Return to Transcripts main page
Interview with Republican Fundraiser/Donor and Nikki Haley Supporter Frank Lavin; Interview with Ecuadorian President Daniel Noboa; Interview with The New York Times Opinion Columnist and Princeton University Professor of Sociology and Public Affairs Zeynep Tufekci. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired January 16, 2024 - 13:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello, everyone, and welcome to "Amanpour." Here's what's coming up.
A decisive victory for Donald Trump in Iowa. I get the lowdown from Republican donor Frank Lavin on what this means for the U.S. election and
for the world.
Then, a state of emergency in Ecuador. I ask the country's president about cracking down on gangs.
Plus, settler designs on Gaza. We have a special report on the vision of Israel's far-right.
Also, ahead, a strongman president. "The New York Times" columnist Zeynep Tufekci joins Hari Sreenivasan to explain Trump's lock on America's far-
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
It's the day after the night before in America's presidential politics. The starting gun was fired in Iowa and Former President Donald Trump won the
caucus convincingly. Taking more than half the vote. This despite facing a slew of civil and criminal charges and after attempting to overturn the
2020 election. Here he is speaking after the Iowa result.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT AND REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: People in our country are great. They're all great. We love Iowa, but
they're all great. They only want to see one thing. They want our country to come back. They're embarrassed by what's going on. Our country is
laughed at all over the world. They're laughing at us. And they want our country to come back. They want America. You know, they want us to be great
again. It's a very simple MAGA, Make America Great Again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: It is the same speech all these years later, but if evangelicals were always going to put Trump over the top, the real battle was for second
place, and a so-called convincing alternative to Trump.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis eked out a narrow lead over the former South Carolina governor, Nikki Haley. Now, all eyes are turned towards New
Hampshire's primary, which is next week.
Our next guest, GOP fundraiser and donor, Frank Lavin, is part of the old guard of Republicans, if we can put it that way, who refused to support
Trump back in 2016, who believes in policy. And before that, he served in Ronald Reagan's White House. Now, he's putting his support firmly behind
Haley. And he's joining me from Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Frank Lavin, so let me ask you, how hard is the hangover? Are you -- you know, are you suffering today or what?
FRANK LAVIN, REPUBLICAN FUNDRAISER/DONOR AND NIKKI HALEY SUPPORTER: Well, it was a good day for Donald Trump, Christiane, thank you for having me on.
AMANPOUR: But that is not your candidate. That's why I asked you. That's why I asked you.
LAVIN: That's not my candidate. I'm for Nikki Haley. And she placed a -- I would say a respectable third. But of course, it was disappointing because
we're hoping for a respectable second. So, it was not a -- the night we wanted last night for Nikki Haley. But next week is New Hampshire. And we
get a try again.
AMANPOUR: So, why do you think, Frank Lavin, that next week might be different? And how much did you really think Haley would place second in
LAVIN: Well, it was close, Christiane. It was only one or two percentage points off. So, it was a plausible goal. It was a reasonable target. And
unfortunately, we fell a little bit short. It's almost an even split between DeSantis and Haley. But he did creep out a little bit ahead of her.
So, be it.
But New Hampshire should be a more favorable state for a few reasons. One, remember Chris Christie was polling in the low teens in New Hampshire and
he's since dropped out. So, we believe most of that vote does go to Nikki Haley.
The second important point is Governor Sununu, very popular, very effective governor, is 100 percent committed, enthusiastic, energetic, and working
hard for Nikki Haley. So, you have some local support.
Remember, the governor in Iowa, God bless her, was supporting Donald Trump. So, now, the shoe's on the other foot, and we think we've got a little bit
of a tailwind in New Hampshire that we just didn't have in Iowa.
AMANPOUR: OK. So, before I get to New Hampshire, let me ask you for your analysis on Trump. It was his to win, right? I mean, it is the evangelical
heartland. There was no doubt that they were still going to vote for him.
But how do you assess how he sort of has resurged? When don't you think the Trump surge happened? Because he was kind of, you know, lagging, I think
for a long time, you know, before the last year, so to speak.
LAVIN: Right. Well, he had, I think, two things going for him. One is the alternatives in the Republican side were split. There were eight
Republicans at the first debate, and it just took months and months and months for it to winnow down to one or two. So, that's enormous advantage
to the leader. The so supposed -- so-called incumbent like Donald Trump. That's one advantage.
Two, I've got to say, whatever you think of Donald Trump and his policies, he has the most effective emotional engagement with the audience. He might
not have the best policies, he might not have the most substance, but boy, in terms of getting -- playing to people's emotions, getting people to feel
unhappy, or happy, or outraged he does that, I think, better than any candidate today.
AMANPOUR: What do you make of other analysis that I've heard, people who talk to voters as they came out of caucuses, as they came out from casting
their voice? For instance, some people saying that they felt much better off under Trump and, you know, they want to go back to that. Whereas the
economy is actually better today than it was at the beginning -- at the end of Trump's presidency.
Others saying that they actually not only like him despite some of the outrageous things he says, but because of, most particularly, that horrible
comment about, you know, Asian and African blood of immigrants, you know, poisoning American blood. People actually like that. And these are meant to
LAVIN: Yes. Yes. It's hard to figure all of us that. I think you're right that he enjoys being a bit offensive, being a bit outrageous, and he enjoys
getting a critical reaction, and if nothing else, it guarantees he's front and center. So, that is a tactic I think he regularly uses of stepping on
other people's toes, so to speak, and then getting criticized for it.
But there's two elements that he plays into, I think, very effectively. One, Joe Biden is viewed with broad disfavor in terms of his immigration
policy. And I think Americans are concerned what they perceive as something close to open borders and Biden just not on top of his obligations. So,
that is one favor that plays directly into Trump's strength because Trump is viewed as the most orthodox, if you will, on border controls.
And second is just Biden himself, Biden's age, his feebleness, his frailty. So, you do evoke this nostalgia to say, can we get a president who is more
alive, more alert. And whatever -- again, whatever weaknesses Trump has, and I think he has many, he has a stage presence that can be electric, and
it's a sharp contrast with Joe Biden.
AMANPOUR: So, I want you to then, sort of, describe Nikki Haley's stage presence. I mean, she's certainly come out fighting. She has been very,
very, you know, energetic with the others, you know, the woman in the middle as all these men really holding her own in many more ways than one.
She did, as we say, come in at slight third. Let's just listen to what she said after these -- the results.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NIKKI HALEY, U.S. REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I can safely say, tonight, Iowa made this Republican primary a two-person race. Our campaign
is the last best hope of stopping the Trump Biden nightmare.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: OK. So, she gave it her best, even in a disappointing finish. What does she actually have to do in New Hampshire?
LAVIN: I think she's got a more or less win. I say more or less because let's face it, if she gets 49 percent or 48 percent, I think that's a huge
embarrassment for Trump. So, he might technically have 51. But boy, is that a punch in the nose to Donald Trump. But she's got to really outperform.
She went -- she had roughly 20 or 19 percent in Iowa. If she takes that up to 50 percent in New Hampshire, that is quite an impressive accomplishment,
but there's a lot at stake there. She cannot come in third in New Hampshire, and she can't come in second, but very far back in the pack.
She's got to show that she can win.
AMANPOUR: And do you think that she has every opportunity to come in second somewhere, because DeSantis has kind of chosen not to campaign in
LAVIN: Yes, DeSantis just doesn't have the sort of position and the personality that I think appeals to voters in New Hampshire. So, I think it
was wise of him to pull out. And that's really good news for Nikki Haley as well.
As I said, he's got her vote, her base vote, which was in the 30s in New Hampshire in the polls. She's going to have a big chunk of Chris Christie's
as well. So, it's not a bad starting point for her. She's -- she goes into New Hampshire with a reasonable chance of outperforming, a reasonable
chance of pulling even with Donald Trump.
AMANPOUR: Clearly, you're voicing what many, I guess, I -- do we call them -- do we call you old style Republicans, non-MAGA Republicans, anti-Trump
Republicans? Certainly, people are looking for an alternative. But there are also Haley's. For instance, Tim Alberta, who's written the book on
evangelicals and how they operate. But nonetheless, he's a very acute political observer.
And he said the following about Haley and how she actually needs to come out stronger. Or at least she did, you know, before against Trump. Listen
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TIM ALBERTA, AUTHOR: Because if you're going to lose, at least lose saying what you believe and telling voters who it is that you really are and why
you're different from the frontrunner, the favorite to be the nominee of your party. But she's not willing to do that. And I'm not sure whether it's
because she thinks she has a chance to be his vice president or not, but it's just been sort of a shell of a campaign in many ways.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: What's your reaction? And what does she need to sharpen up that distinction?
LAVIN: Christiane, I'm not sure if that's -- yes, I'm not sure if that's fair criticism. I've had the chance, in Iowa over the last five or six
days, to hear three or four times and she really goes after Trump on January 6th. She goes after him on being an election denier, which I think
are two very critical points of this guy's persona to say how -- you know, how irresponsible can you be on January 6th to egg those people on.
But regardless of what his direct responsibility was, he sure was cheerleading those guys, those rioters. And then, he's this huge election
denier for several years where he's the sorest loser in the history of presidential politics, and he wants to drag the entire country into a
debate about his laws. So, she, I think, correctly held his feet to the fire on those two points.
But she has a pleasant and professional demeanor. She's not a polemicist. She's not a screamer. She's not a yeller. So, sometimes people want anger
or want lightning bolts in a speech, and that's just not her style. She wants to, I think, command the room and share her insight with people but
do so in as pleasant a way as possible. So, she's an engaging personality if you ask me. I find it very appealing.
AMANPOUR: So, obviously, the people who really don't want Trump to win, and I'm talking about in the Republican Party, want to see maybe
Republicans such as herself, such as even Chris Sununu you know, governor of New Hampshire, just say, we're not going to vote for Trump if he's the
nominee. None of them have said that yet. They've, in fact, all doubled down that they will vote for him if he's the Republican nominee.
Here's Chris Sununu, who's not a Trump MAGA type. But here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. CHRIS SUNUNU (R-NH): I'm going to support the Republican nominee. Absolutely. Yes, like that shouldn't shock anybody. That shouldn't be
surprised to anybody that the Republican governor and most actually of America is going to end up going against Biden because they need to see a
change in this country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, you know, they want to be on the winning team, right?
LAVIN: Well, by the way, Christiane, if I may say this, the one person, the one candidate who stepped back from that pledge to support the party
was Donald Trump. Trump was the one who said, when he's asked, are you going to support the Republican nominee? His response is always, we'll see.
LAVIN: Meaning, typically, again, back to the sore loser attitude, typically, his view is, look, if I'm not the nominee, somebody else must
have cheated or stole it or done something terrible. And so, I can't in good conscience support that person.
He has no concept of fair play or being a good sport. And all he does is castigate somebody who might creep by a few percentage points in one of the
AMANPOUR: Can I ask you, because you have had positions abroad. We met a long time ago in Singapore, a really vibrant part of Asia right now. And I
just want to ask you what you think last night's result for Trump, what kind of message does it telegraph to the world?
Let me just -- you know, the head of the ECB, former managing director of the IMF, Christine Lagarde, has said Trump is a threat to Europe. You know,
he has said that he won't come to Europe's aid if it was -- you know, if it was attacked. That he would not necessarily deploy NATO. That maybe -- he
might even pull the U.S. out of NATO.
Given how much is at stake on all those issues right now, what should the world be taking away and how should they prepare, and I'm talking about
allies, for, you know, Trump Biden?
LAVIN: Well, in my experience in the Reagan administration, we believe we had a successful foreign policy through tactics. One is peace through
strength, having a strong military. The second was international leadership. You're leading coalitions of allies, friends, like-minded
nations. So, these are all force multipliers for you.
But it requires diplomacy, it requires interaction, it requires give and take, because it's a management exercise with other sovereign countries.
But by doing that, you're able to push back against Russia, push back against Iran, push back against China, North Korea, other countries that
are bad actors. By the way, pretty much the same list we have today of folks who are just troublemakers against U.S. interests or U.S. friends.
So, my advice to anybody who wants to be president is focus on a strong military and focus on international leadership with like-minded nations.
AMANPOUR: So, one of your colleagues, Mike Murphy, who is -- maybe, I think he was a Reagan Republican, and he also is an analyst and, you know,
an advisor these days. He says the current Republican Activist Corps, i.e., I guess MAGA, they -- you know, who do the nominating, it's changed over
the last 15 years.
He said it doesn't focus on the kind of policy that you've just been outlining. It wants the culture wars. It likes the name calling, the
entertainment factor, the celebrity factor, you know, the ability to raise funds. But to do what?
Do you agree that there is a sort of a huge policy vacuum amongst the MAGA Republicans? What do you think they actually stand for in terms of the good
LAVIN: Well, I think you're right in the party shift. Society shifts over time. I think, in my view, social media accelerates this because social
media rewards the most pugnacious comment, even if it's not a mainstream or widely accepted comment. So, I think it drags the whole conversation more
toward theatrics or the fringe of the political polity.
So, I do think you have a deterioration in the debate. And you're right with discussion of woke issues or transgender issues. People will focus
sometimes on reasonably minor activities. But it alerts them or it alarms them, and they organize their life around something that is not a very
So, these seemingly minor issues have sort of outsized role in political discussion. Instead of you go back a generation ago, the main discussion
was how do we get the economy back on track, get economic growth going, get inflation down, get unemployment down, and just allow everybody to have a
better life. That was sort of the center of the plate for Democrats and Republicans, and it doesn't seem to be the center of the plate today.
AMANPOUR: So, I guess one last question. What if Nikki Haley doesn't make it? Clearly South Carolina -- you've just said New Hampshire, but also
South Carolina is her, you know, real important testing ground, her own state.
What do non-MAGA Republicans do next? What would you do next? Do you push your support behind whoever's the nominee, including Trump?
LAVIN: Well, I'll hold that thought. I'll hold that thought if you don't mind. I'm very optimistic about New Hampshire, Christiane. I think Nikki
Haley is in very good shape for that. I want to do anything I can to be able to support the Republican nominee. But Nikki Haley is simply a better
candidate, a better Republican, and to my mind, a better person. So, we ought to get behind her.
AMANPOUR: Frank Lavin, thank you so much indeed.
And we turn now to a state of emergency in Ecuador, where the once peaceful country has descended into gang violence. Since 2018, the murder rate has
quadrupled. Last year, a presidential candidate was assassinated. And around a quarter of the country's prisons were under gang control.
Fast forward today, and the country's new young president, less than a couple of months into the job, has declared a war on gangs after the drug
cartel leader known as Fito escaped from prison and his armed loyalists stormed a TV studio during a live broadcast, making all sorts of demands.
The government says that it has now detained over 1,500 people and carried out more than 40 operations against what they call terrorist groups. To
discuss all of this, the man in the hot seat himself, Ecuador's president, Daniel Noboa. He's joining me from the capital, Quito.
And welcome to the program, Mr. President. Can I just start by asking you a very simple question? You've declared war on gangs. We've just described
how very much power they have. Are you confident that you are in control of your country?
DANIEL NOBOA, ECUADORIAN PRESIDENT: Hello. Thank you for having me here. First, I declared war on terrorists. These are not conventional gangs. They
are terrorist groups. They are highly organized, structured, armed forces that terrorize complete regions and have had control in the past few years
of our nation's prisons.
I'm confident that we can win this war. I'm confident that we can restore peace and restore stability in a country that has all. That has natural
resources. That has a stable dollarized economy. And that we can provide employment and attract investment in the near future.
AMANPOUR: And just to say we have a slight delay. So, our viewers will understand that, long distance and all the rest of it.
But how much of an issue is it for you in your fight, you call it terrorism, others have called it, you know, fight against drug cartels,
that the main perpetrator, this guy who's nicknamed Fito, appears to be still at large, and there are a certain, you know, 43 prisoners remaining
at large after the crackdown?
The fact of those people being at large, how difficult does that make your current operation?
NOBOA: We are working in an orderly manner. We have freed 170 hostages. And we have restored stability in the prisons right now. We have one leader
at large. We have another one, which is a Colomb Pico (ph) at large. And the rest, we're tracking them down.
Right now, the army and the police are working together, and the whole nation is united to actually eliminate this threat. People want peace.
People want to be able to walk freely on the street, to have their own business, to have stability so that their kids can go to parks, can go to
school, can go also to the university, the older kids. And I believe that our operation is being successful at the moment. We are having progress.
And I'm sure that we will have a full victory at the end.
AMANPOUR: I mean, you really do talk in war terms, victory, militarization, the war, et cetera. So, can you -- what is your example?
What is your sort of, I guess, plan? We know that there is a similar, and there has been a similar war on gangs, war on, as they call it, terror or
drugs in El Salvador. Is that your example for how to continue and how to wage this fight?
NOBOA: No, it's not. First, there's two different nations, two different realities, culturally, economically. Secondly, I believe in something that
I've talked since the campaign, that we need to take control of the country. We have over 30,000 members of these narco-terrorist groups that
are threatening the whole population.
So, we're militarizing the ports. We're protecting our borders. We're re- establishing control in our prisons. And at the same time, with intelligence, with the CES, with military intelligence, we're working on
breaking the cycle and breaking the chain of financing also for these narco-terrorist groups.
AMANPOUR: Just to pick up on --
NOBOA: It's a different reality. It's a different situation.
AMANPOUR: Right. But the thing is --
NOBOA: And I do believe that --
NOBOA: I do believe in democracy. I do believe in a country being united. I've requested, without the obligation, the support of the parliament,
which in a unanimous way, supported my decree. I've asked also the court to give us their opinion. They're supporting our fight.
So, we are respecting the difference -- the different powers of the state. And in a democratic way, we are fighting for peace. We're fighting for
AMANPOUR: You know, I ask you because many in El Salvador see their -- you know, their method has been successful. They can now go back outside.
Eating at restaurants. Walking around on the street. Even though it's a very brutal crackdown, it's effectively destroyed the gang problem there.
Do you think you might ever be tempted to do that if you're having difficulty doing it the way you're doing now?
NOBOA: I believe in the Ecuadorian way, and I believe in the noble way. So, I think that we have our own style. We have our own way of governing in
a democratic way. And we need to re-establish peace. And the moment that people just wish for me not to be here, I will gladly leave and the go back
to my family, go back to my businesses.
AMANPOUR: Let me ask you about the U.S. Obviously, the United States is an ally. It sent some top officials, both from the military and from the State
Department. And I'm wondering what you're hoping to get from them, what kind of aid you need. And most specifically, do you plan to reopen a DEA
base like there was in previous Ecuadorian governments to deal with these problems?
NOBOA: It's unconstitutional to do so. We cannot have foreign bases in Ecuador, according to our new constitution from 2008. But we can work
together. We can have cooperation. We can have the DEA work with the CES, work with the Anti-Narcotics Police here, and help us fight against these
terrorist groups, which are -- have a lot of money, have a lot of resources, have a lot of guns.
So, we need international cooperation. I would gladly accept cooperation from the U.S. We need equipment. We need weapons. We need intelligence. And
I think that this is a global problem. It's not only in Ecuador. This is a problem that, you know, goes beyond borders.
About 35, 40 percent of the drugs that come out of Ecuador go to the States. Another similar percentage to Europe. So, this has to be treated as
an international problem.
AMANPOUR: Well, explain then to our viewers a little bit, because your country does not produce the kind of drugs that are in question, does not
produce cocaine, and yet you -- your country has become implicated. Is that because of the surrounding countries?
We know there's a big problem in the state of emergency in parts of Peru. You know, Colombia obviously has had a major drug producing part of the
economy there. Mexican cartels appear to be helping the Ecuadorian gangs and cartels. Explain why Ecuador became caught in this.
NOBOA: There are similar elements. I think there were weak institutions, number one. Number two, if you're a dollarized economy, it's easier to
purchase transport drugs. There's no currency exchange. So, we use the dollar, which is the international currency for drugs. We have to say it as
Also, the fact that Ecuador is a -- it's an exporter of refrigerated goods and of food. The Port of Guayaquil is the third largest port in Latin
America in terms of volumes. Number one is Santos in Brazil. Number two is Manzanillo in Mexico. Number three is Guayaquil, Ecuador. So, it's a
logistics hub for the whole region. It's a dollarized economy. And I think that these narco-terrorist groups, international groups have taken
advantage of this situation.
Right now, we're trying to re-establish order with strong institutions, with international cooperation, and with more clear laws about what is
allowed and not allowed.
AMANPOUR: And just to pick up on, you know, you clearly made a call for more equipment, all sorts of things that you need from the United States or
elsewhere to help you with this. Do you have enough? Is your military, which has been set on this issue, confident that it has the equipment to
wage this war, as you call it?
NOBOA: I'm proud of my -- of our armed forces, as well as the national police, but we do need help. This is the reality. We do need help in
equipment, in training. We do need additional help in weapons. And we're not, you know, ashamed of saying so.
We have a very strong military and police, but we'll always need international cooperation for an international problem.
AMANPOUR: And finally, Mr. President, you alluded to this, obviously, where there is a demand, there is supply, and et cetera. And your country
is caught up as well as other Latin American countries. So, it appears that many believe that the war on drugs globally has failed, and that there are
many countries and more politicians moving to essentially legalize more and more drugs. Do you think that is the answer, even when it comes to
something like cocaine or other such things?
NOBOA: I don't think that's the answer, especially not for cocaine. I do believe that we need to strengthen our health system. We need to strengthen
our social services. And we need to help the people, first of all. We need to give the Ecuadorian family an opportunity to progress, to give an
opportunity to have, you know, a better life. And I don't think that the solution is to legalize drugs.
AMANPOUR: President Daniel Noboa, thank you so much, indeed, for joining us from Quito in Ecuador.
And now, we turn to Israel. For months, the International Community has voiced concern over the lack of vision by the Israeli government for what
happens after the war. However, some Israelis have a very clear plan, that's to resettle the Gaza Strip.
Israel unilaterally evacuated in 2005. But nearly two decades later, some on Israel's extreme religious and nationalistic right see the aftermath of
October 7th as an opportunity, as Jomana Karadsheh reports now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was a moment of division, pain, and trauma for many Israelis.
2005, the end of Gush Katif, a cluster of Israeli settlements in Gaza dismantled by the government. Thousands of settlers forced out of their
homes under the disengagement law. It's all an end to Israel's presence in the Gaza Strip,
But after nearly two decades of yearning for a return, the movement to do so now appears more emboldened than ever.
Among no less than Israeli troops themselves, social media is now awash in images like these. One of Israel's most popular musicians, to the cheers of
troops, sings about that return. And moving the Nova festival, scene of a Hamas massacre, to Gaza's beaches.
And in recent weeks from inside Gaza, soldiers proudly displaying the orange color of protest against the 2005 disengagement. Here, soldiers with
a banner that reads, only settlement would be considered victory.
And in this video, troops announcing the symbolic re-establishment of a former settlement.
YISHAI FLEISHER, INTERNATIONAL SPOKESMAN, JEWISH COMMUNITY OF HEBRON: Jewish sovereignty, Jewish governance, and of course, Jewish people being
able to live in this ancestral piece of land. Arabs, if they are post- jihad, pro-Israel, and want to live that good life in that beautiful soil, there should be an opportunity for that. But anti-Israel, pro-jihad Arabs
got to leave. And they're going to have to find a different place to go.
KARADSHEH (voice-over): A poll of Gazans conducted just before October 7th showed that 44 percent had no trust in Hamas, 23 percent had little trust.
From the front lines, a message to the prime minister.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We are occupying, deporting, and settling. Do you hear that, Bibi? Occupying, deporting, and settling.
KARADSHEH (voice-over): Bibi, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has yet to unveil his government's plans for post-war Gaza. On the eve of last
week's court hearing in The Hague, with Israel facing South Africa's accusations of genocide, he released this English language statement.
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: Israel has no intention of permanently occupying Gaza or displacing its civilian population.
KARADSHEH (voice-over): But those calls for expelling Gazans and reviving settlements are coming from powerful far-right members of his coalition.
BEZALEL SMOTRICH, ISRAELI FOREIGN MINISTER: We will not be able to rule there without re-establishing a settlement. The majority of them want to
emigrate. They just need to be allowed to do it.
KARADSHEH (voice-over): The comments have been concerning enough to draw rebuke from U.S. and Arab governments, and many within Israel who say
they're widely unacceptable. But voices of the movement are growing louder by the day. Ultra nationalist and religious parties bringing that
discussion into the Knesset. While these voices are by no means a majority in Israel, they are powerful and have been advancing their extremist
DAHLIA SCHEINDLIN, JOURNALIST AND POLLING EXPERT: The ideas that often seem very extreme have a certain phase in Israel's history can overtime
become increasingly normalized very incrementally.
KARADSHEH (voice-over): Palestinians fear this is the unspoken plan.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): There is only one solution for the Gaza Strip.
KARADSHEH (voice-over): Gaza has become unlivable. The north a decimated wasteland. Around half of all buildings across Gaza damaged or destroyed.
Nearly its entire population forced to move time and time again. 1.9 million people squeezed into a tiny part of the enclave, not knowing if
they'll ever be allowed to return to their homes.
And the far-right has been promoting relocating Palestinians as a humanitarian idea.
ITAMAR BEN-GVIR, ISRAELI NATIONAL SECURITY MINISTER (through translator): We must promote a solution to encourage the emigration of the residents of
Gaza. This is a correct, just, moral, and humane solution.
KARADSHEH (voice-over): For that, Israel is facing accusations of violating international laws, acts that could amount to genocide.
OMER BARTOV, PROFESSOR OF HOLOCAUST AND GENOCIDE STUDIES, BROWN UNIVERSITY: There's an opening for those ministers, media people and so forth on the
Israeli right to say, well, the most humanitarian solution is to remove that population or to encourage them, as they say, to move out of Gaza.
If that happens, then this entire scenario that I'm talking about will be seen as ethnic cleansing. And I think cleansing is always on the verge of
KARADSHEH (voice-over): A view rejected by the likes of Hebron settler leader and returned to Gush Katif activist, Yishai Fleisher.
FLEISHER: That is a time of opportunity to change more people's minds here in Israel and to bring more unity and brotherhood in our peoplehood.
KARADSHEH: Do you feel that this vision, what you believe in, what should happen has become more of a possibility, more realistic right now, post
FLEISHER: I'd love to think so, yes. But Israel isn't very much in conversation right now. There's definitely a think out happening. People
are like waking up to -- you know, they're trying to open their minds.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Hebron settler, Yishai Fleischer, ending that report.
Now, as we heard earlier in the show, in Iowa, Trump strengthened his position as the GOP's frontrunner. But what keeps Republicans so loyal? One
person who has explored Trump's personality is New York Times columnist Zeynep Tufekci. Her latest piece is "A Strongman President? These Voters
Crave It." And she joins Hari Sreenivasan to reflect on his appeal at this critical moment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HARI SREENIVASAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Christiane, thanks. Zeynep Tufekci, thanks so much for being here.
Yesterday, we saw a pretty decisive victory for Donald Trump, even though his opponents campaigned a lot longer, harder, spent more money, perhaps.
What do you make of that?
ZEYNEP TUFEKCI, OPINION COLUMNIST, THE NEW YORK TIMES AND PROFESSOR OF SOCIOLOGY AND PUBLIC AFFAIRS, PRINCETON UNIVERSITY: In some ways, it's not
surprising, but it is one more marker that the current Republican Party is Trump's. We have seen a lot of efforts to unseat him. And we have seen this
in 2016 where a lot of Republican contenders try to get the nomination instead of him. That was not successful.
And remarkably, despite everything that has happened since he was voted out of office, he has an enduring bond with much of the Republican base. And I
think what's happened is they don't want Trump lite or a Trump replacement or someone like Trump, they want Trump.
SREENIVASAN: You wrote a piece in "The New York Times" this week and it was called "A Strongman President? These Voters Crave It." Tell me what was
in the center of that story.
TUFEKCI: So, in 2016, when a lot of commentary around Trump's early candidacy was that he's just a celebrity. He's just, you know, joking,
he'll go away. I had gone to Trump rallies and I had also talked to a lot of Trump supporters, and instead of a bumbling celebrity, which is what I
had expected to find, I found a politician who was very much in touch with his base, and he was realigning the politics of the GOP around a couple of
issues like trade, immigration, loss of manufacturing. And it was a very powerful message.
So, eight years later, I wanted to understand, has this changed? Is this something that is now a different kind of dynamic? Are the voters just
curious about him? Are they looking for an alternative? And what I found after talking to a large number of voters, more than a hundred, in Iowa and
New Hampshire. But also following activities online and talking with other voters elsewhere who want to support Trump, what I found is that they see
him as a strong leader. And they see President Biden as a weak leader in contrast, but they also see the other Republican candidates as weak.
So, what they want in their telling is that they want somebody who's strong enough to stand up to everything that's going on in the world, and also
stand up to what they perceive as the Washington establishment that's against Trump.
And he's selling that message. That's the message that he goes with. And he has a bond with the base. And when you ask them about, you know, his vulgar
language, the things he says, the way he talks about, say, immigrants or his political opponents, what they say to me is, all politicians talk like
that. They're corrupt, and they say all sorts of things, but only Trump kind of blurts it out.
So, even things that, to a non-supporter, are alarming are seen by these people as he's strong enough just to say it. He's authentic enough just to
say it. And remarkably, they also think that had Trump been president, that the war in Ukraine might not have happened, that the Hamas attack would not
have happened because in their worldview, the -- Trump's -- they acknowledge somewhat crazy, sometimes somewhat unpredictable behavior, they
think, will project strength and fear in the rest of the world, and they wouldn't dare because they'd be afraid of him.
And additionally, and finally, they, to a last person, will cite the economic conditions under Trump being as better, especially inflation and
mortgage rates come up a lot as an objective thing.
But I think it really comes down to, they see him as an authentic, strong man that they find a lot of attraction to, and they're not going away from
SREENIVASAN: So, what are the similarities that you see to say how Former President Trump casts himself versus, say, Duterte in the Philippines or
Orban in Hungary or Erdogan in Turkey?
TUFEKCI: Right. So, one of the things that I think is striking across all of these leaders that you just mentioned is that they have a base that they
do protect through both patronage and welfare state and safety net.
In fact, one of the misunderstandings about Trump is that he would be like a regular Republican in terms of, you know, targeting Medicare or Social
Security. Just quite the opposite. He talks about, you know, his opponents, Florida Governor DeSantis and Nikki Haley, as the kind of people that would
target welfare or, you know, would target Social Security and Medicare. They don't see that as -- they see those as deserved.
And he also talks about in these, I alone can fix it. I am the person who will take care of you. I am the leader that will look out for your
interests in a world, as he would put it, and as these other leaders would put it, everybody else is against us. So, he's channeling a certain kind of
anger, a certain kind of disaffection like with many of these other leaders, there's a us and them.
And the them, for example, in Orban's Hungary is the immigrants. In Trump, there's a lot of that as well, but it depends on, you know, what part of
the world you're looking at. So, if there's a deserving people, there is an other to blame. And there is these elites that have, in their view, sold
out the people, the deserving people. And here comes a strong leader here to come and take care of you, to provide a safety net for you, to keep you
safe in a tumultuous world.
And I have to say, historically speaking, this is with so much precedent. This has happened again and again in history that strongmen come through
popular support through a mix of exploiting disaffection, you know, pointing the finger at some enemy that is easy for their base to rally
And all these details that we worry about, perhaps, in terms of the separation of powers, liberal democracy, you know, journalists in jail, you
know, a lot of these examples that you have spoken about are not high on these people's list. And here we are.
SREENIVASAN: So, you know, that leads me to something that Trump said that he would only be dictator on day one. I don't know how much of that was a
joke or not, but the Biden campaign has certainly picked up on that idea and that theme, and they are trying to make the case to their voters and
the American voter that democracy is at stake. The alternative is authoritarianism and dictatorship and strongmen and so forth.
And I wonder, the people that you were speaking to at the rallies that you're attending, what you're watching online, does that resonate at all
TUFEKCI: Well, let's start with that comment. So, I mean, I think it's fairly straightforward to point to a lot of worries about democracy,
especially what we consider liberal democracy, which is not just a majoritarian role. You don't just have, you know, whoever gets in power
gets to do what they want. We have limits and checks and balances.
And you can point to a lot of things in that regard from Trump's first term and also the conflict of interest, you know, the hotels, all those things,
you can make a lot of cases. But let's take that particular quote, right? The -- in that interview, Trump said, I'm going to be a dictator for day
one, and I'm going to sort of have a rule on the order and we're going to drill, drill, baby, drill, and it was referring to like doing executive
orders on day one. And then he said, I will then not be a dictator anymore, right? So that was the context.
So, I felt like this was the kind of thing where instead of picking many of the other examples about Trump that the Biden administration could have
picked, they picked one in which he was not really coming and saying, I am going to be a dictator, right? He was saying, I'm going to pass executive
orders. And I asked about this to many people, and they knew this, right? So, they would say, well, the media says, you know, Trump's going to be a
dictator, but I watched the whole clip.
Now, I'm not here defending Trump, right? Like, when I point this out, a lot of people get mad at me because they want me to say, well, Trump will
be a dictator. I'm not trying to deny at all that there is genuine concern about rule of law, separation of powers, conflict of interest.
But that particular quote is not really playing with these people because when you watch the whole video in that particular moment, like, it's not
like he's got some confession to make that somebody caught him on tape. He's saying something about executive orders, right?
So, there's other arguments, of course, to be made on election denial. There's arguments to be made on January 6th. There's arguments to be made
on -- especially, I think, this conflict of interests and making money from the hotels from foreign governments and all the emoluments clause. Those
things have kind of not really been talked about as much.
And I would -- I challenged a lot of these voters, because I wanted to hear what they would say back. And in that -- when I challenged them, what I
heard was that they would first point to something about traditional media where they had half a point, right? Like, this is a little bit of a
misrepresentation here. He didn't really say that. They would first present some issue that I would say, well, maybe you got half a point.
But next step would be to deny or to question if January 6th had happened with -- you know, from Trump's involvement or Trump's encouragement or even
Trump supporters. I heard everything from, well, it was a couple of bad apples. And that happens to -- maybe it was entrapment. The government
allowed it. And there, they're in their information bubble, right? They do not really trust traditional media.
And they hear it from their talk radio. They hear it from their TV stations. They hear it on YouTube and, you know, current X, Twitter, came
up a lot. So, it's not syncing, right? It is not something that, at least this group of people, are either hearing or concerned about.
And additionally, they would very often point to me all the other executive orders that, you know, current presidents use, and everything is happening
through executive orders. That's not very democratic. So, they say, let it be our guy, right? So, they sort of say, OK, let it be our guy.
And he has a way of talking to these people that is underrated in how effective it is. I think if you're not a Trump supporter, and you go sit
there, it's very hard to sort of, you might not feel it, right? Because if you're not a Trump supporter, you're not feeling that. And so, it takes a
little bit of effort to try to step back and say, OK, how does this feel to people who do like him, right?
And to people who like him, to people who are at least open to him, he comes across. In my eight years of talking with Trump supporters, he comes
across as genuine and authentic.
SREENIVASAN: Do you think that there's been a shift in how his supporters perceive the events of January 6th? Has there been an increased tolerance
for violence or a justification of what happened over time?
TUFEKCI: So, in my own conversations, I did not find a single person who defended it, right? I don't doubt there are people who think it was
justified because Trump really plays up the election was stolen.
So, if you genuinely believe that there's a nefarious force stealing elections, you know, that kind of creates a what's justified kind of
question. So, perhaps because they were talking to me or perhaps because of the kind of face there is in Iowa and New Hampshire and other places, I did
not encounter anyone saying, oh, it was great. It was justified.
TUFEKCI: But what I did encounter was explaining away, downplaying, bad apples, or some degree of a conspiracy that this was the deep state or
federal government or Trump enemies, or this or that, that's where it gets into the conspiracy part, that aided and abetted and allowed this to happen
as a form of entrapment, which. you know, comes from a lot of the conspiracy theories that you encounter about what happened.
So -- and they don't really -- I mean, given that, I don't think they're like rooting for a redo of that.
TUFEKCI: But it's not going to dissuade them either. So, once again, the question perhaps is not what the most diehard supporters of Trump think,
right, like those people may just be completely attached to him and that might be that, and he's got that. The question to understand is there's a
large part of the country, and this is kind of, I think, what people need to understand and hear, is that if you look at the polls, currently, the
majority of the country thinks that Trump would do a better job on the economy, they think Trump would do a better job on foreign policy, and they
think that Trump would do a better job on immigration compared to President Biden, right?
And this is not -- like once you get to that kind of majorities, you're not talking about, you know, Trump's diehard supporters, you're talking about
the kind of coalitions that cause elections to be lost.
SREENIVASAN: Had these people who your piece focuses on, the ones who are kind of gravitating towards a stronger leader, were they there in 2020?
What's different about the 2024 electorate? Are there more of them now? Has Biden pushed people more towards that camp? What's different?
TUFEKCI: I think in 2020, a large chunk of the country had been tired of Trump's presidency. And you still have to remember, like it wasn't a huge
TUFEKCI: Like he could have plausibly won. It was not a huge margin. But it was not as much of a win in a landslide sense as one would think given
all that happened. So, the second thing is a lot of things happen under President Biden's, administration. And I think, again, inflation is a major
And Ukraine war and even the Middle East situation happened under his watch. And you might say he doesn't run the world. It doesn't work like
that. And I wouldn't disagree. But to his supporters and to some people, it looks like when Trump was president, people were scared to oppose him.
That's what they say. And they -- also, the counterfactuals, it didn't happen.
And the third thing I think that people, once again, are underestimating is the effect of age. Now, we have, I think, 78 versus 81 by the time November
comes around, when -- if it's Biden versus Trump, that is a strikingly old matchup. So, there is that.
And in some sense, you might say, well, their ages are close to one another. It is both strikingly older than average presidential candidates.
And that's true. But the polls are very clear, President Biden's age is seen as a much bigger liability to him than Trump's age is seen to him.
It's perhaps like his aggressive behavior. Perhaps it's the way, you know, Trump sort of his rallies, the way he talks, the way he comes across. Like,
I'm not going to try to explain exactly why that is.
But it's really clear to me, from talking to people, and looking at the polls, that people see President Biden's age as something that makes him
weaker and less competent compared to they have the same criteria for, you know, Trump.
So, four years ago, it wasn't like -- you know, we don't talk about 81. We're talking about, you know, 77, 78.
TUFEKCI: I think that's a big part of the mix of where things are right now.
SREENIVASAN: Zeynep Tufekci, professor of Sociology and Public Affairs at Princeton, thanks so much for joining us.
TUFEKCI: Thank you for inviting me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And finally, tonight, an important update on the story we've been reporting ever since Iran's Women, Life, Freedom movement started.
Two Iranian journalists imprisoned for their coverage of the death of 22- year-old Mahsa Amini have now been released on bail. Amini died in the custody of Iran's Morality Police in 2022 after being arrested for
allegedly not wearing her hijab properly.
Now, Niloofar Hamedi and Elaheh Mohammadi Brought the news of Mahsa's death to Iran and the world and they have been freed from prisons. Protests back
then quickly spread with women demanding more freedoms.
The reporters were swiftly arrested and spent over 400 days in prison. Both still face multiple charges that could technically carry the death penalty.
And we will continue to follow this closely as ever.
And a quick programming note. On Saturday, you can watch the brand new "Amanpour Hour" from 11:00 a.m. on America's East Coast, 5:00 p.m. in
We'll bring context, conversation, and analysis of our world with newsmakers, cultural icons, and the best of CNN in the field. Also taking
your questions about events future. So, scan the QR code on your screen or e-mail email@example.com. "The Amanpour Hour" airs Saturdays at 11:00
a.m. Eastern, 5:00 p.m. Central Europe, only here on CNN.
And that's it for now. Thank you for watching. Goodbye from London.