campaign style rally about to get underway.

Not happy. President Trump reacts to North Korea's firing a ballistic missile and now he's speaking out about the possibility of a nuclear test by the Kim Jong-un regime with U.S. warships now in Korean waters, what happens next?

In the streets, demonstrators are backing action on climate change, march in Washington and in cities across the United States protesting the president's environmental policies. Now after rolling back regulations put in place by President Obama, the Environmental Protection Agency has stripped climate change information from its website. Is the Trump administration ignoring science?

And look who is not coming to dinner, the president skipping a Washington tradition. The White House Correspondents Association Dinner and now he is lobbying new attacks at the news media. The relationship between the press and the president is at a low point. Will it improve over the next 100 days?

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer and this is a special edition of the SITUATION ROOM, the first 100 days.

We're following breaking news. President Trump traveling to Pennsylvania's capital city tonight for a rally marking his 100th day in office. It's latest stop in a new victory lap seeing the president return to campaign mode hammering the scenes that helped them turn blue states like Pennsylvania red to win the White House. He is touting what he calls the historic success of his first months in office.

Also breaking tonight, new remarks by the president following North Korea's unsuccessful launch of a ballistic missile that blew up over its own land. When asked about the possibility of a nuclear test by North Korea, the president said he would not be happy and when asked if that means U.S. military action against the Kim Jong-un regime he replied we'll see.

And here in Washington, the annual White House Correspondents Association Dinner is about to get underway with one notable absence. President Trump is skipping the event traditionally attended by his predecessors and he tweeted a new attack on what he calls the fake news media saying it refuses to report on his achievements.

We are covering all of that. Much more this hour with our guests including Republican Congressman Sean Duffy and our correspondents and analysts are also standing by.

But let's begin with the president's rally marking his first 100 days in office. Our senior White House correspondent, Jeff Zeleny is is traveling with the president in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania right now. Jeff, the president is set to sign a new executive order there this hour.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: He is indeed, Wolf, and the president just touched down here in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania a few moments ago and he will sign that executive order, the 31st one of his presidency so far. That is more than any other president in the last 72 years.

It certainly sounds impressive in the number of what he signed, but the substance is not always quite so much. The one that's (inaudible), for example, it's to call for a review of the World Trade Organization.

But the real reason the president coming here tonight, Wolf, is to be here at this rally surrounded by his biggest supporters so they can cheer on even what they believe has been a big success of his first 100 days.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ZELENY (voice-over): Tonight, President Trump is marking his 100th day in office by returning to what sent him to the White House, a campaign-style rally. The president left Washington today for a rare recent rally in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania intentionally avoiding the annual White House Correspondents' Dinner.

It's also another stop on what seems like a never ending victory lap. On Friday in Atlanta, the president still heralding the 2016 campaign.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I see all the beautiful red and white hats, but we will never forget our favorite slogan of them all, make America great again.

ZELENY: Nearly 6 months after winning the presidency, Mr. Trump yet again recounting his surprise victory.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: November 8th, wasn't that a great evening. Do you remember that evening?

ZELENY: And Pennsylvania, one of the states the Trump campaign turned from blue to red. PRESIDENT TRUMP: They're going to bring jobs back to Harrisburg and to Pennsylvania.

ZELENY: As the White House keeps watch on North Korea and the latest failed missile test, the president and Vice President Pence set to appear together here tonight.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: I truly believe that the first 100 days of my administration has been just about the most successful in our country's history.

[18:05:03]ZELENY: They're looking ahead to the next chapter of their administration. One with a long list of yet to be filled campaign promises, from repealing the Affordable Care Act to approving funding to build a wall on the border with Mexico.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: We'll build the wall. Don't even think about it. Don't even think about it. Don't even think about it. That's an easy one. We're going to build the wall.

ZELENY: But the president is discovering that little is easy at the White House. He's ending his first 100 days with the lowest approval rating of any president at this point since polls dating back to the Eisenhower administration. The president also voicing his frustration with the challenges of his new job.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: This is more work than my previous life. I thought it would be easier. I do miss my old life. I like to work so that's not a problem, but this is actually more work.

ZELENY: He's hardly the first president irritated by the ways of Washington, but he is the first president in recent years to decline to speak at the White House Correspondents Dinner where leaders have been toasted and roasted for nearly a century. Six years ago at the black tie dinner, Mr. Trump was mocked by President Obama.

FORMER PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Say what you will about Mr. Trump he certainly would bring some change to the White House. Let's see what we got up there.

ZELENY: Tonight, President Trump is sure to be the punch line of more jokes, but he will be in a far friendlier crowd with his loyal supporters in Pennsylvania.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZELENY: And wolf a friendly crowd this absolutely is. You see Trump supporters wearing their old hats, old shirts, carrying their old signs from the campaign. Now the president is about to get off Air Force One. Right now it landed just a few moments ago here in Harrisburg. You can see the door there he will be stepping off.

He will be going to a factory here that's been open since 1774. He will be talking about manufacturing and signing that executive order and coming here to this rally, Wolf, people have been waiting in line since the early hours of this morning eager to see him. But Wolf, the one question in all of this is these are already true believers. These are Trump supporters through and through. The question is, will he try and win over other people, other skeptics as he goes forward into his next 100 days and beyond.

His advisers say probably not tonight. Look for him to take a victory lap again and then start talking about what he hopes to accomplish for the rest of his first term some 1,300 days to go -- Wolf.

BLITZER: I'm sure he will be energized by that huge crowd behind you. Jeff Zeleny in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. We'll have live coverage of the president's remarks.

The U.S. and its allies are weighing the next move after North Korea's defiant launch of a ballistic missile that U.S. officials say blew up over land in North Korean territory. The president just spoke about that and the possibility of a nuclear test. He spoke with CBS News.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, you and the administration said to North Korea don't test the missile. They have tested a missile. Is the pressure not working?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: I didn't say don't test the missile. He's going to have to do what he has to do, but he understands we're not going to be very happy and I'm going to tell you a man I have gotten to like and respect, the president of China, President Xi, I believe has been putting pressure on them also but so far perhaps nothing has happened and perhaps it has. This was a small missile. This was not a big missile. This was not a nuclear test which he was expected to do three days ago. We'll see what happens.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You say not happy. What does that mean?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: I will not be happy if he does a nuclear test I will not be happy and I can tell you also that I don't believe that the president of China, who is a very respected man, will be happy either.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not happy meaning military action?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: I don't know. I mean, we'll see.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: CNN's Will Ripley is in the North Korean capital for us. Will, U.S. warships now off the waters of the Korean Peninsula, will they be seen by the North Koreans as very provocative? Usually they hate it?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. Any time there's U.S. aircraft carriers conducting joint naval exercises with the South Korean Navy, it's extremely infuriating for North Korea. That may be why the missile was designed specifically to sink warships and aircraft carriers. That kind of thing. So certainly North Korea's leader, Kim Jong-un, sending a message, but I want to touch on that interview with President Trump because there are a couple of things they said that are interesting and interpreted by the North Koreans in a couple of ways.

One he said they launched a small missile which sends a message to Kim Jong-un that it's OK to launch small missiles. It's OK as long as he's not launching a large ICBM, for example. The U.S. won't really react too strongly if they would launch a small missile.

[18:10:02]And of course, still putting the red line there for that six nuclear test saying that the United States and China would be very angry and would take much stronger, harsher penalties if North Korea were to conduct its sixth nuclear test.

But he didn't say definitively that the U.S. would conduct a military response in the event of a nuclear test. He continues to align the United States with China and with Chinese President Xi Jinping hoping that that country that is accountable for at least 70 percent of North Korean trade and controls the major oil pipeline into this country will impose some sort of severe economic penalty on Pyongyang if they move forward with the sixth nuclear test.

I also thought it was fascinating that the president said that they were expecting a nuclear test three days ago. I'm not sure exactly when that interview was conducted. Perhaps they were thinking a nuclear test would happen around the April 25th Army Day celebrations or I don't know if he's basing this on cable news or some kind of intelligence.

But if the U.S. did believe looking at their intelligence that they thought a nuclear test was imminent as recently as a few days ago that's different from what we had been hearing from officials when they thought that the nuclear test site that had been primed and ready and then stood down, they believe the nuclear test was not imminent.

So certainly some insights from what the president said and this continues to be quite a challenge facing him. Regional tension is very high right now, Wolf. When that missile was believed to be headed towards the Japanese coast they had a North Korean missile nationwide alert in Japan that stopped all of their bullet trains and subways for 10 minutes around the country affecting thousands of people.

This goes to show how tense the situation in the region is right now and even the pope on a trip to Egypt has been talking about North Korea calling for a diplomatic solution and warning that this is turning into a piecemeal 3rd world war. So he's trying to get them to try to resolve this before it gets out of control.

BLITZER: You know, there's a lot of concern all over the world as far as the North Korean tensions right now. That interview that the president gave to CBS News, that was taped just a little while ago earlier today over at the White House here in Washington. Will Ripley reporting for us from Pyongyang. Thanks, Will, very much.

Let's some more on all of this, Republican Congressman Sean Duffy of Wisconsin is joining us. Congressman, thanks for joining us.

REPRESENTATIVE SEAN DUFFY (R), WISCONSIN: It's good to be with you, Wolf.

BLITZER: You heard the president say he wouldn't be happy if North Korea conducts a nuclear test. What does that mean in terms of policy from your perspective? Would it be appropriate? Would there be an appropriate response from the United States if North Korea were to conduct its sixth nuclear test?

DUFFY: I think he's going to be unpredictable. He does want to telegraph what he's going to do, but he does want to tell the North Koreans that the United States is paying attention. We're not going to tolerate it and there will probably be some reaction if they want to do more nuclear tests or if they're launching more intercontinental ballistic missiles.

BLITZER: Here's live pictures coming in from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The president there outside of his limo greeting supporters there. Going to have a lot of supporters at this rally that he is going to be attending in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. One of those states that went for Donald Trump. Usually it goes for the Democratic presidential candidate.

The vice president is there with the president. Mike Pence is there as well. We'll have live coverage of that rally coming up. Congressman, are there conditions under which you would support a preemptive U.S. strike against North Korea?

DUFFY: I think that is the last option because they can take it to a whole different level, but if North Korea has a nuclear weapon and the ability to deliver to the United States of America, which is an intercontinental ballistic missile those two things together is intolerable for our country and we have to stop them before they get to that point. But short of that, Wolf, I think it escalates and can get out of control if that's not the threshold that we're out.

BLITZER: The fear is out of control that would be a disaster given the conventional capabilities the North Koreans have along the demilitarized zone. In fact, Seoul, the capital of South Korea is only 30 miles south of the DMZ with 15 or 20 million people at stake with 28,000 U.S. troops along the DMZ.

Congressman, the president responded to North Korea's latest missile launch with a tweet that read and let me read it to you, North Korea disrespected the wishes of China and it's highly respected president when it launched unsuccessfully a missile today, bad. Do you think it's wise for President Trump to be relying so much on China to solve this issue?

DUFFY: Well, listen, I think you only have so many tools in your tool box and I think he's trying to think outside of the box. First of all, he's making sure that North Korea understands that we're not going to send out a press release with President Obama and President Bush that didn't take North Korea seriously. [18:15:06]He's making sure North Korea understands that we are watching and paying attention and we're not going to tolerate it. And the president understands the role that China has with North Korea.

And I think it's important that he put pressure on the Chinese to engage in this process or if they don't, we're going to have to take action and I don't think the Chinese like to see our warships in the region or see the U.S. take action.

And so I think the president is building leverage not just with North Korea but also with the Chinese to get involved and resolve this conflict peacefully. But again outside of China, there's not a lot of leverage points that we have.

BLITZER: I want to get to domestic issues as well. We learned that President Trump, Congressman, was ready to announce a withdrawal from the North American Free Trade Agreement today until he realized how it would impact his supporters. Now he wants to renegotiate NAFTA. Do you support that?

DUFFY: We're 20 years into this NAFTA agreement. It's important that we take a step back and say how does it work? Does it work well for the American people or what segments of our economy have been hurt by NAFTA?

When I was with the president in Wisconsin a little over a week ago, he brought up dairy, Wisconsin dairy, and what you have seen is the Canadians have found loopholes to NAFTA and they'll leverage those loopholes to effect American exports.

So our ultra-filtered milk that we used to export to Canada is now being subsidized which goes against the spirit of NAFTA. You have to look at things like that, Wolf, and go how does that effect the Wisconsin farmer? We lost 75 farms.

They lost the person they sold their milk too because they couldn't get it into Canada. These agreements can, I think on an even playing field are really good for our economy and Mexicans and Canadians.

But when our people get hurt, I want a president that's going to stand up and fight back and push back to make sure that it's not just free trade but it is fair trade and that's not always the case.

Also in Wisconsin, the Canadians subsidized the wood sold in Canadian forests so they can dump their Canadian lumber into Wisconsin and we can't compete.

In my neck of the woods I think my people want the president to look at how this is impacting our communities and are people engaging in the spirit of NAFTA and if they are, let's have a president try to make this fair again and help small economies and communities that part of the country like where I live.

BLITZER: Congressman, I want you to standby. We have more to discuss. We're also standby to hear from the president. He's getting ready to speak. Much more of our coverage right after this. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:22:19]

BLITZER: Thousands of people have gathered at this rally in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. We'll have live coverage of that coming up.

In the meantime, we're back with Republican Congressman Sean Duffy of Wisconsin. Congressman, what do you want to hear from President Trump in his rally tonight in Pennsylvania?

DUFFY: Well, first off I think we're going to see him talk about all the issues that he talked about on the campaign and how he met those promises. So whether we're going to talk about the Keystone pipeline, going after ISIS, his effort to build a wall which you're going to point out to me we haven't quite done yet but is still on the docket.

The fact that he has a Supreme Court justice and Justice Gorsuch is now on the court. He's going to go through this traditional campaign rally. Probably going to talk about his campaign numbers and how he won.

That's something he doesn't like to let go and it's going to -- I think this is a point to come back and rally his base. You probably know these and have reported on them.

Ninety six percent of the people that voted for Donald Trump that carried states like Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, they still say they'll vote for him.

So they're happy with the job he is doing. He hasn't had all the successes that he wants, but they know he's fighting and trying to get these things done.

BLITZER: But Congressman, why hasn't he been able to reach out beyond that base and bring in other supporters because his overall job approval numbers are the lowest for any president since they started taking these polls.

DUFFY: Yes, I know they are, but I would note in Wisconsin he's nine points higher than the week before the election. So he's coming up in our great state. I think there's a lot of (inaudible) you mention the rally at the start of the show tonight on climate change. You've seen the rallies on science and the women's march.

You see the resist movement that's out there coming to town halls. There's a lot of anger and animosity that's been directed at the president and it's pretty tough when you see it on the news every night to get people to have a warm and fuzzy feeling about him.

So I think he's putting his head down and trying to meet the promises that he made that got him the presidency and they're hoping this stuff will calm down, Wolf.

As Americans we have to get rid of the hard left and the hard right into what can I actually buy into what this president is talking about and try to find a peaceful way to take our country forward. It happens to all of us and whether you're in the Tea Party Movement or resist movement, let's drop our swords and be Americans again.

BLITZER: Congressman Sean Duffy of Wisconsin, thanks as usual for joining us.

DUFFY: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: We're standing by for the president's rally to start in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The president speaking out about the possibility of a North Korean nuclear test. What is his message to North Korea? Stand by.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:29:48]

BLITZER: Breaking news tonight, President Trump speaking out about a possible nuclear test of North Korea in the wake of its latest ballistic missile launch. The president says both he and China's president would not be happy and he would not rule out possible military action against North Korea.

Listen to what he told John Dickerson of CBS News in an interview on "Face The Nation."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DICKERSON: Mr. President, you and your administration said to North Korea don't test the missile. They have tested the missile. Is the pressure not working?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I didn't say don't test the missile. He's going to have to do what he has to do but he understands we're not going to be very happy and I will tell you a man that I've gotten to like and respect, the president of China, President Xi, I believe has been putting pressure on him also but so far perhaps nothing has happened and perhaps it has. This was a small missile. This was not a big missile. This was not a nuclear test which he was expected to do three days ago. We'll see what happens.

DICKERSON: You said not happy. What does that mean?

TRUMP: l would not be happy. If he does a nuclear test I will not be happy. And I can tell you also, I don't believe that the president of China who is a very respected man will be happy either.

DICKERSON: Not happy mean military action?

TRUMP: I don't know. I mean, we'll see.

BLITZER: Let's get some for more experts in our analyst, Nia. What did you make of that exchange?

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: You know, I don't know. I mean, we'll see, right? I mean, that's essentially what he is saying. He is doing this thing where he doesn't like to be predictable, he's not showing his cards. What's interesting here ago is he seems to be saying that a small missile is OK, right? And this isn't necessarily going over some sort of red line and the red line he seems to say just suggest here is a nuclear test but again, you know, this administration has talked a lot about ending the area -- era of strategic patience but I think what we've seen over these last weeks with North Korea they're echoes of what the prior administration did.

They're talks, you know, about whether or not they'll go back to the P5+1 talks so there's not necessarily any sort of change in terms of what the administration wants to do but they want to leave all options on the table.

BLITZER: Yes. Including military option. Jackie, he's hinting at military action. He says, "I don't know," but does it look like the Trump Administration has a long-term strategy here?

JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN COMMENTATOR: It doesn't. But -- it doesn't, but this all seems to be aimed at pressuring China. Earlier today he -- or yesterday -- I'm sorry, yesterday evening, he tweeted that what basically summed up with as, "Hey China, are you going to let them do that to you? Are you going to let them provoke you again like this?" And it seems like that -- that's where their focus is. They want China to act so they don't have to.

BLITZER: But it's smart. I assume you agree it's smart. Not to draw a firm red line.

MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. A couple of things. One is I like the fact that he is saying, you know, I really like China, we're getting along great because in the end it really is going to be China who helps diffuse the situation over in North Korea but what I do think is troubling and this is what we seen throughout the campaign in through his first hundred days in his presidency is that words do matter and to cavalierly say, "I don't know," like, you know -- you know, maybe we'll have some kind of a strike against them or we'll take some kind of military action.

Any kind of military action against North Korea because they're so unpredictable and, look, you know that better than any of us, we don't know what Kim Jung-un would do. I mean, would he then turn to a nuclear weapon?

CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS EDITOR-AT-LARGE: He is also doing the good cop routine with China at the moment. You know, every interview you read the Chinese President, he is a great guy, he and I have a great relationship. He is very tough and very smart.

BLITZER: Highly respected.

CILLIZZA: Right. What we know about Donald Trump is that if the carrot doesn't work he will immediately go to the stick and just turn in say, the Chinese President lied to me and so that's the issue I think is that, yes, this is fully concerted strategy to pressure China with the good cop routine. Donald Trump likes to also play the bad cop and he switches almost without notice and so that's what I wonder about is if he doesn't get what he wants, acknowledges in that interview well maybe things haven't happened yet. Well, if they don't happen what does he then do?

(CROSSTALK)

KUCINICH: -- sounds like something the Hulk would say, "Well, you wouldn't like me when I'm angry."

CILLIZZA: Right.

KUCINICH: What does that even mean?

CILLIZZA: Which I think is his way of trying to leave his point, leave all options on the table. It's just he doesn't say we're leaving all options on the table. The only thing you can really take from that is well, he is not going to be happy if they do it.

KUCINICH: Yes, right.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: On the -- on this 100th day of the president being President of the United States they just posted an op-ed, he wrote for the Washington Post. And among other things he says this, "The same establishment media that concealed these problems and profited from them is obviously not going to tell this story. That is why we are taking our message directly to America."

HENDERSON: Yes. And we'll see him take his message to Harrisburg. I mean, I think he wants that split screen of, sort of, official Washington partying in their bowties and fancy dresses here at the White House Correspondents' Dinner tonight and then him with Americans in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. He of course famously turned that state that haven't voted for republican in years and years, turn that state red, so we'll see that and I think we will continue this, kind of, rally in effect. His supporters very much on his side and more firmly on his side because he has made an enemy of the press and then in some ways an enemy of official Washington as well.

KUCINICH: But --

BLITZER: OK. Go ahead very quickly.

KUCINICH: Like I say at the end of the day he can say that we're concealing things. He can say that we're not telling the truth but if average Americans don't feel that his policies are actually helping them, that's what they're going to believe.

BLITZER: Just ahead, everybody stand by. The president bucks tradition. He is skipping tonight's White House Correspondents' Association Dinner. We're going to know you how the show is going on right now without him.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: (INAUDIBLE) in Florida resort on weekend but tonight President Trump is marking 100 days in office in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania with a campaign style rally looking in live pictures. We'll have live coverage of the president once he starts to speak. Mark, president, I want you to listen and our viewers to listen and watch the beginning of a video message the president put out today marking his 100th day in office. Watch this.

DONALD: My fellow Americans, I truly believe that the first 100 days of my administration has been just about the most successful in our country's history.

BLITZER: So would presidential historians agree?

PRESTON: Well, I have two reactions. One is what is better than his, right? So it's just about meaning that there was someone that was better so I'm wondering what is better, right? It's what we talked about his book. He say, you know, he loves his book better than the bible but he loves the bible better. You know, whatever, one of the two. But more importantly when you have to say it above yourself. When you have to go out and say I'm the best. You're not necessarily the best. Smart people don't talk about how smart they are.

CILLIZZA: Right. Well, I do but that says something about me, doesn't it? The thing that I do not get is he obviously doesn't think a sort of serial exaggeration hurts him. I think he knows in his heart of hearts, like, it's probably not been the best 100 days. We have lots of reporting that's behind the scenes that suggests he is raging about, he's frustrated why health care didn't work, why are we doing this wrong, this and that and everything and yet the public face that he presents is essentially in any situation simply declare victory and move on.

I don't -- maybe it doesn't catch up or maybe people -- you know, people support him and write it off and say, "That's just Donald being Donald," but, like, at some point he makes these claims are so easily proven to be false. The 3 to 5 million people who voted illegally for him. His inauguration was the most well-attended ever. I don't -- if there's a strategy, I don't get what the strategy is.

HENDERSON: Yes, and it certainly shows how he -- he's bought into the whole 100-day marker, right? I mean, at first he said, "Oh, it's really ridiculous but he very much wants to proclaim, you know, himself an A+ kind of person over this first hundred days. He wants to see what we're talking about on TV. Sort of, what the media coverage is going to be of it and I think Chris is exactly right. I mean, this idea of -- you know, he is -- he is his like his own hype man. He's like the Flavor Flav of the -- yes, yes.

CILLIZZA: Yes. He is the introducer of himself.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: You know, and Jackie, he also tweeted this today and I'll put it up on the screen. Jackie, pay attention. He tweeted -- he tweeted this. "Mainstream (FAKE) media refuses to state our long list of achievements, including 28 legislative signings, strong borders & great optimism!" You know, he loves talking about that fake press.

KUCINICH: As I was saying before it's fine. He doesn't like us. I guess we'll have to all go on but at the same time if his policies, if his promises don't go through, if those factories don't open back up. If those jobs don't come back to those -- the Rust Belt, that's what is going to count. That's what matters and no amount of bluster and no amount of hype -- being a hype man is going -- is going to fix that.

CILLIZZA: Yes, but one thing that I always come back to about the media -- why does he use the media so much? It's because for his supporters the media represents everything that they don't -- they -- the media, we I guess are the representation of the, sort of, elitism, the skepticism about them, and the writing off of them. So we are the most convenient hobby horse but again, this is a political stance by Donald Trump. In his heart of hearts, Donald Trump watches more television, consumes more media than any former president of the United States.

KUCINICH: And he always needs a foil. He always needs -- he always needs someone.

(CROSSTALK)

KUCINICH: Yes, completely.

PRESTON: But let's not forget, you know, we're not necessarily what like by the American people, right? He's very frustrated because how often do we deliver good news? We don't often deliver good news. We often deliver bad news but just one thing we talk about his accomplishment, right? Because everything he's done has basically been through executive order except for the Supreme Court pick, right? And we could have a discussion all about this.

I don't think that's necessarily a major win for him because that's not his pick. That's Mitch McConnell's pick. The reason that Gorsuch became, you know, replacement for Antonin Scalia is because Mitch McConnell changed the rules in the senate and that's fine. I mean, Mitch McConnell can do so but it's not like Donald Trump twisted arms and got votes for it. He just, kind of, threw a name out.

HENDERSON: And nothing he is doing, all of these rallies in the kind of bluster about his first hundred days. It's not going to change the situation on the ground here in Washington. His second hundred days isn't going to be any easier and we haven't seen anything over these last couple of days to suggest --

CILLIZZA: And the problem he has is not -- like, I mean, keep -- what is the problem with tax, what ist he problem with health care? What is the problem with the wall funding?

(CROSSTALK)

CILLIZZA: If he tells -- and the republican --

(CROSSTALK) CILLIZZA: It's not -- now, you can argue that democrats are unified in opposition but the Republican Party is where the health care build in go through. They got plenty of seats in the house.

PRESTON: Right. Right, I agree.

KUCINICH: But guys, those are not utilizing these traditional things usually presidents do. These rallies could work for him. He could be holding them in districts and putting pressure on members of congress who are refusing him. He is not doing that to the extent you've seen other presidents do it. He is not selling these bills because he is trying to get everything done so quickly that he's not relying on details. He is overpromising, he's underperforming and we've seen that again and again and --

PRESTON: Fake news.

KUCINICH: I guess, I guess.

BLITZER: But why Harrisburg, Pennsylvania tonight?

CILLIZZA: Blue-collar and --

HENDERSON: And Jeffrey Lord.

CILLIZZA: And Jeffrey Lord. Obviously the Jeffrey Lord connection. No, but as he has noted, this is a state that no republican won since 1988 at the presidential level and it's a symbol of everything, everyone, I'll say for me, I doubted very much, I always thought Pennsylvania was like Charlie Brown, Lucy and the Football. They -- republicans would run up to it every minute, democrats would pull it out, and they'd lose. Everyone said he couldn't win. It is the living, breathing example of what Donald Trump likes best. Winning and proving elites wrong by winning. So out of the night that the elite media will put on bowties and gowns and celebrate themselves, Donald Trump will be in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. It's -- he lives for this.

(CROSSTALK)

HENDERSON: And nobody's celebrating -- he'll be celebrating his win, right? I'm sure he's going to make reference to his massive Electoral College win and how --

CILLIZZA: Three hundred and six electoral votes.

HENDERSON: Three hundred and six electoral votes and how we all got it wrong and essentially say to those people they're -- that they're winners. The press thought you were losers, you're winners. I won, we're all winners.

BLITZER: I mean, he was always energized by the rallies. It really, you know, give -- you know, gives him the energy he needs to go forward. PRESTON: He plugs himself into the wall and he gets electrified and he would electrify any of us, no doubt because basically what you're doing is you're -- is you're staring out at this big group of people who are hanging on every word that you say and they believe every syllable that comes out of your mouth. He could use these rallies really effectively. He's just not going so. He is -- he is using it for self-satisfaction as opposed for self-satisfaction and also strategic.

BLITZER: I just want to point out, Jackie, he's not attending the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner later tonight, he's in Harrisburg but in that interview with the Reuters he told Jeff Mason the White House Correspondent for Reuters who was also president of the White House Correspondents' Association that he does want to attend the dinner next year.

KUCINICH: Yes. I mean, here's hoping. I'm sure everyone would love to have him but, you know, also I have to say President Trump does like to tell people in front of them what they want to hear, so.

BLITZER: Yes. I'll be putting on my black tie and heading over to the dinner later tonight as I have been doing for many years. It's an important cause and we're bringing journalism students this year as our guests. All right, guys. Stand by for President Trump's 100-day rally. It's about to get underway. Also starting soon the annual White House Correspondents' Association Dinner. The president as you know is skipping it launching new attacks on the news media instead. We're going to update you right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: A big night in Washington traditionally attended by the President of the United States is about to get under way but President Trump is skipping this year's White House Correspondents' Association Dinner. CNN's Ryan Nobles is over at the Washington (INAUDIBLE) details. Ryan, the president is holding a rally in Pennsylvania instead to mark his 100th day in office. Set the scene for us where you are.

RYAN NOBLES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, well, there's no doubt that the scene here is much different that it's been in years past and you mentioned the most obvious reason, the President of the United States is not going to be here. It's the first time since 1981 that a sitting president didn't take part in this dinner. That was Ronald Reagan. He had a pretty good reason. He was recovering from an assassination attempt but he actually called into that dinner that night.

We don't expect president Trump to do the same. This is obviously a part of this adversarial relationship that the president has built with members of the press and the fact that president isn't going to be here is just one part of this. In addition to the president not being here, we'd also don't expect many A-list celebrities to be here. They're deciding to pass on this so instead we're just seeing big names from journalism, big names from some of the agencies and past dignitaries as well and there are some argue that that may not be a bad thing.

That the focus will be back on what the White House Correspondents' Association's main goal is here tonight and that's to raise money for aspiring journalists. And I can tell you, well, we haven't seen too many movie stars come down this red carpet but we have seen many of those future journalists we're going to take part in this evening here tonight.

BLITZER: We just saw Jake Tapper, CNN's Jake Tapper right behind your shoulder over there and he was smiling, obviously very happy as well with his beautiful wife, the -- so the movie stars, we're not seeing a lot of them this year, that's right?

NOBLES: That's right and in fact we did see Matthew Modine who is a star of the Netflix series Stranger Things. He's been the only big movie star that we've seen up until this point. And we really don't expect many, Wolf. And, you know, the journalists and I have talked up until this point. They really don't seem that disappointed and that they feel that the last eight years and especially during the Obama Administration, that became focus. The focus wasn't about journalism and cultivating this next group of young journalists and that's what the focus will be here about tonight.

BLITZER: I'll be heading over there pretty soon. All right, Ryan. Thank you very much. Ryan Noble's there at the hotel as the president marks his 100th day in office. Our Chief Political Analyst Gloria Borger spoke with two people who wrote the book on Donald Trump, his biographers. Here's their take on how he's handling his new job.

TRUMP: Just think about what we can accomplish in the first 100 days of the Trump Administration.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: For a man used to tracking his TV ratings and then his poll numbers --

TRUMP: Have you been seeing what's happening with those polls? They're like rocket ships.

BORGER: -- the measurement of President Trump's first 100 days is a tougher score to reckon with.

MICHAEL D'ANTONIO, AUTHOR, "THE TRUTH ABOUT TRUMP": He doesn't like for there to be an empire, calling balls and strikes. This is why he doesn't like the press.

BORGER: Michael D'Antonio, a Trump biographer should know.

D'ANTONIO: He is aware of what the real score is and he's aware now that we're getting to the hundred-day mark that presidents have been judged by that first 100 days all the way back to FDR.

BORGER: It's a ritual. A moment to take stock and that's another biographer. Has the presidency changed Donald Trump?

TIMOTHY O'BRIEN, AUTHOR, "TRUMP NATION": We're really early in this. I don't think someone who is about to turn seventy-one years old and has been the same person since he was four years old is going to get changed overnight by the presidency.

BORGER: Do you think the office has humbled him in any way? You're laughing but --

O'BRIEN: Yes, yes. I don't think anything will ever humble Donald Trump.

D'ANTONIO: I do think he is understanding now that he needs friends, he needs allies, he needs the world to be on his side as often as possible. So yes, I think the office is humbling him a bit. And it may have been the only responsibility on earth that whatever visited humility upon Donald Trump.

BORGER: Oval office aside, these Donald Trump watchers say he's still Donald Trump. Tweeting --

O'BRIEN: Trump has been planting gossip items of his whole life.

BORGER: Craving attention.

O'BRIEN: He would be bereft if that spotlight turned away from them.

TRUMP: Look at all those cameras.

BORGER: Changing the conversation.

D'ANTONIO: I think that what we have seen in the president's distortions, misstatements, and really occasionally outright lies is him attempting to use the method he always used in the past to get out of a jam. Say anything, divert attention, and run on to the next topic.

BORGER: He runs his white house like he ran his business, often improvising.

O'BRIEN: He's the king of chaos. I think he likes being right in the middle of the storm.

BORGER: The anchors remain his family. Do you think Ivanka and Jared are there because he has a comfort level with them?

O'BRIEN: At the end of the day he'll always come back to family. It's been true of his business life. That's how the Trump Organization was run. It's a little boutique business that he populated with family members or quasi family members and he's trying to replicate that in the White House. And I think Ivanka and Jared are there for a few reasons. They're more willing to be the public faces of the White House and I think he is. I don't think he is that interested in doing that constantly and I think he also just doesn't trust people.

D'ANTONIO: I do have the sense that this is a lonely president. This is a man who has always loved to be surrounded by good friends, long- term friends, by family members. I think this is why he travels to Florida so often. I think it's a cure for the loneliness. I don't think he's comfortable with the Washington crowd. BORGER: Especially if he's getting drown by it like he was with the health care defeat which he vows to revisit soon.

D'ANTONIO: When he first went bankrupt in the early 1990s, it was because he kept doubling down and he kept pushing to get a success when really he was throwing good money after bad. And I think that's what happened with the health care struggle.

TRUMP: Thank you very much. We were very close.

D'ANTONIO: He went too far down the road and was left embarrassed and looking like a loser. And the last thing Donald Trump wants is to look like a loser.

BORGER: these biographers who really know Donald Trump say that he is only likely to change around the edges and at the end of the day, Donald Trump will always be Donald Trump. Gloria Borger, CNN, Washington.

BLITZER: Great report from, Gloria Borger. Thank you very much. That's it for me. Thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer. In The Situation Room, John Berman and Poppy Harlow continue our special coverage right now.