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INSIDE POLITICS

Haley on Impeachment: "The American People Should Decide"; Joe Biden Holding CNN Town Hall in Iowa; Buttigieg Becomes 2020 Target for Other Democrats; GOP Rep. Peter King Announces Retirement. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired November 11, 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] LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, POLITICO: -- doesn't need -- that the act doesn't need to have to been carried out for Congress to impeach a president. If they find is conduct unbecoming which is the act of asking for this favor then the House can proceed as they see fit.

Haley's -- as Margaret said, what Haley is doing is very obvious. I mean, she is positioning herself to rise as a potential replacement to Trump whether he is there for all eight years if he's re-elected or not.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It'll be --

JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Available if and when they need someone.

BARRON-LOPEZ: Right.

RACHAEL BADE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: But she could -- what's interesting to me about, you know, this book and the excerpts is like she could have done that, positioned herself in both camps without throwing a knife at, you know, John Kelly. I think that was particularly interesting. And if you remember back, you know, when she was accused of getting talking points wrong on a Sunday show regarding Syria, it was I guess Kelly's position to go out and defend her when other people in the administration said she was confused and sort of threw her under the bus.

Clearly, there's still some sour grapes there because she's basically accusing Kelly of not treason per se but saying it's against the constitution, he was trying to undermine the president. I mean, this is a real serious accusation she's making right here. So, I just found it interesting that she was going after him while trying to sort of balance both of these camps.

KING: And speaking of buses, a great headline in the New York magazine today, "Nikki Haley Throws Ex-Trump Officials Under Her Tentative 2024 Campaign Bus". There's that headline. To your point about John Kelly, here's what John Kelly told the Washington Post in response to this. Mr. Kelly said that if providing the president, quote, with the best and most open, legal and ethical staffing advice from across government, quote, so he could make an informed decision is working against Trump, then guilty as charged.

MARGARET TALEV, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: There you have it.

KING: So not backing away from the idea that he sometimes had to do, a gentle word, to do extraordinary things in his view to keep the president on the rails. Her view is he's the boss, do it.

CARL HULSE, CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Yes. It's such a delicate balancing act that she's trying to do here to stay on both sides of it that it's going to be hard for her to maintain it. I think that -- I do think it's really interesting that she basically did confirm what we all talked about for two years, that there was this movement within the White House to hold the president in check. I think that sometimes it's one of -- this is -- sometimes when you try and do it this calculatedly, it blows up on you later, and she may come to regret later some of the things she said right there.

KING: To Margaret's point, she is the only person I can think of who's managed this balance. Stay on the president's good side, occasionally criticize the president, keep affinity with the base, keep affinity with the rest of the party. We'll see if she can -- it's a juggling act, we'll see if she can continue to do it.

As we go to break, again, we want to take you now to Arlington National Cemetery. Vice President Pence attending today's veterans' ceremonies. This is from last hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:38:11] KING: Topping our political radar today, a top House Republican demanding the secretary of state send a strong message to the Turkish president, your authoritarian tactics aren't welcome here. Liz Cheney saying that in a letter today to Mike Pompeo asking him to stop, prohibit some Turkish officials from entering the country with President Erdogan when Erdogan visits the White House this week. Cheney's demand targets members of Erdogan's security detail whom she called thugs because they clashed with protesters outside the Turkish embassy back in 2017.

The JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon, the latest billionaire pushing back against Elizabeth Warren and her proposed wealth tax. A tweet from the senator saying Dimon opposes changing a system is working for the wealthy and well-connected came up during Dimon's interview on 60 Minutes.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You jumped in and said this week about her, that she was vilifying successful people and having harsh words for Wall Street bankers.

JAMIE DIMON, CEO, JPMORGAN CHASE: What I was commenting on is anything that vilifies people, I just don't like. I think that, you know, most people are good, not all of them, I think should vilify Nazis, but you shouldn't vilify people who work hard to accomplish things. And so my comments -- I think in American society we're just attacking each other all the time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Tulsi Gabbard today demanding an apology from Hillary Clinton. The 2016 Democratic nominee suggested the 2020 candidate Gabbard might be, quote, a Russian asset on a podcast last month. In open letter this morning, Gabbard called Clinton words defamatory and asked the former secretary of state to retract them in public with an on-camera statement.

And Joe Biden hoping to connect with voters in Iowa this Veterans Day holding two town halls. One of them, you can see start to finish tonight right here on CNN. The former vice president's interesting position, strong in the national polls but falling behind in some of the early states especially Iowa and New Hampshire. How worried is he? CNN's Dana Bash caught up with him this weekend.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[12:40:02] DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: If here in New Hampshire you don't come in first or even second, do you feel confident that your candidacy can survive?

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: First of all, I think I'm going to do better in both places than that.

BASH: But let's just say just hypothetically.

BIDEN: I'm not going to go there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Smart not to go there. But it is interesting though because you do have this odd dynamic in the race which is part of the whole Michael Bloomberg's I might get in late scenario. And that Biden looks relatively strong, he's come down some but you have Biden, Warren, Sanders at the top of the Democratic pack nationally but Biden does struggle third or fourth in Iowa, third or fourth in New Hampshire.

BARRON-LOPEZ: And I think the big question there is what impact if he doesn't come in first or second. What impact does that have on the states that come next? What does it have on Nevada? What does it have on South Carolina? Do voters change their minds because they see a weakened Joe Biden?

TALEV: Well, yes, and I do think that if you are coming from behind the pack, what happens in the early states, you know, might not be as important if you can somehow catch up later. But if you start at the top, there is a sense of momentum and closer for people to read.

But one of the things that Bloomberg has looked at that Biden also may be looking at is how compressed and expedited that Super Tuesday schedule is. When you have California and all the states like literally a month after Iowa, right after New Hampshire, maybe the early states matter a little bit less, but you wouldn't want to bet on it.

KING: All right, history tells you the momentum of the early states but to your point, the first four states have fewer than five percent of the delegates, and then bam, a couple of Tuesdays in a row, you get up to the 35, 40 percent quickly. Again, programming note, CNN has that Democratic town hall tonight with the former Vice President Joe Biden live from Iowa, moderated by CNN's Erin Burnett, 9 p.m. Eastern right here only on CNN.

Up next, the big Democratic division over another candidate, Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:46:44] KING: There is a big and bitter Democratic debate over Mayor Pete Buttigieg. Polling puts the mayor in the Iowa top-tier but some 2020 rivals say Buttigieg hasn't earned his place there and that his credentials don't measure up to theirs. Among those candidates, Senator Amy Klobuchar.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm the one from the Midwest that has actually won in a statewide race over and over again, and that's not true of Mayor Pete. That's just a fact. I'm focusing here on my fellow women senators, Senator Harris, Senator Warren, and myself. 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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: That resume question just one of two weekend controversies circling the mayor. A Los Angeles Times reporter misquoted Buttigieg blaming President Trump's rise on, quote, the failures of the Obama era. That turned out to be an inaccurate quote and the newspaper quickly corrected it this morning. But not before an internet buzz that included shade from campaign rival and Obama Housing secretary Julian Castro. In a morning bus (INAUDIBLE) with reporters today, Buttigieg trying to move on and stay on message.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG (D-SOUTH BEND, IN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I appreciate the fact they got cleared up right away so it's not destruction on veterans. I'm not really focus on that. I think that if we continue to reach voters with the right message, then that's how we're going to win.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Senator Klobuchar have a point?

BARRON-LOPEZ: Yes -- I mean, there is no question that female candidates have to deal with a number of things that male candidates don't, you know, from misogyny to just different standards that women have, questions about electability which they consider code word for being a woman or a minority. But that being said, Buttigieg is rising for a specific, you know, for reasons. He seems to have latched onto this unifying message that people feel as though he's pulled from Obama. He also has this new generation field him because he is a young candidate and so he's playing into that. But the big question is that he has struggled a lot with minority voters, with black and brown voters, and can he make inroads there because if he doesn't he can't really survive.

KING: As you jump in, just a couple interesting perspectives. You mentioned Obama, David Axelrod who is now a CNN contributor obviously was the top strategist for Obama back in 2007-2008. He says this into the New York Times, "It's a natural thing when a young candidate comes along and has success for other candidates who feel like they've toiled in the vineyards to resent it. I think they'd like him better if he weren't doing as well." There is, success does bring you harpoons.

This just tweeted a short time ago from Jen Palmieri who's worked in Democratic politics for a while, I remember from the Clinton White House, she worked on the Hill before that, she was active of course for Hillary Clinton's campaign in 2016. She says of Amy Klobuchar's point, she re-tweeted the story about Amy Klobuchar's point. "This is 100 percent true. Doesn't mean Buttigieg is not a worthy candidate. It means we should push ourselves to see the same potential in promising women as we do in promising men.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BADE: Yes. No. Absolutely, there is definitely often double standard when it comes to women and that's gotten better in this day and age but it still like this. I mean, clearly, you have candidates, there are two things going on here. You have some jealousy which in that quote people were getting to right there. I mean, Pete Buttigieg, he was one of the lower-tiered candidates. He really was able to stand out in the debates and has been working voters and has really soared in Iowa. And so clearly people resent that given his lack of experience, perhaps, here in Washington.

[12:50:05] But at the same time, I mean, Klobuchar's point about, you know, she's a battle-tested candidate, these are things that she is going to be trying to point out to voters to say I am the better candidate. You know, I have won in Republican districts. I have won in districts that, you know, Pete Buttigieg has never even tried to win. So -- I mean, there are points on both sides of this but, of course, you have to think about jealousy, of course, factoring perhaps some of that, too.

HULSE: Well, I think that it shows that Democratic voters are looking for something new, maybe not something from Washington. And I think she does have a point, but you just kind of have to live with it. He has caught on a little bit and is rising, and the fact they've all are turning on him and criticizing him like this, you know, is a bonus for him.

One thing about that misquote, you know, transparency has its problems. I feel bad for those reporters. They're recording hours of Mayor Pete and then have to go through it again and listen to it, and obviously that quote got mishandled. And it struck a cord because he is trying to be Obama in some ways and then to see him criticize him of course was false.

TALEV: If women voters have the same reaction that Amy Klobuchar did, then it's going to be a problem that Mayor Pete has to work on. And if they don't, it won't be.

KING: Right. At least 50 percent in many early primary states, more than 60 percent of the Democratic electorate will be women as we see that one play out. We'll keep an eye on it, it's -- we're getting -- also getting closer to the balloting which is why everybody is a little bit more on edge. You can understand it, it's hard to run for president.

When we come back, another House Republican announces he's going home.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:56:11] KING: Another House Republican heading for the exits today. After more than a quarter century in Congress, the New York's Peter King says he will not seek re-election in 2020. King now becomes number 22 on the list of House Republicans who have resigned, announced retirements, or are leaving the House to seek other offices. Congressman King is 75. He insists this is about more time with his family not any worry about losing.

CNN's Dana Bash though reports the congressman was hoping his daughter could run for the seat, but she recently moved out of the district and out of state. In his statement this morning, Congressman King adding, "In the coming weeks and during the next year, I intend to vote against President Trump's impeachment and will support the president's bid for re-election."

A very smart statement by Congressman King there to keep himself out of the president's Twitter feed, to make clear this is not about you, sir. But it is -- you've walked those halls a long time, Carl, this is a big number. Again, how much of it is the minority, how much of it is having to deal with Trump every day or a combination of all of the above?

HULSE: I think a combination. I talked to Pete King a week or so ago, he was clear that he was not happy with this impeachment. He, of course, voted against the articles of impeachment against President Clinton so he was one of the few Republicans who did that.

I think that, you know, it's tough being in a minority, but I think he's just decided that it's time to move on. You can't do much in the minority. He was a guy who liked to get things done. And I have to say reporters everywhere were crying today because Pete King was really good in dealing with the media, always available and a great guy.

KING: It does tell you that a lot of these seasoned House Republicans think they're not getting the majority back in 2020. HULSE: Not anytime soon.

KING: And so they don't want to be in the minority. Some of them also don't like answering questions about the president. Others just believe things other than the president. They're in President Trump's Republican Party now, but they're more traditional Republicans. One of them who is now gone, Charlie Dent, who is a CNN contributor, put it this way.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHARLIE DENT, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Peter King's seat will likely be a competitive seat for Republicans to defend. So I suspect that members were retiring in part because they're frustrated with the current political environment and the president's conduct in office. And I think you have to still watch out for more. Look what happened just week in these elections, those elections I think sent a bad sign. They don't bode well for 2020.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: He's dead right there'll be more. And he's talking about last Tuesday when if you look at the Kentucky suburbs, the Virginia suburbs, the Philadelphia suburbs, pick your spot, that had elections this year, other Republicans in the age of President Trump are getting hammered in America's suburbs.

BADE: Yes. No. And just to go back to the point that you're making here, Carl, you know, it's a number of things. It's not only fears that they will not win back the House. I've heard a lot of Republicans say that they think Trump could possibly lose in 2020. And I remember I heard a quote something along the lines of like we think we're in the wilderness now, imagine us losing the White House. We're going to be in a worst position than we are right now.

And then the tweet thing, you can't overstate how much Republicans hate having to answer for the president's controversial tweets. One of the retiring Republicans I interviewed just after his announcements, Paul Mitchell, a Republican from Michigan and a Trump district, a really conservative area, one of the tweets that led him to retire was when Trump went out and made a racist comment about those four liberal women in the House, saying they should go back to their countries of origin, even though they're all Americans. That's what led him to go home, have a conversation with his wife and say, enough is enough. I'm done.

TALEV: Because it's just exhausting. But it is an interesting counterpoint to Nancy Pelosi's decision to get behind the impeachment inquiry that's now going forward. There were so much concern from so many Democrats, including from her, that going aggressively on this could hurt them -- hurt their hold on the House. There is still some concerns among Democrats that it could hurt their bid for the White House in 2020, but this seems to bolster the idea that the thought is it will not cost Democrats the House majority.

KING: And today, it's interesting to watch. As you jump in, I just want to put the numbers up before we lose this. If you go back to the last Congress, there were 23 Republican retirements. The Republicans started with 241 at the beginning of that Congress. The Republican obviously in the minority now with 197 to start this Congress --

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