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Trump Visits Florida; Trump Works on Dreamers Plan; Trump talks to Naples Residents. Aired 12-12:30p ET
Aired September 14, 2017 - 12:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[12:00:00] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: With John King as the president continues his travels in Florida, starts right now.
JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you, Kate.
And welcome to INSIDE POLITICS. I'm John King. Thank you for sharing your day with us.
As Kate just noted, the president and the first lady on the ground in Florida, getting a firsthand look at the damage done by Irma.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're going to see some of the folks and make sure they're happy. Because we're trying to keep them as happy as we can under the circumstances. In many cases, they lost their homes. And it's a tough situation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We'll keep an eye on the president.
Back here in Washington, a conservative revolt as the president makes another deal with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer. This one on a plan conservatives worry is not only a broken Trump promise, but amnesty.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're not looking at amnesty. We're looking at allowing people to stay here. We're working with everybody. Republicans. We're working with Democrats. I just spoke with Paul Ryan. He's on board. Everybody is on board.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Not everybody's on board.
And if you would have cast a ballot for Hillary Clinton but stayed home, well, here it is straight from the source, you are not forgiven.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Do you give absolution to those who didn't vote, to women who didn't vote? HILLARY CLINTON (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No, I don't. Look,
I -- when it first started happening, it was so soon after the election and the election was so bizarre and close, it was hard for me to, you know, comfort somebody who was coming to me and saying, oh, I wish I had done more, or, I'm sorry, I didn't vote, because I think this was one of the most consequential elections that, you know, we have faced in a long time. So, no absolution.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: No absolution.
Again, thanks for joining us. A lot happening this hour.
We're expecting the House speaker, Paul Ryan, any moment now to begin his weekly news conference. The big question today, how does he feel about the president's latest deal with top Democrat. This one designed to protect the so-called dreamers. The president says the speaker's on board. But we know from our sources the speaker is less than thrilled at this latest presidential surprise.
Plus, for the third time in as many weeks, President Trump getting a first-hand look at damage left behind by a hurricane. This time Hurricane Irma, which killed at least 33 people here on the United States mainland. Almost 3 million homes and businesses still without power in Florida alone.
The president began his visit in Ft. Myers, where he was briefed on the relief efforts. President Trump's meeting this hour with storm victims in Naples, Florida. We'll bring you there live when it happens.
With us today to share their reporting and their insights, Julie Pace of "The Associated Press," Michael Shear of "The New York Times," Perry Bacon of FiveThirtyEight, and CNN's Sara Murray.
Let's start with the president on the ground in that this has been an unexpected challenge. One of the surprises of being president. You know hurricanes tend to come in August, but you don't know if they're going to hit. You don't know how hard they're going to be. We expect any moment now to see him in Naples, Florida.
For all the criticism in Washington, for all the current dustup we'll get to in a minute over immigration policy and the dreamers, when it comes to how the administration has handled first Harvey, now Irma, high marks, right?
JULIE PACE, "ASSOCIATED PRESS": Yes, so far some pretty high marks. I mean the thing with these storms is that there's the short-term recovery and then there's the long-term recovery. And the long-term tends to be more complicated, in part because the attention goes away. There's not as much daily focus on what's happening there. And then you're really talking about rebuilding, getting people back into their homes.
But certainly the president has jumped on the opportunity to look like the commander in chief, to look like he is in charge of the recovery here. A lot of photos coming out of the White House of him in the Situation Room, these trips -- this being his third down to an area that's been hard. So, yes, high marks initially, but certainly we all know from experience that there's a lot of work still to be done here.
MICHAEL SHEAR, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Two things to think about, too. One is, President Trump benefits from eight years in which FEMA and the sort of disaster infrastructure -- maybe even more than eight years, right -- since Katrina, the whole disaster infrastructure in the United States has completely reinvented and reimagined itself. That's the bureaucracy. That doesn't really matter who the president is. And so he benefits from the fact that the responses are going to be better than they used to be just because of that.
The other thing I think that's interesting is we're seeing -- we had eight years of Obama of sort of the empathizer in chief, right? A guy who sort of emoted and would be -- you'd see the guy with the tears rolling down his eyes and hugging victims and whatever. And that's definitely not Trump's style. But he's, as Julie said, he's sort of finding a way to seem presidential and to seem appropriate to the moment, even if it's not the same way that Obama would have been.
SARA MURRAY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Right. And this would have been a huge challenge for anyone in this position, whether they were a newly-minted president or whether they had had a lot of governing experience, which obviously President Trump has not. And so I do think he does seems to be kind of hitting his own stride and his own rhythm when it comes to this to at least be able to go to these places and explain what we're doing, how we're prepared. He does very much approach it from kind of a CEO perspective and a builder perspective.
But, again, if you are a person whose home has just been demolished and you want to know that there's a shelter to go to and you want to know the power's going to be turned back on and you want to know that there are going to be efforts to rebuild, he goes there and he makes that pitch. He says They're going to do that. And, again, you know, the proof will be in the pudding in the long-term.
[12:05:14] KING: And you see a different style, Perry. It's just that he's not a hugger, like President Obama, or an emoter like President Obama. Not even much like George W. Bush. But he shows up with the first lady. The vice president is there. The acting Homeland Security secretary is there. The FEMA director is there. The energy secretary, Rick Perry, is there. At other stops he's had the small business administrator or the transportation secretary. Sort of the all hands on deck, I am here with you, is a very important message for these people.
PERRY BACON, FIVETHIRTYEIGHT: Right, that was even with Katrina, was it seemed like Bush was disengaged from the issue. And that's the one thing, as Trump is -- clearly he's on the ground. He's not flying over top. And he's -- he's engaged in the issue. And this is like a contrast a lot of time in the presidency where he doesn't say the right thing or he's not engaged. In this issue, he's handling it pretty well. KING: And you make a very important point. Number one, the lessons
learned of Katrina, which George W. Bush took a lot of heat for that. He deserved a lot of heat for that. But he also had a mayor and a governor who didn't help. Who did not help the cause. There was a collapse at every level of government when that happened. So there were lessons learned.
And you also have an amazing technological revolution in recent years where people are now applying for -- once they can get back to power, plug their phone in somewhere, you can apply for your FEMA money this way. It's just a lot faster. And you -- that's one big point.
But you raised the other one. A month from now, six months from now, will people be as happy? Will the president be checking in as often to make sure, you know, for the people who still need help, are they getting it? For the people who are in some disputes, there are always disputes about who qualifies for what, are we at least handling that in a quick fashion?
PACE: And you wonder about Trump because we all know he watches his coverage, right? So right now he's watching coverage and he's seeing a lot of scenes from Florida, a lot of scenes from Texas. It's front of mind for him. At a certain point, that won't be the case. But that is what governing is about. It's about doing those things when they're not on the front burner. When they're not in front of you ever day and keeping on top of the things that just aren't as sexy as, you know, what you're seeing on television every day. That, I think, could be a challenge for him because he is pretty easily distracted by what's in front of him on a -- in a given time.
MURRAY: And (INAUDIBLE) his attention on it, but keeping Congress' attention on it. I mean if we're talking about aid packages that are supposed to be the first shot in a multi-shot injection to help rebuild some of these areas, obviously we know he irked some folks with the way he did this the first time around. So when these stories are not, you know, the top of our broadcast every single day, how easy is it going to be for the president to wrangle the funds he needs to go back into these places and what will that executive sort of leadership look like in the long-term?
KING: I think that's an incredibly important point. You just showed some of the pictures, if we have them, of the president on the ground.
Though, I do think, you know, the president has critics, and there were critics early on, you know, why did he go where he went to Houston? Why didn't he go hug people? I'm sorry, the president is on the scene. The president is not going on the scene in a way that disrupts any active -- in the case of Harvey -- rescue and recovery efforts that were still underway.
There he is right there.
And he's taking ownership. He is saying, you know, just by being there is saying, I am accountable. I am responsible. It's also interested to hear him give so much credit to other people. And in this case he is blessed, politically, in the sense that he has two very supportive Republican governors, Greg Abbott in Texas, Rick Scott in Florida, people who were allies of the president anyway.
But, if they weren't happy with what they were getting, they would protect themselves politically. There were a lot of Democratic mayors in both Texas and in Florida and Democratic members of Congress, Democratic Senator Bill Nelson, who's not at this event today, if they weren't happy with what they were getting, they would find an opportunity to lay blame on this president or this administration and it's birds chirping.
SHEAR: Yes, no, I think that's right. And I think, you know, when -- when the president goes there and he releases the images from Camp David with all the briefings and all -- and all of that, he is implicitly saying, judge me on how this turns out. And, you know, so far the reviews and what he's watching on television had sort of reinforced the idea that he's doing the right thing. And we'll see how it goes, you know, down the road when a year from now, two years from now, you know, and we -- we had that fault too in the media, right? We don't sometimes check in as much as we should. But we will and we'll see how people are doing there.
KING: If there's been a ripple of complaints, it has come from the U.S. Virgin Islands, which got hit a lot harder than mainland Florida. I understand a lot more people live in Florida. There was some talk a couple days ago that perhaps the president would go there on his first stop. Does anybody know why that didn't happen or was it just idle speculation out of the White House or --
MURRAY: I think it sounds like it's further down the road. They kind of wanted to do one thing at a time on this. But I also think, as you pointed out, it's a lot harder to go to an area that has been so disrupted. I mean you can go to parts of Florida right now and you cannot be as disruptive in the recovery efforts. You know, what the Virgin Islands needs right now is probably less so a visit from the president of the United States that's going to draw resources away from the efforts there.
SHEAR: Well, the images of -- the images of that destruction are so -- from what you hear, are so devastating and horrific that it probably is not, you know, it makes some sense to put it off (INAUDIBLE).
KING: And not being -- from an infrastructure standpoint, it may not be smart for the president to be there right.
KING: We have seen, whether it is Michael Flynn had to, you know, be pushed out as national security adviser, bad personnel call by the president of the United States. Reince Priebus left as chief of staff, just didn't -- not a fan or it didn't work. The relationship wasn't working. We've seen some other nominee named and then pulled back because of reasons they can't get confirmed. So there's been a lot of talk about what happened to that promise, Mr. President, to hire the best people.
[12:10:13] When it comes to this one, Brock Long, a former deputy FEMA administrator, and then was Alabama's, you know, FEMA -- state FEMA director, John Kelly, who was the Department of Homeland Security, now is the chief of staff at the White House. His deputy, Elaine Duke, is the acting secretary.
BACON: General Mattis.
KING: And General Mattis --
KING: So in the -- in the chapter of disaster relief that we've gone through the past month for this president, high marks for his people, for the personnel calls in that department, which is in contrast to some earlier stories.
BACON: Because I was struggling to remember the FEMA head's name until you said it, versus Michael Brown's name, because I still remember it like ten years later.
KING: That's a very good test (ph).
BACON: It's a good thing. The FEMA head, you should not know their name. They should just be doing their job and they're not a newsmaker and it's good that we don't -- you know, he's doing the job so well we're not focused on him making mistakes.
KING: Right. And --
MURRAY: And one of the things Tom Bossert, the president's homeland security adviser, has been very up front about is he's been kind of keeping the press updated is, look, these are people who have done this before. These are people who watched what went wrong with Katrina, who took those lessons to heart, who have been thinking about that for years and years and they're taking all of that and applying it to this current situation. And I think that that is -- is one thing the administration has really tried to get across to people is that, you know, the president may be new to this, this may be his first natural or second natural disaster, but for us it's not. We've learned a lot from the last time.
PACE: And it's interesting to think about what the potential effect on the administration could be having now lived through this because Trump came into office and really was so dismissive of Washington, so dismissive of so many people in the Bush administration who had experience. This is the -- this is the reality, having experience sometimes can actually be a good thing.
SHEAR: And to Sara's point, when she said that Bossert is briefing the press, they are briefing the press on this, in contrast to the early days of the administration where, you know, there was sort of no cohesive communications effort to say, hey look at what we're doing. Here there has been a kind of, you know, step by step, you know, not only what you do, but also telling people what you're doing.
KING: And when you have a group of people who seem to know what they're doing, you can actually have that luxury, I guess. All right, everybody, take a break. Up next, what's the deal with DACA
and the dreamers, Democrats and the president. Despite everybody in Washington weighing in today, we're going to try to help you clear up all the confusion.
[12:16:33] KING: Welcome back.
Live pictures there from Capitol Hill. Just moments from now we will see the House speaker, Paul Ryan, behind that podium. He wants to talk about how House Republicans are so smoothly passing their budget bills. But when he gets to questions, the first one that will come up likely be about this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're working on a plan for DACA. People want to see that happen. You have 800,000 young people brought here no fault of their own. So we're working on a plan. We'll see how it works out. The wall will come later. We're right now renovating large sections of wall. Massive sections. Making it brand- new. We're doing a lot of renovation. We're building four different samples of the wall to see which one we're going to choose. And the wall is going to be built. It will be funded a little bit later.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: That was the president earlier today outside the White House discussing his latest big bargain with Democrats made over dinner last night. The latest one would break two core campaign promises, on DACA, the so-called dreamers, and on the wall, at least as a priority.
But a little later on, once he hit the ground in Florida, listen to the president. He tone's a little different.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: But, very importantly, what we want, we have to have a wall. If the wall is going to be obstructed when we need the funds at a little bit later date, we'll be determining how much we need, then we're not doing anything (ph).
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: If I don't get the wall at some point, then we're not doing anything.
Let's try to --
SHEAR: They had a conversation on Air Force One.
KING: The president, number one, he had a conversation with Speaker Ryan on Air Force One. We're waiting to hear from Speaker Ryan.
We know a lot of conservatives are mad at the president, number one. The president called the dreamers and said -- said giving status to the dreamers during the campaign the president said that would be amnesty. Now, he's moderated his position since then, but conservatives want to hold him to that campaign promise, letting anybody stay who came in illegally to them is amnesty. Anybody. It's number a big number, but it's a vocal number.
Number two, the president agreed at this dinner with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer last night, let's do a dreamer deal. Give me border security money, but I will -- in that bill you don't have to have the wall money. And there was the president in Florida trying to say, but I'll get it eventually. I'll get it eventually.
Let's -- what's at -- what's at play here starting with the idea Republicans are furious the president is doing business with Democrats. Even if they agree with the deal, even if they agree with the deal, it's how he's doing it. It's supposed to be Republican president writes laws with Republican Congress. They try to bring in Democrats to get votes. This president had dinner last night, cut the framework of a deal with Democrats and now he's telling the speaker and the majority leader, we know how hard this is for you, but go get me the votes.
BACON: You have to start with the place that he had dinner with the two Democratic leaders without the Republicans there in the first place --
BACON: After last week when there was already tension about that. So you start there.
He cut -- we're calling it a deal. I'm not sure what he got out of this. So it's still -- it's not -- or at least right now I don't know what -- usually a deal is not as one-sided as what I -- so that we're understanding now. So you start from there.
It appears that he's talking about Paul Ryan approving the deal when it wasn't clear he talked to Paul Ryan yet. And so I think there's a lot of concern about -- there's a lot of confusion on what exactly is going on and those comments were kind of contradictory. But it seems to me that he's basically has already went pretty far out there in saying he wants to sign some kind of DACA (INAUDIBLE) or something. That's a big story.
KING: That's a big story and the speaker has started his event on Capitol Hill. We'll take you there as soon as he starts talks about relevant issues or takes some questions.
But that's a very important point you make that, what does the president get out of it? Well, the president clearly wants legislation that gives legal status, the Democrats want citizenship, the president wants at least legal status for 800,000 people who came into the country illegally.
[12:20:05] Now, the president, since the campaign, has said, you know, they were brought over when they were young. Most -- I think the average age was six years told, had nothing to do with it. They were carried into the country. They didn't actively plot to illegally enter the United States of America. Most of the country is with the president. But candidate Donald Trump, I think we have some sound, candidate Donald Trump was pretty clear about this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I will immediately terminate President Obama's illegal executive order on immigration. Immediately.
I want dreamers to come from the United States. I want the people in the United States that have children, I want them to have dreams also. We're always talking about dreamers for other people.
We will immediately terminate President Obama's two illegal executive amnesties in which he defied federal law and the Constitution to give amnesty to approximately five million illegal immigrants. Five million.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: The president uses the term amnesty there. But what he's saying now is, for the dreamers, that it's a compassionate position. Again, he has majority support in the country. But it is not what the Trump base thought he was going to do.
PACE: And I think, you know, it's important to remember, immigration, more than anything else, was what animated the Trump base in terms of the policies. When you go to those rallies -- Sara was at so many of them -- and you would talk to people, it wasn't that they were just drawn to the idea of Trump as a reality television show star who was running for president. They actually really believed in the immigration policies, the wall, getting rid of what they saw as amnesty by President Obama. So to walk potentially both of those promises back in one deal would be just a massive undermining of his pledge to those supporters.
KING: I just want to say, as we continue the conversation about this immigration debate, you see the president on the ground there in Naples, Florida. He's beginning to walk through a trailer park area with the first lady. These people have all been impacted by Hurricane Irma. You see Governor Scott there. I know Senator Marco Rubio is there, as well as the FEMA director and others. So we're going to watch them go through the park. If the president stops and talks in any way or interacts in any way and we can hear him, we'll interrupt the conversation.
But to Julie's point, in that I think, you know, look, the president said he would be a deal-maker in Washington. I don't think anybody is surprised that you have to trade to get. But he's giving legal status to the dreamers and what -- what is he getting -- he's making some border security money for some cameras and stuff and then down the road I'll get the wall?
MURRAY: I think that, as Julie pointed out -- and, yes, people are really animated about immigration. And I think that a lot of the people who supported Trump would be fine with the deal, but they would be fine with the deal that has, you know, border security in it. I don't think that what really animated people was necessarily the dreamers, except so much the way that President Obama did it. and that's the line a lot of Republicans have walked is that he did it through his own executive action, that that was illegal, that that was an overreach. And so for Congress to do it legislatively would be a different thing.
And what really animated the Trump base in a lot of ways had much more to do with border security than these dreamers. But you have to get something in exchange. And it's not clear that the president has in this so-called deal.
KING: Right. Let's listen in for a second, the president there on the ground in Naples, Florida.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: (INAUDIBLE) I think a lot of the -- that's a lot of work.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you so much.
A lot of (INAUDIBLE). We've been covering up roofs, like leaks and stuff, just to get them by in case of rain or something like that.
TRUMP: Fantastic job.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Taking care of the community.
TRUMP: (INAUDIBLE) is working hard and you're working hard.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm the helper (ph).
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She's my helper. She's the one that helps (INAUDIBLE).
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They've been wonderful. They've been wonderful.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you so much, Mr. President.
TRUMP: Thank you, (INAUDIBLE).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's been an honor to see you. It's been an honor to be in front of you.
TRUMP: Thank you. Appreciate it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you all for coming.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you for coming to Naples. We appreciate all you've done. Thank you so much. God bless you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, what is your message to all the people of southwest Florida impacted by this hurricane? TRUMP: Well, we love the people of Florida. And they went through
something that I guess the likes of which we can really say nobody's ever seen before. They've never seen a category like this come in, because it came in really at a five. All you have to do is look at what happened in The Keys.
But we love these people and we're going to be back and we're going to help. And the job that everybody has done in terms of first responder and everybody has been incredible.
And, by the way, that includes the people that live here, because you see the people immediately getting back to work to fix up their homes, like Bobby and like some of the others. So I just want to tell you, we are there for you 100 percent. I'll be back here numerous times. I mean this is a state that I know very well, as you understand. And these are special, special people and we love them.
Thank you. Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, Mr. President.
KING: All right, the president continues his walk through this trailer community in Naples, Florida, again, shaking hands with some of the residents who are trying to get their lives back together, get their property back in livable footing. Different degrees of damage depending on where you are in the state, sometimes where you are in the same neighborhood. Some people had flooding. Some people just had wind damage. Some people had just the power out. Some people with trees falling on their properties and causing damage, whether it be to their home or to their car. The president promising there, I'm with you 100 percent. I'll be back several times.
An important promise from the president. You see the political leadership in the state as well. The first lady and the vice president, along with the president.
We're going to continue to watch the president as he makes his way through here. It's kind of -- we're a bit of a bouncing ball ourselves today in the middle of all the breaking news. That's what make this fun.
KING: That's what makes this fun.
If you're in the White House travel pool and you're chasing the president around --
PACE: It looked very familiar.
KING: Yes, we've all done that at the table and it's an interesting experience as we watch it.
But let's keep our eye on that. We're not trying to give you whiplash, folks. The pictures bounce from time to time. So here's the president on the ground telling the people of Florida, I'm with you 100 percent. He doesn't care if they're Democrats or Republicans. This is what a president should do and he's doing it.
The big question in town is, what about this -- these other -- you know, a spending and debt ceiling deal last week with the Democrats, with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer. Now the outlines of a deal to give legal status to 800,000 dreamers. Details still to be worked out. But clearly the top Democrats want it, top Republicans say they want it too. The question is, is the president now repositioning himself politically? Is he willing to stand up to the vocal voices in his own party who helped him win the nomination, who helped him win the election, who have been pushing him to stick to his campaign promises.
I almost don't want to interrupt the pictures, but if we can split the screen and show you the headline, Steve Bannon, his now fired chief strategist, runs "Breitbart News" again. On "Breitbart News" he calls him "amnesty Don" today. Is the president willing to stand up -- is this his new pivot to stand up to the people who helped him win?
SHEAR: Look, I think there's a couple of questions. One is that question of whether he can stand up to the pressure of the Breitbarts and the (INAUDIBLE). So, you know, the message that he's sending with the DACA thing is also -- has the potential to bring in some other parts of the Republican base, right, moderate Republicans that might be part of that.
The other question is, can he really -- can a Republican president really work with the interest groups? I mean immigration is an issue that has been fought in this city for more than a decade, more than probably two decades. And there are interest groups that are very liberal on -- who are the ones that don't' always fight for it. Can he really align himself with some of these groups to get it done?
KING: I guess my question is, is this a new Trump who has learned the lessons of the Obamacare defeat, who blames the Republican leadership, who says he's going to try to do it a different way, or is this this week's Trump and this is what he's going to -- it worked for him on the spending deal, he got the Harvey money, he got something to sign, and he thinks that worked, now I'm going to try it on something else and he can do it on immigration. And if this goes into the quicksand, like most immigration conversations in this town do, does he pivot again or is this a new Trump?
PACE: I mean I really -- I really think it would be difficult for us to sort of over interpret this because Trump does both of those things that you said. You know, it is very possible that he did see the negative reaction to health care and feel like he had to go in a different direction. It is also very possible that he just sort of woke up last -- last week and said I think I'm going to start dealing with the Democrats. And that could change next week. We just don't know.
KING: Right. We see the president and the first lady now in this tent serving some meals. It's lunchtime, of course. Let's listen in a little bit as the president helps out with the relief efforts. This is Naples, Florida.