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Auto Industry Warning New Tariffs on Mexico Could be Devastating for Families, Workers; Trump Campaign Strategic Communications Director Mark Lotter Discusses Mexico, Trade, Immigration, China Trade War; Missouri Will No Longer Allow Legal Abortion Unless a Judge Intervenes; Gun Violence Front & Center for Democrats in 2020 Campaigns. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired May 31, 2019 - 11:30   ET



[11:30:00] FRANK PEZZOLLA, OWNER, FRANK'S GMC: If you're a consumer looking to buy one of these nice SUVs, how would you feel about a 5 percent increase in price? I mean, it's going to be tough. A 25 percent increase would probably be disaster. I don't know how we would deal with that.

We have 115 employees that depend on us and depend on selling these vehicles. So I am concerned. And I don't want to see them affected in a bad way.


VANESSA YURKEVICH, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: This comes after a tough year for U.S. automakers who have had slumping auto sales, record layoffs, and also those tariffs on aluminum and steel.

And, Kate, one auto industry analyst is warning that if these tariffs do go into effect, U.S. vehicles sold here in the United States could go up by about $1,300 per vehicle. And, Kate, that is no small fee for the American consumer -- Kate?


Vanessa, thanks so much. Great to get perspective on the ground. I really appreciate it.

Joining me right now for more perspective, director of strategic communications for the Trump 2020 campaign, Marc Lotter.

Marc, thanks for coming in.


BOLDUAN: The president said tariffs are going to set in on Mexico if the country doesn't stop illegal migrants from making their way to the United States. What does he actually want Mexico to do? What is the position of the campaign on this? That it's now Mexico should stop all illegal immigration before -- to stop the tariffs from setting in? LOTTER: Well, it's the position of the White House and of the

president that Mexico do more. It's important that we remember that the 100,000-plus migrants coming up to our country illegally, mostly from Central America, have to go through Mexico first to get here.

Mexico is very strict --

BOLDUAN: But what is more? That's one thing I don't get.

LOTTER: -- on immigration laws and they could enforce those laws.

BOLDUAN: I don't get what is more, though. What is -- that's not clear right now.

LOTTER: Well, right now, they can do more to secure their own southern border to stop the migrants coming from Central America through Mexico to eventually transit to the United States. They could stop more.

I mean, we have seen the story --


BOLDUAN: Is it clear to you how to measure it?

LOTTER: Well, we can work on doing that. We also just need to see the activity. We saw just earlier this week, 1,000 people cross from Juarez, Mexico, into El Paso, the single biggest migrant in one day.

It's impossible to think Mexico didn't see 1,000 people amassing on the border before they crossed other and they didn't do anything to stop it, or they didn't do anything to break up that group in the 1,000-mile trek they made from Central America to the United States.

So there's things that Mexico can do. We want to see them do more. That's what the president is saying.

Look, for too long, American foreign policy has been based on pleas and a prayer. Please do something, and we pray you're going to honor and do it. That's not what happened. And this is a president who believes on doing it with action and having there be consequences if you're not working in good faith to help us.

BOLDUAN: Actions, and then what are the real consequences? Is it the position then on the president and the campaign that weakening the Mexico economy through these tariffs, which could go even higher if they set in, is going to somehow help stop illegal immigration?


BOLDUAN: Because that's what -- a good economy here and a bad economy there's what has driven a lot of people north.

LOTTER: Ultimately, I think what Mexico needs to understand is how serious the president is about dealing with the national security, the immigration crisis that's taking place. They know that they can do more. That is within their power to be able to do more. The president's talked about it in the past --


BOLDUAN: I hear you, but do you accept that? Will you accept that?


BOLDUAN: Will you accept that, though, Marc? Will you accept -- is it the position of the campaign that you believe that a worse-off Mexico economy is going to somehow stop the flow of illegal immigration north?

LOTTER: What I'm hoping is Mexico will use the two weeks before these tariffs come into effect or they work quickly to have them removed so we don't have to continue to escalate this and we can work to stop the crisis of illegal immigration coming across the border.


LOTTER: This is entirely in Mexico's hands. They can decide when the tariffs start, if the tariffs start --

BOLDUAN: That's not -- that's not --

LOTTER: -- how high they go and when they come off.

BOLDUAN: That does not seem to be the position of Republicans, more than one Republican. Republicans like Chuck Grassley, who largely stand with the president on many issues, he said, "Trade policy and border security are separate issues. This is a misuse of presidential authority."

How is Chuck Grassley wrong?

LOTTER: I have a lot of respect for Chairman Grassley, but in this case, we have seen too often in the past that requests from the United States to our allies and neighborhoods around the world in dealing with something have been agreed to verbally and not backed up with actual action.

This is a president who believes in dealing from a position of strength. He understands this is something that Mexico, they understand now how serious he is about this.

This is what those emergency economic powers are designed to do --


[11:35:05] LOTTER -- so a president of any party can act in accordance with national security, national interests, especially when our economic interests are challenged.

BOLDUAN: This is an important thing.

Let's talk about the other trade war, the trade war with China. The president says all the time that China is paying for the tariffs. U.S. consumers and businesses are not getting hit because of it. We know factually that is not true.

But I recently spoke with a farmer in Ohio. He voted for the president in 2016. His name is Christopher Gibbs. This is what he says now.


CHRISTOPHER GIBBS, FARMER: Well, we're in a freefall out here in agriculture. We have seen 30 percent decrease in prices of soybeans.

Why the farming community has to take one in the shorts just so that the president can have a talking point and be tough on China just is a little beyond me.


BOLDUAN: His name is Christopher Gibbs. He's from Ohio. You have now lost his vote. What do you say to him?

LOTTER: Well, I would tell him that, in using his own terms, American farmers, American workers have been taking it in the shorts, to use his phrase, for too long, and too many presidents of both parties in the past have promised to fix it but not done anything.

This is one of those issues that, long term, our economy will be stronger when we can get China to the table to deal with the unfair trade practices, the theft of intellectual property, and so many other practices that have been widely condemned by presidents and leaders of both sides.

And what I would say to him is that while we're dealing with these issues, we're doing it from a very strong economy.

The Chinese are being forced to lower their prices, to adjust for these tariffs. They are the ones having to subsidize their state-run industries to a greater extent, to try to offset it.

We see it in the numbers. The inflation issues are still not a problem. Prices are not going up faster than paychecks. So the American people can deal with this from a position of strength.

And hopefully, China will work with us in good faith to be able to bring a resolution to this so we can deal with both countries fairly, reciprocally, and doing it where our tech technology is not stolen from us --


LOTTER: -- and then being used as an economic weapon against us.

BOLDUAN: I hear that's your position, but Christopher Gibbs will say you're wrong. He said he's in a freefall right now and, if it continues on much longer, he doesn't know what's going to happen. I will definitely have him back on and hear what he has to say about that and see if that wins back his vote.

Let's continue the conversation, though, Marc. Thanks for coming in.

Marc Lotter from the campaign.

LOTTER: Thanks, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, Marc.

Coming up, a crucial deadline just hours away as Missouri's only abortion clinic fights to keep its license. Could the state become the first in decades to no longer provide access to legal abortion?

We'll be right back.


[11:42:26] BOLDUAN: Today is the day that a judge will decide if today is the last day that legal abortion is available in the entire state of Missouri. And that would make it the first state without legal abortion services since the landmark Roe v. Wade decision in 1973.

The Planned Parenthood clinic there has a license set to expire at midnight. Planned Parenthood has taken the state to court, claiming that the state health department is unlawfully holding up the renewal. The state claims this is on the clinic. That the doctors there refusing to be interviewed as part of a department audit.

We're expecting a ruling from the judge in St. Louis, who is now taking this up. We're expecting it today.

Joining me right now is the president and CEO of Planned Parenthood, Dr. Leana Wen.

Doctor, thank you for being here.

DR. LEANA WEN, PRESIDENT & CEO, PLANNED PARENTHOOD: Thank you for having me on this day that's a true state of emergency for women across America.

BOLDUAN: What are you expecting to hear from the judge today?

WEN: We're hopeful that the judge will agree with us, that what the state of Missouri is doing is illegal. They are weaponizing the licensing process and using that process as a back doorway to shut down our health center in St. Louis, which is the last remaining health center in the entire state of Missouri that provides abortion care.

BOLDUAN: The governor of Missouri just spoke out yesterday on this, saying that this isn't about politics. It's about a health department audit and conditions at this specific clinic.

Let me play for you the governor.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MICHAEL PARSON, (R), MISSOURI GOVERNOR: This is not an issue about the pro-life issue at all. This is about a standard of care for women in the state of Missouri. Whether it's this clinic or any other clinic or any other hospital, they should meet the same standards. They know what the standards are. They know they were deficient. They had deficiencies. They've had two months to correct that and to abide by the law. That's all we're asking for.


BOLDUAN: He makes it sound like it's a simple thing and a simple fix. That's all they're asking for, he says. What do you say to him?

WEN: He is simply not telling the truth. What's happened over the last decade is the state of Missouri has imposed regulation upon regulation on our health center that's a totally different level of standard than to any other health center in Missouri.

And these are regulations that are not based in medical fact or medical necessity. Things like mandating that hallways have to be extra wide or even forcing women to undergo unnecessary invasive multiple pelvic exams.

We have complied with all of these regulations, but the most recent one is to specifically interrogate nine doctors, including doctors who don't work at Planned Parenthood, to potentially subject them to criminal prosecution, which, by the way, is a trend that we're seeing across the country.

[11:45:10] Let me ask quick, Doctor, on this. If the clinic services are so needed, why draw the line here? Why not go again to another extra length to keep it open and comply?

WEN: We are doing everything that we possibly can for our patients in Missouri. The problem is that that goalpost keeps on changing.

And we should make it clear that this is what the governor's intention has been all along. Just a week ago, he signed a bill into law in Missouri that is one of the most extreme bans in the country, with no exceptions for rape or incest, that puts doctors in jail for up to 15 years for providing abortion care. He's not waiting until the bill or the law can be implemented. He's doing, using this other process now to shut us down and to ban all safe legal abortion in Missouri.

And we should be clear, too, that banning abortion is not going to stop abortion. But it will stop safe, legal abortion.


WEN: And the cost will be women's lives.

BOLDUAN: Well, today is the day that the judge will either decide and step in or the license is set to expire at midnight.

Doctor, thank you for coming in. Let's see what happens. Coming up for us, it feels like a constant conversation without any

real solution. But now that many 2020 candidates are pushing for gun safety measures, will anything change? And when? We're going to ask the founder of Moms Demand Action. She's here. That's next.

But first, a woman is making it her mission to help victims of domestic violence forced to leave their homes behind. I want you to meet "CNN Hero" Staci Alonzo.



STACI ALONZO, CNN HERO: Noah's Animal House is built right on the campus of the women's shelters. So that women fleeing an abusive relationship don't have to choose between leaving and leaving their pets behind.

We have had clients from 21 states. They're driving thousands of miles. That tells you the need and that tells you the power of the relationship between the women and the pet.

When you watch the woman come through the doors and then they see their pet.


ALONZO: And everything is right in the world for a little while.


BOLDUAN: To learn more about Staci or nominate your own hero, go to right now.

We'll be right back.


[11:52:10] BOLDUAN: The gun debate is front and center of the 2020 campaign. Democratic candidates really across the board vowing to fight rising gun violence across the country but are voters getting the answers that they want?

Joining me right now is Shannon Watts, the founder of the gun safety group Moms Demand Action, which was created after the Sandy Hook massacre in 2012. She's also the author of a new book called "Fight Like a Mother, How a Grassroots Movement Took on the Gun Lobby and Why Women Will Change the World."

Shannon, thank are for being here.


BOLDUAN: First, policy -- first, politics and then policy, if you will. You have combined efforts about Michael Bloomberg's group. And I read

you're sending an 18-part questionnaire to all presidential candidates, kind of getting their positions on gun safety measures that you support. What do you want to do from that, and what do you want to hear from them?

WATTS: We want to hear where they stand on the issues of gun violence prevention, that they support things like background checks, disarming domestic abusers, passing a national red flag law. But we also want to know, how are they prioritizing this issue. And there's lots of ways to be innovative so we're looking forward to the answers.

BOLDUAN: When you get the answers, no matter what, and I'm always struck by this, there's a lot of people in the country that think, no matter what the answers are to that, and even no matter how many times you say it, they think that no matter what the step, is you're eventually going to be taking away their guns.

You write about this in your book. You know this. You've talked to people about this. You've lived in Indiana and Colorado, for goodness sakes.

WATTS: Right.

BOLDUAN: How do you convince them otherwise?

WATTS: Many of our volunteers are gun owners or married to gun owners. This is not about eradicating the Second Amendment. It's about restoring the responsibilities that go along with gun rights.

And the reason that we have a 25-times higher come homicide rate than any peer nation is because we've allowed gun lobbyists to write our nation's gun laws.

BOLDUAN: Are you seeing success, I don't know, maybe not on the federal level but on a state level and interpersonal level?

WATTS: Everyone is waiting for this cathartic movement in Congress. It will happen. We have to build our power in statehouses and board rooms, which we're doing. Last year, we passed new laws in 20 states, nine of which were signed by Republican governors. The NRA has not passed its priority legislation, even though Donald Trump --


BOLDUAN: You sound hopeful.

WATTS: I'm so hope. If I wouldn't wake up every day and do this work as a volunteer if we weren't winning.

BOLDUAN: But there are many a disheartening moment. Look at another mass shooting that happens all the time it must be.

And that gets to kind of the point of your book. It's called, "Fight Like a Mother," and throughout, as I was reading it, you make the argument that moms are uniquely suited and situated to be, as you wrote in the book, the best political activists on earth. Why the is that?

WATTS: You know, moms come to the table with certain levers of power they can pull. We're the majority of the voting electorate and make the spending decisions for our families. And those same skills, negotiating and managing budgets, they translate into being excellent activists.

I actually think moms are the secret sauce to advertising to -- to activism in this country. And we're the yin to the gun lobby's yang.

[11:55:08] BOLDUAN: It's been almost seven years since Sandy Hook. What's the biggest lesson when you have not seen the progress that maybe -- that you thought was going to be so easy and common sense in your view right afterwards? That hasn't happened. What's the biggest lesson that you have learn?

WATTS: We had to build a movement. That did not exist when Sandy Hook happened. As a result, we're now -- it's the David-versus- Goliath fight and we're winning it. In the midterm elections, we've outspent and outmaneuvered the NRA. The lesson I've learned that when you use your voice and your vote, you can effect change.

BOLDUAN: Let's see what happens in this election.

Shannon, thanks for coming in. Really enjoyed your book.

WATTS: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Thank you so much.

We'll be right back.