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Inside Politics

One-On-One With Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi; Florida's Top Health Official Calls For Halt To COVID Vaccines; Congress Barreling Toward Another Shutdown Showdown. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired January 04, 2024 - 12:30   ET




DANA BASH, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back. I want to get right to my guest, former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Thank you so much for joining me. Appreciate it. It is now 2024 --


BASH: -- as you are well aware, in an election year. I want to play for you President Biden's first campaign ad of the year. It's being released in conjunction with the anniversary of January 6th.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There's something dangerous happening in America. There's an extremist movement that does not share the basic beliefs in our democracy. All of us are being asked right now, what will we do to maintain our democracy?


BASH: How potent do you think that will be for voters?

PELOSI: Well, I think it's very important, but I think it also recognizes that democracy is a personal issue. Freedom to -- whether it is to have access to health care when, if, and how to have expand your family. Freedom to be in the workplace in a very strong way because you have health care. Yes, and you have child care.

So we have to relate democracy to the kitchen table, to our people's personal lives. And that's what I've been doing during this break, is we don't agonize, we organize. What's his name was running for president said Obamacare sucks. We say no, the Affordable Care Act cures.

So all of these things are related. And what happened on January 6th was a manifestation of an assault on the personal freedoms that we have because it assaulted the Congress, the Capitol, the Constitution of the United States. But it isn't all of his message. His message is about what we need to do as we go forward. And freedom gives us that opportunity. The kitchen table issues are our motivation and our mobilization to get the job done, win the election.

BASH: And I'm going to ask you about the economy in one minute, but while you mentioned what's his name, and in case our viewers didn't get it, you met Donald Trump. Two states, Colorado and Maine have now removed Donald Trump from their primary ballots. They cited his role in the January 6th insurrection.

Trump is challenging these decisions. The Supreme Court will likely decide. Do you think it's a good idea for states to remove Donald Trump from their ballots?

PELOSI: That's up to the states. What I -- I think it's a good idea for us to make sure people know what is at risk in the election. I won't go into the courts and the law and all of that. Different states have different laws. We have a different law in California relating to that.

But what's important is what matters to the American people and their families at that kitchen table. And you have to keep bringing it back to that because that's what is important to our country. But what happened on January 6th is related to that.

BASH: Do you believe, though, just putting -- I know you're -- don't want to talk about the constitutional questions but just on the raw politics of this, do you agree with some who worry that trying to take him off the ballot is making him a martyr and emboldening Donald Trump even more?

PELOSI: No. That, again, that's -- in each of those states, that's a matter that they will have to deal with. He also -- martyrdom is his thing, you know. Oh, you -- he cannot be absolved from his accountability on all of this. No one is above the law, neither is he. So this -- these are manifestations of people saying that.

That's up to them to say. It's up to the American people to honor our oath of office to protect and defend the constitution to address the kitchen table issues. And the economy is big at kitchen table issues --

BASH: So let's talk about that.

PELOSI: -- whether it's access to healthcare and it's cost. OK.


BASH: Yes, let's talk about that because --

PELOSI: Shall we?

BASH: -- I want to just say, and we've been saying this on this show every time we see new numbers, the economy continues to do well in many respects.


BASH: The stock market is up. Gas prices are down. The inflation rate is at the lowest that it's been in three years. You joined me on State of the Union back in July. I asked why the American people weren't giving President Biden the credit that maybe he thinks he should have on the economy. You said a lot of it is about messaging, and you added that Biden just has to get out there.

It is now six months later. The administration is still struggling on this issue. Why?

PELOSI: Well, I think it's time to get out there. The -- we've had our holidays. We've -- the elect -- the campaigns are beginning now. This is when people will pay attention. And I think that the president -- again, I have always said to members, people don't vote for you because you deserve it. But what you have done gives you the legitimacy to say, this is what I will do.

And the president has said, we have more work to be done and let's have a debate on who's there for the American people, to save the Affordable Care Act, to save the pensions that Joe Biden enabled to happen when people go talking to Trump, labor guys talking to Trump. They have to remember he refused to pass the pension bill, to support the pension bill.

So again, the elections have ramifications. Let's talk about that. Let's not talk about what happened last July. Let's talk about what's happening now as we go forward. I just got off a call with organizers for the Affordable Care Act. We are so excited for what it means to our veterans when we pass the PACT Act.

What it means for women when you see the Supreme Court ruling against them and the Congress, not one Republican vote to help women in that regard. When women are anti-jobs, they are pro-democracy. When we are talking about good paying jobs, we're talking about freedom for people to live their lives.

I am very excited about what Biden has done. We were a part of that. But more importantly, what he will do. And that's the message people want to hear. Again, none of us deserves it. All of us has to prove what we will do as we go forward.

As you mentioned some of the statistics. And we also did pension reform that made a difference in the lives of so many people. So understand the difference. The PACT Act, 34 Republicans voted for it.

BASH: And you feel --

PELOSI: 34 in the House.

BASH: Forgive me, but you feel confident that the voters are going to start to kind of digest that and feel better about the economy in a way that they just don't feel now and that that disconnect will be bridged.

PELOSI: Well, we have to do that. We do our inside maneuvering to present legislation and the rest, but the outside mobilization is the most important part of an election, to make sure people know. President Lincoln, as I've said on your show before, he said, public sentiment is everything.

With it, you can accomplish almost anything. Without it, practically nothing. And we have to make sure people know. We have to respect them. We have to listen to them. We have to build community, continue to build community with them.

I'm very excited about the credentials, the legitimacy, the leverage that Joe Biden has given to America's working families. And that's the message -- and campaigns are campaigns.

BASH: Yes.

PELOSI: It's a war term.

BASH: Yes.

PELOSI: You have to go out there and fight.

BASH: Speaking of war --

PELOSI: You have to go out there and fight.

BASH: Speaking of war, I want to just ask you one question about what you as a member of Congress have before you going forward, and that is, among many other things, the question of aiding and funding Israel and its war. Your colleague Bernie Sanders is now urging Congress not to pass any additional funding for Israel while Benjamin Netanyahu's government is conducting the war in Gaza. Do you think it's time for new leadership in Israel?

PELOSI: Well, I thought there's time for new leadership in Israel for a long time. So I --

BASH: But now, post-October 7th, is it -- do you think --

PELOSI: That's not the issue.

BASH: Yes.

PELOSI: The issue is, is it in our national interest to support Israel? Yes. I think that that has been clear. They are our ally in the region. And we -- yes, I think we should support them. And I think the president has spoken eloquently to this point with knowledge and with strategic thinking about it.


I don't think that Netanyahu represents -- let's not even go into him. I don't like to talk about those kinds of people as I said about what's his name. But I do think that we have to make sure the public understands that we have -- and the president has in his proposal for the supplemental -- millions of dollars to help the refugees in Gaza. Millions, millions of dollars to help the refugees in Gaza. The Republicans will not bring up the bill. They do not want to support --

BASH: Yes.

PELOSI: -- they have told me, we do not want to support the refugees. And yet the president bears the brunt of people saying, you know, cease fire, this, that, and the other thing. I wish they'd say, free the hostages. Free the hostages. Let's find our common ground to do --

BASH: Yes.

PELOSI: -- with humanity, give -- apply humanity to how we have a two- state solution so that the Palestinian people can live in freedom.

BASH: I'm glad that you brought up the hostages because there are still many hostages and it's -- including Americans that we should not forget about. We're out of time, Madam Speaker, but before I let you go, I just want to mark today because it is January 4th. Back in 2007 -- we are putting up video right now -- of you getting that gavel for the very first time, the first woman to serve as speaker of the House.

PELOSI: Yes, 17 years ago. And so, actually, four times I received the gavel. It's pretty exciting. And now I'm excited about our new leadership in the House. Hakeem Jeffries, Katherine Clark, Pete Aguilar, Ted Lieu, all of them, they're so fabulous, so representative of our community. And when you do -- when you make a commitment and you do a job, you want to make sure that whoever comes next has even more opportunity. So we're very proud of them.

BASH: You said leadership in the House. I wasn't sure where you were going with that. I thought you were going to start to praise Mike Johnson.

Thank you so much.

PELOSI: They what?

BASH: It's OK. Madam Speaker, thank you so much. I appreciate you being on.

PELOSI: Thank you, Dana. Happy New Year --

BASH: Thank you.

PELOSI: -- and a healthy one as well. Thank you.

BASH: Thank you. You too.

Coming up, the Florida Surgeon General claims COVID vaccines could contaminate patients DNA. And he's saying that despite all of the scientific evidence to the contrary, this is the top health official in the state of Florida. We're going to talk about that next.



BASH: In Florida, the state's Surgeon General, the man in charge of health policy for a state of more than 22 million people, is trying to cease distributions of mRNA COVID vaccines. He sent a letter to the FDA asking the agency to stop Pfizer and Moderna shots immediately, citing health risks that have repeatedly been labeled misinformation and debunked. The FDA, of course, reiterates that the shots are safe and effective.

Our panel is back here. You know, it's interesting when you look at this and you think about what we were talking about earlier when we were discussing Ron DeSantis and kind of all of the -- he's talking about trans issues, he started out his campaign talking about COVID and things like that. But he is still the governor of Florida, and this is a person who -- he could pretty easily get rid of, and yet he seems to be totally fine with this person saying pretty wild things.

Let me just play one example. This is going back to 2021 to show that this is not a new phenomenon.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What do you tell people who are afraid of a vaccine and the conspiracy theories that they believe?

JOSEPH LADAPO, FLORIDA'S SURGEON GENERAL: Part of why that is an issue is because of the climate of distrust that has been engendered over the past year and a half. And that was a direct result of scientists, my colleagues, some of them, taking the science and basically misrepresenting it to fit their agendas, their interests, what they wanted to see people do.


BASH: I mean, that sounds like a little bit of projection.

LAURA COATES, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: It does. I mean, look, I think that what this surgeon general is saying is incredibly dangerous given all of the experts that we talked to, given the medical advice of, you know, preeminent doctors across the country and infectious disease experts, which is that people should take the vaccine.

They should get their boosters. That masking does help with the spread of not just COVID but other communicable diseases. And so, you know, COVID also -- this is coming at a time when COVID rates are surging in certain states.

BASH: Yes, they are.

COATES: And I was just reading -- seeing that the New York Times reported that some the death rate right now is about 1,200 deaths over the past few weeks of COVID. So there still are COVID-related deaths that are occurring that appear to just be -- have become normalized across the country.

BASH: And then bring it back to Ron DeSantis. He, that same day, said we feel Joe, the head of -- the Surgeon General -- is the right guy for the job.

JOSH DAWSEY, POLITICAL INVESTIGATIONS REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yes. He's backed him repeatedly. And my colleagues Warren Webber and Dan Diamond talked to all sorts of experts yesterday who talked about how ironic as his comments were from a scientific lens, but the political lens of it is also interesting.

You know, the vaccines were formed during the former President Trump's administration, Operation Warp Speed. And he -- well, a lot of his advisers viewed it as one of their biggest accomplishments. But after talking about it a little bit in the beginning of his post-presidency --

BASH: He stopped.

DAWSEY: -- he stopped talking about it. And you go to Trump rallies these days, and you see all sorts of signs about the vax and Dr. Fauci.

BASH: Yes.

DAWSEY: Yesterday, Trump's campaign would not comment when we asked him for comment. We asked Nikki Haley's people for comment, they didn't have any comment. And DeSantis's campaign didn't comment either. So you sort of see where the Republican base is these days.

BASH: OK, we're going to have to leave it there. Thank you so much.


Up next, a border deal to know where? House Republicans say they're ready to project a compromise on immigration. Oh, and shutdown the government as well. Stay with us.


BASH: It's not February yet, but it feels like Groundhog Day. Yet again, Congress is barreling toward another shutdown.

CNN's Melanie Zanona is now with us live. So, Mel, give us a sense of what the deal is there. GOP hardliners in the House, they are making the new border security demands, making demands on border security, as I should say, on those who are across the capital from where you are now who are trying to find bipartisan compromise?

MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: That's exactly right. The right is really itching for a showdown over the border. Republicans are trying to make this front and center of their agenda. They really see this as a salient campaign issue ahead of the upcoming 2024 election.


And as you mentioned, there is a bipartisan group, at least in the Senate, trying to hammer out a deal on border security. But over in the House, there are a growing number of hardliners who are insisting on shutting down the entire government if their demands aren't met on the border. Let's listen.


REP. PETE SESSIONS (R), TEXAS: I'm willing to say it. Not a lot of other people wanted to. I will not vote for the funding of the government from -- that we're going to be doing in February and forward if we do not address the southern border issue.

REP. MARY MILLER (R), ILLINOIS: We need to use our leverage, which is cutting off their funding in order to force them to shut our border. And I'm absolutely on board with that.


ZANONA: Now, Speaker Mike Johnson hasn't gone quite as far in terms of calling to shut down the government over their border security demands, but he has been insisting on a hardline border security package as part of those negotiations. And when it comes to government funding, he has been negotiating with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to agree on top line spending numbers to fund the government.

But that is just one of several hurdles, Dana, that they're going to need to overcome in order to avoid a government shutdown, which will occur on January 19th for some government agencies and February 2nd for the rest, if Congress doesn't act soon.

BASH: I feel like you've done this before. I don't know, like --

ZANONA: Yes, the Groundhog Day analogy is very, very true.

BASH: Oh man, I feel for you and all of us. Thank you so much, Melanie. Appreciate that reporting.

Thank you for joining INSIDE POLITICS. "CNN NEWS CENTRAL" starts after the break.