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GOP Sen. Tim Scott Announces 2024 Presidential Run; Sen. Tim Scott Launches Presidential Bid; 5:30PM ET: Biden, McCarthy To Meet For Debt Limit Talks; Yellen: Some Bills Won't Be Paid If Debt Limit Isn't Raised; Key Trump attorney departs legal team. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired May 22, 2023 - 12:00   ET



SEN. TIM SCOTT (R-SC), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Let's go. Let's go. Let's go. Let's go. Let's go. Let's go. Let's go. Let's go. Let's go. Let's go. Let's go. Let's go.

Let me close with this. As much as I'm excited about this journey, I simply want to say this. It's really not about me. It's about that seven-year-old girl named Jordan, who brought roses to the stage for my mother and Janice Monice. It's about 12-year-old Sutherland Sarat who came on this stage. You see, America is the city on the hill.

We are the beacon in the mists of darkness. We have an unusual responsibility. We have the responsibility to prove that self- governance works. We have the responsibility to share in generations, what America has done for me, she can do for you. This can't be another presidential campaign. We don't have time for that. We need a president who persuades not just our friends and our base, we need a president that persuades.

We have to do that with common sense, conservative principles. But we have to have a compassion for people. We have to have a compassion for people who don't agree with us. We have to believe that our ideas are so strong and so powerful and so persuasive that we can actually take it to the highest points in the world and be successful. But we also have to be able to take it all the way down this and prove works for all Americans.

I am living proof that God and a good family and the United States of America can do all things. If we believe. Will you believe it with me? Will you join the team of the greatest nation on God's green earth? I love it. Let me close with this. Where the Lord bless us for another thousand generations. May be gracious towards us. I believe the next American century starts today.

JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Hello, everybody, and welcome to Inside Politics. I'm John King in Washington. Thank you for your time today. Up first what you're just watching there and that rowdy cheerful (ph) hall in North Charleston, South Carolina. A big bet that Republican voters are worn out by Donald Trump's politics of anger and of grievance and that they want hope instead. Just moments ago, you were watching live here on CNN. Senator Tim Scott, officially announcing his entry into the 2024 Republican primary contest. He joined out of cash and with a conservative message you just heard it, sent it on hope.


Let's get straight to CNN's Eva McKend. She is right there in North Charleston for us. An upbeat speech from Senator Scott. Eva, a great crowd behind him, cheering him on. Now the challenge. He's been testing the waters for months. Now that he is officially in. Can he climb from the bottom of the pack to the top?

EVA MCKEND, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER: That's right, John. It will be a challenge. Indeed, though hard to tell from the excitement from his supporters in this room at times, it really felt like a church service. But really, it was a speech in two parts.

You know, he began talking about his personal biography, the son of a single mother. Bringing his mother up on stage at one point to give her flowers and saying that his life just disproves the argument of the left that America is a country of optimism and opportunity, not oppression.

And then the second part of the speech, John, really was an indictment of President Biden. He not so much focused on his Republican rivals, but really seem to want to have his eyes towards a general election. Take a listen to his early pitch to voters.


SCOTT: Joe Biden and the radical left are attacking every single rung of the ladder that helped me climb. And that's why I'm announcing today that I'm running for president of the United States of America.


MCKEND: So, there you get a sense of how he plans to run this race, are really focusing on his personal biography, inspiration, and reticent to do a lot of mudslinging when it comes to his fellow Republican rivals. No real references to the former president or Governor DeSantis. I think the closest he got to that was when he said grievance over greatness, John?

KING: Eva McKend for us. Eva, that's not easy to do. Standing there and doing a live report in a very loud room. Appreciate your perspective being there on Tim Scott's announcement today. We'll see you next up on the trail.

Let's bring the conversation in studio. With me to share their reporting and their insights, CNN's Manu Raju, Catherine Lucey of The Wall Street Journal, and NPR's Ayesha Rascoe. An interesting moment, he's been testing the waters for a couple of months. So, you just heard right there.

Just listening to Senator Scott, the Republican front runner, the faraway front runner is Donald Trump. That is z to Trump's a. That is optimistic. That it's upbeat. It's conservatism. But as Senator Scott noted at the end, he wants to have a compassionate conservatism. The question is, does that Republican Party still exist? That's the test.

AYESHA RASCOE, NPR HOST, "WEEKEND EDITION SUNDAY" AND "UP FIRST": I don't think it really does. I think that was a great speech for 1996. I don't know that that speaks to 2023. And I do think that it's very interesting. And he's doing what the other Republican candidates, other than Trump have been doing is they're focusing on the left and all these things.

But their path to getting the nomination goes through Trump. And until you go through him, and until we really see what that looks like, it just I don't know, what is the path. You have to go through Trump to get there.

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And he has avoided for some time going after Trump really. He's been asked to this in interviews. He doesn't talk to reporters in the Capitol anymore. He will talk to God in some other stations get interviewed and was asked about Donald Trump. He sidestepped the question there. He did make those most subtle reference to not being part of victimhood, politics, not being part of grievance politics. That will be a distinction but how heartedly go after him.

He does have a lot of establishment support. Senator John Thune, the number two Senate Republican coming out in faith and behind him. Other Senate Republicans that I've talked to believe that he is their candidate and he'll have a ton of money. But does that translate to an Iowa, New Hampshire with the Republican base, the Trump loving base? That's going to be the big question.

KING: That's a great point in the sense that Senator Scott is a safe landing spot because his colleagues like it, love him. Think he's a powerful messenger for conservative values. So, they can stay with him and not be with Trump. The question is in Iowa, in New Hampshire, in his home state of South Carolina, where the former governor Nikki Haley, also will be a candidate.

So, Scott's big bet is, you're right. He just barely touched on Trump. He said greatness, not grievances. That's a reference to Trump under the time. Is that his biography? Is that people look at his biography and say, wait a minute, let's do something different?


SEN. SCOTT: So, my grandfather said to me, son, you can be bitter, or you can be better. But you can't be both. You see, he chose patriotism over pity. He focused on the windshield of his life, and not on the rearview mirror. And today, I'm living proof that America is the land of opportunity and not a land of oppression.


[12:10:00] KING: The challenge for anybody, but especially somebody like Senator Scott, who is well known here in Washington, lesser known out there. He's got to break through early somewhere. If you're going to knock off a front runner, you got to do it all. You have to make a statement early somewhere, not necessarily win, but come in really close in an Iowa or New Hampshire. Can that sell?

CATHERINE LUCEY, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: I think in Iowa, John, I know Iowa really well, I think that is a powerful message. It's a powerful personal story. He is heavily leaning on face personal responsibility. You heard a lot of call and response stuff with that audience. It really had a religious tone.

So, I do think it lands. But the problem also with Iowa is that they're viewing a big list candidates' field. And those are, you know, early voters who like to kick the tires and everybody, they like to meet everybody, they like to see everyone. And they often -- when you talk to them, they're like, I have my top three, I have my top four. And so, he could just end up in a lot of people's, you know, top tier and not necessarily be their number one.

KING: And if the longer that goes on that your second or third to Trump. We saw this in 2016. That helps Trump. And so, Scott in today, we're going to spend most of the rest of this conversation on him. DeSantis gets in midweek. Chris Christie allegedly supposed to get in this week as well. You have a couple others who are waiting to jump in.

And you see on the far left of your screen there, the candidates are already in. That benefits Trump, unless and until a single alternative emerges. And the others get out, which is hard in the ego driven. I'm not saying this to be critical, it's just hard. It's your ego, you've raised all this money. You're finally in the race. It's hard to get out.

If you listen to Senator Scott, though, what's interesting is that he is optimistic. He is upbeat. He's a great communicator, as you can see right there. He delivers a pretty strong conservative message. He just does it with a smile. He says Joe Biden is weak. He will stand up to China and win the economic Cold War.

He talked about sending American troops into fight the cartels are that they'll take note of that in Mexico, a sovereign nation to the south. This is not a -- it's not a -- it's actually probably a more conservative message than you will hear from Donald Trump who's not really about ideology.

RAJU: Yes. And that's what he's going to have to try to convince voters of that faith is not a necessarily personality contest, although his personality will drive a lot of it, given his background is unique, but about the focus on what he would do is present, his agenda and his policy.

The challenge for him, though, is that there are all these other candidates who will divide up the anti-Trump vote and people like Ron DeSantis, who want to make this, Trump versus DeSantis contests are going to have a challenge when people like Tim Scott are in this race. And that's going to be the real problem for the anti-Trump lane.

LUCEY: And we saw this in 2016, this big field of candidates and this conversation around, do we need to get some people out. So, there's one clear alternative Trump, but no one ever wants to get out. And the longer they stay in, fighting it out for second and third place.

KING: So, that's a conversation that happens a couple months down the road, maybe it happens right before Iowa, maybe it happens right after Iowa, Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina. But to the point now, he has a decent amount of money left over in his Senate fund. He has a good network. The fact that many of his Senate colleagues will support, it means there'll be money. There will be money for Tim Scott.

The question is where and when is the opportunity to break through. You got to take. Trump has said, he might not even join the first debate. So, he might not be there on the stage. So, Scott's debate first might be against DeSantis and some of the others before he gets to Trump to try to be the top tier alternative.

RASCOE: And that's where he really has to differentiate himself, right? So, he's saying that he doesn't want to get as bogged down in the culture wars, he just want to say, America is great. He did a little bit of a no CRTs, more ABCs. So, he's getting into that a little bit.

But the question for me is like, how does he make himself stand out? Yes, he is a conservative, but there are lots of other conservatives who are also running. So, what is it that other than your biography and your personality, which matters? But I don't know that we are at a point where people are really voting for slimming personalities?

Like is that what the voters want? It seems like they wanted a lot of meanness lately, like let's be real. So, is he representative? He's representative of what people say they want. But when they're voting, they're voting in a totally different way.

KING: And it's a fantastic point in the sense that Trump has repopulated, remade the Republican Party in some ways. So, if you're Senator Scott, or if you're Governor Haley, or if you're Governor Christie, you're actually asking people maybe who have left the party or who don't vote in primaries to sort of come back in and get involved in the primaries.

And just at that point as we had to break here. Donald Trump doesn't say much nice about Ron DeSantis. He did just compliment Senator Scott for getting into the race. Good luck to Senator Tim Scott in entering the Republican presidential primary. Back to the point about who Trump is, it is rapidly loading up with lots of people. And Tim is a big step up from Ron sanctimonious. There you go there.

So, you know, Senator Scott tries to be optimistic, and says, I'll compete against my rivals with a smile. Donald Trump says, thank you to one, congratulations to one of the tax another. That is the race Senator Scott has just entered. Up next for us. President Biden and Kevin McCarthy come face to face today for critical debt limit talk. We'll break down the big sticking points and the default looming just 10 days away.




KING: A big meeting today between President Biden and the House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, with the treasury department's default clock now at 10 days and counting. White House negotiators, you see them they're back up on Capitol Hill this morning with the goal of making at least some progress before the early evening sit down in the Oval Office.

Late Sunday, both sides did report a little progress. But speaker McCarthy this morning listed what he sees as the giant problem.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY, (R-CA): We'll sit down, we'll talk about it. But the underlying issue here is the Democrats since they took the majority has been addicted to spending and that's going to stop. We're going to spend less than we spent last year.


KING: Our great reporters back to the table with us. During the commercial break, you said that meeting, the White House team went up there to meet with the speaker's team broke up.

RAJU: Yes. Just broke up. We're waiting to get a clearer sense of what happened here. But they have a ton of obstacles to overcome in order to avoid a debt default, things did not go well. This weekend, they broke up talks. They had to wait for the president to come back from Asia.


They did have a positive conversation, the speaker and the president last night, but it was really only to get talks going again. And that's when they had more negotiations last night. This morning, the White House negotiators with a speaker's top allies on Capitol Hill to talk about how to -- what level to cap federal spending at? That's really the essence of the dispute right now.

There are a whole host of other policy issues do that they have to resolve. But those are really complicated issues, John, that typically take months to resolve. They only have a matter of days to do it. And they have to go through the legislative process to sell it to the members if they get a deal, which is why today, and the days ahead are so critical to get there.

KING: And so, let's start with the substance first, and we'll get to your very valid point about the calendar and whether or not they're even in town, they might be someone in the backhoe. Let's look at the side by side some of the issues that Republicans want spending cuts, they want to cut spending. The White House has said, we will freeze spending at where it is right now.

The question is for how long. Is it two years, five years, you know, you negotiate that? The Republicans want permanent reforms for fossil fuels, oil and gas. The Democrats say, we will give you that looking at the language, if we get some green energy, renewable energy, permanent reforms. Republicans say no.

The Republicans want new work requirements, including for the food stamp program and the White House says, it opposes that right now. The president has said maybe I'm open to something, put it on paper. Progressives have said don't you dare. And that's part of the problem.

Catherine, the longer this is on the vine, this is out there. Everybody thinks I'm going to ask for more. So, you have the left telling the president, don't take those cuts. Don't do this. And you have the right saying, oh, take everything that's in the House Bill, what else can we ask for?

LUCEY: Which means that if and it's a big if, they get to something in the coming days, everyone is going to be happy about it. And the president, I mean, the thing is, though, like, this is what Joe Biden ran on that he could do, right? He said he was a guy who had experience on the Hill, which he does, that he understands how to make deals. That he understands how to get in the room and make some of those tough judgment calls.

And so, we're going to see today, this is the first time they've sat down one on one. And that is, I think, significant in this process. They haven't had a one-on-one talk since earlier this year. So, this is the first time in recent days that there's been a one-on-one conversation with the speaker and the president. And we're going to see if that does create any kind of momentum or moving forward.

KING: Right. We'll see if they got anything at least to help frame those conversations. So, it's unlikely you'll get -- you're not going to get a deal today. I mean, I'd be glad. I'd be love to be proven wrong, but you're not going to get a deal today. But the question is, do they get enough part about the two principles moving forward?

If you just look at this calendar here. You know, today the president and the speaker meet. The Senate is out until after Memorial Day. The House is supposed to be out until early June. June 1 is the current day. You have all these Wall Street firms now crunching numbers and they think, oh, maybe there's a couple billion hidden there, a couple billion in there.

Maybe we could do a week or 10 days. But the treasury secretary, I think in part, I'm saying this is her math, and in part, because if I budge, then the negotiations might say is no, it's June 1.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JANET YELLEN, TREASURY SECRETARY: Seniors you count on Social Security or military that expects pay contractors who provided services to the federal government and some bills have to go unpaid.


KING: She's trying to lay out the political stakes here that you do not want to be blamed for that. And I think that's why after the pause, and the negotiations over the weekend, as they called it, and they broke up a little bit. Everybody got back to the table because you at least want to be in the room.

RASCOE: Yes. And they have to do something, right? Like, I mean, look, Congress, when it comes to deadlines, they like to -- they got to like to do some grandstanding. They like everything to fall apart. And then they like to just like, get something done. Because no one wants to tip the economy into a recession.

If you look at markets, and we had a talk about this on the show yesterday on the weekend edition, like what they are expecting is that something will come through right, the people they believe that it's kind of like passing a kidney stone, like, you know, it's going to pass, you just don't know when or how painful it will be.

And so, that's where they're at. And I mean, I think that's the bet that people are making. Yes, they're going to hem and haw, but at the end of the day, they are not going to have -- not get paid their Social Security. They're not going to do that.

LUCEY: And that's totally I think that's true. The markets -- they have Wallstreet has been expecting a deal will happen. But there is also increased anxiety. I think as this gets closer and closer, and there are things even if they get a deal, there is a sort of increased sense that volatility is built into our system and that creates problems.

RAJU: Just one quick thing, John, because we did get it some work from Patrick McHenry, who was in the room that's now.

KING: One of McCarthy's key people at home, one of McCarthy's key deputies.

RAJU: Key deputies walked out of the meeting, just told us reporters, according to our colleague, Morgan Reimer. He said the hope is that we resolve this it is in my interest and Americans interest that we resolve this, he said that people have goodwill. And these are tough negotiations. There's no talk about delaying these negotiations. He wants us to be productive. And he says it's never too late. So positive message. But listen, what did they had to get that on the policy, that's the big question. So, we'll see what actually (crosstalk).

KING: And that's the giant, you laid out exactly what everybody thinks because based on what has happened in the past. The question is, you have a new speaker, you have a narrow Republican majority. The Freedom Caucus meeting again tonight, in which if there is, you know, they're going to ask for even more for the question goodwill. We'll see if we get good results.


Up next, CNN speaks with a former top Trump attorney after he announced, he was leaving the former president's legal team. The tense relationship driving that decision. Next?


KING: A lawyer who played a very prominent role in the classified documents investigation tells CNN he left Donald Trump's legal team because of what he calls irreconcilable differences. In an exclusive interview with CNN's Paula Reid, Timothy Parlatore says, his departure has nothing to do with the case itself or with the client, the former president of course. Instead, Parlatore says there was infighting on the Trump legal team, and he singled out one particular member.