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INSIDE POLITICS

Black Voters Overwhelmingly Voted for Clinton in 2016; Merkel on EU Elections, Relationship With Trump; Klobuchar's Team Responds to Meghan McCain Criticism; 2020 Campaigns Name-Drop John McCain; Biden Returns to Campaign Trail After 10-Day Hiatus. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired May 28, 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: In the New York Post -- (INAUDIBLE), excuse me in 1989 talking about bringing back the death penalty, bring back our police. There are roving bands of wild criminals in our neighborhoods.

So, you're right, the president has a more recent achievement that he can, along with the economy, try to sell to the African-American community. He also has a history that many people would say is not so kind.

OLIVIER KNOX, CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, SIRIUSXM: Yes, Democrats have talked about this a long time. They called for the death penalty for the central park case. And this is before they were exonerated. So he's got his own record on this stuff.

It is fascinating that -- you said he marches to his own (INAUDIBLE) but we know that o lot of times when he's tweeting is because he's, you know, watching Fox and Friends on DVR or whatever and he responds directly to a segment or comment on that. But in this case, yes, it's Pennsylvania, and he's more than happy to sort of sow that little division. You know, all these Democrats have had to come in and apologize for something.

You know, people have gone after Kamala Harris for her time as a prosecutor and Amy Klobuchar. So this is not -- this is something that the Democrats are sorting as the president is sort of fueling the fire.

KING: And the question is if you're President Trump and his campaign is already trying this through Facebook ads targeting -- and other digital ads targeting African-Americans, targeting Latinos mostly on economic issues right now. If you're President Trump, can you improve these numbers?

If you go back, this is 2016 election numbers, among black voters, this is the post-election poll by Pew. Hillary Clinton got 91 percent, Donald Trump six percent. He got 28 percent of Hispanic voters. If you think back to George W. Bush's, the Republican to win before that, you know, you've got to get this up above. If you're President Trump you get that up above 10, you get that to 12, you start to -- you know, get into the teens, then you're doing business in a state like Pennsylvania, in a state like Michigan and some of those big electoral battlegrounds if you can get into double digits among African-Americans and start moving towards the teens.

JULIE HIRSCHFELD DAVIS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Or even if you don't move that split overall, if you just tamp down enthusiasm among young voters, African-American voters and they simply just don't show up in the numbers that they did when Barack Obama won, then that could be enough, and that's your path. And Trump's strategy tends to be more about that, tends to be tamping down enthusiasm for his opponent as opposed to broadening his own coalition.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: And he also seldom talks about President Obama. President Trump occasionally will, but not as much as all as he has Hillary Clinton. I've always thought that was one of the reasons why perhaps he does want to get his African-American support up. Of course, one way to alienate folks is to start going after the former president. So that's the risk there, but he talks about Joe Biden much more than Obama.

KING: And he had this chance for a weekend that was -- he met the new emperor, golf with the prime minister, deliberately said we're putting off trade tensions until July. It could have just had a weekend of good pictures, instead, he wanted to push this button.

SEUNG MIN KIM, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Exactly. I mean, you do see it constantly where it could just be a very easy kind of PR-managed moment or even when he has legitimate good news like the economy, he's constantly standing on his own message with his own destruction.

KING: But he thinks it works. He doesn't view it that way. In our way, it's like why don't you just take the nice free ride of the nice happy weekend. He views it as constantly being in the mix, the chaos.

KNOX: Yes. But he also stepped on his own foreign policy the moment here too by playing down these missile launches by North Korea saying he -- you know, oh, it bothered my advisers. Yes, his national security adviser who said that they violated U.N. Security Council resolutions, but it didn't bother me at all.

You know, it bothered his host. His host called them violations of the U.N. Security Council. His host, the Japanese prime minister obviously is a little more concerned about short-range ballistic missiles than say the United States is.

ZELENY: Right in the neighborhood.

KNOX: Yes.

KING: It the bothers military commanders, too, who have U.S. troops in both Japan and South Korea who don't like those missile launches.

Up next for us, the German Chancellor Angela Merkel answers whether she would call President Trump a friend.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:37:55] KING: Topping our political radar today, House Democrats are expected to try again this afternoon to pass a stalled $19 billion disaster relief bill even though the full House is still in recess this week. If it happens it would have to be by unanimous consent with a few lawmakers attending a brief pro forma session but it takes only one person to object to block the bill. That's what happened Friday when one Republican objected in part over the bill's lack of funding for a bothered wall. That measure has already passed the Senate and President Trump has said if it gets to his desk he will sign it.

The Trump administration launching a new effort to downplay and discredit climate science. That according to a detailed analysis in today's New York Times. The newspaper says various government agencies will cease reporting on the long-term effects of the warming planet. For example, the U.S. Geological Survey will only use computer models to predict the impact of fossil fuels through the year 2040 instead of looking to the end of the century when the effects could be much worse if pollution continues and other steps are not taken to combat climate change.

A critical moment in Israeli politics. Benjamin Netanyahu has until tomorrow to piece together a coalition government to ensure his fifth term as prime minister. He's struggling to make a deal with the right wing, far right, and ultra-orthodox Jewish parties that will align with his Likud party which came out on top at last month's election. Failure to meet tomorrow's deadline would mean, a new government could force a new election.

President Trump tweeting, "Hoping things will work out with Israel's coalition formation and Bibi and I can continue to make the alliance between America and Israel stronger than ever. A lot more to do." So far though, the president's intervention not is not helping.

There is work to be done. That's the message German Chancellor Angela Merkel had in an exclusive interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour where the chancellor addressed everything from the disturbing rise of anti-Semitism and measures being taken to combat it. The change in E.U. political landscape following weekend elections which saw Merkel's party cede some ground to the Green Party as the Greens nearly doubled their seats in part due to high turnout across Europe. Merkel also responding to questions about her often contentious relationship with President Trump.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: You've been a bit of a punching bag for President Trump. He's said some quite strong things including, you know, your relationship with Russia and all the rest of it.

[12:40:03] I just wanted to show you this picture because that went viral around the world. Do you consider him a friend?

ANGELA MERKEL, GERMAN CHANCELLOR (through translator): I think we have close cooperation which simply results from problems we've had to resolve together. And this picture also shows that we are indeed grappling with an issue. The president has his opinions, I have mine. And very often we also find common ground. If not, we have to keep on talking and negotiating.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: So that was a not really, right?

DAVIS: I think that was a not really.

KNOX: That's a reply, not an answer.

DAVIS: I mean, Merkel is such a fascinating character. She among western leaders has been the constant. She was here for the end of Bush's presidency throughout Obama's presidency, now she's here for Trump. There's been upheaval throughout Europe and so she is the one that really is the glue holding these western democracies together.

She also just doesn't suffer fools. If Trump thought when he came into office that he was going to be able to push her around and I think he probably did a bit, he has certainly learned that that is not the case.

KING: And she has not been happy with his undermining of the NATO alliance. He has repeatedly criticized her migration policy, in other sense calling her weak and worse. It's a fascinating relationship.

ZELENY: It's a fascinating relationship and they'll see each other again next month. Look, I think it's a clear -- Julie said he's worked with -- or she's worked with three U.S. presidents. I think if Christiane would have asked to rank the order I'm not sure she would have said three but that might have been her answer.

KING: OK. They will see each other soon at the G2, right?

ZELENY: Exactly.

KING: Every White House correspondent's favorite trip.

ZELENY: It's a great trip.

KING: Isn't that right?

DAVIS: A can't-miss trip.

KING: Up next, Meghan McCain hits 2020 Democrat and says leave my father's legacy and memory off the campaign trail.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:46:23] KING: Today, Senator Amy Klobuchar's staff says the senator was, quote, simply sharing a memory about the late Senator John McCain and that she, of course, has a deep respect for the McCain family. This comes after McCain's daughter, Meghan, tweeted asking for Senator Klobuchar to, quote, leave my father's legacy and memory out of presidential politics. This all started when Klobuchar told a story in the campaign trail this weekend. She says that the late Senator McCain kept reciting the names of dictators to her when they were seated side by side at the Trump inauguration. It is interesting to have the late senator's daughter poke a Democrat here. We've seen the pictures, was seated next to him at the Trump inauguration, they're clearly leaning over and talking on several occasions. Was this story offensive?

ZELENY: I think it sort of strange. I mean, Senator Klobuchar traveled extensively and often with Senator McCain so she was friendly with him, she knew him. Of course, Senator Klobuchar was, you know, perhaps trying to, you know, express to the voters in Iowa there, you know, that she knew McCain, she was trying to, you know, sort of furnish her own credentials perhaps. But I don't see how that's offensive in any way.

If John McCain would be alive watching this campaign unfold right now, what would he be saying day by day? So, I thought it was a little odd of Meghan McCain but clearly, she is showing that she, you know, wants to -- or she's not afraid of getting involved herself in this -- in the dialogue.

KING: Although she is a cast member of "The View" obviously.

ZELENY: Right.

KING: One of the cast members of "The View" and she didn't say anything about this today. It could have been an opportunity if she wanted to continue this conversation.

DAVIS: It's interesting what Klobuchar did, I remember -- I'm sure Jeff remembers this too in the early days of Barack Obama's 2008 campaign, he would often talk about his travels with Republican senators on CODELs to try to burnish his own credentials and to try to show that he was willing to work across the aisle. You don't actually see that in Democratic presidential politics especially in this primary that much. The idea of working across the aisle in some cases is actually frowned upon.

Klobuchar is one of those exceptions who does want to show that she has relationships. Joe Biden, of course, is the other notable exception.

KING: And to that point though, one time, sometimes it does come up and it's interesting that it is him with John McCain where several Democrats have mentioned John McCain as they try to make their points. But sometimes to your point, it's not about bipartisanship, it's about Trump and healthcare.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: That early morning hour in your United States capitol when the late great John McCain walked in and with that thumb pointed it down and said no, enough.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: John McCain was a valuable ally.

BETO O'ROURKE (D-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He showed civility and a commitment to service in the country above party that is absolutely missing at the highest levels of power today. So, God bless John McCain.

SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He maligns John McCain. That is a man of fear.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: At the beginning and the end there, more of an attack on Trump if you will in mentioning.

KNOX: Yes, and Trump refers to that vote but doesn't usually call out McCain by name. I'm interested in the fact that most of these Democrats if they were voting on a piece of legislation, would probably not vote with John McCain on many of them.

KIM: And what's interesting, too, is even in polling, you saw among Democratic voters, John McCain was actually more popular among Democrats than he was among Republicans, particularly after that thumbs down vote on repealing the Affordable Care Act.

KING: And Meghan McCain objected to what Senator Klobuchar said and we'll see if that conversation continues. Cindy McCain has been silent on this, the late senator's wife. There were some questions when Joe Biden got in the race, there was some chatter whether she's going to endorse Joe Biden. The last time she has spoken out about presidential politics, this was April 24th tweet where she said, "Joe Biden is a wonderful man and a dear friend of the McCain family. However, I have no intention of getting involved in presidential politics. And then on May 9th to the Washington Post, she said, "I think what's best for me is to not just stay out of it but make my own self happy. And presidential politics is combat."

So Meghan McCain is joining, Cindy McCain at least for now just trying to say no, thank you.

[12:50:05] DAVIS: And there were some questions -- I think that the reason that this came out is because Biden and John McCain and their families are incredibly close. They've bought gone through these horrific personal experiences with cancer, and so they've really bonded not about politics but about their families and about these health issues that they had. And so there was some question about whether that closeness would translate into politics.

I think Cindy McCain is saying something that actually is quite healthy, that you can have personal relationships and they don't have to necessarily also be political always.

KING: But if you think about that, that is a time that's gone, disappeared, and that Biden and McCain think about partitioning Iraq, and things like that. They, boom, in the Senate over many foreign policy issues. They were on the opposite sides but they were able to -- when the committee hearing was over, the speeches were over, they were friends and then later bonded over the personal troubles of the family. But the president has from time to time, you're right, sometimes he's been told if asked, begged, not to use the name, but sometimes he can't resist.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And I gave him the kind of funeral that he wanted. I didn't get a thank you. That's OK. We sent him on the way, but I wasn't a fan of John McCain.

John McCain went thumbs down. He did the Republican Party a tremendous disservice and he did the nation a tremendous disservice.

We had one man that after campaigning for eight years, he decided to go thumbs down at 2:00 in the morning. That's all right, but we'll end up with even better.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: And we know that Meghan McCain has objected repeatedly to that calling it classless and tasteless and more.

ZELENY: As she had, and she's also said it's very sad that he can't sort of spend time with his own family and talk about positive things. So look, I think John McCain, there's no question whoever brings him up, perhaps both sides will bring him up. He is going to be one of the many towering figures, sort of hanging over this election. But if he was here, if he was watching, he would want to be involved I think here. So I think his memory will be in either case.

KING: He said he enjoyed the arena. That was the way will put it. Enjoyed being in the arena.

Up next for us, the early frontrunner back in the public eye. What's the campaign strategy behind Vice President Biden's low profile?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:56:43] KING: Today, Joe Biden back on the campaign trail in Texas. This after a deliberately low profile following that kickoff rally 10 days ago in Philadelphia. Team Biden believes a lighter schedule focused for now more on fundraising is something the frontrunner can afford. But there are Democrats with doubts. J.D. Scholten lost the close race to Iowa GOP Congressman Steve King last year. he's a rising star in the Iowa state party.

Of Biden, he told this to our Jeff Zeleny, quote, he's a frontrunner with quotation marks. His going to have to earn it. Adding, his name is a bigger presence than his campaign right now. They can't just bank off of people knowing him. That's a bit of an ouch.

ZELENY: It is and it's a sense of (INAUDIBLE) when I talked to him yesterday, and he is not with most of the Democrats who are running. And it's not a diss on Joe Biden's candidacy but he said, look, people are going to have to see more of them. And just a reflection of it is much more of a wide-open contest to Democratic voters than it is to strategists and pollsters.

He's like, look, don't believe the polls and history would show that that is accurate. But what the Biden campaign is obviously trying to do is, you know, raise some money now, prepare him for those big debates one month away here. And there's no upside at this point of having him go all across these early voting states. At some point though he'll have to.

DAVIS: He will have to. I think a lot of what you're seeing most candidates do right now is they are literally introducing themselves to voters. A lot of voters just haven't heard these names before this year. Joe Biden doesn't have to do that right now, but if he's still -- and I don't think he will, keeping up this kind of light schedule as we look into sort of late summer, early fall into the winter, that would be a problem for him. He is going to have to go out and earn it because I don't think Democratic voters want this primary to be a coronation.

KING: And his calling card right now is I'm the adult who can beat Trump. If you're sort of sheltered and not out there taking it from voters in town hall, taking questions. We'll see how he does in the debate. That could didn't that, right? The idea that he's the strongest candidate.

KNOX: His calling card I would argue is that more Democrats identify as Obama Democrats than any other sub-category, progressive or Democratic socialist or what have you. So in some ways, that quote knocks one of his biggest strength. Everybody knows who he is, the man with like three percent of Americans claim they didn't know who was in 2016 but he's going after one of his obvious strengths which is, yes, name recognition. No, he doesn't have to say I'm the mayor of South Bend, (INAUDIBLE). And people associate him closely with -- still, associate him closely with Obama.

KING: But he has to take voters through the transition. We talked earlier about the crime bill. But sure, yes, I was -- I've been around a long time, I have a lot of experience, I've made some mistakes. All (INAUDIBLE) raise your hands and go through that evolution.

Their take is they can raise money first and they'll have time to do that. Is there a risk?

KIM: I mean, voters in Iowa and New Hampshire particularly who are so used to seeing all the presidential candidates up close are going to demand much more access sooner rather than later. But I think his sort of shelteredness is part of the reason why Biden hasn't had major gaffs or missteps so far as -- since he entered the campaign because he hasn't given, you know, himself the opportunities to do that.

KING: And the others have been slowly getting around, whether it's Bill de Blasio or Kamala Harris or others on the crime bill and some other issues and Bernie Sanders more than others starting to poke a little bit.

ZELENY: Without a doubt. I mean, the question here is, Joe Biden wants to be able people to focus on the general election. He said I can beat Donald Trump, and a lot of Democrats want to hear him say that, but he'll have to show that at some point. And they know this, this is no surprise to Joe Biden. He knows he has to earn it and work for but they would like to put it off a little bit if they can. KING: Then work that way. Democratic frontrunners tend to get challenged. Hillary Clinton did in 2016 and survived. Hillary Clinton did in 2008 and she did not.

All right, thanks for joining us in the INSIDE POLITICS. See you back here this time tomorrow. A busy news day. Stay right there. Brianna Keilar starts right now.

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