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State of the Union

Interview with Ted Cruz; Interview with John Lewis; Interview with Howard Dean, Jim DeMint

Aired August 25, 2013 - 09:00   ET


DANA BASH, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Dana Bash in for Candy Crowley and this is STATE OF THE UNION.


BASH (voice-over): Today a Texas lightning rod.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If we see a grass roots tsunami, that is going to be cause Republicans and Democrats to listen to the people.

BASH: Senator Ted Cruz on why he hopes the wave that carried him into the Senate is still strong enough to wash away Obamacare.

And Heritage Foundation president, Jim DeMint and former governor, Howard Dean, on the 2014 election beyond. Then, an ally of President Obama hint at impeachment.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think we're going to have another constitutional crisis in our country in terms of the presidency.

BASH: Plus, the 50th anniversary of the march on Washington and a complication with the youngest keynote speaker on that historic day, Congressman John Lewis.



BASH (on-camera): Now, we start with breaking news, though, out of Syria this morning. CNN's Fred Pleitgen reports that the Syrian government has reached an agreement with the United Nations to allow inspectors full access to any site of any purported chemical weapons attack. Syria's deputy foreign minister says the agreement is effective immediately.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon has prepositioned four warships armed with cruise missiles in the region. Joining me now is our Pentagon correspondent, Chris Lawrence. And Chris, this is big news. This is why obviously inspectors got there, they want to get to the bottom of what really happened. Do you think they can now?

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's possible. I mean, we know that secretary of state, John Kerry, was speaking with his counterpart, the Syrian foreign minister over the weekend. Those two do not speak very often, so that was significant. If they are able to find actual evidence, this could certainly change the calculation for the Obama administration.

We know that the Pentagon has been updating its target list for potential air strikes in Syria, looking at not only command and control facilities, but the actual delivery systems as well, our artillery batteries, missile launchers, things like that. And they've also moved warships. They've added a fourth destroyer to the Mediterranean, and they have also moved a third close to Syria. That's important, because all of the capabilities we're talking about here is standoff capabilities. They don't want to put U.S. fighter pilots in Syrian air space. So, what we're talking about here is fighter jets launching from outside that air space or more likely cruise missiles from these destroyers.

BASH: And back to the breaking news, I mean, there are reports of 1,300 casualties. I mean, this obviously could be monumental. So, first of all, the question is, were there chemical weapons used? But maybe more importantly in terms of the posture of the United States government and beyond, it's who did it, because that's the issue there. The rebels are saying it was the government. The government was saying it's the rebels.

LAWRENCE: You've got both sides pointing the finger with each other, and we saw just over the weekend, the video released of that cache in the rebel stronghold. The Syrian government says they came across that gas mask canisters in a rebel area saying the rebels were using this.

BASH: And Chris, I want to just put you on hold right there, because we have Fred Pleitgen on the phone who actually just got this news from the Syrian deputy foreign minister. Fred, what can you tell us?

FRED PLEITGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Dana. Yes. I was in an interview with the Syrian deputy foreign minister. It was just as the U.N. team walked out of this office where they got that confirmation from the Syrian government that they were going to be able to visit all of the sites where chemical weapons were allegedly used.

Now, he told me that this goes into effect immediately and that the only thing that the U.N. now needs to work out these logistics of how they get there, because of course, they have to cross the front line, they have to go into rebel controlled territory. So, those are things that need to be worked out now, but as of right now, they have the permission to go wherever they want -- Dana.

BASH: What does that tell you? The fact that the Syrian government is allowing them in to have what looks at least what they're saying is a pretty wide range of movement there. What does that tell you about how the Syrian government feels about these allegations?

PLEITGEN: Well, it's certainly (inaudible) and there's also taking a potential response by the U.S. and its allies very seriously. What's interesting over the past couple of days that you heard from organizations here in Syria that you normally never hear from, like, I've -- but many times that I've been here, I've never able to even to speak with an official from the Syrian military.

Yet, very quickly, they put out a statement saying that all of this was fabricated, that that air force has not used any chemical weapons now, but hearing foreign minister told me that they, from the beginning, were willing to let the weapons inspectors go there. However, they obviously needed to work all that out within their government institution, but now, that was going on.

He said that the government has nothing to hide, that the weapons inspectors are welcome to go there. He wouldn't say whether or not he believed that the rebels were behind the alleged chemical attacks that happened, but he said that his government has nothing to hide and they were more and willing to allow the weapons inspectors to go there.

But clearly, the Syrian government is getting the message that the international community is becoming very, very impatient and so they have actually for their standards moved very quick on this issue.

BASH: So to be clear, though, a still of flat denial from the Syrian deputy foreign minister that his government was responsible at all for any chemical attacks?

PLEITGEN: Absolutely. Still a flat out denial. He said that the Syrian forces would never use chemical weapons against Syrians. I confronted them with the fact that you have all these videos coming out, that you have doctors without borders saying that they have information that some 3,600 people were treated because they were apparently subject to some sort of nerve agent.

He still flat out, denied and said that his government did not do this. He said he couldn't speak to what was actually going on there, because this hurts that all of this happened, and the (inaudible) in rebel control are in the hands of the opposition, but there was still a very firm, very flat out denial that their forces were behind it.

BASH: Well, Fred, thank you very much. We're going to continue speaking with you and monitoring the situation and the fact that you were there on the ground with some old-fashioned shoe leather reporting, watching the U.N. inspectors go out to do their job is pretty remarkable. And Chris, thank you very much also for keeping us updated.

Meanwhile, President Obama hit the road this week, finding himself among friendly audiences at northeastern college where he criticized Republicans who want to block his signature legislation.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They're threatening to shut down the government and have another financial crisis, unless, for example, we get rid of the health care reform that we fought to pass and that's going to provide millions of people health care security for the first time. That won't create jobs. That's not going to help our economy. That doesn't strengthen the middle class.


BASH: One republican determined to defund Obamacare is freshman senator, Ted Cruz.


CRUZ: We've all seen this movie before. What happens next is President Obama and Harry Reid are going to scream and yell those mean, nasty Republicans are threatening to shut down the federal government. One side or the other has to blink, how do we win this fight? Don't blink.


BASH: Joining me now, Howard Dean, the former Vermont governor and chairman of the Democratic National Committee and Jim DeMint, former Republican North Carolina -- excuse me, South Carolina senator and currently the president of the conservative, Heritage Foundation.

Gentlemen, the clock is ticking on this fight over health care. Some of the provisions kick in on October 1st. Candy Crowley sat down with Sen. Ted Cruz to talk about all that and I want to play that and I want to talk about the fact that it actually started with another interesting political controversy and that is that is a question about Ted Cruz's birth place.


CROWLEY: I have to get this birth certificate off the table. I think it's fairly cool that you have dual citizenship. You could go run for the Canadian parliament. You can go run for president. What's wrong with that?

CRUZ: Well, look, I think it's the silly season in politics. I was born in 1970 in Calgary, Canada. My parents were working there in the oil and gas business. My mother was a U.S. citizen by birth, born in Wilmington, Delaware. And so, under U.S. law, I'm an American citizen by birth. And, when I was four, we moved back to Texas.

So, I grew up in Houston, Texas, always been my home. And when I was a kid, my mom told me that if I ever wanted to, I could affirmatively choose to claim Canadian citizenship, but I got a U.S. passport when I was in high school. I never did anything to affirmatively claim citizenship, so I thought that was the end of the matter.

And then the "Dallas Morning News" run a headline where they went and talk with some immigration lawyers that said technically, the immigration lawyers said that I still had dual citizenship. And so, the question was raised, well, if you do, would you renounce your Canadian citizenship? And I said, well, look, if that's right, then sure.

Because serving as a U.S. senator, I was an American by birth and serving as a U.S. senator, I think it's appropriate that I'd be only an American.

CROWLEY: And you know how it's being interpreted, though, with, oh, clearing the way for a 2016 presidential run. You want to get this issue off the table -- CRUZ: Listen, there's a lot of silliness. I thought it was a reasonable question when the "Dallas Morning News" asked for my birth certificate, so I gave it to them.

CROWLEY: Let me move you to health care, Texas has the highest percentage of uninsured citizens of any state. Let's say you're successful in defunding Obamacare, the next day, what do you tell those 6.2 or something million Texans?

CRUZ: Well, number one, Obamacare is the biggest job killer in this country. And there's bipartisan agreement that it isn't working, that it's killing jobs, that it's forcing people to have their hours forcibly reduced to 29 hours a week, that it's driving up the cost of health insurance, that it's causing people to lose their health insurance because businesses are dropping.

And so, the first thing I would say is the single biggest thing we can do to restore economic growth, to bring jobs back is to defund Obamacare.

CROWLEY: But that doesn't help those 6.2 million.

CRUZ: Well, it does, because those numbers -- if you keep seeing employers dropping health insurance, you'll see more and more people unable to afford health care, more and more people losing their health care. Look, once Obamacare is defunded and repealed, there's a great deal we can do on health care reform. I think three reforms are most important.

Number one, we should allow people to purchase health insurance in all 50 states. Right now, it's illegal --

CROWLEY: Cross state purchasing.

CRUZ: And the advantage of that, the biggest barrier to getting health insurance right now is cost, because many people can't afford health insurance.

CROWLEY: Do you think it's right that so many people in this country cannot afford health care and therefore do not have it?

CRUZ: Well, no, and that's why I want to fix that. Secondly, I think we need to expand health savings account, to make it easier to say in a tax advantage way to take care of prevention, to take care of routine medical needs. And third, I think we need to delink health insurance from employment.

If you or I get fired, you don't loses your car insurance, you don't lose your house insurance, you don't lose your life insurance. There's no reason you should lose your health insurance, and of all --


CRUZ: That's exactly right. We should have health insurance policies that are personal, that affordable.

CROWLEY: Are you getting calls in your office from people seeking direction on how to sign up in this health exchanges? Will you or have you helped those people?

CRUZ: You know, we have not been getting significant calls in that regard. We have been getting calls from people saying, please stop Obamacare. Please stop this train wreck. Would you help someone who called and said I want to sign --

CRUZ: Look, we have a major constituent service operation that helps anyone dealing with the government

CROWLEY: Including signing up for something you don't --

CRUZ: Oh, sure, sure. Look, it's the job of someone representing -- you know, I'm honored to represent 26 million Texans and dealing with the government is inherently frustrating. It's inherently confusing. And one of the things that our office takes very seriously is trying to help Americans deal with the government.

CROWLEY: Do you agree with the fact that if someone actually does not support defunding Obamacare, if there are Republican that they ought to be replaced?

CRUZ: What I agree with is I think now is the single best time to stop Obamacare, because there's bipartisan agreement that it's not working. The wheels are coming of. And because defunding it, if it doesn't happen now, it's likely never to happen. CROWLEY: The president is never going to sign a bill that defunds Obamacare.

CRUZ: You know, you may be convinced to that.

CROWLEY: You're not convinced to that?

CRUZ: I am not at all.

CROWLEY: This is his signature. This is what they consider his signature achievement, so far, of his administration in its fifth year.

CRUZ: Here's what I think should happen. The House of Representatives should pass a continuing resolution that funds the federal government in its entirety, every aspect of the federal government, except Obamacare, and it should explicitly prohibit any funding for Obamacare mandatory or discretionary. And I filed legislative language in the Senate to do that.

Now, the next stage, we know how this play goes forward. President Obama and Harry Reid will scream and holler that the mean nasty Republicans are threatening to shut down the government. And at that point, Republicans have to do something we haven't done in a long time. Stand up and win the argument.

We have to stand up and say, no, we want to keep the government open. We have voted to keep the government open, to fund the government. Why is President Obama threatening to shut the government down, to force Obamacare down the threats -- the throats of the American people.

CROWLEY: You will need 41 Republicans. How close were you?

CRUZ: We do not have the votes right now. We need 41 Republicans in the Senate or we need 218 Republicans in the House. And that will only happen, and you know what, this fights is likely to heat up in the month of September. That's going to be when the battle is engaged. And, I'm convinced there's a new paragon in politics that actually has Washington very uncomfortable.

It has politicians in both parties very uncomfortable. And that new paradigm is the rise of the grassroots, the ability of grassroots activist to demand of their elected officials they do the right thing. And I believe if we see a grassroots tsunami, that is going to cause Republicans and Democrats to listen to the people.

CROWLEY: But it's going to take a tsunami?

CRUZ: It is going to take a tsunami and I'm going to do everything I can to encourage that tsunami.

CROWLEY: But what about you lost? You lost. This has been put into law. I mean, this is the argument on the other side. It's already law, why not just get on board and try it? CRUZ: Because it's not working and it's hurting Americans. And by the way, the people it's hurting the most are the most vulnerable among us. The people who are losing their jobs are young people or Hispanics or African-Americans or single moms. I don't think that's fair, I don't think that's right.

CROWLEY: Let me move you on to a couple of political issues. One of them is, do you see yourself supporting incumbents during primary challenges or would you entertain supporting a challenge?

CRUZ: I have not made a definite decision on that. I think it is likely that I'll stay out of all incumbent races on either side.

CROWLEY: Would you support Mitch McConnell versus a Tea Party candidate? Would you support Lindsey Graham versus a Tea Party candidate? Would you support a Lamar Alexander versus a Tea Party candidate.

CRUZ: I think it is likely that I'll stay out of all incumbent races. Now, listen, I intend to be very involved in 2014 in open seats and working to help support strong conservative candidates. I think 2014 is a very favorable environment for Republicans to retake the Senate.

CROWLEY: Chris Christie in one of his latest moves as New Jersey governor has outlawed therapy designed to turn gay people straight for children 18 and under. What do you think of that decision?

CRUZ: You know, I like Chris Christie. I think he is a straight forward, brash sometimes blunt speaker. I think he's someone who has managed to stand up and defend his principles in a state that is historically not very friendly to Republicans. And I am glad for that. The decisions that states make locally about health care, I think are best left to the states.

CROWLEY: Could you see yourself on a ticket with Chris Christie?

CRUZ: You know, I am not going to speculate about the future. I can tell you, my focus is 100 percent on the U.S. Senate, because the Senate right now is the battleground.

CROWLEY: So, if it says -- if I read and I did that you were, quote, "seriously mulling" running in 2016, that's incorrect?

CRUZ: You know, I find it amusing these stories that speculate about I don't even know what seriously mulling means. What I can tell you --

CROWLEY: -- you really thinking about it.

CRUZ: I understand in the media, it's fun to cover the game. It's fun to cover politics all the time. But, we've got huge challenges in this country. I am a big, big believer that good policy makes good politics. That if you stand up, you'd do the right thing, need to roll up your sleeve, you try to work with Republicans, with Democrats, with anyone who'll work together to get our economy moving, to bring jobs back, but the rest of it the politics will take care of itself.


BASH: Politics will take care of itself. Well, we'll see about that. And joining us again is Democrat Howard Dean, and Republican Jim DeMint. I want to start with you both about the big issue at hand, the big issue that Ted Cruz is talking about, which of course, is Obamacare.

And Governor Dean, I talk to a lot of worried Democrats on Capitol Hill and elsewhere who say that Ted Cruz is able to gain traction because their constituents are concerned because the Obama administration didn't handle the implementation well. As a politician and as a doctor who knows the angst of patients not just voters, did the White House mess this up?

DEAN: No, all I can say is that was a very long interview with very little content in it. Ted Cruz may be a very good politician, but he certainly does not know anything about health care. First of all, Obamacare is in fact, as John McCain suggested in 2008 going to separate eventually, going to separate health care from employment.

That's actually a good idea which John McCain put forward, and that's going to happen gradually and carefully. Second of all, I don't want the Texas insurance commissioner being the commissioner up here in Vermont. And so buying insurance across state lines is a terrible idea. We've had universal health insurance for all our kids for 20 years.

They have 22 percent of their children uninsured in Texas. I don't want anything to do with Texas' health care system in Vermont and I don't want our people buying Texas health insurance. So, these are crazy ideas from the far right. He's a slick spokesman and God help us if he ever does get to be anything more than the senator from Texas.

BASH: Well, Senator DeMint, you are a friend of Senator Cruz, we'll let you respond to that, not to mention the fact that you agree with Sen. Cruz in terms of his prescription for what to do if not -- if Obamacare is no longer there.

DEMINT: Dana, good morning. Good morning to you, Howard. The real issue here -- Obamacare was passed under false pretenses. American people were lied to and they have every right to demand that their representatives stop this unfair and un-American law. As you know, we're traveling around the country getting people more informed about what this bill is really doing to their jobs and our economy.

Getting them inspired to be involved. Heritage Action is taking the lead on this to tell them how they can get involved as Senator Cruz was talking about. But federal health care is not going to provide good health care to Americans. You can't find a federal program that's working effectively. We need to make health insurance more affordable and available to every American. But it's not going to happen with a cash for clunkers style health care plan is going to come out of Washington. BASH: All right. Well, governor --

DEAN: I disagree -- Jim, I disagree with that. I think Medicare works pretty darn well and people like it and that's a federal program that works very well for people.

DEMINT: Howard, it's tens of trillions of dollars in debt, because it's been mismanaged at the federal level. It's going to leave huge debt on our children and more and more doctors won't even see a Medicare insured patient. So, it is not going to work for the future and it has not been designed well.

DEMINT: And as we put more people on Medicare and Medicaid and that's what Obamacare is going to do is push more people into Medicaid-style plans, fewer and fewer doctors are going to see these folks. So, we need to make sure people get health insurance that doctors will actually take.

BASH: OK, gentlemen. I know, governor, you want to jump in.


BASH: We're going to be able to talk a little bit more about that on the other side of the break. Stay with us, because I also want to ask you, particularly, Senator DeMint which Republicans ought to be replaced who are talking about Obamacare or maybe not talking about Obamacare.

And Joe Biden, was he President Obama's best political decision?


BASH: The battle over Obamacare has conservative activist groups going after one of their own.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Take Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell, on the issue of Obamacare, he says.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These laws are disaster and I want you to know we're not backing down from this fight.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But when he has the chance to defund Obamacare, some say he is chickening out. Senator McConnell, conservatives don't need a chicken when it comes to Obamacare. Leaders lead, but if you fund it, you own it.


BASH: More with Democrat Howard Dean and Republican Jim DeMint next.


BASH: We're back with Howard Dean and Jim DeMint. And Sen. DeMint, I want to start with you about the kind of fracture that this whole question that you're pushing out there on this tour about shutting down the government if Obamacare is funded, the fracture that it's causing within your party. I want to read our viewers a quote from you earlier this week.

You said, "I think President Obama knows that Republicans are afraid and if they are, they need to be replaced." Well, a fellow conservative group is actually going further than that, you can see the visual with chickens on the screen, talking about Mitch McConnell who, of course, was your former leader in the Senate, the Republican leader.

He is not signing on to your idea of demanding Obamacare be defunded or shut down the government. Do you think he needs to be replaced as leader or even as senator?

DEMINT: Well, the Heritage Foundation doesn't get involved with elections, but I have said on several occasions that if someone runs for office making a promise such as many did to stop Obamacare and then they say they're afraid to do that because they might lose the next election. My personal opinion is they should be replaced regardless of what party they're in.

But I can't speak for Republicans, but I can speak for millions of conservatives across the country that know that this is not going to help the uninsured in America. It's going to diminish health care for all Americans and we see that in every country around the world where national health care has been instituted.

BASH: And just to follow up on that, you can't talk about elections, but you can talk about your party, that's what you do at the Heritage Foundation. And specifically, the House, the only branch of government that's run by Republicans, House Speaker John Boehner also isn't too enthralled with your idea to shut down the government if Obamacare isn't defunded. Should he be replaced as speaker if he doesn't do that?

DEMINT: Well, the Heritage Foundation doesn't represent Republicans or Democrats.

BASH: You personally, senator. You personally, what do you think?

DEMINT: Well, what we think is that Obamacare is clearly a law that's going to hurt the American people. The president is not implementing it fairly. He's given exemptions for Congress, big business. We're saying this thing should be defunded, it should not go forward, the president is arbitrarily implementing the law. That's not law in America. So, we need to stop it and this is a time that it needs to be stopped.

BASH: OK. I just want to turn, since we're talking politics, to politics on the other side of the aisle. Governor Dean, Democratic politics. I want to play for you something that President Obama said about his vice president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OBAMA: It was the best decision that I ever made politically because I love this guy and he's got heart, and he cares about people and he's willing to fight for what he believes in. And he's got some Scranton in him.


BASH: That sounded, Governor, like a little bit of maybe a soft endorsement looking ahead to 2016. I know you told Jake Tapper earlier this week that you would support Hillary Clinton if she runs, but you're leaving the door open. Would the door still be open if Joe Biden were to run and not Hillary Clinton?

DEAN: Well, before we get to that, let me get a little equal time on health care. You know, I was not a supporter of Obamacare when it passed, I am now. I think this ought to be implemented. In our little medical office in Burlington, Vermont, we discovered that premiums are going to be cut in half for the five people who work from my wife and her partners. So, this is going to make a big difference. I disagree with both Jim and certainly Senator Cruz.

And it's going to help a lot of people. And it's going to -- I think it's going to improve health care significantly in this country. Now in terms of politics on the Democratic side. There's one thing that Jim DeMint and I can certainly agree on, this is much too early to be talking about this stuff. I'd expect President Obama to say something good about Joe Biden. And Joe Biden has been a great vice president. So this is all politics. This is all moving around. We'll see what happens but it's a little early.

BASH: It's a little early but I do well know that because you've done it before at this point maybe it's at this point maybe it's never too early to be thinking about it behind the scenes even if you don't want to talk about it in public.

Governor Dean, thank you very much. Senator DeMint, appreciate it. We will talk to you soon.

When we return, one of the president's closest Republican allies says he's keeping track of potentially impeachable offenses.



SEN. TOM COBURN (R), OKLAHOMA: I don't have the legal background to know if that rises to high crimes and misdemeanors. But I think they're getting perilously close.


BASH: Yes, that was president Obama's friend, his friend, Senator Tom Coburn responding to a question about impeaching him. Our panel is up next.


BASH: And with me now is CNN commentator Ross Douthat, Neera Tanden, president and CEO for the Center for American Progress, and CNN commentator Cornell Belcher, and Carly Fiorina chairman of Good360. Thank you all for joining us.

I want to start with what we showed our viewers before which is Tom Coburn, who is a very conservative Republican senator, but also people may not know a friend of President Obama from way back. Suggesting that maybe the I-word should be used, impeachment. Is that a good thing for Republicans to be doing right now?

ROSS DOUTHAT, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No. Probably not. But it's also, I mean, my guess and I admit that I have not seen the entire context of that clip, but my guess is that Senator Coburn was in the meeting with his constituents and got the kind of question that conservative Republicans, from conservative states get a lot, which is why haven't you impeached President Obama?

BASH: But he didn't shut it down.

DOUTHAT: He didn't shut it down, no. He ran with it for a minute and sort of let it linger there. And yes. I don't think - I don't think Tom Coburn actually wants to impeach President Obama, I think he gave a stupid answer to a stupid question.

CARLY FIORINA, GOOD360 CHAIRMAN: I actually think he was pretty circumspect and I think what the principal point he was trying to make obviously he was asked an awkward question and I think it's foolish for Republicans to even be discussing impeachment. But what he went on to say is that in his view this president has been incompetent in key matters. I think many people would agree with that. And secondly, that the executive branch has used power in a way that is arbitrary, capricious, and in many people's views unconstitutional.


CORNELL BELCHER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You could make that argument with every president (INAUDIBLE).

BASH: And Democrats made it about President Bush. Right.

BELCHER: (INAUDIBLE). This is the problem with our policy and why the policy is broken right now is because we have members and sort of leadership talking about impeaching the president. All of the sudden it's 1994 again. Also you have members of the Republican Party talking about impeachment again not learning lessons and shutting down the government.

BASH: But - let me interrupt you before I get (INAUDIBLE). Yes, he is talking about it, but it's not just sort of a fringe -- it's not just a fringe Republican, and more importantly part of the reason why --

BELCHER: You're talking about impeaching the president, yes, you are. BASH: Part of why Republicans and Democrats tend to do -- say these things that tend to be out there is because they're worried about challenges from the right or the left. He says he's not going to run against Tom Coburn -


DOUTHAT: Tom Coburn has not called to impeach the president.

BASH: Correct. Go ahead.

NEERA TANDEN, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS PRESIDENT AND CEO: OK. You're right. He had not called to impeach the president. Here's what the conversation -


BASH: Neera, go ahead.


TANDEN: Here is what the conversation amongst the right is, it's demonstrated on this show, how to shut down the government because they don't like heath care for all Americans. Whether or not we should impeach the president. It's true that they're not, you know, are issuing articles of impeachment. But the truth is the far right of this country is talking about impeaching the president. It's on talk radio every day and leaders are scared of saying no to it. And that's what you have Coburn is saying -- instead of just saying, you know, that's ridiculous. If a Democrat was asked questions like that about George Bush, usually they said, that's ridiculous. Not on the Republican side because they're scared. No, because they're scared of the far right, they're scared of the Ted Cruz.

DOUTHAT: If you go back to 2004 to 2008, though, you can very easily find prominent Democrats, in Congress included, saying --


BASH: Can I -- since we're talking about kind of members of Congress who could maybe be more mainstream in their policies or afraid of the fringe. I want to actually -- I think we have a sound bite from President Obama talking to Chris Cuomo on CNN this past week, about what Republicans privately tell him about why they may or may not go with these policies. Listen to this.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Sometimes they say to me privately, I agree with you. But, I'm worried about a primary from, you know, somebody in the tea party back in my district. Or I'm worried about what Rush Limbaugh is going to stay about me on the radio. And so you got to understand it's really difficult.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're (ph) worried about Ted Cruz.

BASH: Actually Carly, you ran in a pretty blue state so you know -

FIORINA: California.

BASH: California, a very blue state. So you know what it's like to have the pressures from both sides. I know I've talked to Republicans and Democrats who say that they're concerned about primaries just because of the nature of the way our politics are right now. But what do you make of that?

FIORINA: Well first of all I think it is true that far too many politicians on both sides of the aisles spend more time worrying about staying in office than they do about doing the people's business. And I think it's why so many Americans are frustrated with politics. On the other hand, I think frankly while it was a great kudos to CNN and Chris Cuomo to get that interview with President Obama, I think he looked unbelievably weak and ineffective. Because every question he was asked basically his answers was it's somebody else's fault. And in particular it's Republican's fault. That makes him look weak.

BASH: OK. I will let you respond to that - (CROSSTALK)

BELCHER: Defunding the government, that's the president's fault. Congress has a job, the job of the Congress is to pass the budget and to pay our bills and they have an issue with doing that. Now the broader problem is this. You can see the last time I was on this show was actually with Congressman King taking on another tea partier. I'm going to push back on this idea that it's equivalent because quite frankly I wish more Democrats were being challenged in primaries than they are right now. What you see on the right is very different. There is a civil war going on in the Republican Party, most Republicans even acknowledge that. The problem is we are now suffering the consequences of the civil war with a completely dysfunctional Congress and people in Congress on the right worry more about the -


TANDEN: What I think is interesting about the whole conversation is that you have Republicans on this show threatening to shut down the government over Obamacare and then Republican commentators saying, well the president looks weak because he has to deal with these crazy people.

BASH: You're a Republican commentator, do you agree with Carly -


DOUTHAT: I think there's an underlying issue here in the government shutdown fight which is that the health care bill is still very unpopular. And this is -- the reality that emboldens someone like Ted Cruz and emboldens conservative Republicans to pick this kind of fights is precisely the fact (ph) that the bill is still unpopular.

BASH: OK. Guys, I'm sorry - I'm sorry. I have to --

BELCHER: Newspapers say that it was driving down prices in New York because they're -


BASH: All right. Thank you very much. Listen, this just shows that this is a very important and interesting debate and we will continue. Ross, Neera, Cornell and Carly thank you very much. And when we return, we're going to go to something that is very important happening here in Washington this weekend and a man who's the youngest on the March on Washington's keynote speakers and is the only surviving member of that group, Congressman John Lewis is next. And later hear from the man who inspired is Ted Cruz, his father, Rafael.


BASH: Congressman John Lewis marched with martin Luther King Jr., sat in at segregated lunch countering and literary bled for the right to vote. Now as America march the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington he is reaching out to a new generation with a graphic novel and his story of the civil rights movement.


LEWIS: Are you the boy from Troy? Are you John Lewis? I just want to meet the boy from Troy. I was so scared. Who is this young man who wants to desegregate Troy state? I didn't know what to say or what to do. Dr. King, I am John Robert Lewis. I said my whole name. When I met Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., it changed my life.


BASH: Congressman John Lewis on race in America then and now when we come back.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They come from the north, the south, the east and west. They come united in one cause, that today's gathering is the largest in Washington's history.

BASH: Wednesday is the 50th anniversary of the 1963 march on Washington. Thousands will commemorate the event with a march for jobs and justice beginning at the labor department with a call for more government action to address high unemployment. Then a stop at the justice department urging a federal civil rights suit against George Zimmerman, who was acquitted of the killing of Trayvon Martin. The march will pass the Washington monument and the World War II Memorial before ending at the Lincoln Memorial with speeches by presidents Obama, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter. Thousands gathered on the National Mall Saturday to mark the anniversary.

The only surviving keynote speaker of the original march 50 years ago, Congressman John Lewis spoke of that event.

LEWIS: I stood right here in this spot.

BASH: He has just written a graphic novel to coincide with this week's event. Candy spoke with John Lewis.


CROWLEY: Why the graphic novel?

LEWIS: Well, I felt strongly that we needed to do something, to write something, to put it down, to tell the story for another generation, for children, and for people not so young.

CROWLEY: What do you think they don't know about it now?

LEWIS: I wanted young people to understand what it was all about, that we accepted the way of peace, the way of love, the way of nonviolence. That we were beaten and arrested and went to jail and we didn't become bitter or hostile. That we never gave up because we wanted to be what Dr. King called the beloved community. CROWLEY: I want to play something for you that President Obama said. This was in the wake of the Trayvon Martin case and the jury verdict.

OBAMA: We need to spend some time thinking about how do we bolster and reinforce our African-American boys. Is there more that we can do to give them a sense that their country cares about them and values them and is willing to invest in them.

CROWLEY: What is it the president is talking about?

LEWIS: We needed a president, a man like Barack Obama, to say that. And maybe, just give these young men, not just African- American, but all young men a greater sense of hope, to instill in them some values. During the height of the civil rights movement, we grew up, we had something to stand up for. We had something to believe in. I grew up, I literally grew up on lunch counter stools and going on the freedom ride, I participated in a march.

CROWLEY: A feeling of purpose you're talking about.

LEWIS: You had a sense of purpose. You had goals that we wanted to desegregate the lunch counters, the restaurants, to gain the right to vote.

CROWLEY: When you look back on that day 50 years ago on the Mall, you have talked about it as a key moment in the civil rights movement. So many people have said it's pivotal. What did it change?

LEWIS: The march on Washington was a significant turning point. We had people coming from all over America. And even Americans living abroad, they left France, they left England, they got on planes and they came to Washington. There were people black and white, Latinos, Asian-American, Native American, wanted to bear witness to something. They wanted to petition the government. Members of Congress, the president. And it said through their numbers and through their sense of order and dignity that America would never, ever be the same. You know, President Kennedy didn't like the idea of a march on Washington. He said if you bring all these people to Washington, there will be violence and chaos and disorder. You'll never get a civil rights bill through the Congress. But when the march was all over and Dr. King had delivered that magnificent "I have a dream" speech, the president welcomed us back down to the White House. He stood in the door of the oval office beaming like a proud father, greeting each one of us. He shook our hands and he said you did a good job, you did a good job. And when he got to Dr. King, he said, and you had a dream.

CROWLEY: Congressman John Lewis, you know it's always a pleasure to have you here. Thank you so much.

LEWIS: Thank you so much for having me.


BASH: And when we return, the man who helped shape Republican Senator Ted Cruz's politics, his father, Rafael. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BASH: He fled Cuba in 1957 after being tortured and imprisoned. Now a pastor in Texas, Rafael Cruz talked to Candy about what inspired his son's politics and a possible presidential run.


CROWLEY: So it's not often I get to interview the dad and the son together, so I'm just going to run through the questions he wouldn't answer. Is he running for president? RAFAEL CRUZ, FATHER OF TEXAS SENATOR TED CRUZ: I don't see him running for president. He is standing up for principle in the Senate and I'm very proud of him doing that.

CROWLEY: And would you like him to?

R. CRUZ: I think that is the future -- nobody knows what the future brings.

CROWLEY: Did you want him to get into politics?

R. CRUZ: I think politics has been a part of our lives ever since he was 8, 9 years old. 1979, 1980 I was very much involved in the grassroots level in helping Ronald Reagan get elected. Of course our conversation around the dinner table was all about politics.

CRUZ: When I was a kid my dad used to say over and over again, when I was 2, 3, 4, 5 years old, when we faced oppression in Cuba, I had a place to flee to. If we lose our freedom here, where do we go? And I will tell you, it is an incredible blessing to be the child of an immigrant who fled oppression, because it makes you realize how precious and how fragile the freedom is that we have here in America.


BASH: Head to for more of Candy's interview with Senator Ted Cruz and his father. I'm Dana Bash in for Candy Crowley. Fareed Zakaria, GPS, is next.