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Tina Smith's First National Interview; Dreamers Deal; Water Main Break at JFK; Oprah's Golden Globes Speech. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired January 8, 2018 - 08:30   ET

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


[08:33:10] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump maintains that he wants to work with Democrats to find a permanent solution for dreamers, but only if it comes with funding for his border wall.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We want the wall. The wall's going to happen or we're not going to have DACA. We want to get rid of chain migration. Very important. And we want to get rid of the lottery system.

We all want DACA to happen, but we also want great security for our country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAMEROTA: Joining us now for her first national TV interview is the new Democratic senator of Minnesota, Tina Smith. Senator Smith just replaced Al Franken, who resigned amid sexual misconduct accusations.

Good morning, senator.

SEN. TINA SMITH (D), MINNESOTA: Good morning.

CAMEROTA: What a whirlwind month you've had.

SMITH: It has been quite a month, I will tell you. I am proud to say I have my Senate I.D. now and I don't quite have cable in my apartment, but -- in D.C., but I'm hoping this week. It's been not anything I anticipated, but I'm ready to go to work.

CAMEROTA: Well, I mean, you couldn't have imagined where you would be sitting just two months ago.

SMITH: You know, absolutely not. I've been a lieutenant governor in Minnesota working on a whole range of issues. So this is not anything I -- it's definitely not anything I expected.

CAMEROTA: And I do want to get to all of those issues and your agenda in a moment. But first, because you have replaced Al Franken, and there was so much, you know, emotion around him resigning, do you think that he should have resigned?

SMITH: Well, I know from having spoken to Al many times -- first of all, I want to say that Al was a really strong senator for Minnesota. He advocated so well for us. And I also know that the decision that he made to resign was the decision that he felt was the best thing for Minnesota. And I respect the decision that he made. And now it's up to me to move forward and that's what I'm going to do.

CAMEROTA: I mean a lot -- look, I don't have to tell you, a lot of his Democratic colleagues felt that it was too hasty and that he should have stayed, he should have waited out an ethics commission, and there are repercussions of his resignation. I mean not just obviously you sitting there, but just this weekend, one prominent Democratic donor, Suzie Tompkins Buhel (ph), says she's considering withdrawing financial support from any Democrats who encouraged Al Franken to resign. So what do you think?

[08:35:20] SMITH: There are a lot of -- there's -- there are a lot of feelings about this. There -- no doubt. And what I've noticed is that there are a lot of feelings on both sides. And I really respect that. But I think that the question now is, how do we move forward? And I am 100 percent sure that Al made the decision that he thought was best.

And I think it's also really interesting that this question of how women ought to be treated in their workplaces, what kind of respect they ought to get, whether they work in a corporate boardroom or whether they are -- they work in a hotel cleaning rooms. This is, I think, what was so strong about what Oprah Winfrey said last night, that this issue is really galvanizing people. And I believe we're at a tipping point in this country and that that is a really good thing.

And it's being driven, I think, by young women who are saying, we shouldn't have to put up with this anymore.

CAMEROTA: Do you think Oprah Winfrey's going to run for president?

SMITH: Well, you know, she gave a great speech last night and I have a lot of respect for her. And the great thing about this country is that anybody can run for president.

CAMEROTA: Apparently. And it's breaking out all over with billionaire TV stars.

So, senator, so tell me what your plan is to deal with dreamers? Do you think -- would you agree to some sort of compromise with President Trump if it meant somehow funding the border wall that he wants?

SMITH: Well, I want to just tell you, just yesterday in Minneapolis we -- where I was at an event where we had dreamers talking. And there was a story of this young woman, 15 years old, who didn't even -- she was brought by her parents, by her mother, to this country when she was young. She didn't even know that she wasn't -- that she was an undocumented person until she wanted to go to work to help her mother pay the bills at 15 and she realized that she didn't have a Social Security Number. That young woman deserves the opportunity to have a path to citizenship. And I don't think it should be bogged down by a border wall, which, frankly, I just don't think makes any sense and I think most people don't think it makes sense. I mean we need strong border security, but I don't think that's the answer. CAMEROTA: I mean here in lies the problem, though. Republicans say

that they want a way to protect the dreamers. Democrats say that they want a way to protect the dreamers, and yet you're at loggerheads, or it seems to be, that there's this sticking point because President Trump, when he was a candidate, promised a border wall. And, of course, that costs money. And it doesn't look like Mexico's going to pay for that. So what do Democrats do?

SMITH: Well, you know, I've only been here for five days, but it seems to me that if we have bipartisan agreement, that there ought to be a path to citizenship for these young people who were brought to this country as young people. That, you know, if Republicans agree and Democrats agree, then we ought to be able to come together. And that is where I'm going to be focused when I get up to Capitol Hill in a couple of hours.

CAMEROTA: It's funny talking to you newbies. The optimism that is still -- you still have, you know, you haven't -- it hasn't been beaten out of you yet by Capitol Hill.

About the other stuff that's in the news, the president's mental fitness, do you have concerns?

SMITH: Well, you know, I'm not qualified to opine on the president's mental fitness. But what I am qualified to do is to say that in all of these Twitter storms that he has been unleashing over the last -- just five days since I've been here, I haven't heard one thing in any of that that has anything to do with Minnesotans and what Minnesotans care about.

That, I think, is a big problem. Minnesotans right now are worried about the rising cost of health care. They're worried about rural broadband. They're worried about how they're going to find good quality childcare for their children. Some parents are driving 50 miles every day to get to a good -- to get to a good place for their children. That's what Minnesotans are worried about. They're not -- I don't -- and I think this Twitter storm that he unleashes is a huge distraction and is frankly, you know, undignified. He ought to just put the phone down.

CAMEROTA: Well, Senator Tin Smith, we look forward to talking to you many more times. Thanks so much for making your first TV appearance here on NEW DAY.

SMITH: Well, thanks for the chance to talk with you.

CAMEROTA: Great to talk to you.

Chris.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right, so we're covering this absolute mess that happened at JFK International Airport and this water main broke. Take a look at your screen. Just flooded out areas, screwed up all kinds of travel. It took a very long time. Why did this happen in one of the nation's busiest airports? We're going to take you live to JFK, next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:43:46] CAMEROTA: So the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is now investigating this water main break that caused chaos at New York's JFK Airport this weekend, flooding parts of the international terminal and backing up all sorts of travel.

CNN's Alison Kosik is live at JFK Airport with the latest.

What a mess.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What a mess is right, Alisyn.

So Terminal Four behind me back in action today. Flights are coming and going with delays. A very different story from yesterday when we saw major chaos unfold when a pipe that is hooked in to a sprinkler system broke, sending a cascade of water just pouring into Terminal Four and into the baggage claim area where hundreds of pieces of luggage were already sitting because of that massive snowstorm from last week, and also some baggage handling equipment froze and couldn't handle that equipment -- couldn't handle those bags anyway. So you had all those bags sitting there, kind of like sitting ducks, getting sopping wet.

So now, because thousands of passengers have been affected because of this water break, you've got the Port Authority investigating why this happened, why that pipe wasn't water protected and whether what -- and what other contributing factors may have contributed to the chaos that unfolded here yesterday.

[08:45:03] Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: OK, Alison, thank you very much.

KOSIK: Thanks.

CAMEROTA: Chris.

CUOMO: All right, so, did you watch the Golden Globes last night? Well, you should have. Oprah Winfrey gave this huge speech. The crowd was electrified, on its feet more than once. And now the questions, will Oprah run for president in 2020? Next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CUOMO: A new day is on the horizon. That is what Oprah said. And, of course, we believe it here because it's the name of our show. Her speech at the Golden Globes got a huge reaction. A very specific audience. But when she was receiving the prestigious Cecil B DeMille, she's the first African-American woman to ever win it, it was a moment in time and she seized it. The legendary talk show host defending the free press, issuing a call to action in the nation. Here's a taste.

[08:50:03] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OPRAH WINFREY: So I want all the girls watching here and now to know that a new day is on the horizon. And when that new day finally dawns, it will be because of a lot of magnificent women, many of whom are right here in this room tonight, and some pretty phenomenal men, fighting hard to make sure that they become the leaders who take us to the time when nobody ever has to say "me too" again.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: All right. Joining us to discuss, senior media correspondent for CNN, Brian Stelter, and CNN media analyst Bill Carter.

Brian, was this just a speech last night in accepting this award and making something of the moment, or was it something more?

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: More than a speech for sure.

Oprah Winfrey has been energized, in some cases horrified by the Trump presidency, energized by the Trump presidency, motivated by the Trump presidency. And among other things, what we are seeing is a political moment for her. Yes, this speech was -- the proximate purpose of this speech was to celebrate the "me too" movement and to speak for women who are coming forward and breaking the silence, but she also said a lot that could be construed as a campaign rallying cry, talking about their time is up, those men, those abusers who behaved in the shadows, their time is up. She didn't have to mention Trump for people to hear a campaign rallying cry in that speech.

CAMEROTA: Bill, you know Oprah from her days in Baltimore TV.

BILL CARTER, CNN MEDIA ANALYST: Yes, I do.

CAMEROTA: Is she running for president?

CARTER: Well, she's making the right noise about it. She's a formidable person. There's no doubt about it. And she's always been, you know, intelligent. She obviously got a command on the air, like on, you know, television like nobody else does.

This isn't the first time -- I mean people are mentioning, of course, the Trump precedent (ph), but remember Ronald Reagan was an actor and then he became the -- began making speeches that were on behalf of GE and made a college speech and people started to say, hey, this guy has political ambitions.

CUOMO: Right.

CARTER: You can sort of see the same thing here, I think, that this sounded like a political speech to me and I think -- I've been questioning in the past whether Oprah really wanted to do this, wanted to face the kind of scrutiny that you face as a presidential candidate, but I think she put a big step forward last night. I think that was for real.

CUOMO: All right, so let's play a little bit. Let's plus minus a little bit. I mean obviously with Reagan as an example, he was -- there were steps, right? He was an actor. Then he was the head of a union. Then he was governor of California. Now we see no steps with Trump. So plus/minus, Brian, what do you say, give us a couple of the big things she'd have going for her and what would work against her?

STELTER: She is a black woman, a voice for minorities and for women who feel disfranchised and disaffected by the Trump presidency. It's a huge plus. She is a worldwide icon. She has deep pockets and a deep well of charisma.

I think the negatives or the minuses, well, we would say she has no political experience, but then again neither did President Trump. We would say that she's viewed as a Hollywood elitist. Then again, President Trump sort of was. He was the star of "The Apprentice." President Trump was able to get over that hurdle, able to see himself as a member -- as aligning himself with the working class. Could Oprah Winfrey do the same? I think in some ways she does -- she did on her talk show.

You know, her talk show went on for decades. It was, of course, the most successful daytime talk show of the era. Now she has a cable channel. She's on "60 Minutes." She has investments in companies like Weight Watchers. She isn't necessarily as visible on a daily basis, but perhaps she wants to be.

CAMEROTA: I don't know, Bill, maybe we should just admit that we like celebrities and only let mega TV star billionaires run for president.

STELTER: Then again, that's why a lot of people are saying, whoa, what about -- why are we talking about Oprah. There is also a reason to argue again her for that reason, isn't there?

CAMEROTA: Well, not her --

CARTER: Yes.

CAMEROTA: I mean but only because if you say like, OK, we tried it with Donald Trump.

CARTER: Well --

CAMEROTA: But don't you think that we are always going to be susceptible to megawatt celebrities in this country?

CARTER: Well, and, also, people think not very highly of politicians. I mean that's one of the reasons Trump was successful. There's a doubt about them.

I have to say one thing that Brian said struck me is that the advantage that Oprah has. She's a black woman can be seen as a disadvantage. I mean, you know, their -- that's going to be something she has to overcome for a lot of the people who voted for Donald Trump, I think. I also think Oprah will have to step back and say, do I want to do this? Do I want to expos myself to what happens in a presidential campaign because it, you know, especially if she's running against, Trump, it's going to be extremely nasty.

STELTER: Well, I just want to be on the record in case this happens, it's January 8, 2018. A lot could happen between now and 2020. We don't know if President Trump will be president in 2020 or if the Mueller investigation will lead to his downfall. But here -- here it is on the record, Joe Biden, Oprah Winfrey, 2020. Think about that as a ticket. President and vice president. Biden runs for one term, says he'll step aside after one term. It sets up a situation where Oprah would then come in later and be that first female president candidate. I think that kind of ticket could be very compelling for Democrats.

[08:55:18] CARTER: Brian's moving over to political consultant now, I think that's -- that's a very interesting idea.

STELTER: Just want to float -- hey, maybe this will be my one and only time ever saying it because it's so outlandish, but I think it actually makes a lot of sense in terms of a political insider with decades of experience, and then this outsider, this celebrity with so much star power, who campaigned and helped Barack Obama, who endorsed Hillary Clinton --

CARTER: Yes.

STELTER: Who wanted to see that glass ceiling shattered, and didn't see it last year. I think Oprah, who talked about this seminal moment for women last year -- actually, what are we now, a year and a half ago, she wanted to see that first female president happen. She wanted to see Hillary Clinton elected. She may look in the mirror and say, maybe that could be me.

CUOMO: Well, look, it's always a beauty contest, to Alisyn's point. You know the -- one of the greatest indicators of who will win in a match-up is who do you want to have a beer with. You know, there is something to charisma, there is something to congeniality, but that's because there was always a built-in of competent and experience and knowhow.

STELTER: Sure.

CUOMO: I wonder if the lesson of Trump --

CARTER: Yes.

CUOMO: Thus far is that that mattered a hell of a lot more than we thought it did.

CARTER: Yes.

CUOMO: But, anyway, Bill, Brian, thank you. Appreciate it.

CAMEROTA: Thank you, guys.

All right, CNN "NEWSROOM" with Poppy Harlow and John Berman will pick up after this very quick break. And we'll see you tomorrow.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:00:07] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. I'm John Berman. POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Poppy Harlow. Hope you had a great weekend.

Did you read "Fire and Fury."