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Trump's 2020 Kick Off Tonight; Trump's 2016 Promises; Iran's President Talks About Their Enemy's Plots. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired June 18, 2019 - 12:00   ET



[12:00:18] JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to INSIDE POLITICS. I'm John King. Thank you for sharing your day with us.

President Trump ready to officially launch his re-election campaign. And so far it sounds like a 2016 sequel. New tweets in advance of a big rally tonight promising a roundup of millions of illegal immigrants, bashing Europe and exaggerating the crowd size.

Plus 1,000 additional U.S. troops headed to the Middle East as tensions with Iran escalate. Russia and China urge calm. The top Democrat in Congress echoes the dim White House view of the Iranian regime, but warns the president, don't be reckless or rash.

And the markets rally after President Trump says he had a good conversation with China's president about trade and that the two leaders will meet later this month. The China trade tensions have investors worried about a possible 2020 recession.


LARRY KUDLOW, WHITE HOUSE ECONOMIC COUNCIL DIRECTOR: I think the market is saying better that they are talking than not talking. No results are guaranteed. I think people know that.

I think a lot of market investors think it's a good thing that talk is better than no talk. China trade is a key topic, so it's alive and I guess folks want to keep hope alive.


KING: We begin the hour with President Trump's big ask. He wants you to give him four more years. The official Trump 2020 launch is tonight at a rally in Orlando. That's no accident. Florida and its 29 electoral votes very important in 2016, a must in the Trump re- election map. Orlando chosen for the rally not just because it has an arena that can fit 20,000 Trump supporters.

Let's take a closer look at Florida. Look, Hillary Clinton carried Orange County, but Orlando, right here in the center, of what in Florida they call the I-4 corridor. You look through here.

Let's just go back through a little history, especially, look at the western part of the I-4 corridor. Pinellas County over here in St. Petersburg. This is 2016. That's 2012. A lot more blue, right? Look, go back and forth, see the red? Blue. Obama carried that in 2012. He also did in 2008 when he carried the state twice. This state is absolutely critical for President Trump.

And as he looks to recreate this 2016 map, there are some booming echoes of his 2016 message. Some morning tweets today accusing Europe of manipulating its economic policies to hurt American workers. The president also promising overnight that starting next week the government will begin the process, he says, of, quote, removing millions of illegal aliens. Last night saying thousands were already outside Orlando's Amway Center. It was a few hundred.

CNN's Kaitlan Collins is live in Orlando anticipating this big rally.

We see the crowd lined up behind you, Kaitlan. Give us a flavor of what the president hopes to accomplish. He's been a candidate officially for a while, but this is the launch.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right. The president has already held several rallies in states he's hoping to win in 2020, but the campaign says this is going to be the official launch of his re-election bid here tonight. And as you just laid out, all of the important reasons why the president needs Florida to win in 2020.

Now, the question now happening inside the White House is whether or not those tweets overnight about immigration have something to do with tonight's rally. The president made that vague threat that they were going to deport millions of undocumented immigrants starting next week by ICE, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement. But the president didn't offer a lot of details in his tweets, John. And in the hour since, we haven't gotten a lot of details from the White House either, who is referring us to ICE, which is in turn referring us back to the White House.

Now, we do know that one ICE official said that they were not aware the president was going to tweet that out last night, foreshadowing that plan that is says is going to start next week. And we should note that typically they would not announce some kind of measure like that for fear of tipping their hand.

Now, this also comes as we know ICE has been strained. All of their resources right now have largely been deployed to the southern border where the president and his administration allies have noted it's become a real issue for them. So, of course, deporting millions of people would require vast resources. So we're still waiting to hear more on that front.

But, of course, John, you know better than anyone, that the president ran on immigration in 2016 and Republicans are hoping he would focus more on that, less on health care for the 2020 race. So you could likely expect the president, to hear him talk about that here on stage at the Amway Center behind me tonight, where you're already seeing there are hundreds of people lined up waiting to see the president launch his re-election bid. KING: Well, the president said in a tweet earlier today, it's going to

be great. It's going to be wild. I can't wait to see what he says and, to Kaitlan's point, what he stresses in that speech.

Appreciate the live reporting from Kaitlan Collins.

With me in studio to share their reporting and their insights, Margaret Talev with "Bloomberg," Olivier Knox with Sirius XM, Laura Barron-Lopez with "Politico," and Rachael Bade with "The Washington Post."

It is always what makes him an interested candidate, a surprisingly successful candidate and sometimes a befuddling candidate is the element of surprise, tweeting out a policy that his government says, at least at the moment, doesn't exist. But we're going to round up immigrants and throw them out. We're bashing Europe. This -- we've seen this movie before. The question is, can the sequel succeed?

[12:05:08] RACHAEL BADE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. I mean he's going back to Florida. He's trying to sort of lay out those red meat policies that get his base ginned up. And, I mean, you could say it's working. People have been lined up in Florida to get in that event since, what, yesterday morning, staying overnight?


BADE: Yes. So -- and Florida's like a key -- it's a key state. He -- he's going to need to carry it again if he's going to be victorious in 2020 and he knows that. So he's ginning up the base.

TALEV: But it's interesting because, to some extent, Florida is a defensive posture for him to come out of the gate in. I mean if -- if Donald Trump loses Florida, Donald Trump's got a lot bigger problems with the re-election, right?

KING: Right.

TALEV: So, why didn't he choose Pennsylvania or, you know, Michigan or Wisconsin? Why didn't he choose a place he wants to pick up? Why didn't he go to Nevada, something like that?

But I think typically you see the instinct to go to your home state. And for Donald Trump, he has two home states, right? He can go to New York for the launch, or he can go to Florida. In that context, Florida makes more sense, even though there's not at least that escalator to come down. Maybe there will be an escalator on stage tonight. I guess we'll have to wait and see. But -- but he gets -- he always gets huge crowds. Like the -- part of that initial rollout rally, right, the official relaunch, is that you want the crowd with you. And I've been to Trump rallies in a lot of states. Florida has a kind of crowd you just couldn't recreate somewhere else.

KING: And I think to that point, yes, you gave a very smart approach of how a traditional orthodox campaign might look at, OK, we have this state, let's go to a target of opportunity. Trump's very differently. And this is clearly an effort, they want that big crowd, they want him in a good mood, they want him to think my campaign organization is working, I should trust them when they talk to me. That's what this is about.

OLIVIER KNOX, CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, SIRIUS XM: Yes, and he's got that wave of reporting about their internal polls shows that he's lagging behind Democratic candidates. You know, he's officially been a candidate for re-election since like five hours after he actually took the oath of office.

KING: Right.

TALEV: Right.

KNOX: But Republicans are still casting this as a different kind of rollout. Notably, not just the message, although of course we're going to be watching that pretty carefully, but the organization. Can they get the kind of turnout they want? Can they get the amplification on social media? They -- this is a much, much more organized machine than it was in 2016.

KING: Right, and to that -- to that point, as you jump in, Laura, forgive me, I just want to show, these are somewhat dated numbers, but they just show you already, we'll get new numbers at the end of this quarter, which ends at the end of -- end of June 30th. But if you go back, we know already the president's campaign has raised more than $35 million this year, spent more than $64 million and had $40 million on hand. Again, these are dated numbers. Those numbers are likely to go up as we get the latest quarter.

It just shows you, in the 2016 campaign, there were people in his campaign begging him to cut a check to keep his campaign running. This is now Amazon or Walmart, pick your -- this is a giant campaign with a huge organization with no question of money. And they've also been very aggressive.

The question, my question is, can he expanding his base a little bit? There's no question he'll get 20,000 people plus in that arena tonight. He'll have a crowd outside. Can he get new people? They're trying to do it in a place like Florida, just on the margins, with digital advertising. Look at how much more he has spent through June 10th over any of the Democrats on digital advertising. What are they trying to do? Again, they're not going to win the African-American vote. Can they get a small percentage more by saying, hey, the unemployment rate's good. They're not going to win the Latino vote. Can they get a small percentage more by saying, in Florida, in the Orlando area, the economy is pretty good. That's what they're trying to do. And, to your point, it's a much more professional organization this time.

LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, "POLITICO": Right. So they kind of have this interesting approach going on, which is one, as Rachael said, they're trying to gin up the base heading into this Florida rally with those tweets that he sent out last night. But also a big piece of their Florida focus is Latinos because they're saying Latinos aren't a monolith and so we're hoping that by targeting Democrats and socialists, they can pull away Venezuelans, they can pull away Cubans and Nicaraguans. And so the first coalition the Trump campaign is actually launching is going to be targeting Latino outreach and specifically in states like Florida. So it will be interesting if that works.

KING: It's a fascinating test in Florida, one of the greatest labs for the diversity within the diversity, if you will, as you make the complexity of the Latino populations. So he's the incumbent. He's asking for four more years. Ronald Reagan put it the, are you better off than you were four years ago. This president can certainly make that case to much of the country. That's still pockets where people don't feel the boom (ph). That's a case he could make and incumbents are always judged by their promises from the first time around.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are going to build a great border wall.

We will build a great, great wall.

We're going to build a wall, don't worry about it. Oh, we'll build a wall.

I promise, we will build the wall.

A Trump administration will renegotiate NAFTA.

And if we don't get the deal we want, we will terminate NAFTA --

And get a much better deal for our workers.

Repeal and replace.

Repeal and replace.

Obamacare, we're going to repeal it, we're going to replace it, we're going to get something good. Repeal it, replace it, get something great.


KING: So let's take a look. Build a wall? Nope. Hasn't happened. Very modest construction of the wall if you look at the thing. Repeal and replace Obamacare? No. The president has, keeping his promise, he has cut taxes. He's withdrawn from the Iran nuclear deal. There's been job creation and lower unemployment. Renegotiate a withdraw from NAFTA is a big TBD, if you will. There's a U.S./Mexico trade agreement on the table. Let's see if it can get passed. Impose tariffs on China and Mexico. We were talking about this, Olivier, before the program. Yes, he has imposed tariffs on China and Mexico. Has he gotten what he wanted? Has he got the desired effect yet? That's an open question.

[12:10:26] KNOX: Right. Definitely not on China yet, although, you know, yet, because he's going to be meeting with the Chinese president on the sidelines at the group of 20 summit late this month in Osaka, Japan. And then the Mexico question, well, which ones do you want to look at?

Do you want to look at the ones he recently used to try to leverage -- as leverage to get an immigration deal, or are you talking about things like aluminum and those kinds of things.

TALEV: But, look, the question is, does he have to show voters that he has succeeded or does he have to show voters that he is trying, because when you poll or do focus groups with at least the base who voted for Trump, some of them want to actually see those results. Many of them, at least are satisfied to know -- to see demonstrations that he's trying. And so that's why you keep seeing all of these steps, you know, that he's taking. And I think one of the big ones, his decision to try to tie, you know, defense spending, right, reassign (INAUDIBLE) funding to build the wall, that test is going to play out right now -- like this week and in the next few weeks as the Senate and the House work through the National Defense Authorization Act passages. There are now like -- something like 500 or 600 amendments attached to this legislation. So the president has made a calculation that it is at least as important to show that you are trying as it is to actually get it done.

KING: And when you -- when you're not succeeding, to find someone to blame, which is what he --

TALEV: Of course. That's part of the (INAUDIBLE).

KING: Which is what he does repeatedly.

Well, let's just come back to the scene for a second in the case of Florida. Obama won it twice narrowly. Trump won it narrowly. Republicans think it's trending their way and they look at 2018, largely a Democratic year, but the Republican wins the governor's race in a very close race. The Democrats say, oh, we got so close. Still lost. The Republican wins the Senate race, knocking off a Democratic incumbent there.

The front page of "The Orlando Sentinel" today has this, the mother of all rallies to greet the president into the neighborhood, if you will. This is a newspaper that has, except for Lyndon Johnson in 1964, endorsed Republicans. It says today, after two and a half years, we've seen enough. Enough of the chaos, the division, the school yard insults, the self-aggrandizement, the corruption, and especially the lies. The nation must endure another one and a half years of Trump. But it needn't suffer another four beyond that. We can do better. We have to do better.

That sort of sums up the big debate as the president makes it official tonight. He has a strong economy. He's a good candidate. Whether you like his policies or not, he's a good and effective campaigner.

The question is, his own tweets, his own -- the way he conducts himself in office gets him in trouble. That was a big responsibility for the suburban revolt against Republicans in 2018. Which Trump do we get in 2020? BADE: Yes, it seems like voters, I mean, they very much have a choice

between what kind of America do they want in the next four years. Do they want more of what Trump is putting out there in terms of partisan tensions, or do they -- are they going to try to go for, you know, something that will push back and look a lot different. And, you know, I think that that's where the president right now, he is very much sticking to his base again, like we talked about. And so, you know -- but -- but did he bring that to Washington or were Americans feeling like that and that's why they sent him to Washington and that's what the election I think will largely tell us, right?

KING: Has he delivered the change he promised enough to keep his base. And you could argue, depending on whether it's third-party candidates, who the Democrats nominate, does he need a little more, can he get by with a little less? That's the part we're going to figure out. Which is why, up next for us, Joe Biden makes a somewhat farfetched prediction about the map in the 2020 election.


[12:18:16] KING: Former Vice President Joe Biden working the cash circuit today. CNN is told the Democratic frontrunner attending three fundraisers in New York. This comes after Biden teased an impressive second quarter fundraising haul, telling a group of donors last night he has 360,000 individual donors with an average contribution of $55. You can do the math at home. That adds up to $19.8 million. That's impressive.

Earlier yesterday, the former vice president raising some eyebrows with a remarkably optimistic view of the 2020 electoral map.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: First of all, I plan on campaigning in the south. I plan, and if I'm your nominee, winning Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina, believe it or not. And I believe we can win Texas and Florida if you look at the polling data now. It doesn't mean -- it's a marathon, it's a long way off.

I spent a lot of time campaigning in North Carolina and Texas and around the country. I have -- I have no intention of walking away if I'm the nominee.


KING: On the one hand, you want a candidate who's optimistic and aspirational. On the other hand, you want a candidate who's realistic. Does that matter? I mean, I'm sorry, the map is interesting. Donald Trump has changed American politics. Barack Obama won North Carolina in 2008 against John McCain, lost it in 2012. South Carolina? Anybody at the table think South Carolina's in play in 2020 for the Democrats?

BARRON-LOPEZ: No, not really. I mean I think by any stretch that that's very ambitious that Biden would think that he can win states like South Carolina or Georgia or Texas. O'Rourke did come close, but, again, that was also about the fact that he was against Ted Cruz, who was a very unpopular candidate.

So -- but this also is Biden's strategy, right? He is saying, I am the one -- I am running a solo primary and I am the one that is going to take on Trump, and he's pretty much just ignoring the rest of the Democratic field.

[12:20:01] KING: And, again -- again, you don't want a candidate to say, oh, I can just barely maybe get to 270 if I get lucky here, here and here. You want a candidate who thinks they can expand the map and do well.

One of the knocks on Joe Biden historically is that he sort of tells big tales. Is it because it's him? Does he need to be more careful or am I just -- is that my age?

KNOX: This is -- this is not fundamentally different from his promise that Republicans are going to suddenly decide to work with him and compromise and, you know, at -- which was, by the way, the Obama message in 2012 was that his re-election would break the fever, pop the blister, pick the -- he used both of those images.

This is not fundamentally that different, right? This is, I'm the guy who can achieve this unachievable goal. Come with me. We're going to do this crazy thing that no one thinks we can do.

TALEV: But he's also -- he -- Joe Biden has found himself as the sort of starting position as the status quo candidate. And part of his messaging needs to be to -- to say that he's not just promising to take people back to a past way, he's promising to blaze a trail toward change. So if he's making the point that actually by choosing a status quo candidate you can win states that you might not be able to win otherwise, that's -- I think that's part of the strategy also.

KING: Right. I think that -- that's a good point in the sense that if you're Democrats and you're going to be competitive in South Carolina, in Georgia, for example, in North Carolina, you've got to turn out African-Americans. If you're going to be competitive in Florida and Texas, you have to turn out Latinos and African-Americans. So if it's the idea of being, I'm not going to forget you, I need you in the primaries and I'm not going to forget you, that's a more -- that's not quite the way he put it.

He -- but $19.8 million is an impressive haul. Elizabeth Warren taking some issue with how the vice president is raising a lot of that money. She's saying yesterday -- well, let's just listen.


SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I've been to a lot of places around this country. I've taken more than 2,000 unfiltered questions from folks. Shoot, I'm over 30,000 selfies now. So I'm in this.

But here's the deal. Ask yourself why I've got the time to do that and most other candidates don't. And the reason is because I'm not spending my time behind closed doors with a bunch of millionaires. (END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Can you sell that in a Democratic primary where there is a lot of concern about the influence of bigger money? Is that -- is that part of -- she has been coming up, trajectory is good for her.

BADE: Yes, I mean, Democrats are sort of in a pickle on that, right, because the base, they do want to hear that. There's a lot of movement in politics right now where -- don't appeal to the wealthy. Like, you know, raise money from small dollars, show that you're sort of building this grassroots movement and Democrats welcome that. But at the same time, they need to show that they can raise the money and build that campaign structure. And to do that, a lot of them do need Wall Street. And so, you know, that's why you have Biden going (ph) there. Not just him, though, but, you know, Pete Buttigieg as well, Kamala Harris as well. And so Democrats are having to choose which path do they want to take. If you go Elizabeth Warren's path, perhaps you don't raise as much money as you could otherwise.

KING: And we'll get the -- go ahead.

BARRON-LOPEZ: I was just going to say, and some of them are feeling an even greater time crunch given the threshold for the debates, which a lot of them have already put out campaign e-mails saying we have to reach 130,000 donors now for the second debate, so they're worried about that.

KING: Raising money, preparing for debates, who knew, it's complicated.

President Trump down players Iranian escalation in the Middle East, contradicting his own administration.


[12:27:47] KING: Welcome back. Live pictures we can show you there. That's a hangar, Tampa, Florida. Mike Pompeo at the Central Command headquarters this hour. We expect to hear from the secretary of state any moment. He is there in part to deliver a message to Iran. Central Command is responsible for U.S. deployments in the Middle East. The Pentagon now adding a thousand American troops as tensions with Iran fray.

But with the troop deployment also comes some mixed messaging. In an interview with "Time" magazine, President Trump called the attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman, quote, very minor.

Now, the Pentagon does not consider the attacks minor. Just yesterday released more photos. It says these images show proof of Iranian boats removing a mine from one of the two tankers. Iran denies the accusations and its president is accusing the Trump administration of trying to provoke a conflict. President Hassan Rouhani telling Iran state-run media, quote, the war between us and our enemies today is the war of hopes and wills. Through their plots and dastardly plans, they plan to sow the seeds of hopelessness in the Iranian nation. But our great nation, President Rouhani goes on to say, is determined to show its hopefulness and vitality and defeat the enemy's plots.

Joining our conversation, Retired Rear Admiral John Kirby and CNN's Kylie Atwood.

Let me start with the president saying this is very minor. To attach mines -- the United States says Iran did it -- no matter who did it -- to attach mines to oil tankers in the gulf at a time of already rising tensions, is that very minor? I don't think the secretary of state thinks that. We know the Pentagon doesn't think that. But the president seems to.

KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER: Well, just last week Secretary Pompeo came out referencing these attacks and other offensive attacks by the Iranians and Iranian-backed forces in the region, and he said that they present a clear threat to international peace and security. That they are an -- a blatant assault on the international flow of oil that goes through the region. And he was very, very sure to say that this is no small thing. So there is mixed messaging coming out here.

But it's also important to note that when Secretary Pompeo was asked over the weekend if these attacks, if the U.S. is considering military action as a reaction to those attacks, he said all options are on the table. Essentially saying, yes, but the president, in this "Time" magazine article, saying that he wouldn't consider going to war, there would be a question mark over if the U.S. would use military action when it comes to defending against the use of international