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Bolton Places Profits over Patriotism; New Polls on Democratic Race. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired December 24, 2019 - 08:30   ET



MARK GROOMBRIDGE, FORMER SENIOR POLICY ADVISER TO JOHN BOLTON: First, he flat out and bluntly said, quote, I actually have a lot to say on the subject. That, by definition, implies that he has information privy to the Ukraine investigation, and the impeachment process more broadly. But it was the second part of what he said during that interview which, to me, was most troubling which is that he said, well, I -- he basically implied, I want to discuss what I have to say, but I can't do it at this point. That, obviously, begs the question of, if not now, then when?

We are at a crucial point in American history. You would think that Ambassador Bolton would want the Senate to have all of the information so that he -- so that they can make a fully informed and productive decision. Keep in mind that 71 percent of Americans and 64 percent of Republicans support the notion that the Senate should be allowed to call witnesses. Needless to say, Ambassador Bolton, along with Chief of Staff Mulvaney, would top that list.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Ambassador Bolton's lawyers have said as much. I mean just to your point, they have said, he knows a lot. Here's the statement. They said he was personally involved in many of the events, meetings and conversations about which you have already received testimony, as well as many relevant meetings and conversations that have not yet been discussed in the testimonies thus far.

So that was his lawyer to House investigators. And, yet, he didn't show up for a deposition. And so what about his argument, I think, his lawyer's argument, that he wants the court to compel him. Is that legitimate?

GROOMBRIDGE: It's smoke and mirrors. Dr. Fiona Hill courageously testified, and I didn't see any erosion of separation of powers or executive privilege issues. In fact, one could make the strong counterargument that she helped reinforce or bolster the operation of powers by affording Congress the opportunity to exercise its legitimate oversight responsibility.

So you have to go through a process of elimination here.

Bolton knows that the courts aren't going to decide this one way or the other prior to a Senate trial. So you can knock that off the list. Then you can also consider the fact that nothing is stopping him from

writing an op-ed, giving a speech or appearing on a program like this to explain his views. That can essentially mean there's really only one logical conclusion, and forgive me for being snarky and blunt, but he's stealing a page from Omarosa's playbook by arguing essentially that, you know, I've got something really important to say, but you're going to have to wait and hear it. He could speak publicly right now. He's choosing not to do so. The only logical conclusion is that he's teasing his book.

CAMEROTA: And when you say he's teasing his book, you know, there has been some speculation that he's also the author known as "anonymous" of the book "A Warning." Do you think that's him?

GROOMBRIDGE: I don't think there's any possibility that that -- that's the case, no. It's not his style. It's not the way he -- he would -- he would approach his criticism. He, you know, for example, he's been sharply critical of the president on North Korea, but has tried to separate that from his criticism of the president, which is precisely what he did actually at the end of the Bush administration.

Keep in mind, the last two years of the Bush administration, he was in the private sector. He had no problems criticizing the Bush administration on Iran and North Korea, just as he's doing with President Trump right now. But he still wants to be a player in GOP politics. And he knows full well that if he goes after President Trump too personally, that would essentially ruin his opportunity or burn bridges with potential donors for his PAC and super PAC.

Ambassador Bolton wants to be a player in GOP politics. If he trashes Trump personally and it later comes out that he is "anonymous," that would ruin his legacy forever. Of course there's a strong argument that he's on the wrong side of history right now and, you know, legacy wise, by refusing to reveal what he knows.

CAMEROTA: Well, I mean, there you have it. That's the rub. If you're saying that he doesn't want to alienate Republicans and Republican donors, maybe that's why he's not speaking out. I mean your -- you are basically saying that he is choosing profits over patriotism.


CAMEROTA: And that is, obviously, a harsh assessment of it. But what I hear you also saying is that he's trying to preserve his future in the Republican Party.

GROOMBRIDGE: It's a -- it's -- he's walking a tight rope. And it's an absolute delicate balancing act. But he has no problems criticizing the president on North Korea, justifiably in my opinion, because the bromance summit diplomacy we have right now with President Trump clearly is not working.

But, more broadly, Ambassador Bolton views himself as a champion, if you will, of a certain hawkish view of national security. And he's worries that Senator Rand Paul and his isolationist views are gaining traction with the president. And so Bolton feels that it is his ethical and moral responsibility to champion his views on foreign policy. And I certainly respect him for doing that, particularly when you see such abject failures in this administration such as on North Korea.


However, he is going to still be careful. He understands that he also has, at some point, an obligation to say what he wants to say. But there's still no logical explanation for why he would not want the Senate to have as fully informed picture as they possibly could as they move into one of the most divisive and controversial issues in our nation's history.

CAMEROTA: Mark Groombridge, we really appreciate getting your insider perspective on all of this. It helps us understand what's happening.

We should also let our viewers know that we did reach out to Ambassador John Bolton to come on the program today, and we did not hear back from him.

Thank you, Mark. We'll talk again.

GROOMBRIDGE: I hope he does.

CAMEROTA: Thank you. Us too.

GROOMBRIDGE: You bet. Merry Christmas.


JOHN AVLON, CNN ANCHOR: Fascinating conversation.

Meanwhile, while the impeachment drama plays out in Washington, Democratic candidates are making their case to be the party's nominee. So who's head-to-head in the 2020 race? Harry Enten joining us with the latest polls, next.



AVLON: All right, 15 Democratic hopefuls are vying to take on President Trump next November, but one Democrat is polling best in head-to-head matchups against him.

Here to break down the numbers, CNN politics senior writer and analyst --

HARRY ENTEN, CNN POLITICS SENIOR WRITER AND ANALYST: Ho, ho, ho, ho, ho, Merry Christmas Eve and a happy Hanukah to you.

CAMEROTA: And Santa Claus.

AVLON: Stand-in Santa.

How are you, my friend? CAMEROTA: Wow.

AVLON: What you got for us?

ENTEN: Let's see what I have in my gift basket. Okey-dokie.

So, here we go. This is the 2020 general election. This is Harry's average of the 2020 December live interview polls. And what we see here is all the Democrats are leading Trump but Biden clearly has the largest lead at seven points. That's running ahead of Sanders, who's only running about four heads -- four points ahead of the president, at least nationally speaking.

CAMEROTA: OK. And the favorability rating?

ENTEN: Right. So, look, this is -- let's get an idea of why Biden's running the strongest.

So like last time, in our CNN poll that was taken this month, all of the leading candidates, including the president, have net negative favorability ratings. That is they have a higher unfavorable than favorable rating.

And what does that mean? What does that mean? Last time you recall that both Clinton and Trump had negative net favorability ratings. It mattered about the voters who had an unfavorable view of both candidates. The president won that group by 17 points.

What's going on in this group? What we see here is that Biden, among those who have an unfavorable view of both Biden and Trump is leading 72-9. That's a 63-point edge. That's significantly larger than the lead that Sanders has over Trump among those who have an unfavorable view of both Sanders and Trump. His lead's only 41 percentage points. Warren's lead is only 40 percentage points. So, Biden, that 63-point lead under those who have an unfavorable view of both, that is a big, big deal.

AVLON: And I just to -- I want to hammer home on why that is such a big deal because the margin Trump won by actually seems to have come or can be attributed to folks who walked into the ballot booth saying, I don't like Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. Donald Trump won them handily.

And it seems very clear that the Trump campaign strategy in 2020 is to drive down everyone's negatives, especially Joe Biden. That might account for part of their Ukraine strategy.

ENTEN: That's exactly right. And that is why this group is so important. And Biden's overwhelming edge with them is the reason that he has a general election edge over the other Democrats at this point.

AVLON: Fascinating.

CAMEROTA: They only hate Biden a little bit.

OK, that should be his new motto. AVLON: So you're saying there's a chance.

CAMEROTA: Yes, exactly.


ENTEN: So I think another key reason why Biden is up versus the other Democrats, doing a little bit better, this is among Dem and Democratic leaning independent voters in the general election. And, you know, liberals aren't liking Biden too much in the primary. But here he's winning by 88 points in the general election over Trump. That's very close to Sanders' 91 percentage point lead.

But look at these moderates to conservatives who overwhelmingly love Biden in the -- in the primary. He is doing significantly better in the general election than Sanders, Warren or Buttigieg. He's winning them by 83 points. Sanders only beating Trump among these voters by 72 points.

So he is holding on to that base and those liberals in the primary who don't like him are coming home in the general election.

AVLON: So the Sanders/Warren could scare off some moderate voters and cause them to vote for Trump is what this poll tells us?

ENTEN: That's exactly what this is saying.

AVLON: Fascinating.

OK, keep on trucking.

CAMEROTA: Tell us about women.

ENTEN: Yes, so this --

AVLON: I'm not sure Harry's the right --

CAMEROTA: I'm going to have to go to Harry for all of my advice on women.

AVLON: You do?

ENTEN: I'm not -- I'm not touching that one. But, look, general election, white women without a college degree, I think this is such a key group, Trump won those over Clinton by 23 percentage points. Look at these margins in our last CNN poll. Biden is losing them but only by 9 percentage points. He cuts that deficit by more than half. The other Democrats don't cut those deficits by nearly as much, 17 to say 18 points.


All right, keep on trucking.

ENTEN: Why is that group so important? Because in the Midwest battlegrounds, they make up a significantly larger portion, 28 percent of the general electorate in the Midwest battlegrounds, the states decided by eight points or less. In the non-battlegrounds, they only make up 18 percent. So they vote beyond their weight generally speaking.

CAMEROTA: What's your kicker?

ENTEN: What's my kicker?

Look at this --

AVLON: Favorite --

ENTEN: Favorite Christmas holiday movie? "It's a Wonderful Life" at 9 percent.

AVLON: Which is the right choice.

ENTEN: But Harry's favorite "Die Hard."


CAMEROTA: Oh, my -- I don't -- I don't remember.

ENTEN: You don't have a favorite Christmas movie?

CAMEROTA: I mean I guess "It's a Wonderful Life."

AVLON: Definitely "It's a Wonderful Life" followed by "Elf" is the right answer --

CAMEROTA: I guess -- I mean I guess "It's a Wonderful Life." Is that right?

AVLON: But we're going to talk about our favorites coming up.

CAMEROTA: Yes, our favorite music.

AVLON: That's right.

CAMEROTA: So, Harry, you'll have to join us for that, all right?

ENTEN: I shall.

CAMEROTA: OK, so, coming up, the songs they only play once a year. Some of our NEW DAY family shares with you our favorite Christmas and holiday songs.

AVLON: Unexpected ones, too.

CAMEROTA: And let us know your favorites as well.

AVLON: All right, but first, one generous Santa who wears a baseball cap instead of a red hat, well, he's on a mission to impact his world by giving the gift of mobility.

[08:45:02] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PHIL PAVONE: A lot of you can't do anything on your own without the help of others. That ends today.

Throughout the year, we collect unwanted motorized chairs, refurbish them and have a big giveaway around the holiday season.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You changed my life. I can live again.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Ten years ago, Phil Pavone had some motorized wheelchairs that weren't selling at his Connecticut pawn shop. He decided to donate them and asked people to send letters explaining why they needed a chair.

That first year, he gave away six. Now that number has reached almost 700.

PAVONE: There's thousands of these chairs out there that once people are done with them, they don't know what to do with them. And you have all these people that need them and you just don't have any program to put the two together.

A few years back, I developed cancer. It was the first time in my life that I had to depend on someone else. You feel like you're worthless.

This is as non-profit as you can get. We have a GoFundMe page. All my volunteers do it out of their heart. I do it out of my heart.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, look at me go. Thank you so much.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Honey, you can do wheelies in the parking lot.




CAMEROTA: OK, it's time for a special "Good Stuff." A musical version.

AVLON: Love it.

CAMEROTA: On this Christmas Eve, we wanted to share with you some of our favorite holiday songs. And we asked our friends, Joe Lockhart and Harry Enten, to join in the fun because they were just hanging out in the green room.


CAMEROTA: And so we asked them to come in.

And so what I love about -- one of the things I love about this time is that you get to hear songs that you only hear once a year. And there is a song that I wait all year long to hear.

AVLON: So sad you have to do this to yourself.

CAMEROTA: It is very sad because there's actually technology where I could just play it on Spotify, but it does feel more sort of special with divine intervention when you just stumble upon it on the radio.

AVLON: That's true.

CAMEROTA: And if I'm lucky, I hear this Christmas song only once. I mean, I want to hear it more often, but you hear it once, if you're lucky, a year. It's the pretenders, "2,000 Miles." Everybody, just listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I miss you. I can hear people singing. It must be Christmas.


CAMEROTA: I mean it's so good.

See, it's poignant. It's sad to me because it's like your -- if you're away from your loved ones on Christmastime.

AVLON: And your '80s is showing.

CAMEROTA: My '80s is showing.

AVLON: There -- but, you know what, though, but that's what I like about this list. These are alternative Christmas anthems. It's not your father and mother's Christmas carols.

CAMEROTA: OK, well, let's chat. Let's find out about that.

AVLON: Joe Lockhart?

CAMEROTA: Joe, what's your favorite Christmas song?

JOE LOCKHART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I -- I guess I have two, and they're for two different reasons. One is the most bizarre combo I've ever seen on camera.


LOCKHART: David Bowie and Bing Crosby.

CAMEROTA: Oh, yes!


LOCKHART: Singing "Little Drummer Boy."

AVLON: So good.

CAMEROTA: Oh, I remember this, Joe. This is really good.

AVLON: How did they convince them to do that?

CAMEROTA: How did this happen?

LOCKHART: I'm not sure they're in the same room. And I'm -- and I'm not sure Bing Crosby is alive right now.

CAMEROTA: No, that's --

AVLON: That's an epic.

CAMEROTA: I forgot about that. That is an '80s spectacular.

AVLON: Well, that's a '70s, I beg to differ.


LOCKHART: Right, that's the '70s.

AVALON: Oh, yes.

CAMEROTA: Oh, this is from the '70s?


AVLON: Now, I don't think Bing -- Big made it to the '80s, but -- but you have another one that is '80s.

LOCKHART: I have one -- I have one for the '80s. And the -- and the story behind this one is, there was around the whole live aid, they used to release these Christmas records to raise money. And this was my introduction to Run DMC that I'd never even heard of before but "Christmas in Hollis."

AVLON: "Christmas in Hollis."

Let's take a listen.

CAMEROTA: That's awesome. Let me hear it.

That is so great.

AVLON: Oh, the elf deejays, too. So good.

CAMEROTA: And ever since then you've been dressing like Run DMC.

LOCKHART: Absolutely.

CAMEROTA: That was awesome.

AVLON: Harry, what you got for us this holiday season?

ENTEN: I'm not nearly as cool as this guy over here.

CAMEROTA: Oh, yes.

AVLON: Well, that is evidence. ENTEN: But I'm going to give you an old classic, because, you know me,

I play the part. "Dreidel Dreidel."


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (singing): Well, I have a little dreidel. I made it out of clay. And when it's dry and ready, then dreidel I shall play.


AVLON: Do we have any idea what version this is or you'll take it as it comes?

CAMEROTA: This is Harry's personal version.

ENTEN: I believe that is Uncle Neil.

AVLON: All right.

ENTEN: Dry and ready.

CAMEROTA: Is that right?

AVLON: No, it's not. But that's impressive.

CAMEROTA: Neil Sedaka?

ENTEN: It sounds like him.

AVLON: All right, everything sounds like Neil Sedaka.

CAMEROTA: Oh, my gosh, that's awesome.

ENTEN: Well, to me, anyway.


AVLON: All right, to you.

All right, so now, I've got to say --

CAMEROTA: What's your favorite?

AVLON: I've got two here because I love this stuff. I'm obsessive. One, the ultimate alt Christmas anthem, "Fairytale of New York" by the Pogues.

CAMEROTA: Let's hear it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (singing): It was Christmas Eve, babe.


AVLON: And, yes, that is Christmas Even in the drunk tank with Matt Damon as a New York City cop in the video.

CAMEROTA: That's (INAUDIBLE). I like that.

AVLON: The next one is even more obscure, but I think the most beautiful Christmas song you've ever heard. Margaret attests that this may have been what made her take a second look at me. This is from Studio 60, the city of New Orleans, Trombone Shorty playing "Holy Night" from a short-lived song in this video.

CAMEROTA: Let me hear it.

That's why Margaret married you?

AVLON: I'm not sure that's why --

CAMEROTA: I think it is.

AVLON: But I do know this is a -- this is a family tradition. We play it every year.

LOCKHART: I have a list, I bet.

AVLON: It is from Studio 60. It's short-lived Aaron Sorkin. But that tune, Trombone Shorty is playing the lead. It was around the time -- a benefit after Katrina for (INAUDIBLE). It is the most beautiful song ever.

CAMEROTA: That is so beautiful. OK, let us know what your favorites are. You can find me on Instagram @alisyncamerota, right there on Instagram.

AVLON: @johnavlon. Tell us what your favorites are @joelockhart and --

ENTEN: @forecasterenten.

AVLON: There you go.

CAMEROTA: Fantastic.

LOCKHART: More dreidel. More dreidel.

CAMEROTA: All right, CNN "NEWSROOM" is next.

But, first, one more musical note for you. The inside story of the life and career of the first female pop icon Linda Ronstadt.


This is a new CNN film premiering on New Year's Day. So watch a little bit.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She came to Los Angeles.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen, Miss Linda Ronstadt. LINDA RONSTADT, MUSICIAN (singing): Just one look --

RONSTADT (on camera): I was 18 years old and we formed a little band. We called ourselves The Stone Ponies.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The L.A. scene was in gear and the whole damn thing broke loose.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was rock music, folk music, co-mingling.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How can we define what this is going to be?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Linda was the queen. She was like what Beyonce is now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She was the only female artist to have five platinum albums in a row.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: "I Can't Help If I'm Still In Love with You" was a hit on the country charts. "You're No Good" was a hit on both the R&B chart and the pop chart. I became the first artist to have a hit on all three charts.

RONSTADT (singing): You're no good, you're no good, you're not good, baby, you're no good.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She was the first female rock 'n' roll star.

RONSTADT (singing): You're no good, you're no good, baby, you're no good.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "Linda Ronstadt, The Sound of My Voice," New Year's Day on CNN.