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Strategists Urge Dems Not to Talk Down To Midwesters; Senator Brown: Trump Betrayed Workers In Ohio; Trump Speaks Amid Border Security Negotiations .Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired January 31, 2019 - 12:30   ET

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


[12:30:00] JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Iowa, which tends to swing back and forth, did, but Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania, is not considered really in the Midwest, but it does have that same industrial base of voters. And those are blue we're talking about the Clinton administration. They're red, we're not.

ELANA SCHOR, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, ASSOCIATED PRESS: Absolutely, and some would argue we're talking about a really small swath of as many as going to be 80,000 or 90,000 voters who tend to be more working class blue-collar folks. The kind of people that Sherrod Brown sees as his base, frankly, as he starts this tour. And, you know, he hasn't technically declared but its hard not to look at his travel plans. Iowa, Nevada, South Carolina, New Hampshire and things like this is just a prelude to jumping in.

But one name you haven't mentioned is Amy Klobuchar who also told me that she's looking at a decision, you know, really shortly any day now. So she could provide a completely different interpretation of what it means to be kind of a Midwestern whisperer to these voters.

KING: You can call in senator if you want to make your decision right now, we're here.

You mentioned Sherrod Brown who's again flirting with that he hasn't officially decided. It's now what he calls a dignity of world tour. You mentioned states, Ohio, Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada. There is something to that if you look at a presidential primary calendar. This is him back home last night trying to make the case that the Democratic Party better start listening to and respecting and learning how to speak to people who work with their hands.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. SHERROD BROWN (D), OHIO: A year ago he send them -- said the workers in Youngstown, "Don't move. Don't sell your house. We're going to fill your factories. We're going to rip them down and build new ones. He's not only not help, he actually passed the tax law that could reward G.M. for making cars in Mexico instead of here in Ohio. Trump's response, quote, he said, "It doesn't really matter, those jobs would be replace". His quote in like two minutes while we're still waiting.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Is that, I mean, you know, his point he won't say it is that, A, and Trump lie to you. That's what he's trying to tell blue-collar voters or at least he mislead you about how it would work. And B, that Hillary Clinton didn't talk to you?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, and there's been so much talk about, you know, the Special Counsel's investigation and what's going on around the President, but I think this is something that's going to be a major factor that's actually going to be something that voters will hold the President accountable for. Maybe not the wall, that's a whole another argument.

I do think the President promising to bring back manufacturing jobs, one of his key campaign promises didn't get as much attention as the wall did, but that is going to be something he has to answer for when he is running for reelection if voters who don't feel that he has brought back those jobs.

And especially with that announcement yesterday from Foxconn that they're essentially reversing their whole strategy to create this $10 billion plant and employ thousands of blue-collar jobs in Wisconsin. And now they're saying it's going to be a technology hub that employs researchers and developers, still good jobs but very different jobs. They don't employ the same kind of people that the President promised would get jobs if they elected him.

And he just now said speaking with reporters according to my colleague Abby Phillip who's in the room that he wishes the media would talk about how manufacturing jobs are coming back to the U.S. more. And I think we do talk about the manufacturing jobs and what factor that's playing in that.

But when you have a statement like what came from Foxconn yesterday in this reporting and the White House just says, they'll be disappointed. That is something they're going to be held accountable for because the President directly tied himself to Foxconn so much so that there is video of him at the groundbreaking putting a shovel into the ground and I think that that's something he's directly tied to him now.

KING: And when it comes to Democratic primaries are we going to see Sherrod Brown, may up who to the judge, maybe Amy Klobuchar turn to Kamala Harris and turn Elizabeth Warren and say I like you. You're bright but you're close to elite. Is that where we're going?

JULIE HIRSCHFELD DAVIS, CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: I don't know if they'll going to put in quite those terms but I think -- and so clearly this is a vulnerability for the President. He recognizes that and his advisers are very anxious about that and they recognize that if a Democrat or a couple of Democrats were to get in this race and really start to talk about this issues and not just talk about them in substantive way but craft a message that talks to working people in the Midwest and in some of these states in a way that Democrats haven't impasse election cycle certainly did not 2016.

KING: Bernie Sanders did in the primaries. A lot of what the President said in the general election message, the trade stock, you could have take it from a sandwich speech.

DAVIS: That's true, but in the general we didn't hear as much of that and clearly Democrats recognize that was a miscalculation and a liability for them and maybe as you said in the beginning of the segment, maybe the death for them in the reason that Hillary Clinton wasn't able to win.

I think the issue is going to be whether some of these candidates that you're talking about can craft that kind of message. Not that just looks at the balance sheet and says you promised this and that and that hasn't happened. But actually get these voters energized and thinking that this is an advocate for them that the Democratic Party understand and will advocate for their concerns.

And I think it's very possible that that could lead to a moment in the Democratic primary where you have a real push-pull between someone like Kamala Harris and someone like a Sherrod Brown who's just speaking a totally different language because that's what he believes the party has to do if they want to win in 2020.

SCHOR: And it's a question that's try to just hold off of authenticity, right? I mean, Kamala Harris can certainly other that message but Sherrod Brown has been doing it for 25 years. So in his case is basically like it comes more naturally to me.

And another thing we haven't talked about here is Medicare for all. Well the Democratic primary is running to the left of two Democrat in the mix who haven't signed on to that Medicare-for-all bill, Brown and Klobuchar.

[12:35:07] FRANCO ORDONEZ, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, MCCLATCHY: But how big is that window in the Midwest for how many candidates? When I was talking to a Democratic strategist today, he says, there's definitely an opportunity there. There's definitely interest. There's loosing patience in the Midwest in the farm and factory states. But not for four people, maybe for one.

KING: And into your point, Iowa goes first, then you do New Hampshire, Nevada, South. It takes a while for the primary candidate and get you back to the Midwest. So the interest to see of this plays out. And now the Democrat here, before you see Democrats Stacey Abrams still deliver the Democrat response for the President's State of the Union address next week.

You can see her Sunday, during the Super Bowl. She's debuting a bipartisan ad pushing for new election laws. Remember, she just barely lost in Georgia governor's race.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NATALIE CRAWFORD (R), NORTH GEORGIA: I'm Republican Natalie Crawford, County Commissioner in North Georgia.

STACEY ABRAMS (D), ATLANTA: And I'm Democrats Stacey Abrams from Atlanta.

CRAWFORD: We don't agree on everything.

ABRAMS: But we love Georgia.

CRAWFORD: And want fair elections.

ABRAMS: Every votes should be counted from every corner of our state.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:40:27] KING: Topping our political radar, a big meeting at the White House today. President Trump will host China's vice premiere in the Oval Office this afternoon. A closed door meeting comes as the U.S. and Chinese negotiator try to resolve the issues in their trade war before a March 1st deadline on tariffs on $200 billion with the Chinese goods with more than double.

The President earlier today tweeting some optimistic words about the talks and predicting a final deal will come when he meets with China's President Xi and what the President said would be close to near future.

The jury has awarded Senator Rand Paul nearly $600,000 for the pain and suffering and medical damages. That remember, after one of his neighbors attacked him at his home in Kentucky more than a year ago. They are arguing over yard debris between the two homes. Senator Paul was left with broken ribs and bruise lung. His neighbor went to jail for a month.

Here's Senator Paul this morning.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: My wife and I have had a tough year, me in particular physically and I'm still healing. We're glad to have the court case over. We all have differences and you get on the internet and the hatred is so awful out there -- political differences, religious differences and even day-to-day differences with the people who live around us. We've got to resolve these things peaceful.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: President Trump met this week with Heidi Cruz, the wife of Texas Senator Ted Cruz. CNN confirmed the two discussed the position of World Bank president which will soon be vacant. Heidi Cruz is a Goldman Sachs executive and a former Treasury Department official. Perhaps you remember, she got caught in the middle of a bitter personal exchange between her husbands and Donald Trump during the 2016 Republican primaries. And Senator Cruz telling candidate Trump to leave his wife, "The hell alone."

Marianne Williamson is in Iowa today kicking up her candidacy for President. The best-selling author spiritual guru to Oprah Winfrey says she wants to bring a moral and spiritual awakening to the country, this from CNN this morning.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARIANNE WILLIAMSON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We need someone to articulate what's really happening, the deeper levels of our moral dysfunction. I have had 35-year career in naming and transforming those dynamics and I think that's my qualification for the presidency at this time.

I'm not trying to get shallow or superficial so people will hear me. I'm inviting the American people to get deep with me. It's time for that in order to address these times and to transform them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Just ahead, we're here for the President his meeting with reporters right now in the Oval Office talking about China about manufacturing and yes, about his border wall.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:47:03] KING: Just about a minute away from hearing from the President of the United States. He had an extended conversation with reporters brought into the Oval Office about 20 minutes of Q&A back and forth. We'll get that tape in a minute.

We know among the topics the President discussed, does he have confidence in his intel chiefs? Who he slammed on Twitter this week after they said some things contradicting about the President. He talked about trade negotiations with China, he talked about manufacturing in the United States and he talked his confrontation with the Congress over his request for a border wall.

As we wait for the President, Democrats made their opening bid today in the conference negotiations, the compromise negotiations now going on. Democrats proposing a $55.8 billion funding bill for the Department of Homeland Security that includes more money for Customs and Border Protection, more money for disaster relief, more money for Secret Service and deployment, border security technology procurement. Doesn't say the word wall in here as we're waiting for the President.

ORDONEZ: It's not going to say the word wall. It's like that's the last word they want to say. But it does have more money. When I talk to people that are close to the White House that maybe the best that Trump can get. Maybe he can make an argument that look, I got more money.

KING: Let's see what he has to say about this.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you still have confidence in Gina Haspel and Dan Coats to give you good advice?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No, I disagree with set of things that they said. I think I'm right but time will prove that, from time will prove me right probably. I think Iran is a threat. I think it's a very big threat. And I think I did a great thing when I terminated the ridiculous Iran nuclear deal. It was a horrible one- sided deal that was a $150 billion plus 1.8 billion in cash and lots of other bad things.

If you'll remember, they took our 10 sailors out of waters that people are disputing and made us look very bad. But of course the payment was due the following day so they eventually let them go, which they had to. I disagree very much on that. I also think and you'll be seeing something next week because you look at what's happened in Syria with respect to ISIS and the caliphate.

We took over a lot of area in the last two weeks. We've done tremendous in the last couple of weeks. At the same time we're consolidating and a tremendous amount of good things are happening. You even look at what's going on and I can't tell you that this is a guarantee because we're going in to close to 19 years being in Afghanistan.

And for the first time they're talking about settling, they're talking about making an agreement and we bring our people back home if that happens. We'll see what happens. But they're in very serious negotiations for the first time. There's a reason for that.

So, I think we're doing so well on a foreign policy basis. You look at North Korea. Many of you are going to be traveling with us to North Korea for the meetings with North Korea. We're going to a certain location. I think most of you know where the location is. I don't think it's any big secret, but we'll be announcing the location and the date -- the exact date it will be at the end of February.

[12:50:01] And we'd made tremendous progress with North Korea. When I came in or let's say at the end of the last administration, frankly, it looked like we were going to war with North Korea. Now, there is no missile testing. There is no rocket testing. There is no nuclear testing. We got back our prisoners or a hostages and we got back our remains, they're coming in. And we've had some beautiful ceremonies in Hawaii, other places.

So I just tell you that we are doing really well. Our military is being rebuilt. It's very close to being rebuilt. We have tremendous amounts of new aircraft, new ships, new weapons of all kinds which we need because hopefully the stronger we get the less you have to use it. I guess you know that from growing up in school.

The stronger we are, the less we're going to have use it. And we don't want to have to use it but we're going to have the strongest military by far that we've ever had. So, I didn't see the report from the intelligence. When you read it it's a lot different than what was covered in the news.

But I think that Iran is somebody, is a nation that we have to watch very closely. They sent up a rocket the other day and it failed. But it was sent up. Now, they can say they're sending it up to civilian purposes but I don't think too many people believe that. They're doing tests and we don't want to be in a position where we're behind. We're not going to be leading from behind anymore. So, that's the story. I have great respect for a lot of people but I don't always agree with everybody. OK?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What concessions has China made so far in the talks? Anything on IP theft?

TRUMP: So it is great. Well we're going to -- No, we're going to go into everything. You probably saw this morning I put out a statement. We're going into everything. This isn't going to be a small deal with China. This year, it's going to be a very big deal or it's going to be a deal that we'll just postpone for a little while.

But we've been dealing with China. We've had a great relationship. I have a great relationship with President Xi. The relationship of my people to Chinese representatives has been very good. They're negotiating now. They'll be coming over here at about 4:00 and we'll be talking to actually one of the top leaders in China, as you know.

I think that probably the final deal will be made -- if it's made it will be made between myself and President Xi. But we're certainly talking about debt, we're talking about every aspect of trade with the country and we're talking about Fentanyl too. As you know, most of the Fentanyl, which is killing 80,000 Americans a year it comes through China.

And in China it was not criminalized and they've agreed to criminalize Fentanyl and give it the maximum penalty. The maximum penalty in China if you're selling drugs is death. It's the death penalty. And they've agreed to do the death penalty for selling Fentanyl. And if it's shipped to the United States, that would be a very severe penalty.

So, I think this can have a tremendous impact. We put that one item into the trade deal, the Fentanyl. I think that's a very important item to put in. But they've agreed. They've agreed very readily. We really appreciate it, to criminalize the selling of Fentanyl. Steve?

UNIDENTIFID MALE: Do you think you'll make the March 1 deadline?

TRUMP: I don't know. I mean, it's --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you are going to add (Inaudible)?

TRUMP: I can tell you, there's -- a lot of people are working. What happens -- we're charging large tariffs to Chinese products that are coming in, which hurts China. As you know, you saw the reports. Out of the 25 points, we're paying for four points out of the 25. They're paying for 21. That's a big difference. I've always said that.

We're taking in billions of dollars. And, frankly, we're creating a lot of industry. But the rate goes from 10 percent to 25 percent on March 1st. So they would like to do it, and I'd like to accommodate them. If we can, I'd like to accommodate China if we can get the deal done.

It's a lot of work because this is a very comprehensive deal. This isn't what we're talking about, you know, they're going to buy some corn and that's going to be it. No, they're going to buy corn. Hopefully, they're going to buy lots of corn, and lots of wheat, and lots of everything else that we have. But they're also talking heavy technology, heavy manufacturing, financial services, and everything else.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So you may have to extend the talks beyond March the 1st? Is that what you're saying, sir?

TRUMP: I think we can do it by March 1st. Can you get it down on paper by March 1st? I don't know. I can say, on March 1st, the tariff on China goes to 25 percent, and that's a big tariff.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm just curious, what's the tone looking like for the State of the Union, sir? And then, I don't know if you've seen, the Democrats have tapped the rebuttal speech -- Stacey Abrams, who ran for Governor of Georgia. Any thoughts on their pick, sir, or any of the messaging?

TRUMP: Oh, I campaigned against Stacey Abrams. I know that President Obama campaigned for her. Michelle Obama campaigned for her. And Oprah campaigned for her. And all Brian had was me. And he won fairly easily --- you know, fairly easy.

[12:55:16] So I hope that she does a good job. I mean, I respect her. I don't know her. I haven't met her. But I hope she does a good job.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And the tone for your speech, sir -- can you tell us --

TRUMP: I think it's unification. I think it's industry. I think it's about the people that you see right here. It's also working with these people, because they've been incredible. We have had some incredible report. And we've have incredible Republican support.

The problem is, the Democrats -- you know, when they say, "We don't want to build" -- as an example, "We don't want to build a wall because it doesn't work or because it's immoral." Well, it's also immoral the people that come into our country that shouldn't be here and kill people. That's immoral, too. That's a lot more immoral.

So -- but I really think it's doing to be a speech that's going to cover a lot of territory. But part of it's going to be unity.

Yes, please.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, Nancy Pelosi said this morning that there is not going to be a wall in this deal, but she did say she'd be open to other kinds of physical barriers. Would you accept that?

TRUMP: No, because if there's no wall, it doesn't work. She's just playing games. So if there's no wall, it doesn't work.

And we're building the wall right now. I mean, a lot of people don't know that, but we have a lot of wall under construction. We've given out a lot of contracts over the last three, four weeks -- good contracts. A lot of wall is soon going to be under construction. We will be -- we're finishing up design on certain areas, the most important areas -- the Rio Grande area and others. We are building a lot of wall. You know, I'm not waiting for this committee. And I've told a lot of people I don't expect much coming out of the committee because I keep hearing the words that, "We'll give you what you want, but we're not going to give you wall."

The problem is, if they don't give us a wall, it doesn't work. Without a wall, it doesn't work. We have caravans right now coming up from Honduras, who we give a lot of money to -- which is stopping, by the way. But we pay hundreds of millions of dollars to Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. And then they have caravans leaving their country, coming up here.

And, by the way, if you go to Tijuana and you take down that wall, you will have so many people coming into our country that Nancy Pelosi will be begging for a wall. She'll be begging for a wall. She will say, "Mr. President, please, please give us a wall." It'd be very interesting. Some people have suggested, let me take the wall along California, let's move it to Arizona, let's move it to Texas. And, you know, it's going to -- it would be a very interesting statement.

About Nancy. So, in California, they wanted the wall built in San Diego so badly. And we built it. And probably I should have waited, because as soon as it was finished, they started screaming, "We don't want a wall. We don't want a wall." But they wanted the wall so badly. And, by the way, it worked. Nobody is getting through.

But the minute it was built, they started saying, "We don't want a wall." Without a wall, it doesn't work. It's very simple. I mean, I'm not saying this as a Republican. I'm not saying it as anything other than a fact-stater. Without a wall, it just doesn't work.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, after listening to the hardship from many federal government workers, as well as those who were contractors and who relied on the federal government employees' finances to fund their businesses, are you willing to jeopardize the economy again, and also your presidency, with people who are fearful of another government shutdown over this wall?

And also, I want to ask you about Jussie Smollett. Have you heard about that story? In Chicago, a situation -- the actor from "Empire" who was allegedly attacked with racist and homophobic --

TRUMP: That, I can tell you, is horrible. I've seen it last night. I think that's horrible. It doesn't get worse, as far as I'm concerned.

As far as the people are concerned, many of those people wanted me to stay out, but I didn't want to do it because people were getting hurt.

People -- what I think is the worst sin of all is the fact that we're allowing people to come into this country and sell drugs and human traffic, and do all of these horrible things. That if we had the simplicity of a well-constructed, beautiful barrier or wall, they wouldn't be able to come into our country. That, to me, is the great sin. And everybody knows it works. I watched this morning, early in the morning, somebody trying to justify walls are immoral.

I mean, if walls are immoral, maybe we should take down all the walls that are built right now. You will see a mess like you've never seen before.

So, I only say this. I was elected partially on this issue -- not as much as people say, but partially on this issue. This is a very important issue. Nothing to do with elections. Nothing to do with votes. Nothing.

[13:00:00]