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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
Sen. Cory Booker Announces Presidential Run; 2020 Democratic Primary Field Examined; Could Someone Beat Trump In Republican Primaries?; Trump Suspends Cold War Era Nuclear Arms Deal With Russia. Aired 4:30-5p ET
Aired February 1, 2019 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KAREN FINNEY, FORMER SENIOR SPOKESPERSON WITH THE HILLARY CLINTON 2016 CAMPAIGN: I think this is something we've heard from Cory Booker throughout his career that he still maintains he lives in the middle of where people are, closest to the pain and where people are really suffering which keeps him connected to what people are really struggling with. I think it was his - we'll say that it was very wise on his part and I think Kamala did this very well, so far it seems Sherrod Brown is doing this. Talking about work specifically, the dignity of work.
Each are coming out with a concrete message that people can grab onto and in the beginning when you're trying to define yourself and certainly in a large field when you're also trying to define yourself against as opposed to others who are pretty close to you and a lot of the things you fight for, to give people something to remember. "Oh, that's the guy who is talking about. Here's his background and he's talking about us being unified and being together."
TAPPER: Yes, that's his thing, loving unity.
FINNEY: And remember, I will say this, having worked on Hillary's campaign in 2016, we did not have that in the beginning and I do think...
TAPPER: The message.
FINNEY: ... it was problematic.
TAPPER: So aids for Senator Booker described how he plans on running this race. Quote, "Booker will seek to set himself apart in a crowded field focusing on a message of love and unity, one that urges America to swing back from a bitter divisive era under President Donald Trump. He also intends to appeal to the better angels of the Democratic Party if they're willing to listen that it's possible for a democrat to work across party lines. Is that a good pitch? Do you think could that work?
SYMONE SANDERS, FORMER NATIONAL PRESS SECRETARY, BERNIE 2016: Look, I think it could work. Absolutely. Like I think - now I'm someone that has said that I don't think just love is going to be the thing that's going to beat Donald Trump. TAPPER: That's what he thinks.
FINNEY: That's a place to start though.
SANDERS: But I do think - it's a place to start but I do - I do want to say that - and I know Cory personally and I love him and I was excited to see his video today and I'm excited he's in this race and I do think that if anyone wants to write Cory Booker off talking about love, you will be in for a rude awakening because he's still from Newark. He's from Brick City and he knows what it's like to be in a fight for his political life and win. He knows what it's like to be an underdog, be someone that's coming in there and saying I want to take on the big dogs and people kind of laugh him off. So I think he is a formidable opponent. Now is love going to be the only thing, no. He has to have some policy and I think he's got a Baby Bonds Bill that I think he'll be talking a lot on the campaign trail so I think he's somebody to watch.
TAPPER: Sherrod Brown, on the other hand is taking about the dignity of work and he's also got a clear message about winning. Democrats need to win. They need to win the Midwest. They need to win the Great Lake States. Obviously nobody is worried - the democrats are not worried about losing New Jersey or Massachusetts or California where Booker, Warren and Harris are from. Is that an important selling point you think?
KRISTEN SOLTIS ANDERSON, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST AND POLLSTER: I think it's going to be a very big selling point. I mean a lot of what we're going to hear in the coming weeks and months from democratic candidates are policy positions, trying to carve out the message for themselves. But I think that there's such a hunger among democratic voters to see Donald Trump not be president come January 2021 that electability is going to be an extremely important factor. And the polling that I've seen shows that it's actually moderate and conservative democrats who are more likely to say, "You know I want to find someone who like matches me on the issues."
It's progressive democrats who are like, "I just want to beat Donald Trump." That's the issue position that matters the most to me. So while I think - I think that's going to be very important for someone like Sherrod Brown to reach those progressives, if he can make the case credibly, "Look, I am an electable person. I'm the guy that can beat Donald Trump."
TAPPER: Bill, let me ask you as a conservative who is not a fan of President Trump, do you see - are these candidates too far to the left for you or are you trying to keep an open mind, what do you think?
KRISTOL: Of course I want a republican alternative to Trump.
TAPPER: And we'll talk about Larry Hogan in a minute.
KRISTOL: And I would like to associate myself with Symone and the anti-love caucus.
SANDERS: Oh no. (inaudible). KRISTOL: Just kidding. Just kidding. Love is - love is in an office(ph), we'll put it that way. You know what strikes me after the first month basically of this year of the campaign. I think the younger candidates have done well. As of a month ago I think I might have said and a lot of people might have said, you know Biden, Bloomberg, I think we want someone safer, experienced against Trump. It seems to be the younger candidates which I would say would be Booker, Harris, Beto O'Rourke who I think is likely to run, it seems to me they look competent. I don't think right now - just looking at it from the outside in a since, you look at Kamala Harris and Cory Booker and think, they're not experienced enough - tough enough to go up against Donald Trump. So in that respect, I think the younger part of the field has a good month.
TAPPER: I do want to point out a spokeswoman for the Cherokee Nation today confirmed that Senator Elizabeth Warren has apologized to the Cherokee Nation over the DNA test that she had. Quote, "We are encouraged by this dialogue and understanding that being a Cherokee Nation Tribal Citizen is rooted in centuries of culture and laws, not through DNA tests. We're encouraged by her action and hope that the slurs and mockery of tribal citizen and Indian history and heritage will now come to an end."
Do you think this puts an end to it or it's still an unforced error?
FINNEY: It's still an unforced error. I wish I could say it would put an end to it but that's just not the culture that we live in today and I think we're going to hear more from Trump and from others making fun of it but I think it was an important - it's important to have that statement out there and I think it is important that Senator Warren recognized that it was an unforced error.
But I think broadly Democrats, and I think moderates are excited by the breadth and depth of this field. And remember where we start is not where they're going to be a year from now. And so those who have gotten off the blocks with a strong message and sort of a strong showing are just in a really good place going forward.
TAPPER: All right, everyone stick around. We're going to talk about inter-Republican Party fighting. Coming up, he's an anti-Trump republican's possible dream candidate, the GOP Governor of a deep blue state who is thinking about challenging President Trump. Who is it? Stay with us.
TAPPER: Politics now, in case there was any doubt in your mind, President Trump confirmed to "The New York Times" that there is no scenario where he would not run for president again.
TRUMP: Here's the bottom line. I love doing it. I don't know if I should love doing it but I love doing it.
TAPPER: Trump touted the unity of the Republican Party when asked about potential primary challengers. That might come as something of a surprise to the 32 percent of republican voters who said they would rather see someone else as the party's nominee. According to a new "Washington Post" ABC news poll. CNN's Jessica Dean sat down with the Governor of Maryland, a republican who is not closing the door to challenging Trump in 2020.
LARRY HOGAN, REPUBLICAN GOVERNOR OF MARYLAND: Let's keep changing Maryland for the better and continue setting an example for Washington.
JESSICA DEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Fresh off his' 2018 reelection victory in deep blue Maryland, Republican Governor Larry Hogan has some of the party wondering if he should challenge President Trump in 2020.
HOGAN: I'm flattered that people are saying that and including me in those discussions. My plan right now is to stay here for four years and do the best job I can in Maryland but I've said, you never say never. Who knows what's going to happen?
DEAN: You're listening.
HOGAN: I'm listening.
DEAN: And you're thinking about it.
HOGAN: I would say I'm listening. I'm not sure how much thinking we're doing but I haven't closed the door.
DEAN: From the beginning, Hogan has made no secret of his opposition to the president.
HOGAN: My thoughts about Donald Trump are very clear. I believe I was the first governor in the nation, republican, to say I wouldn't support Trump.
I am not protesting every day about every issue. But I stand up and certainly let people know when I disagree or when I think something is going on that I don't think is right and I'm kind of surprised there haven't been any tweets yet but I'm glad.
DEAN: Opposing a sitting president in his own party is something Hogan shares in common with his beloved late father, Representative Lawrence Hogan, Sr.
REP. LAWRENCE HOGAN, SR: It isn't easy for me to align myself against the president.
DEAN: The first republican on the House Judiciary Committee to call for President Richard Nixon's impeachment.
HOGAN: Especially I want to thank my dad.
DEAN: Hogan, Jr., credits his success working with a democratic legislature to a bipartisan approach signing new gun control measures, pushing to lower health insurance rates, and addressing climate change.
HOGAN: It's not easy. It's not easy to overcome differences and partisanship but you can and it's what people want.
DEAN: Just months into his first term, doctors diagnosed Hogan with an aggressive form of cancer. He continued to work while receiving treatment and ultimately beat it. His second inauguration, former Trump rival, Jeb Bush, praised him.
JEB BUSH, FORMER GOVERNOR OF FLORIDA: Larry's at the top of a list of leaders I admire today because what's happening here in Annapolis is the antithesis of what's happening in Washington, D.C. these days.
DEAN: If Hogan challenges the president, it would be a long shot. Trump's approval stands at 81 percent among republicans in the latest CNN poll. He's already raised nearly $130 million for his reelection bid and the Republican National Committee recently committed its undivided support to the president.
JIM DICKE, GOP NATIONAL COMMITTEERIAN: There's no question about who is going to come out with all of the votes. It will be a sitting president.
DEAN: The White House is projecting confidence.
MERCEDES SCHLAPP, WHITE HOUSE DIRECTOR OF STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS: The president is ready for any candidate that would decide to go and run against him. We have a great record to run on.
(END VIDEO) DEAN: As Hogan keeps an eye on Trump's numbers.
HOGAN: I think the latest approval of the president is in the 30s, so you can't win the national election being in the 30s.
DEAN: His eyes remain wide open about the odds and the possibility.
HOGAN: I wouldn't be on some fool's errand just to run some suicide mission. I would only run if I thought that I could actually win.
DEAN: I also spoke with Mark Salter, long time aid and speechwriter for the late Senator John McCain who often opposed President Trump. And Salter told me, he sees someone like Hogan representing a new wave forward for republicans and that, Jake, is running in a high turnout Democratic wave and winning big.
TAPPER: All right, Jessica Dean, thank you so much. Our experts are here. Bill, you're supposed to meet with Hogan next week about 2020. So, you...
KRISTOL: Accessed that. CNN is penetrated by people ...
TAPPER: You think he can do it? You think he can beat Trump though? That's the question.
KRISTOL: Look, it would be uphill, but you mentioned or I think Jessica mentioned, 32 percent right now in the latest poll say the prefer someone other than Trump, of republicans are most likely to vote in republican primaries. That's a pretty-that's really not bad to start with. You know I think it's uphill against a sitting president but if the economy doesn't hold up. If Mueller has a strong report, if there are foreign policy problems, if people have the sense that the wheels are coming off a little more of the Trump Presidency and the Trump White House which I think would be a not crazy thing to think. I think he - I think it's a better chance than people think and I think Governor Hogan, in his second term as Governor. He doesn't have -- he's not worried about future efforts at the state level or whatever. I think he might do it.
TAPPER: You're a pollster. Give us a reality check here.
ANDERSON: So on the one hand, I'm no longer in the business of saying that someone can't be President of the United States.
But, I do think - look for republican voters, especially those that turn out in primaries, the issues that really motivate them are things like Judges, immigration. These are things where Donald Trump is delivering on promises that -- and Republican voters generally like the job he's doing.
The one place where Trump has weakness among Republican voters is with younger Republicans. On the surface his job approval looks similar even for younger voters but it's like somewhat approved, you know, more strongly approved. But there's just not enough of them in the Republican primary electorate where I see a strong challenge being able to really --
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: You were saying -- Symone, you were saying run Larry run.
SYMONE SANDERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Run Larry, run.
BILL KRISTOL, EDITOR AT LARGE, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: That's all -- that's all he needs.
SANDERS: Ask give Larry Hogan -- ask Governor Hogan is needs somebody to come work. No, I'm just kidding. I'm kidding. I'm kidding. But I will say this --
KRISTOL: He'll take your contribution, you know. Run Larry, run contribution.
SANDERS: I will definitely have $100.00 a month for Governor Hogan if he wants to give Donald Trump a run for his money. Come on now.
SANDERS: Look, I'll say this, Governor Hogan is wild -- is actually very popular in Maryland. There were a number of Democrats actually that voted for him in the last election, a number of Democrats have voted for him in his first election to run for governor of Maryland. I think that from polling that I have seen that I've been a part of on the Democratic side of the aisle, about Republican voters, I believe that while people like Donald Trump's policies, they do not like Donald Trump. They've never liked him.
And so perhaps if they're presented with someone else that they like, they could be persuaded. Republican voters could. If some of these independent voters, these Obama-Trump voters, folks that voted for Obama in '12 and then Trump in '16 could be persuaded to vote for him in a primary. That being said, I'm focused -- while I'm focused on the Democrat Presidential Primary, again --
KAREN FINNEY, FORMER SPOKESPERSON, HILLARY CLINTON 2016 CAMPAIGN: Don't you think -- I think part of what he could do though is wound Trump with some of those same moderate Republicans who held their nose in 2016 and said, OK, we'll just do this because we don't want to vote for Hillary Clinton. And he may remind people like those suburban college-educated white women that he's been struggling with, by the way, remember in just this Midterm Election we just had that you know what, we used to be better than this.
We actually used to be a party that didn't just take kids away from their parents at the border. We used to stand for fiscal responsibility. I mean I think that's where he could actually do some damage is to say there's another way to go and maybe that opens up an opportunity for a Democrat in a general election.
ANDERSON: I'm going to fast-forward you. 12 months from now though, there's going to be an ad run against a Larry Hogan that features the clip of you guys right there saying please run Larry Hogan. And that's going to be perhaps his biggest problem in a Republican primary. Not even is he too moderate or anything like that but is his candidacy on its face making it harder for Donald Trump to be reelected. That in and of itself I think would not be --
SANDERS: I would just like to note. I think Donald Trump has already made it harder for him -- his own self to be reelected given some of the things that he has done specifically in the last two months.
TAPPER: Thanks one and all. The "SPORTS LEAD" now. The big game is this Sunday which means I only have about two more whole days to gloat about the Philadelphia Eagles still being the world champions. 41- year-old Tom Brady who was run over by Philadelphia last year will have to overcome the Rams for his sixth Super Bowl ring on Sunday. And to mark the occasion, Boston's own Sam Adams released a new beer called too old to slow, still here with a label featuring a goat gripping a ball. Goat as in "greatest of all time" G-O-A-T.
We're told -- this is -- you need to get a second source on this but I'm told that Brady prefers the beer serves slightly flatter than usual which I'm also told us how he likes his footballs. Fly Eagles fly. Up next, the Trump Administration hitting pause on a newt major nuclear treaty that's sparking fears of an arms race. Stay with us.
[16:50:00] TAPPER: Our "WORLD LEAD" now. A major announcement from the Trump administration today. It's suspending a major nuclear agreement with Russia, the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty or INF in place more than three decades now on hold for six months.
The Trump administration arguing that there was "no other option because the Russians were cheating on the treaty. But as CNN's Alex Marquardt reports, critics do fear that this move could open the door to a new Cold War of sorts and an international arms race.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good morning everyone.
ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The United States announcing today it is suspending one of the last remaining nuclear arms treaties between the U.S. and Russia.
MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE, UNITED STATES: We provided Russia an ample window of time to mend its ways and for Russia to honor its commitment. Tomorrow that time runs out.
MARQUARDT: The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty or INF was signed by President Ronald Reagan and then Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987. For the past several years, the U.S. has accused Russia of violating the treaty, of developing and deploying medium- range nuclear ready missiles.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We can't be put at the disadvantage of going by a treaty, limiting what we do when somebody else doesn't go by that treaty, OK. MARQUARDT: The Trump Administration says Russia has placed battalions
of missiles near the borders of Europe not allowed by the treaties terms. The missile is called the 9M729. Russia recently showed off the system but not the missile itself to journalists and claims that it does abide by the INF.
Russia has implemented and continues to meticulously implement the requirements of the treaty this Russian general said, and does not allow for any violations to happen. The goal of the treaty was to prevent the two sides from developing land-based medium ranged nuclear weapons. NATO who's members of the most threatened by the Russian moves expressed its full support of the U.S. pulling out while some experts including former Secretary of State General Colin Powell told Jake on State of the Union it's a wrong and dangerous thing to do.
[16:55:47] GEN. COLIN POWELL, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR, UNITED STATES: Now, there are a lot of people now saying well, let's -- we got to get out of this treaty like that treaty, bad, terrible mistakes which we will regret because they don't make sense.
MARQUARDT: The biggest concern, today's move could spark an arms race not just with Russia but with China which has not been constrained by the treaty and has grown exponentially more powerful over the past three decades.
REAR ADM. JOHN KIRBY (RET.), CNN MILITARY AND DIPLOMATIC ANALYST: China is already developing these capabilities as well as strategic nuclear capabilities. You've got the North Koreans and of course, the Russians have not only been developing these intermediate-range missiles but hypersonic and more strategic nuclear-capable missiles as well. So we're already in a bit of an arms race now.
MARQUARDT: And, Jake, from tomorrow, the clock starts ticking down. Russia now has six months to comply or the U.S. will fully withdraw. There is no sign that the Russians will comply. And also starting tomorrow the U.S. can start testing and deploying weapons that were banned under this treaty which of course could provoke Russian and Chinese responses kicking off as you've mentioned a dangerous nuclear arms race. Jake?
TAPPER: All right, thank you so much, Alex. I want to bring in Steve Hall. He was the CIA's Chief of Russia' Operations. Steve, you heard Colin Powell there call it a terrible mistake for the U.S. to consider getting out of the treaty. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham disagrees. He said in a statement today "Russia has been in violation of the treaty for years and the Obama administration refused to do anything about it. It's a bad deal for America when Russia cheats and the United States complies."
So you were the CIA's Chief of Russian operations. You worked under the Obama administration. How do you see it? What's the best way to get them to start honoring this treaty?
STEVE HALL, FORMER CHIEF OF RUSSIA OPERATIONS: Jake, this is one of these complicated issues that I think reasonable people on both sides can disagree about. You get the Collin Powell side of the argument which basically says, look, this is a treaty that is keeping us out of -- out of a new Cold War. It limits at least theoretically Russia's you know, nuclear development capability and so forth. And so that all sounds reasonable.
The other side of the argument, however, is as we just heard that if the Russians aren't themselves keeping their part of the treaty and we are continuing -- and we continue to be restrained by that, then you know, we're at a disadvantage. I have a tendency to fall down more on the latter piece of this. I think it'd be foolish to think that the Russians are going to really abide by any treaty.
I mean how is their international behavior been just over the past couple of years where they've invaded Crimea, they've attacked our elections. I don't think just having a treaty in place is going to guarantee really much of anything with regard to Russian and their nuclear weapons.
TAPPER: When Reagan signed the INF deal, the U.S. and Russia or the Soviet Union I guess at the time were the only real nuclear players. Now, China is a factor as well. Does that complicate this? Does this all make this even more of a threat of a larger arms race?
HALL: Although I think this administration has denied or at least somebody in the administration denied that China was part of this, I think it's not rational to believe that that's the case. Look, China is developing weapons, nuclear weapons too as are other countries. So arguably what you want to do is not just rely on this bilateral treaty with Russia but you're going to want to develop some treaties that are sort of multilateral that involve anybody who has these nuclear capabilities.
The problem with the Russia angle on this, of course, is that lurking behind all of this nuclear issues is what is President Trump really going to do given his, I don't know, strange relationship with Vladimir Putin? Are they going to disagree behind closed doors for a while and talk about this and then the president is going to immerge with some sort of new deal? We just don't know. That's a complicating factor on this very technical issue.
TAPPER: Well, that's the other point I wanted to ask which is President Trump argued has argued that his posture towards Putin is because it's better to get along with Russia, better to have a good relationship. But it doesn't seem like it's panning out. Look, the Russians had been in violation of the INF for years but now the president, President Trump says I have this relationship with Putin. He's obviously not able to use it to his advantage to get them to abide by this treaty.
HALL: Yes. The relationship between this administration and Russia is so front right now that you always have to wonder what's going on behind the scenes and we don't know that and that's really going to make it harder.
TAPPER: All right, Steve Hall, thank you so much for your expertise. We appreciate it. You can -- be sure to turn in to CNN "STATE OF THE UNION" this Sunday morning. My guest will be former Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe and Republican Senator Richard Shelby. It's at 9:00 a.m. at noon Eastern on Sunday. You can follow on Twitter @JAKETAPPER, @THELEADCNN. Our coverage continues right now. Thanks for watching.