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GOP Stars at Conservative Summit; CEO Howard Schultz Tells Customers to Petition Washington; Sen. Ted Cruz at the Values Voter Summit

Aired October 11, 2013 - 09:30   ET


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Poll from Brigham Young University. It shows that the favorable opinion of Senator Lee among Utah voters is sinking, dropping 10 points since June. Could this be a possible result of his role in the shutdown?

Joining us now from Washington is David Brody. He is the chief political correspondent for the Christian Broadcasting Network.

And, David, you know, we see a lot of potential 2016 Republican presidential contenders here. The focus of this summit annually is usually social issues, but will the budget shutdown force its way into prominence there over the next several days?

DAVID BRODY, CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESP. CHRISTIAN BROADCASTING NETWORK: Well, there's no doubt about it. As a matter of fact, that's going to be top - top "a," or tier "a," excuse me. It's going to be right at the top.

I've got to tell you, all of these social issues that we have seen in the '80s and the '90s and, yes, in 2000 and beyond when George Bush was president, they were prevalent. There's no doubt about. And they were - they were a big deal. Now, however, you're seeing a lot more of the economic, the budget matters taking over, rather than the social issues. Will there be a nod to traditional marriage? Yes. Abortion? Yes. But I've got to tell you, John, those are going to be one line. And they'll be huge, they'll be applause lines, but it's not going to be - it's not going to dominate the speeches here.

BERMAN: You are having several interviews with some of these senators later today. As I said, potential 2016 presidential contenders. How do they navigate right now the issues between the Tea Party faction of the party, the Republican Party, and leadership led by Speaker John Boehner now and will how they navigate that prove crucial to them for their 2016 hopes?

BRODY: It's a great question, John, and it is crucial for all of them. Look, Rand Paul and Ted Cruz have both pretty much embraced that moniker. Marco Rubio, on the other hand, it's been interesting to watch, and not just because of some of the stumbles on immigration, but he has -- he needs to kind of figure out exactly where he's going exactly with this as he looks and has an eye towards 2016. There has been some ties, obviously, to the GOP establishment, and at the same time he tries to play up his Tea Party cred. So he's not quite sure exactly what role and what world he wants to be in right now. I think that bears watching.

But, yes, we're going to talk to Rand Paul back stage here in just a few minutes, along with Ted Cruz later today. And I got to tell you, one of the key questions is going to be is now what? Now that Obamacare looks like it's going to be a side issue in some sort of budget deal, where do you go from here exactly. And, you know, it's much different being a U.S. senator than it is president of the United States. And it's a question that will need to be asked.

BERMAN: Senator Cruz hasn't really answered that question yet, now what. He does speak at the conference in a little bit. You heard Van Jones from "Crossfire" last night asking if he would apologize to the Republican Party for his role in the shutdown. I do not suspect he will be apologizing to this crowd there today. So what message, do you think, he'll be trying to send?

BRODY: Well, you know, it's funny, no, he won't be apologizing at all. As a matter of fact, he'll probably ramp up the rhetoric for sure.

Look, it's going to be a very populist/Tea Party type message. One that will rile up the base because Ted Cruz knows that this message plays very well in Iowa and South Carolina. And I got to tell you, I've been traveling around the country, John, and I've been out to Iowa and South Carolina. What they are telling me on the ground is that Ted Cruz is not only the real deal, but Ted Cruz is the one guy -- they call him "robo candidate." He's the guy that if they could -- they being social conservatives and Tea Party conservatives -- if they could manufacture a candidate in a lab somewhere, Ted Cruz is the guy. And I got to tell you, and this is what's going to drive liberals nuts here, John, is that he's a guy that is a world class debate champion. He's got all of the Ivy league street cred as well, so he's not one of those Tea Party folks that you can kind of dismiss. He's got intellect behind his ideas and I think that's where there could be some problems as it relates to, how are you going to fight Ted Cruz if you're a liberal.

BERMAN: And just to put a final point on this last question here, David, the polls we've been showing this morning, the new polls, show that a majority of Republicans are blaming Republicans for this shutdown. I do not suspect it is the same sentiment in that room where you are standing right now. It is probably vastly different. And that is the audience that these candidates will be speaking to.

BRODY: Yes, there's no doubt. I mean they think that -- they're not even looking at it in terms of the Republican Party. They're really looking at it in terms of a conservative, a constitutional conservative fight here.

And, you know, I think a lot of folks are missing the end game here. A lot of people think the end game is the Gallop polls numbers or what the Republican Party is going to do in 2014.

Look, John, what we are seeing right now is a transformation, or at least what the Tea Party hopes to be, a transformation into a constitutional conservative Republican Party. Is that going to take years in the making? Absolutely. Will it take decades? Possibly, for sure.

But here's the thing, John, and this is really important to remember. This is kind of like an intervention. You know when you have an alcoholic and family members need to get involved, there has to be an intervention. That's what the Tea Party is trying to do here with the Republican Party saying, whoa, stop the spending, stop being GOP establishment. And this crowd here is on board with that and that's why you're seeing all of the machinations between everyone here.

BERMAN: David Brody and the Value Voters Summit. Great speaking to you. Look forward to those interviews you have later today with some of these key senators. Appreciate you being here.

BRODY: Thanks, John.

BERMAN: And still to come for us, the passions percolate as Starbucks top guy calls out Washington.


HOWARD SCHULTZ, CEO, STARBUCKS: Open the government immediately. It's just insanity. This is not the country that we recognize. It's not the country that our parents and our grandparents promised we would have.


BERMAN: The company's CEO wants you to chime in. We will tell you about this really unusual petition drive now underway. Stay with us.


BERMAN: So, if you head into Starbucks today, like millions of you will no doubt do, you may find it's not just your latte that is in a froth because, across the country, those ever present coffee shops are inviting customers to sign a petition demanding that lawmakers strike a deal to fully reopen the government and pass a debt deal. CNN's Poppy Harlow has been following all of that for us. She is here with a closer look.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Howard Schultz, the CEO of Starbucks, has been inserting himself in the company in these very controversial public issues, like the gun debate and now the government and politics once again. He's asking for three things in this petition that you may see today if you go into Starbucks, reopen the government, pay our debt, come to a long-term agreement on the debt ceiling by the end of the year. Things actually the government should, frankly, be doing.

But he says, John, that we're in a collision course with time. And just listening to him, you can tell how fed up he is. Listen.


HARLOW: What do you think the consequences are if we do not reach a long-term debt ceiling deal? What does that mean? HOWARD SCHULTZ, CEO, STARBUCKS: Well, the consequences are dire. Our standing in the world, the fracturing of consumer confidence, the psyche of the American people, small and large businesses across the country will be significantly affected. No one will be immune. And what's so perverse is, this is not something that has been invented. This is something that is self-induced. This is something that is just political. We have to bury the hatchet in terms of our political differences, have civil discourse and let people get in a room and commit to themselves, they're not going to leave the room until they solve the problem for the American people.

HARLOW: If a short term debt ceiling deal is reached and the president signs it, does that really do anything to move the needle on clarity for business, to make big moves, big investments, and, frankly, confidence for the American public? Do they accomplish anything?

SCHULTZ: Well, all this noise about a short term deal, I think, for me, it's really fool's gold. It will not accomplish anything over the long-term. And any confidence that is provided into the American economy and to the American consumer and our standing in the world will just come right back and be fractured again.

HARLOW: And you said, "I don't pretend that both parties are equally to blame." So what did you mean in writing that?

SCHULTZ: Well, you know, I think that, you know, the way I view it, I think that clearly the issues on the Republican side have created a level of dissatisfaction in which the president could not or was unwilling to meet them half way. But again, I'm not here to parse words about who's to blame and who's not. I think both parties need to come together today and solve this problem.


HARLOW: Right.

BERMAN: (INAUDIBLE) for business across the country.

Howard Schultz, it feels like we have heard a lot from this man over the last couple of years in politics.


BERMAN: He's told people not to give (ph) money. He's out there being outspoken on this issue. He's getting awfully close to sounding like he's developing some kind of a platform here. Do you think he might be interested in running for office?

HARLOW: It's the question I ask him every single time I interview him and the answer's always the same. I asked him again in this interview, will you run? If you're so fed up, why not run? Why not throw your hat in the ring? And he said, I have no - quote, "I don't have any intention of running for office."

BERMAN: Oh, wow, don't have any intention.

HARLOW: So - yes.

BERMAN: That sounds like Hillary Clinton.

HARLOW: Right.

BERMAN: You know -

HARLOW: I don't know. I don't know. I don't know if he's going to run or not. He says he's not going to. He told me before, he thinks he can get more done in business and, frankly, with this platform than he can in Washington. And maybe right now that seems like the case because there's such a stalemate.

But we know he's left leaning. We know that he supported the president in the last election. We also know that he hasn't given any money to any politicians in the past few years since in 2011 he called on all of us to stop political donations until they could get it together.

BERMAN: He said, I do not have any intention of running. He's already -

HARLOW: It's a very political answer.

BERMAN: He's already learned how to speak politics, so he's half way there.


BERMAN: Poppy Harlow, great to have you here. Appreciate it.

HARLOW: No problem.

BERMAN: Coming up for us next, we are monitoring the Value Voters Summit in Washington right now. You can see Ted Cruz taking the stage. We will carry his speech for you -- actually we're going to stay with it right now because Ted Cruz, as you can see, the Republican senator from Texas, who has been instrumental in Republican efforts over the last several weeks in the shutdown, he is about to speak to the people in this audience. This is a socially conservative crowd. The Value Voters Summit is a summit lead by the Family Research Council, generally they talk about social issues, fighting against same-sex marriage and abortion. Let's listen to Senator Cruz.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: God (ph) is for you, who can be against you!

SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: Thank you. I receive that blessing.


CRUZ: And let me say to each and every one of you, I am inspired by you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, we're inspired by you!

CRUZ: I am invigorated by your passion for this great country!

Now, as inspired as I am, I will do my very best to speak for less than 21 hours.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good job. We're glad you did!

CRUZ: But you will know I'm near wrapping up when I begin to read "The Cat in the Hat."

I am here this morning with a word of encouragement and exhortation. I want to say two things. Number one, these are extraordinary times. These are not typical times. The challenges facing this country are unlike any we have ever seen. You look at our Constitution, you look at our Bill of Rights, this is an administration that seems bound and determined to violate every single one of our Bill of Rights.

I don't know that they've yet violated the Third Amendment, but I expect them to start quartering soldiers in people's homes soon. But if you look at the Bill of Rights, if you look at the First Amendment, this is an administration that has told service men and women that they cannot share their faith or risk discipline.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tyranny. Tyranny.

CRUZ: This is an administration that has reprimanded an Air Force chapel in Alaska for writing in a blog post, "there are no atheists in fox holes."


CRUZ: Now mind you he was quoting President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who I might note has some passing familiarity with the military. This is an administration that is telling Christian companies like Hobby Lobby, is telling (INAUDIBLE) that the Little Sisters of the Poor that they must provide abortifacients or pay millions of dollars in government fines. The Little Sisters of the Poor is an order of nuns that provides health care to the elderly poor. The federal government is coming after them saying they have to provide abortifacients as well.

We've got the Second Amendment, which no administration in this history of this country has ever come after guns like this administration.


CRUZ: Now Vice President Joe Biden -- you know the nice thing? You don't need a punch line. You just say his name, people laugh. But Vice President Joe Biden had some advice. He said if anyone is attacking your home, just go outside with a double barreled shot gun and fire both barrels in the air. Which is very, very good advice if it so happens you're being attacked by a flock of geese.

We've seen the fourth and fifth amendment in an administration whose drone policy and wiretap policies and your e-mails and your phone calls their view is the privacy of the American people does not matter to them.

And then there is the tenth amendment, an amendment I'm pretty sure they've gone and cut out of every copy of the Constitution in the Library of Congress. We've seen an explosion of federal government power, none more important or significant or dangerous than Obamacare.

We look at the state of our economy, in the last four years our economy has grown on average 0.9 percent a year. There's only one other period since World War II of four consecutive years of less than one percent average growth, that was 1979 to 1982. It's coming out of the Jimmy Carter administration, it was the same failed economic policies, out of control spending and taxes and regulation and it produced the exact same results.

And we've seen a hapless, feckless foreign policy, leading from behind, set by a president who doesn't appreciate the concept of an oxymoron.

These are extraordinary times. Listen every one of you is here because you love this country. Because you love freedom and you know that we can't keep going down this road much longer. We're nearing the edge of a cliff. And our window to turn things around, my friends, I don't think it is long. I don't think it's ten years. We have a couple of years to turn this country around or we go off the cliff to oblivion.

Throughout the history of the world, we have seen great nations rise and fall. And everyone here today is here today because we are not content to allow the United States of America to do anything but continue to rise and remain the greatest country on the face of this earth.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senator Cruz, why won't you support a pathway (inaudible)

CRUZ: Thank you, sir, for being here. I appreciate. You know, you know look, look it is a great thing that people can express their First Amendment rights. And I only wish the Obama administration respected First Amendment rights that much.

But how do we turn things around? The second point I want to say is only the American people.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, you've been listening to Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas speaking at the Values Voter Summit in Washington right now.

Ted Cruz has been at the center of this budget impasse that we've had in Washington now in its 11th day. It was Senator Cruz who really pushed House Republicans to tie defunding, delaying, derailing Obamacare to passing the funding of the federal budget.

That of course right now again, the shutdown is in its 11th day. Senator Cruz did not bring up the shutdown, at least not yet in this speech at the Value Voters Summit. He really only brought up Obamacare once briefly. He said the explosion of federal power, he was talking about what he calls the explosion of federal power and he said that there is no more dangerous example, in his words, than Obamacare.

I'm joined now by Will Cain who is a CNN contributor and also a columnist for "The Blaze" and also CNN senior political analyst Ron Brownstein the editorial director of "The National Journal".

Will, let me start with you here because we've been talking a lot this morning about the "The Wall Street Journal"/NBC poll which shows the Republicans are getting a lot more of the blame for the government shutdown right now, the budget impasse, the debt ceiling debate that is looming over our heads right now.

But this crowd watching Ted Cruz speak at this Value Voters Summit the Tea Party faithful, values voters as they say, I'm not so sure that they blame the Republicans more and what do they think of Ted Cruz right now?

WILL CAIN, COLUMNIST, "THE BLAZE": I'm sure they don't think poorly of Ted Cruz. You know John from the beginning -- and this has become a cliche almost to say there's a unity among the Republicans, among conservatives in their opposition to Obamacare.

I have spent several appearances on CNN and other places talking about the legitimacy of the government shutdown as a tool to exert minority power. This entire system was created to protect minority interests. Three branches of government, two houses of legislature, veto, funding power.

However, the legitimacy of this tool is a separate argument from the strategy of this tool. And what we're seeing today is the repercussions of what looked to be a bad strategy. It divided conservatives first of all. Ron Johnson and Paul Ryan from Ted Cruz and Mike Lee and the entire thing was predicated upon turning the American public. Making them see, making them recognize Obamacare is a bad proposition and putting pressure on their senators. It doesn't seem to have worked.

BERMAN: Ron I -- Will brings up a great point. The legitimacy of a government shutdown far different than the strategy of it and the numbers we are seeing in the "The Wall Street Journal" poll are glaring right now. By a 22-point margin voters say that they blame the Republican Party more for the shutdown than President Obama. That's a bigger spread than we saw in the shutdown of the 1990s. What does that tell you?

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well in fact what it tells me is that the public overwhelmingly rejects the use of these tools as a means to try to exact policy concessions. Our own polling, our congressional connection polling this week, two-thirds of Americans rejected both tying Obamacare to the debt or Obamacare to the re-opening of the government. Whatever their feelings about the underlying health care law they reject the idea of using these tools to try to exact concessions. You know watching Ted Cruz I was struck because you know he really embodies the shift in thinking in the Republican Party toward what is a very risky bet for the GOP. Immediately after the election in 2012, when Mitt Romney won a larger share of the white vote than Ronald Reagan did in 1980 and still lost pretty solidly, the dominant view in the party was we had to reach out, we had to broaden our base, we had to kind of bring in voters who have been moving away from us.

And now you see much more, and this is the current that is driving the shutdown, the argument that we can thrive just by mobilizing our base, by giving them the true medicine. You know immigration reform is now off the table. They are slashing -- trying to cut food stamps.

And you know if you're looking at a Hispanic outreach, at a time when a third of Hispanics are uninsured, essentially Republicans are saying we will shut down the government rather than fund a program that would potentially provide enormous benefit to that community if they can get it to work.

BERMAN: Tony Perkins the leader of the Family Research Council who sponsors the Value Voters Summit has called Senator Ted Cruz right now a de facto leader of the Republican Party. I would like to speak to both of you Ron Brownstein and Will Cain about that.

And I think we'll get a chance to do in that next hour. For now, Ron Brownstein and Will Cain thanks so much for being with us. I do really appreciate it.

CAIN: You bet.

BROWNSTEIN: Thank you.

BERMAN: We'll be right back.


BERMAN: Welcome back to NEWSROOM everyone.

I want to go back to the Values Voter Summit in Washington right now where Republican Senator Ted Cruz is speaking because over the last several minutes it's been really a caustic scene there. Senator Cruz has been heckled. Now we do not know what the hecklers have been saying. We can't quite make it out.

Senator Cruz has accused the hecklers of being paid political operatives. We of course, don't know who they are and what they're saying. But I want to play a little tape of what's been going on.


CRUZ: It seems that President Obama's paid political operatives are out in force today.

And you know why? And you know why, because the men and women in this room are scared the --


BERMAN: All right. You just saw Senator Cruz there with a back and forth with a protester right there. Again, was we said, it was kind of a tense scene for a little bit. He received a hero's welcome it is safe to say from that crowd, largely value voters -- they call it the Value Voters Summit sponsored by the Family Research Council.

CRUZ: They definitely don't want the truth to be heard.

BERMAN: You can hear Senator Cruz going on and on about the protesters a little bit right now. We'll check back in if this exchange keeps up.

Let's listen in.


CRUZ: -- the American people making the case what we said from the beginning. I said, you know what? I can't stop Obamacare. Mike Lee can't stop Obamacare. Well, we have -- we have two more, three more gentlemen, ladies, thank you for your passion. But you should respect the rights of the men and women who are here. It is unfortunate -- it is unfortunate that the administration --


CRUZ: You know, the nice thing, the nice thing is the left will always, always, always tell you who they fear.

And they fear you.