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Democratic Leaders Back 3-Month Debt Limit Increase; Trump To Depart On Tax Road Show With Dem Senator; Clinton Opens Up About "Shortcomings" And "Mistakes" In New Book. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired September 6, 2017 - 12:30   ET


[12:30:02] JOHN KING, INSIDE POLITICS HOST: -- and forgive me, America, this is a Washington process conversation, but it's one of the complications. It's one of the complications. You would think $8 billion in Harvey aid. You all watch that play out last week and the week before. Boom, easy, right? Pass and go.

But, Congress does have to raise the debt ceiling. So they're trying to think, if we attach Harvey aid to the more controversial bill, we get votes for it and we get more of our business done here. What the Democrats are saying is, we'll give you a debt ceiling increase through the end of 2017. The Republicans want to have it extend all through next year of 2018, the mid-term election year. Again, my apologies, America, but this is your government not quite at work. Not the way it's supposed to be.

Let me ask you this, will the process, and will the other fights that Washington has to go through this September, do they have the risk of derailing Harvey aid or will they figure this out?

ABBY PHILLIP, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: I think they'll figure this out. I mean, I don't think anybody is really going to get to the point where Harvey aid is at risk. But I think Democrats are going to make them squirm as much as humanly possible. They want to force this conversation in the Republican Caucus because they know that there are a lot of Republicans still to this day, who don't really want to raise the debt limit, who want corresponding cuts, who want to deal with the long-term fiscal problems.

And so they're create a little bit of a discomfort among Republicans and also, you know, maybe -- I think they're unlikely to get what they want, this three-month extension. But what the three-month extension would do is renew their leverage over Republicans on a lot of different other issues. Obviously, Republicans don't want that for a number of reasons, but -- I mean, it's politics. You can't really bring --

KING: And it shows you how dysfunctional this town is. It just simply does. In the sense that one of the things they're considering, I'm told, is something even bigger. On the Senate side, they're thinking about attaching the debt ceiling and, forgive me again America, the continuing resolution which is the money to fund the government because they don't have budgets anymore. They've passed what they called continuing resolutions. On the Senate side, they're exploring whether to do one, calling a new grand bargain, if you are, or a grand package but they'll only do it if Speaker Ryan keeps in the green light and says if you do that, I can get it through the House. Why can't they just do their job? Pass Harvey relief, debate the debt ceiling, debate how the government should be funded and how it should be paid for whether they're should be spending cuts. Why is what they get elected to do so hard?

MICHAEL BENDER, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: It's a fair question. I mean, but you can't count on this Congress to do anything and we haven't been able to count on them to do much of anything for years now. You know, you should have Paul Ryan's outrage there.

I think you should be talking to the White House about this, because from the sounds of this on my reporting is not only is the White House interested in marrying these two, their rationale, the debt ceiling and Harvey aid is the exact opposite to avoid politicizing these two issues. And it sounds like some in the White House are open to the Senate Democratic plan to push out the debt ceiling even further to get this thing off their plates at least through the end of the year, past the end of the year.

RYAN LIZZA, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORKER: I mean, Democrats, if you are in the minority and the House of Representatives, it's basically being useless in Washington, right? And you get one moment with the current setup to have leverage. And that is must-pass legislation comes to the House, and libertarian- oriented Conservatives don't want to vote for it and the Republican Speaker of the House has to go to the Democrats and get their votes.

So dynamically, what always happens is, the Conservative version passes in the House, the Senate then loads it up with stuff that the Conservatives in the House don't like. And it comes back and the Democrats are there to plug (ph) their votes. That's their point of leverage. And that's the one point they get and they get it a few times each year. And that's why you saw Paul Ryan saying, you know, tisk, tisk, and saying don't do this to me, because that's their moments. And they're going to maximize their leverage here.

KING: You've see Mark Meadows who runs the Freedom Caucus, that's the group of Conservative House members. We saw the impact to the Obamacare debate quite and he says it's a terrible idea --


KING: -- to link the two. Even Ted Cruz, the best way to have a relief package move quickly is for clean relief package not -- not as Rand Paul has suggested he might filibuster I suspect to your point. If they get the Democratic votes, they have enough to overcome that, right?

HENDERSON: Yes. I mean, it gets to -- I mean, yeah, it's true. Why can't they do their jobs? I mean, because there were vast ideological differences in the Republican Party in terms of what their jobs they actually are. I mean, if you are Rand Paul or if you're a Ted Cruz, you don't like that idea of spending a lot of money in raising the debt ceiling.

So, you know, when you talk about Democrat have their moment, I mean, it's also the moment for people like Mark Meadows and Ted Cruz and Rand Paul to really float their ideological ideas and how they think government should function. It ends up being a mess.

KING: We'll keep track on the final vote in the House. We'll bring that to you. And this debate will be around for at least a few more days. That just the first installment of Harvey.

And up next, President Trump hitting the road today to push his tax reform plan with a Democratic senator getting a free ride for the trip.


[12:39:00] KING: All right, President Trump on the move this hour. We'll show you pictures just momentarily. He'll be joined by senators heading out to North Dakota. On his way to Marine One, the helicopter, that's joined by senators right there. Marine One is on the ground.

At the White House just moments ago, the President speaking to reporters as I'm told, is a little difficult to hear about a phone call he just have with the Chinese President. Let's listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How was your meeting Mr. President?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, are you considering military action in North Korea?


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We'll see what happens. Thank you very much.


[12:40:07] KING: Hope you could hear that. We'll see what happens the President says to that final question, are you considering military action in North Korea? Describing a phone call he just completed with the Chinese President Xi Jinping. The President said it was a frank conversation, a good conversation. He said the Chinese President wants to help. He said there's something he wants to do. We'll see if he can do it.

China, obviously, key to the administration's effort to try to bring about some de-escalation of the confrontation with North Korea, tested a nuclear weapon over the weekend. Several missile launches as well for the President describing his latest diplomatic effort.

There are the live pictures you see in the right of your screen there. The camera man just getting the rain off the lens there. That's the President, Marine One just landed. The President is about to board Air Force One. He's bound for North Dakota where he's going to give a speech on tax reform.

Hitching a ride with him, an unlikely guest, North Dakota's Democratic Senator, Heidi Heitkamp, who welcomed the President to her state when the trip was announced last week, saying in her statement, "I've been pushing for both sides of the aisle to work together in Congress toward permanent, comprehensive solutions that will do well with loopholes and handouts for special interest." Will that sentiment about partisanship is a good one? Just a reminder, Heitkamp is a group of five Senate Democrats up for reelection next year in states Trump won by a double digit margin, so among the top Republicans target. So what do we have at play here as we watch the President get off of Marine One and get on to Air Force One.

If you go to the North Dakota Republican Party website, every few days they put up a Heidi's Hiding. And they say she's hiding because they say she's this partisan liberal Democrat and who's not interested in bipartisan solutions, who's not interested in working with the President. They want to beat her next year. And the President of the United States, a Republican, gives her a campaign ad.

HENDERSON: Yes, I mean --

KING: Why sort of North Dakota on Air Force One where she can say, I'm the middle person trying to bridge the gap.

HENDERSON: Yes. I mean, is he also going to donate to her campaign mix and send her flowers because that's essentially what he's doing. I mean, he won that state by 36 point. She barely won. I think she won by something like 3,000 votes when she --

KING: The only Democrat elected state wide in North Dakota.

HENDERSON: Yes, when she ran. For she has played this very smartly. She's voted for nearly all of his cabinet nominees I think except Betsy DeVos. So this is brilliant for her to blunder I think on Donald Trump's part. She knows that she's going to need some of those -- a lot of those Trump voters and essentially ticket splitters to win.

KING: Is it a blunder? We'll see. The President has not been terribly in depth (ph) in the past. I don't think -- number one, a lot of Republicans wish she would be a stronger leader at their party. They don't ease a lot to the party.

But number two, the President is a very good communicator. Will he in North Dakota say, I gave her a ride out here. I'm hopeful she's one of the Democrats on tax reform, on immigration that we can work with. But you hold her accountable now. Can the President strikes to right bounce? There's a way to do this. In the short-term, though, this is a free ad for Heidi Heitkamp.

LIZZA: In the short-term, what he would rather have in the short-term is a vote on his legislative agenda if he can turn her into a yes vote on tax reform. And then they can deal with the election next year, you know, down the road, that's a pretty important -- that would be pretty important for the President.

PHILLIP: What has been really remarkable is how united the Democrats have been in spite of all of these. I mean, so many of them up for reelection next year. And the political dynamics around this President have actually made it very easy for them to kind of hold the line. That's why, you know, that's why Paul Ryan, you know, is sort of shaming them over making demands, because he can't count on people falling off the side. I think the same is true in the Senate.

Heidi Heitkamp is along for the ride. But I don't think there's any indication that she or any other Democrats are really all that scared of this President. He went after Claire McCaskill in the same way. Nobody is scared anymore. I don't think she is. I think she's going to take what she can get. But she's going to vote based on what the politics look like for her and it has not been favorable --

KING: To the point you just made about nobody is scared, as we speak, we're told the Vice President Mike Pence has arrived at office of Arizona Republican Senator John McCain and who's back in Washington not a surprise to a lot of people. Senator McCain is undergoing chemotherapy now the treatment for brain cancer. He's back in Washington for the big vote this month. He wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post the other day essentially saying, we need to stand up for President Trump. We are not his subordinates. Agree with him when we do. But don't be afraid to fight when we don't. Now the Vice President up there with an olive branch, I guess?

BENDER: Yes. This is sort of the Trump political brand here, right. It's just perplexing. You're talking about like trying to strike the right balance in North Dakota between going after Heitkamp and getting her vote. It harkens back to that Phoenix speech where, you know, where he was really hard on McCain and Flake, but also spoke kindly of Kim Jong-un in North Korea.

White House officials tell my colleague Rich Rubin in the journal today that Trump is going to use the same kind of language that he did in Missouri. Saying if you're a Democratic senator doesn't vote for this bill then you should vote her out. So, I think the question of whether Trump can strike the right balance, I don't think that's a calculation for this President.

LIZZA: It'll going to make an awkward trip that's lost.


LIZZA: But, you know, they have tried unsuccessfully to get her out of the Senate by bringing her into the administration.

[12:45:05] HENDERSON: That's right.

LIZZA: They have dangled all sort of job and --

HENDERSON: Not very flash ones though, right. Interior secretary -- LIZZA: I think agriculture was talked about early on. So they have tried to get her out of there so they could replace her with a Republican one way or another. They want that seat, they want that vote.

KING: Wait a minute. Fascinating to watch. Again, the President is an outfit sometimes in the Republican Party. He overtook the party over in the primary last year. There's a lot of complaints from Republicans. It'd be fun to watch if you watch this trip play out and that's from Representative Heitkamp about a fly on the wall. What was discussed on that trip.

When we come back, we all know he couldn't lose to 2016 election. A new book written by the Democratic nominee explains why. And she has lots of reason.


KING: Get ready for Hillary Clinton in her own words. Her book on the 2016 campaign doesn't hit store shelves until next week. But CNN was able to obtain a copy of it. Clinton deals in a why she think she lost, who's to blame and the investigation of Russia meddling in the election.

[12:50:04] Clinton writes, "There's nothing I was looking forward to more than showing Putin that his efforts to influence our election and install a friendly puppet had failed. I know he must be enjoying everything that's happened instead. But he hasn't had the last laugh yet." That's just one excerpt from the book.

Let's bring in CNN Senior White House Correspondent, Jeff Zeleny. Jeff, you covered the Clinton campaign. You've read the book. What did you learn?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, I think that the biggest take away, she places blame more than she ever has before and she also accepts more blame than she ever has before. And for a political candidate, someone who's gone in the public eye this long, that is big deal to accept a lot of blame and responsibility.

Of course, plenty blame to go around in this campaign but she's just quite frankly that she missed the mood and the moment and misjudged the anger in the electorate. Of course, she takes some shots at Bernie Sanders as we've seen already, the President, of course. But she also -- I think the biggest value of this book, John, she offers a window into something that only she could see.

This is one example here of that phone call with Donald Trump. It says this, "It was without a doubt one of the strangest moments of my life. I congratulated Trump and offered to do anything I could to make sure the transition was smooth. It was all perfectly nice and weirdly ordinary, like calling a neighbor to say you can't make it to his barbecue. It was mercifully brief. I was numb. It was all so shocking." And that of course is her description that early morning phone call on the day after the election into those early morning hours, John, when she realized she, of course, would not be the president. So, I think this book it's about 440 pages or so, a lot of this reflective.

She talks about her marriage. She says quite frankly she will not run for office again. She hopes she'll be able to vote for the first woman president if this person agrees with her. She also, John, I thought offer interesting window.

George W. Bush offered a phone call to her as she was making her concession speech the next day. He waited on the line until she finished shaking hands and that's when they talk. So, she had conversation with a Republican president calling her the morning after. So, it just gives sense of draw in motion on those days back in November, John.

KING: All right. Most of them, whoever you think a George W. Bush, his manners, he takes this --

ZELENY: No question.

KING: Jeff Zeleny appreciate those insights. And Jeff just noted how uncomfortable just Hillary Clinton describes the phone call with now President Trump, then-President-elect Trump in the book. Let's go back to election night and parts of that moment.


TRUMP: I've just received a call from Secretary Clinton. She congratulated us, it's about us on our victory and I congratulated her and her family on a very, very hard fought campaign.

JOHN PODESTA, FORMER CAMPAIGN CHAIRMAN TO HILLARY CLINTON: Everybody should head home. You should get some sleep. We'll have more to say tomorrow.


KING: John Podesta, the Clinton campaign chairman there sending the crowd home. Remember, Hillary Clinton did not come out and speak to her supporters that night. She waited until the next day. A reminder of the surreal nature of election night, a reminder that's only Clinton discusses in the book.

She also says this, "I can go back over my own shortcomings and the mistakes we made. I can take responsibility for all of them. You can blame the data, blame the message, blame anything you want but I was the candidate. It was my campaign. Those were my decisions."

Cross (ph) to her for that. There are other things on the book people are going to disagree with but she was the candidate. These were her decisions and at least she straight up there says on me.

PHILLIP: Yes. You know, you played that moment of John Podesta coming out. I think I was there that night. It will live on in for me in my mind as the moment that really illustrated how numb she must have been, to make a decision like that to not show up that night, to not close the door on this campaign in a way and only do the next morning.

It is really reflective of how hard it was for them. You know, I think it's interesting that this book is just going to kind of like for a lot of her supporters, an opportunity for them to share on her venting, to share in their collective grief. I'm not sure it will help anyone really move on, but I think she's a human being. I can think she has a right to her thought.

HENDERSON: Yes. And that's what we hadn't really seen from Hillary Clinton like how does she really feel. I mean, her talking about all that phone call and being numbed. And when you imagine, she's going to feel that way for maybe the rest of her life. I mean, there's sense of lost.

This is what she had wanted for many years and got it really snatched away. I mentioned in her mind, she sees is that way. So this will be, you know, Hillary Clinton sort of the raw version that we hadn't seen.

LIZZA: You know, I know from people who have talked to and have been around her in the months since she lost the election that she just spent so much of that time in classic Clinton fashion, studying, processing, trying to figure out what changed in America, what she did wrong and Trump did right to understand her lost.

It was very evident if you read the book that that's what the books is about it. She cites a lot of political science and experts and really trying to make process how the rise of Trump happened and how she failed to stop it.

[12:55:12] KING: Is it snarky to raise this question on her book tour? She's going to Michigan and Wisconsin.

BENDER: Really? Really? Yes. Well, I -- Really? I'm not sure on the, can she gets out there, but, you know, she was finally, right. She gets out there and see some of Trump country.

KING: I guess that's a little mean. But it's just a fact, you know, that she'd been in Wisconsin, Michigan maybe during the campaign. We'll leave that for another day.

Thanks for joining us on INSIDE POLITICS. We'll see you back here tomorrow. Wolf Blitzer up after a quick break.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, I'm Wolf Blitzer. Wherever you're watching from around the world, thanks very much for joining us.

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