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Senate Passes $95 Billion Foreign Aid Package 70-29 But Speaker Johnson Says It Has No Chance In House; 22 GOP Senators Joined Dems In Backing Ukraine, Israel Funding; Sen. Lindsey Graham Backs Trump Plan For Foreign Aid As A Loan; Haley On Two-Week Bus Tour Of South Carolina As Primary Looms; Trump: Haley's Deployed Husband "Should Come Back Home To Help Save Her Dying Campaign". Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired February 13, 2024 - 12:30   ET




DANA BASH, CNN HOST: Senators are likely grabbing an extra cup of coffee or two today after pulling an all-nighter to pass a $95 billion foreign aid bill. 22 Republicans joined Democrats in voting for critical funding for Ukraine and Israel. Now it's heading to the House where Speaker Mike Johnson says he's not going to touch it.

CNN's Melanie's Zanona is on Capitol Hill. Melanie, give us the sense of what is going to happen in the near term in the House.

MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: Well, there are very serious questions in the Capitol right now about if and how this foreign aid package is going to pass through the House. As you mentioned, Speaker Mike Johnson put out a statement last night essentially rejecting this legislation as is because it does not include border security provisions, even though it was Johnson and his House Republican Conference, who helped kill that bipartisan Senate deal to secure the southern border.

So there are very serious questions right now. It has caused a lot of frustration on both sides of the aisle. Just take a look at what Chris Murphy, a Democratic senator who was helping to negotiate that border deal, wrote on social media. He said, "The speaker said he wouldn't pass Ukraine funding without a border deal and we got a deal and then he killed the deal because he said we didn't need a deal. And now he says he won't pass our Ukraine funding bill because it doesn't include a border deal. Honestly, WTF."

And meanwhile, the topic of Ukraine aid has really divided the GOP especially with Donald Trump coming out so forcefully against it. Just listen.


SEN. J.D. VANCE (R), OHIO: Let's rebuild our own country before we overextend ourselves any multipronged conflict. I mean, this is something out of every history book for how empires fail. SEN. MITT ROMNEY (R), UTAH: If we failed to help Ukraine, Putin will invade our NATO nation. We must be clear eyed. Ukraine is not the end. It is a step.

SEN. JOSH HAWLEY (R), MISSOURI: If it's between rebuilding another nation or rebuilding this one, we're going to rebuild this one. If it's between securing another nation's borders our own, we're going to secure our own.


ZANONA: Now, there could be an effort by Democrats in the House to use what's known as a discharge petition. That is a tool that would essentially force a foreign aid bill to the floor going over Johnson's head, but that is a tricky and time consuming process and it also would require buy in from Republicans. So again, the fate of this foreign aid package is really uncertain right now.


BASH: And Melanie, there's another idea out there which is in order to get Ukraine and Israel most importantly, in the eyes of many Democrats and Republicans there, as you know, Ukraine, to get them the aid that they need right now, and that is to call it a loan, not an actual direct payment.

This is what Lindsey Graham said in a statement. "The supplemental aid package should be alone to the countries in question, as suggested by President Trump. Alone on friendly terms allows America who is deeply in debt, a chance to get our money back and changes the paradigm of how we help others. President Trump is right to insist that we think outside the box."

This is fascinating, because it's not only about border security, which obviously we know was a big issue with regard to linking these two together. It's also about the fact that a lot of Republicans led by Donald Trump, they don't want to use any more taxpayer dollars to help Ukraine.

ZANONA: Right.

BASH: And so this is a way to call it alone. Maybe make it technically alone, and save face for everybody.

ZANONA: Yes. And those comments from Graham that you point out, were so remarkable, Dana, because he has long been one of the biggest --

BASH: Exactly.

ZANONA: -- supporters of Ukraine aid. So to now hear him echoing what Donald Trump said over the weekend, which is that foreign aid and now always be provided in the form of a loan, which is, you know, flies in the face of how the United States Congress has operated in terms of our posture towards foreign countries.

We provide aid to all sorts of countries, not just in the supplemental. So it's just another example of how Donald Trump has really tightened his grip on the GOP and it's probably only going to get tighter in the months ahead as he steamrolls his way to the nomination, Dana.

BASH: That's exactly right. It's such important context. People like Lindsey Graham don't necessarily believe that alone should happen. But it's a necessary idea to get around Donald Trump and his opposition and therefore the opposition of so many where you are in the House.

Thank you so much, Melanie, for that reporting.

Up next, Donald Trump goes low, err. His latest attempt to mock Nikki Haley's husband who's serving his country in uniform overseas. We're going to talk about that and more with the chief strategist of Nikki Haley's Super PAC.



BASH: Right now, Nikki Haley is kicking off her second campaign event of the day. She's in the middle of a two-week bus tour through South Carolina, her home state, where things are not looking great for her campaign. CNN's Kylie Atwood is in Haley's hometown of Bamberg, South Carolina. She just held a rally there this morning. Kylie?

KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Well, this is certainly an opportunity for Nikki Haley to take stock of how far her campaign has come since they launched a year ago this week. And she talked about the fact that she has defeated all the other contenders in the race and that there's one person that she's still has to catch up to.

But, of course, Dana, she has an incredibly uphill climb if she's going to catch up to former President Trump. He won in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada. And a recent poll out just this week from CBS shows that he has a commanding lead in the state of South Carolina ahead of her by 35 points.

So her campaign says that they feel like there are factions of the electorate here in South Carolina that are going to show up for her, folks who have recently moved into the state, or folks who typically don't vote in a primary, only vote in a general election. But we'll just have to watch and see if that actually happens.

One of the things that Haley did today was to go after former President Trump for trying to install his allies at the RNC. Listen to what she said.


NIKKI HALEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Now, he has decided, he's fired the RNC chair. He's named who's going to be the new RNC chair. His daughter-in-law will be the co-chair. And he is making his campaign manager, the officer that runs the party.

Think about what's happening right now. Is that how you're going to try and take an election?


ATWOOD: Now, her description of what's actually happening with these conversations about RNC leadership wasn't entirely accurate, but her point is that Trump is trying to use the RNC before he is actually the party's nominee, which isn't allowed. That's a point she's made before but she's hitting on it again right now.

And her campaign for their part is investing here in South Carolina pretty heavily, putting $2 million more into an advertising campaign here and out with a new ad just today going after Trump on policies, on chaos, these themes that we have heard from Nikki Haley throughout the entire course of her campaign. Dana?

BASH: Kylie, thank you so much for that report. This all brings me to our next guest.

Mark Harris is Chief Strategist for the Pro-Haley Super PAC that has spent tens of millions of dollars in ads for Haley in the early states. Mark, thank you so much for being here. You know very well that she is vowing to stay in the race through Super Tuesday.

There are real questions about her path forward. Polls show that she's trailing Donald Trump in her home state of South Carolina. The contest there is in a couple of weeks. If she can't win in her home state, should she stay in the race?


MARK HARRIS, CHIEF STRATEGIST FOR PRO-HALEY SUPER PAC, SFA FUND: Look, we feel very confident about South Carolina and Nikki's out there every day being the happy warrior talking about why she is the best answer to the chaos. And, you know, that look, having to, you know, as she says the White House shouldn't be a nursing home, right?

Having someone who can run on these issues that voters care about and motivate them and win this election, right. And so, she's going to continue to go out there and make that case. We're doing much better in South Carolina than the public polls show. I feel very confident about what's going to happen. You know, in just under two weeks there in South Carolina, we're working hard every day to make sure every voter who agrees with Nikki's message gets out to vote.

BASH: What are you seeing that we're not seeing in public poll after public poll?

HARRIS: Look, I think, you know, OK, I always say keep calm and ignore public polling because, you know, what we spend on pulling as much more than the public, you know, public polling can afford to spend. And what our data shows is that this is an increasingly close race.

We are gaining on Donald Trump every day that Nikki's message is resonating. That is they hear more about her message, and about the end to this chaos, and that we need someone who's going to be strong, strong against Russia, strong on Ukraine, strong for Israel, you know, strong on the border, that is what is helping us. That people are tired of the chaos. They want to move on.

And, you know, that's really why voters are -- you know, we're seeing in our data that we're making a lot of grounds. We're still the underdog. We're the insurgent campaign, but, you know, I think you can see. Nikki's having fun out there telling the story about why she should be the next president of the United States.

BASH: Mark, your group SFA Fund has spent just over $2.4 million so far in advertising in South Carolina. You spent over $50 million combined in Iowa and New Hampshire. Are you running out of money?

HARRIS: No, we have plenty of money. We're just placing several million more dollars of advertising just today. We will have the resources to support Nikki as long as she's in this race. You know, voters whether it was, you know, President Trump's attack on donors, whether it's his attack on, you know, Ambassador Haley's husband, those things that actually helped motivate donors, my phone's been ringing off the hook, we will continue to spend money.

We will have the resources that are needed to make sure that Nikki is able to run this -- the type of race that she needs to run to be successful.

BASH: Let's look at some of the content of what you are saying in some of these ads continuing to warn that Donald Trump means chaos. But it doesn't seem to be resonating with enough Republican voters to make a difference. They know Donald Trump, they've seen Donald Trump, they continue to see him and what he's saying. Do you think that the message needs to be adjusted even at this late stage of the game?

HARRIS: Look, I think, you know, Nikki was -- you know, we had a strong showing in Iowa but, you know, it was below 20. We got into the 40s in New Hampshire. We're going to do better than that in South Carolina, right?

And so -- and South Carolina, quite frankly, is a harder state in many ways for like sort of demographically for Nikki Haley. And so I think you're going to see a very strong showing that's going to shock a lot of people coming up in this election. Because voter, you know, there is -- we are assembling a coalition of voters who want that change.

And, you know, we are very encouraged, the early voting that we're encouraged by the early voting numbers, we're encouraged by the people who are going to come out and vote. We think this is going to be a historically high turnout in South Carolina that going to put us in a position to win.

BASH: You said that she is going to surprise people, it will be a high turnout, she'll get a good number. Is she going to win?

HARRIS: Look, the goal is to win every state. That's what we're fighting for. Yes, I mean, look --

BASH: But will she?

HARRIS: -- that's what we want to do in South Carolina. But as she's been clear, she just needs to keep improving as we go. We are still very early on in this process. And we're very encouraged that we will do better in South Carolina than we did in New Hampshire.

BASH: This morning, the former president is again mocking the overseas deployment of Governor Haley's husband saying that he should come back home to help save her dying campaign is not the first time he's gone after service members. He, in a very strident way, mocked Senator John McCain back in 2016, prisoners of war, denigrated Gold Star families and a lot more.

He's never paid a political price in the Republican primary sphere for comments like that. What does that say to you about the way voters approached and are continuing to approach who they want as their nominee in the party


HARRIS: Look, you know, the verdicts going to come in the election in just a few days in South Carolina. There is a huge population of veterans in South Carolina and we're going to get to have their voice heard. I think Nikki Haley has been very clear about this.

You know, Michael is serving our country. He can't come home. He is required to be there to serve our country. You know, I think voters are going to be pretty -- sent a pretty clear message about how they feel about this. And, you know, I think the growing crowd sizes, again, the very encouraging early vote numbers that we've seen and the internal polling that we've seen, we're very encouraged about our own momentum.

And I think these incidents are just going to help fuel, you know, fuel Nikki's campaign. She's always been the happy warrior on the trail offering a very different, much more optimistic vision of Americans -- America's future. And we believe that that's going to pay off on Election Day, because it's the right thing to do. She's the best candidate. That's why she's out there making the case and we feel very confident about how things are going to turn out.

BASH: Mark Harris, chief strategist for SFA Fund, Pro-Nikki Haley Super PAC, thank you for your time. Appreciate it.

HARRIS: Thanks for having me. Thank you, Dana.

BASH: More news after a quick break.



BASH: Be sure to join us tonight for special live coverage of the crucial election today in New York. Will the slim House Majority by the Republicans shrank even further? Our special election night starts at 8:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN.

Thank you so much for joining Inside Politics. CNN News Central starts after the break. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)