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Trump Speaks at White House; Trump Talks about Wall Funding; Booker Enters Race. Aired 1-1:30p ET

Aired February 1, 2019 - 13:00   ET

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


[13:00:00] JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: On CNN.

Thanks for joining us today on INSIDE POLITICS. Hope to see you back here Sunday morning. We'll be up early on Super Bowl Sunday.

Stay with us. Brianna Keilar starts right now.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Brianna Keilar, live from CNN's Washington headquarters.

Underway right now, another day, another Dem. Cory Booker enters the 2020 race, and he's already making headlines.

Will the man who refuses to remain silent be muzzled by a judge? Roger Stone in court moments from now.

Plus, the Trump administration makes a dramatic move involving Russia that is raising fears of a new arms race.

And Donald Junior's mysterious calls after the Trump Tower meeting were now with his father, but did the president know about the meeting?

And we start with New Jersey Senator Cory Booker officially jumping into the 2020 presidential race. He becomes the tenth Democrat to either announce an actual run or establish an exploratory committee. Booker kicked off his campaign on social media with this message.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. CORY BOOKER (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm proud of not only who I am and my conviction, but this is a time where too many people, I think, are trying to pit people against each other, where the Democratic Party, I don't want it to be defined by what we're against but by what we're for.

If you're tired of that kind of bitterness, that kind of trash talking, that kind of trolling, that kind of politics that is just a race to the bottom in our country, then don't support me, because I'm not in this race to tear people down. I'm in this race to try to build our nation up.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: All right. And, actually, let's listen to President Trump just moments ago at the White House.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Ten years ago, five years ago. It's a disgrace. It's a disgrace. And now you have problems even with, I understand yesterday, even people from Venezuela want to come through. Everybody wants to come through. Part of it is the success of our country. But we're going to keep our country successful.

And we want people to come in. So important to say. We need people. We have a lot of companies moving in. A lot of companies are moving back to the United States. I never thought they'd be moving back. And we need people. You see that with the jobs numbers. We really need people. But it has to be through a legal process and a process really of merit, but we do want people coming into our country. They have to come in legally.

I just want to thank everybody for being here. What you go through is incredible and the job you do is incredible. Few people can do what you do. And we want to try and make it easier for you, or another way you could -- this way, handle more of the incredible work. Because no matter what we do, it's not going to stop, but we can reduce it incredibly by tremendous numbers.

So I just want to thank everybody for being here. And we're very proud of you. Very proud of the job you do. Thank you very much. And, Madam Secretary, thank you very much. It's really great.

QUESTION: Mr. President?

TRUMP: Yes, please.

QUESTION: Mr. President, why not just go ahead and do the national emergency now (INAUDIBLE)?

TRUMP: Well, we're building the wall now. Yes, we're building the wall. People don't understand that. They're starting to learn. We're spending a lot of money that we have on hand. It's like in a business, but we have money on hand and we're building -- I would say, we will have 115 miles of wall, maybe a little bit more than that, very short. It's being built. Some of it's already been completed. And, in San Diego, if you look, it's been completed. It's really beautiful. Brand new. We have other wall that's under construction and we're giving out a lot of contracts. So we're building the wall. It's getting built one way or the other.

QUESTION: Is it -- is there another (INAUDIBLE)?

TRUMP: We are -- we are doing things right now. I mean, we're building it with funds that are on hand. We're negotiating very tough prices. We've designed a much better-looking wall that is also actually a better wall, which is an interesting combination. It's far more beautiful. And it's better. It's much more protective.

But it looks better because the walls that they used to build were not very attractive. I actually think that's possibly part of the problem. But the real problem is, we need something. We have to have a very strong barrier. But we're building a lot of wall right now as we speak. And we're renovating a lot of wall. And we're getting ready to give out some very big contracts with money that we have on hand and money that comes in.

But we will be looking at a national emergency, because I don't think anything's going to happen. I think the Democrats don't want border security. And when I hear them talking about the fact that walls are immoral and walls don't work, they know they work. I watched somebody being interviewed the other day by a very good anchor, and the anchor actually was getting angrier and angrier as they tried to explain how a wall doesn't really have that much of an impact, and yet thousands of people were on one side of the wall and nobody's on the other side of the wall. It was actually laughable and really horrible in the same breath. So that's the way it is.

You know, if you look at El Paso, if look at certain places, but El Paso was one of the most dangerous cities in the whole country. Once the wall was completed, it became one of the safest. Immediately. It wasn't like it took five years. Some of you know this. Immediately it became one of the safest cities in the whole country.

[13:05:08] So we're building the wall. A lot of it is -- I mean the chant now should be "finish the wall" as opposed to "build the wall," because we're building a lot of wall. And I started this six months ago. We really started going to town because I could see we were getting anywhere with the Democrats. We're not going to get anywhere with them. It's going to be a part of their campaign, but I don't think it's good politically.

And I think Nancy Pelosi should be ashamed of herself because she's hurting a lot of people. I think the Democrats should be ashamed of themselves.

Now, in all fairness to the Democrats, many of them want the wall. And I see it. They're just dying to say what they want to say, but they can't say it as well as they would be able to if they were allowed to do it.

Yes.

QUESTION: Mr. President, so are you saying now that you believe that on February the 15, the only option you will have left is either close down government or declare an emergency because you don't have any faith that this committee will come up with an answer? And if you do declare an emergency, are you concerned that you will almost be immediately be enjoined by some court in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals District?

TRUMP: Well, we have very, very strong legal standing. It would be very hard to do that. But they tend to go to the Ninth Circuit. And when they go to the Ninth Circuit, things happen. For instance, the ban, it missed and then missed and then was approved in the United States Supreme Court where we have had a very good record. They go to the Ninth Circuit. In many cases, and, in fact, in most cases, it has nothing to do with the Ninth Circuit. It's a shame what they do. So let's see what happens. I can only tell you this, John, we have a

very, very strong legal standing to win. We are doing it regardless. I mean we don't have -- we haven't declared the national emergency yet and yet we're building a lot of wall. We're continuing to build a lot of wall with, as we would say in business, cash on hand.

And we're negotiating tough prices. We have a great system. A great wall system. It's very uniform. They used to have all these different systems. Nobody knew what was going on. We have a very good, solid system that looks good and is very powerful as a wall.

QUESTION: But are you saying now you expect to declare a national emergency?

TRUMP: I don't want to say, but you'll hear the State of the Union and then you'll see what happens right after the State of the Union, OK?

QUESTION: Are you going to wait until February 15th to do that?

TRUMP: Yes, we're building now. I mean the one thing that I'm trying to stress to people, and I wasn't before because before it meant less. But when I see the obstruction -- when I see the tremendous obstruction by Democrats, knowing that the only -- the only saving of our southern border -- I mean you look at these towns. Before the wall they were crime-ridden. And now the wall will get built -- we put up a wall in a certain area and all of a sudden it went from being a horrible hell hole into something that's really safe. They can't even believe it. The mayors can't even believe it.

If you ever took some of the walls down in California -- for instance, one story, in San Diego, they were begging us to build a wall. I mean they were putting pressure on us, that area of San Diego, where people were rampant going through. And you'd have a lot of security, but the security could only do so much. When, as an example, when you have these caravans that are going to be hitting -- we were -- we've done a great job with the caravans. An incredible job. And most of them have gone back where they're staying on the other side of the wall. They haven't been coming in, for the most part. But we've done a great job. We don't have the ammunition because we don't have the barrier. But it's been really amazing to see the difference when you have it and when you don't. It's incredible to see the difference of an area on the other side of the barrier.

So, you know, the old expression, walls work whether you like it or not. In Israel they have a wall and it was 99 -- it is 99.9 percent successful. And ours are, too. When we -- when we have it.

We're going to be starting in a certain -- we have a few of them, few areas that we're starting that they catch up. Once you have the holes in the middle, they just spread -- sort of like water, they just spread in. But you have to have it.

So when you talk about the committee, I can tell you, the Republicans want to have a wall, but the Democrats are told that you can't do that. They are doing a tremendous disservice. The Democrats are doing a tremendous disservice to our country. You heard today about human trafficking. Human trafficking can go down

by a tremendous percentage if we had a wall on our southern border. Tremendous. Because it's very hard to do human trafficking through ports of entry because you have people standing there looking, and they say, hey, what's going on in the backseat, what's going on in the trunk? They check these things. So they come in through areas where you don't have the barriers. And we're not going to let that happen.

So we're building a lot of it. We'll be up to about 115 miles of wall, some renovated, some new, and we're going to make a big step in the next week or so prior to my doing anything. But actually having a national emergency does help the process. It would certainly help the process.

[13:10:14] What would help a lot would be if the Democrats could actually be honest and approve -- they're not being honest. Everybody knows they're not being honest. They know they're not being honest. I'd like to hear what they talk about in their rooms when they go back.

And I tell you what, a lot of pressure is being put on by Democrats -- being put on their leadership. Tremendous pressure is being put on because they cannot justify not having a barrier between our country and Mexico.

Mexico just came out yesterday, numbers were just released. Thirty- eight thousand people were murdered in Mexico. Up like -- an incredible amount, 30 percent or something, from the year before. Thirty-eight thousand people were murdered in Mexico. It's one of the most unfortunately unsafe countries in the world.

We need a protective barrier for our country. And that doesn't include Honduras, who we are not happy with and we're looking very seriously at taking away all funding. And same thing for Guatemala and the same thing for El Salvador. It's a disgrace what's going on in those countries. For years and years the United States have paid them hundreds of millions of dollars, and they do nothing for us. When a caravan starts in the middle of Honduras, obviously they're allowing it to start. And they want it to start because they want to not have certain people in that country. So what do they do? They put them in the caravan. And we've had tremendous number of criminals that we've caught in the caravans before they get here.

So the committee is -- I know the Republicans want to do something. And I'm not saying it because I'm a Republican. I'm saying the Democrats are instructed, don't do a wall. And they're only doing that -- you hear about human trafficking, drugs, gangs, crime. They're only doing it for one very simple reason -- it's one simple reason, couldn't be simpler, because they think it's good politics for 2020. Because they say, maybe we can beat Trump because this is a big issue.

Now, I've done a lot of other issues. I've done military, where we've -- our military's in great shape now. It's strong and ready. It was totally depleted when I got here. Regulation cuts, tax cuts. I mean we've done more than any other president has ever done in the first two years of his presidency. But the wall is a big factor and they want to use the wall for

politics. So it's not going to work because we're building the wall and it's under construction.

Yes?

QUESTION: Mr. President, have you privately decided whether or not you will declare a national emergency? And just to clarify --

TRUMP: Have I privately?

QUESTION: Yes, you said --

TRUMP: You know, what's in my mind?

QUESTION: Yes, what's in your mind.

TRUMP: Well, I'm certainly thinking about it.

QUESTION: You're thinking (INAUDIBLE)?

TRUMP: I think there's a good chance that we'll have to do that. But we will, at the same time, be building regardless. We're building a wall and we're building a lot of wall, but I can do it a lot faster the other way.

QUESTION: Are you saying that you will -- that we should be prepared for you to announce at the State of the Union what you are going do?

TRUMP: Well, I'm saying, listen closely to the State of the Union. I think you'll find it very exciting.

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE) question real quick?

TRUMP: Yes.

QUESTION: Are -- are you willing to commit U.S. military if necessary to (INAUDIBLE)?

TRUMP: No, I don't want to say that, but it's always an option. Everything's an option. I take no options off the table. OK? Thank you.

QUESTION: Mr. President, are you thinking of adding on a meet with Xi Jinping on the back end or the front end of you meeting (INAUDIBLE)?

TRUMP: Yes. I'm thinking about it.

QUESTION: How close -- how close --

TRUMP: I mean some of you were there yesterday. We had an incredible meeting yesterday with the vice premier of China. A very powerful man. Highly respected. A very -- very strong, very respected also by the president, President Xi. And we had an amazing meeting on trade. Mostly on trade. Actually, also on fentanyl. China has agreed to criminalize fentanyl. That's going to have a huge impact on fentanyl coming into the country. But we -- there is a possibly we'll meet somewhere. Whether it's there. I'm over in a certain location -- I'll be over in a certain location there, as you know.

QUESTION: So you might (INAUDIBLE).

TRUMP: That will be announced officially probably next week sometime.

QUESTION: Are you going to (INAUDIBLE)?

TRUMP: It could happen. It could happen.

QUESTION: Is sounded like (INAUDIBLE) is that -- is that a good guess?

TRUMP: G-dunnang (ph). Who does Dunnang (ph) remind me of? Huh? A certain senator. It's a certain senator that said he was a war hero when he wasn't. He never saw Dunnang.

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE). Have you found the money to build the wall? Do you think you can do that (INAUDIBLE) --

TRUMP: Well, we have a lot of money, and that's why we're building it. I mean we have a lot of money. Don't forget, we had a billion 6 approved. Then we had another billion 6 approved. Now, in theory, we have a billion 3 approved. But we're renovating a lot of walls that were basically dilapidated. In some cases we're -- it's called a renovation but it's really much more. It's wall that is in such bad shape that we take it down and we build new wall in certain very important areas. But we're doing a combination of renovation and new wall. But we're doing a lot of it.

[13:15:11] QUESTION: Do you, Mr. President, do you need an appropriation from Congress for a national emergency to build all the wall you think is necessary?

TRUMP: We're already appropriated. We have a lot of appropriation. It's already been done. And certain other things we'll be doing that we haven't done yet. And one of the things we're considering, obviously, is a national emergency. And it is, it's an invasion of our country of not only people, not only gangs and criminals and human traffickers, it's an invasion of drugs into our country. It's an invasion like you've never seen before.

You talk about heroin. Ninety percent of the heroin coming into our country comes in through the southern border. We can stop so much of that. And I'll tell you this, if we build a proper barrier with all of the technology, which only really works with a barrier, but if we build a proper barrier with great technology too, we will see crime throughout the United States go down in percentages that we've never seen before. It will be an amazing thing. Because so much of it comes through the southern border.

QUESTION: Mr. President, a follow-up. Can you tell us some of the themes that are important to you in the State of the Union speech?

TRUMP: I think most of the themes you would know. It's economic development. It's success. It's -- I mean no country has had the success that we've had over the last two years. And I will say this, if the other party got into office, instead of being up and having these phenomenal 304,000 jobs added and we had so many great months and, you know, it's been a little bit tricky because I'm in the middle of some very big trade deals, which is disruptive before you make it. But after you make it, those deals are much better than they were before. I don't even mean much better. I mean better like nobody's ever seen before.

That includes a deal, if we make the deal, with China. You're talking about -- it will be a different world for us. We lost $500 billion a year with China for many years. $500 billion. Not million, $500 billion. We're not going to do that anymore.

And our relationship with China is extraordinary. My relationship with President Xi is better, I guarantee, than any relationship of a president and a president. It's not even close. But it can't go on this way. We can't allow this to happen.

And if you noticed yesterday, and I think it was a big story, or it should have been, but China, as a sign of good will, has agreed to purchase a tremendous, massive amount of soybeans and other agricultural product. Our farmers this morning are very happy. I spoke to Sunny Perdue, secretary of agriculture. He called me this morning. Our farmers are extremely happy.

QUESTION: Mr. President, sir, (INAUDIBLE) 168 miles of wall, you can't build the wall on -- right on the border. You've got to build it (INAUDIBLE).

TRUMP: Right.

QUESTION: So you may slow down (INAUDIBLE) may slow down people who don't want to get caught. But for all these tens of thousands of Central American migrants who just want to touch foot on U.S. soil and wait for the border patrol to pick them up, how does building new walls solve that problem?

TRUMP: Well, we're going to solve the problem. And we're also working on different things because there's so many loophole.

You're right, touch the land, all of a sudden it's a catch and release deal. They become -- they go into the country and in some cases if they're criminals you -- they're released into our country. It's a ridiculous thing. It's a loophole.

And if you look at the visa lottery and if you look at all of these other -- chain migration, we have to fix all of it, John. It's very important. The wall is the most important thing by far, but we have to fix the loopholes. You're 100 percent right.

OK, yes. Yes.

QUESTION: Sir, Nancy Pelosi says you're risking an arms race with Russia after today. What's your answer?

TRUMP: Say it again? QUESTION: Nancy Pelosi says you're rising a new arms race with Russia. What's your answer to that?

TRUMP: Honestly, I don't think she has a clue. I really don't. I don't think Nancy has a clue. And I see that when she says walls are immoral. She doesn't have -- she doesn't know. And I wish she did because she's hurting this country so badly. It's all rhetorical, not delivered well, but it's all rhetorical. She's hurting our country very, very badly, even with statements like that.

OK, thank you very much, everybody.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Press, make your way out. Keep moving. Let's go. All right, guys, let's go. Move. Let's go. John, let's go.

QUESTION: He's listening to --

TRUMP: Go ahead, John.

QUESTION: Pulling out of the INF, is this as much about the threat in the western Pacific from China as an emerging threat from China (INAUDIBLE)?

TRUMP: No, the reason is -- the reason is, first of all, you have to add countries, obviously. It's old. But, very importantly, one side has not been adhering to it. We have but one side hasn't. So unless they're going to adhere, we shouldn't be the only one.

I hope that we're able to get everybody in a very big and beautiful room and do a new treaty that would be much better. But -- because certainly I would like to see that. But you have to have everybody adhere to it. And you have a certain side that almost pretends it doesn't exist. Pretty much pretends it doesn't exist. So unless we're going to have something that we all agree to, 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? Thank you.

[13:20:27] Thank you very much, everybody.

KEILAR: All right, you're looking at President Trump there at the White House, just moments ago, where he's having a meeting there with homeland security officials and citizens who are combatting human trafficking.

I want to bring in CNN political director David Chalian and A.B. Stoddard from RealClearPolitics with us.

Some interesting takeaways, guys, here.

One seemed to be that here, even two weeks out from this deadline for Congress to negotiate a deal, the president wants the wall, Democrats do not, but trying to work out a deal to avert another government shutdown, he's totally dismissing it and it seems like he's gearing up to announce a national emergency in his State of the Union Address.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: I think he was telegraphing that quite clearly. In the moment that he was saying, yes, he'll likely going to have to do the national emergency, and then he urged the reporter to really tune in and focus on the State of the Union. That seems to suggest to me he's revealing a little bit about what he intends to announce at the State of the Union.

I think we've seen now for the last 36 hours, Nancy Pelosi and Donald Trump are sort of dug in where they are on this. And so what is clear by saying and sort of laying the groundwork to go to a national emergency to me is that Donald Trump is very keenly aware that the shutdown was not a positive for him in any way whatsoever and wants to avoid that again come February 15th.

A.B. STODDARD, ASSOCIATE EDITOR AND COLUMNIST, REALCLEARPOLITICS: There are a few problems with the national emergency. It might be his only climb-down, but it's not an emergency if you are building the wall. And he just sat there for a very long time and told us how much wall is being rehabbed --

KEILAR: A very good point.

STODDARD: Torn down and completely rebuilt anew.

KEILAR: Yes.

STODDARD: We have all this money and now he's going to say it's the emergency. I know it's the caravans that are creating the emergency, but it sounds like he's found enough money and he's gotten enough wall rehabbed and also freshly built that he's mitigated the threat.

So it's going to be bizarre to see him get up, if he ends up carrying through with this plan, and --

CHALIAN: And his argument I think will be in the court, right?

STODDARD: In a State of the Union. And then -- and then it -- yes, it will definitely be challenged in court. He's not likely to prevail.

But this is very tough for Republicans. I mean you've really seen them, after the shutdown, they're not going to shut the government down again. If he ever balked two weeks from now, I think they would send him a spending bill in defiance of this.

They -- Senator Cornyn announced this week that Texas is no sure win for the Republican president in 2020 and that his party is alarmed there looking at the numbers. I just think that he's putting them -- Congress is a co-equal branch. They are opposed to the national declaration of an emergency. This is going to receive some pushback. There might be resolutions on the House and Senate floor to disprove of a national emergency. I mean this is going to break -- this is going to be a huge, political show for him. It's not an easy off ramp.

KEILAR: We've heard Republicans saying they don't want the national emergency, as you point out.

Can we -- let's talk about his characterization of the wall because he is -- he wants the money for the wall to build the wall, but now it sort of sounds like he's saying the wall's already being built and the mantra is "finish the wall." But let's just be clear about this because he's -- there are some renovations. He's trying to argue that some of them are so extensive it's basically --

STODDARD: New wall.

KEILAR: Tantamount to knocking down a house and rebuilding it, right?

CHALIAN: It's a teardown. Yes, exactly.

KEILAR: But that's not the wall.

CHALIAN: That's certainly not the wall he campaigned on every single day in 2015 and 2016. The slogan was not, finish the wall, touchups and restoration. That was not it.

KEILAR: That doesn't sound good now that you say it. I see why.

CHALIAN: So he is clearly trying to move in a way to find his fig leaf on the wall that he can then use to say he got the wall.

But what he was talking about today, there's so much wall there already, finish the wall, that is not at all the -- the wall across the southern border being paid for by Mexico that he was promising the American people.

STODDARD: No, not at all. And it will be really interesting to see -- you saw in conservative media, after the shutdown, they were split, right? You saw Ann Coulter and others really lashing ought at on him. And then other people, like Sean Hannity, saying, he's going to get the money in the next three weeks. So it will be interesting to see where his allies are and how Senate Republicans, especially the ones up in 2020, explain whatever the fig leaf, you know, turns out to be.

But he's basically -- the Congress does have the power of the purse. They're supposed to decide how these funds are spent and how to reopen the government or keep it -- keep the funding bills covered until the end of the fiscal year. And they also don't want a national emergency. So this is not going to end today because he's decided to pretend it's all great.

KEILAR: No, it is not.

A.B. Stoddard, David Chalian, it means we'll have you back again very soon. Thank you guys so much.

So as the president talked, his aides were talking about the latest entry to the presidential race. Here is the first word from the White House on Senator Cory Booker putting his hat in the ring.

[13:25:07] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: I think Cory Booker often sounds like a Hallmark card and not necessarily a person who is there to tell you everything he's accomplished in the United States Senate and as mayor of Newark. So we'll wait to look at his record. I imagine that the crowded Democratic field of presidential aspirants will be attacking each other's records, or lack thereof. So we'll be sitting back with copious bowls of popcorn watching that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: Andrew Gillum is a CNN political commentator and former Florida candidate for governor.

Mayor, thanks for being with us.

ANDREW GILLUM (D), FORMER FLORIDA GOVERNOR CANDIDATE: Of course. Thanks so much for having me, Brianna. Hope you're well.

KEILAR: Oh, I am well, thank you.

And so this primary battle that we're going to see -- well, first off, can you just react to what we're hearing from Kellyanne Conway, because as you see this interparty battle that we're expecting to see, sure, maybe that's something the White House wants to celebrate, but it's also, aside from just being kind of a cage fight, there's an element of political Darwinism here, right, where it's going to challenge Democrats to get better. We've seen that before when there have been large primary fields. And I wonder if maybe that would be less welcome to the White House. What did you think about what she was saying there?

GILLUM: Well, I'll tell you, we are continuing to add to the field of what I think are extremely capable and qualified and, I think, even inspirational figures competing for the White House. Clearly Senator Booker is carving a lane, frankly of contrast between him, the last 18 minutes of what we heard from the president, more derision, more division, building walls, separating people. But his contrast isn't by going to Twitter and to social media and trading barbs. It is by basically casting a bigger vision, a wider vision, a more inclusive vision, trying to helping Americans see what we share in common. I think it's going to be an interesting strategy as he continues on the pathway here toward the nomination. But Mr. Booker will be, I think, a candidate who will weave a very inspirational line and one where he's not going to be afraid to talk about his record, not only in the United States Senate, but also as a former mayor.

KEILAR: So what do you think when you hear Kellyanne Conway dismissing that as a Hallmark card?

GILLUM: Well, I mean, first of all, when you have to represent a White House that only knows what it means to divide Americans, where they only go to gutter politics and politics of derision and division, of course it sounds a little hokey to their ears when you hear a candidate say there's more that brings us together than that -- then that divides us. When you hear a candidate try to appeal to the higher aspirations of people.

What I think Mr. Booker, Senator Booker, as well as the other candidates so far who have been entrants into this race are clear about is that they're not going to go to the gutter with this president. They're not going to compete with him in the gutter. Not him, not his White House, not his staff. They're going to go directly to the American people and remind us frankly of a higher calling.

And I have to applaud them on that. I don't think that we're going to win in the gutter with this president. That's where he thrives. It's going to be important always to take, I think, this conversation to a higher level.

KEILAR: Cory Booker declaring his candidacy on the first day of Black History Month. Kamala Harris declaring her candidacy on Martin Luther King Junior Day. It strikes me that then-Senator Barack Obama was a little more careful about how he was emphasizing his heritage when he first campaigned. I wonder what you think, that if -- having already seen the first African-American president, the first black president, does that affect these candidates as their choosing their coming out of the gate message and really emphasizing their racial heritage?

GILLUM: Well, I tell you, both these candidates, Senator Harris, as well as Senator Booker, did choose historic moments to make their entrance into the race. But I don't think anybody's going to be able to put either of them into a singular box. They're not running to be the first black woman president or the second African-American president of the United States, in Mr. Booker's case. They really have an appeal across these demographic lines and demographic barriers. They're going to be talking about issues. And I think they're going to try to highlight the issues that again allow us to bring each other together.

[13:29:48] The other thing that I think this electorate is interested in is candidates who are going to run as themselves. There's no sense in pretending that Kamala Harris is not a black woman. There's no sense in attempting to ignore the fact that Mr. Booker will bring a set of experiences as a black man in this race.