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Trump's Budget To Request Additional $8.6 Billion For Border Wall; New Poll: Biden, Sanders Lead 2020 Democratic Field In Iowa; Fierce Battle For Last ISIS Stronghold In Syria; Boeing 737 Crashes In Ethiopia Killing All 157 On Board; Delaney: "I Do Worry" About Dems Moving Too Far To The Left; Black Arkansas Lawmaker Slams "Stand Your Ground" Bill; Senator Stephanie Flowers (D) Arkansas Is Interviewed About Gun Laws; "The Bush Years: Family, Duty, Power" Airs Tonight At 10 ET, PT. Aired 3-4p ET
Aired March 10, 2019 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[15:00:00] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: It all starts right now.
All right, hello again, everyone. Thank you so much for being with me this Sunday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.
Right now, we are just hours away from three CNN Town Halls by the South by Southwest Conference tonight. We'll hear from former Congressman John Delaney, Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard and South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg.
This comes as we have brand new polling taking a closer look at the key state of Iowa, and despite not officially being in the race, it's former Vice President Joe Biden who is leading the pack.
And soon the President will head back to Washington where he will roll out his budget road map tomorrow. And it includes a request for at least $8.6 billion for the border wall. Trump's top economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, talked about the request this morning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So there's going to be another budget fight over the wall?
LARRY KUDLOW, TRUMP'S TOP ECONOMIC ADVISER: Well, I suppose there will be. I would just say that the whole issue of the wall and border security is of paramount importance. We have a crisis down there. I think the President has made that case very effectively. It's a crisis of economics. It's a crisis of crime and drugs. It's a crisis of humanity.
We have to be much tougher and have more constructive immigration policy, which we will be developing over a period of time. So, yes, he's going to stay with his wall and he's going to stay with the border security theme. I think it's essential.
(END VIDEO CLIP) WHITFIELD: All right, let's start with that budget proposal and CNN's White House Correspondent Boris Sanchez live for us in West Palm Beach, Florida where President Trump is schedule to leave next hour and head back to Washington. So tell us more about his request.
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fred, President Trump is asking Congress for $750 billion in defense spending, that number of $35 billion from last year. And as you noted, he's specifically asking Congress for $8.6 billion to fund his long promise border along the southern border with Mexico.
This is the first time the Trump administration is actually asking Congress or, rather, asking for funding for the border wall from different sources. He's asking for $5 billion from Customs and Border Protection and another $3.6 billion from military construction funds at the Pentagon.
And separately, President Trump is also asking for an additional $3.6 billion in military construction funds from the Pentagon to reimburse money that he is spending through his national emergency declaration.
To make that simpler, the President is asking Congress to reimburse him for money that he went around them to get to then spend on his promised border wall with Mexico. Democrats are not happy about this.
Congressional leadership, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer put out a statement writing in part, "President Trump hurt millions of Americans and caused widespread chaos when he recklessly shutdown the government to try to get his expensive and ineffective wall, which he promised would be paid for by Mexico. Congress refused to fund his wall and he was forced to admit defeat and reopen the government. The same thing will repeat itself if he tries this again. We hope he learned his lesson."
So, Fred, both sides here gearing up for what will likely be a slug fest and Democrats are now begging the President to try to get money for his border wall through the House again, which is led by Democrats. They are already invoking the possibility of a potential government shutdown, Fred.
WHITFIELD: Not again. All right, Boris Sanchez, thank you so much.
All right, let's check in now with CNN Senior Political Analyst Mark Preston who is in Austin, Texas where the three CNN Town Halls will be taking place in just a matter of hours. So, let's talk about that first off. What can we expect?
MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, couple things. We're going to hear from three people right now that are very well known where they're from, Fred, but they're not known nationally. It's critical tonight that they're able to break through to Democratic voters not only here in Texas but all across the country.
You have John Delaney, a very successful businessman from Maryland. When he was a member of Congress, he was the sixth riches member that served in the House. Moving on, you have Tulsi Gabbard. She will follow him. She was somebody who went and served in the military overseas. She is also somebody who has been really embraced by the left part of the party.
And then we have Mayor Pete Buttigieg, he is from South Bend. He crosses a lot of boxes that Democrats are looking for, somebody who can reach across not only lines because he himself is gay, but he's also served in the military, very, very bright fellow.
So tonight, you're going to hear from these three individuals who are all trying to convince Democrats that they are the ones that they should at least be looked at right now in this very crowded field, Fred.
WHITFIELD: Yes, very crowded, but if you look at the, you know, most recent, you know, polling on Iowa, I mean, there is a zeroing in on really the top two.
[15:05:04] And look at what a huge dip, you know, after Sanders, you know, coming in at number 2 with 25 percent, the rest of the pack with, you know, just single digits.
PRESTON: Yes, just single digits. And if you look at that poll right there, you see Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, as you said, at the top, a steep drop after that. But, we shouldn't be too surprised right now. You have a lot of candidates that are all getting into the race, talking about getting in the race. A lot of these candidates share very similar policy views. People are trying to figure out who they want to support.
I spent some time in New Hampshire and Iowa so far this year and I'm going to tell you, just talking to candidates out there, Fred, rather voters out there, they want to hear from the candidates. They absolutely want to hear from the candidates, but here is when we're just looking at this is an interesting divide in the Democratic Party.
Let's just look at Biden and Sanders just very quickly. If you look at this, it shows you the divide that's going on. Joe Biden with Iowa voters right now, he does better with voters who are more centrist than that are older. Bernie Sanders who happens to be older than Joe Biden does better than Joe Biden does with younger voters who tend to be more liberal.
So, again, a lot on the line tonight. These three Democrats that we're going to hear from are trying to get voters to back them, Fred.
WHITFIELD: Wow, all fascinating. Mark Preston, thank you so much in Austin, Texas.
Let's talk further about all of this. With me now is Charlie Dent, former Republican Congressman from Pennsylvania and a CNN Political Commentator, Andrew Gillum a former Democratic nominee for Florida governor and a CNN Political Commentator, and Douglas Brinkley a CNN Presidential Historian. Good to see all of you. Thank you so much.
All right, So Andrew, you first. You know, these new polling numbers out of Iowa showing Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, you know, at the top, even though Biden has not officially, you know, made an announcement, you know, but older white men with substantial leads over the most diverse Democratic field ever? I mean, what do you make of this?
ANDREW GILLUM, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. Well, I mean, I think it's first important to point out that it is early and you are talking about the former vice president of the United States and Senator Sanders who just came off of a presidential run himself, so arguably they probably two of the more popular Democrats.
What I did find interesting from this poll is that we saw that second choice among Bernie Sanders supporters, they chose Biden. And then 40 percent almost, 37 percent of Biden supporters chose Sanders as their second choice. So, I think the takeaway is this that Democrats really want to win.
And for those candidates that are lesser down the field, I would tell them about two years ago I entered the race for governor of Florida, a relative unknown across my state ended up winning the primary. So we've got a lot of time and a lot of room for movement in these polls.
WHITFIELD: All right. So there's words of encouragement, don't be discouraged. So, Charlie, you know, how do you see this poll, you know, results? Is it based on name recognition or who Democrats think will have the best shot at beating Donald Trump?
CHARLIE DENT, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Again, Fred, it's early. This -- the popularity of Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, I think, is largely a function of very high name identification. They're fully known. I still think that one of these other candidates, this younger and newer generation, fresher face, I believe somebody is going to break through. It seems to me the progressive wing of the Democratic Party wants a new face.
So I think someone like Kamala Harris, Beto O'Rourke, maybe Cory Booker, but somebody I think is going to emerge. I would not be overly confident if I were the vice president with those numbers. It just seems to me that he has one way to go and that's down. And so I think you just have to watch this carefully. It's early. Somebody is going to break through that pack and establish their own link.
WHITFIELD: You know, and Doug, the caucuses and the primaries, you know, they're really just a few months away, you know, the beginning of the year. So someone -- arguably, it really is not too early for a lot of these candidates to be introducing themselves, you know, to the electorate. But when you do hear many of these Democratic candidates say they're avoiding the name, you know, Donald Trump, what is it about that strategy, to ignore the incumbent who is the sitting president?
DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: I think it's just a temporary strategy right now. There is kind of a Trump fatigue syndrome going on in the Democratic Party. People have to show why they're an optimistic candidate, how you're going to make somebody's life better if you're just carping on Donald Trump. Elizabeth Warren has done that quite a bit and you don't see her flying high in the polls.
Joe Biden is the big figure. I mean, the idea that there is somewhere to go besides down for Joe Biden, that's up, winning the Democratic nomination and becoming President. Iowa is a perfect state for him. He runs -- also, we keep talking about the white male in their 70s. He's also catholic, and a lot of those cities along the Mississippi River, Dubuque and Davenport and like have heavy catholic populations and Biden has cultivated Iowa friendships for decades. So he is going to be a formidable force of nature in Iowa and beyond.
[15:10:01] But there is a third lane for Kamala Harris or Beto O'Rourke against Biden and Sanders, but I don't think those two names, Biden and Sanders, are going to be dissipated this year. The people have decided that they like both of them. One represents the center of the Democratic Party, the other the left. And they're not going to, in my mind, shrink too low.
WHITFIELD: And then, Andrew, do you see the Democratic Party, you know, as a real House divided, particularly after controversial comments coming from Representative Omar, you know, Senator Elizabeth Warren, you know, also now talking about breaking up, you know, giants like Google, Facebook and Amazon.
You know, Governor Jay Inslee of Washington, you know, saying Amazon while it's headquartered, you know, in Washington state it's, you know, it's a real attribute. Take listen to all of this.
GOV. JAY INSLEE (D), WASHINGTON: I think that when you do antitrust law, you should set up the antitrust laws for the whole economy, not for one company. So I'm not sure the best route of determining antitrust law should be sort of rifle shots at one company that you decided you don't like. I'm not sure that's the best way for us to do business. But I do believe it's appropriate to have some review of our antitrust laws given the changing economy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: So, Andrew, do you see that these kinds of topics are, you know, breaking up or causing a real wedge within the Democratic Party?
GILLUM: No. I mean, I think this is doing exactly what it's supposed to do. We are in a primary with a lot of candidates who represent, you know, the spectrum of ideas and that's exactly what you want in a primary. You want to hear where candidates stand on these issues.
I think Senator Warren with her proposal was tapping into something that is important. Everyday people do have economic insecurities. They feel like the system does seem to be stacked against them. I do think, however, it is a bit challenging because Amazon, and Google, and Facebook, you know, she's running up the road on the street that many people live, and it feels very personal.
And so, she'll have the challenge of explaining to people how her proposals will save them money, will help small businesses grow and to prosper, which are the heartbeat of our economy, and she'll have to do that in a way that helps everyday people understand how they're going to do better in that. But that's what we want, an exchange of ideas.
WHITFIELD: And today, you know, Charlie, you know, we're learning President Trump now, just changing the topic a little bit, plans on asking for more money about this wall. $8 billion, you know, to help fund his border wall.
And, you know, Democrats in charge of the House have made it very clear that there is no chance that he is getting anymore money. So what is behind? And the President knows that. He's heard the message loud and clear. So what is behind this strategy? What's he really getting at here?
DENT: Well, first, Fred, the President proposes, the Congress disposes. This is the case every single year. Congress will end up writing appropriations bills. Here's the challenge to the President, of that $8.6 billion he is now requesting, 3.6 billion of it would be to backfill the military construction funds that he's siphoning off through his emergency declaration.
I can't imagine that Congress is going to backfill that money. The President said that he didn't think those projects were that important. Now he's coming back asking Congress for that money again. That money is going to be tied up for some time in court, so I think this is a mess.
We are going to have a very messy appropriations and budget cycle. They need a budget agreement. It's expired. So I don't know what is going to happen here. You know, I think this is just, you know, get ready for an appropriations cycle that could lead to yet another shutdown.
Good news is, the President at least he put in his budget request money for his border wall. In 2019, he asked for 1.6 billion and at the end of the year he said he wanted $5.7 billion, so go bigger. This is going to be a big mask.
WHITFIELD: So, Doug, not only is this going to be a fight between the President and the Democrats, but potentially it really is a fight among Republicans as well. How can he afford this?
BRINKLEY: Well, exactly. And, you know, people are worried about the national debt. Many Republicans are still fiscal conservatives, and they see things spiraling out of control with the Trump presidency.
What's clear why this is news to me is that Donald Trump is doubling down on the border wall as his campaign issue for 2020. You hear commentators on CNN and elsewhere talk about the border issues kind of run out of gas for Donald Trump. Well, it hasn't.
It's going to become -- once again it's going to be, you know, let's finish the wall. It's going to be the mantra and he's going to have -- make immigration the number one, I think, argument that he's going to take to the American people in 2020. So by September, we're going to -- we may be in a government shutdown again in the fall because Donald Trump is willing to do anything to just reinforce that, you know, if I accomplish anything as President, there will be a border fence or increased border security. It's the issue he just won't let go of.
[15:15:06] WHITFIELD: And then, Charlie, you know, the President loves picking a fight, you know. Now he's picking a fight with Ann Coulter, you know, and -- you know, he had her support for a little bit and then he said some complimentary things about her, and now, you know, in a tweet calling her, you know, a wacky nut job. Why?
DENT: Well, look, Ann Coulter has said the President is too squishy on immigration. I mean, he's too soft on the border. I mean, she is playing out on the far, far fringe. I mean, apparently, she's gone even too far for Donald Trump. I mean, so, look, she's at times an ally of his at times she -- I suspect she gets a lot of views and clicks and eyeballs when she does these things. She likes just being in the middle of controversy. But she's saying Donald Trump is too soft on the border and -- well, she's about the only person in the country saying that.
GILLUM: I think she also wrote her last book was entitled "In Trump We Trust." So clearly, there are no permanent friends and no permanent enemies.
WHITFIELD: All right, we'll leave it there for now. Andrew Gillum, Charlie Dent, Douglas Brinkley, thanks to all of you. Appreciate it.
All right, still ahead in the "Newsroom," it's an all-out battle of very serious stuff with ISIS happening right now, and CNN is the only U.S. network on the front lines. We're live from the battlefield, next.
Plus, a flight carrying more than 150 people crashes, killing everyone on the plane and now we're learning new details about the Americans on board.
[15:20:49] WHITFIELD: Welcome back. We have breaking news from the borders of Syria. Dramatic pictures as ISIS fighters try to keep control of one of their last strongholds and CNN is the only U.S. network to witness what could be the final assault. CNN's Ben Wedeman is in Eastern Syria for us right now. Ben?
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Fredricka. That operation began three hours ago with heavy bombardment. There was airstrikes as well as mortar rounds crashing into this small, last sliver of land held by the state that called itself Islamic. It's just about half a square mile. We have seen outgoing fire as well.
In fact, we were right next to the camp just an hour before the operation began, and there was an intense exchange of gunfire then. We had sniper fire coming in our direction, so we know that there is still stiff resistance inside. It's important to keep in mind that the ISIS fighters are some of the most battle hardened and combat experienced they have.
This is the third time the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces have launched operations to try to take back this piece of land. Each time in the past they found that there were still thousands, tens of thousands, of civilians inside.
What's interesting is that a month ago, Fredricka, we were hearing from officials here that there were only about 1,500 civilians inside and perhaps 500 fighters, but now it's clear -- now we've seen thousands and thousands, more than 30,000 civilians coming out as well as thousands of ISIS fighters who have already surrendered, but there are still some who appear to want to fight to the death. Fredricka?
WHITFIELD: Ben Wedeman, thank you so much.
And we're learning more about a deadly plane crash in Ethiopia. Eight Americans are among 157 passengers and crew killed when an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 plane crashed shortly after taking off from the capital of Addis Ababa. The airlines said the plane's pilot reported technical difficulties and asked for clearance to return but then never made it.
The plane, a Boeing 737 Max 8, is the same type involved in a crash in Indonesia last year. Boeing is sending a team to the crash site and put out a statement which says in part, "We extend our heartfelt sympathies to the families and loved ones of the passengers and crew on board and stand ready to support the Ethiopian Airlines team." The United Nations says several of its officials were on the plane and some 35 nationalities were represented.
Richard Quest is CNN's Correspondent who covers aviation. He joins us now from London. So, Richard, what more do we know about this investigation which is really in its infancy?
RICHARD QUEST, CNN CORRESPONDENT WHO COVERS AVIATION: Well, you can tell that there will be a lot of VIPs and a lot of those who worked for the United Nations or government representatives going to this U.N. climate assessment conference that is being held tomorrow in -- or was in Nairobi. And you see that by the geographical list of those who perished on board. 32 or 33 different nationalities on a single smaller -- small plane flight from Addis to Nairobi.
Many investigations now and they're going to look very closely. They're going to look at -- they're going to retrieve the black boxes, and I suspect even though this was a very violent impact into the ground, possibly involving fire as well, they will retrieve the black boxes. They are designed to withstand it.
And they're going to be looking, Fredricka, they're going to be looking at that first six minutes and seeing if there were any similarities for what happened with Lion Air back last year.
[15:25:00] Was this just a coincidence, a serious, regrettable, tragic coincidence that it's the same model of a brand new aircraft, or is there something more at play here? We don't know and it's speculation to continue. WHITFIELD: And then Ethiopian Airlines, highly respected, highly regarded and, you know, its safety, of course, will be examined with this -- you know, with the downing of this flight. But tell us more about the trust that so many in Africa, you know, not just in that continent but beyond have in Ethiopian Airlines.
QUEST: You see, the point about Ethiopian Airlines is amongst Africa with the exception maybe of South African and Kenyan, but Ethiopian is the mainstay, if you'd like. It's -- the government decided, the government of Ethiopia decided the airline was going to be a pillar of the economy, so they put in a lot of money, a lot of resources. It's got an experienced airline management behind it.
And it is the way people -- you often get people flying from one side of Africa to the other, because there are no direct flights they go via Addis Ababa and Ethiopian. And what people are going to be looking for is if it was something similar to what happened with Lion Air or is that just a complete red herring and actually this is a new problem with the Max 8.
WHITFIELD: Richard Quest from London, thank you so much.
All right, still ahead, we're just hours away now from three CNN Town Halls for three Democratic presidential candidates. We'll talk to one contender who says he does have concerns about the direction of the Democratic Party. Hear why, next.
[15:31:10] WHITFIELD: In just a few hours from now, CNN will be live from the South by Southwest Festival and we'll have three back-to-back town halls with three of the 2020 Democratic contenders. Tonight, we'll hear from former Congressman John Delaney, Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, and South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg.
CNN Senior Washington Correspondent Jeff Zeleny is in Austin at the festival. So you talked to Delaney about his concerns over the direction of the Democratic Party, detail (ph).
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fredricka, good afternoon. John Delaney is a former Maryland member of Congress, a successful businessman and he has been running for president longer than any other Democrat. We sat down with him earlier this week and he said that he is worried about the party's left-leaning shift. He said if the party were just too far to the left, President Trump, he says, could be re-elected.
ZELENY (voice-over): He's been in the race for nearly two years, already making his case with T.V. ads.
JOHN DELANY (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm John Delaney and I approve this message.
ZELENY: And more than three dozen visits to Iowa and New Hampshire under his belt.
DELANEY: I've been to all 99 counties.
ZELENY: John Delaney is running for president. And after logging more miles than most candidates combined, the former Maryland congressman and businessman has a warning for Democrats trying to win back the White House.
(on camera) You worry that if the party is moving so far to the left that that will ensure the reelection of President Trump.
DELANEY: I do worry about that. I mean, if the party starts embracing kind of, if you will, socialism in a pure form, I think that's a really big mistake, right, because it's not good policy and it's definitely not good politics.
ZELENY (voice-over): Running from the middle, Delaney faces an uphill climb, even if he was a household name like many other Democrats in the race. But he believes it's time to speak truth to power, mainly the progressive ideas driving the Democratic primary.
DELANEY: But I don't agree with the Green New Deal, right, I'll just say it.
ZELENY: He compares the chances of passing the current version of the Green New Deal to Mexico paying for Trump's border wall. He's promising a different way.
DELANEY: The things I want to do are very consistent with what progressives care about, but I'm very focused on how we actually make them happen. So that makes me more of a moderate and a centrist, no question.
ZELENY: He insists the imperative to defeat President Trump is so urgent that Democrats and Independents may ultimately be more pragmatic than it seems today.
DELANEY: I think the American people are tired of like the extremes in each party holding the rest of us hostage.
ZELENY: His name frequently comes up in conversations with early state voters in part because he visits so often and these T.V. ads.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's a firm believer in, well, bipartisanship.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It might be a dirty word in Washington, but it seems to be (INAUDIBLE) refreshing right here in Iowa.
ZELENY: But even the accolades can be stinging, like this headlines of a conservative "Washington Post" column calling Delaney the smartest presidential candidate you've never heard of.
But for now, at least, he is undeterred, smiling as he delivers a bit of tough f medicine to Democrats.
DELANEY: I think the American people are yearning for someone who is a truth teller. And sometimes the best way to kind of make that point is to be a little bit disagreeable with your own party.
ZELENY: And that is exactly what Delaney is doing. He is being disagreeable with his own party. The question, of course, Fredricka, is there a lane for this type of moderate centrist Democrat? He will be making his case tonight here in Austin. He'll be taking questions from voters here at the South by Southwest Festival as well as our Jake Tapper.
But I can tell you, he has logged so many miles out there in Iowa, New Hampshire, other places, more voters there recognize him than you might think. The question, of course, can he break through this very crowded field? Fredricka?
WHITFIELD: All right, well, at the very least, already, it makes him standout, right, from the rest. All right, Jeff Zeleny --
WHITFIELD: -- thank you so much.
All right, still ahead, a fiery exchange over gun laws. An Arkansas state senator takes on a stand-your-ground bill and wins.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[15:35:09] STEPHANIE FLOWERS (D), ARKANSAS STATE SENATE: Do I have a right to stand my ground with some crazy ass persons walking around with a dog gone gun? I don't know what the hell he intends to do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: That senator joins me live, next.
WHITFIELD: Welcome back. It was passionate and personal. An Arkansas lawmaker put her foot down to a stand-your-ground measure which would make it easier to use lethal force in the name of self- defense. On Wednesday, State Senator Stephanie Flowers didn't hold back. In fact, she let it all out when a state Senate committee wanted to devote little time to debate the issue.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FLOWERS: It doesn't take much to look on the local news every night and see how many black kids, black boys, black men are being killed with these stand-your-ground defenses that these people raise and then they get off.
[15:40:14] So, I take issue with that. I'm the only person here of color, OK? I am a mother, too, and I have a son. And I care as much for my son as you all care for you all's. This is crazy. You don't have to worry about your children, will. I worry about my son. And I worry about other little black boys and girls.
If people coming into my neighborhood, into my city saying they got open carry rights, walking down in front of my dog gone office in front of the courthouse. That's a bully. Do I have a right to stand my ground with some crazy ass persons walking around with a dog gone gun?
I don't know what the hell he intends to do, but I know I am scared, I feel threatened, just like some of you all walking around here up in the legislature with these damn guns. That what's his name, Garner, came in here, walking around here with a damn gun in his -- underneath his coat. You can see the damn prints.
ALAN CLARK (R), ARKANSAS STATE SENATE: Senator, you need to stop.
FLOWERS: No, I don't.
CLARK: Yes, you do.
FLOWERS: No, I don't. What the hell you're going to do, shoot me?
CLARK: Senator --
FLOWERS: Senator, (inaudible) go to hell. I'm telling you, this deserves more attention. You want to come up here with all these little NRA bills and bills at alley cab and all that stuff, I'm talking about my son's life and I'm talking about the lives of other black kids. Do what the hell you want to do, go ahead, but you can't silence me. You got your damn silence gun out on the damn table today, but you're not going to silence me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: No, she was not silenced and she got the attention of a whole lot of people. And you see at that moment Flowers got up and she walked out, but she did come back. And I'm now joined by Arkansas State Senator Stephanie Flowers. Good to see you, State Senator.
FLOWERS: Thank you. Good afternoon.
WHITFIELD: So how are you feeling -- yes. So how are you after that, because that resonated with so many people, particularly mothers of children of color who felt everything that you were talking about. But now that, you know, that measure has been defeated by one vote and you're, you know, watching and reliving that moment, how are you feeling?
FLOWERS: Well, after you just played it, it stirs a lot of emotion in me, and I went to Sunday school this morning, I was feeling pretty good and calm and -- but it's been a rough week.
I've had hundreds of telephone calls, messages, and e-mails, and listening to my telephone messages from people all over the country, black, white, brown, young, old, gun owners, teachers, young people especially and mothers especially, even fathers just crying and barely able to make it through the messages that they would leave on my recording.
It's been quite amazing to me the -- where the calls came from, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia. Then you had on the West Coast, Vermont, Connecticut, State of Washington, Oregon.
WHITFIELD: Because so many things happened at that moment. I mean, you were schooling people who didn't get it. You reminded them, particularly as you reminded -- you said, "I'm the only black woman in this room and I'm a mother." And you reminded people that their children do not walk the same path as your son who is now 27 years old. You said, "I'm glad he's no longer in this state."
But the point was that non-black children, parents of non-black children don't have the same fears, concerns and thoughts about anyone being able to pack weapons than, you know, parents of black children and other, you know, kids of color. And so that resonated with so many people.
[15:45:12] And there was an uncomfortable moment when your colleague, Senator Alan Clark, was whispering for you to be quiet and you said -- you know, you stood up to that. "I'm not going to be quiet right now." Did that only kind of further fuel you when he was doing that?
FLOWERS: Did that further fuel me?
WHITFIELD: Yes, fuel you, like make you even more agitated or make you, you know --
FLOWERS: Yes. Yes.
WHITFIELD: -- thought you really got to tell people what's on your mind.
FLOWERS: Yes. But, you know, it was a continuation -- what happened prior to that, the motion to limit debate that the two Democratic colleagues on the committee move for, and that was a non-debatable motion. And the Republican colleagues tried to make a motion to limit the debate earlier in the presentation of this bill, SB-484, and it was defeated.
And so after several of the witnesses, including the Arkansas Prosecuting Attorneys Association, the Arkansas County Sheriffs Association, and a member of the Moms Demand Action, and I think it was a mother from Louisiana that testified, there were about 14 individuals or groups that had signed up to testify against the bill.
And if I might say -- so anyway, that second motion to limit the debate, that was disturbing to me --
FLOWERS: -- particularly coming from those two individuals. I didn't expect it. And it just kind of blew me away. And, you know, I just felt like the people that had signed up, the committee room was packed, there were people out in the hall --
FLOWERS: -- they deserved to be heard.
WHITFIED: Yes. So that bill, that measure was defeated by one vote, and it was a Republican, right, or -- you know, at least one Republican sided with you. Have you since spoken with and what was that conversation?
FLOWERS: Yes. Actually, he didn't even vote.
WHITFIELD: Say that again?
FLOWERS: Well, the conversation -- I might add, the chair, Alan Clark, did not vote --
WHITFIELD: The one who (INAUDIBLE) you.
FLOWERS: -- one way or the other.
WHITFIELD: Wow. And what's your interaction with him been like since?
FLOWERS: Well, he's a friend of mine, OK? And even though he took the brunt of my emotion and my passion, he remains a friend of mine. I don't doubt that he probably would have voted for the motion, and I don't subscribe to a lot of the same policies that he does, but we were fortunate that one Republican, Senator John Cooper, voted against the bill.
And in our state Senate, the Senate committees consist of eight members and we have a rule, and it's a majority Republican Senate, it's only nine Democrats out of 35. So, the rule that was put in place after the Senate became majority Republican was there could be no more than three Democrats on any standing committee.
WHITFIELD: I see.
FLOWERS: And it takes five votes to get a bill out of the committee. So, we were fortunate, and I feel, you know, a great debt of gratitude to Senator Cooper.
WHITFIELD: Right. In the end, it was a 4 to 3 defeat of that measure.
FLOWERS: Yes, because Senator Clark did not vote at all.
WHITFIELD: Arkansas State Senator Stephanie Flowers, you certainly awakened a lot of people who hadn't heard that sentiment in that fashion before, and I know you're getting, you know, a tremendous outpouring of response from all over the country, and we so appreciate you taking the time out to tell us what this all -- what this experience has been like for you personally and for you to share your personal experience in this manner. Thank you so much. And we'll be right back. [15:50:11] FLOWERS: Thank you, Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: This week, the CNN Original Series "The Bush Years" follows the rise of George H.W. Bush and how he became the 41st President of the United States.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I George Herbert Walker Bush --
GEORGE H.W. BUSH, 41ST PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I George Herbert Walker Bush --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- do solemnly swear.
BUSH: -- do solemnly swear.
NEIL BUSH, SON OF GEORGE BUSH AND BARBARA BUSH: For my dad to be on that podium taking the oath of office for vice president of the United States was amazing.
[15:55:06] JAMES BAKER, SECRETARY OF STATE 1989-1992: At some point during the inaugural, he leaned over and said, "Bake, who could thunk it?" Not too bad for two guys from Texas without any vision.
MARK UPDEGROVE, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIA AND AUTHOR: With George Bush winning the vice presidency, that changes everything in the family.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Well, joining me right now, Barbara Perry. She is the director of the Presidential Studies at the University of Virginia Miller Center and she is featured in tonight's episode. Good to see you, Barbara.
BARBARY PERRY, DIRECTOR OF PRESIDENTIAL STUDIES, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA: Great to be with you, Fredricka, as always.
WHITFIELD: So where do you begin to consolidate an incredible legacy like this for George H.W. Bush?
PERRY: Just in a few words, and sometimes as people say about someone, they took a step forward, but then unfortunately they too -- took two steps back. And for George H.W. Bush, sometimes when he took a step back, he took two steps forward.
And so he ran for the presidential nomination of the Republican Party in 1980, did not get it, lost it to Ronald Reagan and thought that was maybe the end of his career, and then suddenly he's named to the ticket as the vice president. Eight years later, he's elected in his own right.
WHITFIELD: Wow, in speaking of Reagan. So apparently George H.W. and Ronald Reagan really did click, but then Nancy and Barbara did not click.
PERRY: That is absolutely true. George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan really became good friends, became close friends and were a great team in the White House, not so much with Barbara Bush and Nancy Reagan. Nancy Reagan could be pretty prickly. On occasion, Barbara Bush could too, and so never the twain should meet.
WHITFIELD: Well, Barbary Perry, we can't wait to see your part and see the entire series. It all begins tonight. Thank you so much, Barbara. CNN Original Series "The Bush Years: Family, Duty, Power" airs tonight, 10:00 Eastern in Pacific, only on CNN. And we'll be right back