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Senator Booker Holds Campaign Event in South Carolina; Senators Warren and Klobuchar Formally Enter Presidential Race; Klobuchar Responds to Reports She Mistreats Staff; Democratic Hopefuls Campaign in Early Voting States; Trump Jokes About Trail of Tears in Warren Slam; Crowded Field of Democratic Candidates Grows Even Larger; Trump to Hold Rally for Wall at Border Tonight. Aired 9-9:30a ET
Aired February 11, 2019 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[09:00:12] JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Very good Monday morning to you. I'm Jim Sciutto in New York. Do we have any news this week? Something going on. Yes.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Just some of it. It's good to be back in the chair next to you, my friend.
Good morning, everyone. Happy Monday. I'm Poppy Harlow. And here we go again. Another deadline just days away. And on the day when a shutdown deal was supposed to be announced, we are instead seeing an explosive very public breakdown in border talks. The possibility of another government shutdown growing by the day.
SCIUTTO: Yes. Just after Friday when there was so much talk of agreement. The sticking points right now, how much money should go to border barriers, of course a familiar issue, but also how many undocumented immigrants can be held in detention facilities along the border? Today is crucial as lawmakers try to work out a fix with that clock down -- that countdown clock ticking. Will there be a backup plan? Another stop-gap, short-term funding deal?
Let's bring in congressional correspondent for CNN Sunlen Serfaty.
So, Sunlen, on Friday -- Thursday last week, lawmakers seemed to be moving closer. They were talking about a deal. What happened? And I suppose the other key issue here is that they need some prep time before that deadline, do they not, to reach a deal?
SCIUTTO: They can't just reach it Thursday at midnight.
SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. They do indeed prep time. Everything up here on Capitol Hill takes some time procedurally speaking, Jim, and certainly that big deadline Friday at midnight where we could see another government shutdown is looming large this morning.
Now as you noted, there was a lot of hope and a lot of optimism heading into the weekend that they would be able to strike a deal. And negotiators they felt like they were inching closer. But that has been completely washed away. At this moment there is a lot of concern up here on Capitol Hill. A lot of pessimism saying we might not be able to get there.
Now here, as you laid out, are some of the sticking points still outstanding as a number, an actual dollar figure for the border barrier funding. Also a big issue, there's a lot of division over the number of detention beds for illegal immigrants. Democrats over the weekend they are demanding for a cap on those beds. They argue that that would force the administration to essentially prioritize deportation for criminals. That seems to be a big issue, a big sticking point. We heard a lot of that pessimism from the negotiators over the weekend.
On Sunday, Senator Richard Shelby, one of the chief negotiators up here, a Republican, he said, you know, I put the chances at 50-50. At this point he called the talks completely stalled and not confident a deal could be reached at all. So this certainly a bad tone going into the week. And what the way forward is, that's very unclear at this point.
Already here on Monday, five days before this spending deadline before they have to get a deal, a lot of people talking about potentially a short-term funding measure coming together in the back of all this. You have President Trump of course rallying tonight in El Paso, Texas. So important what we hear from President Trump tonight about all of this.
Back to you, guys.
SCIUTTO: Yes, a lot of folks at home have to be frustrated hearing that word shutdown again.
Sunlen Serfaty on the Hill, thanks very much.
HARLOW: All right. Now to President Trump taking his border battle to the border, to the border city of El Paso, Texas. That is where he will be met with a dueling rally.
Joe Johns is at the White House with more.
So this is where the president goes tonight to make a point, one would assume, again on his wall. But not every Republican lawmaker there is going to greet him with open arms at least when it comes to the facts here.
JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: That's very true. Dueling rallies, really two visions of America. By the way, the president holding his first rally of this new campaign season, the cycle just kicking off with all the other candidates getting in the race as we've been talking so much about.
Look, he's also going to what is the epicenter of the debate over the president's border barrier. And important for a number of reasons. Beto O'Rourke, the rising star Democrat, obviously, going to be there holding a rally of his own. What he calls essentially a "March for Truth." So there couldn't be more contrast between what the president is saying down on the border and what Beto O'Rourke and his rally will be saying.
El Paso also very important for a variety of the reasons. The president of the United States has used it as somewhat of a success story, if you will, claiming that there was a huge problem with crime there calling it one of the most dangerous cities in the United States until a fence was built and now it's all better. Big problem with that is, it's just not true. People on the ground say the president is lying about El Paso.
We're likely to hear some of that tonight. Meanwhile, all of this is going on as the border negotiations continue on Capitol Hill. Now one of the things that is interesting, the president has been lashing out at least a couple of times accusing the Democrats of trying to move the goal post, if you will. Especially on that issue of capping the number of detainees ICE can take in.
Here's what the president said on Twitter.
[09:05:02] "The Democrats do not want us to detain or send back criminal aliens. This is a brand-new demand." So the president actually misstating what Democrats are saying as you know and as Sunlen just reported. What's really going on here is quite different with that demand for a cap.
Back to you.
HARLOW: Yes. Joe Johns, thanks for laying out the facts. We appreciate it.
With us now, "New York Times" politics editor Patrick Healy and politics reporter with the "Guardian," Sabrina Siddiqui.
Good morning to you both. And Sabrina, let me begin with you because you have an interesting read on this. I mean, your reporting this morning is that one key difference this time around from the, you know, shutdown a few weeks ago is that you say Senate Republicans and House Democrats are actually very much on a similar, if not the same page here.
Explain that and what that means for the prospects of a deal.
SABRINA SIDDIQUI, POLITICS REPORTER, THE GUARDIAN: Well, there's one difference in that -- when the previous shutdown took place in December. Senate Republicans did pass with Democrats a bill along a bipartisan basis that would have averted the shutdown and it was House Republicans who were then still in control of the lower chamber who passed a separate piece of administration that allocated money toward the border wall and skipped town essentially jamming the Senate and then of course precipitating the shutdown.
Now you have Democrats in control of the House and I think with Senate Republicans also having no appetite for another shutdown, there might be some more room for consensus. But as every has pointed out, there are these two sticking points over funding for a physical barrier, as well as this potential cap toward detention centers and personnel. So if they don't resolve those issues, the question is, what happens next?
Is there a shutdown? Is there another short-term stop-gap measure? That's something the White House and Republicans are saying they would oppose. And in the middle of all this, does the president exacerbate tensions by declaring a national emergency? So there's still a lot of unanswered questions as we get toward that deadline on Friday.
SCIUTTO: Yes. And if the one with the president near the border that is not where he has signaled compromise before when he's down there.
HARLOW: That's true. Yes.
SCIUTTO: Patrick Healy, I want to ask you, though. You talk to folks on the Hill. They have no appetite for a shutdown again. But I'm curious, does the president have a greater appetite for a shutdown? Because you've heard that his own pollsters tell him that this issue works for swing voters in swing districts. You have Stephen Miller in the White House pushing for a hard line here.
Does the president have a different outlook on this than even, say, Senate Republicans?
PATRICK HEALY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think he has some appetite for it, Jim. I mean, he's in full campaign mode. He's tweeting about Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar. I mean, he -- the campaign 2020 Twitter account is very active right now. And he's looking for a political issue. And it's certainly the wall for him. You know, his base got very much behind him in 2016 with all of those chants. Build a wall. Build a wall.
And that -- you know, he was going down to El Paso for -- this is a campaign event. This is not business of state. This is a campaign event tonight. So I think for him, you know, the wall is very much a political and campaign issue. And then the shutdown, I think in his way, he still believes that his base is the most critical and that he needs to deliver on some kind of a wall or wall-like barrier. And if he needs to shut down the government again, he could see that as in his political interest.
Now Senate Republicans feel very different. Mitch McConnell does not want to shut down the government again. They've got a lot of candidates up for re-election in tough races in 2020. So their calculus is pretty different.
HARLOW: So, Patrick, in terms of what the Democrats are pushing for here and that is a cap on a number of detention beds at 16,500. There's a statement out we can pull it on the screen from the National Sheriff's Association and the Major County Sheriffs of America. They sent this letter to Congress and essentially they just say this would cripple ICE's ability to do their job.
And then Jim brings up Stephen Miller and the reporting from your paper this morning is that there's a growing concern among Republicans that Stephen Miller is pushing the president's hand too much here on this, right? But I wonder if Democrats and the call from a number of Democrats, including those running in 2020 to abolish ICE hurts them a little bit here.
HEALY: No, it's really true, Poppy. I mean, the potential for the Democrats to overreach on ICE is pretty great. During the primaries in the midterms in 2018, you certainly saw a number of hard left Democrats running on abolishing ICE. That was their platform. Several of them got elected. They are very prominent megaphones. They see ICE as, you know, a real -- a genuine threat to their communities. And that's what they want to stand for. And the cap is sort of a first step on that.
But the moderate Democrats who are also going to be up for re-election in 2020, and Nancy Pelosi, thinking about her majority, you know, abolishing ICE or capping just -- it does run the risk of seeming, let's say, soft on border security.
[09:10:11] So the overreach potential is great. Just like Stephen Miller seems to be pushing the president in one direction. You know, Speaker Pelosi's hard left caucus, you know, may be leading them down to an overreach scenario.
SCIUTTO: You know, and it's interesting, Sabrina, because, you know, all the focus in these past weeks, including during the last shutdown have been on that dollar figure. The president want $5.7 billion but by the end of last week, all indications were, even among Republicans, was that, you know, that figure was coming way down, even with Republican support, perhaps around $2 billion. So it seems like that part of the debate has been settled but now it's down to beds? Is that right?
SIDDIQUI: Well, somewhat. I think that the $2 billion is what appears to be the consensus for funding toward a physical barrier. But it remains unclear still what that language will look like. Is a barrier going to be enough for the president or is he going to insist that it be referred to as a wall? It might sound like semantics but obviously Democrats I think anything that resembles a wall and is written as such might be a nonstarter.
As far as ICE is concerned, I think for Democrats, the driving point here is really that under this administration, ICE has escalated deportations of low-level offenders or undocumented immigrants with no real criminal history. And so this is where they want to try and limit the scope of ICE and how it has evolved under the Trump administration.
SIDDIQUI: But I think what this all just reinforces is how difficult it is to have a debate about immigration in the context of a bill to fund the government and to avert a shutdown. I think, you know, what would be a lot simpler is if they simply were able to pass a clean bill to keep the government open and then have a debate on immigration at a later point in time. But obviously, the president has made this very much about immigration, which is a key pillar of his agenda.
SCIUTTO: Yes, it's a tool.
HARLOW: The pillar. Yes. yes.
SCIUTTO: It's a weapon. It's a weapon.
Patrick Healy and Sabrina Siddiqui, thanks very much.
Making history. Two more Democrats launch presidential campaigns and the Democratic field grows even larger. But do any of these candidates have an early edge?
HARLOW: Plus hours from now the president again as we said will rally his base at a campaign event in El Paso. But will he get the response that he's looking for from the leaders there?
We're talking to El Paso's Republican mayor who has a very clear message for the president when it comes to the facts on illegal immigration in his city.
And freshman Democratic Congresswoman Ilhan Omar of Minnesota facing accusations of anti-Semitism again. What she said that is sparking more backlash from not just Republicans but from her fellow Democrats.
[09:15:00] SCIUTTO: Well, 2020 already in full swing if you can believe it. Minutes from now, Democratic presidential hopeful and New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, he is hitting the campaign trail. He's going to speak to students in Sumter, South Carolina. That's no accident, South Carolina, the first southern state to hold a primary --
HARLOW: Yes --
SCIUTTO: In 2020.
HARLOW: Big deal. It comes as the already crowded field of White House hopefuls grows larger by the day. Senators Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar, the latest to join the race. Over the weekend, Rebecca Buck is with the Booker campaign this morning.
Good morning, Rebecca. So, look, he has promised to run a relentlessly positive and unifying campaign. What will the message be to the crowd there today in the key state of South Carolina?
REBECCA BUCK, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: That's right, Poppy. Well, no doubt Booker will continue to talk about that theme you just mentioned, love and unity. It's the overarching theme of his presidential campaign. But here in South Carolina, Booker also striking another big theme that he's going to go everywhere in this campaign and then speak to everyone and meet them where they are.
So what he's been doing here in South Carolina is a little unique, he's been focusing on rural areas of the state, smaller towns, and doing his events there. He took a minute last night in Denmark, South Carolina to explain this approach. So take a listen. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CORY BOOKER (D), NEW JERSEY: Why did I start my campaign in South Carolina, in rural areas? Why? Because I'm tired of folks coming through communities and often ignoring them.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes --
BOOKER: I know that because --
I started out running to places other people told me not to go to.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BUCK: We've been seeing this approach from other Democrats as well. Of course, Amy Klobuchar has plans now to go to Wisconsin, following her campaign launch because Hillary Clinton didn't campaign there in 2016. But for Booker, this also harkens back to his approach running for City Council and Mayor in Newark, New Jersey, trying to knock on every door essentially.
But on a much bigger scale, a presidential campaign. That is the -- and this is going to be the final event for Booker on his nine-event swing through Iowa, South Carolina. Next, he heads to New Hampshire over presidents' day weekend next weekend, making his first impression in that primary state. Poppy and Jim?
HARLOW: All right, Rebecca, thanks very much.
SCIUTTO: Look at the turnout at these campaign --
HARLOW: I know --
SCIUTTO: Events --
HARLOW: It's true --
SCIUTTO: Already early, it's great, it's February 2019.
HARLOW: Yes --
SCIUTTO: Well, a snowstorm could not stop Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar from entering the race. She announced her bid for the presidency in freezing temperatures, a lot of snow there, as thousands of supporters blanketed with snow cheered her on.
It was quite an announcement ceremony. Suzanne Malveaux, she's been following Klobuchar on the campaign trail. Suzanne, she spoke again this morning, did she make some news this morning?
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: She did make some news as a matter of fact. I mean, she's running her campaign, saying that she's somebody who has grit and determination, and she is somebody who really is bringing heart to the heartland. Jim, I have to tell you, it was an extraordinary event yesterday, a very unique Minnesota style if you will, 14 degrees, very heavy snow.
[09:20:00] Had a chance to talk to her and she said that what sets her apart from so many people is that she is a tough person. That she is able to take on the weather, but she's also able to take on those battles. Immediately after she actually announced, she took a battle on with Trump. He tweeted this saying, "at Amy Klobuchar announced that she is running for president, talking proudly of fighting global warming while standing in a virtual blizzard of snow ice and freezing temperatures. Bad timing.
By the end of her speech she looked like a snow woman." Well, she shot back immediately afterwards, tweeting out her own response, saying that, "science is on my side. The real Donald Trump, looking forward to debating you about climate change and many other issues, and I wonder how your hair would fare in a blizzard", with a snowman emoji.
So Jim and Poppy, very much a battle ensuing here. And this morning, also saying that, look, you know, she's going to use humor, she's going to pick her battles with the president. Also responding as well to some reports that she is a tough boss.
She took that on as well, trying to explain that she has high expectations for herself as well as the country. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D), MINNESOTA: First of all, I love my staff. I wouldn't be where I am and we wouldn't be able to pass all those bills and do all that work if we didn't have great staff. I am tough. I push people, that is true. But my point is that, I have high expectations for myself. I have high expectations for the people that work for me, and I have high expectations for this country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MALVEAUX: Jim and Poppy, she is going to be taking her message around the country, but she is focusing on the heartland. She says that is a place, of course, that was neglected.
Many people feel that the Democrats lost because of the -- losing the heartland. So her schedules will take her to Wisconsin, as well as Iowa in the days ahead. Jim, Poppy?
SCIUTTO: Suzanne Malveaux in Minnesota, it looks cold there, you don't know anything about cold in Minnesota --
HARLOW: Nothing --
SCIUTTO: Do you?
HARLOW: Nothing about that --
SCIUTTO: Never experienced that. Cnn senior political analyst, Harry Enten, he is here with the forecast for 2020. So Harry, you know, the word on the Democratic field so far has been trending left, right? A lot of the candidates both in their statements, whether it's a green new deal or higher tax rates on the wealthy.
But then you see someone like Klobuchar come in, Midwest, more middle of the road voter with the president 30 percent of the time. Does she bring just the overall picture of the field back to the center a bit? What are you seeing?
HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, I mean, she definitely does, and keep in mind, of course, that 54 percent of Democrats nationwide still identify as moderate or liberal. I think it's going to be very interesting to see who the Democratic Party actually is.
Is it who strategists think it is, and who people like myself think it is, perhaps further to the left than it's ever been before at least in recent history, or is it with the polls that indicate that someone like a Joe Biden who has a more moderate record in the past is actually leading in those?
I think it's going to be very interesting to see as this campaign develops. Where is the Democratic Party?
HARLOW: It was interesting, the question, a good question that one of our colleagues at Cnn asked her over the weekend here. And what sets you apart from the rest of the field? And she said, well, I announced in a blizzard. You know, sort of joking, but her point was -- and she finished the sentence by saying, it shows the grit and determination I have.
I think they're all determined candidates for sure. I just wonder if you could elaborate on her voting record and whether, you know, the fact that she's won three times in Minnesota by an average of 26 points every election there. Is that indicative of the country or is that unique to Minnesota?
ENTEN: Well, I would say that it does indicate that she has a stronger case than perhaps others do about electability. And we know that Democrats -- at least Democratic voters nationwide are saying that electability is more important this year than in any year, going back to 2004.
What I'll also point out is that Minnesota looks a lot like Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania in its voting patterns. And of course, those are the three states that if Hillary Clinton had won in 2016, combined with the states she actually did, she would have won the electoral college. So I think Klobuchar has a very strong case to make about that.
SCIUTTO: There of course, another big announcement over the weekend, Elizabeth Warren, and there was a time --
HARLOW: Yes --
SCIUTTO: A time when folks considered Elizabeth Warren a front- runner. But still the issue of having claimed native American heritage repeatedly. You had a citizen of the Cherokee nation telling Cnn over the weekend that she still needs to make a clearer public apology here.
And I just wonder in the polling, in what you've seen and heard, is this still a major issue for her, and is it one that she can overcome?
ENTEN: I would say a few things. Number one, remember, Elizabeth Warren announced that she was forming an exploratory committee in late December. And so you had a whole month of this coverage, and we could get to see where the polls were then versus now.
And what we saw was Warren did not actually see much of a spike in her percentage of the vote nationwide that Democrats said they were going to -- willing to vote for her which is very different from Kamala Harris who saw a jump from say, the mid-single digits all the way up to the low double digits.
So it does seem to me, that, although we can't know exactly why it was the case that Warren didn't see much of a bump, I think you can make a case that the negative news coverage surrounding this native American --
[09:25:00] SCIUTTO: Yes --
ENTEN: Controversy definitely did hurt her. Whether it hurts her in the future, well, we'll have to wait and see.
HARLOW: Two big wild cards, Bernie Sanders, Senator Bernie Sanders, if he runs, and what that does to the sort of far-left wing, and then in the central there and what it means for maybe Klobuchar for example is former Vice President Joe Biden, right? And how much that could all change things.
ENTEN: Absolutely. I mean, Bernie Sanders, I think, at least for Elizabeth Warren's case, they share some very similar blocs. And there's obviously some differences between the two of them, but Bernie Sanders is someone who connects with young voters as well as those on the left part of the spectrum.
At least, the left part of the Democratic Party. And if you have all of these candidates on the left part of the Democratic Party running, well, Bernie Sanders could stand out above the crowd and could in fact take votes away from Elizabeth Warren.
As for Joe Biden and Amy Klobuchar, look, if Joe Biden enters the race, I think it makes Klobuchar's job a little bit harder. But I will say that Amy Klobuchar has two things in her corner, number one, she's a woman, and Democrats have been nominating more and more women in primaries at least in 2016 and 2018.
And number two, Joe Biden is going to make the case about electability, but I think Amy Klobuchar's case is much stronger because she has a recent history of winning in a state where Democrats, sometimes at least have a little bit of difficulty winning.
HARLOW: Yes, increasingly purple, and always beautiful and snowy. SCIUTTO: Exactly, and --
ENTEN: Beautiful and snowy. I love the snow, the snow is beautiful and I wish we had some in the studio right now.
SCIUTTO: Who is tougher than folks from Minnesota? Do you know any folks from anywhere?
HARLOW: I don't, I don't.
SCIUTTO: Harry Enten, thanks very much --
HARLOW: Thank you --
SCIUTTO: Tomorrow night, big deal --
ENTEN: Thank you --
SCIUTTO: The woman sitting next to me is going to host a Cnn presidential town hall with former Starbucks CEO and independent candidate now Howard Schultz. It is at 10:00 Eastern Time tomorrow night only on Cnn. Congratulations --
HARLOW: Thanks --
SCIUTTO: That's going to be quite a moment.
HARLOW: It's going to be really interesting. It's all about the audience questions, so I'm very excited for that to see what they have to ask him and how he answers, and what he says on policy.
SCIUTTO: Yes --
HARLOW: It's a big night.
SCIUTTO: There's the questions from -- always thoughtful. I mean --
HARLOW: So thoughtful --
SCIUTTO: It is, yes, so --
HARLOW: Yes --
SCIUTTO: It's going to be great to watch.
HARLOW: I'm excited to get to Texas, it's a little bit warmer there.
SCIUTTO: Yes, exactly, must-see TV. Well, in other news, we're following this hour embattled Virginia Governor Ralph Northam tries to make the case that he can help Virginia heal, but sparks a new backlash in the process. His new controversial comments.
HARLOW: Plus, President Trump heads to the Mexico-U.S. border to push for a border wall. He'll be at a rally in El Paso tonight. But the Republican mayor there says his city transcends the border. What is his message for the president? He'll join us live. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)