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INSIDE POLITICS

Biden Makes First 2020 New Hampshire Trip; Supreme Court Rules Against Apple In Antitrust Case; Former CIA Operative Valerie Plame Running For Congress. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired May 13, 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] TOLUSE OLORUNNIPA, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: His ability to put together not only a campaign that has been mostly gaff free but also he's been able to raise a lot of money. He's been able to really shoot up in the polls in the number of early states.

And shown a number of signs of strength early in the campaign that show that he's not just sort of one and the 22 people that is running. He's the front-runner. And he's a formidable front-runner that's getting the attention of the Trump campaign. So I think that's one of the reasons so many people are focusing on him is that he's shown on a number of different fronts that he is the leader of the pack right now.

MATT VISER, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: I think it shows the low bar that I think we have for Joe Biden in terms what constitutes a gaffe. You know, he has been relatively scripted. It's almost like his campaign has kept him a little bit in bubble wrap, you know, like they've surrounded him. He hasn't been subjected to that many questions, that many unpredictable moments where he can easily go off script. And he has had a few sort of missteps.

His remarks on China have kind of opened up the door for criticism from Republicans. But New Hampshire is a different state. And Joe Biden has never even been on the ballot in New Hampshire which is sort of striking. He's run twice but he has always dropped out before it gets to New Hampshire. And he's going to an area that is 40 percent undeclared as they call them in New Hampshire. Voters not associated were either party, which is sort of his base and what he's going after is that sort of centrist lane.

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Right. Especially if the President doesn't get a big Republican challenge then New Hampshire, those undeclared voters, independent voters that can go either way. If there's not a big Republican race, then most of them you expect if they want to play, they're going to come to the Democratic primary.

To the point about getting the President's attention, now the President seems to focus mostly on Bernie and Biden, Senator Sanders and Vice President Biden. Here's the President's tweeting, just today Bernie Sanders, the economy is doing well and I'm sure I don't have to give Trump any credit. I'm sure he'll take all the credit he wants. Wrong Bernie, the economy is doing great and would have crashed if my opponents and yours crooked Hillary Clinton would have won. And he goes on to say, China is dreaming that Sleepy Joe Biden or any of the others get elected in 2020. They love ripping off America.

Most of his advisers I think want the President to not try to meddle. Put his thumb on the scale, but he cannot resist.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's not really an option. And once we reported over the weekend something interesting that's happened -- happening is the President's perception of something is so often shaped by how it's covered in the media. And lately when the President has been turning on the television to see how something he's done is playing out, he finds one of the people who are hoping to run against him on his screen.

And the President has been lamenting that he says these Democrats are getting better coverage than he ever did, even from some places that are reliably favorable to the President and he's been complaining about it. But he has been complaining about and focusing on Joe Biden in particular. And we talked to multiple sources last week that we reported over the weekend that said before 8:00 a.m. the President had called them to talk about Joe Biden. And just talk about what he was doing.

So the President even though there is some caution among other people about how Joe Biden is going to do, it's not guarantee that he's going to be the front-runner, the President is already treating him like he is one.

KING: And it's an interesting moment in the sense that anyone who thinks this is locked in is nuts, right? Its nine months until anybody votes. So we've got seven weeks, six and a half until the first debates. That will be interesting to see what happens, Joe Biden on a debate stage, all of them on debate stage. The lesser known candidates, can they stand up there? Do they look like equals?

This is Mark Longabaugh, a veteran Democratic strategist who's with the Sanders campaign in 2016 in a piece on "NBC Politics" today. With Biden in the race, it gives Sanders someone to contrast with. I still think one of Bernie Sanders' central challenges is being able to adjust to a front-runner's position and ultimately building a coalition that makes him the nominee. That's his take on Senator Sanders.

Biden has the opposite challenge. He has the ability to build a broad coalition, but his challenge is being to consolidate really core support and enthusiasm. It seems that a lot of people are for Biden, but are they really for Biden? Can he hold it?

HEATHER CAYGLE, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, POLITICO: Right. I mean, that's the question everyone is looking at. I think Biden has to be careful here because he does have all these handlers who are making sure he only answers a few questions at press events. You know, he doesn't go off the cuff. But the reason people love Biden is the same reason people love Trump, right, is that he doesn't come off as a robot, he comes off as your Uncle Joe at the party, you know what I mean? And so, he really has to, you know, thread this needle between not making these huge gaffs that could sink his front-runner potential. But also, you know, still seeming like a person or human.

KING: Set the gaffs aside for a minute. What I'm interested in and we'll start to see as he gets into the more retail is, how does he get -- how does he deal with Medicare for All or fix Obamacare? How does he deal with Green New Deal? What specifics? What would you push? How are we going to pay for it?

Elizabeth Warren says let's do this. Here's how she would raise taxes to pay for it. What say you? So let's be just -- let's do the policy before we worry about the gaffs. We'll keep an eye in that event.

[12:34:32] Before we go to break, what you might call a battle of the trolls. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio camping out today at Trump Tower for an even on his New Green Deal, Trump supporters giving him a New York style welcome, riding up and down the elevator, remember those escalators among the signs, worst mayor ever. Politics is fun.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Topping our political radar today, fresh reaction just in to new controversy surrounding freshman democrat Rashida Tlaib and her remarks about the holocaust. The House majority leader, Steny Hoyer, telling CNN in a statement just minutes ago, quote, if you read Representative Tlaib's comments it is clear that President Trump and congressional Republicans are taking them out of context. They must stop, and they owe her an apology.

Another 2020 presidential candidate is promising free college. The former housing secretary, Julian Castro unveiling his education reform plan today. Besides tuition-free public colleges and tech schools, it also calls for free pre-k for three and four-year-olds, higher teacher pay, student loan debt relief, and $150 billion for school infrastructure improvement.

[12:40:03] The Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo abruptly cancelling a visit to Moscow heading instead to Brussels today to discuss what the State Department calls threatening actions and statements by Iran. After meaning with top diplomats from the U.K., Germany, and France, and the secretary general of NATO, Pompeo will then continue on to Sochi, Russia tomorrow as planned for talks with President Putin and other top Russian leaders.

Turning now to the Supreme Court, where we're getting new insight into the mindset of the new justice, Brett Kavanaugh. CNN's Ariane de Vogue joins us now. Ariane, several things at the court today caught your eye. Walk us through it.

ARIANE DE VOGUE, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, we're at the final turn of the court now. They are finished with arguments. And they're furiously writing opinions. And today, we got some interesting glimpses of the future of this newly conservative Supreme Court majority. First of all, with Kavanaugh, today the court allowed a suit against Apple to go forward. It was a 5-4 opinion. But what was interesting there is that Kavanaugh sided with the liberals. That's going to raise some eyebrows in the business community. But it also goes to show how little we know about Kavanaugh. He hasn't been on the bench for the first full term yet.

And so that was an interesting note. Another thing is the death penalty. The Supreme Court has been squabbling in rare public opinions lately about the death penalty with conservatives saying that these prisoners are waiting too long. But today, almost out of the blue we saw Justice Alito, Gorsuch, and Thomas, the far right side of the bench, complaining about how Kavanaugh and Roberts had voted to put one execution on hold.

It was so interesting because Alito was writing and saying that this isn't good for the court whereas Kavanaugh again wrote with Roberts saying here's why we did it. We don't usually see that. And finally, the court in general, we saw a separate case about precedent. And what was interesting is Breyer, the liberal justice in dissent here. He sent a signal that he is worried about this court overturning precedent.

So in the next few weeks, we're going to see a lot more opinions. And today, we got a little bit of a clue about Kavanaugh and the rest of this court as we go forward, John.

KING: It's like reading a mystery book sometimes as we do this. Ariane, appreciate those insights. We'll continue to watch as we get more.

When we come back remember Bob Gates, he was the CIA director, he was the defense secretary. Now, he looks in the mirror and looks at the presidential field and says he's worried.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:47:00] KING: Former Vice President Joe Biden, you see him there. It's his first campaign event in the 2020 cycle. He's in Hampton, New Hampshire. We'll listen in on that, and see if the senator takes some questions from voters as well. As we watch that, one of the things the former vice president has said is watch me on the campaign trail if you're worried about my age. He's 76. Bernie Sanders is 77. President Trump is 72.

Remember Bob Gates, he was the CIA director. He was the defense secretary back in the George W. Bush administration. He is now 75 years old. He told CBS over the weekend, worries him having these older men running for president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERT GATES, FORMER DEFENSE SECRETARY: I think having a president who is somebody our age or older in the case of Senator Sanders is, I think it's problematic. The thought of taking on those responsibilities at this point in my life would be pretty daunting. (END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: That's an interesting perspective from a guy who served in Democratic and Republican administrations. He's known as the Republican obviously, thought about running for president himself several years back. Is that going to weigh with voters?

VISER: I think it does. And I think Gates and Biden have a history here.

KING: Right.

VISER: Robert Gates wrote in his book that Joe Biden has been wrong on every foreign policy and national security issue for the past four decades. So I think there's -- he may not be pre-disposed to vote for Biden regardless of his age. But he is hitting upon a point that Democratic voters speak to a lot, you know, which is a generational change. They want somebody different to challenge President Trump in an insight, some new energy into the party and Biden doesn't do that.

COLLINS: But he seemed to be questioning whether or not they can handle the duties of office at this age. And of course, if you look at Joe Biden, Donald Trump, and Bernie Sanders, all of them are actually pretty invigorating. They are not, you know, very like low- key candidates any of them or in office, the President.

But I do think more of the question about what the age of the candidates is what views they represent. It's more of a generational issue, not whether or not they can actually perform the duties of the office.

KING: We'll see. We'll see as it plays out. Again, as we watch the vice president there, there's some other numbers out of New Hampshire today that involve the current president, the current president. If you're going to challenge an incumbent, you go to New Hampshire, right, that's where Pat Buchanan ran and lost to George H.W. Bush. But he did bruise the incumbent back in the '92 election.

H.W. Bush went on to lose. Here's a new Monmouth Poll on the Republican race. Will support President Trump, 72 percent, will support the former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld, 12 percent, possible Weld 14 percent, other or neither, 1 percent and undecided 2 percent. So nationally the president's support among Republicans is in the high 80s so he's a little weaker, if that's the right word in New Hampshire, but 72 percent, that's not exactly a huge opening for Governor Weld or anybody else.

OLORUNNIPA: Yes. It's been pretty clear for a several months now that there's not a big opening for someone to challenge President Trump in a primary unless we hear from someone else besides the people who have raised their hands so far. I think that's part of the reason you haven't seen so many people like the governor of Maryland, Larry Hogan, sort not raise their hand and decide to run against President Trump because he is relatively popular within his party, not popular nationally, but within the Republican Party which has really become the Trump Party. [12:50:08] There's not a very big opening for anyone to really challenge him and take him on. And he's shown as he did in 2015 and 2016 when he was able to defeat 16 candidates, that he is a formidable candidate within the Republican primary.

KING: Chainsaw. The Twitter account is a chainsaw.

Again, as we watch Biden, you wrote part of a piece of "The Washington Post" this weekend that gets, what about all the Obama people who know Biden very well, what do they think? And there's a split. There's a split. There are some who are all in. There are a lot of others waiting on the sidelines. Here's one of the things that was mentioned in your piece.

I think the question that we all have in our minds from an electoral standpoint is what do two 75-year-olds fighting against each look like, said one former campaign and White House aide who spoke on the condition of anonymity to preserve relations. Yes, in case Joe Biden is the nominee, you don't want him mad at you. Does that scream the future? Does that scream contrast? Is that an age question about Joe Biden or just more, you know, if Donald Trump is in his 70s, do you want that younger, fresher face? Like Obama was, the candidate of hope and change?

VISER: I think part of it is an age question. But I think part of it too is the Obama crew, you know, from 2008 in particular, they saw a generational candidate, an exciting and historic candidate, and almost in their DNA is to look for somebody like that bad. And that's really why he was picked to be the running mate is because he sort of fit the puzzle that they were trying to do electorally.

So I think now, they're looking at Biden. And they don't have any ill will toward him. They personally like him a lot. But they're having trouble at least getting fully on board with the Biden candidacy. So they're intrigued at the moment with Pete Buttigieg or Kamala Harris or Beto O'Rourke. Before, maybe they come home and they help Joe Biden in the end. But right now, there's a lot of mixed feelings among the Obama crowd.

KING: Let's watch as it plays out. Up next for us, another campaign, a woman whose name we never should have learned decides to run for Congress.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:56:33] KING: Valerie Plame wants to come back to Washington as a congresswoman. The former covert CIA operative was at the center of a Washington scandal 15 years ago when the Bush administration official blew her cover by leaking her name to the journalist Robert Novak.

Plame left the CIA back in 2005. Since then, she's kept busy writing spy novels among other things. She lives in New Mexico now. And her congressman just decided he will run for Senate so Plame says she's decided to try her hand in politics running as a Democrat.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) VALERIE PLAME (D-NM), CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: When I moved her from Washington, D.C. over ten years ago, I immediately threw myself into my community. I've lived all over the world. No place has felt like home except where I am now, Santa Fe, Northern New Mexico. What people in my community are concerned about is access to health care, quality health care, and the unbelievable price of prescription drugs.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: See how she does as a candidate but she has the Democratic playbook there. She's been studying clearly.

CAYGLE: Surely, yes. But, you know, she's kind of the last person Democrats want running in the seat or winning primary because it's a very safe Democratic seat so everyone in the primary will win the race most likely. You know, she re-tweeted a couple years ago, very anti- semitic article. She doubled down on that before backtracking. And House Democrats are already under the microscope for comments by two of their freshmen including Tlaib. They just don't want to keep carrying this in the race.

KING: And to that point. That came up in the interview this morning where she tries to say, sorry.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PLAME: I stupidly did not read the rest article. And when I did, I was really horrified. It's anti-semitic. That has no place at any time, anywhere. I'm embarrassed by that whole episode. I shouldn't -- it was that, I should not have been anywhere near social media or a computer at that time in my life.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: It wasn't just one time. She's trying to make the case. It was right after she had to leave the CIA, it goes a lot of stress, a lot of anger, a lot of termone in her life at that point and that, you know, she should be forgiven because of that. But I want to get into politics. To your point, this is an issue anyway. It's a current events issue anyway because of other events. Welcome to the rough and tumble.

OLORUNNIPA: Yes. We'll see if Democrats decide to sort of be hands off in this race or if they decide to sort of meddle in the primary and get someone in there who can challenge her. Obviously, the Democrats want to have a very sort of unified approach to politics in this age of Trump where they're able to sort of unify in their antipathy to President Trump. But on other issues including Israel and Palestinian issues, there has been some disunity.

So it would be interesting to see if Speaker Pelosi and other Democrats decide to not meddle in this election or if they decided to put someone up against Valerie Plame that could potentially beat her and join the caucus.

KING: You have one other candidate already, a Santa Fe lawyer Teresa Leger and also Laura Montoya's name gets mentioned a lot. She's the Sandoval County Treasurer there. To look at the -- if you want to look at the district you mentioned it. Let me just bring this up here and take a peek at it. If you win the primary, you're going to win the seat most likely, especially in a presidential year, 63 percent, 62 percent, 61 percent for the current congressman. So it's relatively safe Democratic district.

VISER: And heading into the next election year, Democrats kind of want everything to be on board. They want everything positive heading into, you know, maintaining control of the House. So anything that distracts from that I think is a bad sign for Democrats.

COLLINS: She made some interesting comments. She was asked about the Attorney General Bill Barr saying that the Trump campaign was spied on and whether or not she agreed with that. And she said, she didn't, she thought that Bill Barr was playing loose with the facts there and talked about the high standard it is for an American citizen to be surveilled in that way, they've been talking about. So she made some pretty strong remarks pushing back on the attorney general there.

[13:00:07] KING: Let's see if she likes the new world of politics. See you back here this time tomorrow.