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Infrastructure Negotiations Continue; The Funeral of Colin Powell. Aired 2-2:30p ET
Aired November 05, 2021 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Nia-Malika, it goes without saying perhaps, but it is -- even though he endorsed Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Biden in these last few presidential elections, Colin Powell's career, as it is, was really made by Ronald Reagan, who made him deputy national security adviser and then national security adviser, before he even a stated Republican, when he was still in the military and a registered independent.
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: That's right.
And that's when he became familiar to me, became familiar to my family and millions of Americans.
As I sat here I thought about teaching my daughter about Colin Powell someday. She's only 20 months old. One day, maybe she will even get to see this funeral, because it shows the arc of his life, the lessons that his son talked about that were taught by Colin Powell. Don't forget where you came from. Do good and be good. Sacrifice yourself in service of others.
Emulate his character, not his resume. And that is the kind of Powell doctrine, right? We talk about this sort of global Powell Doctrine, but these sort of simple, Christian-based Powell doctrine, it was so moving and such a lesson that you want to pass on to others.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: The personal Powell.
BASH: That is so well-said.
The part of Michael Powell's speech that really got me was when he said, people are questioning, do they make them like that anymore? Can a Colin Powell exist in today's society or come up in today's society?
And his answer was, it's up to us as Americans to give that answer. And I thought that was very poignant, because he kind of laid the thesis out there, the question out there, the proposition out there, I should say, and intentionally so, to make people think about it, to not just look back on his father's life, and to talk about how remarkable a career he had, but think about how we as Americans can act in our own lives to make it so that there are other Colin Powells in the future.
TAPPER: It does -- it is a challenge for us all. It is a challenge for us all -- Wolf Blitzer.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: You know, a very, very moving, Jake, funeral here at the National Cathedral. It was so, so powerful. All of us were moved.
I think all of us were especially moved by Michael Powell, General Polish son, his words as he was holding his dad's hands in that final night.
Jamie, you watched. It was hard not to break down listening to that.
JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: I cried.
I want to say that I think Colin Powell was listening today and heard three things that he would have loved. As Nia-Malika said, never forget where you came from. The other thing Colin Powell said over and over again, treat people with kindness. We heard that. And, finally, he would have gotten a great big laugh out of his sons describing how, if you break your son's Impala, you better know how to drive it backwards.
I just think it touched on all the points of his character and his personality and how he touched so many people.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The dignity of the service reflected the dignity of the man.
And when you look -- you just heard the arc of his life. He lived the American dream. He called his book "American Journey," but he lived, he is -- was at embodiment of the American dream, working-class family to the pinnacle of power.
You could just tell he had the respect of his family, the respect of presidents, the respect of his troops, of a life of character. Just wow. The country owes a great debt to this man.
And to the point Dana made about what -- Michael Powell, I think, asked the most poignant question. He said it was asked of him. Do they still make his kind?
KING: In this town right now, our politics are so coarse. Our people are so polarized. Do they still make his kind?
We could use some.
BLITZER: Yes, it was a special two hours that we all saw just now, especially, as you correctly point out, John, during this current political time.
Suzanne Malveaux watching very carefully.
Suzanne, what was going through your heart and your mind as you watched?
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, I thought about what he said in his autobiography, that World War II changed his name.
Before, he was Colin, the British pronunciation that was used by the Jamaicans. And then a war hero emerged named Colin Kelly. So, to his friends on the neighborhood in the block, he became Colin Powell, but his family always called him Colin, Colin Powell.
And what I heard from the tributes today is that he served and succeeded in both of those worlds, at being Colin Powell and Colin Powell, from Secretary Albright's highlighting the loyalty he had to his country, to his son Michael's comfort that he felt for the warmness of his father's hand.
And three years ago, when I had the opportunity to interview General Powell and Secretary Albright, I asked him what he wanted his legacy to be. And he said to me: As a kid coming from the South Bronx, I could not have dreamed I'd reached the positions I did. But I did because this is a great country. And I'm grateful to it. I hope my legacy is that he was a pretty good soldier, did his duty and loved his country.
And so, Wolf, I dare say that Powell would be pleased.
BLITZER: Yes, I think you're absolutely right, Suzanne.
And for those of us who got to know him over these years, this was a special time just to remember and reflect.
And, Jamie, you knew him for 30-plus years. So did I. He was always, always so blunt and honest and kind, in trying to make sure that we were reporting accurate news.
And could I add mischievous and the big smile? But he always took time for young reporters: How can I help you? What do you need to know?
A lot of people don't do that. He did that. And I think that's exactly what we have heard over and over about how he treated young soldiers. He was someone who reached out to people.
BLITZER: He was so special, John, in the military. And you covered him when he was visiting troops in Saudi Arabia just before Operation Desert Storm began.
And he would reach out to those troops and make them feel better.
KING: And he made them feel better because -- I think both the commander and General Hertling have mentioned it -- because he lived a life, and he learned the lessons, and he did not like the Vietnam was such a political war.
And so any time he came about the debates with Madeleine Albright about use of force in the Balkans, this is the right thing to do, we do not have toy soldiers was the way he used the term, because he lived it, the respect he had. He was General Powell, he was Secretary Powell, but he remembered the privates.
That was his mission, that with the opportunity of power comes privileged to remember the little guy.
BLITZER: Jake, all of us are going to remember this funeral. But we're also, much more so, we're going to remember General Powell for the wonderful man that he was and what he did for our country, indeed, what he did for the world.
TAPPER: Indeed, Wolf.
And one of the memories I have is in the obituary that we ran on my show the day that Powell's death was reported. There was an excerpt of a video address. He had a special scholarship fund for immigrant kids in New York. And he was doing it by Zoom.
And I think his daughter, one of his daughters was running the program. And he got very emotional listening to these incredibly impressive children of immigrants or immigrants themselves. And it really said a lot about what motivated him, in the sense that he never -- this has been said so many times today, but he never forgot that he was -- his early years were in Harlem.
His parents were Jamaican immigrants. Then he spent time in the South Bronx. His dad had a winning lottery ticket. And then they got to move to Queens.
TAPPER: He never forgot where he came from. And it wasn't just that he didn't forget it. He tried to make sure as many people like him as possible -- and he was not necessarily destined for greatness as a kid.
I mean, when he was in fourth grade, they talked about holding him back a little bit. But he just worked hard, and he wanted to reward those who followed in his footsteps.
LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Yes, Jake, you bring up a great point.
There's this disease that overcomes old generals. It's getting emotional when you see young people achieving things. It just talks to the future of America.
And I think that's why Powell at the end of his life dedicated himself to the next generation, to leadership, to finding the people that would perhaps bring us together after the great divide we have been through.
And that's what pleased him. He had accomplished everything possible in his life. But now it was to find ways to build that next generation, to build the bench that would pull it all together.
TAPPER: And, Commander, you were talking about how, as a young sailor and then officer, you were inspired by him. He was a heroic figure to you.
You did get to meet him ultimately. What was it like meeting him?
CMDR. TED JOHNSON (RET.), U.S. NAVY: Yes, so it's one of those things where you think someone because you read so much about him, and you see him on TV.
I still remember being in high school and seeing him doing the Gulf War briefings every night. And then there he is. And he's humble. And he's kind. He would -- sometimes, people coming from places of importance assert their authority when they walk in the room to remind folks of who they are. And he was very unassuming, because his life spoke for him.
His morals, his principles spoke for him. And I will tell you, I left and I immediately called my mom to tell her, you will never guess what we had lunch with today.
JOHNSON: And she bought me his book before I left for officer candidate school. And I still remember dog-earing pages and highlighting.
It's quite an incredible experience, and not to say that -- not to deify the man. I mean, he was a man. But because he was tangible, because he was -- he accomplished things without being this super Superman, made everything he accomplished even more special.
And the last thing I will say is, when he walked through new doors, he didn't let the door swing back to hit the next person behind him. He knocked the door off the hinges, so that there was a pathway for those who followed behind him. And that will be one of his many legacies he leaves behind.
TIM NAFTALI, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Colin Powell saw the best and the worst of our country. He's very honest about that in his autobiography, and yet he remained optimistic.
He was a reluctant warrior. And that meant not simply using force, but being political. But he would intervene when he felt it was necessary for the American family. And in the last few years, he's intervened a little bit more to remind us that we can be a family and we can work together.
And his optimism was undaunted. And I hope we remember that example.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: he also used to tell soldiers that you have to understand politics if you want to be a good soldier, which is something we don't think about.
And maybe you folks can talk to me a little bit about that. But I think that one of the reasons he had such great success in all walks of his life is that he always understood who he was dealing with and what he had to do, and how he could achieve things, and when it was time to leave jobs that he didn't like, or that he had no impact anymore, for example, in the Bush administration.
But he -- so he was somebody who was, as we say, the cliche now, a man in full, who really -- who really walked all these different walks and succeeded because he understood the world in which he was living and never forgot the world he came from.
HENDERSON: And seemed to also have a sense of joy in play too, right?
HENDERSON: There was the example here of him dropping to his knees and singing an ABBA song, and driving the car backwards down the highway when he screwed up the car.
So that too was just such a great takeaway. Here he was this man, many accomplishments and a military bearing, but also of play and fun and real joy and optimism about life.
BASH: And I liked the reminder that he didn't start out headed for West Point. He said many times "I couldn't have gotten into West Point," because his grades weren't that great. He was an enlisted man.
And that is -- whether it's in the military or in any other walk of life, it's a reminder that you don't have to find yourself early. You can do it late. You can be late bloomer and still succeed in a really robust way.
TAPPER: A great American success story.
And General Powell would often say his story was only possible in the United States of America. We have lost a statesman. We have lost an icon. The world is a slightly sadder and emptier place today.
Thank you for joining us for our special coverage of General Colin Powell's funeral at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C.
The news continues next with Alisyn Camerota and Victor Blackwell after this quick break. Stay with us.
VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: Hello. Thanks for being with us. I'm Victor Blackwell.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: And I'm Alisyn Camerota.
President Biden is celebrating a big win in today's jobs report. The new numbers find that the economy added more than 530,000 jobs, and the unemployment rate dropped to 4.6 percent.
Today, the president reminded Americans that those pluses and the more than 193 million Americans now fully vaccinated are signs that the country is headed in the right direction.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our economy is on the move. This morning, we learned that in October, our economy created 531,000 jobs, well above expectations.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLACKWELL: But the president's legislative agenda, oh, that still has some rivers the cross.
BLACKWELL: Yes, thank you.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was hoping to hold a vote on both the president's bills this morning. But a demand from moderates has pushed those votes back again.
CAMEROTA: Joining us now, CNN chief White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins and CNN congressional correspondent Jessica Dean.
So, Jessica, help us understand this. The moderates now want the Build Back Better Act to be scored by the Congressional Budget Office before they vote on it? Is that a last-minute demand that we're just learning of?
JESSICA DEAN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, they have been talking about it, Victor and Alisyn, but to get that score is going to take some time.
That's not something they can just pull out of a hat. It takes time to do that. So they are holding out for that right now. Now, just a second ago, we saw a member of the Congressional Black Caucus walk by. They just left a meeting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
And Congresswoman Beatty floated the idea. She -- this is an option that is being floated right now, is that they would vote first on the infrastructure bill later today, and then vote on what's known as the rule governing the Build Back Better Act. So, in the House, you vote for the rule first, and then the actual bill. So they could claim progress on Build Back Better, even though they wouldn't vote on the actual bill today.
So that is an option that's being floated. The big question around that is, of course, will progressives support that moving forward? They're going to need all of the progressives to get that infrastructure bill through. We have talked about this a lot.
And the question is, will those progressives go for this? That right now is something that we don't know. So that is one option that's being floated. But, Victor and Alisyn, as you outlined just a moment ago, they had hoped very much to be taking a lot more forward action this by this time today.
And so far, we don't have a hard-and-fast plan as to when any vote might happen and if that vote will happen.
BLACKWELL: All right, Jessica Dean, thank you.
Let's go to Kaitlan Collins now at the White House.
We know the president for the last several hours has been at the funeral for General Colin Powell. But we know that he is working to get Congress to pass these bills potentially today.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Not just working. He is directly appealing to them and saying you need to pass these votes today.
He wants to see votes on this right now. And he wants to see yes-votes on this. And that is what he told reporters earlier today when he was talking about that jobs report, a very welcome sign for White House that definitely needs some good news.
And President Biden was talking about those jobs, using that jobs report to make the case for passing this agenda. And he was saying that he wants those House members to go and vote on the infrastructure plan and send it to his desk, of course, given it has already been passed by the Senate, and he wants to sign it into law.
And then when it comes to that bigger bill that Jessica was just talking about, of course, the bill that is essentially the social safety net expansion, also has hundreds of billions of dollars to fight climate change, the president wants to see the House pass it, so it can go to the Senate, so they can start doing their work on it, because we know they're hoping to get that passed by the end of this month, even though they have got a lot of changes that are expected to be made once it gets to the Senate.
But, of course, getting these votes in the House has proved elusive so far for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who has set many timelines saying when she wanted to vote for it, only for them to delay it or miss that, including last night, they were hoping that they were going to vote on this.
And now, of course, here we are at 2:23 on Friday, and this is still a vote that has not happened. And they are waiting here at the White House to see what the movement on Capitol Hill is going to be. But President Biden has made very clear what he wants to see happen. And that, in and of itself, is something we had not seen from the president, because, even when he went to Capitol Hill last week before that foreign trip, and he talked to lawmakers and was urging them, when these votes -- when these votes do or when these bills do come up for a vote, to vote yes on them, he did not necessarily say you need to vote on this today.
And progressives leaving that meeting last week made that clear. But, today, the president was in front of the cameras and out in the open saying that he wants them to vote on it right now. And so, of course, that is actually adding to the White House schedule. And while that is in flux, what they're actually going to do, the president is scheduled to leave the White House later this evening for the weekend to go to Rehoboth Beach.
And, of course, right now, there is no departure time on the schedule because they are waiting to see what is happening on Capitol Hill and whether or not they're going to get the momentum to put some action behind these votes and actually get them passed, as the president is urging them to do.
CAMEROTA: Jessica, understand you have some breaking news from progressives. What are they saying?
We're getting some new reporting that progressives would not go for this proposed plan, this possible plan of voting for the infrastructure bill first. So, if they don't have some 20 votes of those core progressives, again, that's not going to pass, guys.
So, right now, this proposed option they had been floating around looks to be a dead end. But, as you can tell by the fact we're just getting this in, this is a very fluid situation right now.
CAMEROTA: It sounds like it. Please come back to us as soon as either of you have any more information.
Jessica Dean, Kaitlan Collins, thank you very much.
OK, let's discuss everything that is happening this hour with Margaret Talev. She's a CNN political analyst and the managing editor of Axios. And Gloria Borger, she's a CNN chief political analyst.
Margaret, I mean, honestly, from minute to minute. They are wrestling defeat from the jaws of victory, because this -- we started this morning with all of the good jobs news, the economy was turning around. It looked like they were going to have maybe even both votes today. What's happening? Why are they now pumping the brakes?
MARGARET TALEV, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, Alisyn, this is truly how the sausage gets made.
And two things I would look to. One is when you look at the remembrance of General Powell's life, Secretary Powell's life and kind of the long arc of history, and then you look at the minutiae of what's going on, on the Hill today, they're just so totally discordant. I think President Biden is aiming for a long arc of history. And this
is like you have got a microscope up on it, and it looks absolutely horrific.
A couple of important kind of things that I'm watching. One is that, a week ago, two weeks ago, I'd say there was a lot of frustration and focus on the progressives, progressives inside the Democratic Party, and them holding things up. The balance of frustration and holdups has really shifted to the moderates, in the last several days, especially since Tuesday night's election results in Virginia.
Of course, we're beginning to see ads run against some of these front- line Democrats, real pressure on them, in terms of political challenges next year. And that's part of what's slowing things down.
My colleague Andrew Solender on the Hill right now hearing from progressives, we need time to talk about this. The black voters helped Joe Biden get elected in 2020. And now the Congressional Black Caucus is in the position of trying to be that caucus that has members in the progressive wing, in the centrist wing, in the more moderate or conservative wing trying to bring everyone together around something.
But, look, no doubt, yesterday, they were like, we're going to get this done today. They're like, we think we're going to get it done. It's going to take a little bit longer.
BLACKWELL: Yes, the expectation was that there could have been a vote last night on the larger plan and then on infrastructure today.
Gloria, what it appears that's happening, at least today, is that this is the conflict between the two interpretations of Tuesday night. You have got some Democrats who say the message is to get this done, we need to move it. On the other side, you have got the moderates saying, what we heard was, slow down. We heard from Abigail Spanberger, one of the moderates who wants to CBO score, nobody elected Joe Biden to be FDR.
What do you see?
BORGER: Well, having just watched the Colin Powell funeral, I'd say we move from the sublime to the ridiculous here.
And at this point, it is ridiculous. Originally, it was the progressives who said you have to have the two votes at the same time. Now it's the moderates who are saying slow down. It takes herding cats to a whole new level.
And the country's watching this and saying just get it done. Just get it done. And Nancy Pelosi is trying to talk to moderates. Some moderate say, let's do it now, let's pass infrastructure. Others are saying, we need to see the CBO score, which could take a couple of weeks.
It is absurd that Nancy Pelosi cannot get this to a vote. And I think they just all have to sort of go back in their own corners and decide whether they can get this done, if they can. I mean, it's -- at this point, it's so ridiculous that it's almost hard to put into words.
CAMEROTA: I mean, Margaret, this was looking to be a very big day in the win Category for President Biden.
CAMEROTA: I mean, in terms of the great jobs numbers, in terms of, if he had gotten two bills through the House in one day, which it looked like last night or this morning might have been possible.
And so when the moderates say they want the CBO score, I understand they're being practical, but do they understand the larger implications that this is hurting President Biden, because we have seen his approval numbers going down?
TALEV: Yes, it does -- this seems like posturing or needing to go on the board to say I'm trying to be fiscally responsible here.
There is a midterm election going up -- moving forward soon, and everything they say now will be parsed in as later. And I think all Democrats understand that, but it will take days, it sounds like, to get an actual CBO score.
By the way, the bill that passes out of the House is going to get totally reimagined in the Senate anyway.
TALEV: So, Pelosi, the challenge is, get this $1.2 trillion infrastructure plan that most Americans want, that Republicans are also willing to vote for and have voted for, get it done, so you can tell people, here's the money for the roads, the bridges, the Internet, the stuff that we promised you that someone like Joe Biden, who's not caught up in the drama of the moment, can get done.
Get that pragmatic thing done, and then live to fight another day on the Build Back Better agenda. The progressives that had been in a holding pattern trying