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Trump Hints on Another Shutdown, National Emergency Declaration; ICE Arrests Grammy-Nominated Rapper 21 Savage in Metro Atlanta; Calls for Governor Northam to Resign Continues; Interview with Representative Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI); Aired 4-5p ET
Aired February 3, 2019 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[16:00:39] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. Thank you so much for joining me this Super Bowl Sunday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.
President Trump is set to deliver his State of the Union address in just two days, and this morning he is holding firm on his demand for a border wall, vowing to stay the course and keep up the fight for full wall funding.
As the president spends the weekend at his Mar-a-Lago golf club, bipartisan negotiators are working to hammer out a deal to avoid another U.S. government shutdown in just 12 days away. But the president has already referred to those talks as a, quote, "waste of time." And in an interview with CBS, he did not rule out another government shutdown.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARGARET BRENNAN, CBS "FACE THE NATION" ANCHOR: Would you shut down the government again?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, we're going to have to see what happens on February 15th. And I think --
BRENNAN: You're not taking it off the table?
TRUMP: Well, I don't take anything off the table. I don't like to take things off the table. It's that alternative. It's national emergency. It's other things. And, you know, there have been plenty of national emergencies called.
You need a wall. And anybody that says you don't, they're just playing games.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: CNN's Boris Sanchez is in West Palm Beach, Florida, not far from the president's Mar-a-Lago estate.
So the clock is ticking towards yet another shutdown. Where do things stand?
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Fred. If it feels a bit like deja vu, it's because we're pretty much exactly where we were about a month and a half ago with President Trump and Democrats engaged in a war of words as a government shutdown looms.
The president went after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in that interview with CBS, as you said, saying that negotiations between the two sides have been a waste of time, in part because Democrats are offering zero money, not a single cent for the president's long-promised border wall, even though they are making concessions on other things, adding funds for personnel and added technology at the border.
The president is clearly frustrated, and he's taking aim at the House speaker, saying that she's bad for the country. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: She knows that you need a barrier. She knows that we need border security. She wanted to win a political point. I happen to think it's very bad politics because basically she wants open borders. She doesn't mind human trafficking or she wouldn't do this because you know the traffickers --
BRENNAN: She offered you over a billion dollars for border security.
TRUMP: Excuse me?
BRENNAN: She offered over a billion dollars for border security.
TRUMP: She's --
BRENNAN: She doesn't want the wall.
TRUMP: She's costing the country hundreds of billions of dollars because what's happening is when you have a porous border and when you have drugs pouring in, and when you have people dying all over the country because of people like Nancy Pelosi who don't want to give proper border security for political reasons, she's doing a terrible disservice to our country.
BRENNAN: You're still going to have to deal with her, though.
TRUMP: No. She can keep playing her games, but we will win because we have a much better issue.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: A spokesperson for Speaker Pelosi shot back at the president, saying that Trump acted recklessly during the government shutdown and suggesting that the president has been dishonest when trying to characterize the Democrats' stance on border security and the issue of immigration.
I also do have a bit of breaking news to bring you, Fred. Last week CNN reported the Pentagon was preparing to send some 3500 troops to the border to help Customs and Border Patrol agents there secure the southern border. It's a sign that the administration is preparing to make some sort of move on border security and bypassing Congress. Just a few moments ago, within the last hour, the Pentagon confirmed
that they were taking that step, but it is going to be a few more troops than we expected. 3,750 will be assisting Customs and Border Patrol agents, potentially some of them through September.
You could potentially expect the president to mention that action among some others he may take during his State of the Union address on Tuesday night. As he told reporters on Friday it should be an exciting speech -- Fred.
WHITFIELD: All right. Boris Sanchez, thank you so much.
All right. Joining me right now, White House reporter for the "Washington Post" and CNN political analyst Seung Min Kim, and senior editor at "The Atlantic" and CNN senior political analyst Ron Brownstein.
All right. Good to see you both.
So, Seung Min, the president not backing down from the border wall funding demand. Then you heard Boris right there talk about the Pentagon putting plans into place to send upwards of 3750 troops to assist Border Patrol along the border. It's likely to be an item he talks about in that State of the Union.
SEUNG MIN KIM, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Exactly. And I think this could be a preview of the big action that he could take on his own that he has hinted at for some time, which is that national -- that emergency declaration to help begin wall construction.
[16:05:10] He's pretty much already said that he doesn't expect the 17-member congressional committee to reach a deal, even though if you look at that panel, it's a panel full of deal makers. But the president does not seem to have any confidence that they will be able to come up with something, enough wall funding, enough border security that he will be satisfied with.
But I can tell you that there's deep opposition to declaring that national emergency on Capitol Hill, particularly among Republicans, which has been a really interesting development. We wrote over the weekend that Senator Mitch McConnell actually made an unannounced visit to the White House earlier this week and telling him, please don't do this, Mr. President.
There's a lot of Republicans who are opposed to this action. And what could actually happen is that Congress could take actions to actually terminate this declaration, and it could actually pass because there's that much opposition among his own party on Capitol Hill.
WHITFIELD: So, Ron, is there a feeling that the president would respond to that kind of warning, if not even kind of a threat coming from Mitch McConnell?
RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, look, he's got a problem on both means and ends on the border wall. On the end itself of the border wall, he's never been able to persuade more than 45 percent of the country, that's been the high point in any poll. Usually it's more like 41 or 43 to support the wall itself as a goal since he's taken office. And the means that he's chosen to pursue that end are even less popular.
I mean, we've seen 70 percent consistently saying they don't like the idea of shutting down the government to try to advance a policy goal of any sort. And there's polling just from this week, Fred, from Quinnipiac that two-thirds of the country, including three-quarters of independents and almost a third of Republicans oppose the idea of a national emergency to declare the border wall.
And for Republicans, of course, part of the issue is the precedent that would set for a future Democratic president to use the same tools. The problem the Republicans -- you know, what we have to see is there may well be -- there certainly is a majority in the House to overturn a national emergency declaration.
There may even be a majority in the Senate but the president can veto, as I understand it, that declaration. And whether there are really 20 Republicans willing to vote to stop him is another question.
WHITFIELD: And one would think that the president wouldn't dare have another, you know, shutdown. I mean, that historic shutdown just cost so much. But listen to the president's idea about what could be on the horizon.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: On the 15th, we have now set the table beautifully because everybody knows what's going on because of the shutdown. People that didn't have any idea, that didn't have a clue as to what was happening, they now know exactly what's happening. They see human trafficking. They see drugs and gangs and criminals pouring in. We catch them because we're doing a great job.
But if we had proper border security, we wouldn't have to work so hard, and we could do an even better job. And I think Nancy Pelosi is doing a terrible disservice to the people of our country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: So a couple things, Seung Min. He talks about a realization that Americans have. Any evidence of that? And then he's quick to criticize, you know, the House speaker. In just two days, he's going to be in her House after she extended another invitation to do his State of the Union.
KIM: And that's why the State of the Union is going to be so fascinating on Tuesday because from the previews that we've gotten from the administration, it's going to be -- I mean, if you look on the surface, it's going to be your standard State of the Union speech. There are bipartisan overtures. He will push on key parts of his agenda, such as trade. He will explain his foreign policy doctrine. But anything he says is really going to be overshadowed by this looming border wall fight. I know that he did not take a shutdown off the table in the CBS
interview that aired earlier today. There does seem to be an appetite or a lack of appetite among basically everyone in Washington for another shutdown. Again, that could change at the last minute. But what the president saw is that no matter how painful the shutdown was, and it was painful for federal workers, for the broader economy, that that was not moving Democrats an inch when it came to their demand that, no, you're not going to get the wall, and especially not while the government is closed.
WHITFIELD: And so, Ron, CNN sources learned that apparently the theme for the president's speech will be choosing greatness. What might that mean?
BROWNSTEIN: Well, you know, look, I think the president, as presidents usually do in the State of the Union, is going to want to tout what he's accomplished and in fact make overtures toward bipartisan and talk about areas where there might be greater opportunities, infrastructure, pharmaceutical pricing for the parties to work together. But I agree, it's going to be totally overshadowed by this fight over the border wall. And it is incredibly revealing that this is the ground on which he has chosen really to define his presidency in response to the midterm election.
When you think about what happened in the midterm election, you know, Republicans lost the House popular vote by a larger margin than Democrats did in the 2010 GOP landslide, and they lost it largely because of two groups, white-collar suburbanites moved away from the GOP, and you had unusually big turnout among minorities and millennials who went Democratic.
[16:10:05] And both of those groups preponderantly opposed the wall and are even more opposed to the idea of shutting down the government or using an emergency declaration to achieve it. So you really see that whatever else window dressing there is in the State of the Union, the president is doubling down on his strategy of speaking to a base of blue-collar, evangelical, nonurban whites, and really taking the Republican Party out on that limb just after an election that showed all of the costs of doing so. It's really pretty striking to see this strategy unfold.
WHITFIELD: Extraordinary. All right. Ron Brownstein, Seung Min Kim, thank you so much.
President Trump will deliver that State of the Union address to Speaker Pelosi's House and a divided Congress for the first time. Watch our special live coverage starting Tuesday night at 8:00 Eastern right here on CNN.
Still ahead, his closest allies are saying resign, resign, resign. But Virginia Governor Ralph Northam is vowing to remain in office despite a racist photograph on his medical school yearbook page.
And we're also following the breaking news. A Grammy nominated rapper just arrested by ICE agents in metro Atlanta during the Super Bowl festivities. The breaking details right after this. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
[16:15:27] WHITFIELD: All right. This breaking news. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, ICE, has arrested Grammy nominated rapper 21 Savage in metro Atlanta. An ICE spokesman says the rapper is actually a resident of the United Kingdom who has been in the U.S. illegally.
CNN correspondent Nick Valencia joining me right now.
What have you learned about the circumstances involving all this, his arrest?
NICK VALENCIA, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Fred, I'm a huge hip-hop fan. And I'll start by saying I'm shocked by all of this, just to see what's playing out here in front of us.
We just got off the phone with ICE who confirmed that he was taken into custody early Sunday for overstaying his visa. And even if you don't like hip-hop or even if you don't know who this man is that you're looking here on the screen he is Grammy nominated. He's up for record of the year. He's an insane talent and has claimed for years, at least since he started his professional music career, that he was from east Atlanta, Zone 6 specifically, and that he was a gang member, 21 being his gang.
All that, according to ICE, is a lie. It's a fake public persona. And this is part of the statement which they released to us here at CNN just a little while ago saying, quote, "Mr. Abraham Joseph initially entered the U.S. legally in July 2005 but subsequently failed to depart under the terms of his non-immigrant visa. And he became unlawfully present in the U.S. when his visa expired in July 2006. In addition of being in violation of federal immigration law, Mr. Abraham Joseph was convicted on felony drug charges in October 2014 in Fulton County, Georgia."
So he was taken into custody early this morning, just hours before the Super Bowl. And this man that you're looking at here on your screen, who is nominated for a Grammy, who has sold this persona to his audience and to those who have consumed his music, as a tough guy who grew up on the streets of east Atlanta. According to ICE and the government, he's actually from the UK and overstayed his visa and that's why he was taken into custody.
WHITFIELD: So perhaps -- well, there are a couple of things to this, right, so --
VALENCIA: There's a lot to this.
WHITFIELD: So while he was here in the United States, perhaps part of his story where he says he grew up or had his experiences in Atlanta still could be true, it's just minus the fact that the earlier part of his years was in the UK. That is the country from which he is a citizen.
VALENCIA: That's right. And up until today, we all thought -- I mean, those who love his music, I love his music, I listen to his music, I just got his album, that latest when it came out, we all thought he was from east Atlanta, that he was born and raised there. He has given plenty of interviews over time, claiming to be, you know, from the streets, have grown up on the streets of Atlanta, had had friends murdered and killed. And we never had an indication or any inkling that he was from anywhere other than the Atlanta area.
A lot of people -- my timeline is filled with tweets saying, is this true? Is this an April Fool's joke? But this is very real.
WHITFIELD: So quickly, do we know anything about the circumstances, how he was arrested? What was going on?
VALENCIA: No, we know that he was --
WHITFIELD: We know this is Super Bowl weekend. Lots of people here and lots of talent here.
VALENCIA: That's right. That's right. It was a targeted operation by the feds, according to the statement released earlier to me by Brian Cox, ICE spokesman. So we don't know around the -- what I'd like to know there also --
WHITFIELD: Is he performing here?
VALENCIA: He was part of a concert series, I believe, earlier this week. You know, he's always performing acts around town and has gigs around town. But what's interesting to me, Fredricka, is he's a convicted felon. He was taken into custody and convicted of drug dealing, I'm sorry, drug charges in October 2014. But he wasn't deported.
WHITFIELD: That wasn't discovered then?
VALENCIA: Why not? Why are we focusing on him now? And why is there a targeted operation on 21 Savage today? That's what the interesting part, I think.
WHITFIELD: OK. All right. Still details to find out.
WHITFIELD: At what point did his visa expire? And perhaps that helped explain that, too. Lots more reporting to do, but, Nick, thank you for bringing all of that you have. Appreciate it.
VALENCIA: You got it, Fred.
WHITFIELD: All right. The chorus of people calling for the resignation of Virginia Governor Ralph Northam continues to get louder by the day. Politicians and organizations, many of them from Northam's own party, are urging him to step aside after learning of a racist photo on his medical school yearbook page. Northam's response has been a firm no. First, the governor said he was one of the people in the photo that shows someone in a black face and the other in a Ku Klux Klan outfit. That was Friday night when he made that admission. But then yesterday, Saturday, he said he did not believe he was in
that picture at all. Northam is defiant in refusing to step down, even ignoring calls from his old boss, former Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe. Here is what McAuliffe told CNN's Jake Tapper.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Well, let me ask you, if it's not him in the photo, which is what he was saying, why do you still think he should resign?
TERRY MCAULIFFE, FORMER VIRGINIA GOVERNOR: Well, first he said it was Friday night. And if it wasn't him in the photo, he should have said that on Friday. I have no idea what was going on in the governor's office on Friday. I just -- if you're not -- instinctively, you know if you put black paint on your face.
[16:20:02] You know if you put a hood on. And so if it isn't you, you come out immediately and say, this is not me. Ralph will do the right thing for the commonwealth of Virginia. He will put Virginia first. And I think that will happen relatively soon.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: CNN correspondent Jessica Dean is in Richmond, Virginia.
So, Jessica, you have new information about what the governor hoped to accomplish in that press conference yesterday.
JESSICA DEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. We are hearing from a source with direct knowledge of the governor's thinking who's first saying right now his mind hasn't changed at all. He has zero plans to resign as of today. That he has not moved from that position.
That source also saying that the governor wanted to take that press conference and use it as a platform to explain the photo and give people time to evaluate the situation and also give himself time to evaluate the situation and decide what he should do next. That source describing the governor as evaluating this minute by minute, day by day, and that the only thing that would make him resign is if the governor himself thinks that he's not able to effectively govern.
And as of right now, the governor thinks he can move forward, and he is remaining very firm that not only was it not him in that photo, that he is not resigning, that he's going to work through this while remaining in office. So while that's going on in the governor's mansion and the governor's head right now and among his advisers, others in the Democratic Party, especially here locally in Virginia, are also talking -- the head of the Legislative Black Caucus was on ABC news this morning, talking with George Stephanopoulos about potential next steps.
Here's what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS: If the governor does not resign, will you move to impeach?
LAMONT BAGBY (D), VIRGINIA LEGISLATIVE BLACK CAUCUS CHAIRMAN: George, I hate to even have that discussion right now.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, it's out there.
BAGBY: Yes, I -- I encourage the governor to step aside so we can start the healing process. I'm not at the point where I want to publicly have a conversation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DEAN: So bottom line right now, just no movement in terms of the governor being really dug in on this, thinking that he can remain in office. And so far no movement from the legislature or other state officials to change any of that.
So, Fredricka, again, we're just waiting now to see what the next several days bring. Will the legislature itself take action? That's a big question that's looming right now. They meet tomorrow to start the week so we'll see if anything happens.
WHITFIELD: All right. Jessica Dean in Richmond. Thank you.
All right. Still ahead, she just threw her name into the 2020 presidential race last night. We'll talk with Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard about that announcement and what she says she'll do if elected to the White House.
[16:27:29] WHITFIELD: Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard made it official, she is making the run for the White House.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. TULSI GABBARD (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Today I announce my candidacy for president of the United States of America.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: The Hawaii Democrat joins an already crowded field that includes high-profile Senators Kamala Harris and Cory Booker. In her speech, Gabbard talked about changing the values in the White House and referenced her time serving in the Army National Guard.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GABBARD: I will bring this soldier's principles to the White House, restoring the values of dignity, honor, and respect to the presidency, and above all else, love for our people and love for our country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard joining me now from Honolulu.
Aloha. You made it official last night.
GABBARD: Aloha to you, Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: Launching your 2020 bid in your home state of Hawaii. So why should the American people, you know, make you the next president?
GABBARD: Well, Fredricka, right now Washington is essentially being controlled by self-serving politicians and greedy corporations who are putting their own interests ahead of the interests of the people. And this is creating hardship and suffering for the American people.
Now as a soldier, I know that at the heart of every one of our troops is this -- the principles and values of service before self, of putting the interests of the country and the people before our own. And that's what I'll bring to the Oval Office. That's what I'll bring to the White House is these soldier's values of putting service before self and restoring the honor, dignity, and respect to the presidency that it deserves.
WHITFIELD: You said yesterday in your speech, I'm quoting you now, you know, the road ahead will not be easy, the battles will be tough, the obstacles great. Among them, you know, do you believe it will be a struggle to stand out in a growing field right now, particularly if you don't get widespread, you know, congressional support, support from your colleagues?
GABBARD: Well, look, I'm focused on bringing my message to the American people. They're the ones who will decide who they would like to lead this country as president and as commander-in-chief. There's clearly so much at stake. The thing that I bring with my experience as a soldier is an understanding and knowledge, firsthand of the cost of war, and who pays the price.
It is not only our veterans who pay the price, but every single American pays the price for regime change wars for this new cold war that we find ourselves in and the nuclear arms race that will continue. These trillions of dollars that are being spent on these wars are dollars that need to be spent right here at home, addressing the very real urgent needs of the people of this country, infrastructure, healthcare, education. You can go down the list. These are the things that we need to be addressing.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, NEWSROOM ANCHOR: You mentioned the cold war. Let's talk about the IMF treaty, the U.S. pulling out, Russia pulling out. What are your concerns about dismantling that treaty and the message that it is already sending particularly European allies who are feeling rather vulnerable?
GABBARD: It's very dangerous what the Trump administration has done in their decision to pull out from this treaty. It essentially is sparking a new nuclear arms race, exacerbating this new cold war at the expense of the American people. Here in Hawaii, just over a year ago, we thought that we were under nuclear attack. There was a missile alert that went out, and there were mere minutes where people here in Hawaii were thinking that these were going to be the last minutes of our lives.
You know, we had a father who was lowering his little girl down a manhole cover into a storm drain, because he thought that would be the only place that she could be safe. Others were running frantically trying to find shelter. A friend of mine drove his family to the mountains to try to find a cave. This is a real threat that exists, not just for the people of Hawaii but for the people of this country.
We are at a greater risk of a nuclear catastrophe today than ever before in history. As commander in chief and as president, this is something that I will address. I will end this new cold war, to make it so that the trillions of dollars that people currently in power want to spend towards overhauling our nuclear weapons system, investing in buying more nuclear weapons.
Those are dollars that need to be spent in surveying the needs of our people here at home.
WHITFIELD: So if elected, would you resurrect something tantamount to the IMF treaty?
GABBARD: Yes, absolutely. This is a situation that we need to address so that we're not proliferating more of these nuclear weapons around the world, where currently we have nearly 15,000 nuclear weapons in the world, enough to destroy us many times over. Right now, President Trump is moving this country in the wrong direction, and we need to come back from that and work towards a future where we are not living under this nuclear threat, where in mere minutes our future could be gone.
WHITFIELD: So I want to turn now to Virginia Governor Ralph Northam. You know he's come under, you know, fire for that racist photograph that appeared in his medical school yearbook page in the 1980s. He has been urged to resign by prominent Democrats. He says now that's not even him in the photograph, and that he will not resign. What do you think he should do?
GABBARD: I know this is ultimately an issue that he needs to resolve with his own constituents. That's really the bottom line. He's got to have their trust. And if he doesn't, then he should resign. I think it's important for us to focus on what I am focused on, the challenges that we face, again, bringing down and ending the regime change war policies that have cost our country so much, both in American taxpayer dollars and in lives.
Ending this cold war and the nuclear arms race so that we can take our limited resources and make sure that those dollars coming out of the pockets of every single American are actually going towards addressing the needs that they have in their lives.
WHITFIELD: Can the governor -- can the Virginia governor lead when, you know, those in the political sphere in Virginia and beyond are asking him to resign? I mean you mentioned, you know, what the Virginian people would say, but, you know, their elected leaders are speaking on their behalf, and they're asking him to resign. Can he govern by maintaining his position even though there are voices that are telling him to step down?
GABBARD: I think he's in a very difficult situation of his own creation. And again, that's something that he's got to work out with his constituents and the people of Virginia.
WHITFIELD: So you have come under fire, you know, for statements that you have made in the past. CNN's (Inaudible) reported, you know, on your work, you know, for your father, an anti-gay activist in Hawaii. And in 2004, you testified at a hearing opposing, you know, civil union's bills saying, you know, to try to act as if there is a difference between civil unions and same-sex marriages as dishonest, cowardly, and extremely disrespectful, you know, to the people of Hawaii.
[16:35:02] You went on to say as Democrats -- and I am quoting now, you know, we should be representing the views of the people, not a small number of homosexual extremists. You did since apologize. But do you feel like you've made amends and that the American people will look past that?
GABBARD: Those were statements that were made a long time ago. I regret making those statements and the hurt and pain that came about because of them. I have apologized many years ago, and have apologized since, and have worked throughout the six years that I have been in Congress to fulfill the commitment that I made to our LGBTQ community here in Hawaii, as well as across the country to stand up for them and to fight for them.
My record speaks for itself, and I will continue to stand for equality for all people.
WHITFIELD: Let me ask you about the president's plan on pulling out troops in Syria. The Pentagon, according to our reporting, has already made preparations for at least putting, you know, 3,000 people on the U.S. southern border. And then, of course, the president has talked about pulling troops out of Syria and even Afghanistan. Where are you on the use -- on this president's use of U.S. troops in these capacities?
GABBARD: You've mentioned a bunch of different examples. Look, it makes me angry when I see our troops being used as political pawns. It makes me angry to see our troops essentially being used as mercenaries for hire to go and fight in regime change wars in other parts of the world. Our troops sacrifice so much. Their families sacrifice so much.
They must be honored by only being sent on missions that are worthy of their sacrifice and that truly served the interest of the American people and our country. This is why we need to bring our troops home from Syria. We need to bring our troops home from Afghanistan. And we need to end these regime change war policies that are so costly in ways that I have just discussed, in human lives and American taxpayer dollars.
WHITFIELD: Do you worry about those countries being left particularly vulnerable with the U.S. troop pullout? GABBARD: We have a small number of troops in these countries. And
ultimately, their presence there is not going to make them more or less vulnerable. Our troops need to be concerned about keeping the American people safe. Making sure that our country is secure, and this president's policies and frankly the policies that have spanned through different administrations and through both political parties of continuing regime change wars not only make us less safe, not only make the American people less safe.
Because they strengthen and increase the number of terrorist groups like ISIS and Al Qaeda, but they also undermine our ability to achieve peace. For example, in a place like North Korea where the leader of North Korea is maintaining nuclear weapons and has built these nuclear weapons as a deterrent against the regime change war policies that we've seen throughout our country's history for a very long time.
We cannot begin to think that the negotiations to denuclearize the North Korean peninsula will have any fruit so long as our president, this administration, continues to wage regime change wars and threaten regime change wars like he is doing currently in places like Venezuela and in Iran.
WHITFIELD: OK. Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, mahalo.
GABBARD: Aloha. Thank you.
WHITFIELD: And we'll be right back.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [16:40:00]
WHITFIELD: The 2020 Democratic race for president in 2020 is setting up to be one of the biggest and most diverse fields in U.S. history. Five of the hopefuls or soon to be hopefuls are women. Some of them are also leaning into their heritage and racial backgrounds among the candidates. Here was Julian Castro, the grandson of a Mexican immigrant, announcing his presidential run.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JULIAN CASTRO (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When my grandmother got here almost a hundred years ago, I am sure that she never could have imagined that just two generations later, one of her grandsons would be serving as a member of the United States Congress and the other would be standing with you here today to say these words. I am a candidate for president of the United States of America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: With me now is Ana Navarro, a CNN political commentator, and Nina Turner, a former Democratic state Senator from Ohio and a CNN political commentator. Good to see both of you, happy Super Bowl Sunday. So Ana, on Friday, Cory Booker, you know, announced his presidential candidacy. And he chose to make that announcement on the first day of black history month.
So what do you make of, you know, so many candidates either showing a greater willingness to make a connection with history or perhaps even, you know, more prominently profess their heritage and race?
ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yeah. I think it's a good thing. I think it is folks being comfortable in their skin and drawing inspiration from their stories, their personal history, their family's history, and having it be part of what they offer this country as what they bring to the table, the sensitivities and experiences they bring to the table.
Look. We all are who we are, plus our circumstances and experiences. If your name is Julian Castro and you are born of a Mexican-American single mother in San Antonio. That shapes you. If your name is Kamala Harris and you are the child of a Jamaican immigrant and an Indian woman immigrant. That shapes you. If you are Cory Booker, born in New York and raised by, you know, in an African-American family in New York.
[16:45:16] That shapes you. So of course, it should be part of the story. You can't hide it when you're a woman. You can't hide it when you're a person of color. So run with it.
WHITFIELD: And so Nina, you know, Kamala Harris, yes her, you know, dad is Jamaican, her mother Indian. She always considered herself African-American. Her mom even, you know, raised her, you know, predominantly in an African-American community. She launched her run on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Take a listen to what she had to say about running as a person of color.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And if you win, you would be the first black female president in the history of this nation. What does that mean to you?
SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, listen. In every position that I have held -- when I was district attorney, I was elected as the first woman of the sitting county. I was the first woman of color in the entire state of California. When I ran for attorney general and when I was elected, it was as the first woman ever and as the first person of color ever.
And, you know, frankly, Jake, my mother used to have a saying. And she would say to me, Kamala, you may be the first to do many things, but make sure you're not the last.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: So Nina, what do you make of it? You know, what's your assessment of how candidates, you know, including Kamala Harris are kind of handling the issue of race, of heritage, of identity?
NINA TURNER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, it's a beautiful thing, Fred, for candidates to lean into their heritage. We all have a story to tell, and our lived experience does inform us. And it is a beautiful thing, because even in that running, the different symbols that we see of people coming from different walks of life. They tell a story. We've always had identity politics in this country, Fred. It was called white male, land-owning folks who controlled all of the
politics. So let us not forget that identity has shaped this entire country from its inception. The beautiful thing that we're getting at, we're not totally there, in the 21st century is to see a rainbow mosaic representation this time around on the Democratic side, slightly, in 2016.
And so this is part of the story of America. People should share their lived experience. And even with those identities, there has even other gradations within them. But the real identity politics is going to be who can identify with the needs of the American people.
WHITFIELD: But you do see that something is different. There is a climate that is different today, whether it be in this 2020 race, you know, for president or even in recent years that there is a greater willingness in which to embrace, to profess one's identity, one's heritage.
TURNER: I do, Fred. And certainly, these folks are not the first ones, but they're really the first ones to be given an opportunity to level up, if you will, in this stage. I mean certainly, there were other people in other centuries from other backgrounds who would have made fine presidents. But because of the oppressive nature in our country based on race, they didn't have the same level of opportunity.
So I am really happy to see so many people from different walks of life running for president.
NAVARRO: And, you know, what I see with folks like Kamala Harris, with folks like Cory Booker is, they're not leading with the fact that they are African-American. They're not leading -- on Julian Castro leaning with the fact that he is Hispanic. It happens to be part of who they are and what they bring to the table. But at the same time, you know, you saw that Kamala announced on Martin Luther King Day, Cory Booker on the first day of African-American History Month.
So even though it is not something that they lead with and defines them. It is not the single factor. I think they also pay respect to the fact that there were other people that came before them, that were...
NAVARRO: -- People like Martin Luther King, who opened up the doors so that today we could have a field that -- what, a month into this 2020, you know, race. It is already as diverse when it comes to gender, when it comes to ethnicity, when it comes to race as we are already seeing. And we're not -- none of us are shocked in a way as we would have been maybe 20 years ago, maybe 15 years ago, certainly 40 years ago if something like this happened.
So the mere fact that we can have Tulsi Gabbard, that we can have Elizabeth Warren, that we can have Kamala Harris, that we can have Julian Castro, that we can have Cory Booker says so much about how far we've come. There's a lot yet to go, but how far we've come.
[16:49:55] WHITFIELD: Yeah, a greater reflection of America. All right, Nina Turner, Ana Navarro, thank you so much. And we'll be right back.
WHITFIELD: We are just over 90 minutes away from kickoff at Super Bowl 53. And in a short -- a few short hours, we'll know who the best team in football is. CNN's Coy Wire joins me now, so much excitement.
COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: Yeah, Fred. It is so much excitement. It was so great to see you and your sweet family at the Super Bowl experience the other day, your young son. And, you know, there are a projected million people who have come here to the city of Atlanta to experience Super Bowl 53. There are not a million seats in the Mercedes-Benz Stadium that you see behind me here.
[16:55:07] That means that the fans just want to be a part of this incredible week. And what an incredible week it's been. And it is all leading up to this day. Tonight, we get to witness history in the making, right? And it's really his story. Tom Brady, 41 years old, he's going for a record sixth Super Bowl title. It's incredible, when he won his first title back in February 3rd, 17 years ago to the day, back in 2002. He won his first Super Bowl.
And Rams Quarterback Jared Goff at that time was just seven years old. It speaks volumes about his tenure, about his ability to not just have ability but sustainability in a vicious and violent league. He just keeps shining. And it's one of the main reasons this matchup is so fascinating, because the Patriots have 36 players with Super Bowl experience like Tom Brady, the Rams, just four.
They're young. They're fun to watch. Even their head coach, Sean McVay, is just 33 years old, the youngest head coach in NFL history when he took the job 2 years ago. We'll see if they can take down the institution.
WHITFIELD: Woo. We're going to be watching. Hey, we're going to continue to make it a family affair. My son, my two sons and daughter, we'll be watching tonight. We don't have tickets. Not like you. We won't be there. But we'll be watching. Coy Wire, good to see you, have fun. All right, thank you so much for joining us, I am Fredricka Whitfield. The news continues right now with Ana Cabrera right after this.
[16:30:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)