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Trump: GOP Should've Handled Health Care When We Had Majority; Sources: Biden Proceeding With 2020 Plans Despite Allegations. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired April 3, 2019 - 12:30   ET

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


[12:30:00] JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: They don't have a consensus Republican proposal, not even close. And then the Democrats control the House anyway, so any Republican health care legislation would be a non-starter.

So now a new presidential pitch delivered last night at a fundraiser for the House of Republican Campaign Committee. The President says he needs to win reelection. And the Republicans need to retake the House in 2020 before trying again on health care. But he acknowledges health care played a big role in last year's big Democratic win.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATE: What really lost it and really helped us lose it was health care because we didn't have an alternative. Republicans should not run away from health care. You can't do it. You're going to get clobbered. We blew it the last time. Man, I was fed a bill of goods. I want to tell you. Some of you I'm still a little bit angry but not all of you. It wasn't even your fault. But we should have done it when we had the position. But we're going to get it back.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: The whole thing was interesting. If you love politics, go watch that speech. It was interesting, his displeasure -- he says he was sold a bill of goods. He also is trying to say this isn't my fault. This was the president who had a Rose Garden ceremony for House passed health care bill and within days called it mean. But it wasn't his fault. What are we to make about this evolving and maybe it will evolve this hour Trump position on when and how to do health care?

MOLLY BALL, NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, TIME: Well, I think actually in that instance, he's completely telling the truth. I think it is the case that after Obamacare was passed, Republican spent seven years telling their voters and the American public that they had an alternative that they weren't just going to get rid of this law. They were going to repeal and replace. That was the campaign mantra. People believed it. Donald trump, average American voter believed it.

And he was sold a bill of goods because they didn't actually have an alternative to replace it with as Trump, President Trump found out the hard way once he got into office. And then there was, you know, the sort of comedy of errors of the first two years of trying to pass something that could resemble a replacement, even though everyone who was voting on it knew it wasn't a full fledged replacement for the health care system created and implemented by Obamacare.

And that's still the case and you can hardly blame the President for being frustrated by that. So --

KING: You could say he's been President for two years by now, once he realized they didn't have one, he could have come up with one his own.

BALL: Yes. He absolutely could have. He absolutely could have. And it's also -- but he's not wrong about the politics of it either. This is a strong issue for the Democrats, a weak issue for Republicans, and it's going to continue to hurt them if they don't change the way that people see them on this issue.

JULIE HIRSCHFELD DAVIS, CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: I also think that it speaks though to how little he understands about how this whole process works and the fact that I mean I think he does get the politics now and what was extraordinary in this sort of back and forth was to see that for maybe the first time I can remember, he took the advice that was being given to him by Republican congressional leaders saying, back off of this.

We actually don't want to do this. This would be bad for us. He gets that this is not good terrain for them as a party. But his impulse is still to say, I'm going do give you something great. I'm going to give you a great deal. This is going to be easy peasy, you know, we're going to deliver it. We just have to stop running away from it. He still doesn't understand the depth of the divide within his own party on this issue and how perilous it would be for him to promise that. And that's why we saw him going back and forth.

And that's we heard him say that last night I think thought he might have been off record. He's being honest how much he wishes they could actually tackle.

KING: Because he's not ideological. He doesn't understand the depth of the policy divide within his own party, let alone when you take the Republicans versus the Democrats, he just thinks, you know, split the difference, get it done, send me a bill. But it's interesting. It's a fascinating speech. You are right the President said at one point, someone is going to leak it. There was a camera point to that.

And the event was open. You see the camera. But listen, you know, this is a fascinating take, the President of the United States is thinking about the campaign ahead. Listen to his take here on where he thinks Republicans are strong, including himself, and where he thinks Republicans, including himself, have a problem.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: We have the border. We have if you look at it, we have the immigration, but we have a lot -- we have the crime. We have the police. We have the military. We have so much. They have health care right now. We have to take that away from them.

The Republican Party will be the champion of pre-existing conditions. You have to do it. I will be asking that this be my first vote immediately after the election, we are going to regain the House because of health care and other things.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: That's what he thinks. That's what he thinks. And he is as transparent as they come on these things.

MICHAEL SHEAR, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Look, he absolutely, I mean the run-up to the 2018 mid-term showed exactly what he thinks is his strength and his party strength which is all of the immigration stuff and the border stuff. I think there is a sense he has and some in this party have that maybe the Democrats will save the Republicans on health care by going too far towards, you know, universal health care and Medicare for all and that that will backfire and that the public will sort of react coolly to that.

But I think he is -- as Julie and Molly Ball said, like I think he gets that the Republicans are not in the best position on this.

KING: And to poll the Republicans, the open market -- the free market Republican Party which says leave it up to insurance companies whether you cover preexisting conditions or not that's the sort of the conservative stay out of the marketplace, the President is trying to pulling them there.

[12:35:07] And then another where when they makes Republicans nervous, the President still says we'll see his own aids are trying to get him to back off. But listen to him last night saying, I may well close parts of the U.S.-Mexico border.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I agree, it's going to be a big toll. But trade and commerce and making money for a country, it's all very important. But to me the most important job I have is the security of our country, even more important than those other things.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: It's interesting after the reporting all day yesterday that his own people were scrambling to try get him to back away from this threat to close some of the ports of entry and he still wants to talk about it last night.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I think he's using it as a bargaining trip. First, it was a bargaining trip from Mexico and now it's become a bargaining trip for Congress. The problem is that this is a Democratic House. So we're talking about, Nancy Pelosi is not very responsive to threats like this. The President thinks, though, that this is how he can get her to the table.

What might eventually happen and I think what his aids will tell him is that he's going to take a hit for that big toll he talked about on the economy. And it's not going to have much of an effect on Democrats because Democrats didn't have a role in closing the border. So this is how the President thinks about deal making. It's just that his aides disagree with him on this strategy.

And frankly, it's plain to see, this is not going to be a positive thing for him. There is no upside for the United States for closing the border. It probably won't even address the immigration issue he says he wants to address in the first place.

KING: And then he says, they're worried you take an economic hit, hurts him heading into reelection and hurts the economy, take the politic out of it. But we shall see.

Up next for us, the NATO secretary general warns Congress of quote, a more assertive Russia.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:41:17] KING: Topping our political radar today, the head of the Republican Party North Carolina says he'll give up his day-to-day role in running the party, that after being indicted for alleged bribery and corruption. Robin Hayes, the former five-term congressman among four people charged in the scheme alleged to involved campaign contributions to the state insurance commissioner. Hayes and the other defendants deny the allegations.

Provocative new remarks from a 2020 Democratic hopeful on faith, politics, and President Trump, in an interview with USA Today Mayor Pete Buttigieg says the President may call himself a Christian but the mayor says, he certainly doesn't seem to act like one. Quote, I'm reluctant to comment on another person's faith, Buttigieg told the newspaper. But I would say it is hard to look at this president's actions and believe that they're the actions of somebody who believes in God.

The exaltation of yourself, especially a self that's about wealth and power, could not be more at odds, Buttigieg says, with at least my understanding of the teachings of the Christian faith.

Just this morning the NATO secretary general addressing Congress, making a case for even deeper cooperation between the United States and its European allies. Jens Stoltenberg warning lawmakers about the growing threat of what he called quote, a more assertive Russia and adding the different views within the alliance are not a sign of weakness he says but instead a sign of strength. He also noted President Trump's call for more military spending by NATO allies is being heard.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JENS STOLTENBERG, NATO SECRETARY GENERAL: NATO allies must spend more on defense. This has been the clear message from President Trump. And this message is having a real impact. Of the years of reducing defense budgets, all allies have stopped the cuts.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Up next for us, full steam ahead, aides say for Joe Biden even as his team has to play damage control.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:47:13] KING: Joe Biden is set to be undeterred even motivated by accounts that have many Democrats wondering if the former vice president is out of step with today's political climate.

Today's "New York Post" highlights the Biden challenge. Ouch. Several women now say he has offended them or made them uncomfortable by touching them over the years. Biden's response has been in writing, not in person. He says, he never touched anyone with ill- intent but then he will listen and learn if women took gestures he meant is friendly and supportive to be inappropriate.

Biden's aides are debating whether he needs to speak publically soon or maybe grant an interview or two. But as they discuss that, aid say, the former vice president is still planning to enter the 2020 race and that he welcomes a character debate. It's a major test for the 76-year-old Biden.

Former Obama advisor David Axelrod put it this way to the "New York Times" he can rein in his exuberance, but he is who he is. He can discipline himself to some degree, but you're not going to put this guy in a straitjacket.

Now, you might think this issue would be off limits for the President caught on that access Hollywood tape bragging about groping and assaulting women. Nope.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Our former vice president is, I was going to call him, I don't know him well, I was going to say, welcome to the world, Joe. Are you having a good time, Joe? Are you having a good time? I said general, come here, give me a kiss. I felt like Joe Biden.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: One way to start of the conversation could be that the President has no barriers and he thinks the rules he just -- he's President, so he says the rules don't apply to me, the normal rules, anyway.

The bigger question is, how do the Biden people get through this? Again, I talked to self yesterday, and they all said, look, Joe Biden gets this, he understands this, I'm not trying to minimize their processing of this. But he says, let's have a character debate. I would love to have a character debate because they think that he's that candidate. Can they get through this?

BALL: Well, I think they're literally watching and waiting to see how this plays out. That's what you've seen. You've seen an increasingly aggressive response from the vice president's camp. You have seen them making the case as you said in writing but without putting the former vice president out there to address things himself.

And I think a part of that is that he doesn't quite know what to say. This has caught him a little bit flat footed. And I think part of it also is, if he has made up his mind 110 percent that he was running, he would have declared by now. He is not 100 percent there. And I don't think he wants to speak publicly until he has gotten to the point where his intentions are crystal clear to himself.

DAVIS: I don't think that he wants this to be the determining factor, though, right? I mean, this is -- it came at, you know, an awkward time because as Molly said, he wasn't going through this process of really weighing whether or not it made sense for him to get in and how much he wanted to do it.

[12:50:04] And I think there is a sense that if he's not going to do it, he doesn't want it to be because of this. And it is somewhat rich coming from President Trump to have him targeting Joe Biden like this. But in a way, what he said last night was almost like a warning. Like, this is what it's going to be like, so welcome to this world here.

And as ironic as it is to have the President and his team criticizing Joe Biden for things that are absolutely completely different from what the President himself was saying on that tape and not nearly as bad, I think that's actually the point here is that Democrats want to have a clear shot at Donald Trump's character. And if they have a candidate who has any questions like this in his history, then they're going to have a harder time doing that. So almost, ironically, it makes it harder, not easier.

KING: And so then how do you deal with it? You're right because they're debating where they have the vice president doing a couple interviews, then he has to say, you know, he has to acknowledge, sure, I'm a tactile guy as he likes to put it. But then you have snippets of that, you know, he could explain in a way, he can say, I'm trying to be gent, I'm trying to be friendly and supportive, I learned my lesson, I get it, I'm listening.

But you could take snippets of that which could be damaging against him. Women who've work for him, you know, they speak so highly of the guy. And that's true across the board. This is Elizabeth Alexander, former press secretary, writing "USA Today", I saw him at his best and worst, in quiet moments and on the world's largest stages. Through it all, in big ways and small ways that sometimes matters even more, he was, is and always has been a champion of women and equality. It's not hard to see, time and time again, whose side he's on. I hope he runs for president, because I'd like to see America's women and men get to know Joe Biden I already do.

But that's great and it's wonderful and it's across the board from women who work for him in the Senate, women work for him at the White House. He's going to have to do it himself.

PHILLIP: Yes, he's going to have to answer for this. And this is incredibly serious in the Democratic primary. But you can't blame the Biden camp for saying, wait a second, let's let the voters decide how important this is to them because in actuality, in 2016, Donald Trump's character was on the ballot.

All of these things about the President were out there. And to voters, it seemed to not matter, so I think for Biden's camp, you don't I don't blame them for saying, you know, let's let the actual voters decide whether this is important that, how important this is to them and whether they think that Joe Biden's behavior stacks up against Donald Trump's behavior.

I think they would argue that there are for voters, other things that are as important to them as this issue and people look beyond what, you know, they look deeper than just the headlines on this, and they say, is Joe Biden's intention the same as Donald Trump intention? And I think that's what his --

KING: You're exactly right on this specific issue. You're exactly right on this specific issue but Joe Biden's discipline as a candidate is also a big question mark for Democrats and how he handles this will be telling this to the second question, the bigger question maybe about his discipline.

Up next, for us the 2020 candidate that wants to put a $1,000 in your pocket. Is he on the rise?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANDREW YANG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Hi, everyone, it's more cameras than I ever seen in my face before.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:57:38] KING: He's a businessman and entrepreneur, now Andrew Yang is a 2020 candidate with a $1.7 million purse. I'm looking at the numbers, laugh if you will. But grassroots energy clear. The Yang campaign reporting 99 percent of the contributions were less than $200. And with more $80,000 donors, the campaign says, he will meet the DNC debate stage standards, for that he'll have to show 200 unique contributions in 20 different states.

Yang, speaking last hour in New York.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

YANG: If you heard anything about me, you heard that there is an Asian man running for president who wants to give everyone $1,000 a month. And all of those things are true. It's law in Alaska. It came this close to being law here in the United States. And we need it more than ever.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Little known, scrappy Democratic contender, what he's talking about there is his proposal for universal basic income where you get $1,000 a month. He has some other interesting ideas too. He says daylight savings time should be all year long. You should have free financial counseling as an American citizen, free marriage counseling as an American citizen. And he says, the NCAA should pay its athletes. The question is a crowded field, OK, you say, yes, whatever, but --

BALL: Well, he claims he's met the debate threshold. And if that's true, he'll have a chance to put these rather set of excentric set of ideas in front of the Democratic electorate and force the other candidates who, if we're being real have a better shot than he does to actually become the nominee. I'm not making any predictions. I think that's true.

KING: That was very fair of you. That's a good play.

BALL: No offense. And with all do respect to Andrew Yang, but that does give him a chance to introduce these ideas into the bloodstream and get the other candidates talking about it.

KING: In a crowded race, the guy who could get one, two, three, if he get up four, five percent in those early states when it's still crowded you could have an impact even if you're not the guy.

SHEAR: And look, so many other parts of our society have been disrupted by technology and by changing media and by the ability to lowering the barriers to entry. So why wouldn't politics be one of those, right? I mean, we've already -- we've seen it over the years. It's been, you know, the shift from these big mega donors to being able to raise the kind of money online.

And he's using the same kind of tools, same kind of high-tech tools that other people are using in media and in other venues to sort of have an outsized voice. And he's doing that effectively. Whether that goes anywhere for him in a system that's still pretty dominated by the big campaigns is anyone's guess.

[13:00:06] KING: We just showed you the map. He's been to 17 states so far.