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SMERCONISH

NYC Loss, Trump Gain?; Are Progressive Dems Driving Away Centrists?; Did Cities Bidding For Amazon HQ Get Played?; Will Trump's National Emergency Hurt The Gop?; Will Senate Republicans Support Trump's National Emergency?; Saving The Environment One Step at a Time; Saving The Environment One Step At A Time; How Sexism Plays On The Campaign Trail; Paid Line Standing. Aired 9-10a ET

Aired February 16, 2019 - 09:00   ET

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


MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN HOST, SMERCONISH: I'm Michael Smerconish in Philadelphia. We welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. Amazon's stunning decision to pull out its deal to go big in the New York City, it's a victory for liberal Democrats, but could it be good news for President Trump in the 2020 presidential race?

And President Trump already girding for a legal challenge to his declaration of a national emergency. Should he be more concerned about conservative Republicans in the U.S. Senate?

Plus, the stunning comments directed at Michigan's female governor during her State of the State address. Here's a hint, it was more about her dress than her address. There were lewd references to her bustline. Clearly, that's appalling. What, if anything, does it portend for the six female Democratic presidential candidates?

And Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez learning all about life on Capitol Hill and she's shocked by who's lining up outside congressional hearings. I'll talk to one of the people who's responsible for putting those folks there.

And while Washington dithers on the Green New Deal, a co-founder of Allbirds is here to tell us how business can be both profitable and plant-friendly.

But first, good news for President Trump. Amazon not headed to New York City. The business behemoth cancelled its plans to open a corporate headquarters in Long Island City, Queens. In the end, not even $3 billion in government incentives were enough to offset a frosty reception from political progressives who were willing to lose 25,000 jobs.

According to the New York City mayor's office, the loss is greater than 25,000. Last November, the mayor's office noted the project was estimated to create more than 107,000 total direct and indirect jobs and over $14 Billion in new tax revenue for the state and a net of $13.5 billion in city tax revenue. The project would have provided a 9-1 return on investment.

Amazon left no doubt as to the basis for its decision saying, "A number of state and local politician have made it clear that they oppose our presence and will not work with us to build the type Of relationships that are required to go forward with the project we and many others envisioned in Long Island City."

They were talking about politicians like State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and State Senator Michael Gianaris who Stewart- Cousins appointed to the Public Authority's Control Board which had oversight of the Amazon plan. And no doubt Amazon was watching the rise of freshman Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. AOC herself jubilantly tweeted, "Anything is possible. Today was the day a group of dedicated, everyday New Yorkers and their neighbors defeated Amazon's corporate greed, its worker exploitation and the power of the richest man in the world."

But is a win for the New York City left good news for national Democrats at a time when they're formulating their battle plan to defeat Donald Trump next year? This debate lays bare a divide within the Democratic party, local and national, as evidenced by the fact that Democratic New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio was for the Amazon deal. Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo himself blamed state Senate Democrats for defeating the plan. Just how far left will the party veer before 2020?

I'm curious to see what this means to the Democratic presidential contenders. As I tweeted yesterday, "It will be very interesting to see response of Democratic presidential candidates regarding Amazon NYC. Do they embrace the progressive opposition, but run the risk of being less appealing to Centrists who are more pro-business?"

Well, Elizabeth Warren was among the first of the field to weigh in. She tweeted that Amazon, quote, "Just walked away from millions in taxpayer bribes all because some elected officials in New York aren't sucking up to them enough."

Now, those sentiments will no doubt sound strong in primary season, but will they move the needle in a general election with high school educated working class men in states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan, the type who most stand to gain in employment at a company like Amazon?

And this is just the type of fight that Donald Trump wants. It's the reason he condemned Socialism in his State of the Union address last week. He wants to portray the Democratic party as fringe left. The only complication for Trump here is that he has his own battle with Jeff Bezos. So seizing the political upside of Amazon's change of heart forces him to take the side of his own nemesis.

And Trump won't be the only one conflicted in how to respond. Many Americans, no doubt, are against some of Amazon's corporate practices like opposing unionization and working with federal immigration officials, but relish timely delivery of their packages by Amazon. Wouldn't you like to know how many members of Congress are also members of Amazon Prime?

Joining us now is Jennifer Granholm, a Democrat, former Michigan governor and, of course, a CNN senior political commentator. Governor, nice of you to be here. [09:05:02] JENNIFER GRANHOLM, (D) FORMER MICHIGAN GOVERNOR: You bet.

SMERCONISH: I want to discuss both the merits and the politics. Will you first react, as a former governor, to what went wrong here?

GRANHOLM: Well, first of all, let us be very clear, every single Governor, Democrat or Republican, are in this fight for jobs. There were 200 cities that competed for Amazon. I would have walked across hot coals to get Amazon to locate in Detroit, for example, and I would have put everything I had on the table.

But here's the problem, is that Democrats -- not Democrats, city mayors and governors don't have a huge toolbox to be able to attract. All you've really got are kind of tax incentives and maybe investment in work force development. So it's not like we have a whole lot to play with and that is the tool that you have, is just to give some tax breaks.

But as you noted in your -- in your lead-up to it, the return on that investment, they would have gotten, over 25 years, $27 billion worth of return, meaning that the people who were hired there would have been paying taxes and that money would have gone into state and city coffers.

So it's not easy. It is not -- Michael, I know that you set this up as a left on left violence, but it's really not. It is -- you know, the Cato Institute, who has long been right wing Libertarian, they've long -- and Republicans have long said, "We don't want to pick winners and losers." You don't want to have subsidies that distort the market.

That is a battle that has gone on forever and the question is really, as a nation, do we really want to be moving the chairs around on the deck of the Titanic? Meaning, have governors poaching jobs from one state to another or do we want to have a national economic development strategy that allows our pie to grow rather than just to move pieces around on the tin?

SMERCONISH: Well, I am interested in the politics of it and I guess in the aftermath of the State of the Union address where the President went out of his way to mock socialism, I think he's trying to set up this battle where it's Donald Trump in 2020 against some far-fringe, left Democrat. You tell me, how will this play in the wolverine state among those working class white guys if he tries to say they're even willing to throw away 107,000 jobs to be on one side of illegal immigration or a battle about unionization?

GRANHOLM: Yes. I mean, I understand totally the concern about giving the richest man in the world, which Jeff Bezos now is, over $100 billion he has, more tax breaks. Does he really need more? Is it about -- and it's not about him personally, necessarily. It's about the company.

But nonetheless, do they really need more? Is this a good way for businesses to be seeking and having a competition for who can give them the most money when there are places in the country that desperately need those jobs? It would have been a lot better good will for Amazon to go to a place that really needs the jobs in terms of their own corporate brand.

However, I will say that this is, I think, evocative, this battle, of a new tech lash. Meaning right and left are going to be concerned about the growing inequality that the fact that the top 10 tech billionaires own more wealth than the bottom 40 percent of America. That is a concern, right? That's a real concern in this country and I think right and left people -- I mean, I'm going to still push back at you on this. I don't think that Trump is going to be successful in making this a Socialist versus Republican battle.

SMERCONISH: Well, let me show you a headline from the "L.A. Times" just so I make the point ...

GRANHOLM: Yes.

SMERCONISH: ... that I'm not the only one who's wondering how this plays itself out.

GRANHOLM: Yes. OK.

SMERCONISH: Here's the headline. "Trump raises a new menace -- Socialism ...

GRANHOLM: Yes.

SMERCONISH: ... and Democrats can't agree how to respond." What is the Democratic response to that? What should it be?

GRANHOLM: Well, first of all, it's ridiculous. Nobody is saying that America should be socialist. Capitalism made this country. It's not -- you know, the question is should capitalism have some guardrails so that we are not seeing excesses and people exploited and the land and the water and air exploited? So that's just BS. That's what I would say to that.

But do you like your Medicare? Well, hello, that has some elements of socialism in it. Meaning that we are all investing so that everyone can be cared for in this social safety net that we have in this country. So that kind of nonsense. We're not saying that because he's a Republican, that the country is all of a sudden off to the -- you know, off to the fascist category. Although some might be saying that in some circles. But, nonetheless, those kind of broad brush characterizations are stupid. So the question is for America, what kind of nation do we want to be? Do we want to make sure that we have a safety net for people

[09:10:01] If you like your Medicare, then you like an element of that safety net. It's not about socialism or communism or fascism. It is about who we are going to be as a nation. So I think those kind of ...

SMERCONISH: I think ...

GRANHOLM: ... broad characterizations are ridiculous.

SMERCONISH: Can I just -- a quick final word and then -- and then you can -- you can wrap up. GRANHOLM: OK.

SMERCONISH: I think even if you verbalize it as Democratic Socialism, to many Americans, they're still picturing, you know, Hugo Chavez.

GRANHOLM: Yes. Which is, again, part of, I would say, the con man brilliance of Donald Trump is that he's able to label things and the more he says that label, then the more people say, "Oh yes, that may be true." It is BC and I think that Democrats should stand up and say, "That is bull." We are America. We have our economy, our unique economy, which means that we care for people and we celebrate capitalism and that both can be held in the same bucket.

SMERCONISH: I like the line, "Left on left violence." Thank you, Governor. I appreciate your being here.

GRANHOLM: OK. You bet.

SMERCONIHS: What are your thoughts? Tweet me @Smerconish. Go to my Facebook page. I will read some responses in real time during the course of the program. Catherine, what do you have? "I don't want POTUS reelected, but if Dems don't rain in AOC and the other far lefties, they will get Trump a second term."

Loy, that's what I think he is relishing. He's relishing this characterization. I don't think he's yet tweeted about Amazon in New York City, which is really strange. Think about that, right? Given all the attention it's getting. I think because he doesn't want to take Bezos' side in this, but politically, there's an upside for him.

Do we have time for one more? What do we got? "One can be a pro- business and still oppose giving millions of taxpayer dollars to subsidize massively profitable corporations." Joel, I totally get it and I saw the headline this week that they're paying no federal taxes. I mean, go figure. I agree with you.

Up ahead, President Trump's national emergency to build his wall. What will be the response from conservative Republican senators who might like the wall, but not the way that the President is trying to get it done? And could it set the table for Democrats to use the same avenue for gun control or, say, global warming?

Plus, Allbirds, the multi-million dollar business using capitalism to do good for the earth by putting one foot in front of the other. One of the founders will join me.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:15:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SMERCONISH: So President Trump has declared a national emergency at the border so that he can build his big, beautiful wall. He says that's so that he can take money already allocated by Congress and repurpose it. That has Democrats up in arms considering everything from court challenges to legislation. It also has a lot of Republicans upset and nervous about the President doing an end run around Congress. One worry for conservatives is that a Democratic president, in the future, could declare a national emergency on, say, guns or climate change or income inequality.

Joining me now is William Banks. He's an emeritus professor at Syracuse University's Law School. Professor, thank you for being here. The President, in his mind, has already gamed out what is to come. Let me show you what he said yesterday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We will have a national emergency and we will then be sued and they will sue us in the 9th Circuit even though it shouldn't be there and we will possibly get a bad ruling and then we'll get another bad ruling and then we'll end up in the Supreme Court and hopefully we'll get a fair shake.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SMERCONISH: I get that he's worried about the 9th Circuit. I'm wondering if he should be equally concerned about conservatives in the U.S. Senate in his own party should a resolution come before the Senate after the House would pass it, to try and upend what he's done. What are your thoughts?

WILLIAM BANKS, PROFESSOR OF LAW EMERITUS, SYRACUSE UNIVERSITY COLLEGE OF LAW: Well, I think that is -- the political situation is precarious right now. Certainly the House will pass a resolution in the coming days. I believe that the statute that the President is utilizing for this mechanism gives the Congress about 15 days to debate and then pass a resolution. It has to be the same resolution in the House and the Senate. And then, of course, it would be presented to the President like any other bill for his signature.

That's an irony here. When Congress first enacted this law, it was possible for the resolutions to effectively stop the emergency proclamation. Now, because of a Supreme Court decision in the 1980s, that resolution has to go before the President like any other bill and, of course, the President would veto it. So, in effect, the Senate and the House would need two-thirds plus one to override the President's veto. That's not too likely.

SMERCONISH: But you see where some of the opposition comes from and I don't know how ultimately they would vote, but individuals like Pat Toomey or Marco Rubio, we showed a graphic earlier in the program of a lot of discontent, I guess because they're worried about precedent. Is the precedent consideration and concern a legitimate one? The fear of a Republican that, hey, could be President Kamala Harris or Elizabeth Warren who does this in a couple of years?

BANKS: I think it is a legitimate concern and one of the -- one of the biproducts of this episode might be to impose on Congress the determination to revise the underlying law and make it more difficult for any president in the future to use the mechanism. One of the biggest open areas in the law is that there are no criteria to decide what constitutes an emergency. Many people believe that there is no emergency at the southern border, but the law doesn't require the president to spell out the terms and condition or the criteria that he's relying on to arrive at his conclusion.

So Congress could simply change the make-up or they could also impose sunsets to say that any emergency declared by a future president expires, say, in 30 days or 60 days unless they take action to extend the terms of the emergency.

SMERCONISH: I'm glad that you raised the question of what is an emergency. I mean, here, by way of example, is the front page of "The New York Times," where above the fold, they quote him saying, "I didn't need to do this, but I'd rather do it faster."

[09:20:02] Doesn't that belie the argument that it's an emergency?

BANKS: I think it does. Yes. I think it does belie the argument that it's an emergency and if I follow the White House's statements yesterday, he plans to use other funds in the beginning to get started and then if, if those funds -- if and when those funds run out, and they will, then he would turn to this military construction law.

There's also a question, I think a serious legal question, about whether the military construction law that he would use to follow up on his emergency declaration is appropriately applied in these circumstances. It's supposed to be used for projects that require the use of the armed forces -- military bases overseas for example. It's hard to argue that the -- that a wall or fence or any other mechanism along the boarder is necessary for the use of the U.S. armed forces.

So a judge could actually stop construction of the wall without ever getting to the big questions that the President was speculating about on your tape from yesterday.

SMERCONISH: A quick final question. In the end, does it come down to John Roberts playing the Anthony Kennedy role?

BANKS: You know, it depends. If a -- if a lower court judge is defying that this military construction law doesn't support these activities and he looks at the text of the law, which has never been construed before, and says, no, you may not use this particular law, it would be very difficult for an appellate court, including the Supreme Court, to second guess the judgement of a trial court who's looked at the evidence and made a record on the basis of what the law says.

So I think this is unlike he (ph) -- the President is channelling the travel ban case where, of course, ultimately, he succeeded in overturning the lower courts and getting the result he wanted, but this is a very different set of circumstances than the travel ban.

SMERCONISH: Professor Banks, thank you so much for your expertise.

BANKS: It's good to be with you. Thanks. SMERCONISH: More reaction now from my Smerconish Twitter and Facebook pages. What do we have? "Smerconish, I don't care if he's rambling. As long as he tries to keep his promises, he'll have my support in 2020 and this time I'll actively work toward his and his supporters campaign."

I mean, I guess that's part of the calculus, right? That he wants to be perceived as taking on this fight, even if it ends in the Supreme Court. And by the way, if it ends up in the Supreme Court and it doesn't go his way, then it becomes an argument that he makes which says we need more conservative justices and I'll do that when I have the opportunity.

One more, if I've got time. "Golf course is safest place during this national emergency." Yes, Gil, just like the quote yesterday, bad optics. I think bad -- I don't begrudge the man a vacation. It's President's Day weekend. But to declare an emergency, you know, in the morning or late morning and then get on a plane to Mar-a-Lago in the afternoon, I think it's -- I think it's an issue. I think it's an issue.

Up ahead, the wicked words for the female governor of Michigan. It's all about how she looks in the dress that she wore to her State of the State address. The reaction's going to shock you. Would anybody ever say the same things about a male politician? No.

And walking for the world, Allbirds, the environmentally friendly shoes that are profiting the earth and making a profit, too.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:25:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SMERCONISH: In Washington this week, politicians fought over the proposed Green New Deal. The deal is a 10-year plan which seeks to cut green house gas emissions to net zero over 10 years. That it's in the form of a resolution and would not have the force of law has not lessened a fiery debate as to cost and the ability to achieve things like guaranteeing a job with a family sustaining wage to all people of the United States.

While the politician dither, some in the private sector are achieving what the plan encourages and perhaps there's no better example than Allbirds. The shoe start-up launched in 2016, sold 1 million shoes in the first two years and has already grown into a $1.4 billion business. "Time" magazine was quick to call Allbirds the world's most comfortable shoe.

Joining me now is Joey Zwillinger. He's a Wharton grad and industrial engineer who, with New Zealand footballer Tim Brown, founded Allbirds. Hey, Joey, let's begin with the basics. Renewables, carbon neutral. The words get tossed around and a lot of us don't even know what it means, so school me. JOEY ZWILLINGER, CO-CEO AND CO-FOUNDER, ALLBIRDS: Yes. You know, there's challenges with the lexicon the industry uses. So it's a great place to start. So I guess maybe best served by an example. You know, I actually brought a shoe.

This bottom unit in our -- one of our shoes is a foam. And typically, this foam, it's the largest component used in the entire sneaker industry and it's typically made from petroleum or natural gas through a chemical process and that emits quite a bit of carbon into the atmosphere and the fashion industry emits about 700 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year. So it's a -- it's a -- it's a really, really big issue and big contributor to global warming.

And so what we've done instead is used a renewable resource, something that actually sucks carbon out of the atmosphere. So instead of using petroleum, we actually use sugar cane. And maybe if I can just take a quick second to kind of break it down.

If you're driving in your car, you're emitting carbon dioxide out of your tail pipe. That carbon dioxide that's in the atmosphere actually gets trapped by the sugar cane with just a little photons from the sun and rainfall and it converts it into sugar and then we take the waste stream out of that sugar process and we go through a few steps and a chemical process and we can create an incredibly comfortable foam that we've called sweet foam that actually traps carbon out of the atmosphere and locks it into the bottom of the shoe.

[09:30:00]

And I think this is -- this is a way where we internalized what that carbon cost is for the environment instead of just socializing that out to the world and letting other people pay for it in the cost of healthcare and other things.

SMERCONISH: I know you got into this business to sell shoes but also to do so in an environmentally friendly way. Is it always possible? I mean, do you think that you are blazing a trail here that other businesses could and should emulate no matter what business they're in to try to and come up with a plan that gets it done in a profitable way but a planet-friendly way?

ZWILLINGER: Yes, 100 percent. Like I set that up, I think there has been a -- there has been a paradigm in people's mind that you have to choose one or the other. And the reason why we exist and why we think we are being -- we're successful so far in our early years is exactly because of that tension.

You know, we have -- we believe that you can create something that's a much better product and as you mentioned, we're making amazingly comfortable shoes. We're not making them to be sustainable. The fact that we've constrained ourselves to only use really sustainable materials in the production of our products that doesn't take away from the -- from the fantastic comfort of the shoes.

We think people tend to buy products because they're better products and they give them some benefit in their daily lives. And the manufacturing is on us to make sure that we do it in the best possible way. So I think that's actually -- it's a place that's been ignored for the last many decade and that's given rise to a great opportunity and I think, you know, the reason why things like you are talking about the Green New Deal are kind of in vogue and talked about so significantly on Twitter and what not on social media is because consumers are responding to the fact that this is a real big challenge, and we're facing down the barrel of a gun with climate change and particularly young people are looking for businesses and government to step up and really take a leadership position in this.

SMERCONISH: OK. But isn't the lesson of Allbirds that maybe we shouldn't be looking so much to government to get us out of this but instead to entrepreneurs like you and Tim that the private sector could go get be getting it done on its own.

ZWILLINGER: We're playing a small part. But I do think that with the vacillations and different administrations and different -- different parties coming in and out of power, I think some of the long-term stability in this -- in this more partisan environment is shifting out of the public sector and whether that's good or bad --

SMERCONISH: Right.

ZWILLINGER: -- I think -- I think businesses have an opportunity really to step up and I hope we can -- we can play a small role. And if we're -- if we're a bit of a beacon for other entrepreneurs or other business leaders to see how business can step up and play a vital role, I think that's fantastic. And I do think it's incumbent upon leaders today in business to do something to solve this problem.

SMERCONISH: Joey Zwillinger, thank you so much for being here.

ZWILLINGER: Thanks for having me, Michael. Appreciate it.

SMERCONISH: Still to come the over the top comments about Michigan's female governor. Is this a preview of what the women running for president in 2020 could face? And all this at a time when women are increasingly staking out a big place in our political culture such a big place that the women of Congress got a big shout out on SNL.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Once upon a time there were women. And then they became fed up women. And then they became Congresswomen. They fight crime, they right wrongs, they wear white, but they are not all white. And we love that. They're the women of Congress.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:37:45]

SMERCONISH: It's the year of the woman in politics. But while Michigan's governor Gretchen Whitmer wanted to highlight problem in her State of the State speech this week the Detroit Fox station broadcast and streamed the speech on Facebook and got lots of comments on social media that lead them to do a T.V. segment and the story on its Web site. The headline said, "Social media focuses on Whitmer's dress not her address."

Here's some of those comments that they thought were appropriate to highlight, "Dress is looking a little tight," wrote one man. "She's the governor of our state. Wear a business suit," a woman said.

I really can't even read the rest of these but just take a look at them. One woman said, "Nobody would be saying anything if it were Governor Synder right? Definitely not. We live in a sexist world."

Another answered, Whitmer didn't waste any time in pushing back. She called the story way out of line -- quote -- "In an era when so many women are stepping up to lead, I'm hoping people will focus on our ideas and accomplishments instead of our appearance."

This is just one example of what female candidates face. In fact this year a number of women have already thrown their hats into the ring. But as journalist how tough can we be on them as compared to male candidates?

Should we be able to talk about Elizabeth Warren likability? Whether Kamala Harris is black enough? Whether Amy Klobuchar is too tough on her staff? What -- what are the bounds of fairness and is there a double standard?

Joining me now is Amanda Hunter. She's the research and communications director at the Barbara Lee Family Foundation, a non- partisan group which works to advance women in politics. Amanda, let's do the easy part. That was absolutely appalling that which was said about the Michigan governor.

AMANDA HUNTER, RESEARCH AND COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, BARBARA LEE FAMILY FOUNDATION: Absolutely. And I'm so glad you played that that's just one of the more recent examples of what women are facing. But what has really changed over the past few years has been the conversation and even in the piece that you showed, women are standing up for themselves, and they're also standing up for each other. Both elected officials and just members of the public in a way that we haven't seen before. And that's a big shift.

SMERCONISH: Is likability always cloaked sexism? I mean, aren't there some circumstances where it's appropriate that you can say about a woman as you would say about a man but in the man case, it's the beer test?

[09:40:05]

In the female case, it might be likability? School me on that.

HUNTER: Exactly. I think we are all sick of the question, who would you rather have a beer with? And likability is certainly something that's very important for any candidate.

The difference is likability is crucial for women candidates, because we know from our 20 years of research that voters will vote for a man they do not like if they believe he is qualified. And yet they won't vote for a woman they do not like if they think that she is qualified.

And likability as a concept is something that's very difficult to pin down. It's almost like walking a tight rope. Use humor, but not too much humor, dress nice, but not too nice, take credit, but also share credit. And in fact, a direct quote from one of our focus group when advising women in terms of likability, how to present themselves who have to -- quote -- "look impeccable." And we just don't see those same standards for men when they run.

SMERCONISH: I hear what you are saying, but there is a scholar at Dartmouth. I am sure you know Deborah Jordan Brooks' work, we can put the screen up -- the screen shot of the book that she wrote which found that there is no evidence of sexist attitudes or biases that undermine candidates at the ballot box. Do you disagree with that thesis?

HUNTER: I do disagreement because I think all you need to do is come into your focus groups and listen to what people have to say. We also acknowledge that gender is not the only factor in how voters decide to make a choice at the ballot box. We know that ideology and party often outweigh gender.

But we have also spent the past 20 years in our focus groups hearing people say, I would vote for a woman, just not that woman. And now we already have, it's only February a number of highly qualified women in the race for president. It's going to be harder to hide your bias behind that excuse.

SMERCONISH: Let me show you something that you might find offensive, it's me in the last presidential cycle after what I think was the second Republican debate. Roll it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: It was interesting though, remember (ph) these candidates kind of showed their sense of humor, she didn't necessarily show that.

SMERCONISH: Correct. She has got to. I agree with everything that has been said relative to her command of the facts. She has a public speaking gift. She's got to smile.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: I say, no she doesn't. You know how many times --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SMERCONISH: So Anderson says, you know, no sense of humor, I don't want to put words in his mouth. I say she's got a good command of the facts. She's got a public speaking gift. But I said she Carly Fiorina needed to smile in that debate. Inappropriate?

HUNTER: Well, we hear that over and over again about women and we just simply don't hear anyone saying that men need to smile more. It's one example of a double standard. But I think another interesting part of that --

(CROSSTALK)

SMERCONISH: I said -- but for the record I've said that John Kasich whom I like can be a little cranky, I mean, I guess -- my God if I said that about a woman I'd be tarred and feathered.

HUNTER: OK. I didn't hear the John Kasich peace, so I acknowledge that but I do think that we tend to hear those comments a lot more when it comes to women candidates and we also know that when women are seeking executive officer, one reason we started this work they face additional barriers, because it's one thing if voters are deciding that a woman is going to be a decision-maker as a member of legislature. But if she is going to effectively be the decision-maker which the (ph) president is the ultimate decision-maker, she has to work twice as hard to show voters that she's qualified.

And we know that when men release their resume, they get the benefit and women get the doubt. For men qualifications are assumed and women really have to answer for those. We saw that with Carly Fiorina.

SMERCONISH: A final thought if I may. I was getting ready for this segment, reading in this week on these issues and couldn't help but take note of the fact that there was discussion and a lot of print treatment about the president's weight.

He had a physical this week. He may or may not weigh 243 pounds. People -- critics were quick to say, aha, he's obese. And I said to myself, oh my God, we would never inappropriately so -- appropriately so we'd never have that conversation about a female.

HUNTER: Well, that's an example of not having a template for a woman in a presidency to compare it. It's typical for the doctor to release those results for the president of the United States. Certainly, it's appropriate to talk about them and it's appropriate for candidates of all genders to be put under scrutiny.

I think the differences that we all need to pay attention to, the way that we're talking about women and to make sure that we are being fair in the way that we are critiquing them.

SMERCONISH: Amanda, well done, thank you.

HUNTER: Thank you.

SMERCONISH: What do we have in social media? Hit me with a tweet if I have got time.

"Smerconish, potus is constantly maligned for his orange skin, bad hair, large body," true, "even his small" -- yes, hands right?

[09:45:04]

"Isn't that similar and equally wrong?"

I think that it is. And Amanda just put a thought in my mind which is, you know, there are five -- six candidates, female candidates running for president. What happens if a female elected as she pointed out the tradition is the physical, the results of the physical are released. Will that include a weight calculation for a female president?

Still ahead, lobbyists paying people to help get them into important hearings. That has one of the biggest names in congress's freshman class very upset and taking to Twitter.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:50:05]

SMERCONISH: New members of Congress can be surprised by a lot of D.C. traditions. Recently, high profile representative Alexandria Ocasio- Cortez spotted a line of people waiting outside a hearing room and she tweeted this.

"I turned to my staff and asked if it was a demonstration. No, they said. Lobbyists pay the homeless and others to hold their place so they can get in first."

That's right. Get into an important hearing perhaps, this is the way you get it done. They're supposed to be equally accessible to everybody, but not everyone agrees it is a bad thing.

Mark Gross is the owner of Linestanding.com and he joins me now. OK. Mark, if I want to get into that hearing and I come to you, how much are you going to charge me and who are you going to hire to stand in line for me?

MARK GROSS, OWNER, LINESTANDING.COM: Our rates are $48.00 an hour. But we have a bunch of competitors that charge anything from $40.00 an hour to $60.00 an hour to have people stand in line. These are not homeless people, these are professional line standers who know how to brave the elements, stand out in the cold, and wait until Congress opens so that they can then move inside, hold a spot in line, until whomever it is that we're waiting for, and it is not always lobbyists, although my very first customer when the business was invented happened to be someone who lobbies on behalf of a whole myriad of industries and employs people on both sides of the aisle.

We work for trade associations. We work for trade unions. We work for organizations both on the left and the right. But these are public hearings and anybody can get into them. All they need to do is stand in line.

SMERCONISH: OK. So this is the issue. And I talked about it on my Sirius XM radio program, some people yesterday said, this is fair, free market capitalism, others said, no, it interferes with a notion of equal access to a governmental -- I don't think anybody would care if it were concert tickets, but it is the fact that it is a government hearing that has some folks unsettled.

GROSS: Well, first of all let's say we're talking about potential hearings on impeachment, OK? When I was 16 years old my brother and I would skip school, we would come down to Russell Senate office building at 0 dark 30 and stand in line for three or four hours so that we can go and see history made, whether it was Haldeman (ph), Ehrlichman (ph), L. Patrick Gray, we wanted to be there. That was history.

And anybody can do that and get in. You get equal access. And this was long before line standing as a commercial practice was invented.

Now the question is what hearings are we hired to stand in line for? And almost uniformly they're hearings the general public has absolutely no interest in, you know, it's a --

SMERCONISH: What would be -- what would be the purpose of even needing to send (ph) -- look, let me give you a frame of reference before we ran out of time.

I remember sleeping out in my Mustang for Yes tickets back in the day. And we would have been pissed if somebody showed up and took somebody else's place. Like you got to have skin in the game. You need to be the one to tough it out.

I'm surprised there's not more static at the time when someone from Line Standing shows up to swap places.

GROSS: Well, there isn't any static because it is a uniform practice for the hearings that we're going to and in Washington, D.C. We started doing commercial line standing 26 years ago. It's become something that people expect.

There are task rabbit in New York City that are getting in front of the iPhone store two, three days in advance.

SMERCONISH: Right.

GROSS: And it is really just something for people to brag about. I got the very first iPhone X.

SMERCONISH: To be continued -- by the way can you get me Yes tickets? If there's a reunion tour that interests me?

GROSS: No. That's an very interesting question. You can't get them anymore because the promoters and the owners of all these tickets have gone in and destroyed the industry. You have to pay the premium to whoever is putting on the show, and it is probably Yes themselves.

SMERCONISH: No, no, no. They're good guys. All right. Mark, thank you. Appreciate it very much.

Still to come. Your best and worst tweets and Facebook comments.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:59:06]

SMERCONISH: Tweet me at Smerconish. Here's a taste of what has just come in. "Smerconish, trying to divide the Dems. Give it up smerc."

Bitkey, I am not trying to divide the Dems. The most progressive Democrats in New York City, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and others, are responsible for the kibosh (ph) of the Amazon deal. And you had Bill de Blasio and Governor Cuomo on the other side.

Now have I created that division or does it exist? I am simply trying to point out what it portends for 2020.

Give me another.

"Smerconish, Amazon, I enjoy your show, but some of the comments you read aloud are, shall we say, less than brilliant. Could you please get your producer to not give you the dumbest tweets of the day to read on air?"

Well, that's just a foolish comment. Of course I'm not going to do that. But thank you, Eva. At least you know they're not all set up, right?

Ladies and gentlemen, catch us with -- catch up with us on CNN Go and On Demand.

[10:00:04]

Well, see you next week.