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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees
Trump Says He Will Pardon A Large Portion Of January 6th Rioters; Trump Won't Say Whether He Wants Russia Or Ukraine To Win War; Trump Says He Would Accept 2024 Election Results If He Believes It's An Honest Election; CNN Analyzes Donald Trump's Republican Presidential Town Hall. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired May 10, 2023 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
GOV. CHRIS SUNUNU (R-NH): Two, we lost, we should have won in 2020. We got everything, like our clock cleaned because his leadership and his message isn't getting it done. I supported him in 2016. I supported him in 2020. He's a three-time loser going on to be a four- time loser. And it's not just him that I'm worried about.
You worry about the Senate races. I'm worried about the governorships. I'm worried about the ballot that he affects up and down the ticket. I want winners. I want independents back on the team. I want young people to be reinvigorated by what I think is a great Republican conservative product that doesn't get the headlines it deserves because the former president tries to keep defending himself over the flaws of 2020.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: But if you look at polls among Republican voters, it is -- this man is who they want as of now. I mean, he's far ahead of everybody else.
SUNUNU: We haven't had a debate yes, I mean, not even a single debate. I mean, the field is still yet to be defined, whether it's myself or other candidates will still get in.
COOPER: Do you think the debates really matter that much?
SUNUNU: Oh my God, yes, absolutely. Look, I think in those debates, I think folks are going to see that that he's not the same guy. This isn't 2016. He doesn't bring the same fire. There're no new ideas. He is just going to try to re-litigate what happened in 2020, but we all know exactly what happened there. And he is going to be on the defensive.
He's not going to have the energy. So, I think there's a huge opportunity for the new generation, the new voice of the Republican Party, new ideas to come to fruition. There's still a lot to play here before we even get to the first in the nation primary in New Hampshire, which is next January, right?
So, I understand the polls. When someone polls and says, do you support Donald Trump? They think about what's going on in New York with the D.A. They think about some -- he's playing that victim card very well. I mean, let's just think about the irony of that, the fact that Donald Trump is playing a victim here. But they do think there is a political vendetta, if you will, against him.
Now, does that translate into a vote nine months from now? Totally a different story, absolutely totally different story, which is why I still very firmly believe he will not be the nominee. There will be a lot of opportunity to Republicans to shine.
COOPER: You heard him tonight attack the New York civil trial, which he was found liable of sexual abuse. He also defended his Access Hollywood comments tonight. I just want to play a clip of that for our viewers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: I said if you're famous and rich or whatever I said, but I said if you're a star, you are -- and I said women let you. I didn't say you grab them. I said women let. You didn't use that word. But if you look, women let you.
Now, they said, will you take that back? I said, look, for a million years, this is the way it's been.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: By the way, he said they let you do it. You can do anything, including grabbing them by the -- as you know what he said. Do you think there's anything that would lose him support with Republicans or Republican-leaning independents?
SUNUNU: Well, he's not gaining any support, I'll tell you that. I mean, again, I don't think anything he said shocked people, right, we've kind of crossed that paradigm a long time ago with this guy. He's trying to play the he said, she said thing. He's trying to twist everything around and not address the issue head on, and it's defensive, it's weak. And to your point, there's no one that said, oh, you know what, I think I'm going to change my mind. I think I'm with him now. No, no, no one is back on the team.
So, to say, because, again, there was just nothing new, there was a lot of the outrageous lies, the outrageous aspects of himself, but it is from a weaker, a more defensive position than he ever has been before. That's not what America is looking for. It's just not. And I think, again, given new options, I think the Republican Party is going to take advantage.
COOPER: The -- do you think the former president's criminal investigations have any impact based on what you've seen tonight with the Republican voters?
SUNUNU: No, not really. Look, I think, there's been criminal investigations in the past. We're going to have criminal investigations in the future. I don't think it's going to be votes, per se. It will be news and headlines. There's a lot of validity to it. Well, I'm not saying there is no validity to it. But in terms of actually moving a voter, there is nothing he can do or being indicted on, I think, that is overly outrageous to people and will pull people away from him that he doesn't already have.
I think the problem he has is he's not winning new voters back. And that's what you have to do to win. He's doing nothing to win suburban moms. He's doing nothing to win the independents. He's doing nothing to go after that very thin margin of independents that got on his team in 2016 to give him the win, backed way off in 2018, 2020, 2022, cost us all elections across the board as a Republican Party. They're not coming back. None of them are saying, gee, I guess I'm back on. So, no, it's not there.
And, again, my fear isn't just for the presidency, it's all the way down that ticket, U.S. Senate races. We should have 50 -- I'm a Republican. We should have 54 U.S. Senate races, but his messaging and his candidates got their butts kicked in 2022. And I'm tired of losing. We are all tired of losing. Let's bring something to the table. And I think everyone is excited for that. He's getting his moment now but he hasn't really been challenged, not by his peers.
I think Kaitlan did a fantastic job, by the way.
She didn't back down at all. She was steadfast and held her own. But he just kind of kept reiterating the lies and almost trying to run out the clock, if you will.
COOPER: You talk about bringing something to the table. Do you -- can you say -- I'm not going to ask you if you're going to, but can you say when you would make a decision about whether you would bring yourself to the table in this race?
SUNUNU: I think all the potential candidates really have to decide by mid to late June. It is really hard to go beyond that given the logistics of ballot access, of the access in what you'll need to get on the debate stage, although we now find out former President Trump is wimping out.
I mean, they guy is turning into a wimp. He doesn't want to get on the debate stage and talk about issues. He doesn't want to get on the debate the stage and, well, why didn't you drain the swamp like you'd said you were going to? Why didn't you fix health care like you promised? Why didn't you build the wall like you said you were going to?
He just doesn't even want to face that challenge from his peers, who, someone like myself, a governor, who understands issues, understands details, how systems work, how to get thing done regardless of the hand you're dealt. His thing is blame, right? He's just going to keep blaming everybody else.
But in politics you can't blame other people, right? When you're blaming someone else, all you're doing is highlighting the fact that they beat you, right, whether it is Republicans or Democrats. If he's blaming Republicans for not getting his agenda done, well, that means they won the argument, they won negotiation. So, this great negotiator that he tries to pretend to be, he just didn't get enough done. He's proven to not be able to negotiate in that public sphere.
COOPER: Governor, I appreciate your time. Thank you.
SUNUNU: You bet.
COOPER: Let's go back to Jake in Washington. Jake?
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Anderson. And we're back with the panel.
One of the -- we talked about the abortion issue, which is of immense consequence to voters here in the United States. An issue that is of immense consequence to people all over the world has to do with our position, the United States government's position on Ukraine. And Donald Trump, he loves to brag about his good relationship with Vladimir Putin of Russia.
The questions have been asked about what Donald Trump would do if he were to be elected president again in terms of support for the war in Ukraine, and Kaitlan tried to get some answers from him. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Do you want Ukraine or Russia to win this war?
TRUMP: I want everybody to stop dying. They're dying, Russians and Ukrainians. I want them to just stop dying. And I'll have that done in 24 hours. I'll have it done. You need the power of the presidency to do it.
COLLINS: But you won't say that you want Ukraine to win? You --
TRUMP: You know what I'll say? I'll say this. I want Europe to put up more money.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: So, a moral equivalence made between an invading country, Russia, and a victimized country, Ukraine, and we don't have an answer.
AUDIE CORNISH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No answer, he's always been friendly to Putin. Just a few weeks ago in an interview, he said that Putin was savvy and genius for his moves in Ukraine.
I think it is worth noting in the context of what I would call Trump escalation, with his first House impeachment, it was over abuse of power and withholding aid from Ukraine, right? And then now he's saying all these years later, the war is going to end when I show up on the first day. How? Does that mean withholding aid? What does that mean?
And I think with every one of his answers, you have to ask yourself, what is the logical conclusion, what is the next step to the thing he's talking about? And you can do that in your head with abortion. What does it mean to negotiate further?
And what does it mean to pardon the people on January 6th, a large majority of people on January 6th? What will it mean to praise Ashli Babbitt or other people that those on the extreme right consider a martyr instead of somebody who charged the Capitol and lost their life as a result?
This is the beginning of a conversation, right? He is asking people for another four years so that he continue more of these policies.
TAPPER: Yes. And, Jamie, one of the other things he said, The Hague has charged Vladimir Putin with war crimes having to do with essentially their kidnapping of hundreds if not thousands of Ukrainian children and taking them to Russia. He's been charged with war crimes, very serious and very precise. It was evidence-based, fact-based. It wasn't just some sweeping indictment. It was about this one specific thing. Kaitlan asked Donald Trump about that, too.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: Do you believe Putin is a war criminal? He's responsible for the deaths of thousands --
TRUMP: I think it is something that should not be discussed now. It should be discussed later. Because right now, we have to get a war -- if you say he's a war criminal, it is going to be a lot tougher to make a deal to get this thing stopped. Because if he's going to be a war criminal, what, people are going to go grab him and execute him, he's going to fight a lot harder than he's fighting under the other circumstance.
That's something to be discussed at a later date. Right now we want to get that more settled. And I'm not talking about the money, either.
TRUMP: I'm talking about all the lives that are being -- the number of people being killed in that war is far greater than you hear. When they blow up a city and those buildings come pouring down and they say two people were injured, no, no, hundreds of thousands of people are being killed. And we have to get that war settled.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: It's amazing that he refuses to call Putin a war criminal then details a hideous war crime while refusing to say it is the Russians that are the ones that are shelling these civilian apartment buildings.
JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: So, for context let's all remember that most Americans support U.S. support of Ukraine. I think that was a classic Donald Trump. We shouldn't discuss it now, because he doesn't want to discuss it now because he, A, does not have a solution and, B, he really doesn't want to say anything negative about Putin. In a certain way, it was not unlike his abortion answer, which was something to the effect of I want to negotiate to make everyone happy.
TAPPER: Right, yes, so, a good thing.
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: It's visible to me that the Trump campaign put out a statement saying that Donald Trump laid out his vision to reversed the Biden decline starting on day one, I really can't think of a whole lot that he really laid out.
TAPPER: Drill baby drill, that was it.
PHILLIP: Drill baby drill. He said that he would finish the wall, but that he already finished the wall. He would put into place child separation. But, really, on the issues at hand right now, on Ukraine, on abortion, he refused to give details.
And I think that was very telling about how they're trying to position themselves in this moment. This is not -- he's a former president of the United States. He's already been in the office. So, you would assume that he has some pretty clear ideas of what he wants to do, what his policy is on all of these issues.
He refused to lay it out. He dodged a lot of questions tonight. And it wasn't just because he likes to talk circles, it's because they were trying to avoid him being pinned down on things that they want to be flexible on.
But I have to say it's going to be very difficult for him to be flexible on some of the stuff. Once he gets into a real campaign environment, in which he is up against even other Republicans who have different views --
GANGEL: Can I just disagree? I think that he is never going to say and answer these questions. I think what we saw tonight is classic Donald Trump.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Despite the fact that you have the Chris Christies of the world who says, if he gets in, he is going to try to do this and others as well. But I think where you started this conversation about Ukraine, I think it is very telling that so far, aside from Governor Sununu, the official responses on Twitter from Chris Christie, as I mentioned earlier, and also from Asa Hutchinson, they have been totally zeroed in on the issue of Ukraine.
Whether that is because it is a very safe place, a clear delineation with him on a traditionally Republican conservative issue, to be more hawkish, to stand up to autocrats, to stand up to people like Vladimir Putin --
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Because they're Reagan Republicans.
BASH: But the question is are they making the right bet? If you go back to 2016, it was absolutely not. KING: They may not be making the right bet, but can you beat him in his redefined, re-imagined, repopulated Republican Party? This is Trump's party now. This is not Ronald Reagan's party. But bless them for standing on principle, Democrat, Republican, independent, not sure.
The former president of the United States would not say a dictator invaded a democracy. It is complicated. It is expensive. It is messy but it will not stand, period. Now, that should not be a hard answer.
PHILLIP: I mean, a lot of Republicans, I think, would -- the problem with the Republican Party on Ukraine is that many of them are in that exact same boat where they don't want to say that they support Ukraine because --
TAPPER: That's not where the base is.
PHILLIP: Voters don't want them to support Ukraine --
TAPPER: The American people support it but the base is not as convinced.
GANGEL: As Jared said, Donald Trump hijacked the Republican Party, and you heard it in that audience tonight.
TAPPER: It sure did. We have to take a break. We're going to have coming up next Maggie Hagerman with The New York Times, Pulitzer Prize winner. She was covering Donald Trump long before he even entered the political arena and has written, of course, a definitive account of his time in the presidency and in the political arena, and in New York. What is her take on what we saw? That's when we come back.
COOPER: If nothing else, the former president gave headline writers plenty of material on stage at tonight's CNN town hall in New Hampshire. He began by rehashing 2020 election lies. He ended in a similar vein entering this question about 2024.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: You are running in the 2024 Republican race. If you're the Republican nominee and you're in that 2024 race, will you commit tonight to accepting the results of the 2024 election?
TRUMP: Yes, if I think it is an honest election, absolutely, I would.
COLLINS: Will you commit to accepting the results of the election regardless of the outcome?
TRUMP: Do you want me answer it again? If I think it is an honest election, I would be honored to. And right now, we are so far ahead of both Democrat and Republican. And do you know what? If I don't win, this country is going to be in big trouble. It is so sad to see what's happening.
COLLINS: But no commitment there on accepting the results regardless of the outcome?
TRUMP: If it is an honest election, correct, I will.
COLLINS: Okay, so not accepting the 2024 election results.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: The former president and CNN's Kaitlan Collins tonight, the former president signaling that the next election could be like the last, his really seems to be. Jake?
TAPPER: Yes, Anderson. Joining me now is CNN Political Analyst, New York Times Senior Political Correspondent and Trump biographer Maggie Haberman, the author of a great book called, Confidence Man, the Making of Donald Trump and the Breaking of America.
Maggie, let's start with that clip, because I think it is important that people understand why Kaitlan -- what she was asserting that he was refusing to say that he would concede if he lost, because he kept on saying, if I believe it is an honest election. Just to be clear, Donald Trump before he beat Hillary Clinton said it wasn't going to be an honest election, then suddenly he won and it was.
When he lost to Ted Cruz in Iowa, he said that it was stolen, and which wasn't. Ted Cruz beat him in Iowa fair and square, and then, obviously, in 2020 happened. She was right, he is not committing to accepting a defeat if he does run and lose.
MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: No. Kaitlan was exactly right.
She was right in the line of questioning and she was right in her interpretation of what he said. He was not saying that he would concede if he lost. He was suggesting that all of this if fungible, just as he did, to your point, in an election he won. He called an election he won rigged. So, he is treating this all as if it's a negotiating prospect that translates to he will not say if he will concede, which is very significant after we watched what happened post-2020 and on January 6th, 2021.
TAPPER: Yes, troubling, absolutely troubling. And just a reminder, even though he beat Hillary Clinton in the electoral vote but he lost in the popular vote by more than 3 million votes, and then he set up an election commission at the White House to prove that those 3 million popular votes that he lost to Hillary Clinton by were fraudulent. And, of course, they were not able to do so because they weren't fraudulent.
HABERMAN: Right, the commission he ironically made Mike Pence be in charge of and it was an assignment at the White House that nobody wanted because they did not believe it was going to yield anything. TAPPER: Yes. What did you make of his overall performance this evening?
HABERMAN: So, I think there's a couple of different things that can be true at once, I think, that for Donald Trump in a Republican primary, and that was that crowd in that town hall tonight. This was not a bad night for him in terms of appealing to them. I thought it was incredibly striking, Jake, that when he said he was inclined to pardon many of the January 6th rioters who were arrested that day for the attack on the Capitol, there was loud applause from that audience. So, I thought that was pretty revealing.
And, frankly, I think it's important for people to understand where the Republican primary electorate is. But I think Trump got a lot of what he wanted to get out of tonight. I think he was hoping to show he could go into any room and I think he was going to try to dominate.
What I don't think was great for him, Jake, were his answers, and Kaitlan really pushed him on this, she knows this case, she's reported on it, is his possession of classified material at Mar-a-Lago. He gave a lot of answers that I think will be very interesting to the special counsel investigating it.
TAPPER: Yes. Another moment that was interesting in the sense that it was completely horrific to watch was when he was asked about the jury finding him liable of sexual assault, sexually assaulting E. Jean Carroll. A jury of his peers found that that to be the case and he made a comedy routine out of it, not that I found it funny, but people in that audience found it funny.
HABERMAN: They did, which, again, gets to my point, that sort of the way he is interpreted, and I have talked about this for a while, to some people, it is a psychological thriller score behind him, and other people, it's a laugh track, and that audience was a laugh track.
He was taking really detailed pieces of evidence that he was saying were not introduced properly in the E. Jean Carroll, meanwhile it's his own lawyers who were representing him. But he was just turning this into a joke and the crowd was eating it up.
I will say, Jake, again, I said I think that for a Republican primary electorate, this helps him, it's not clear how many of these clips are particularly helpful if he is the nominee in a general election, and I think Democrats believe that.
TAPPER: Yes. He was pushed also on the issue of abortion. He declared, as you and I have discussed, not without reason, that he is the reason Roe v. Wade is no longer the law of the land. He appointed three litmus-tested Supreme Court justices who voted to overturn it. Earlier, you said you thought he was going to probably respond to a question about abortion in a way that might appease social conservatives. Do you think he accomplished that?
HABERMAN: I do. I think he would not commit to a federal abortion ban and there will be some social conservatives who don't find that acceptable, but there will be a number who will latch on to him talking about his pride in ending Roe v. Wade and say that that's enough for them and that they trust that he will do the right thing in their minds, what they consider right, when he becomes president, again, another answer I don't think is particularly helpful for a Republican. But for the primary electorate, I think it will give enough of a fig leaf for some voters to stay with him.
TAPPER: Yes. I don't know about swing voters in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan, but certainly for --
HABERMAN: Yes, that's right. That's right.
TAPPER: Thanks so much, Maggie. I appreciate it. Anderson?
COOPER: Back with our political commentators here in New York. David Axelrod, does this change anything? I mean, it's interesting. I mean, the outrage many people have of hearing from the former president, it's interpreted differently based on what side of the political aisle you're on.
There are plenty of people who heard this night and thought he did great and that's the person they love. And all those people who are angry, maybe part of it is the realization that this is what the next two years are going to be like and perhaps the next six years.
DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, there's no doubt about it. Look, we're a deeply divided country and Donald Trump is one of the reasons we're a divided country and that's central to his politics.
But as Maggie was saying, as I said earlier, I think he went in that room. He didn't govern as the president of the whole United States. He governed as the president of his base and I think he went into that room and spoke to his base. And I think he probably scored with his base, and right now, that's what he cares about.
One thing that interests me is on this point of him saying, well, if I think the election was fair, which is what he has said in the past, then I will accept the results, what about the primary? What if he's not the nominee of the Republican Party? Because I think the other calculations that Democrats are making is Donald Trump can't lose.
He's constitutionally -- his own Constitution, unable to lose. So, is he going to wake up one morning when the delegates are counted, if he comes up short and say, now it is time to fall in and march behind my friend, Ron DeSantis? I can't even imagine that scene. And that's another problem for the Republican Party.
TAPPER: Congressman, as a Republican, are you concerned about that?
REP. BYRON DONALDS (R-FL): No, not at all, frankly. I think Donald Trump will be our nominee. I think it is important to say, even if you listen to the last segment with Jake, everything that was just talked about is not on the minds of independent voters in America. They are focused on the things that are affecting their families. First and foremost, has my child actually caught up from being locked out of schools for two years? Is fentanyl, which is a major issue in so many communities around our country, is the president going to do the job of securing our border and stopping the drug cartels from having operational control of our southern border?
Are we going to maintain the dollar as the world's reserve currency while China is trying to negotiate around the United States? Inflation, yes, the year-over-year number is trending down but the impact of inflation on the American family has completely devalued their wages over the last two years. Those are the things that really matter to Americans. So, they look at this --
AXELROD: Why was President Trump spent so much time, not in this forum, but when he goes out and makes speeches, why does he spend so much time on other things?
DONALDS: I think, David, he does. And I think this is the key thing. And, David, I'll let you go, too. He does. If you're in a room with him and you listen to him and talk, he doesn't really talk much about the 2020 elections. He doesn't. It might come up for three, four minutes. Most of it is on the agenda. And he talks about it for over an hour with voters.
KRISTEN SOLTIS ANDERSON, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST AND POLLSTER: I want to agree with something that you said at the beginning, which was that when it came up, are you afraid that Donald Trump won't be the nominee? And you said, no, I'm not afraid of that. Watching tonight, Donald Trump doesn't seem afraid that he won't be the nominee either.
He was given multiple opportunities to take a swipe at others in the Republican field. He didn't do it. We got one DeSanctimonious. He whiffed on the question about what would he do around Disney.
But then the question comes, okay, if you think you've already got this locked up, why not try to do something more to reach the middle? And there was one line, and I wrote it down, our country is being destroyed by stupid people. That's a quote from Donald Trump tonight. That's the kind of thing that, honestly, I'm sure you and I have heard in a million focus groups from swing voters.
And I wonder if you have a country that feels like the wheels are coming off and they voted for Joe Biden to put the wheels back on and they don't feel like that's happened, even though what we just watched feels chaotic and insane, it's not just the Republican base that finds something appealing in that.
DAVID URBAN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: And that's what I said in the break, we were talking about this. What Biden says and which I agree wholeheartedly is, Biden says don't judge me against the almighty but the alternative. What Byron is saying is exactly correct, Trump voters are looking and saying, look, I'm not talking about 2020. I'm looking about what's going on now.
What is the alternative to not having Donald Trump? Crime in the streets, they see what's happening in -- they look at the streets of San Francisco, the shooting gallery in Kensington and Philadelphia, that's just decay and crime, and they think that Trump is going to come in and turn it around.
And one other thing, let me say this really quickly, because a couple of people keep tweeting this to me. Do you think Joe Biden is going to go on Fox? Do you think he would be capable of going on Fox and doing a town hall like this? Do you think he would be strong enough or willing enough or adept enough to do this? So, I give the president props, like David says.
ALYSSA FARAH GRIFFIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Do we need to remember, we're in a primary. We're not a general election. I don't know why we're all kind of pretending that we're at this head-to-head that nobody wants again, which is Trump versus Biden. The fact is every issue you listed, I care tremendously about and Americans care about.
You're absolutely right that a lot of what consumes sort of the beltway crowd and the media is not what's on the minds of day-to-day to voters. But what I would say is, I think tonight, I've been paying attention, Governor DeSantis' PAC put out a scorching statement against Donald Trump.
You had Governor Chris Sununu on. I think that this may have actually motivated some of the folks who want to challenge him to say, okay, this may be an opening for us because he played to the base. He didn't play to the voters like me who generally supported most of his policies but are sick of the noise, we're sick of the anti-democratic positions.
This to me actually became a an opening for a Republican to take him on and say, if you want a lot of the policies, not insane things, like family separation, and you don't want chaos and anti-democratic positions.
VAN JONES, FORMER SPECIAL ADVISER TO PRES. OBAMA: You know, I'm trying to look at this from the point of view of what do Democrats have to be worried about? You know, I think we all just had a visceral reaction to just the insanity that we saw and just, you know, the offense I think that he was giving to, you know, people who believe in reality.
But he's doing -- there's a trick that I'm seeing that he's doing. He weaponizes nostalgia. His original kind of Make America Great Again was weaponizing nostalgia from like the 1950's or something, which was hard for us to understand. But he's doing it again.
And it's nostalgia for the Trump presidency. He's telling this story about the Trump presidency and how great it was and how wonderful it was and inflation and board and all that sort of stuff. And then he's projecting this future tense.
We're in danger if you love Joe Biden the way I do, that he owns the past and the future and Biden is stuck with the present. And we are gonna have to have a compelling narrative, I think, coming out of this. We're gonna have to have a compelling narrative about the future that we want that can stand up to this kind of weaponizing of nostalgia from Donald Trump.
COOPER: Everyone, stay there again. Much of what was seen and heard tonight is in the eye of the beholder and could be judged differently from voter to voter and certainly is. And that's why next we want to get reaction from some of the Republican and undeclared New Hampshire voters who attended tonight's Town Hall and could help decide the future Republican nominee for president.
COOPER: For a sense of how tonight's Town Hall with the former president played with some of New Hampshire's Republican and undeclared voters who were in the audience, one of them is Gary Tuchman, who's with the group of them now. Gary?
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, eight people were with -- they were in the audience. What they also have in common is none of them have voted in the past for either Joe Biden or Hillary Clinton. Six of them voted for Donald Trump in the past. One didn't vote in the past two elections. One was too young to vote, but that's what they have in common, that most of them are Trump supporters.
What I want to ask you first of all is do you think, show of hands, anybody think Donald Trump looks better after this Town Hall?
Any of you think he looks worse?
And if you think the same thing about him as you did when you walked in. So I'll have you feel that way.
First thing I want to ask you about Donald Trump. We have to be blunt about it, is not a truth teller. That's the way he's always been when he was a businessman, he's been a politician. He has lied about the 2020 election, stuffed ballot boxes. It's all made up. He's lost dozens of court cases. Does it bother you that he keeps talking about 2020 and not 2024? I'll ask you first.
This is Jonathan Leslie. He's 40, Republican, voted for Trump twice. How do you feel about those lies?
JONATHAN LESLIE, REPUBLICAN VOTER: So I feel like part of it's also the media narrative, as you guys asked him the first question at the Town Hall about the 2020 election, rather than current stuff.
TUCHMAN: So don't you think he could say it's time for me to start talking about 2024 and not lies that aren't true?
LESLIE: Couldn't the media ask him a question about 2024? TUCHMAN: Well, there were questions, but you're right, that was the
first thing, but that's something that was on our mind. That's why I was asked first.
Mike McLaughlin, he's 21. He is undeclared, which is what you do in New Hampshire if you want to be independent. He voted for Trump in 2020. Mike, same thing to you, what do you feel about Trump continuing to talk about those mistruths from 2020?
MIKE MCLAUGHLIN, UNDECLARED VOTER: Personally, I'm getting tired of hearing about it. I'm very much more so interested in the problems that we face now, and I would prefer to hear him discuss the present issues more so than going to the past.
TUCHMAN: Sixty five-year-old Stephen Farnsworth, Republican, voted for Trump twice, your opinion about that?
STEPHEN FARNSWORTH, REPUBLICAN VOTER: Well, I think that he's committed to it. That's what he feels. That's what he thinks. And he's not going --
TUCHMAN: Well, do you think he thinks that, or do you think he just keeps saying it to try to will it for people like you to believe it?
FARNSWORTH: No, I think he actually thinks that.
TUCHMAN: You do?
FARNSWORTH: No, he may.
TUCHMAN: Even though he keeps losing in the courts over and over again.
FARNSWORTH: He does say what's on his mind.
TUCHMAN: Okay, do you think so? That it was a rigged election?
FARNSWORTH: I'll abstain from it.
TUCHMAN: You'll abstain, okay. All right, the next person on our list, 64-year-old, and you don't mind me saying your age, Cindy Onin (ph) do you?
CINDY ONIN, REPUBLICAN VOTER: Not at all.
TUCHMAN: Okay, we were joking about that before.
ONIN: For at least one more month.
TUCHMAN: Yeah, she's a Republican. She didn't vote the past two presidential elections. How come you didn't vote, A, and B, what do you feel about the continuation of these lies about 2020?
ONIN: You know, I don't know what's a lie anymore, but I think there needs to be a new narrative.
TUCHMAN: And what's the new narrative?
ONIN: Current -- current situations that are involving all of us.
TUCHMAN: Current situations. But when you say you don't know what's a lie, a lie is a lie. I mean, all these courts have said there's a, one of the stuff ballot things he's talking about was in Fulton County, Georgia. No stuff ballots. I was there, I was watching with my own eyes. I mean, none of it's true. And I think a lot of people think he tries to will it to be true. Would you agree with that?
TUCHMAN: Okay. In that corner right there, that's Noel Lacata (ph). He's 18, first election coming up. He's currently undeclared, but leaning Republican. What do you feel about him still talking about 2020 and these things?
NOEL LACATA, UNDECLARED VOTER: I don't think anybody wants to hear about 2020 at this point. Everybody wants to hear about 2024, the future and what comes after that. And he did not talk enough about that tonight.
TUCHMAN: Alyssa Malloy. Alyssa's 37, she's a registered Republican, voted for Trump twice, your feeling about this?
ALYSSA MALLOY, REPUBLICAN VOTER: I think it's time to move on from the election, the 2020 election.
TUCHMAN: Do his fibs offend you?
MALLOY: I think he truly believes it.
TUCHMAN: You do too?
MALLOY: I think, yeah, I think that's what he truly believes. I know, I think a lot of his supporters believe it, not all of them, but there are a lot of people who do believe it and he tries to, you know, go along with that and I would agree that he wills it to be true.
TUCHMAN: Let me ask 22-year old Cooper Walsh, who is also undeclared but voted for Trump in 2020, do you think Trump believes that?
COOPER WALSH, UNDECLARED VOTER: I definitely do think he believes it. I think he's very passionate about it or else he probably wouldn't still be talking about it. But I think that it's time for him to move on. He needs to talk about what he's going to accomplish in 2024. And I also think the media shouldn't have focused on their huge segment on the 2020 issue. We already know what he thinks about it. I think we should be talking about one of the other issues that the questions had in the audience.
TUCHMAN: But would it be helpful, Karen Olson who's 56, she's undeclared not registered Republican or Democrat, but voted for Trump twice. What if he would just say, I'm ready to move on, 2024, I'm gonna stop lying. I'm gonna be honest about it and move on. Wouldn't that be helpful? And then the news media wouldn't ask him about it if he would acknowledge it.
KAREN OLSON, UNDECLARED VOTER: I'd like him to move on. I would like him to stop talking about it, but it is his opinion. So you have to attach that caveat lie all the time. It just keeps it going. So it's his opinion. And he has a right to have it.
TUCHMAN: All right, just yesterday, nine-member jury found Donald Trump liable for sexual abuse. And he's continuing to mock Jean Carroll, this woman who was sexually abused according to this jury. He also says that that was rigged.
You know, this not only is a jury of his peers, he's a New Yorker. He may live in Mar-a-Lago right now, that mansion in Palm Beach, Florida, but he was born and raised in Queens, New York, wanted to make it big with his father in Manhattan, did. He's a New Yorker. This was truly a jury of his peers. How does it make you feel that he's still making fun of this woman? I'm going to ask the woman that question.
ONIN: It's uncomfortable. It's definitely uncomfortable. And I just don't know what to think anymore.
TUCHMAN: How do you feel about that?
MALLOY: It makes me uncomfortable. I haven't followed it too closely. So I really --
ONIN: I Agree
MALLOY: -- I don't feel like I have a strong opinion.
TUCHMAN: And how do you feel? I mean, this was a jury. These jurors weren't told, you have to save this. This is our system in the United States of America. This is an amazing system. It's not a perfect system, but it is an amazing system, particularly compared to lots of other countries. They agreed on this. And here he is at this Town Hall today. I've never met her before, and just in making fun of her. How did that make you feel as a woman?
OLSON: I didn't really care.
TUCHMAN: Why didn't you care?
OLSON: I don't know enough about the case. Women can be victims of abuse. Women can also make up stories. I mean, we see it all the time. So I don't know. All of these situations where people are coming out 20, 30 years later, I don't listen to it.
TUCHMAN: One more question for you, Mike Pence. He said regarding January 6th that he doesn't think Pence was in danger. He doesn't feel the need to apologize to him. Does that offend any of you? That he's not willing to tell Mike Pence, I'm sorry, you could have been hanged. Anyone offended by that?
OLSON: Sure. TUCHMAN: You are. And the final question, any of you ready to say
you're ready to vote for Donald Trump in 2024?
FARNSWORTH: I am.
TUCHMAN: You are.
TUCHMAN: One person. The rest of you not ready to say that yet. Thank you all for joining us. We very much appreciate your time in this very important political state of New Hampshire. Anderson, back to you.
TAPPER: I think it's actually me. Vox Populi, thank you so much. Really appreciate it.
Let's talk about what we just heard from the panel. Dana?
BASH: Well, I think it's important to focus on what you heard from a lot of those voters in New Hampshire talking about it's the media. It's the media going back and asking these questions of Donald Trump. Journalists wouldn't have to ask the most fundamental questions of Donald Trump, had he not continued to during the end of 2020 up till January 6th, 2021 and up till today, said things that were not true, that were not proven with evidence.
We are evidence-based and there was no evidence to show that. And so when we and when Katelyn starts a Town Hall, which is a very fundamental democratic ideal, he's facing voters. The first thing you need to do before you can have a discussion within the confines of democracy is to ask the person who wants to have the job again of president if they feel comfortable with the basics of democracy like free and fair election and believing it.
That's why that question was asked. And he hasn't been asked a question in that way in this kind of forum for a very long time because he has only talked to people who are for the most part, not entirely, but for the most part, people who feed the lies back to him.
TAPPER: Well, and we should just note, I mean, the context of these lies, Fox just had to pay $787.5 million to Dominion Voting Systems because of all the lies that they told and they allowed to be told on their air. They have learned absolutely no lesson. One of their biggest liars as a guest during that period, Kayleigh McEnany, the former White House press secretary for Trump, was given an opportunity to fill in for the 8 p.m. host, Tucker Carlson, no longer the 8 p.m. host.
She's an election liar. It's part of the country's DNA now that a sizable chunk of the country believes these lies and thus are led to take actions that are anti-democracy.
CORNISH: I think one thing I want to add is I also heard kind of the culmination of the last few years of undermining the idea of facts, -- TAPPER: Yes.
CORNISH: -- information or evidence. Someone sort of throwing up their hands and saying, well, I don't know what to believe anymore. This is really disturbing, really unfortunate, especially going into another election where people have raised concerns about artificial intelligence, the use of deep fakes, bots, all kinds of ways that you can manipulate the information, kind of infrastructure of an election using nefarious means.
And we have people who feel just so disappointed and I think the Former President has done such a good job of undermining investigative branches, judicial branch. And now he's saying, guess what, if you're in a blue state, your juries don't matter.
CORNISH: It's very consistent, this kind of escalation towards sort of diminishing these institutions.
TAPPER: He declared war on the truth, and I'm not sure that he didn't win. Everyone, stay right there. Coming up, we're gonna speak to a declared candidate in the Republican race for the White House, former Arkansas governor, Asa Hutchinson. What does he have to say about this evening? Stay with us.
TAPPER: Donald Trump went into tonight running far ahead of the Republican field such as it is so far yet also so far a candidate who has not yet been confronted on a debate stage by any opponents and let's remember it is early, the election is more than 500 days away, and primaries are months and months away.
We're joined now by One of Donald Trump's primary challengers, former Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson, who is in New HampshiWre tonight. Governor Hutchinson, what was your reaction to what we heard from Donald Trump?
ASA HUTCHINSON (R-AK), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, Donald Trump was certainly grilled tonight. And what was clear, he had a weak performance, and he's locked in the past. He had a goal, I'm sure, to expand his base, to be able to prove that he can attract independence and suburban voters. He failed that test. He narrowed his base of support. He locked in the past. He didn't address the issues of the future.
Whenever he was asked about the economy, he gave one brief response on energy policy, but really didn't address the broad range of needs that we have in our economy to get it going again. And so I think it was a poor performance, it was a weak performance, and again, he was locked in the past. TAPPER: He repeated his lies over and over and over that the 2020
election was rigged. Obviously, this has all been adjudicated in election boards and courtrooms. He didn't indicate any regret from January 6, including his Vice-President's life being threatened. He said he was inclined to pardon most of the rioters from that day.
I guess the question I have is, do you think that this is going to hurt him at all with the Republican base? You're out there, you're talking to Republican voters. I'm sure when you say that they want to hear about the economy, you're right. And yet, he still is so far ahead in the polls.
HUTCHINSON: Well, he made a mistake by not pivoting away from that question and moving on to the future. And so he got locked into the debate about 2020 election and that it was all rigged and his false dialogue on that. And then he spent time on January 6th, and those were very appropriate questions, but the debate should have moved way beyond that much quicker because, as I talk to people, they might believe the last election was rigged.
But they're ready to talk about the future as well. And so it's not foreclosing winning those votes, even though we might have a fundamental disagreement on what happened in 2020 in the election.
That's an important fact to remember. These voters still care about who could lead our country, who's got the right position on supporting Ukraine, who can actually solve the problems along our southern border. And so, that was clearly a mistake, but not moving more quickly to that.
Whenever you look at Ukraine, and that's something that bothered me a great deal, because he basically talks about himself being a great negotiator. Well, he set the stage by saying, we can end this in one day if I'm President. Well, that gives away every negotiating leverage that he has, because he tells Putin that you're going to win, you've got the leverage as we go into negotiation. It's a terrible mistake. It's a terrible position not supporting Ukraine, not trying to win for Ukraine in that fight against Russia.
TAPPER: One of the most striking moments was when he mocked E. Jean Carroll, who just was victorious in court in her suit against him. He was found liable for sexually assaulting her and defaming her. He made, he went into this whole little comedy routine if you could even call it them; Calling her names prompting laughs from the audience, just to establish your bona fides.
I believe if memory serves, you were a House impeachment manager against then-President Bill -- Bill Clinton, If I'm -- if I'm not mistaken is that right when you were in the House of Representatives, so it's not as though --
HUTCHINSON: That's correct.
TAPPER: -- It's not as though you have different standards when it comes to a Democratic President or a Republican President in questions of sexual impropriety or misbehavior. I know that you had praise for the jury and take the issue seriously. What do you make of this all?
HUTCHINSON: Well, it's just wrong to undermine our justice system. It's one of the hallmarks of our democracy that we have a strong rule of law and that any person who is aggrieved can go into court and seek justice.
You don't mock them because they sought justice and in fact the jury agreed with their position. That not only undermines the claim of the woman in this case, but it undermines our entire system of fairness in the jury system and how we arbitrate wrongdoing in our society.
So I'm troubled by it at a number of levels. It's wrong the position he's taken. And I think it's important for the leaders of our party to be clear on this issue, that we don't sympathize with Donald Trump and his mocking of the case, but yet we treat it with seriousness as it deserves to be treated.
TAPPER: Former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson. Always good to see you, sir. Thank you so much. I Appreciate it.
HUTCHINSON: Good to be with you, Jake. Thank you.
TAPPER: More of our continuing coverage ahead, including reaction from a Republican member of the House Select Committee that investigated the former president in the January 6 riots. We're going to have former Congressman Adam Kinzinger, Republican of Illinois, join us next. Stay with us.