Return to Transcripts main page

CNN This Morning

Sen. Scott Drops out of Race; Phillips on Primary Challenge; Dan Senor is Interviewed about Israel-Hamas War; Trump Plots Immigration Plan. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired November 13, 2023 - 06:30   ET





SEN. TIM SCOTT (R-SC): I love America more today than I did on May 22nd. But when I go back to Iowa, it will not be as a presidential candidate. I am suspending my campaign.


POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: That was now former 2024 presidential candidate Tim Scott. If you're waking up this morning scratching your head, a lot of people are surprised that he has decided at this point to leave the race. The senator's decision actually took many of his own aides and his donors by surprise, even as the South Carolina Republican faced an uphill battle trying to breakthrough.

Joining us now, CNN chief national affairs analyst and anchor of "EARLY START," Kasie Hunt, and Errol Louis back at the table with us.

Good morning.

Kasie, let me just start with you. I don't know, I went to bed before this happened. I don't know if you did.



HUNT: Yes.

HARLOW: So, we wake up. We see the headline. Why now?

HUNT: Well, I think -- I don't know if I can do the Trey Gowdy like face, but that was really -

HARLOW: Raise the eyebrow.

HUNT: The noteworthy thing to me about this. I mean, look, I think it was pretty clear that Tim Scott's campaign never took off the way frankly a lot of people in Washington thought that it might. He had, you know, all the ingredients to be really successful in the traditional Republican Party. He had a lot of backing. Honestly, he didn't - he wasn't public about it, but a lot of the people who had been working against Donald Trump for more traditional candidates like Mitt Romney, were working on his operation, trying to figure out how they could make that happen.

But, you know, when I talked to source, and I - I did a lot of this on election night last week, they kept - they keep saying to me that there's just no appetite in the Republican base right now for someone who's happy and sunny. They're angry. The base is angry. And that's a big part of why Donald Trump has had such a durable lead in this race because he campaigns in a much different way. Tim Scott tried to be the, you know, kind of morning in America Republican candidate, and it's just not what people are into.


And so, you know, it does make sense. I mean he -- he saw the writing on the wall, especially about the fourth debate, and here we are.

I do know he surprised a lot of the people that worked for him when he went on Fox. They weren't thrilled to learn about it that way.

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: He needed to raise - he needed to raise money from 80,000 people. They keep ratcheting up the standards. And I think he just kind of reached the point where it's like, you know, I just can't make this next hurdle or I'll have to really blow out everything in order just to get there. I think he studied for the wrong test, right? I mean Kasie's right, sunny optimism is not selling. It's not what the party is looking for.

They also have a huge problem. Not just Donald Trump, but they have a problem called abortion. And the evangelical base of Iowa is not going to solve that problem. He was, you know, really trying to optimize his campaign towards that part of the Republican base. That part of the Republican base has brought the party to a very, very tricky place where they're losing race after race after race on this issue. They're going to have to try and figure that out. Tim Scott was not the guy to do that.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN ANCHOR: Kasie, moving to the other side of the aisle. You had a sit-down with Dean Phillips, who is now challenging President Biden, had some pretty strong words about his election prospects. President Biden's election prospects. What did he tell you?

HUNT: Yes, I mean, we should note that the White House doesn't view Phillips' challenge as a serious one that's going to, you know, ultimately result in him winning the nomination. Neither do most Democrats in Washington. But there's no question that someone in your own party attacking you on the things that voters tell us in polls are your weaknesses is not great. And when I talked to Dean Phillips in New Hampshire over the weekend, it's clear he's angry about the attacks Democrats have made on him since he announced. And instead of retreating, he's escalating.

Take a look at what he to say about the president. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. DEAN PHILLIPS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He's a good man. I respect him. He did a good job. But what I do want and what the country needs is the truth, which is every single poll, national poll, he's down five to nine points, in battleground states he's losing in five of six of the battleground states. His approval numbers are historically low. The only -- rivaling only Jimmy Carter, who got slaughtered, of course, in that election. And that people need to know.

HUNT: Jimmy Carter also had a Democratic primary challenger.

PHILLIPS: Yes, and he had a Democratic primary challenger because he was going to get slaughtered in the election. It's the same circumstance again. Ted Kennedy did not cause Jimmy Carter's problems. I did not cause President Biden's problems.


HUNT: So, some pretty tough words there, Phil. And, you know, the thing is, he's campaigning a lot in New Hampshire, which, you know, I was talking with Michael LaRosa (ph), who used to work for the Biden administration, earlier in the morning. I mean he called it an unforced error that Democrats moved the first in the nation primary out of New Hampshire to South Carolina, which means Biden is the first ever president, Democratic candidate, not to be on a New Hampshire ballot. They're going to have to mount a write-in campaign.

And as you know, having covered a lot of these campaigns, New Hampshire can be a narrative game changer. So there's - it's not free of risk for the president.

HARLOW: He -- I thought your exchange with him, Kasie, over black voters, and not just black voters, key coalitions in the Democratic Party, was really telling.

HUNT: Yes. Yes, and, you know, and I'm really interested - I'm really glad Errol is here when I learned - when I learned about that because he's obviously gone back and forth with Jim Clyburn, because Clyburn supported this move to have the first primary go to South Carolina. He said it was disrespectful of black voters the way Phillips is going about his campaign.

And I think we should just note that trying to win a Democratic nomination without the help of some of these critical groups is, I think, next to impossible. Although, Errol, I want to know what you think.

Let's take a look at how Dean Phillips answered this question.


REP. DEAN PHILLIPS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: First of all, if he feels I have disrespected anybody, I apologize. But if it's because I was in New Hampshire speaking with voters here that that was disrespectful to black voters, I take exception to that because when I'm in South Carolina shortly visiting with black voters, that is not disrespectful to Muslim voters in Michigan.

I'm so sickened by what both parties are doing to this country only to win elections. And that breaks my heart. I'm disappointed.


HUNT: So, we didn't actually include the part where I asked him specifically, did you reach out to the Congressional Black Caucus, to the NAACP, to the Urban League ahead of your bid or since you announced you are running, and the answer was no.

LOUIS: Right. Which raises the question of, what is it that he is trying to do? There are other parts of the Democratic base, which is ultimately a cluster of coalitions, that could also say that they feel disrespected. Did he reach out to the environmentalists? Did he reach out to the women's movement? Did he reach out to the labor movement? Is he connected to what makes up the base of the Democratic Party? And if he's not, you know, you have to ask, what is he in this for and how is he supposed to turn around these numbers that are supposed to be so damning.

And then secondly, of course, if it's about the polling numbers that look bad, depending on, you know, which poll you're looking at for the president, what about him? I mean he's -- he's almost nonexistent in the national polls.


Does that mean anything at all? I mean I'm not sure what Dean Phillips is up to. But like many politicians, of course he has the right to run, to raise his profile, to maybe end up with some kind of consulting gig or something like that when - when the smoke clears. But, you know, to - to say that it's OK to just run and ignore all of the many groups and social movements and political movements that make up the base of the Democratic Party, and have for over half a century, that doesn't sound like somebody who's ready for the national stage.

HARLOW: Kasie, can't wait to see much more of the interview. We'll have it here, your conversation with Dean Phillips, in the 8:00 a.m. Eastern Hour.

Errol, thank you. Don't go far.

MATTINGLY: Well, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu outlines his plans for a potential post-Hamas Gaza. What he says it won't include.

HARLOW: Plus, the White House says a three-year-old American toddler is one of the hostages being held in Gaza. How officials say they're working to get those hostages home.


HARLOW: So, this morning, quite an update. All essential units at Gaza's largest hospital have collapsed.

MATTINGLY: That's what the al-Shifa Hospital director told CNN this morning. He says there's no water, food, or milk for children and babies. The dire scene in the hospital is fueling now urgent calls for a cease-fire. The situation sure to add new pressure for the Israeli government and for the Biden administration, which have both so far resisted calls to back a stop to the fighting.

Global pro-Palestinian rallies were held over the weekend to urge action.


There was even a demonstration near President Biden's home in Wilmington, Delaware.

Joining us now is Dan Senor, a former foreign policy adviser to the Bush administration and to Mitt Romney and the co-author of the new book, "The Genius of Israel.

Dan, we appreciate your time this morning.

That dynamic right now, it is very complicated for the Biden administration, which has to deal with domestic politics, which has to deal with regional allies -


MATTINGLY: While also trying to give Israel space.


MATTINGLY: And, to some degree, it doesn't seem like the prime minister is helping the Biden administration all that much.

SENOR: Yes. Well, the Israeli decisionmakers view is, the outrage against Israel, both in the region and on the streets of the west is - you know, in Paris, London, New York, Washington, D.C., the protests, began before Israel even responded to October 7th. Their sense is, the objection - the outrage directed against Israel is that Jews object to being slaughtered. That's the - you know, that - that - we just - that we - that we're not OK with this. That's what they're outraged about. And they say, OK.

So, then we responded. And many leaders around the world said Israel does have a right to self-defense. Israel does have a right to go in and take out Hamas. President Biden said it, I mean very clearly. In fact, he's very explicitly said recently no cease-fire. Israel says, OK, so the Hamas command and control centers and capabilities are underneath these hospitals. So, if you say we have a right to self- defense, and you say that we have a right and that we should go in and take Hamas out, how do we - how do we like reconcile this with the apprehension of us going into hospitals? At some point, if Hamas co- locates its resources and its top commanders underneath hospitals and mosques, and U.N. run schools, what are we supposed to do? And so the Israeli leaders are sort of throwing their hands up. I mean

they'll make tweaks here and there, the pauses that we're hearing about a few hours a day. But at the end of the day, if Israel is serious about getting rid of Hamas, they're going to have to go into these facilities. And the Biden administration kind of knows it.

HARLOW: Well, and Netanyahu said to Dana yesterday, well, why can't you just move the patients out. It's not as simple as that, obviously.

SENOR: And you can't do it without working with Hamas, right?

HARLOW: Yes, that's right.

SENOR: Hamas controls the lever.

HARLOW: The fact that Secretary Blinken said yesterday, far too many Palestinians have - said last week, far too many Palestinians have been killed. Couple that with the necessity for the U.S. and Israel to stay aligned. I mean as you've put it, it's everything.

SENOR: Right.

HARLOW: To Israel, the United States backing is everything. And the daylight not only between the civilian deaths, but also between what happens next and the Palestinian Authority role in Gaza, it seems to be growing.

SENOR: Yes. So, I - look I think the Israeli leadership has repeatedly conveyed to the United States, I know this, ,they're not seeking Palestinian casualties. They're just not.


SENOR: And, you know, this is not like the U.S. in Dresden, or the U.S. in Japan firebombing Tokyo or Hiroshima and Nagasaki to go even farther than that. It's not even the U.S. in Mosul in 2016 where they weren't targeting civilian deaths, but they really flattened Mosul. The goal - this is -- this is not the Israeli strategy. The Israeli strategy is really to target Hamas and make sure it's no longer a threat anymore.

Now, I mean, in terms of what happens post - you know, once Hamas is wiped out, a post-Hamas Gaza, which I think is where the - where the next level of tension is going to be, as you're illuding to. I think Israel's view is, we do not want to be responsible for political governance of Gaza.


SENOR: Israel does not want to be in Gaza again.

HARLOW: Can - can we listen -

SENOR: Yes. Sure.

HARLOW: On that point, to what Netanyahu said yesterday - SENOR: Sure. Yes. Yes.

HARLOW: On CNN exactly to this.

Here it is.


DANA BASH, CNN ANCHOR: If not the PA (ph) then who -

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: Well, there has to be a - there has to be a reconstructed civilian authority. There has to be something else. Otherwise, we're just falling into that same rabbit hole. And we're going to have the same result. Remember, the PA was already in Gaza when Israel left Gaza. It handed the keys over to the PA. And what happened? Within a very short time, Hamas took over. Kicked them out. They weren't willing to fight Hamas. They're still not willing to fight Hamas.


SENOR: So, first of all, Israel has no political design over Gaza. They have no historical connection to Gaza. There's no religious significance for Israel in Gaza. There's no - I mean Israel just -- the place is a meat grinder for Israeli soldiers. When Israel was occupying Gaza, up until 2005, Israeli soldiers were getting killed in Gaza every single year. So, the last thing Israel wants is to be in Gaza. And I think their - their attitude is, we'll hand over political responsibility to whomever, but Israel has to provide the security for the time being. Certainly during a transition period and possibly beyond that because Israel can no longer let the border between Israel and Gaza or the border between Gaza and Egypt be left to, you know, third party security forces that has no control over it given what happened on October 7th.

MATTINGLY: But they're not saying they'll hand over political to whomever. They're explicating saying not - and, look, to be fair, I was a little surprised with how overt the U.S. has been by talking about the PA.


SENOR: Right.

MATTINGLY: Mostly because the PA isn't exactly a dominant governing force in the West Bank.


MATTINGLY: But it kind of the natural --

SENOR: Yes, and they were there before.


SENOR: And they were there before. They were there up until 2007. MATTINGLY: Right.

SENOR: I think if the PA moderates, I mean if you listen to - Prime Minister Netanyahu laid out two criteria there. He said, one, they have still not condemned October 7th. And, two, they continue to indoctrinate their children with hate towards Israelis.

Now, I'm not saying either of those are going to get fixed overnight.

MATTINGLY: Hamas is trying to keep the West Bank under control to some degree as well.

SENOR: Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes, yes. No, no. And the last thing he wants to do is - and he has said this to American officials. He says, look, the last thing I want to do, if I am going to run Gaza, the last thing I want to do is come into Gaza on the back of an Israeli tank.


SENOR: In other -- it looks like Israel kicks Hamas out of Gaza and they brings us in on a red carpet, that's a bad look for us.


SENOR: And that doesn't legitimize it.

So, I don't -- I'm not sure Prime Minister Netanyahu's position is as locked in as it is. I'm not sure the Palestinian Authority's position is as locked in as it is. I'm not even sure Abbas is going to be in power indefinitely. This is not - he's not a young man. He's not a well man. He's been - he's - his last election was something like almost 20 years ago.


SENOR: So, I just think there's a lot of posturing here.

Everyone wants like, what's the plan. What's the - what, you know, Israel did not choose the timing of this attack. They did not choose the timing of this war. And suddenly they're being hit with questions five to six weeks after the biggest massacre. What's your plan? Who's going to govern?

HARLOW: Yes, I would - I would -

SENOR: And I think they're like, we don't know.

HARLOW: I would just say, it's that the most important question to ask when you decide how to respond. They didn't choose the time of the attack, but they've decided how to respond.

SENOR: Yes. Well, they've chosen to get rid of Hamas. And then they - and they figured they'd buy time to figure out who succeeds Hamas, but they couldn't wait on telling Hamas sit there.

So, yes, but it's not a perfect situation. I mean I get it. It's - yes, it's fluid.

MATTINGLY: Right, this is full of complexities.

Dan Senor, we always appreciate it. Thank you very much.

SENOR: Yes, thanks. Thanks.

HARLOW: Thanks, Dan.

And if you haven't read Dan's book, "The Genius of Israel," you should.

MATTINGLY: Yes, it's fascinating.

HARLOW: Donald Trump is plotting (ph) mass arrests and detentions of illegal, undocumented immigrants if he returns to the White House. That is what a source tells CNN. New reporting ahead of that.

MATTINGLY: Plus, Trump vows to root out the political left, who he compares to, quote, "vermin." More on that, ahead.



MATTINGLY: New CNN, the reporting on what the immigration policy of another Trump White House could look like. A source confirming to CNN what "Then New York Times" reported, that Trump plans to order law enforcement to carry out large-scale arrests of undocumented immigrants and build large detention camps for migrants awaiting deportation.

HARLOW: He's also said publicly that he wants to revive many of his first term immigration policies. That would include reinstating and trying to expand on the travel ban, predominantly on Muslim countries, and bringing back the Covid-era policy is known as Title 42.

Errol Louis, Kasie Hunt back with us.

Let's start with what a 2025 and moving forward, Kasie, immigration - I don't even want to call it immigration plan under Trump, what this would all look like, mass deportations, rounding many of them up in camps, holding them, completely changing, going back to Title 42. Like, aside from the fact that it would face a huge hurdle in the courts, as travel ban version one and two did, what should we take from this?

HUNT: Well, I mean this clearly would be a continuation of what the Trump team tried to start while they were in office. And I think one of the things that we learned from the Trump administration is that you should take what they say they're going to do at face value and believe that they are actually going to - to do - to try to do these things. And it's clear that they are, and "The Times" reported, that they're trying to do this without requiring new legislation from Congress, and they're trying to use some of the same tactics that they used when they were in office previously, including, you know, reassigning money from the Defense Department, among other things.

But I do think that this is a case where there's, I think, some mistakes made in 2016 when we were covering Donald Trump in that it was viewed often, the things that he would say, including policies like the Muslim ban, et cetera, as though these were just words. And I think the takeaway here, and, you know, these - these policies are pretty alarming what they're proposing here, and I think we should believe what they say if - that if Trump gets elected we're going to see some of this.

MATTINGLY: You know, Errol, to that point, that they're not - they're owning this, right? You don't see Trump or his team walking away from this. In fact, they're speaking on the record about their plans.

LOUIS: Sure.

MATTINGLY: And I think to Kasie's point, there was a - there was a tendency to kind of chuckle at whatever they proposed back in 2016. Not only do they have four years of experience, but I think Trump has made clear he's going to bring in a lot of people who won't stand in the way of a lot of this stuff.

LOUIS: Right. They're thinking that they are just a few friendly bureaucrats away from being able to imposing this level of disruption on American society. They were actually hoping for a disruption. They were hoping for riots at the airports when they tried to impose the Muslim ban. I remember that. There was crazy coverage. But a lot of people rushed - a lot of lawyers rushed to the airports to try and block it. The courts were brought into it. It's a reminder that there were something like 10 million households in this country that have mixed status families, meaning, one is documented and one is not.

They're trying to sort of impose this as a strategy on a country that has already seen a lot of disruption, a lot of uncertainty, not just with the economy, but, of course, with the pandemic. It was that level of disruption that helped to contribute to his defeat in 2020. It looks like they're going to try it again. I don't like it as a political strategy, but it sounds like that's what they're going to attempt.

HARLOW: Yes. And to Phil's point, with a host of new lawyers, too, if he can - if he manages that.


Thank you. Appreciate it, Errol, Kasie.

CNN THIS MORNING continues now.