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Hiring Surges in December; Trump: Soviet Union "Right" to Invade Afghanistan; Warren Makes Iowa Debut After Unveiling 2020 Exploratory CMTE; O'Malley Rules Out 2020 Bid. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired January 4, 2019 - 12:30   ET



[12:33:04] DANA BASH, CNN ANCHOR: The December jobs report is way better than economists were expecting. U.S. employers added 312,000 jobs, well above predictions and workers' paychecks are still on the rise. Showing the economy remains strong despite stock market turbulence.

CNN's Chief Business Correspondent Christine Romans is here to break down the numbers.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Dana, a strong end to a strong year for job creation. Three hundred and twelve thousand net new jobs created and you saw upward revisions in October and November. That is a strong finish for employers who have been hungry to hire workers in so many different industries.

The jobless rate actually went up a little bit to 3.9 percent. Why is that not a worry? Because 400,000 people came off the sidelines, they had not been looking for work. They weren't counted in the labor market. Four hundred thousand people came in, started looking for work and then they became counted among the unemployed.

They're coming in because they're hearing the headlines. They're hearing the anecdotal stories of their friends getting jobs or better jobs and they want to get back into the labor market.

Here is where the hiring is the most robust. Healthcare, we have seen this for about 10 years, strong hiring in healthcare every month. Construction, 38,000 jobs there. Manufacturing, 32,000.

This is the December report. So, now we have a full look at what the year was like, 2.6 million new jobs in 2018. That's the best in a few years. Better than the past couple of years.

2015 was at 2.7 million, 2014 was a fantastic year with three million jobs. But essentially, this is a story of a strong finish to a strong year for hiring.

And we saw wages above three percent, three percent growth for the end of the year, 3.2 percent in this number. That is really significant because it has taken a long time for wages to consistently remain high were people feel like they have a raise.


BASH: Thanks, Christine. And today's numbers are welcome news on Wall Street.

[12:35:00] Check that out. The Dow was up 713 points. Let's get straight to the New York Stock Exchange. That's where CNN's Alison Kosik is monitoring the markets.


ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Hi Dana. So this is a market that really was craving some good news. And it got a trifecta. Overnight, we learned that China took some steps to stimulate its slowing economy. Then that December jobs report that blew away expectations.

And then mid-morning, Fed Chief Jay Powell was sitting at a round table discussion with his predecessors, Ben Bernanke and Janet Yellen and he said the magic words. He said the central bank will be patient with raising rates. Boom, the market rocketed higher and that's why you see the Dow up over 700 points right now.

Because this is one of the big issues that's been rattling Wall Street. Wall Street's been nervous about the Fed possibly making what they thought was a policy mistake in raising rates too quickly. So this is an issue now that they can put aside at least for a couple of days until something new comes along.

There was an unusual and transparent moment during this round table discussion when the moderator asked if Jay Powell has gotten phone calls or gotten any communication from the White House about how unhappy President Trump is with some of Powell's decision making. Powell said, no and then the moderator asked this. Listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If the president asks you to resign, would do you it?



KOSIK: Keep in mind, that coming after the president has used Jay Powell kind of as a pinata on Twitter, making it very clear that the president has not been happy with the Fed chief's decision making on monetary policy.


BASH: Alison, thank you so much for that good news report. Appreciate it.

And up next, Congress is only not even 24 hours old, but already in the House, people are gearing up for the next election cycle, running ads against Democrats who broke their promise not to vote for Nancy Pelosi as speaker.

Here's one Democrat I spoke to during his campaign who kept his promise.


BASH: No way, no how. You will not vote for Nancy Pelosi?

JASON CROW (D), COLORADO CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: That's right. I will not vote for Nancy Pelosi.


[12:41:39] BASH: Topping our political radar today, this just in, Senator Pat Roberts is announcing that he will not seek re-election in 2020. The Republican senator from Kansas says he plans to retire for going what would have been a difficult re-election bid. He announced his decision at the Kansas Department of Agriculture, a symbolic location after he shepherded the farm bill to passage weeks ago.



SEN. PAT ROBERTS (R), KANSAS: I am announcing, I will serve the remainder of this term as your senator, fighting for Kansas in these troubled times. However, I will not be a candidate in 2020 for a fifth Senate term.


BASH: And a GOP source tells CNN's Rebecca Buck that the party is looking at recruiting Kansas native and current Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to run for the seat. No indication yet if he'd be interested.

And topping our political radar and other parts of politics, hours after gaining control of the House, Democrats filed a motion to intervene in an ongoing lawsuit aimed at ending ObamaCare. Last month, a federal judge in Texas ruled that the Affordable Care Act as unconstitutional since Congress eliminated the individual mandate penalty. The Trump administration is not defending ObamaCare, so a coalition of Democratic state is appealing the judge's ruling.

And a GOP-linked super PAC that congressional leadership fund has launched a six-figure online ad campaign. It's targeting Democrats including Representative Gil Cisneros, Sharice Davids, Haley Stevens, Dean Phillips, and Andy Kim. All of them voted for Nancy Pelosi as speaker after they said they wanted new leadership while they were on the campaign trail.

And New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez got booed by GOP members yesterday when she voted for Pelosi. But she tweeted, DON'T hate me because you hate me." Here's an ad clip.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: With his very first vote in Congress, Dean Phillips caved to the party bosses and fell right in line, voting to support Nancy Pelosi for speaker. It takes most politicians years to sell out, but Dean Phillips broke his bond with voters on the very first day.


BASH: And President Trump is facing major backlash for defending Russia over the 1979 invasion rather of Afghanistan. Here is the head scratching comment he made during a cabinet meeting on Wednesday.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The reason Russia was in Afghanistan was because terrorists were going into Russia. They were right to be there. The problem is, it was a tough fight and literally they went bankrupt, they went into being called Russia again as opposed to the Soviet Union.


BASH: OK, where do we start?

Let's start here, the U.S. strongly opposed the invasion backed by the guerilla insurgency, eventually forced the Soviets out. And the Wall Street Journal editorial board put it this way. Saying, quote, we cannot recall a more absurd misstatement of history by an American president. The Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan with three divisions in December 1979 to prop up a fellow communist government. The soviet invasion of Afghanistan was a defining event in the Cold War making clear to all serious people the reality of the communist Kremlin's threat.

[12:45:06] Mr. Trump's cracked history can't alter that reality.

OK, it was a proxy war. Is it --


BASH: Is he intentionally trying to mislead to prop up Russia or Putin or he just doesn't know his history?

KAROUN DEMIRJIAN, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: What he's presenting is the view from the other side of the fence. I mean, there are a lot of -- I lived here, I lived in Russia, I can tell you that there's a lot of people in Russia that think that way. As you know, well, we were pulled down because we had to fight the United States. We were -- it's outside things that made Russia, the Soviet Union fall apart and we wish for the good old days.

I never heard anybody in the United States present things like that. So it's strange to hear the president speaking in align of reasoning for why the Soviet Union broke up which had more to do with general economics and a screwed-up system of organizing his country than just Afghanistan. It's the first time I've heard -- it's strange to hear a president of the United States saying a line that you hear a lot of older disgruntled aggressions who (INDAUDIBLE) Soviet Union, also complaining about, you know, completely different (INAUDIBLE).

BASH: Real quick, Olivier.

KNOX: I have heard Americans say that the proxy war in Afghanistan, particularly the U.S. equipping the rebels there with stinger missiles that could knock Russian helicopters out of the sky does negating their chief tactical advantage hasten the fall of the Soviet Union.

BASH: Yes.

KNOX: But let's be clear. The command control economy was sort of more central to that problem.

BASH: Well said both of you. Thank you so much.

Up next, the Democratic jockeying is underway. The 2020 presidential race is here and one new Republican senator said it's way too soon.


SEN. JOSH HAWLEY (R), MISSOURI: It's like, you know, everybody around here is focused on 2020, the Democrats running for president. They need to do their jobs right now.



[12:51:02] BASH: Elizabeth Warren is making her first trip to Iowa as a potential 2020 rather presidential candidate just days after she formally announced she's exploring a White House bid. The Massachusetts senator who has long positioned herself as a major adversary to President Trump begins her three-day swing tonight. Council Bluffs is first and from there she's going to be making stops in to two cities, Storm Lake, Des Moines, and finally Ankeny.

And there is a crowded Democratic 2020 field that has an opportunity to take the polls of Democratic activists in first of the nation caucus states nothing more important especially in Iowa. It also comes after Warren issues this warning to her own party earlier this week.


SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSSETTS: This is going to be the fisher cut bait year for the Democrats. Is this going to be a Democratic primary that truly is a grassroots movement that is funded by the grassroots, that is funded by the grassroots, that's done with grassroots volunteers, or is this going to be something that's just one more play thing that billionaires can buy?

(END VIDEO CLIP) BASH: Take that, Michael Bloomberg, take that Tom Steyer. Tom Steyer in fact through his spokeswoman said let's not divide here. We're not even out of the gate. Let's just take a breath.

But she -- it was interesting. I mean, there is so much news as we put -- with the shutdown and everything else. The fact that she decided to come out on New Year's Eve and get ahead of everybody.

NANCY COOK, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, POLITICO: Well, not just get ahead of everybody but also sort of call the field a little better. At least start to like insult her potential adversaries. I mean, you know, she's basically taking direct aim at Tom Steyer and Michael Bloomberg. And sort of arguing that the Democrats need to put someone forward who has a better economic message. That was part of Hillary Clinton's problem in 2016.

And so she's taking aim at those people early and it's going to be such a huge field. Anyone who joins, it has to start to pay attention to the breadth and depth of that field early on.

BASH: Well, you mentioned Hillary Clinton, our Dan Merica has some great reporting about how she is taking meetings with people like Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, John Hickenlooper, the L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti and more. Is that just a kind of rite of passage or are they trying to actually get her, you know, endorsement?

KNOX: Both, right? I mean, you've got to go to the previous nomination to get an off a lot of votes. Go to her. You know, hopefully maybe line up her endorsement down the road. I don't think she can come on how. But it's both for me.

BASH: And so others are -- after they had their family time, we still haven't heard from people who said they were going to make the decision after the New Year during that family time, Kamala Harris and others. Terry McAuliffe has been pretty out there. I talked to him on Sunday on CNN, he was on with Anderson. Last night he wrote an op- ed and here's what he said in the Washington Post.

"When the stakes are another four years of Trump degrading our country, do we really want to use the 2020 campaign as a first time experiment on idealistic but unrealistic policies?" Went on to say, "Resisting dishonest populism is not just a policy imperative for serious Democrats but also a political imperative for 2020."

His experience matters.

AYESHA RASCOE, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, NPR: I think that's always going to be an argument especially when you have been in politics for a very long time.

BASH: Forty years you reminded me.

RASCOE: That's a favorable argument to you. But as we've seen, experience doesn't always win the day. And so I think that you have to kind of have to come with a bit more than that. And I think that it does seem like at this point that people do want policies that go further than they have in the past. It doesn't seem like this is a moment when there's really an appetite for just traditional.

People want -- they want to have something to be done about what's going on with the wage -- with wages in this country, with healthcare in this country? Those are things that people want to be dealt with.

DEMIRJIAN: We definitely have a divided country. But if there's anything that the lesson of Trump's win kind of showed is that playing it safe doesn't always work.

BASH: Yes.

[12:55:02] DEMIRJIAN: Traditional doesn't always work. Sometimes, you just got to be a little reckless and break the mold. And I think that even the establishment Democrats who we know have realize that which is why you've seen them try to reinvent themselves which is just very hard to do when you're sellers (ph).

BASH: And there is one person who's out, Martin O'Malley. He said he's not going to run, he endorsed Beto O'Rourke.


KNOX: Yes. And my favorite response to this because this got some attention from the press. My favorite response is from a great journalist named Caitriona Perry, she's an anchor at Irish T.V. She says, "The singing Irish-American Martin O'Malley confirms he won't have another run for the White House in 2020 but wants another Irish- American Democrat Beto O'Rourke to run instead."

She was not being smarky (ph) she was playing with her own audience.

BASH: That is a great perspective.

KNOX: But I like that as a perspective.

BASH: Perspective and great way to end INSIDE POLITICS. We thank you so much. Thank you for joining us.

Brianna Keilar starts right after a quick break.