Return to Transcripts main page
Trump Weighs In on Georgia Governor's Primary; Kemp: The "Politically Incorrect" Candidate For GA Governor; Trump Speaks at VFW National Convention. Aired 12:30-1p ET
Aired July 24, 2018 - 12:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[12:30:00] MAGGIE HABERMAN, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: As close as possible to the election to made it harder for Mueller to put out a report without being accused of playing politics. I think that that is the basic idea because I think they have a sense that it would take -- I think Mueller's team indicated it could be wrapped up in 90 days once they had an interview.
So, we're now three months out from the midterms. I think that their bet is that you are much less likely to get a report to Congress before that. I think that they are concerned about what that could mean.
JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: And if you're on the Mueller side, and they do their talking in the courtroom, they don't talk publicly, so we're at a loss to explain it, but at some point you have to make a decision. Are we ever going to get here?
HABERMAN: Or do we subpoena him.
KING: And if you believe the answer is now, we're never going to reach an agreement with them so then it's either we go without it and write a report or we do the subpoena which guarantees you months.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, on the -- and on the --
DAN BALZ, CHIEF CORRESPONDENT, THE WASHINGTON POST: It's also questionable whether you would do a subpoena before the election.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Correct.
BALZ: And that timing -- I mean -- you know, your point is exactly right. As we get closer to the election, everything goes into a holding pattern, a frozen situation.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Correct. And then --
KING: So does that benefit the White House maybe in the short-term? But if the whole subpoena question carries over and this whole thing carries over into another year and then we're past the 2018 cycle and into the 2020 cycle, dear Lord.
HABERMAN: I mean, I think, look, I think two things. Number one, not everybody on Trump's legal team agrees that there will be a subpoena filed. And to be clear, this is tea leaf reading and we're just basing it on what they're saying. Mueller has been pretty poker faced about what he might do.
But if you are the Trump legal team, you are looking at the prospect of a thin margin in either direction in the House if things stand now. So, if Democrats win, it's going to be a narrow margin, unless there's a massive wave, which there could be. If Republicans hold it, it will be by a narrow margin.
So the prospect of actually anything getting done next year is fairly small. And then you have the Trump factor, where you have a president who continues to sort of toy around with the idea that a divided government is good for him. He likes the idea of running against a Democratic Congress. I think that if you get into next year and he's got a Democratic-held Congress and they're fighting the subpoena fight, I think he doesn't think any of that is necessarily bad for him unless he loses. And the precedent, his folks argue, is on his side.
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I think two years is a lifetime for Trump to fight something like this. Meaning that if this gets carried over into the New Year, he would then have a basically a two-year window between then and when he is adjudicated by the public again in an election.
And I also think there are a lot of Republicans including some around Trump, who do believe that fighting against a, you know, maybe a runaway special counsel is something that they can use to their political advantage in a presidential run. Maybe not so much in a midterm.
KING: These conversations have been going on for eight months. Rudy Giuliani has been on the job for three months, treading water. OK.
HABERMAN: Or something.
KING: Or something. OK. Or something. Excellent point there.
We're going to take a quick break. Again, we're awaiting a speech. President Trump about to speak to the veterans of foreign wars in Kansas City. Stay with us. We'll be right back.
[12:37:34] KING: Topping our political radar, the first lady Melania Trump heading to Nashville today to tour a children's hospital at Vanderbilt University. That's part of her Be Best campaign, the initiative focusing on major issues visiting children today. The first lady will also take part in a discussion about the effects on babies when their mothers use drugs.
This just in, the Justice Department and the FBI officials will meet some Republican leaders tomorrow up on Capitol Hill to discuss long- standing demands for documents about the FBI's Russia probe. Congressmen Mark Meadows, Republican Jim Jordan, Bob Goodlatte, Trey Gowdy, all among the names on the list meeting to try to resolve the document's dispute. You might say he started it. A Republican congressman running for Florida governor made a rather dismissive comment about a Democratic candidate who had just won a primary in New York. Listen to what Republican Ron DeSantis said about Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RON DESANTIS: And you look at this girl Ocasio-Cortez or whatever she is, I mean, she's in a totally different universe. It's basically socialism wrapped in ignorance. You're just repeating these canned left-wing talking points, and you're somehow the savior of the Democratic Party? Good lord.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Ocasio-Cortez firing back, looking at perhaps the general election in Florida. She tweeted in part, "I'm a Puerto Rican woman. I'm sure those Florida voters appreciate your comments."
Up next for us, a Republican primary fight in Georgia. This is the big question, who can hug the president more closely?
We're waiting for the president to speak in Kansas City as well. We'll be right back.
[12:43:18] KING: Again, A reminder, we're waiting for the president to speak. You see the room is lit up there in Kansas City. That's the Veterans of Foreign Wars annual convention. We'll take you there when it happens.
Back to politics now. Now, Georgia's Republican primary for governor is today and it is a Trump feast. The secretary of state Brian Kemp has the official Trump endorsement. The president re-tweeting that endorsement today. Kemp says the president getting involved is like gasoline on a fire.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRIAN KEMP (R), GEORGIA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: The president and I line up on a lot of things that we believe in, securing our borders. You know, I have plans to track and deport criminal illegals, stop and dismantle gangs like MS-13 that have become a distribution hub to our state for the Mexican drug cartels and other things putting Georgians first. That's been what my whole campaign is about. Somebody up there fighting for those Georgians out there that are still struggling from the Obama recession.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: The lieutenant governor in the state Casey Cagle says he's more like Trump, and he's trying to explain away why his rival got the big endorsement. Quote, the president decided to do this because, Cagle says because Washington insiders who have weaseled their way into his ear convinced them to make a power play. Why? So they'll have a governor who answers to them instead of to Georgians. OK.
JONATHAN MARTIN, NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: One of those Washington insiders used to be Atlanta insider. His name is Sonny Perdue, he's the ag secretary. And according to our reporting, he is the one that actually sealed the deal with the president after a cabinet meeting last week in the Oval Office.
Now, the larger question of who else helped that cause and sort of pushed the president to endorse Kemp is still a matter of some debate. But look, if you're Cagle, you're in a bad spot, right because the president is so popular with primary voters.
[12:45:01] You can't, you know, take on him after he, you know, supports the other guy. So you have to find something to say here. And of course, what typically is said is, it wasn't Trump but somebody got to Trump, right? He's being misled.
I mean, how many times have we heard this where the (INAUDIBLE) on his way. Instead of taking it out on Trump, they say, well, he's just being misguided --
MARTIN: It's like Reagan, right? They're in his ears. The swamp types are sort of like leading him astray on this one. God forbid it's his fault, you know. It got to been a (INAUDIBLE), you know, of course but he has nothing more to say.
The larger issue here is if Brian Kemp is the nominee, this is going to be a really fascinating race to watch this fall because if you look at some of the ads he ran, and then he talked about it, you know, a clip that you played. It's hardline Trump stuff. Very much divisive kind of politics on immigration, on race and identity. And that may play in some parts of the state, but in the kind of battleground suburbs around Atlanta, that's going to be a harder sell.
KING: But let's go through that very point. First, to the point of the primary endorsement, how much it matters. The Atlanta Journal Constitution asked Republican voters in Georgia, how are you going to vote in this primary? Twenty-five percent say for some (INAUDIBLE) values. Eighteen percent is second place, strong supporter for President Trump.
So President Trump's endorsement matters in a Republican primary. To your point about the ads, here's a flavor of what Mr. Kemp is selling to voters.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KEMP: And two things. If you're going to date one of my daughters --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Respect.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A healthy appreciation for the Second Amendment, sir.
KEMP: We're going to get along just fine.
I got a big truck, just in case I need to round up criminal illegals and take them home myself. Yes, I just said that.
I'm Brian Kemp. If you want a politically incorrect conservative, that's me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MARTIN: It's not Sacha Baron Cohen, this is actually the candidate. That's not the (INAUDIBLE) and a really good disguise.
KING: Break down the nuance there for us, Dan.
BALZ: Yes, well, forget nuance. We've long since gone past nuance. The other point about this race is the concern among Republicans about how difficult this race could be in November, as they are deciding who their nominee is going to be. The Republican Governor's Association lashed out at Stacey Abrams, the Democratic nominee with a very tough ad in which they linked her to Nancy Pelosi and Hillary Clinton and say that she's a dangerous radical. So we can see what the argument is going to be going forward. They're going to be nervous about who they get coming out of this primary today.
PHILLIP: You couldn't end up with a more opposite situation. I mean, I think either in some ways if either of the Republican candidates go up against someone like Stacey Abrams, an African-American Democrat, going into some of these suburbs, it could not be a greater contrast. So it will be one of those tests of what are people actually looking for? What are these moderate voters in the suburbs concerned about?
Are they concerned about Trump's political correctness or lack thereof? Or are more are foundational issues going to be at play here? Like, you know, sort of like the politics of a southern state.
KING: As we pay so much attention -- we're based in Washington as we pay so much attention and we look at the Trump effect. To the point earlier, can the Democrats take the House back. If so, by how much? Will the Senate stay Republican or do the Democrats really (INAUDIBLE) there?
We forget sometimes, and this race is a textbook example, one of the biggest prizes in 2018 are these governor races. And one of the big tests, can the Democrats start a sustained comeback. Not can they just retake the House by a few seats but can they start a sustained comeback in America. It's these governor's races.
MARTIN: Yes, and Democrats have not won the governorship of Georgia in 20 years. It was '98 was the last time. And before then, they had basically never, never won it or lost I should say.
So I think Georgia will get a lot of the attention because of the fact that Stacey Abrams would make history as the first black woman. Because Brian Kemp could be the nominee with those kinds of kind of Trumpian ads. But here's the other reason why. Georgia at some point is going to be a swing state on the national level. And maybe not '20, but certainly '24.
BALZ: To that point, there are six counties in the United States that had gone at least four and probably a number more than that for Republicans. Four in a row in presidential that flipped to Hillary Clinton in 2016. Three of those are in the Atlanta suburbs. Three of those six counties across the country. So that's an indication of how that's changing.
I mean, those changing demographics in those areas and the question will be, can Stacey Abrams energize that kind of vote in the fall.
KING: It will strengthen the suburbs that gave Republicans their electoral lock in the Reagan -- post-Reagan years and now the suburbs --
MARTIN: And one final point on Georgia. There's so much talk now about Democrats moving to the left and, you know, embracing in some cases sort of Democratic socialism. Here's the irony.
[12:50 00] If Kemp is the nominee in Georgia, Stacey Abrams, who has run an unapologetic liberal campaign at least in the primary, she's going to be the quiet favorite of a lot of the business crowd, Delta, Coke. The big corporate players in Atlanta may be more comfortable with her than with somebody like Brian Kemp. If you look at those kinds of ads and demeanor, man, if you're a Fortune 500 company in Atlanta and you're trying to bring more business and employees to your state and that city, it's going to be a harder sell.
So watch for that. The progressive champion, Stacey Abrams is the quiet favorite potentially of the Atlanta business crowd.
KING: It's a great point. We'll watch that. It's another question of Trump and Trump-like effects and I think particularly (INAUDIBLE) might the suburbs are a big place to watch.
We should hear any moment now from the president in Kansas City. As we go to break, a little history. This flashback 59 years ago today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The year 1959 brought --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: That's Vice President Richard Nixon in Moscow for the American National Exhibition, showing the soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev around a model home filled with color T.Vs and other modern American gadgets. That little walk soon deteriorated into a heated argument in the kitchen over the (INAUDIBLE) of capitalism and communism. Remembered forever after as the kitchen debate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICHARD NIXON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Every word that you have said has been taken down, and I will promise you that every word that you have said here will be reported in the United States, and they will see you say it on television.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Let's get you straight to the president of the United States speaking to the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention in Kansas City, Missouri.
[12:55:04] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I want to personally thank each and every one of you who has served our country in uniform, defended our nation in battle, and protected our great American flag. Thank you.
I also want to recognize a great Kansas City legend who I met today at the plane, somebody that I've been a fan of for a long time, a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame, George Brett of the Kansas City Royals. Where's George? He's around here somewhere.
I said, George, how many years? 20. What was your batting average? 305. I said, that's pretty good, 305 for 20 years. Special guy.
I want to thank a true patriot, your executive director Bob Wallace. Along with your outstanding national auxiliary, President Dee Gilroy. Thank you, Dee.
And congratulations to VFW's incoming leadership, B.J. Lawrence and Sandi Kriebel. Where are they? Great. Great. Congratulations.
We're also joined by our brand new V.A. secretary, Robert Wilkie. It's going to be fantastic. Who was just confirmed by the Senate last night with an overwhelming vote. The only ones actually that voted against him were all of the people super left that are running against me in two and a half years. Every one of them.
If you want to know who's running, just take a look at Wilkie's score because every single one of them. There'll be probably quite a few more but in the Senate, that was it. But what a great vote and he's going to do a fantastic job. There's been nothing more important to me. Thank you.
Thank you, Bob.
I also want to thank our acting V.A. secretary Peter O'Rourke for doing such a fantastic job in the meantime. Holding down the fort until Wilkie got approved. And Peter is going to be joining the whole team and they are doing numbers and they are doing a job with choice and with all of the other things that we've gotten approved. They are doing some job for our vets. It was a very important commitment that I made to you during the campaign and we're fulfilling that commitment.
Several terrific members of Congress are here today as well. Great friends of mine. They've helped me so much. We're joined by Kevin Yoder from Kansas, credible guy. Kevin, Kevin Yoder, what an incredible guy.
And members of Missouri's congressional delegation. Vicky Hartzler, Billy Long, Jason Smith. Along with your state's attorney general, hopefully -- we need him so badly. Hopefully, your new senator to be, Josh Hawley. We need Josh badly.
Josh, thank you.
In fact, Josh, do me a favor, come up here just for a second. Just shake my hand. This guy is a special man. Come here, Josh. Come here.
JOSH HAWLEY, MISSOURI ATTORNEY GENERAL: Well, it's an incredible honor to be here today. Thanks to all of you for your service and what you mean to this country. But how about the leadership of President Donald Trump? What do you think?
You know, when I think about President Trump, there's one word that comes to mind. That word is courage. Do you agree?
How many people over the years has said that they'll do this, or they'll do that but there's one guy who had the guts to actually fulfill his promises. The guts to move our embassy to Jerusalem. The guts to actually stand up against our enemies overseas. The guts to put conservatives on the Supreme Court of the United States. And that's Donald Trump.
You know, the president always says, we're at a turning point moment as a country. It's critical time for our country and he's providing the leadership that this country needs as we lead the world into this new century. And now I tell you what, I think he needs reinforcements in Washington D.C. Do you agree with that?