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Inside Politics

Former Student Kills 3 Children, 3 Adults At Private Christian School; Biden Blasts GOP Positions He Once Held About Entitlements; W.H. Vows To Protect Entitlements After Old Biden Plan Resurfaces; Trump Touts J6 Rioters' Chart-Topping Song: "I Feel Like Elvis"; Trump: DeSantis "Desperate" For My Endorsement In 2018; Protesters, Police Clash In Paris Amid Pension Reform Battle. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired March 28, 2023 - 12:30   ET



DR. MEGAN RANNEY, PROFESSOR OF EMERGENCY MEDICARE: But when there are 5 or 10, it becomes nearly impossible to save them.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN HOST: Yes. I want to end where we began, which is that this is the leading cause of death for children in the United States. And you called it a public health crisis. What do you make of just the extraordinary -- what seems to be just incredible rise in these kinds of incidents over the years?

RANNEY: Well, I want to start by centering the families that were affected in Nashville, both those who lost loved ones, those who had children or family members who worked at that school, and to acknowledge that with this rise in gun deaths year on year, which long predates the pandemic.

We go back to 2010, and we've been seeing year on year increases in gun deaths since then. We have an increasing proportion of the United States that has been directly touched by gun violence. Abby, these mass shootings is tragic as random, as horrifying as they are. And I will say, as a parent, putting my kids into school today, right, I had to take an extra moment before letting them enter those school doors.

As horrible as these are, the reality is that there are more than 100 people that die every day across the United States from a gunshot wound. And most of those are not these random mass shootings. Most of those are suicides and homicides. And we are not going to get mass shootings under control until we also deal with the drivers of those other types of gun death.

This is to me a commentary on what we, as American society, tolerate, both allowing the rage, the sadness, the hopelessness to proliferate that drives people to pick up a gun and hurt themselves or others, and the fact that it is so easy for those who have those horrible intentions to access a gun in a moment of hopelessness or despair.

PHILLIP: It's such an important point that in the midst of all this, we can't forget about the everyday violence that happens with guns as the weapon. Dr. Megan Ranney, thank you very much for all of that.

And I want to just recognize in this moment that there are six Nashville families that are missing their dear loved ones today. Three nine year old children and three adults. Hallie Scruggs was nine. Her father posted this photo from back in 2019 to his Facebook page. He is the senior pastor at the school's sister church, Covenant Presbyterian.

Evelyn Dieckhaus was also nine years old. So was William Kinney. Both of them were students at this school. Catherine Koonce was the head of the private Christian school. You can see her here back in 2021, talking about God's timeless love. Families say she knew every child by name and found ways to keep the students enrolled even when their parents struggled to pay tuition.

And Mike Hill was a custodian at the school. He would send encouraging texts out of the blue. He was 61 years old. Cynthia Peak, also 61, was a substitute teacher.

Our hearts go out to all of those families.

But next for us, President Biden gets the KFile treatment. He's attacked Republicans for trying to cut Social Security and Medicare. But these are positions that he once shared. We've got the tape after the break.



PHILLIP: The Biden 2024 playbook appears to be railing against Republicans over entitlements.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Some Republicans want Medicare and Social Security Sunset.

A lot of Republicans, their dream is to cut Social Security and Medicare.

That's the Republican dream. I'm their nightmare.

I think Republicans are threatened to gut and eliminate these programs.


PHILLIP: But CNN's KFile team has discovered that the President once held the positions that he is now ridiculing, like raising the retirement age. Here is then-Senator Biden in 1987.


BIDEN: The year 2010, we are going to change the retirement age for Social Security. You cannot retire at age 65. You have to be 65 years and three months old. In the year 2012, 60 years -- 65 years and six months. In the year -- literally. Raise incrementally the retirement age until you reach your retirement age between 68 and 70.


PHILLIP: CNN's Andrew Kaczynski leads up the KFile unit and he's joining us live. So Andrew, that clip was from 1987, but you all were able to uncover many more examples of President Biden than Senator Biden proposing changes to entitlement.

ANDREW KACZYNSKI, CNN SENIOR EDITOR, KFILE: Yes, that's right. So Biden is attacking and the White House are attacking Republicans for positions that he once held on Social Security. We just heard that clip where he talked about wanting to raise the retirement age in the 1980s. That's something he said repeatedly, but it actually goes beyond that.

Take, for instance, his attacks on Rick Scott and this Sunset legislation. Now, sunsetting basically means that a program will get authorized for something like four years, and then if it's not reauthorized, they don't fund it anymore. That's henceforth the term sunset comes from.

Now, Biden in introduced a bill in 1975 that did the exact same thing. It sunset all federal legislation without exemptions for Social Security and Medicare.


And what's interesting about this is Biden's bill to do this, this Sunset legislation, was the first ever of its kind. We just saw on the screen where he was basically boasting about how he sort of almost invented this concept of sunsetting at the federal level.

And what's interesting about his attacks now on Rick Scott and Republicans is we saw Rick Scott put in exemptions specifically for entitlement programs into his bill. Biden himself actually did the same thing in 1978. He had another Sunset bill that he signed on, and this one specifically also put in exemptions for Social Security and Medicare.

But, you know, it also even goes beyond that. We've seen Biden over the course of his career talk about wanting to put, you know, Medicare or being open to putting Medicare, Social Security, things like that, on the table in negotiations. Take a listen to this clip from 2005 where he talks about even possibly being open to benefit cuts.


BEGIN: Raising the cap, raising the retirement age for people who are now 30 years old, raising the tax on Social Security, cutting benefits, they're all things that have to be discussed, quite frankly.


PHILLIP: All right, Andrew Kaczynski, thank you very much for all of that.

I want to read the White House statement to you. "President Biden has publicly pledged to veto any plan that cuts Social Security or Medicare benefits or raises taxes on Americans making less than $400,000 a year." That is his position today.

So, Francesca, that was then, this is now.

FRANCESCA CHAMBERS, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, USA TODAY: That is basically what they told me also, that was then, this was now. That this was 50 years ago when he first proposed that 1975 legislation and that that is not part of his current plan.

LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I mean, at the time, we have to remember that as a senator from Delaware, Biden was a moderate. He was seen as a moderate by all the senators around him. He was someone who was trying to work a lot with Republicans. And so that's what those close to him have always told me, even when he used to support budget deficit cuts.

PHILLIP: This is one of the downsides of having a very, very long career in the Senate is that there's a lot of old footage out there.

But coming up next for us, even Senate Republicans say that he should be more focused on something else. But President Trump, he's feeling no shame in promoting the January 6 Prisoners Choir, which he claims is number one on the charts.



PHILLIP: Donald Trump says that he feels like Elvis, but this is a different kind of jailhouse rock for sure. The former president bragged last night about his own chart topper, a recording of the national anthem and pledge of allegiance he performed with jailed January 6 defendants.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The J6 is beating Taylor Swift. It's Donald Trump and the J6 prisoners.

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: You're doing the tangible agents.

TRUMP: And on iTunes and on Amazon.


TRUMP: And on billboard, which is the big deal. Number one, Donald Trump. So now I feel like Elvis.


PHILLIP: Our panel is back. I mean, there are actually no words. I mean, these are people in jail -- BARRON-LOPEZ: Yes.

PHILLIP: -- for being a part of an insurrection, that he was impeached for inciting.

BARRON-LOPEZ: Right, and that he's under investigation for his efforts to overturn the 2020 election and his role in the January 6 attack. This also comes at a time when House members have been visiting these January 6 defendants in jail.

And on a serious note, I've been talking to extremism experts who will say that all of this rhetoric, his glorification of the insurrection, his attacks on the investigations and the investigators all, you know, concern them about the potential for political violence.

PHILLIP: And that is exactly why this response from Senator Cynthia Lummis is really extraordinary. I mean, just listen to it.


SEN. CYNTHIA LUMMIS (R), WYOMING: That is an interesting approach. I would encourage him to be forward looking instead of looking backwards. I think people are ready to have a very forward looking campaign and talk about issues looking forward instead of replowing old ground.


PHILLIP: I mean, on the one hand, you could hand out cookies for saying, let's not talk about this anymore, but on the other hand, it shouldn't be that hard to say, glorifying this kind of violence has no place in our politics. What's going on?

ALAYNA TREENE, CNN REPORTER: Yes, I mean, listen, Donald Trump is leaning very hard into this. It was a key feature of his rally in Waco on Saturday night. They led the rally with that song, the Justice for All song. And then you have people, though, on Capitol Hill, and even his own advisers.

It's not just Republican senators and people on the outside, it's people on his own team who are saying, don't lean into this as much. This is not going to help you. A lot of his supporters even want him to move away from this. And I think it's something that he's just not willing to give up. And it's why he wants a lot of these House committees to continue looking into January 6.

We're seeing some of them do that this week. They're going to be reevaluating what the January 6 committee did last year. But it's not something that I think a lot of people think is a winning campaign --


PHILLIP: Well, they don't think it a winning campaign message, but they're not willing to denounce it. I mean, you have Lindsey Graham, John Cornyn, John Thune, all saying basically the same thing, that Senator Lummis just said in that clip. However, I do want to move on, because in this interview with Sean Hannity, he also had some choice words for the man who might be his opponent, Ron DeSantis. Listen to that as well.


TRUMP: He was desperate. I said, OK, I gave him a nice endorsement. I said, you write out what you'd like and let me see it. He wrote it out. I thought it was terrible. I changed it, made it great. I gave him a great endorsement. I got him the nomination.

By the way, couldn't have never gotten the nomination, he would be working in either a pizza parlor place or a law office right now, OK? And he wouldn't be very happy.


PHILLIP: Pizza parlor.

CHAMBERS: Well, I mean, he's taking aim at him because in the current polling, Ron DeSantis is the only person that's coming anywhere close to him. And so many Republicans have been saying that if they agree with the policies that Trump pursued, they see DeSantis as the next best.

But when it comes to Trump's strategy, that is a lot of the problem for Republicans, exactly what you're talking about right here. They want him to focus on taking back the Senate, keeping the House, the White House, economic policy. They want immigration. And instead, he's talking about the 2020 election --


CHAMBERS: -- and that's how he lost the first time.

PHILLIP: But the fundamental problem also seems to be that there is such a chasm between what is necessary to be the Republican nominee and what's necessary to run an effective general election campaign. And that's why for DeSantis to take on Trump, he has to -- he can't go too far to the center frankly.

BARRON-LOPEZ: No, he's -- and in some cases, he runs even to the right of Trump.


BARRON-LOPEZ: But his campaign is very much like Trump's. I mean, they're aligned on a host of policy issues, whether it's anti- transgender, anti-LGBTQ. You know, he and a lot of other Republicans will not, like you said, Abby, stand up to the former president and say, we don't agree with you and your attacks on the Constitution and on democracy and split from him. I mean, no Republican is doing that, even though they say privately --

PHILLIP: Yes. BARRON-LOPEZ: -- repeatedly, over and over again, that they don't want him to focus on this.

TREENE: I will say, though, just very quickly, with DeSantis, even though he's running a very conservative campaign, a Trump like campaign, I think one of the biggest issues he's facing and what a lot of Trump advisers and other Republicans rather (ph) tell me is that you have a lot of these establishment figures coming out for Ron DeSantis. People like Jeb Bush and others who Trump eviscerated, you know, in the last campaign.

And that's something that the Trump campaign I know is trying to lean in very hard and try to make DeSantis look less conservative, make him look like he's actually the insider, while Trump's -- even though he was a former president, is still the outsider.

PHILLIP: You know, what else is happening? There is also a Trump brain drain. A lot of Trump's former aides and advisers are jumping ship for DeSantis's Super PAC and things like that. So that's another thing that I think is causing the Trump campaign to really go very hard against DeSantis in this moment.

But coming up next for us, chaos in the streets of Paris. Protesters and police clash. Why? Well, we'll tell you next.



PHILLIP: Happening now in Paris. You can see there protesters and police have been clashing on the city streets. It's been 10 days of protests over a proposed pension reform that has deteriorated into chaos.

And as evening rolls around, CNN's Sam Kylie is on the streets of Paris right now. Sam, it's been a chaotic few days. What are you seeing right now? What are we expecting in the coming hours?

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So we're here in the Place de la Concorde, the end of the Boulevard Voltaire, famous locations in central Paris, where, according to the local authorities, the Interior Ministry, about 93,000 people have participated in the march in this town. It's this capital city itself.

It had earlier on got a bit violent following clashes between the police and some of the more ultra-elements of the demonstrators. Police are now standing by on the outskirts of the -- of this major central square here in Paris, Abby. And that's because they fear that as night sets in and this has been the pattern elsewhere, there'll be again, these groups of ultras of extremists that will fan out into the other streets, chucking rocks, and then they have this back and forth kind of street fighting that we've seen over the last 10 days.

But I think what's important about these demonstrations is twofold. One is that the numbers are a bit down, which is difficult for the unions to confront, although they admit that the numbers are down. And that is because it is becoming harder and harder to get people out to go on strike.

Not because they're not motivated, Abby, by their anger at these new reforms coming in from the Macron government, but because they have been on strike on and off since the middle of January in many cases, and they're running out of money at home. Life is getting very difficult for people on strike.

And the other aspect is that this is a done deal in terms of the legislation largely. It is almost certainly going to go onto the statute book. It's likely to be enacted by the end of the year. The unions have called for dialogue with the government. The government's agreed to that, but not to any kind of discussion about a U-turn.

So ultimately, then, the only option available to certainly the very hard line opposition here is the sort of street protests and demonstrations that we can see here, Abby.

PHILLIP: Yes, it continues to be a pretty volatile situation on the streets there of Paris on a spring evening here.

Sam, Kylie, thank you very much.

And thank you for joining us on Inside Politics. Alex Marquardt is picking up our coverage right now.