Return to Transcripts main page

Inside Politics

Jordan Jockeys For Pole Position Among Republicans; Jordan Plots Weekend Charm Offensive To Lock In Speaker Vote; Jordan Vows To Unite House GOP Caucus If Elected Speaker; Clinton: Former Speaker McCarthy Lost Credibility; House GOP Divided Ahead Of Vote To Elect New Speaker; GOP Reps Jordan, Scalise Launch Bids For House Speaker; 8 GOP Lawmakers Who Voted To Oust McCarthy Face Fallout. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired October 05, 2023 - 12:00   ET



DANA BASH, CNN HOST: Today on Inside Politics, the real Congressman of Washington D.C., Jim Jordan tries to jump the line in the fight over the speaker's gavel. As the Republicans, he says, he can unite, give the country drama and shade worthy of a Bravo reality TV show.

Believe it or not, Joe Biden is building that wall. The president cites a migrant emergency to bypass the 26 laws and funnel federal money to break ground on new physical border barriers. Plus, no new car, no caviar, no four-star daydream for Ron DeSantis. The 2024 candidate faces a cash crunch and the very real possibility that he could run out of money before the Iowa caucuses.

I'm Dana Bash. Let's go behind the headlines at Inside Politics.

We begin this hour with a question. Is being first enough? Today Jim Jordan is making it impossible to miss what job he wants next and that is House speaker. The Ohio congressman visited Fox his morning show to deliver the message to his colleagues and to the 2024 frontrunner.


REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): I disagree with, you know, what took place, but those guys are friends of mine. And, you know, I think that's the message I've been talking to my colleagues about is, who can bring the eight into the, you know, part of the team who can unite our team. I think I can do that. If I didn't think I could do that, I wouldn't run.


BASH: CNN's Manu Raju is live on Capitol Hill. Manu, I sort of made a joke about the Bravo TV, but I covered those halls where you are for on and off for two decades. You've been there a long time too. I have never heard the kind of rhetoric used within a political party, as we have heard from the conversations that you are having in those halls over the last 24 or 48 hours.

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. There's absolutely no question about that. The personal insults are being slung mostly at the direction of Congressman Matt Gaetz, who was the ringleader of this effort.

But also, on the seven other Republicans who joined Matt Gaetz and threads that perhaps their fundraising could dry up, but they get kicked out of off their committee assignments, maybe even expelled from the Republican conference.

All that saber rattling coming, because the emotions are just so raw at the moment, which is leads to the question about whether the next speaker can actually bridge the divide within this conference after we saw that unprecedented vote to remove Speaker McCarthy from his position.

Now, Gaetz is the one who has been taking a lot of this incoming fire from a lot of Republicans all across the ideological spectrum, some of the more conservative members and some of the more moderate members. But also, some that are aligned with Donald Trump contending that Gaetz actually broke from what Donald Trump's wishes, and they believe that it should be some retribution.


REP. MAX MILLER (R-OH): Mr. Gaetz is only doing this for himself, and I believe that he should be looked at for an expulsion. This guy doesn't have his ducks in a row. And that's what you see with people who lie. They can never keep their story straight. And that's what Matt is doing right now. He's going to continue to lie. As he bragged about how he would crush ED medicine and chase it with an energy drink, so he could go all night. This is obviously before he got married.


RAJU: So, that pretty startling accusation from former Congressman Markwayne Mullin, now he's senator from Oklahoma. I asked Gaetz's office about that he said in his statement, that he only had spoken 20 words on the House floor with Markwayne Mullin calling it a lie. And he went on to say that Mullin is coping with the depth of the political career of his friend Kevin, thoughts and prayers, so dismissing that.

So, the question here, Dana, is can -- either Scalise or Jordan win over those eight holdouts, but also not alienate the many more moderate members of the conference were furious at those folks on the right or will a third candidate or maybe fourth candidate emerge. All major questions ahead of next week where the House is expected to have its first vote.

So, the Republican conference to nominate their candidate for speaker before the full House votes, and that's where things will also be incredibly tricky. Getting the 218 votes. Any five members on the Republican side can scuttle that effort. That's what happened to Kevin McCarthy, cannot happen again, major questions at this moment. Dana?

[12:05:00] BASH: And before I let you go, which is why the Speaker pro temp Patrick McHenry wanted to give some time and wants to have a meeting and he calls it a forum. Before they go to the floor to work it all out, so we don't have a 15-round situation on Capitol Hill again on the House floor again.

All right, Manu, please come back to us if anybody emerges from any of those offices in that hallway. Thank you so much for that reporting.

Here with me to share their reporting and their insights Tia Mitchell of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, CNN's Jeff Zeleny, and POLITICO's s Heidi Przybyla. Thank you so much, one and all for being here. You know, Jeff, I want to start with you because you cover the campaign trail, you've covered the White House and you have covered Capitol Hill. Have you ever seen anything like this before? I mean, the way that Republicans are so angry, so, so angry at one another.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: We've seen anger before, but it has never been to this level -- -


ZELENY: To this vitriol. They hate Matt Gaetz. There's so many who do usually there's a bigger divide. I remember in the speaker fights when John Boehner took his leave and announces the day after the Pope was on Capitol Hill. That was such a moment. And a lot of people sort of disliked John Boehner, but there wasn't personal hatred toward him. Same as Paul Ryan.

I wasn't around during the Newt Gingrich era, but my reporting from the time is that no, that wasn't there and Newt Gingrich speaking of him. He had an op-ed in The Washington Post this week saying, expel Matt Gaetz. So no, I have not seen this. But I do think we've never seen this moment in politics. This is sort of par for the course, in the Trump era.

And you mentioned the White House in the campaign. It's all interlinked here. I mean, so we -- it's fueled by just a new of vitriol in our politics. But one thing I was talking with a Republican member, who said there's actually some support coming from an unlikely place, perhaps for Jim Jordan, because there are some people who would like to get him out of the committee chairmanship. Darrell Issa being the first example that he wants to be chair.

So that's just an example of there, are so many inter sort of interwoven dynamics here of what is going to play out. But you're right, that's why Patrick McHenry wanted to take a pause. Their hope is to get a vote the first time. That's a tall order, I think, to get a House floor vote on the first vote.

BASH: OK. So, we mentioned at the beginning of the show that even though there are more than one. There is more than one Republican who is working the phones to be speaker of the House. Steve Scalise, who's currently just in line -- was in line behind Kevin McCarthy and then Congressman Hern, who is the head of the Republican Study group. The person who is most out there is Jim Jordan. Jim Jordan, I want you to listen to what he is saying now about why he should be speaker. And just remember that back when I was covering John Boehner as speaker, he was one of the biggest thorns in John Boehner side. He wasn't quite the Matt Gaetz of today, but he was pretty close. Let's listen?


JORDAN: You need someone who can unite the conference. And I think just as importantly, unite the conservative and Republican movement across this country. That's what I think I can do. That's why I'm running for the job.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How would you read Boehner as a speaker? How would you say -- -

JORDAN: Look, I'm not, I've said this for four and a half years. It's a tough job. I mean, it's a darn tough job. It is not an easy thing. I'm not saying that it is a very difficult job. I would have done some things different. I represent the same number of people as John Boehner, and Kevin McCarthy, and Steve Scalise and everyone else in the Congress. It's we, we have to do what we focused -- what we told the voters we're going to focus on doing.


BASH: So, there was no vote to vacate. But let's be clear, Jim Jordan, along with Mark Meadows became the Trump's chief of staff, helped to lead the push of John Boehner out the door.

HEIDI PRZYBYLA, NATIONAL INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT, POLITICO: This is the third time this party has been here now with Boehner and Ryan, and now McCarthy. And that's why they're saying the first thing that we need to do before continuing down this path is to have a really potentially painful and ugly family therapy session here at the same time.

The fact that Jim Jordan is considered a frontrunner for this position, considering where we were just a few years ago with many in his party, considering him one of the chief anarchists and chaos agents of his party that he could now be in a position of real authority, really speaks to where we are and also breeds some skepticism that there is going to be a solution to this. That isn't just more polarization, more partisan fighting, and not potentially just a deal among Republicans instead of a deal with Democrats that empowers people, including Jim Jordan.


BASH: It's such good point. Jim Jordan hasn't changed, the party's change.

PRZYBYLA: That's correct.

BASH: He's where he was. He's the same guy. The party has just gone even more suddenly been right or left. It's just been to the chaos and the non-governing part of this. Speaking of chaos and an agent of whacking institution, Steve Bannon.

The New York Times had some reporting this morning about Steve Bannon having this place. He has a place on Capitol Hill, but actually talking to Matt Gaetz, talking to Nancy Mace, having them on his radio show, and they invited the New York Times photographer in. As everything was brewing when they pushed out Kevin McCarthy with this vote, what does that tell you about the dynamics here?

TIA MITCHELL, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, THE ATLANTA JOURNAL- CONSTITUTION: So, it tells me kind of what you mentioned that the dynamics of the party have moved towards chaos, and we've talked about Donald Trump kind of being an X factor. He didn't quite say, he was in favor of keeping McCarthy or in favor of removing McCarthy. But Trumpism has been aligned with chaos.

We did see President Trump saying, he was in favor of shutting down the government. We did see President Trump encouraging members to reject negotiating with Democrats. And again, that's kind of one of the catalysts for Kevin McCarthy's removal. So, to me what we see from Bannon again, we -- it's like an agent of an aspect of where the Republican Party is. And again, it's not necessarily about policy, or values, but it's about kind of the warzone of it all.

BASH: That's exactly what he said. He said, you create a firestorm now that totally changes things. People right now think government is a benefit. I'm going to show government spending is cudi (Ph) infested. I mean, if that doesn't tell you everything you need to know about what happened. I don't know.

Standby everybody because up next, a CNN exclusive. CNN's Christiane Amanpour sat down with Hillary Clinton this morning. And she says, she understands why Democrats did not bail out Kevin McCarthy.


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: So, should the Democrats have saved him so to speak? Should they have voted to keep him in?

HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: You know, that was a very tough call for the Democratic caucus. But the problem was for them as I understand it, he was totally untrustworthy by any measure. He immediately after they did help him keep the government open, as you know, began to blame them for all kinds of, you know, extraneous matters.

And at some point, a leader who has lost all credibility in dealing with the opposition, where you want to have an open line of communication, you want to be able to trust his word is going to, you know, ask for their help and not get it.

AMANPOUR: It said that the main contenders for his position are Jim Jordan, who you know very well from Benghazi?

CLINTON: I don't know him well. I watched him and, you know, stared at him for 11 hours while he made stuff up about me. So, I don't know him, but I've seen him in action.

AMANPOUR: So, what would it mean if he gets the speakership?

CLINTON: Well, I mean, he is one of the principal ringleaders of the circus that's been created in the Republican Party for the last several years. I have no inside knowledge about what the Republicans will do, who they will end up voting for. But when do they put the country first, they do not represent a majority of even the Republican Party.

When you look at the extremists in the House, they certainly don't represent a majority of the country. And, you know, somebody has to stand up and say, enough, you know, we can have disagreements. I'm all for that. I was in the Senate for eight years. I worked with a lot of Republicans, and you know, oppose them when I didn't agree.

But at some point, there needs to be a backlash against the control that this small group of extremists have. And I don't know who will lead that, but let's hope whoever becomes the new speaker will.


BASH: And up next, a promise made, a promise broken after vowing not to build a border wall. If elected President Biden is doing just that. But first, I'm going to talk to one of those eight House Republicans who voted to kick Kevin McCarthy out of the speakership. Stay with me.




BASH: As the race to become the next House speaker heats up, Republican senators are making clear exactly what they think of the dysfunction in the other chamber. Listen to this?


SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R-TX): It's not an attractive picture. So, we got to do better.

SEN. KEVIN CRAMER (R-ND): I think it makes the House Republican rebels look foolish. They look unserious. I think they look like they're more interested in fighting then governing.

SEN. LISA MURKOWSKI (R-AK): We in Congress have some work to do to restore the trust in this institution called Congress.

SEN. MIKE ROUNDS (R-SD): Folks that ran as Republicans have to decide whether or not they want to act as a majority or we're going to act like a Republican Party and a populist party. So now the question is, will the populace come back into the Republican fold?

(END VIDEO CLIP) BASH: Joining me now to respond to that and much, much more is Republican Congressman Ken Buck of Colorado. One of the eight Republicans who voted successfully to remove Kevin McCarthy from the speaker's chair. Thank you so much for coming in. First, your response to that, including the idea from a fellow Republican that you and your fellow seven are unserious?

REP. KEN BUCK (R-CO): Well, I disagree, obviously. I think that Nikki Haley had it right when she said the Senate is the most privileged nursing home in America. And I think that it's great that folks could be willing to criticize the House for our effort to reduce spending when the Senate is every bit as guilty as the majorities in the House have been in the past at running up spending in this country.


BASH: So, I understand that you are in a different category than some of the other seven, primarily, because you have since you came into Congress been singularly focused on reducing government spending. I do get that. But what about the notion of doing that at the cost of basic functions of government? I mean, is lowering government spending for you more important than a functioning government?

BUCK: No, it's not at all. I think you can have both. Dana, we have 77,000 vacant buildings owned by the federal government. We have a Department of Defense that has failed its internal audit for 30 years in a row. We have a Department of Defense that can't find billions of dollars of -- -

BASH: And why do you think removing Kevin McCarthy will change any of that?

BUCK: Because he refused to do anything about those issues. He refused to reduce spending. I brought the issue of unauthorized programs. A program is authorized for five years, and after five years is supposed to sunset. 1400 unauthorized programs are being appropriated to and that number increased.

BASH: Are you confident that there is somebody in the republican conference who will do the kinds of things you just talked about?

BUCK: I am confident that we can come together and find a way to get that done. Yes.

BASH: I know, you don't want to name names, because you think that would hurt the person that you named. But is there a kind of person that you're thinking of? Is there, I mean, I guess I'll just ask you again, in a different way, the question I just asked you, which is, there is somebody who is running for speaker, who you think will be able to tackle the problems of government spending that you and other fiscal conservatives support, but also can function in a very, very discordant House Republican conference?

BUCK: Yes. I think that there are courageous leaders in the Republican conference who will step forward. Democrats don't want wasteful government spending and Republicans don't want that. There's a way of finding places to cut spending that doesn't impact programs.

BASH: I talked to your Republican colleague, Dave Joyce, yesterday. And I want you to listen to part of our conversation.


BASH: Should he and the other seven be kicked out of the conference?

REP. DAVID JOYCE (R-OH): Well, I don't see how they can really be part of a conference when they stand on and they come on the inside. Listen to what's going on and go outside and lob bombs in the middle.

BASH: It sounds like that's a yes.

JOYCE: Yes. Well, you know, I think it's -- again, I'm one of those who's the ground up thing. So, I think it's important that everybody have an opportunity to take in what's happening and then make a collective decision when we get back. But if it was up to me, I'd vote for it.


BASH: And it being kicking you out of the Republican conference. He says talking to you eight is a waste of time.

BUCK: So, there are some who say, we should be expelled. There are some who say, we should be kicked out of the conference. I don't think they can do math really well, because we have a four-vote majority right now. If you kick eight people out of the conference, you have speaker Hakeem Jeffries. You don't have a Republican speaker. I think it's great threats to throw around. But I think it's really meaningless in the long run.

BASH: I think the anger and you're hearing and I'm sure face-to-face, maybe phone call. The phone call is about getting rid of him without a plan afterwards. And about how this looks not just to America, but to the world about the strength of democratic institutions and the ability to find somebody to actually lead and coalesce.

BUCK: Yes. I think that the way $36 trillion in debt looks to the world is my primary concern. I think we'll find a speaker and I don't think in the year, people are going to consider this a minor pothole that we got over. The problems that we face are existential. And if we don't address those, the world has a lot of reason to be concerned about America's strength.

BASH: I know you're not a supporter. Steve Bannon is not a supporter of yours. But I'm sure you saw that he was egging on some of your fellow Republicans who voted for this. What do you think that's appropriate?

BUCK: Look, Steve Bannon has a voice like a lot of other people. He has called me a rhino with that voice more often than not. I still worked with those others to make sure we get a better speaker.

BASH: We're hearing from our colleagues that the former president is coming to Capitol Hill to speak to House Republicans. Is that something that you think will help?

BUCK: Help what?

BASH: Help to unite the conference -- -

BUCK: No. I think there are a lot of people that don't support Donald Trump in the conference quietly, don't support him. And there are some who do support me. He obviously gave the Medal of Freedom to Jim Jordan, and he's a big Jim Jordan fan. So, I'm not sure what he's going to say, but I imagine he is supporting Jim Jordan at this point.


BASH: OK. Thank you so much for coming in. Appreciate it.

BUCK: Thank you.

BASH: And new video just into CNN. It shows migrants rushing the border near El Paso. As the Biden administration gets ready to build a border wall. The Biden administration getting ready to build a border wall. We're going to have new reporting ahead.