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State of the Union

Interview With Texas Congressman Henry Cuellar; Interview With Murrieta, California, Mayor Alan Long; Culture Wars

Aired July 06, 2014 - 09:00   ET


CANDY CROWLEY, CNN ANCHOR: Fear and desperation along the U.S.- Mexican border, angst and defiance on a city's Main Street.

Today, live from the Texas front lines, Congressman Henry Cuellar pleading, demanding solutions for the thousands of children and teens caught in the political crosshairs of America's immigration struggle.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're not going to stand for it. That's just how it.


CROWLEY: The California town that said no. Murrieta Mayor Alan Long joins us from city hall.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Separate church and state.




JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: President Obama believes that women should make personal health care decisions for themselves, rather than their bosses deciding for them.


CROWLEY: Birth control, religion and the ballot box. A Supreme Court decision reignites the culture wars.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Captain, this is Admiral Howard. A U.S.- flagged cargo ship, the Maersk Alabama, has been hijacked.


CROWLEY: She led the rescue of the real Captain Phillips. Now the Navy's master and commander on the high seas moves her story from the big screen to the history books.


Good morning from Washington. I'm Candy Crowley.

Immigration reform, both legal and illegal, long on the back- burner in Congress, but front and center across the country almost always. Today, two men involved in the headline this week, live from Laredo, Texas. That's the Mexican border you see just across from him on the other side of the Rio Grande. That's Democratic Congressman Henry Cuellar, and from the California town that screamed down busloads of undocumented children and mothers, Murrieta Mayor Alan Long.

Mayor, we will be with you in a moment.

First to Texas and Congressman Cuellar.

Let me ask you first for conditions. Your office was kind enough to send us some pictures of one of the processing centers that you visited. So describe the situation to me now, both in terms of the numbers of children coming across on a daily basis. Where are they? Who is taking care of them?

REP. HENRY CUELLAR (D), TEXAS: Well, first of all, just this month of may, we had just on the Texas border, Border Patrol detained 48,000 individuals; 9,700 of them were kids coming in with no parents, so you can see that the Border Patrol is having a challenging time.

There's just not enough facilities that can hold that many individuals, as those pictures have shown, and the other thing is not enough detention spaces, so, therefore, adults are being held and then there's about 20 to 25 flights a week that ICE will send back to Central America, some from Laredo, El Paso and, of course, Brownsville.

But if you're a woman, a mother with a child, then they're being dropped off. In fact, every week in this area, down here in South Texas, about 500 individuals are being released at the bus station. And, of course, if you're a kid with no parent, you're being sent off to Lackland Air Force Base or some other places.

So, therefore, we're seeing large numbers of individuals coming in. But let me remind you, Candy, this is the not the first time we have seen this. We have seen this in the 1980s with people from Cuba and of course from El Salvador. But we had a civil war in El Salvador.

And, of course, about 10 years ago, the Brazilians were coming in because Mexico didn't call for a visa, so they were coming in through into the U.S. So, we have seen these type of surges before in the past, except this is a little different, a little different, because you got so many kids with no parents coming in with them at that time.

CROWLEY: And tell me -- first of all, let me just make sure I have this figure correct. In the last month, so I'm assuming that means in June, 9,000 unaccompanied kids presented at the border, 9,000 in a month?

CUELLAR: That was the month -- that was the month of May. We're waiting for the numbers for June, but they should be almost the same.

Just the month of May this year, 9,700 kids with no parents at all. I have seen them. I have talked to them. In fact, I was here with the first lady of Honduras. We got to see some of the young kids there at the Border Patrol station in McAllen. Then we went over to the Lackland Air Force and we got to see them where HHS, the Health and Human Services, was taking care of them.

So, we have seen them when -- right when they are detained.


CUELLAR: And, of course, we have seen them when they are held at one of the facilities like Lackland before they're turned over to a family member or a foster home.

CROWLEY: Right, and the reason that I'm -- I stopped at that 9,000 figure here is, I want to show our audience some yearly figures that we have.

The source here is "The Los Angeles Times." It printed an article this morning. And this is unaccompanied children appointed -- apprehended from El Salvador, Guatemala or Honduras.

In the fiscal year 2012, 10,000 for the entire year -- then it doubled the next year to 20,000, and it had from last year to date 39,000. So, you know, putting that on top of you're saying 9,000 are coming a month, why now? Why are they coming?

CUELLAR: Well, first of all, this just didn't happen.

You're right. I have seen those numbers. They have increased. In 2009, we had a little bit close to 6,000 kids. Last year, we had over 25,000. Of course, now we're seeing a larger number at this time. When we were with Border Patrol, they tell us that a lot of those kids are coming in from the border of Guatemala and Mexico because there's really not a lot of security down there.

And they're -- a lot of them primarily are coming in buses. I emphasize in buses. This is what Border Patrol intelligence is telling us. So, they're resent over by..

CROWLEY: But why, Congressman? Why are -- why are they coming in such numbers? What do you think prompts these numbers right now?

CUELLAR: Well, this is my opinion.

One, of course, we do have the poverty and the violence down there in those three Central American countries. At the same time, I think the organizations, drug organizations, smuggling organizations, many times the same people, are making a lot of money.

Look at this. If we had 48,000 that came in, in the month of May into Texas, just Texas, multiply that by an average of $5,000 -- they charge from $4,000 to $6,000, maybe a little bit more, maybe a little bit less, $5,000 -- 48,000 times five, that would tell you just the month of May, the organizations made $240 million.

And that doesn't even include the drugs they're trying to -- that they have trying to smuggle into the U.S., so it's a big-money situation, because think about it. Why are they all coming in through South Texas? A lot of it is because the organizations are trying to flood the zones and come in.

They know there is a law that says that if you are an adult, you're going to be sent back. You're going to be flown back if you're a Central American, but if you're a mother with kids or a child with no kids under the 2008 Human Trafficking Act, people are treated differently.


CUELLAR: As you know, if you're a Mexican, you get sent back. Mother, kids, adults, you're sent back, but if you're a noncontiguous country like the Central American countries...


CUELLAR: ... then the law says that you are going to be held, Health and Human Services, and they're going to place you. And that's the law that we need to change right now.

CROWLEY: Congressman, last question before I turn to the mayor, and that is, when you saw the video of protesters blocking the buses of the moms and the children or the unaccompanied minors that was trying to reach a processing center near Murrieta, California, what was your reaction to that demonstration?

CUELLAR: Well, you know, certainly, you know, I understand that anti-immigrant individuals have the right to protest and pro- immigrants have to -- have the right to protest.

The only thing is, we got to keep this civil. When I -- when we hear that some of the anti-immigrants were spitting on Lupillo Rivera, the Mexican-American singer, that type of aggression should be calmed, should not be taking place. We -- people have the right to do this, but, again, the American public is frustrated. And, again, we can work on this, and we can get the detention spaces, we can remove them, take care of the kids, but remove them and put them in the right day -- caregivers in those countries.


All right, Mayor Long, I want to turn to you now. As the mayor of Murrieta, can you tell me -- very often, anger --

and we saw a lot of that in this protest -- derives from fear of something. What was the fear in this case that caused -- prompted people, not all of them from Murrieta, but prompted some Murrieta citizens to be so angry about this turn of events?


A very small town here in Murrieta, all of a sudden, we had a national problem end up on our doorsteps. And we had some local residents with some legitimate concerns. I think most of the angry people that you saw protesting were from out of town.

Like I said, this is a national problem, and the world showed up on our doorsteps. We didn't have a lot of answers early on, and there were some legitimate concerns, health concerns and humane concerns. People were concerned about the people, the immigrants coming here. Would they have proper facilities? Who is going to take care of them? How long is this going to be for?

And those were questions that we just didn't get any answers to.


Mr. Mayor, you know, as you look at these protests -- and I will grant you right up front I did not cover them -- but, as you look at these protests, that it was the overwhelming concern didn't seem to be, oh, my goodness, the poor children -- that was mentioned -- but the overwhelming concern seemed to be, go away, not here.

If this is an American concern, are you at all rethinking the idea that a town can turn away busloads of children without documents who are headed to a federal processing center?

LONG: Right, and absolutely.

You know, we live in a democracy. I can't tell people who to do. We had a very large crowd. There was a lot of emotions on both sides.

CROWLEY: Right, but you could clear the streets, right?

LONG: My job was to make sure -- we did.

And if you look at the film, the police -- the police officers did intervene for the safety of the buses. They stood between the protesters and the buses. What the story didn't cover and didn't show and didn't tell was, the police officers did not have the equipment nor the staffing to deal with the crowd. They had mutual aid on its way.

The Border Patrol made the decision to divert the buses before that mutual aid showed up.

CROWLEY: Congressman Cuellar, Mayor Long, I want you to stick with me now. I have to sneak in a commercial break. Mayor Long, I'm going to come back with you. With hundreds more

immigrant kids arriving every 72 hours to various places, would the people of Murrieta turn them away again?

I want to ask you that right after the break.


UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: Hobby Lobby wins! Hobby Lobby wins!




CROWLEY: Thousands of undocumented immigrants, now that they're here, how should the government handle the escalating humanitarian crisis?

I am back with Congressman Henry Cuellar live from Laredo and Mayor Alan Long. He's with us from Murrieta, California.

Mr. Mayor, just flat out, if this were to ever occur again, and it's three busloads, 140 children, children with their mothers or unaccompanied children do arrive at Murrieta to try to get to that federal facility, would you ensure that that happened this time?

LONG: You know, our plan this entire time was to make sure we provided the safety for everyone, protesters on both sides and anyone who comes through the city of Murrieta.

And that plan still is in place. So, depending on what the Border Patrol decides to do, that really is up to them. But, again, our plan always had the safety of everyone in mind.

You know, I would like to talk about these human lives, because that's really what this is about. And, you know, when you talk about this system and what this system is luring these people into, it's horrific. The system that is in place right now lures these people into thinking they're coming to a better place, but, on that journey, one-third of the females, some younger, in their teens, are raped along the way.

And that's a broken system. We have to fix that. We have got to work together, Congressman, to fix that.

CROWLEY: Congressman, go ahead.

Let me just quickly, Mr. Mayor, if you will, just to try to get an answer to the question. Did you feel these children were not safe in Murrieta? I'm trying to understand what the answer to the question is.

LONG: Yes.

CROWLEY: Would you try to clear the roads and make sure that whoever is on those buses gets to the processing center?

LONG: That was always the plan.

The buses -- we expected the buses to enter the Border Patrol facility and the processing to take place there. What we object to is, we object to inhumane facilities. If you look at the Border Patrol, those are jail cells. I inspected them personally. It's a jail cell.

That facility can only process 25 per eight-hour shift, and if you look at the numbers we're talking about, I think immigrants would have been queued up in a facility that does not have the ability or the capacity to hold them long-term, and that's just not right either.

CROWLEY: Congressman, your response to that? The mayor says, look, we just -- our facilities can't handle this.

And I take it that the Texas facilities are overflowing. Some of these children are in jail cells.

CUELLAR: Well, yes. I have been to those detention spaces. Many a times, they're supposed to be only for a small number of individuals.

And, as my pictures have shown, that they -- that they're just being overwhelmed. They're processing them as quickly as possible. As you know, under the law, Border Patrol should move those individuals out in 72 hours. And, again, if you're a mother with children, you are going to be put at a bus station, 500 a day just in South Texas that they're releasing.

And if you're a child, then, of course, they're going to send you somewhere else, Health and Human Services, after they're being processed. So those numbers are overwhelming. And, again, keep in mind, this is not a Mexican problem. It's a Central American problem.


CUELLAR: It's not the first time we have seen a surge, and we should have been ready for this surge. The administration should have been ready.


CROWLEY: Well, I think you both agree the administration, you don't feel, was ready.

Let me ask you, Congressman, do you think the president will get the $2 billion plus that he's asking for to meet this emergency situation, with more help at the border, more social workers to deal with the children?

CUELLAR: Well, again, we got Border Patrol securing the border right now, as you can see behind us.

But the president has asked for some money. He certainly can move some moneys around, and we can handle that at the end if we want to. Again, let's keep in mind, with all due respect to the administration, they're one step behind.

They should have seen this coming a long time ago. They should have seen this a long time ago, because we saw those numbers increasing. We're hoping that we can get that money, so we can provide more detention spaces, more flights down there. And, again, if we put those young children and those mothers and the right caregivers in those countries, I think this would solve -- there is an incentive, there is an incentive that, if you bring a child over here or your child by themselves, you're going to be let go.

And that's exactly what is happening. Our immigration courts are so backlogged, there's not enough detention spaces. And, therefore, this is the incentive that we have to take away. And that's the 2008 human trafficking law that needs to be changed at this time.

CROWLEY: Congressman -- Congressman, I want to give the mayor the last word, because I hear him agreeing with you.



CROWLEY: But, first, before I leave the congressman, President Obama is coming to Texas this week. As I understand it, at least thus far, he has no plans to visit the border.

How does that strike you?

CUELLAR: Well, again, it would be nice for him to come down to the border. But, again, with all due respect, I think he still is one step behind.

They knew this was happening a year ago, last year. And, again, they're just over -- they're not reacting fast enough at this time, in my personal opinion.

CROWLEY: And, Mayor Long, to you for the -- for the last question.

LONG: Yes.

CROWLEY: You -- you heard the congressman. You agreed with him.

Look, the administration wasn't ready for this. The facilities are woefully lacking for children of the ages in which they're coming across. But the truth is, they're overloaded in Texas as well. They need to put them someplace.

You say that you don't think Murrieta can possibly handle 140 children in 72 hours. They're having the same problems in Texas. What do you suggest that, right now, setting aside who's to blame and who was prepared and who wasn't, right now...

LONG: Right. CROWLEY: ... where do those children go?

LONG: Well, let me just address one thing first.

Remember, they told us 500 per every 72 originally. Then it was 300. We started asking questions. What about the health screen? They assured us they were screened three different times. Come to find out that wasn't an efficient process. They had to take -- after traveling halfway across the nation, they had to take them to the hospital for high fevers and scabies and possible T.B.

These are the types of things where these people, these human lives are not being taken care of. And they should be taken care of as they cross the border. Our military is able to set up cities in Third World countries all over the world, and we can't set up temporary facilities?

And like the congressman said, this happened in the '80s. It did happen in the '80s. We should have been prepared for it. And we should have a flexible system that's mobile, so when this happens the next decade, we can take that mobile facility to wherever the problem has happened.

But the bottom line is, those people, those human beings should be cared for immediately as they cross the border, not shipped halfway across the nation, and then dumped on the doorsteps. If the administration in Texas can't handle it, how can a town of 106 handle this problem?

CROWLEY: Understanding, it's not like California is halfway across the nation from Texas.

But, again, just to the question, where should these children go now? We don't have that mobile city they can set up. It's not there. So there's a now urgency to it. Where should they go?

LONG: Right.

You're correct. And we are dealing with the federal problem. And that needs to be fixed, but that's the long-term solution. The short-term solution is, once they're here, once these people are here, we need to treat them with compassion. We need to treat them with caring hearts.

And I guarantee you, if a bus were arrive at the Murrieta Border Patrol, and those aliens were here, you would see that. We would treat them with compassion. The unfortunate part is, that never occurred. Again, this is a democracy.

For whatever reason, the bus was turned around. I'm not going to deal with that now. That happened. It wasn't anyone's call. What I'm telling you right now, if those buses were to arrive here tomorrow, and enter the Border Patrol facility, you would see what Murrieta is known for.

And that is a caring, compassionate community. I can't speak for the rest of the world that showed up at our doorsteps. This is a huge national problem, and drew a lot of emotions on both sides of the protest line.

CROWLEY: It is a huge problem, as both of you, I think, have outlined pretty fully this morning.

I want to thank you both.

Congressman Cuellar of Laredo, Mayor Long in Murrieta, California, we appreciate it.

CUELLAR: Thank you.


CROWLEY: Speaker Boehner is accusing President Obama of abandoning the Constitution. A CNN exclusive: The top Republican in the House explains why he's suing the commander in chief.


CROWLEY: The Republican speaker of the House, Representative John Boehner, is filing suit against the president of the United States.

Joining me around the table Sean Spicer, communications director for the Republican National Committee, and his Democratic counterpart, Mo Elleithee, radio talk show host Stephanie Miller, and Carly Fiorina, creator of a new super PAC aimed at finding women voters for Republicans.

Let me start out with this, because in an op-ed that he wrote for, the speaker lays out his case for this suit that he wants to file.

He says, the president is simply not living up to his constitutional duties. He says, in part: "The president has circumvented the American people and their elected representatives through executive action, changing and creating his own laws, and excusing himself from enforcing statutes he is sworn to uphold -- at times even boasting about his willingness to do it, as if daring the American people to stop him. And that's why, later this month, we will bring legislation to the House floor that would authorize the House of Representatives to file suit in an effort to compel President Obama to follow his oath of office and faithfully execute the laws of our country."

And just so we get in the other side, here was the president's reaction to some of the things that he has done, because, of course, he says, but Congress is not acting, so I will. Here's what he had to say.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I might have said in the heat of the moment during one of these debates, I want to raise the minimum wage, so sue me when I do.



CROWLEY: So, this was not an attitude the Republicans appreciated, I must say, the, "So sue me."

What is this about? Is this a real lawsuit to force the president? Is this a midterm lawsuit? What's going on here?

STEPHANIE MILLER, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: There you go, midterm stunt, Candy.

I mean, this is -- just when the American people thought there was going to be nothing sillier to sue or impeach the president over other than oral sex, the Republicans have come up with a new non- reason.

As we all know, President Bush had way more executive orders than President Obama. As he said the other day, I'm not going to apologize for doing something, when they're doing nothing.

You can look at any chart. You know the numbers, unprecedented obstructionism, unprecedented number of filibusters. And I think the American people know it.

CROWLEY: Go ahead, Sean.

SEAN SPICER, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: Well, I was going to say, look, the reason that this is fundamentally different than ever has happened before is for -- in the last three years alone, 13 times, the Supreme Court, unanimously, 9-0, including all of the president's liberal picks, have struck down the president's executive orders.

This is fundamentally unconstitutional. And what the speaker is saying is that the House of Representatives and the Senate have a role, defined by our Constitution, in which that's how the process works.

The president may get frustrated. The president may not like it, but that doesn't mean he can go around them. And the court, all of the justices, from the most liberal to the conservative, have agreed with what Speaker Boehner is trying do, because, 13 times in three years, they have said what the president has done has been a constitutional overreach.

CROWLEY: I mean, this is not an old tension, but it does seem to have taken on kind of new urgency. We're at a different level than we normally are when the executive branch fights with the legislative branch.

MO ELLEITHEE, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: Yes. And I think that's because we are so close to a midterm election

date. And everything that this Congress, that this House Republican leadership has -- has focused on over the course of the past year has been focused on turning out their base. That's all that is, whether it is yet another vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act, whether it is a yet another hearing on Benghazi, whether it is now suing the president and some members of Congress, talking about impeaching the president, this is about ginning up their base.

The Republican leadership in the House of Representatives is at historic lows in terms of its public opinion. People are tired of this. They are tired of a Congress that would rather fight the president in order to turn out their base than work with the president to get things done.

CROWLEY: Go ahead, Carly.

FIORINA: You know, I think the act -- President Obama's act of, I can't get anything done because the Republicans won't let me, it's getting old and that's what the majority of American people think it's getting old. And that's why the majority of American people think he can't get the job done. Unfortunately, when you continue to use as campaign rhetoric the Republicans won't let me get anything done and they're not doing anything themselves the facts aren't on his side.

Forty pieces of job-creating legislation, all of them blocked by Harry Reid and the Democratic Senate. So I actually think the American people are figuring this out, and honestly, with all the problems we have in this nation, for the President's only answer for the last two and a half years to be, I can't get anything done because the Republicans won't let me makes him look weak, not strong, makes him look like he cannot lead and that's what the American people have concluded.

CROWLEY: Let me turn you, since I have your attention now (ph) I want to turn you to your latest effort here, which is what looks like a pretty daunting task, which is to attract more women to the Republican Party. This has been a not for married women because married women, white women, tend to vote Republican and did vote heavily for Romney, but single women, minority women have been repelled by the Republican Party. Why? And how do you fix it?

FIORINA: Well, first of all we're focusing on a ground game in six states, not all over the entire country, although hopefully we -- these techniques will work. But we're taking it on now because, frankly, a lot of women, me included, are sick of the war on women, and we saw it in spades on Monday, after the hobby lobby case which the women of hobby lobby had access to contraception through their company insurance plan before Obamacare. They have access to contraception free, 16 forms of it, after this ruling but somehow you know, this is the long arm of business and the Republican Party reaching into the body of women. It's ridiculous.

I am reminded, I bought a prop. My husband and I were having Chinese food the other day and I opened my fortune cookie. And here's what my fortune said, "strong and bitter words indicate a weak cause," and that's exactly right. The war on women is shameless, baseless propaganda. There is no fact to it but it has worked because it scared women to death enough, enough.

CROWLEY: Let me ask you, Stephanie, about the culture wars, because it does seems to me that on Monday you could think, wow, it's culture wars two. This had to do with birth control but on any number of issues whether it's gay rights, whether it's climate change, the president has put these issues front and center. And if the culture wars are back, and if they play out at the ballot box, who does that favor?

MILLER: Well, first of all, Candy, I was not told we could bring props.

CROWLEY: You can, any time.

MILLER: I did not expect Carly Fiorina to be the carrot top of this panel, but I think, and by the way I respect you as a woman very much and your accomplishments. I even read that you studied medieval history...


MILLER: ...which I think will come in handy trying to defend the Republican war on women, but you know, Candy, every woman I know is furious about the hobby lobby decision. 98 percent of catholic women use birth control. This is not just a war against women. This is --

FIORINA: And they have 16 forms of it.

MILLER: This is a war against science, Carly.

FIORINA: Oh for heaven's sakes.

MILLER: Because these religious, you know, people believe certain drugs cause abortion. Doctors and scientists say they do not so they actually prevent implantation, they prevent abortion.

FIORINA: So, now we should mandate 20 forms of contraception for free, for free, that's what they get.


MILLER: How do you say you're small government and get the government involved in those personal decisions between a woman and her doctor?

FIORINA: This is crazy to me. Your arguments are so counter- factual. Twenty forms of birth control --

MILLER: This is already -


FIORINA: Twenty forms of birth control are mandated, and by the way, not by Obama Obamacare. They're mandated by some HHS bureaucrats who go into the basement and write a regulation after Obamacare passes and they decide, elected by no one, accountable to no one, they decide 20 forms of birth control have to be offered for free --

CROWLEY: Let me try to get Judge Ginsburg in here.

MILLER (ph): Absolutely right. Judge Ginsburg was making a political statement not a legal statement.

CROWLEY: I want to just go a little 50,000 foot here and tell me whether the culture wars are back, and how do you frame -- let's just take the birth control issue and the Supreme Court decision.

MILLER (ph): Which was about religious liberty, not access to birth control.

CROWLEY: I think religious liberty and Obamacare is how the Republicans go at it and the war on women is how Democrats go at it.

SPICER: I think - and there's also a - kind of touching my earlier point there's a constitutional overreach which is that Obamacare comes in and undermines the ability of - and that's what the court ruled that this was a constitutional overreach and continues to be, not just this but this entire administration continues to think that these issues are such.

But when it comes to your question, is this a culture war? I think Carly pointed early we passed -- the House has passed over 100 bills to the Senate that deal with job creation and regulation. That's what our focus has been. The number one focus of the American people has been jobs and the economy. That's what the House Republicans which is the only -- we control one-half of one branch of government and --

CROWLEY (ph): Sean, I --

SPICER: And that's what why we have - hold on. Hold on. That's what we have done. The interesting thing about the culture war is it's been the Democrats who have scared folks into deciding because they can't compete on jobs and the economy, they have no agenda.


CROWLEY: Mo - let me -- let Mo get in.

ELLEITHEE: I can't get you away with that. I cannot let you make that point and get away with it because it is the Republican Party and state legislatures and in the Congress that put forward efforts to defund planned parenthood that mandate transvaginal ultrasounds. OK?


MILLER: (INAUDIBLE) talking about the Republican Congress doing nothing.

(CROSSTALK) FIORINA: Let Obama issue an executive orders.

ELLEITHEE: Let me make one point. I think Sean and I are probably the least qualified people on this set to talk about women's health issues but I do think we need to look at this is more than just health issues and these are economic issues. And when legislators, when people are telling a woman what sort of health care she can and cannot, which class of health care she can and cannot have, that becomes an economic issue. When Republicans -- hold on, hold on.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Supreme Court just did it.

ELLEITHEE: Hold on a second. Hold on a second. When Republicans --

CROWLEY: Mo, finish up because I have to take a break here.

ELLEITHEE: When Republicans are standing in the way of equal pay for women, that's an economic issue. There's an economic agenda here that I think is -


CROWLEY: We'll continue this conversation during the break. When we return we'll get to their points. They may disagree on policy though something else we want to show you.

Hillary Clinton and our own Carly Fiorina have an awful lot in common when you look a little closer.


CROWLEY: I am back with Carly Fiorina, Mo Elleithee, Sean Spicer and Stephanie Miller.

OK. Everybody (INAUDIBLE) the economy. I think that's really what people are going to vote on.

So, we have unemployment falling again in June, pretty good numbers for five months. I mean maybe not good enough but strong.

MILLER: It must have been all those jobs bills the Republicans didn't get passed.

SPICER: There are three main points that I want to make. The unemployment rate dropped, that's true, but you got to remember three things. One, the labor, we're at 59 percent participation in the labor force, that's down four points from below where the recession started. Meaning that there are less people actually working right now.

When you look at what they call the U6 number, which is comprehensive unemployment, actually people who would want to work it's 12.1. So, the real unemployment is 12.1 percent. The third stat is that median family income is going down and it

continues (INAUDIBLE - so, at the end of the day you can talk about statistics all you want but going into election it's a gut call. Do I feel better about where things are, am I concerned my brother, my uncle and my sister doesn't have a job? And right now people are really scared and frankly they're blaming the president for not getting things done.

MILLER: I knew that Sean would be able to tell us why it was bad, that unemployment is down to 6.1 percent and we had a 288 -


CROWLEY: Excuse me but -- as we (ph) talk I just want to put up something and Stephanie you go ahead and make your point, and that is when you ask Americans, are we on the right track or the wrong track? That is everything, but 63 percent we're going in the wrong direction.

MILLER: Exactly.

CROWLEY: That is not great news for November for Democrats.

MILLER: No, it not. Well, all I can say is again, there has been unprecedented obstruction. When you're talking about jobs, the Republicans have said no to absolutely everything. They are the party of no.

SPICER: How can you say that, when there are 100 bills sitting in the Senate? We said yes to a ton.

FIORINA: Yes. We said yes to a ton. This president's policies are slowing this economy down. The American people know it. The American people know it and by the way - by the way it's great news that there are 288,000 jobs created. It's great news that the unemployment rate such as it is with all the proviso that Sean mentioned is down to 6.1 percent. The stock market is at record highs because the fed is printing money, the only place you can earn a return.

So, the stock market at record high does not reflect --


MILLER: OK. So when it was bad it was Obama's fault and now that it's good it's not for (ph) him.

FIORINA: No. When it was bad actually Obama blamed Bush. Now, six years in it's clearly Obama.

CROWLEY: I want to ask Carly Fiorina about a book she wrote once. But before we do I want to you to (INAUDIBLE) on the economy because the real question is as you know right track, wrong track is a really good indicator for poll numbers. So when you look at it this is not an economy that Democrats much want to run on, is it?

ELLEITHEE: Well, I'm happy to run on it when we've had one of the largest periods of economic rebounds since the 1990s but here's the key. Yes, people are not satisfied with how far we've come yet. I think people recognize --

CROWLEY: Unhappy, the president gets low numbers on economic policy.

ELLEITHEE: But the Congress gets the worse numbers. Republicans get worse numbers and people want to know, what are you going to do next?

The President - the congressional democrats have put forward an economic agenda that deals with education, that deals with infrastructure, that deals with clean energy, and the Republicans are saying --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everything but jobs. Everything but jobs.

ELLEITHEE: You if I those things don't cause jobs that explains why Republican numbers are so much worse than the president's.

FIORINA: People don't vote for parties. They vote for people. They vote for people, and right now people are saying...


FIORINA: ...this president isn't getting the job done right now.

CROWLEY: I want to show you something that just struck us kind of interesting this week which is you wrote a book a couple years ago.

FIORINA: 2006.

CROWLEY: Right called "Tough Choices"?

FIORINA: Called "Tough Choices." No, no, no. Mine's "Tough Choices." Hers is "Hard Choices."

CROWLEY: You're "Tough Choices. She's "Hard Choice." So, you all seem to have a lot in common. What do you make of this? I thought this was kind of amazing?

FIORINA: Well, it was amazing. I can say if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery I'm flattered.

CROWLEY: You think Hillary Clinton saw that and thought good book cover.

SPICER: There's no one better to imitate than Carly Fiorina when it comes to a successful woman.

CROWLEY: There you go. I hope you all will come back. Stephanie, it's good to have you on our set.

MILLER: So, nice to be here, Candy.

CROWLEY: Always, gentlemen, thank you. FIORINA: Thanks, candy.

CROWLEY: Good to see you.

Just ahead, she has chased down pirates abroad and now she just made history back on U.S. shores. An American original joins me next.


CROWLEY: It took 236 years but just this past week Michelle Howard became the Navy's first female four-star admiral. I am happy to be joined right now by Admiral Michelle Howard. Congratulations.


CROWLEY: It's also an anniversary week for you...


CROWLEY: ...and your first week on your new job as a vice number two in the naval operations.


HOWARD: It's been a good week.

CROWLEY: Yes, it has, yes it has.

I want to start talking about something that's in the news and I've seen various military people comment and I wanted to get your thoughts on it. The U.S. was in Iraq, Navy, Marines, Air Force, all those things for eight years and nine months, and now it's on the brink of a real crisis here, a lot of people think it will either split apart or become a terrorist state.

Is it discouraging to watch the backward steps having fought and lost so much over eight years and nine months.

HOWARD: Discouraging is not the word I would use. And I think we have to think about the world in larger swatches than just the moment we are in. There's been many a nation that's moved back and then moved forward again, as they worked their way towards democracy.

So, the good news is the U.S. Navy is in the area, providing intelligence support, and our country's made a decision to put assessment teams on the ground. So we need to be there and be supportive in ways that can help the country get to stability.

CROWLEY: And in truth, (INAUDIBLE) the U.S. Navy would be where you - I mean it provides surveillance, it could also send planes if the president should decide that perhaps.

HOWARD: We have striking capability, yes.

CROWLEY: You have striking capability in the gulf now?

HOWARD: Yes, we have the "George Herbert Walker Bush" there.

CROWLEY: Yes. Right. Just in general when you look at - we have talked, it seems to be for a decade now, about a different kind of war fare, that we've changed from -- I think it was Secretary Gates who said, I don't think we'll see a land war again in all these places. It's different now. It's asymmetric. It's not state -- it's not nation against nation, but nation against a group of people.

How does a Navy fit into that, especially given the funding that's being dropped?

HOWARD: So what a lot of people have talked to, strategists have talked to, is the uncertainty of the future and what and where the next conflict could look like. What the Navy brings, what the Navy and Marine Corps brings is we are forward present.

We are a globally distributed force. And so then when whatever -


HOWARD: ...the next surprise happens, we're there to respond, we're -- either have a carrier or we have amphibious forces ready to go.

CROWLEY: So, you're almost a station that can be launched off of in many ways.

HOWARD: Exactly. So, because we're where we need to be, it gives the commander in chief options immediately.

CROWLEY: I'm going to ask you about being female, being African- American, in the Navy. Such an honor after more than a three-decade career.

I wanted to play for you something that Senator John McCain, whose, you know, is a decorated veteran, one of his sons was in the military in the gulf, and the subject was sexual assault. And he said something that I wanted to get you to respond to. Take a listen.



SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Just last night a woman came to me and said her daughter wanted to join the military, and could I give my unqualified support for her doing so? I could not. I cannot overstate my disgust and disappointments over the continued reports of sexual misconduct in our military.


CROWLEY: So, here is a man very proud of his military service, of the U.S. military saying, I can't tell you that your daughter should go into the service. What do you say?

HOWARD: As I've traveled this last year, one of the questions I've asked my sailors, the ones who are parents, would you tell your daughters to come to the military? And the answer I normally get is absolutely. Absolutely. That speaks to parents who are in the military who feel that it is a great opportunity for both their sons and their daughters. We have to get after this sexual harassment, sexual assault issue, absolutely Senator McCain is correct, but yes, the Navy is the place to come and join.

CROWLEY: And do you - you know, certainly through a three-decade career you're not unfamiliar with racism, with sexism, with sort of a growth in sexual assault. How do you maneuver through those barriers?

HOWARD: I think like most human beings, there's challenges in our life. And were obligated to, when we - when we have that challenge, confront it, think about it, take a deep breath, but also put it in context. There's a lot of times in life the barriers get down to one person, and we are smart enough and talented enough and confident enough in working with our shipmates, we can come to resolution.

CROWLEY: I want to just show our audience a couple of the Maersk Alabama scenes and Captain Phillips is the name of the - you were appeared in that as a voice, because that was your operation.

HOWARD: Ah, yes.

CROWLEY: So my question here is, and I think that's what you were most known for before you became the first four-star admiral. So, when that was going on and you were in charge of seeing that the ship was saved, that the captain was taken off the boat where he was there with four of the pirates, what worried you the most that night?

HOWARD: Defining the mission correctly. And the mission had to be we would get master - Captain Phillips back safely. And we had a more immediate concern. The life raft he was on was quite rapidly moving towards the shores of Somalia -

CROWLEY: Where you said he couldn't go.

HOWARD: And we figured once he got ashore, we were not going to be able to get him back.

CROWLEY: Admiral Howard, I would love to sit down and talk with you at great length. You've had an amazing career and you continue on. Congratulations again and thanks for being here.

HOWARD: No, no, thank you. Thanks for inviting me.

CROWLEY: We'll be right back.


CROWLEY: Thanks for watching STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Candy Crowley. Be sure to watch us each week at this time or set your DVRs so don't miss a moment.

Fareed Zakaria, "GPS," is next after a check of the headlines.