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Price Tag For Pence's Trip To Indianapolis; Bannon Focusing On At Least 6 GOP Senators Up For Re-election Next Year; Ivana Trump Opens Up About The President. Aired 12:3-1p ET

Aired October 9, 2017 - 12:30   ET


[12:30:00] DANA BASH, CNN ANCHOR: At Sunday's Colts-49ers game. Afterwards, he tweeted, I left today's Colt's game because at POTUS and I will not dignify any event that disrespects our soldiers, our flag, or our national anthem.

We now know that this walkout was discussed by the President and vice president ahead of time. A lot to discuss like what was the price tag for all that?

To help answer that question, CNN's Rene Marsh joins me live. Renee, what are you finding out about how much all of this is costing taxpayers?

RENE MARSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Dana, the Air Force says that it cost them $30,000 per hour to fly a C-32. That is the aircraft that the vice president flies on Air Force 2.

Vice President Pence flight from Las Vegas to Indianapolis on Saturday, took about three hours and 20 minutes. And cost about $100,000. Pence then flew from Indianapolis to Los Angeles on Sunday. And that flight was about four hours and 45 minutes and the cost was about near $142,500. So the grand total, nearly a quarter million dollars.

Now, had Pence skipped the game, which he left rather early and flew straight to Los Angeles where he was scheduled to attend a fundraiser. The trip would have cost much less. About $45,000 total.

Now, all of these flight costs that we're talking about here, they do not include the cost of advanced personnel, secret service and even support on the ground. Some of the costs we should point out though of the flight specifically to Los Angeles, that will be reimbursed by the Republican National Committee because Pence was attending a political event there.

But this morning critics are calling this a rather expensive political stunt on taxpayers' dime. Now, I will say, no one is questioning whether the vice president should be flying on Air Force 2 that goes without saying. But what they are saying is whether they knew that they were going to do this ahead of time.

You mentioned the President's tweet about talking to the vice president and telling him to leave. Also we know from pool reports there, the press was told stay in the van because the vice president won't be here very long, so the criticism is they knew what they were going to do going into this game, Dana.

BASH: Rene, thank you so much for breaking that down. That's an important point. Nobody is saying the vice president shouldn't go to a football game or, you know, do some of the things that, you know, they're going to do as citizens of this country.

And yes, it just costs a lot more because they happen to need certain kind of plane, Secret Service, so on and so forth. But to Renee's point, if the vice president knew ahead of time that he was going to go and leave, that's what the President basically suggested, that is certainly the vibe that the pool got when they were told stay in the vans, the press pool. What does that say?

TOLUSE OLORUNNIPA, BLOOMBERG: The President tweeted, he said, "I asked the vice president to do this basically." And the president brought this up and made this an issue a couple of weeks ago in Alabama when not many people in the country were talking about NFL protest. That led to a big backlash on the NFL field. So, thousands of players decided to take the knee.

A number of them were in a opposition to the President, not necessarily over the issues that were brought up by the initial protest. This was starting to die down again. Not too many people were talking about it. Then the vice president does this stunt in his office tweeted out or not only tweeted out, but sent out, you know, statement to reporters, sent out the picture to reporters.

They obviously wanted --

BASH: Yes.

OLORUNNIPA: -- this to be what we're talking about today, whether to distract from something else or just to have this cultural issue which President Trump thinks is a winner for him in the news. It's something that they see as a positive political strategy and it's not going to go away as long as the president and vice president are using their political capital to talk about the NFL.

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESIONAL CORRESPONDENT: He could have made the same point by putting on a statement or putting that in twitter and saying I'm not going to go to the Colts game because the 49ers players --


RAJU: -- who are nailing on the sidelines, and i object to this. And they say that U.S median, they use Twitter as a median to go directly to the American public, he could have done this on Twitter rather than doing it this way. The vice president also -- they brought that statement last night, saying that, he would have went back to Washington --


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right. RAJU: -- before going back to Los Angeles. So he was in Vegas, they said if he hadn't gone to Indianapolis, he was going to Washington, back to Los Angeles. But why not stay the night --


RAJU: -- in Las Vegas and go to L.A. the next day? Wouldn't that really save taxpayer dollars? So, how would these questions are going to away?

MARGARET TALEV, BLOOMBERG: This has been an odd posture for this vice president. Although he is certainly --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You think a little bit?

TALEV: Yes. He's been a good soldier for the President. He stood by him at many policy points throughout the opening months of his presidency that didn't always seem in keeping with kind of Mike Pence's history. But for those of us who have covered him over the years, he's been always a great defender of free speech and freedoms of speech.

[12:35:10] And, I mean, that's absolutely right. And this was out of sync with that. This seems that he is definitely in line for the President against kind of his own history of how he would support things. And I think, you know, where do you draw the line about what's patriotic activity? Can you go get a hot dog during the national anthem? Can you go to the bathroom during national anthem? If you kneel and put your hand over your heart so you are clearly trying to send patriotic signal, is that patriotic enough?

It's -- the White House is going out of its way to drive home a message. I'm not sure where this all --

JONATHAN MARTIN, THE NEW YORK TIMES: It's a good issue for them. Look, it's -- the politics of it are a winner. OK? Kneeling during the national anthem is a better political issue for the party that is on the side of standing on the side of kneeling. That's just what the math is.

The issue to me is that they there are trying to basically polarize the electorate and sort of ensure that you have this sort of tribal politics next to you and beyond. So that they can retain loyalty of their base regardless of their agenda succeeds here or not.

Next year, if you don't have tax reform and you don't their appeal of Obamacare, you would at least have the kind of cultural attachment that were on the side of the flag, and country, and cultural traditionalism and the other side is not.

So, it's almost like they're looking for some kind of a sort outlet where if they can't get policy passed, they at least would to have some cultural (ph) next year.

BASH: Yes. Well, and that's a very nice segue for our next segment which is about Steve Bannon, who, of course, is the President's former chief strategist, expands his list of Republicans he wants to leave the U.S Senate.

How Bannon is doing that, what he's up to, stay with us.


[12:41:22] BASH: President Trump isn't the only one openly warring with Republican senators. His former chief strategist, Steve Bannon, is on a mission to try to defeat many of them at the polls next year. He's taking it upon himself to recruit and promote at least half a dozen Republican candidates to challenge their fellow Republican senators.

After Bannon's candidate beat President Trump and Mitch McConnell's guy in the Alabama Senate primary run off, Bannon is now going after Republican incumbent -- incumbents rather in Nebraska, Utah, Mississippi, Nevada, Wyoming, even trying to recruit Blackwater founder, Eric Prince, to run against John Barasso who was a member of the Senate GOP leadership. Now one interesting omission from the list is Senator Ted Cruz. What do you make of this?

I mean, he is -- he's Steve Bannon. He's making it his mission to and I'm told, I did some reporting before the show, nationalize --


BASH: -- the 2018 election for the Republicans --


BASH: -- and to make the whole notion of where is the Republican --


BASH: -- Party a really big issue across the board, across these races, that aren't supposed to be racist.

MARTIN: Yes. He wants to Trump up by the primaries next year and basically do next year what we saw in, 2010, in 2012 and 2014 in a much more organized fashion. You guys recalled it those cycles before they saw these tea party candidates or so-called tea party candidates running as insurgents against the incumbents or release against the (INAUDIBLE).

And I think it's a version of that, but perhaps more organized, perhaps better financed by the Mercer family and then also, I think with a more of a tangible goal of finding people who, A, support president Trump, and B, in perhaps more important, oppose Mitch McConnell.

RAJU: Yes.

BASH: Exactly.

MARTIN: My understanding is that he is trying to extract from these candidates a litmus test.

BASH: That's exactly right.

MARTIN: How you question of well you oppose McConnell for leader?

BASH: Yes.

MARTIN: And this could wreck (INAUDIBLE) next year in the Senate.

RAJU: Yes, I think that I would be very surprised if any of these incumbent Republican senators lose their primaries next year because of the nature of the states and as well as the fact that even if they are well financed, there's going to be a lot of money going towards these candidates. It's very difficult to be an incumbent in a primary, much easier in an open seat like Alabama.


RAJU: Exactly. As it might this in as it well said.


RAJU: Right. But the real concern is that if you are forced to spend money in the primaries --


RAJI: -- what about those seats that you want to pick up next year, those red seats that democratic senators hold. That's going to be much harder to do and that could also divide the base if these primaries get very messy and that could lead to problems with the party.

BASH: And that you just hit on of course Manu something that is a part of Bannon's strategy I'm told is to really flood the zone. And to try the force Mitch McConnell to defend not just a couple of the most vulnerable Senate Republicans, but even those who might not be that vulnerable, but they want to make sure that they're not going anywhere, whether it's Deb Fischer -- Senator Deb Fischer of Nebraska or John Barrasso and people like that.

But the other thing you talked about money, I'm told Bannon is trying to convince McConnell donors to cut off money. That he's actively tried to do that to sort of -- what I'm told is choke the oxygen of the establishment candidates. If that that (INAUDIBLE) the grassroots.

TALEV: If you're President Trump and this is what we talked about all the time on the show, you have to decide whether you want to disrupt or whether you want to govern and whether it's possible to do both.

But if you're Steve Bannon, you don't have to make that decision.


[12:45:02] TALEV: You just have to decide to disrupt. And that's what's going on here. And the question for President Trump is, if you end the year without tax reform, if you end the year -- the year or perhaps your first term without a replacement for Obamacare, does it -- who does it hurt more? Does it hurt you more or does it hurt the House Speaker and the Senate President more? Because if you can take them out first and that's what you want to do, you have to the disruption factor.

Now, it's less clear to me whether Trump has decided that's what wants and certainly what Bannon to always wanted is the ability to make that happen.

BASH: I want to play for you something that Rush Limbaugh has said recently about Bannon and the role he has in the GOP.


RUSH LIMBAUGH, CONSERVATIVE POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think what Bannon is doing is slowly but surely taking over the role of the Republican Party whether Republican Party is on balance not with Trump. Bannon is attempting to put together a group of people who are, who call themselves Republican.


BASH: This is a really important point and it kind of circles back to where we started the show about Corker and other Republican senators who never really wanted Trump to begin with. The cat's out of the bag now.

OLORUNNIPA: And that kind of leads to one of the challenge for President Trump. He doesn't like others people getting the credit. So when it seems that Bannon is portrait as the master mind behind Trump's victory and the new head of the Republican Party.

That's makes it much likely that Trump will get behind some of these Bannon-backed candidates. At the same time, Trump is not a big fan of Mitch McConnell right now and, you know, he backed Mitch McConnell's candidate in the Alabama of primary and lost. So he does not want to get burned again. So he's in sort of between a rock and hard place in trying to decide what to do.

RAJU: Yes. That's going to be the ultimate question. What does President --

BASH: Yes.

RAJU: -- Trump do in these primaries. He typically backed some of from your own party when you're president. As we know, this president, who knows what he'll do.

BASH: And Alabama shows that --


BASH: -- doesn't really matter necessarily because the president backed the establishment candidate. Trump voters --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. BASH: -- with the help of Steve Bannon backed the insurgent --


BASH: -- and the insurgent won. So --


MARTIN: Yes. Those are the very tell from Alabama is that, you know, yes, strange had some issues with his appointment that were localized. But Trump couldn't transfer his popularity and get closer than 9.5 points. If you're Roger Wicker in Mississippi and you're counting on Trump's endorsement, that's not a good sign for you.

BASH: OK. We have to take a quick break because we have to get to the next segment which is my favorite story of the weekend. Ivana Trump, President Trump first wife opening up in a new interview when it turns out she still talks to her ex-husband once a week and gives him advice about one of his most controversial presidential habits.


[12:51:49] BASH: Ivanka Trump dishes the details on her relationship with President Trump, his Twitter habits an parenting. It's all part of a push to promote her new book, Raising Trump, in which she says she deserves credit for raising the kids that she shares with the president. The president and his first wife split 25 years ago, but still talk regularly. And while Ivana is complimentary of the president, she's also taking credit where credit is due. She says, here's what she told CBS.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He wouldn't be who he is without you.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If we're going to talk about who raised the Trump kids?

TRUMP: It was definitely me.


BASH: And when it comes to the president's Twitter habits, she says she's all for it.


TRUMP: He asks me about should I tweet, should I not tweet. I said, I think you should tweet. It's new buy, a new technology and if you want to get your words across rightly without telling the "New York Times", which is going to twist every single work of yours, this is how you get your message out. It's a tweeting president. This is his new way how to put the message across and he's right. (END VIDEOCLIP)

BASH: I could have watched this interview for like hours and hours and hours. It was so fascinating. She went after you, "New York Times", would you like to respond?

MARTIN: No, I appreciate her taking the opportunity on national TV to promote, which you can get print or digital. They're out right now, so, the plug.

BASH: What did you think of the interview? I thought it was absolutely fascinating because she -- you could see why she was married to Donald Trump.

TALEV: I think John Kelly just found out hat he has -- if he didn't know, a new person that he now needs to keep communications with the president. But the thing about President Trump that we've come to learn slowly is that even though you're fired is like his catch phrase, nobody ever really gets fired and nobody ever really get kicked out of --


TALEV: -- President Trump's universe. And actually at some points the more acrimony is the fall out is that the given point and time the more likely they are to continue to remain in touch. So, we can all extrapolate from this that not only is he still in touch to Ivana. But also he's still in touch with basically every former adviser who's worked with the White House.

BASH: Yes.

TALEV: Every former advisor who's worked within business.

BASH: True. And --

RAJU: In every senator he's gone to war with, too. I mean he calls people up randomly all the time with his phone calls.

BASH: He's talking with Senator Lindsey Graham as we speak.

RAJU: Exactly.

MARTIN: Yes. Somebody who's cell phone number he read on national T.V. That (INAUDIBLE) a new cell phone number and now a year had change later (INAUDIBLE).

BASH: OK. We go to get back to the Ivana because I want to play this sound bite because this is another jam for the -- from the interview about whether or not, actually, why she didn't want to be ambassador to the Czech Republic.

RAJU: I love this.

(BEGIN VIDEOCLIP) TRUMP: I was just offered to be American ambassador to Czech Republic and Donald told me, he said, Ivana if you want it, I give it to you. But I like my freedom. OK. Why would I go and say bye-bye to Miami inventor, bye-bye to Saint-Tropez in summer and bye-bye to spring and fall in New York? I have a perfect life.


BASH: I mean, who can argue with that?

MARTIN: Who among out this?

[12:55:03] BASH: Would you give up -- would you say bye-bye to Saint- Tropez in the winter and summer?

OLORUNNIPA: (INAUDIBLE) no winter or Saint-Tropez in the summer.

RAJU: I wanted to see that confirmation hearing.

BASH: It would have been awesome.

RAJU: Before Bob Corker's committee could bring you back full circles if you given her the show.

BASH: Yes we are.


OLORUNNIPA: And that was my favorite part of the interview because she says I just got called up and the president says you can have it if you want it. This is an ambassadorship --

BASH: Yes.

OLORUNNIPA: -- to the Czech Republic and these shows how the president operates. He gets on the phone. He's improvisational. He hands out some of the goodies of the presidency to, you know, to his friends and he's very -- he takes things and handles things off the cuff and seems like that's what he was doing with his.

BASH: Because that was your favorite. My favorite, Margaret, I'll leave you guys out of this was when she said about dating, she would rather be a babysitter than a nurse. Meaning she likes younger guys.

TALEV: That's what would explain a lot with that.

BASH: I love that.

TALEV: It was the whole thing was great masterful.

BASH: It really was. And, you know, look forward to reading it and who knows how many other former Trump wives or, you know, others will come out with both. But I think it's noteworthy that they still do talk once a week.

MARTIN: Good for the kids. BASH: Tells you a lot. Absolutely. Thank you for joining us on Inside Politics. John King is back tomorrow. Wolf Blitzer is up right after a break.