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Vets Group Responds To Klobuchar Knocking Buttigieg's Credentials; Trump Jr. Leaves UCLA Stage After Protests By Far-Right Crowd; CNN's "Home Front" Highlights Unemployment Rates For Military Spouses. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired November 11, 2019 - 13:30   ET




SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN): Do I think that we would be standing on that stage if we had the experience that he had? No, I don't. Maybe we're held to a different standard.


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Now a veteran's group is responding and defending Buttigieg. is a progressive veterans political activist group and they tweeted this out, in part: "Those who served in war have real-world experience and perspective that relatively few others in America have."

Jon Soltz is joining us now. He's the chairman and the founder of Vote Vets. He's also an Iraq War veteran.

We see the tweet there. Can you expand on that a little bit? She was making a point that she thinks clearly men and women are held to different standards.

But then, of course, there's this element, especially on the eve of Veteran's Day, there's a sense, I think, on the part of certainly you and your organization that military service here is being minimized.

JON SOLTZ, CHAIRMAN & FOUNDER, VOTEVETS.ORG: We're really plugged into the race. We work with all the campaigns.

So over the past month, this has been a trope that has sort of been bleeding out about Pete Buttigieg and his experience. The "New York Times" ran a huge spread on it. Epstein wrote about it on Sunday's paper or Saturday's paper that Pete somehow doesn't have any experience.

There's a lot to like and not like about Pete Buttigieg, but when you look at the top frontrunners, he has more time in Afghanistan on the ground than all of them combined. So in reality, Pete does have experience. And this is a trope leveled against veterans.

Here on Veteran's Day, we talk about things like veterans unemployment. I can't tell you how many veterans there are in the United States that have returned from this war and they've just said, you're not qualified, or you don't have the experience for this job.

That's the entire reason that Vote Vet exists, which is to help people run for office. Especially when you run for president. Being the commander-in-chief matters. Experience in Afghanistan matters.

It's unfair. It's not just about what Senator Klobuchar said. It's about what all the campaigns are currently whispering about Pete. It's disgraceful, to be honest.

And that's hard for me to say, as an organization that spent $17 million to help Democrats last cycle, that they have fallen into GOP, right-wing talking points.

KEILAR: I think part of this comes because very few Americans serve, right? They just don't. It's a very small percentage of Americans who are currently active duty. And sometimes there's a lack in understanding of what veterans bring, whether it is to, say, the debate stage or the presidential race or it is to some other type of job.

What is your reflection on that?

SOLTZ: I think that's the absolute larger point here. When you command a tank in Iraq or Afghanistan or you're an infantryman, what do you bring? You bring leadership. You bring integrity. You bring a certain amount of support for the organization as a whole. You bring leadership. These are all of the things that make veterans employable when they return home.

It's so unfortunate to see Democratic presidential campaigns begin to sort of drift these narratives out that hurt every young American who returns from war to get a job.

So veterans are very qualified with leadership and some jobs that people serve in the military are transferable but a lot aren't. So veterans bring a lot. There's a lot of emphasis on this.

I think because Pete has swerved and others haven't, they fall into this trope that's really bad for veterans across the country that somehow their service doesn't give them experience and doesn't make them qualified for future employment.

KEILAR: Buttigieg, talking now about what his cabinet would look like, he said he would seriously consider a bottom to run the Veterans Affairs Department, simply because women have been kept on the sidelines. What do you think about that?

SOLTZ: I think that's great. I think women make up a larger part of the force today than they did 20 years ago, even 30 years ago. Women have unique issues they're dealing with after these wars because we have women in combat.

Even though women weren't legally allowed to have a job in combat until a few years ago, I can tell you, my first night in Iraq, in 2003, a woman bailed me out in a convoy ambush. Women have been in combat for a long time. They facer unique challenges to their service.

I think that's a great idea. Those are the type of things that Pete has I insight to because he served. Perhaps someone else on that stage, who has not served, might not understand.

KEILAR: Jon, thank you so much. Jon Soltz, with We appreciate it.

SOLTZ: Thank you.

KEILAR: Donald Trump Jr. is in California promoting his new book. And while at UCLA, he got heckled from a rather unexpected crowd. We'll have details on that ahead.


Plus, Julian Castro says Iowa and New Hampshire should no longer be the first states to vote because they are not diverse enough. How Democrats in those states are reacting.



KEILAR: It's probably no surprise that Donald Trump Jr. and his girlfriend, Kimberly Guilfoyle, were met with protests at a public appearance they had at UCLA over the weekend. He was there to promote his book, which was a lot about bashing the left.

And here's what happened when he took the stage and tried to explain why the question-and-answer portion of this program was being canceled.


DONALD TRUMP JR., SON OF PRESIDENT TRUMP & AUTHOR: Name a time where conservatives have disrupted even the furthest leftists on a college campus. It doesn't happen that way.


TRUMP JR: We're willing to listen.


TRUMP JR: See what I mean? That is the problem.

And the reason oftentimes it doesn't make sense to do the Q&A is not because we want to listen to the questions, because we do.


TRUMP JR: But people hijack it. You go for some sort of sound byte. You have people spreading nonsense, spreading hate --

(SHOUTING) TRUMP JR: -- to try to take over that room.


KIMBERLY GUILFOYLE, GIRLFRIEND OF DONALD TRUMP JR.: No, it's because you're not making your parents proud by being rude and disruptive and discourteous.


GUILFOYLE: We are happy to answer the questions. Respect the people around you so they can hear. You don't play --


GUILFOYLE: You don't play by the same rules.

Let me tell you something.


GUILFOYLE: I bet you engage and go on online dating, because you're impressing no one here to get a date in person.



KEILAR: Here's the thing, though. A significant part of this protesting wasn't from a group on the left. This was actually right- wing activists who were protesting.

I want to bring in chief media correspondent, Brian Stelter, with me. And also Jintak Han is with us. He senior staff photographer and news reporter at UCLA's student newspaper.

You were at the event. And tell us, what did you see and what was the feeling in the room? It's so noisy in this video. Just give us a sense of what was actually going on.

JINTAK HAN, SENIOR STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER & NEWS REPORTER, UCLA STUDENT NEWSPAPER: It felt a lot like a normal Trump rally sometimes. At times -- yes. There was a lot of chanting of "USA." Toward the end, it was "America first."

There was one protester in the back who actively protested standing by herself. She was wearing a hijab. At times, directly criticizing the people on stage.

And it felt kind of active, yes.

KEILAR: And what other kind -- were you able to get a sense of all the other groups that were there protesting?

HAN: A lot of the people there were Trump supporters, I felt like. There were people in the audience who passively listened and, at times, did flare up.

After the event ended, I did see some people come up and argue with the staff. One person in particular was wearing a Hillary shirt. Another person was just wearing -- he was wearing a "Make America Great Again" hat and arguing with a person who was accusing him of spreading lies.

There were protesters outside the event who couldn't get inside because, from what I hear, the event was at full capacity. And they were denied access because of fire hazard, for example, or the room being at capacity.

KEILAR: Brian, you can tell it was pretty chaotic there. What all do we know?

BRIAN STELTER, CNN CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: I think what we're seeing is this infighting within the conservative movement about what conservativism is in the Trump age.

A lot of the voices you're hearing booing Donald Trump Jr. are far- right-wing activists. They've been going to these Charlie Kirk Turning Point USA events for weeks now disrupting the events because they think people like Donald Trump Jr. is not conservative enough.

They say they want nationalism. They say they want more restrictive immigration proposals. But they define themselves as Christian, conservative, straight, white Americans. And they're trafficking in racism and homophobia and anti-Semitism. These were some of the folks who were also in Charlottesville, not all but some of them.

They've been trying to disrupt these events with Charlie Kirk and now Donald Trump Jr. because they think that Trumpism is not conservative enough. They want even more restrictive immigration measures, for example.

What we're really seeing, Brianna, is the strain of white identity politics and how it's affecting the GOP. It's this fight in the GOP about what the party is going to stand for.

KEILAR: Brian, what has Donald Trump Jr. said about what happened at UCLA?

STELTER: He says nothing. I reached out to his spokesperson. They are declining to comment. I think they view some of these fringe figures as no worthy of their time or attention.

The whole dispute was wanting to have a Q&A session, but these Q&A sessions but these Q&A sessions have been disrupted by these far- right-wing figures who, in many cases, are racist and homophobic.

The argument for Trump critics is that Trump and the Trump movement has allowed a space, a permission structure for hate and division. You hear Donald Trump Jr. on stage in the video on stage saying some are trying to spread hate. It's what causes these disruptive events, in this case, on a college campus. Meanwhile, Donald Trump Jr. continues his book tour for "Triggered"

and it's quite well. It seems a lot of people are triggered for different reasons at events like this.


KEILAR: And, Jintak, I think it's worth noting there were a lot of people who wanted to listen to Donald Trump Jr., I guess, in its entirety. Not just sound bytes but they wanted to be there for the event.

But there were certainly a lot of people who were upset on both sides of, let's say, the political aisle here. You must have known going into this that this was something at UCLA that was going to attract a lot of attention and heat.

HAN: Yes. I expected to see a lot of protesters, and there were. But at the event itself, I don't think I saw that many students. I did see UCLA members there.

And I did see some comments about some people not even being interested in the event sometimes. There were people -- it did attract a lot for sure, because it brought in a lot of people from the outside.



HAN: But as I said, the room was at full capacity.

KEILAR: Yes, from the outside is a good point.

Han Jintak, thank you so much.

Brian, we appreciate it.

STELTER: Thank you.

KEILAR: We have some breaking news. A judge ruing that President Trump cannot sue New York State in D.C. federal court to stop the release of his tax returns. This is one of many cases where the president is asking federal judges to intervene before House Democrats obtain his financial records. The judge is a Trump appointee.



KEILAR: Today, president Trump is in New York to attend the city's annual Veteran's Day parade. Moments before the parade began, he spoke in a ceremony where he praised veterans and thanked them for their service.

While Veteran's Day is certainly about honoring Americans who have served in the armed forces, today, in my "Home Front" column on, we're talking about a different way to honor veterans.

I'm highlighting a very real issue that affects many servicemen and women, as they transition out of the military, as they become veterans. And that is the unemployment rate of their spouses, military spouses.

And joining me now to talk about this is Kathy Roth-Douquet. She is the president and CEO of Blue Star Families, a nonprofit for which I am an ambassador. Full disclosure. It works to connect servicemembers to their communities all around the world.

Kathy, some people may wonder, why are you talking about military spouse jobs on Veteran's Day. I made the case for why this is the perfect time to talk about it.

KATHY ROTH-DOUQUET, PRESIDENT & CEO, BLUE STAR FAMILIES: I think it's the perfect time. On Veteran's Day, we're honoring veteran's service. But what a lot of people don't realize, part of veterans' sacrifice is that veterans pay an effective tax in many cases equal to as much as their entire salary.

The tax is this, most people in America need two incomes to run their households. People serving in the military aren't often able to get that second income. Their spouses aren't able to work.

That's a burden on their families and that burden continues even into transition, because the history of broken work record affects veteran's families, too.

We often say at Blue Star families, the best thing you can give a veteran is a spouse with a job.

KEILAR: It's hard. One of the challenges is, you're moving every few years. Some people, it's even more. You get somewhere, you get settled, you get a new job. Some employers will discriminate against military spouses because they think, oh, they'll be gone again in another year or two. This is a very real think that happens.

You look at the unemployment rate, the under-employment rate. We look at the overall employment rate in the U.S., it's doing very well. There's a recession for military spouses.

ROTH-DOUQUET: That's right, and it's one of the longest recessions in American history. For the past 10 years, since Blue Star families has been tracking it, we've seen more than 24 percent unemployment. And that's when the national average is around 3 percent. Underemployment is about 60 percent.

KEILAR: Sixty percent?

ROTH-DOUQUET: Sixty percent. That means that people who were making $100,000 a year, or $10,000 a year, people who had been making $60,000 a year who may be unemployed. That's all kinds of folks.

Blue Star Families has a career program. It's a platform with thousands of spouses on it. We have people with master's disagrees and PhD's. We have former veterans who are now spouses with security clearances unemployed.

And this hurts employers. It hurts our economy. Nobody wins.

KEILAR: Very quickly. We have a little bit of time. The breaks in resume, you're trying to get employers to look pass that. How?

ROTH-DOUQUET: We are asking employers to education themselves and their H.R. departments. Don't let your automatic H.R. department spit someone out for a break in employment.

Look at who this person is, not just their last job, but look at their education. Military spouses have great skills in organization, in unflappability. Look at military spouses as a whole person. And that can make a great difference in your company.


KEILAR: You're a military spouse as well. As am I.


KEILAR: I've never seen people who are so organized and multitasked so well. It's pretty amazing.

Kathy, we really appreciate you talking to us about this. Thanks so much.

ROTH-DOUQUET: Thanks for helping us shine the spotlight.

KEILAR: We'll have more on my conversation with Kathy in my column at "Home Front" on

Nikki Haley revealing in a new brook that some of the president's top aides felt the need to undermine the president over his behavior. We'll have details ahead.

Also, as Joe Biden amplifies his rhetoric against Elizabeth Warren and her policies, the former vice president will answer questions tonight in a CNN town hall, 9:00 Eastern, live from Iowa. Don't miss it.