Return to Transcripts main page


Senate GOP One "No" Vote Away From Repeal Failure; Conway: Trump Has Been "Hands On" Selling Health Care: Trump Not Flattering To France During Campaign; Trump Was Guest Of Honor For Bastille Day; Bill Clinton: Being President "Not About You"; George W. Bush: Bill Clinton Was "Humble In Victory. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired July 14, 2017 - 12:30   ET


[12:30:00] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, MJ Lee for us on Capitol Hill. Thanks so much. Back now with the panel.

You know, Jonathan, let's lay out exactly what the president has done here. We said he was on Twitter this morning writing about it, but let's compare it to what President Obama did to get ObamaCare through, right?

The president has done no major speeches. He has done tweets. He has had White House meetings with senators.

As for president Obama, he had town halls in Wisconsin, Ohio, Colorado, Virginia. PrimeTime speeches to Congress, health care summits in the White House so, those are the facts. I mean, that's just the comparison between what President Trump and President Obama did. But Kellyanne Conway, she says that the president is very active in this. Listen.


KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO THE PRESIDENT: As you know, President Trump is very hands on, he works the phones, he hosts meetings. We've had any number of members of Congress and senators here, governors, frankly, over time. We've also had ObamaCare victims, we've had drug manufacturers. And he has approached this from every different facet of the health care system.


BERMAN: Has he, Jonathan? I mean, look, there's no question he wants something passed. He wants to win here, but has he really approached it from every angle like Kellyanne Conway is saying?

JONATHAN LEMIRE, ASSOCIATED PRESS: I mean, she's right that the president wants a win. They at the White House is desperate for a victory. He has basically said he will sign it. Just give it to me, I'll sign it.

But, it's not just the contrast between how he is preceded with this bill versus President Obama with ObamaCare. It's even how he's approach the Senate versus the House.

With the House, he was much more actively involved. He was calling people, he was threatening on Twitter at times, (INAUDIBLE) freedom caucus. There were some arm twisting and this time there's been a lot less of it.

Now, some of that is the president perhaps not being as well versed with all of the details of the bill but I think there's also a suggestion that if this goes down, he's not to blame. The buck would not stop with him but rather with Senate Majority Leader McConnell.

BERMAN: Interesting. And you know, Caitlin, we just heard from John Kasich a few minutes ago basically saying he is against the new version of this bill, one of the Republican governors. And Republican governors have been very interesting constituency here where they've actually been opposed to what a lot of what's going on in Congress right now. That could spell trouble.

Brian Sandoval, the governor of Nevada who may be even more important because Dean Heller may do what he says. He seems squishy on it right now too.

CAITLIN HUEY-BURNS, REALCLEARPOLITICS: And Sandoval extremely popular in his state. It's been really interesting to watch the influence that these Republican governors have had and the way in which Democrats see them as allies. You've seen Democrats praising people like Kasich and Sandoval for kind of coming out and criticizing some of these components.

Those are really interesting to see the way in which the reality of having a president after resolute does able to sign your bills has weight in here. Because you do have Republicans who have voted for a repeal over and over and over again without consequence. And also Republicans who as we were just talked about railed against government-funded programs, expanding them. Now that they have the money, now that these governors have these in their budgets, it's very hard to take that away from people.

BERMAN: And Naftali, we've read you in editorials on the Wall Street Journal. You're pretty familiar with this, "Moderates never objected to repeal and replace agenda and truly benefited from the slogan politically, yet some are still threatening to vote against and even allowing debate. If what they really want is ObamaCare, they should have said so earlier, though now at least they'll be accountable for their true position."

There is a point to this. You have this moderates right now who say that their Medicaid is their sticking point. They weren't saying this when ObamaCare was being, you know, voted on originally. And they weren't saying that when they voted for the repeal measures a few years ago.

NAFTALI BENDAVID, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: Yes, I mean, I should probably clarify, I've nothing to do with the editorials. But, you know, this is a fairly typical thing. When you're in the opposition, it's kind of easy. Really, all you have to do, criticize whatever the majority party, whatever the party that has the White House is doing. And then, when you're actually in power and you have a president that could sign your bill, suddenly reality hits. So, I think that's one dynamic.

The second dynamic is early on, you know, there wasn't a Medicaid expansion and so, they were against it. Now, it's there and it would be taking something away. And that's a whole different set of dynamics.

And by the way on the issue with the president, we should add, it's not just that he hasn't been as involved, some Republicans feel he's actually done damage. You know, as when tweeted, for example, well, maybe we should just repeal it and worry about the replace later. You could just see Mitch McConnell shaking his head, you know. It was not helpful and so, to some degree, you know, there's the criticism that he's not engaged enough into another. And so, when he does engage, perhaps it hasn't been to help the cause.

BERMAN: I'm stuck in the middle with you politically and with the president perhaps Mr. Blonde, once again, Mitch McConnell. Let's talk about Mitch McConnell because what is he, you know, how does he think this is going to go down? He's got two senators already saying, they're going to vote against the motion to proceed. If he loses one more, this thing won't get him a vote on the floor.

Dean Heller goes home this weekend and I imagine to Nevada where maybe he'll talked to the Governor Brian Sandoval there who still says he's against this whole thing. You know, how does he win Heller over in the days that he needs to?

MOLLY BALL, THE ATLANTIC: I have no idea and nobody really knows whether or how Mitch McConnell plans to get this through. And his caucus is getting pretty restless, you know, talking to Republican senators and Senate sources. At first, they had a lot of trust in McConnell, felt like he's a tactical mastermind. We don't know how he's going to get there but he always pulls the rabbit out of the hat in the end.

[12:35:00] Increasingly, they're wondering, where's the rabbit because they don't see a path. And, you know, they also feel like, McConnell and the president alike may be leading them out on a limb and then going to saw it off behind them. Because you know, the House members voted for this bill, and then the president called it mean and that was very concerning.

And if this bill doesn't end up passing about how this is getting signed by the president, there's a possibility that members will have taken a politically damaging vote for nothing. So, you know, you have people -- senators openly critical of the process when it started happening, when they were drafting the bill sort of behind closed doors. Now they're even more jittery and critical.

BERMAN: Is it possible that the rabbit that Mitch McConnell is trying to pull out of his hat is to prove that it can't get through as is that they've got to totally, you know, rethink this whole thing?

BALL: Well, the problem is they did promise to do this. They've been promising it for seven years. And I would say, you know, in the Republican's defense for not being able to just repeal, ObamaCare's the law of the land now.

It's different to repeal something that hasn't taken place yet, especially when part of your critique of the law is that if it was disruptive to people's health care. You'd be further disrupting if you were to take that away. But I was thinking back to the very first day of this Republican Congress in January.

I spoke to a Republican source on the Hill who said, you know, health care is the third rail of politics. Anything we do we're going to own and it's going to be politically bad for us. What we should do is take the Affordable Care Act and change the name of it. Call it the Republican Affordable Care Act and pass that and then we won't have disturbed the fabric of the universe.

BERMAN: It turns out the health care is complicated. I heard someone say.

Up next, parades, pageantry, really, really long handshake. The highlights of President Trump's latest foreign trip. That's next.


[12:40:54] BERMAN: All right, President Trump winging westward again from Europe second time in five days but what a trip it was. There was very little work to do on this quick visit to Paris. Not only the G20 economic session (INAUDIBLE). But, you know, this trip to Paris is all about the pageantry, the parades which a lot of (INAUDIBLE) and one president rolling out a seriously red carpet for another, and the full guest of honor treatment.

Dinner literally inside the Eiffel Tower. A seat of honor to review the Bastille Day parade smiles and then so many handshakes. We'll get to that in a moment and the compliments on Twitter after.

"Great conversations with President Emmanuel Macron and his representatives on trade, military and security." In this message, came with a picture. "It was a great honor to represent the United States at the magnificent Bastille Day parade. Congratulations, President Emmanuel Macron."

Definitely, a different feeling in the air coming from this president, all things France. One would gather from his comments on the campaign thrill that they'll he'd not been too keen to visit that country.

You'll remember, his friend Jim (ph) told him that France isn't France anymore. No one is be able to locate Jim, but that's another story.

Guys, I want to show, just so we can see and dissect it, you know, and credit to (INAUDIBLE) who spent, you know, six hours today going every second of this handshake. Let's just look at the handshake today between the two presidents, right there.

It goes on, and it goes on, and it goes on. It (INAUDIBLE) into that version of a handshake. There are other hands that are quickly brought into be a part of it. So it's not just their own hands, but you need to add hands, to something so important.

Look, the reason we're talking about this and analyzing this one, because it's awesome. But two, because it is a far cry from what we saw the first time the two presidents met which we have. We can show you that as well.

There was that famous grip and grin where Emmanuel Macron first met President Trump right there and it's clear that he had planned for. And in fact, he had said he planning for this. He wanted to show that he could have the upper hand literally and not sort to be bullied by the U.S. president.

You know, Caitlin Huey-Burns, you know, its fun to watch, right? But it does show that these two have a relationship now that has evolved.

HUEY-BURNS: Well, and eventually, it underscores the way in which Macron sees the importance of this idea of chemistry, how that is to Donald Trump, right? Donald Trump has talked about the way in which he's formed relationships with leaders, the Chinese president, for example, and others. And so, you could see the way in which he was practicing this diplomacy and also that, you know, these are two men who are new to the political stage as -- in the governing realm. And also this is a French president who wants to establish himself on the world stage, and seize this as an opportunity to do that. This is kind of his entree.

BERMAN: You know, when you have President Emmanuel Macron who seems to want to establish himself as a European Trump whisperer. You know, the leader in Europe who can talk to Donald Trump and may get him to change his perspective on things. And Donald Trump, the president of United States spoke about Paris and France in very flattering terms after saying, you know, it was a country he couldn't even recognize anymore. Listen to what he said on the trip.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Because I think this is one of the great cities, one of the most beautiful cities in the world. And you have a great leader now, you have a great president, you have a tough president. He's not going to be easy on people that are breaking the laws, and people that show this tremendous violence.

So I really have the feeling that you're going to have a very, very peaceful and beautiful Paris. And I'm coming back. You better do a good job, please. Otherwise, you're going to make me look very bad.


BERMAN: What does Emmanuel Macron get out of this? Get out of how does the president of the United States, Donald Trump saying nice things about France after not saying them during the campaign?

BALL: I think that's the question because there are specific diplomatic objectives that he's going to be seeking and he clearly has developed a view sort of to Caitlin's point, that the way to Trump's heart is through flattery. And I think that's a fair conclusion based on his previous foreign trip, right?

[12:45:00] You saw the Saudis, for example, really butter him up and he clearly loves that. And he doesn't base his views on a set of white papers that he's received in the briefing books. He bases his opinions on the relationships he has with people.

And so, you know, those first foreign trips, where you had leader sort of shifting around and rolling their eyes while he was talking. Trump reacts very badly to being disrespected. And I'm not saying that's why he would do something like pull out of the Paris climate accord, because he stood against it before, but I think Macron has decided that if you can make Trump think that you're his friend, you may even be able to manipulate him more at least win him over to your point of view.

BERMAN: In fact, let's listen to what the president of the United States said about the Paris accords when was standing right next to the French leader. Listen.


TRUMP: Yes, I mean something could happen with respect to the Paris accord. Let's see what happens. But, we will talk about that over the coming period of time. And if it happens, that will be wonderful, and if it doesn't, that will be OK, too. But we will see what happens.


BERMAN: Look, you know, and seriously doubt and I tell you that the president of the United States is all going to sudden decide he loves the Paris accords, but it does show that he didn't want to show up the French leader standing beside him.

BENDAVID: Yes, I actually thought that was one of the most fascinating moments of the whole thing. All of a sudden, you know, the Paris accord and the U.S withdrawal was something we could talk about and maybe there will be a surprise. It was very Trump any a certain way.

But I really think both the leaders have a lot to gain from this. I mean, handshakes aside, they went out of their way. They'll make a big deal how buddy-buddy they were. You know, Trump wouldn't be the first president to go overseas during a time when things are tough at home.

And from Macron, you know that this is western alliance now that has Merkel on one side, Trump on the other. If he can be the guy who bridges the gap by the way while the U.K is somewhat distracted by Brexit. That's a pretty good role for him, for a guy who's trying to enhance France's role on the world stage. This is pretty good opportunity.

BERMAN: Interesting. He (INAUDIBLE) and the president's flying home from France right now. On his way to New York, he's spending the weekend at his golf resort in Bedminster. Sometimes he just watched cable T.V. by the way on Air Force One.

What is he flying back to right now? I mean, once again so much has happened while he's been gone on this trip. He had a trip that lot of people saw as successful with the French leader there, but what can you expect now in the coming days?

LEMIRE: Well, this is sort of become a depressingly familiar routine for the White House where they pull off what they think is a couple of good days, couple of good news cycles. And then, they return to the Russia cloud. This happened on his last trip, too, which people around the presidency thought it was a real high point, the speech in Poland, that he held his own in the G20.

Literally, on Air Force One the way back, they're crafting a strategy to deal with the Don Jr. Russian e-mail story. And that here again, we have more developments on that front as he is literally in the air flying back to the United States. So, I think that they feel good about his performance there. But I think they also, one wonders how much it's really going to change anything for him politically.

BERMAN: You run out of French holidays so we can't keep going back to Paris, you know, to get a good picture. That may be one of the problems here.

All right, guys, stick around, a rare show of bipartisanship. Too bad it comes from two people not involved in politics anymore. This is our politics according to President Clinton and Bush 43, next.


[12:52:23] BERMAN: Bill Clinton put himself literally in his place in presidential history yesterday. Look at this picture.

That is Bill Clinton standing between the two Bush presidents that he served between the Bush statues and Bush legacies standing very tall in Dallas. Bill Clinton was in Bush Country for an appearance with his successor George W. Bush at his presidential library.

The two spoke to a few 100 people about their insight and experience in the Oval Office and they didn't even wants to say the name of the current occupants.


BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITTED STATES: If you want to be president, realize it's about the people, not the about you. And when it's over, and that's what a lot of these people who are real arrogant in the office, they forget, time passes. And it passes more quicker than you -- more quickly than you know.

You want to be able to say, people are better off when I quit. Kids had a better future. Things were coming together. You don't want to say, God, look at all the people I beat or the people I worked over.


BERMAN: So, they didn't mention anyone's name, Jonathan, but I kind of have a sense of who Bill Clinton may be talking about there.

LEMIRE: That's right. Both presidents stressed the virtues of humility about working for others about not making it about you and to practice a parlance that the current president is (INAUDIBLE) with. It was stop like a large sub tweet. They didn't mention him by name but that was where the message was directed.

BERMAN: I was listening to George W. Bush had largely the same message. Listen to what he said.


GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think it starts with Bill Clinton being a person who refused to lord his victory over dad. Now, he was humble in victory which is very important in dealing with other people. And I think Dad was willing to rise above the political contest. Both men, in my judgment, displayed strong character, and therefore, their friendship was able to be formed.


BERMAN: You know, George W. Bush talking how Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush became such good friends, the fact that Bill Clinton did lord over his father. You know, obviously -- you know, that such a loaded appearance right to be George W. Bush's brother who's beaten by Donald Trump, Bill Clinton's wife beaten by Donald Trump. Here both these presidents, you know, they're watching the White House closely.

BALL: Well, of course they are. And let's not forget, both former President Bush did not vote for Donald Trump. It's been reported. And so, you know, this is the personification of the sort of bipartisan establishment that was so against Trump that was so convinced he couldn't win and that now is so distressed by his behavior in office. And I think given that his whole campaign was premised on toppling this entire cabal, I don't think Trump is listening to these guys.

[12:50:04] BERMAN: Well, no that's exactly right and I tell right. I mean this is what Donald Trump beat, willingly, gladly, you know, this is what he ran against. He was sitting on that stage right there.

BENDAVID: I think that's certainly true, but I think it's also true that in events like this, it's very easy to feel bipartisan and to be chumming because these guys aren't in office. And they're presidencies weren't exactly golden eras of bipartisanship either.

When you're in power, you go on attack, you receive attacks. Both of these guys certainly did. Now that they're sort of retired and sitting in these nice, comfortable chairs, it's much easier to watch very eloquently about by partisan.

BERMAN: And Caitlin there's 30 seconds left. You know, George W. Bush talked how Bill Clinton never referred to his father. President Obama did often refer back to the Bush years, the W years and economically as a problem here. HUEY-BURNS: Sure. And we see now that Trump is still talking about the Obama administration. Still, continuing the campaign in many ways of referring to Hillary Clinton at nearly every development of this Russia scandal. So, I can't imagine Trump and Obama having this kind of scenario.

BERMAN: That would be the remarkable thing to see and of course President Trump overseas talking about Loretta Lynch as being somehow responsible for the Donald Trump Jr. meeting so talking about past administrations (INAUDIBLE).

All right guys, thank you so much, and thank you all for joining us on INSIDE POLITICS.

Jim Sciutto in for Wolf. He's up back after a quick break.


JIM SCIUTTO, CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Hello, I'm Jim Sciutto in for Wolf Blitzer. It is 1 p.m. here in Washington --