Return to Transcripts main page

Piers Morgan Live

Interview with Senator Manchin; Analysis with E.D. Hill, Star Jones; Search for Missing Teen

Aired October 17, 2013 - 21:00   ET


PIERS MORGAN, CNN HOST: This is PIERS MORGAN LIVE. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. Tonight, back in business.


STEVE PEZZETI, FEMA WORKER: It is highly unfortunate that it happened in the first place, but it's good to be back.


MORGAN: From parks to memorials and yes, panda cams, the government finally reopens, but the cost and consequences and all that anger will last. Let's listen to the president today.


PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: You don't like a particular policy or a particular president? Then argue for your position. Go out there and win an election. Push to change it. But don't break it.


MORGAN: So what does this (inaudible) say about your elected officials? Straight talk from Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Senator Joe Manchin. Also, who's in charge of the GOP anyway? I'll take that up in "Battleground America" with Anthony Weiner, Ben Ferguson, and Ross Douthat. And more fireworks later with Star Jones and E.D. Hill. Plus where is Avonte, a desperate search for an autistic teen who vanished from his school. Is the security officer to blame? Avonte's mother joins me live.

The Big Story, the reopening of the government. Joining me now, Senator Joe Manchin. He's a member of the Armed Services Committee. Welcome to you, Senator. You're exhausted. How are you feeling after all this?

SEN. JOE MANCHIN, (D) WEST VIRGINIA: I drove to West Virginia today, Piers, so I'm feeling very good right now.

MORGAN: When do you come back to West Virginia, what are you saying to all your constituents and to the people of West Virginia? Many of them must be just completely exasperated with what's been happening in Washington. How do you try and explain it? What kind of pledges can you give going forward?

MANCHIN: First of all, they tell me how bad things looked on what they've seeing. And they all know me and I know them. And said, "If you think it's ugly from where you're sitting, you ought to be sitting in my seat watching it happen."

And we're not use to this. In West Virginia we don't do business this way. We try to identify our problem, bring people together, put our state ahead of our politics and work through it. That's what we always did when I was a governor. We did it when I've been in legislator. So it's always about my state is first.

Well, this is about our country. And why they're playing such high stakes poker, Piers, is beyond me. This is all self inflicted by dysfunctional congress is not putting this country or the people they represent. I know ideologically, they believe very strong on what they believe in. This is not the place for it. This is about the finances of our country. How much can we spend? Can we get a budget together? Can we get ourselves out of debt? This is the things we should be really working on.

MORGAN: Let's put a little clip for President Obama today. He's been talking about the settlement.


OBAMA: And today, I want our people and our businesses and the rest of the world to know that the full faith and credit of the United States remains unquestioned.


MORGAN: How the Democrats completely blame us in all this? Was there another way of handling it that could've avoided perhaps the shutdown? I mean, what is your view if you were being this passionate about it?

MANCHIN: Piers, the only thing I can tell you is without trying to find some (inaudible) or whatever some words that would describe it. But when you jump into a pigpen, everybody comes out with a little bit of stink on them.

And the bottom line is that anyone thinks they were walked away from this or one side won and one side lost, we all lost. The American people lost. I think it was - a figure was given today of $24 billion. The economy that we lost in your economy and it's lethargic to begin with. That's not coming back.

So how anybody can take, any gratifications of pleasure of thinking we did better than they did. We've all outperformed so poorly. We ought to be ashamed of ourselves and that's what I have said. We should've never gotten to this. There's no need to have a shutdown of government.

And my colleagues and friends on the republican side, I think played it wrong. Basically the democrats agreed to the number that was asked of $986 billion. That should have been a major reason and the major win in order to keep the government open.

The debt ceiling, we should never get up to the eve (ph) of the debt ceiling and hope people are in suspense (ph). And now thinking that the full faith in credit were never going to go in default nor should we, especially voluntarily, and that's would I have railed against us. I said, "My goodness, to think we might go down this again" and that's why there was a group of 14 of us. Piers, it's basically seven democrats and seven republicans to began over a week ago saying "This is ridiculous. We've got to come together" and we stayed together.

And that template that you have right now is the one that we've worked on. It's the one that was voted on. And it says you will go back. The budget conference (ph) hasn't met for four years. Start doing your job. See if you can unravel and see if we can get back to some ...

MORGAN: But here's a problem.

MANCHIN: ... new order of business if you will.

MORGAN: There's the problem, Senator, is that you sound eminently reasonable and your actions endorsed the fact that you tried to get through this and ultimately have been successful as some of the republicans you've been dealing with. Mitch McConnell today was very reasonable with what he said. He said, "There will be not another shutdown." This is all fine. But you guys aren't the problem. The problem is Senator Ted Cruz who has his gander (ph) up, he's got a popular vote now. He's massively more famous when he was two weeks ago. He's getting loads of money pouring in and he's the darling of the Tea Party. And he today is saying "Well, let's not too hasty" because he thinks that getting the shutdown was good business for Ted Cruz Incorporated. What are you going to do about this young renegade who doesn't really care about being reasonable?

MANCHIN: Well, I know Ted. I like Ted. I get along fine with Ted. I worked -- reach out to everybody. And, I think that we can sit down and talk. We have to. You can't just discount one person or any group of people that you can't govern from the fringes. You've seen this come together and come to the middle.

You and your family, you run own individual life. You run businesses from the middle not for the fringes of the right or the left. With that being said, I think if we can set and just, you know, really factor in on what we're dealing with which is a finances. Let's get a budget. I've been a big supporter of the Bowles-Simpson plan. It's been bipartisan from day one. It has grown in brand if you will. It looks it reformed. It looks it's spending and looks like at revenue.

And you've got to have a confidence - the American people have to have confidence, we have a fair tax system that we have a reform and the ways of (inaudible) use in our entitlement program if you will and then basically, our spending. Absolutely, all this has to be looked at.

MORGAN: What about unleashing your new attack dog, Cory Booker? What about putting him on Cruz point man to point man?

MANCHIN: Cory is going to be welcome (ph) edition. We're eagerly waiting Cory's arrival next -- the week when we come back. And, I think he will be a really a great edition. He's been an executive. He's (won) a town. He knows he has to work with both sides. He has a bottom line that he has to meet. He can't continue to put hardship on his people. There's a balance.

All of us who've come to the executive roles understand that. And we have an awful lot of good legislators with a lot of experience. Now we've got to use this for the betterment of our country. Piers, we just cannot continue what you've just seen. This was the ugliest show on earth today that you saw unravel the last week or two. That should never repeat itself in the American political spectrum.

MORGAN: Senator Joe Manchin, it's a breath of fresh air talking to you. You are a rare voice of reason in a sea of complete insanity. So, thank you very much indeed for joining me.

MANCHIN: Thank you, Piers. I grew up with a good that's been balanced. West Virginia is a beautiful place. Come and visit.

MORGAN: I will happily do that. Thank you very much indeed.

MANCHIN: Thank you.

MORGAN: Joining me now is Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House and host of the CNN's Crossfire. Welcome back to you. Newt, I want to read to you that quote back from Joe Manchin. It's a great quote. "When you jump into a pigpen, everyone comes out with a little stink on them will lost." Is that your take on the whole thing?

NEWT GINGRICH, HOST, CNN CROSSFIRE: Sure. Look, I don't think anybody is a big winner out of this. The House Republicans lost the fight they were in the middle of. The senate proved that it can only act at the last possible second. The president proved that he was incapable of bringing people together and getting anything done without a crisis.

I don't think anybody comes out of this stronger or better or healthier. And I don't sense the depth of rethinking that we need. You know, Senator Manchin is a great example of one of the great problems in this town. He's individually terrific.

Most of the senators who are individually very smart and very experienced, most of the House members are very smart and very experienced. The president is very smart. Yet somehow we have been invented a system which reduces them collectively the dramatically less than the sum of the individuals. Now that's -- there's really something wrong when you have a sort of anti-team as the model which you're trying to run the country.

MORGAN: Let's get to Ted Cruz, because you've been run in the middle of the shutdown in the mid '90's, we discussed this many times. He clearly is a still of dissenting voice saying on what (inaudible) another shutdown, what else (inaudible). But we're going to get to January and Ted Cruz may well try this again. How can he be stopped and how dangerous and how potentially powerful is he as a rival faction to moderate (ph) republicans?

GINGRICH: Well, I don't think he is particularly dangerous unless the American people find his message accurate. You know, as we get beyond this week, and people begin to realize the scale of the disaster of ObamaCare and they begin to realize the degree to which the websites don't work -- there are now people coming out and saying they may never work, you may have to literally start all over again. As people begin to realize that prices are going to go up not down, their choices of doctors are going to be limited not wider, the country is going to demand change.

If the president listens to the country, if the establishment listens to the country, Ted Cruz won't be very important. But if they just run over the American people, he'll gain power every week because he'll express the frustration of people. It's not Ted Cruz. It's the American people who are the source of the real power for this.

MORGAN: Can he be stopped though? If we get to January and 95 percent of republicans totally agree it would be ridiculous to another shutdown, could he still ...

GINGRICH: That won't happen.

MORGAN: ... could he still work the system to force one?

GINGRICH: No. One or two or three members even in the senate can cause noise and they can cause nuisance but they can't cause a shutdown. I mean, this was a fight in which the House Republican Party -- at least 90 or 95percent of it was committed as a unit and you had one of the three constitutional parts of how we make law engage. This was not an act of a hand full of individuals. And, I think that that is very unlikely to happen again.

Steve King who's Congressman who's conservative as Ted Cruz said to us on "Crossfire" the other night, he did not think that could happen again in this congress as he put it. It takes an enormous amount of energy for a fight like that and you can only do it once and that's over. So my guess is that they will model through. I think what you have to look at is a much more fundamental question. We need to break out of this Washington model. I mean, this is a system that isn't working, and it's not working in the bureaucracy, it's not working in the congress, it's not working with the presidency.

And, you're going to now see the budget committees come together for the first time in four years and we're expectedly to magically produce something by the 13th of December. I don't quite know how that's going to happen because all the habits of the city right now are exactly backwards. And they're more likely to lead to gridlock than they are to lead the solutions.

MORGAN: Let's try in this on a happy note, Mr. Speaker, because I want to show you a live shot of the Panda Cam -- you're a big animal lover. You were distraught as I was that the Panda Cam was close for business. There we are. That is the live Panda Cam. The pandas are alive and well and we can see them again in their natural habitat. Just give me your -- finally, your reaction to this breaking news.

GINGRICH: It's a wonderful reminder. My granddaughter has a baby panda and she carries around a doll that she got at the Atlanta Zoo years ago which she calls, creatively, "Panda". It's a wonderful reminder that there's life beyond politics and there's life beyond the (inaudible) all through up and this (ph). And I hope every visitor who comes here will find time to visit the National Zoo as well as Mount Vernon. We'll get history and natural history all in one visit.

MORGAN: Newt Gingrich, well said. Love to speak to you again. Thank you very much.

GINGRICH: Good to see you.

MORGAN: What's next for republicans and the nation? Battleground America is coming up here live with Anthony Weiner, Ross Douthat, and Ben Ferguson, a trio of real power panelists.



OBAMA: There are no winners here. These last few weeks have inflicted completely unnecessary damage on our economy. We don't know yet the full scope of the damage but every analyst out there believes it slowed our growth.


MORGAN: President Obama today on the Real loser in shutdown. Showed the U.S (ph) economy (inaudible) that damage is still unknown but on Capitol Hill, both party is now bracing for the backlash. Joining me now, Anthony Weiner, former congressman from New York, Ross Douthat, CNN political commentator, and Op-Ed columnist in New York Times, Ben Ferguson, (inaudible) just leave it there, shall we (ph) with him. Anthony Weiner, welcome back.


MORGAN: How (inaudible) are you?

WEINER: It's nice to be here.

MORGAN: You were just boasting to me in the break that you were congressman for 12 years and there was no government shutdown in that period.

WEINER: That's exactly right. I was really ...

MORGAN: You're anti-shutdown congressman.

WEINER: I was the glue that held the place together more or less.

MORGAN: So what do you make of this? Why did it come to this and how do we avoid happening all over again in January? WEINER: Well, unfortunately I don't see a dynamic that it changes all that much. I mean, you've got two group of republicans one is the Tea Party faithful who think this was fine, who thought this was the right thing to do all along who are boasting out that they made progress. And then, you've got the more sensuous (ph) or moderate republicans who are concerned about primaries. And remember, as soon as this deadline lapses, it's going to be primary season in places like Pennsylvania and California.

As long concern, there's not much difference until the republicans developed a sense of what it is they're for not just what it is they're against, I think we're going to keep having this problem, because there's a large number of -- at least as an important number of republicans who stopping things from happening is an important imperative, so they think they had a good couple of weeks.

MORGAN: Ross Douthat, you're a conservative who has a bit of a problem as always. You don't like the way the republicans have behaved. Explain that.

ROSS DOUTHAT, OP-ED COLUMNIST NEW YOR TIMES: Well, I mean, I think that you can see in the end game pretty much what most observers, conservative and liberal predicted from the beginning which was that the House Republicans went into this with completely implausible goals and no discernible strategy for achieving them. And the government was shut down for three weeks, and the Republican Party's approval ratings went down, and the democrats made no concession, and the republicans gave up. And it's pretty hard to imagine any scenario in which it wouldn't have played out this way and frankly I think what you've heard in the aftermath from House Republicans is a fair amount of justifiable embarrassment over how this all played out.

And I think that Former Congressman Weiner's point, I'm skeptical that anything like this specifically is going to happen again in the next year or so. You had Speaker Gingrich on talking about Steve King saying, "We're not going to get up for this kind of fight again." I think that in general, I would expect a sort of internal republican politics to play themselves out maybe in primary campaigns but not so much in another push for a shutdown in Washington.

MORGAN: All right. Ben Ferguson, you're shaking your...


MORGAN: ... head in fury as usual. Why?