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Trump Slams McCain at Military Tank Plant in Ohio; As Biden Gears Up for 2020 Run His Team Weighs Early Running Mate Pick; Hickenlooper: Why aren't Female Democratic Candidates Asked if They'd Pick Man as V.P.; Report: Trump Wants Robert Kraft to Visit White House; Former Day Spa Owner in Kraft Case Speaks Out; New Zealand Makes Sweeping Changes to Gun Laws after Mosque Attacks. Aired 11:30a- 12p ET

Aired March 21, 2019 - 11:30   ET

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


[11:30:00] MIA LOVE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I remember going into the GOP retreat for the very first time and I went up to him and I said, Senator McCain, thank you for your help. He opened his arms and jumped up and down and said, Mia, you are finally here. That's what I remember about Senator John McCain, the war hero, who was incredibly serious embraced me and was so happy that I was there. You don't agree with people all the time. But here is a colleague, a person that loves his country, served his country. I don't care whether they think you are not. He should be thanking -- the president should be thanking him and his family for the sacrifices he made for this country.

RYAN NOBLES, CNN ANCHOR: You can also separate frustration over that one specific vote and compare it to the totality --

LOVE: Absolutely.

NOBLES: -- of the man and his experience to have a different perspective.

General, I want you to help me fact-check President Trump's claim about Senator McCain and the Veteran's Choice Act. Far from doing nothing, the bill that President Trump signed was actually named for Senator McCain. This was a program that went back to 2014. Senator McCain was the co-sponsor then. The only reason he didn't vote for the bill in 2018 was because he was seeking treatment for brain cancer. General, is this a fair attack from President Trump?

LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Of course, it's not, Ryan. None of these attacks are fair. You have to consider, on that particular bill, as most veterans know, the devil was in the details. Senator McCain was involved in the details. It wasn't just a bill to him. It was a way to help veterans that had all sorts of issues with the Veterans Administration and receiving care and receiving payment. So when he saw something in that bill that wasn't quite right and didn't meet the standards that he set for it, then he opposed it. I think that's what he did -- I'm not a legislator by any means -- but I think that is what he also did on the vote for the ACA because he saw it was being repealed without any type of a replacement. There was a lack of replacement. That's what Senator McCain had campaigned on. I think, when you are a legislator and you know the details of the bill, like Congresswoman Love did, you know what's a good bill and what's not in the finality of it.

But one of the things I would say, too, Ryan, is the fact that, in order to be a good Senator, in order to be a great Senator or a great soldier or a great president, you also have to be a good person. What Congresswoman Love just talked about, it's apparent that Senator McCain was not only a good Senator but he was a good person. He treated other people well. I didn't agree with all his ideology. I had my ass chewed by him on several occasions, both in combat and in peace time. I didn't always agree with Senator McCain but I knew he was always working with what was right for our country.

NOBLES: Congresswoman, I want to get your take with how these Republicans in office are responding to President Trump. Not all of them feel the need to respond to every single thing he says, even something related to Senator McCain. Do you think that there's a faction of the Republican Party who feels it's better just to ignore the president because, if you challenge him on issues like this, that only makes him talk about it more? Sometimes, like when I deal with my kids and one is bothering the other, I say just ignore this particular kid because that's how you make a problem go away. Is that how some Republicans are approaching this in.

LOVE: I can tell you one thing for sure. If you respond to everything that the president does, it's a full-time job. You might as well get out of Congress and spend your time responding to what the president does. That's not their job. As a matter of fact, I'm happy a lot of people are staying out this and that a lot of people are voicing their opinion about their support for Senator John McCain. But I can tell you there's so much work. We talked about earlier, there's so much work that has to be done. We still have infrastructure and immigration reform. There's still so much that Congress has to do that they cannot respond to the executive branch. We have to focus on the separation of powers, let the legislative branch do their job without having to ask permission by the executive branch. Their job is to execute the laws that are enacted by Congress. So if we just focus on those things, I promise you, we would get a lot more done and the in American people would be a lot happier, instead of what we're seeing with this back and this response with what the president is doing.

NOBLES: I think that's where there's a lot of frustration in Washington that the president keeps bringing this up unprompted and it continues to be an issue that we have to talk over and over and over again about.

General Mark Hertling, former Congressman Mia Love, thank you both for your perspectives. We appreciate it.

LOVE: Thank you.

HERTLING: Thank you.

[11:34:38] NOBLES: Still to come, Joe Biden gears up for a possible presidential run. Could he take the unprecedented step of picking a vice presidential candidate right away? We'll take a look coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NOBLES: The tongues are wagging and the speculation is mounting about Joe Biden, not just whether or not he will get into the 2020 race, but whether he will go ahead and just name his running mate right out of the gate. We know he met recently with Stacey Abrams, a rising Democratic star, who almost won the governor's race in Georgia.

CNN senior political reporter, Nia Malika Henderson, is following the Beto O'Rourke campaign's swing through New Hampshire.

Nia, a lot to talk about as it relates to 2020.

Let's talk about Joe Biden. From your perspective, do you think naming a running mate right out of the gate is likely? And is it even a good idea?

[11:40:05] NIA MALIKA HENDERSON: CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: We'll see what happens with Biden. There's always the speculation about what he will do, when he will do it. Maybe it's next month. Just the average voters you talk to who like Biden, this idea of naming a vice president early on has gotten a little popular appeal, I think, among voters, at least. Whether or not it would be wise is a whole different thing.

Biden is coming in, in some ways, as a very strong candidate. He's at 28 percent of the polls, 30 percent of the polls, whatever. A CNN poll showing that Democrats really like him. Is that a ceiling for him? If he were to name a V.P., he is, in some ways, has a limited choice because there are some people who are running against him. A lot of times a V.P. choice might come from the field, folks who loose. Who are the folks he is looking at? And does it point to a weakness. If he is supposed to be the 800-pound gorilla in this race, why does he need to have a V.P.? What message does that send to voters? Does it send weakness or strength, would be my question. And then the other question, do you want to have two targets early on in your campaign rather than just be the face and the voice of the campaign rather than having two folks. So we'll see what happens.

NOBLES: Nia, last night, Governor John Hickenlooper, of Colorado, took to the CNN town hall stage. He had one peculiar answer that was getting attention when asked if he would choose a woman as a running mate. Let's play it first and then get reaction.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT; Some of your male competitors have vowed to put a woman on the ticket. Yes or no, would you do the same?

JOHN HICKENLOOPER, (D), COLORADO GOVERNOR & PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Again, of course. But I think that we should -- I'll ask you another question. How come --

(CROSSTALK) BASH: You aren't asking the questions.

HICKENLOOPER: I know.

(LAUGHTER)

I know. How come we are not asking more often, the women, would you be willing to put a man on the ticket?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NOBLES: That did raise some eyebrows. Dan Merica, our reporter, was covering that last night, asked what he meant by that and they covered and tried to clarify and said, why aren't we assuming that a man would win the nomination. My good friend, Joe St. George, is a reporter in Colorado, who has covered Hickenlooper for a long time, said this is customary with Hickenlooper. He sometimes says goofy things and it requires some sort of retraction or clarification. Do you buy their explanation as it relates to this particular answer, Nia?

HENDERSON: Sure. It sounds like he isn't necessarily keeping track of the questions that some of the women candidates are being asked. I think the women candidates have been asked this, who would they pick. I think a better answer for Hickenlooper would have been, why aren't women being asked, the women running, if they would pick a female running mate? That would be something that we certainly haven't seen before. The conventional wisdom is that wouldn't be a ticket that would be viable, that you would need a man on the ticket to balance it out. We have had mostly all male tickets going back decades and decades. Interesting moment for Hickenlooper. Again, it goes to show, I think, the ways in which gender is being talked about in this campaign in a field with a lot of women running, but certainly a lot of white men, as well. Hickenlooper being one of those.

NOBLES: A busy day in New Hampshire with Beto O'Rourke and others.

Nia Malika Henderson, thank you so much. We appreciate you being here.

HENDERSON: Thanks, Ryan.

NOBLES: Coming up, as Patriots owner, Robert Kraft, fights his prostitution case, a new report reveals President Trump still wants him to visit the White House.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:46:21] NOBLES: In Austin, Texas, there's now a town of tiny homes built by a nonprofit with a big heart. Here is this week's "Impact Your World."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICHARD DEVORE, FORMERLY HOMELESS: I really had given up. I thought I was going to be a homeless drug addict the rest of my life. ALAN GRAHAM, FOUNDER, MOBILE LOAVES & FISHES: Mobile Loaves and

Fishes is Laser focused on lifting the chronically homeless men and women on our streets in Austin, Texas, into a place that they can call home.

On the 27 acres that's completely built out, we have 100 R.V.s and somewhere around 125 to 130 microhomes or tiny homes.

Glad you're here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Me, too, man. It's great.

GRAHAM: It's all about the relationship here. You will see people at the kitchen, in front of the community market spending time with each other.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, we go back a long time.

GRAHAM: Then, you add in all the awesome things to do here, like an outdoor movie theater, the car care shop, an art house, a pottery operation, blacksmithing shop, full-blown organic farming operation. All of this stuff is causing people to come out and interact with each other and build community through valuing each other as human beings.

DEVORE: There's a lot I'm involved in. And that helps me personally kind of like build self-confidence and learn to like myself again.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:50:01] NOBLES: President Trump is shrugging off the stench of scandal and willing to stand next to an all-time ally in front of cameras. This morning, "Politico" reporting that the president wants Robert Kraft, the owner of the New England Patriots, to join his team at the White House to celebrate their Super Bowl victory. This despite Kraft's arrest in a Florida prostitution sting. Meanwhile, CNN has learned Kraft has not accepted the plea deal offered by prosecutors, and the NFL power broker is making demands of his own.

CNN's Jason Carroll is here to break this down.

(CROSSTALK)

NOBLES: Yes. So, Jason, what's the latest here? What do you know, first of all, about Robert Kraft's legal maneuvers?

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Let's first talk about what's on the table. You've got a deal that's been offered. That deal that has been offered has not been accepted. And there's some reasons for that. It seems like a good deal will surface, if you give me some community service, all these charges will go away, you'll pay some sort of a fine, but here's the catch. You've got to admit, at the end of the day, that you were guilty of what you're being charged with. And they don't want to do that for a whole host of reasons. It could open them up to legal challenges in the future, might leave them open to some repercussions from the NFL. And legal experts we talk to say despite the fact there were two videotapes out there showing him in compromised positions that they might be able to beat this. For a whole host of reasons, you've got that.

When it comes to those tapes, obviously, Kraft and his legal deem, they don't want anyone to see these tapes. What they've done is filed a motion that basically says, look, we believe there's reason to believe that the evidence collected in this case should not be seen by the public. That's a real big legal hurdle for them to get over, so there are some questions if they'll be able to do that.

But this buys them time, right? Behind the scenes, they can negotiate with prosecutors, try to get some kind of deal, but for now they're not signing on to this.

NOBLES: And the founder of the spa at the center of this, who has ties to Trump himself, is also speaking out. What is she saying?

CARROLL: She is. A little history, she used to own the spa. Li Yang, she goes by the name Cindy. She hasn't been charged with anything. But the optics here are questionable, right? You have the selfie of her and the president at a Super Bowl party, her photographed with people like Kellyanne Conway, the president's son, Sarah Palin. She's has been speaking out. I think we have some sound of her. Let's hear what she has to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LI "CINDY" YANG, FORMRER OWNER, ORCHIDS OF ASIA DAY SPA: Nobody else has happened, only me, because I'm Chinese. And now Chinese Republican. That's the issue.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARROLL: So, again, that's her defense there in terms of why she's being wrapped up in all of this, because of her ethnicity, because of her political leanings, conservative. She says she's not a friend of the president but she feels like she's a real victim here.

NOBLES: OK, Jason Carroll, thanks for giving us an update on that.

CARROLL: You bet.

NOBLES: We appreciate it.

Coming up, just days after a gunman went on a killing spree and targeted two mosques, New Zealand prepares to overhaul the country's gun laws. Next, we'll have the latest on the sweeping changes.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:57:49] NOBLES: Just six days after a gunman opened fire at two mosques in New Zealand, killing 50 people, the government there is taking action, banning all military-style semiautomatic weapons, all assault rifles and all high-capacity magazines. New Zealand's prime minister says the sweeping changes to the country's gun laws are aimed at, quote, "making sure this never happens again."

CNN's Martin Savidge is in the city of Christchurch where this massacre took place.

Martin, what are you learning about these new gun laws?

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, first and foremost, Ryan, just to look at the significant impact that these changes will have and the speed, the breathtaking speed at which they've been proposed, is deeply indicative of the mood of the population here, the shock and still the complete sadness that people are feeling.

Basically, these new changes are designed to work on a couple of levels. Number one, ban the rifles used in the mosque attacks. Number two, immediately change the permit needed to buy these weapons. The reason that's already happened is because they're afraid people might rush out and try to stock up on the weapons before the law gets on the books. Changing the permits immediately prevents that. Number three, how do you get out of circulation, in other words, how do you get the guns off the street that are already out there that are now going to be illegal as a result of the changes? For that there are two ways the law deals with that. Number one, strong punishment. If you don't turn the guns in, you can go to jail and face a steep fine. Number two, use a different approach, in other words, a financial incentive of a government buy-back program. All of this, it is hoped, will be on the books, according to the prime minister, by April 11.

NOBLES: That is incredibly fast.

Martin, quickly, how are the people of New Zealand reacting to this policy change?

SAVIDGE: Overwhelming support for the prime minister. They feel very supportive of what she has outlined here. Even the head of the opposition party here has signed on. It's not a completely done deal but it's expected to go through with little or no opposition.

[11:29:57] NOBLES: A lot different than how we've responded to mass shootings here in the United States.

Martin Savidge, live in Christchurch, New Zealand. Thank you for your report, Martin.

Thank you for joining me.

"INSIDE POLITICS" with John King starts right now.