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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

Mark Sanford Heads To New Hampshire As He Weighs Trump 2020 Challenge; Warren Surges In Polls, Draws Crowds In Iowa; Sanders Attacks "Washington Post," "New York Times;" Cuccinelli Changes Statue Of Liberty Poem To Make Case For Trump's New Rules To Limit Immigration. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired August 13, 2019 - 16:30   ET

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


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(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARK SANFORD, FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE: I'm Mark Sanford, I come from the coast of South Carolina where we get storms in the late summer. And I'm here today because there's a big storm coming.

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JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: A big storm coming. A warning of sorts in our 2020 LEAD. Former Republican Governor and Congressman Mark Sanford is mulling a possible run against President Trump in the Republican Primaries and delivering that message as he prepares to head to this early voting State of New Hampshire later today.

And Governor Sanford joins me now from Mount Pleasant, South Carolina.

Governor, you leave for New Hampshire in just a few hours. You don't have any public events, you have some private meetings. What's going to be the deciding factor as to whether or not you actually challenge President Trump?

[16:35:06] SANFORD: The continued input of people whether up that way, which will be a different perspective, or the perspective of a lot of folks that I've talked to here, along the coast of South Carolina and across the state, which I've represented, obviously for eight years of my life is former Governor.

TAPPER: And former White House Communications Director, Anthony Scaramucci, this week called for replacing President Trump on the Republican ticket. President Trump responded by attacking his former White House communications Director on Twitter and also on the tarmac today. Take a listen to a little bit of it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think Anthony is really somebody that is very much out of control and he doesn't have what it takes.

(END VIDEO CLIP) TAPPER: Calling Scaramucci there out of control, saying he doesn't

have what he takes. Do you think Republicans would really be willing to back a challenger to an incumbent President?

SANFORD: Well, let's be clear. This hadn't happened in a long time. It was the more than a hundred years ago, the 21st President was the first guy not to get the nomination of his party, so Chester Arthur, of all folks.

But what I do think is important is a conversation and you just don't know where it leads. And the people that have been encouraging me to do this, have said, we need to have a conversation about what it means to be a Republican, because the bit that we've been moving toward here of late is not consistent with the values and the ideals that they believed in for a very long time.

TAPPER: One of those values, of course, is fiscal responsibility. The deficit is up 27 percent from last year. The White House Office of Management and Budget predicts the deficit is going to exceed $1 trillion this year.

You tweeted that the budget deal the President just signed was, quote, "Moving our country toward becoming a financial s-hole." Do you think Republicans -- whether it is Republican voters or Republicans in Congress -- do you think they actually care about fiscal responsibility? Or is this just posturing for years and years? Because we're not really seeing much evidence of it?

SANFORD: Well, no, because again, there's a disconnect between people at the elected level and what I've consistently heard over my 25 years in politics at the grassroots level, and so that small business person trying to keep their business afloat cares very much about the numbers and the family is struggling to make it, sitting there at the kitchen counter, trying to balance that family checkbook very much cares about the numbers.

And so I think at a grassroots level, this issue is real. People are disturbed by the fact that we have unprecedented levels of debt, unprecedented levels of deficit, and the highest spending on record -- and this is mind you, in a peacetime and benign economic environment.

So I think that the issue is real, but it needs to be talked about. And what we've had is the three-monkeys-routine wherein, I see no evil, hear no evil, I speak no evil, by both Republicans and Democrats on the issue of spending and debt.

TAPPER: When you talk about how voters, you talk to Republican voters say that this party is steering away from the Republican values that you're used to; obviously, you're not only talking about fiscal responsibility. I imagine you're also talking about the tone and tenor of things that President Trump says.

He seems to be embracing a campaign strategy, at least partly based on dividing people, whether it's attacking the four Congresswomen telling them to go back where they came from, even though three of them were born in the United States and all four are American citizens, the attacks on Elijah Cummings, the attacks on Baltimore.

Now, we see some very aggressive steps when it comes to even trying to dissuade legal immigration. How do you view all of that?

SANFORD: I think that to be conservative is to have trust in the institutions. It is all about balancing power in our political system. I think that to be conservative is to have a measure of conservativism in the way that you approach others -- a humbleness of heart.

It doesn't mean you have to be meek, but it does mean you don't pretend to be the bully in the local school yard. And what I'm hearing from folks here, at least on the coast of South Carolina, where I come from, is a level of weariness with the -- you know, the bully in the schoolyard routine.

And you saw it in frankly in my own congressional election, where in for the first time in about 50 years, the seat went Democrat, and much of it was based on soccer moms and young millennials saying, "This is just inconsistent with the message that my parents were giving me over the years or inconsistent with the message I've been trying to give my kids."

So I think something is afoot both on the financial front, and frankly on the tone and tenor front.

TAPPER: Former Republican Governor, Mark Sanford from the great State of South Carolina. Thanks so much for your time, sir. Have fun and good luck on the campaign trail -- if that's what it is -- in New Hampshire.

SANFORD: Yes, sir. I appreciate it. Thanks so much.

TAPPER: One 2020 presidential candidate is attacking the media. It's not Donald Trump. We will tell you who it is next. Stay with us.

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[16:44:21] TAPPER: Our 2020 LEAD now. While Joe Biden holds a strong lead in most of the polls, Senator Elizabeth Warren is picking up momentum and coming up right behind him.

The most recent Monmouth University poll in Iowa shows her surging 12 points since April. She is now at 19 percent -- that's second place. Biden is ahead at 28 percent.

Now after a week on the ground in one of the most critical states, CNN's Jeff Zeleny has this inside look now at Warren's strategy and approach, which according to Obama's former political director, is a lot like the one Obama used to win in 2007-2008.

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SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Hello, Iowa State Fair.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Elizabeth Warren is making a big summer splash in Iowa.

[16:45:00] But beyond the teeming crowds, her campaign is building something that's even more impressive to many Democrats here , a muscular ground organization with a person-to-person network growing by the day in backyards like this.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's great to be here at someone's home. I want to say a very special thank you to Drew and Kara. Where are you? There you are.

ZELENY: Drew and Kara Kelso have been following the 2020 campaign closely, but not this closely until one of Warren's young organizers reached out and asked if they would host the Massachusetts senator.

KALA KELSO, WARREN SUPPORTER: It was a great vibe. It was awesome to have her here. The neighbors, everybody was excited that she was here.

ZELENY: Do you plan to volunteer for her at all?

DREW KELSO, WARREN SUPPORTER: Yes. I mean, I think we entertain the idea. I definitely support her enough to do that.

ZELENY: Across town, Carrie DeVries is already a dedicated volunteer in Warren's army. She hosts organizing events right here in her living room where she even painted a campaign logo.

CARRIE DEVRIES, VOLUNTEER, WARREN CAMPAIGN: Once I found Warren's campaign then I felt like oh here's a place I can really feel like I'm making a difference.

ZELENY: How many hours a week do you think you spend trying to elect Elizabeth Warren?

DEVRIES: Me, probably more than most people. Probably 12 or 14 hours a week just doing different things.

ZELENY: The Warren campaign started building in Iowa operation before any of its rivals with eight field offices now open and more to come. The campaign has held organizing events in all 99 counties.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is there a chance that you and your wife might be interested in helping us out?

ZELENY: Inside the Des Moines field office today, volunteers made calls and plans for future events. Emily Parcell is a senior advisor for Warren. 12 years ago this summer, she was political director for Barack Obama.

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Because we built the best grassroots organization on the ground here in Iowa, people power from the bottom up.

ZELENY: Who's winning Iowa campaign is still the aspiration for this crowded field of Democratic candidates. EMILY PARCELL, SENIOR ADVISOR, WARREN CAMPAIGN: In my experience

doing the Iowa caucus, you need to be here for a year. It's going to take time. And the interesting thing about this campaign and I don't think it's unlike the Obama campaign, there's a real focus on building a community of supporters.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZELENY: Now, one thing that has changed dramatically since the summer of 2007, Jake, when Barack Obama began his rise, the advent -- the invention of social media. You'll remember from covering that campaign along with me, there was no Facebook, no Twitter, no social media. So that has changed everything dramatically.

Now, talking to Democrats here all week long, virtually everyone says the Warren campaign is the strongest. They started the earliest. But also keep an eye on Pete Buttigieg. He's spending a lot of money here, Joe Biden, as well as Kamala Harris. Jake?

TAPPER: All right, former Des Moines Register Reporter, Jeff Zeleny in the -- in the great state of Iowa, thanks so much. Let's chat about this with our experts. Ray, let me start with you. Warren, she's not really surging in the polls. It's been a long slow steady climb. What is she doing right do you think?

RAY SUAREZ, JOURNALIST AND AUTHOR: She's not changing from week to week. So the theory of the case that they had at the beginning, this is how we will get people to pay attention to us. She hasn't deviated. She is dismissed as wonky. So what? She goes out and explains complicated things, doesn't get distracted by nonsense, doesn't completely rejigger the campaign in panic every couple of weeks.

This will -- it's a long slog with a crowded field. She knows she doesn't have to win the early primaries. She just has to -- in a field of 20 candidates, she just has to do respectively until people start to drop out. It's a -- it looks like a very smart strategy because she's not one of -- I'll get in a good line at the debate and that will change everything kind of candidate. She's the one who gradually is an earworm. It takes root.

TAPPER: You're the -- you're the conservative at the table. You've been bullish on Elizabeth Warren from the very beginning, to give you credit. What is it -- what is it about her that you think? Do you agree with Ray?

AMANDA CARPENTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, right now, what I think is so interesting is that she's been able to survive a pretty tough political hit from Donald Trump, number one. But also she's been able to rise and hold steady without getting her hands dirty. And that's what I think makes her a dangerous candidate in the primary. And that she is the one on the floor with the biggest idea.

So that naturally puts her opponents in the position of saying no, you can't do that. You're dreaming too big. That's too ambitious. And we this one moment in the debate stage where she says, well, why are we here? No one has a good answer to that. So she's owning the big idea ambitious stage, and that's a very wonderful position to be in a primary.

And contrasting that, Joe Biden potentially in a one-on-one where she is one in command of the facts not gaffing all the time, that's going to force a hard choice for the primary voter.

TAPPER: And Paul, a lot of the Elizabeth Warren voters are people that probably would have been supportive of Bernie Sanders, people in that progressive lane. Sanders has been spending some time in the last day or so talking about media bias specifically about "The Washington Post." He said that they don't cover him positively because he's criticized the owner of "The Washington Post," Jeff Bezos who owns Amazon.

And he just spoke to CNN, Sanders, and started to walk back on those comments. He still puts blame on the media. Take a listen.

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[16:50:06] SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: -- Jeff Bezos is on the phone telling the editor of Washington Post what to do? Absolutely not. Will the Jeff Bezos gets on the phone to the Washington Post? There is a framework of what we can discuss and what we cannot discuss. Now, one reporter has ever asked me, Bernie, what are you going to do about the grotesque level of income and wealth inequality?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: What's your take?

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Bernie needs -- he's Luke Skywalker. He needs a Death Star. He had that in my friend Hillary, OK. Every day he knew what he was doing. He was going after the establishment and she represented everything he hated in the Democratic Party. It wasn't easy but it was obvious.

Now he doesn't have that. I thought he would do that with Joe Biden. Now apparently it's Jeff Bezos, although he's kind of walking that back. It's like he needs Darth Vader and he looks around, there's nothing but like Ralph Nader. You know, he's got like having somebody to go after.

I've done my share of media bashing. I'm not against it. But they need to give me some specifics. They need to say, here's the story that was unfair because of Bezos, and you saw here he can't do that.

SABRINA SIDDIQUI, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: And Bernie Sanders has certainly tried to make Joe Biden his target. Most of the attacks from his campaign have been directed at this notion that Biden is not the best representative of the Democratic Party, that he's not progressive enough going after his record.

But what was challenging about the criticism that Bernie Sanders made is that he did not offer any evidence to support the notion that the Washington Post in its coverage of him is somehow influenced by the fact that they're owned by Jeff Bezos and Sanders has been critical of Amazon. Therefore, they're not covering him appropriately.

I think that you know, now he's drawing, of course, comparisons to Trump. Those are overblown. One often common is not the same as the President's sustained attack on the media. But to Paul's point, he's no longer the insurgent candidate. And he hasn't had an indelible impact on the policy agenda of the current Democratic field, but he's having -- he's child struggling to distinguish himself in what is a very crowded field with many other candidates who are there to claim that progressive mantle.

CARPENTER: Yes. It's just -- this is a one-off with Sanders. I mean, he is promoting ugly smears against the media saying there is a profit motive that's influence of coverage. It hasn't just been about the Washington Post. I've seen him do it to CNN where he suggested that ads from big pharma are influence of coverage with no evidences at all. His campaign surrogates have gone on and said it, he says it, it's a strategy and it stinks.

TAPPER: Well, we don't even see the ads as you know. Anyway, thanks. Stick around. The little girl who was hysterical after her dad was arrested in an immigration raid, she just heard from her father for the first time since he was detained by ICE. CNN talks to the little girl's mother next. Stay with us.

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[16:55:00] TAPPER: In today's "NATIONAL LEAD," the Trump administration is not backing away from a new rule making it harder for immigrants who rely on government assistance to come to this country legally.

Today, the Acting Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Ken Cuccinelli was asked about the Emma Lazarus iconic poem on the Statue of Liberty as part of the American ethos, and Cuccinelli changed the words a little bit.

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KEN CUCCINELLI, ACTING DIRECTOR, U.S. CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION SERVICES: Give me your tired and your poor who can stand on their own two feet and who will not become a public charge.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Hours later, his boss President Trump seemed to back up that sentiment.

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DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I am tired of seeing our taxpayer paying for people to come into the country and immediately go onto welfare and various other things. So I think we're doing it right.

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TAPPER: That hardline approach as we get breaking news now about the father of that 11-year-old girl seen sobbing after ICE agents arrested her dad in a roundup of undocumented immigrants working at plants throughout Mississippi last week.

I want to get to CNN's Dianne Gallagher who's in Jackson Mississippi.

Dianne, you spoke with the girl's mother who's been searching for her husband since last week. What have you learned?

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Jake. Look, it's been almost a week since Magdalena, that 11-year-old girls tearful plea for her father went viral. Up until about two hours ago, she and her mother didn't even know where her father was.

And CNN began talking about this story, the fact and their search for him this morning. Hours later, they were able to narrow it down. And just a few about an hour ago she was able to talk to her husband, Juana, for the first time since he was detained.

Just watching this process, Jake, is something that so many Americans especially all of those who were detained here in Mississippi from those workplace raids have had to deal with. Online the evidence and the information that she was given by authorities said her husband was in Louisiana but didn't specify what detention center.

She's been desperately trying to get in touch with him. Well, it turns out we were contacted by ICE, he's actually been in Mississippi this whole time, about two and a half hours from where she lives. That phone call came after we spoke with ICE a bit. They got them in contact with one another.

And Juana tells me that it was so good just to hear from him, just to know that he's alive, Jake. There are so many other families again, who are dealing with this right now.

TAPPER: A reminder, we're talking about the U.S. government taking people here. And Dianne, that girl's father just one case out of the 680 arrests last week. More than 300 individuals are still detained. Have they accounted for everyone now?

GALLAGHER: The U.S. government says that they have everyone in their custody and they know where they are. As far as if their families have been able to find them, Jake, we can't -- we don't know that. We can't have any way of knowing how many can do that.

TAPPER: Dianne Gallagher in Jackson, Mississippi, thank you so much for that reporting. A reminder, you can follow me on Twitter, and Instagram, and Facebook @JAKETAPPER. Our coverage on CNN continues right now. Thank you so much for watching.