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State of the Union

Historic Week for President Obama; Interview With Donald Trump. Aired 9-10:00p ET

Aired June 28, 2015 - 09:00   ET




JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Obama's grace note.


TAPPER: The president takes the pulpit, preaching on faith, racism, and gun violence. What's he going to do for an encore? This after a week of victories for the White House, same-sex marriage, Obamacare and trade, as contenders on the campaign trail race to react.

Plus, the Donald, his poll numbers are no joke. They show him hot on Jeb Bush's tail. And Trump tells me, his fellow Republicans should take notice.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know he takes me seriously.

The best political team in television is here to break down a landmark week.


TAPPER: Good morning. I'm Jake Tapper in Washington, D.C., where the state of our union is shifting seismically.

In the span of just seven days, we saw Confederate Flags start to come down and rainbow flags go up. Two landmark Supreme Court decisions have settled legal debates that have divided Americans and will define the legacy of Barack Obama.


OBAMA: That's what I felt this week, an open heart. That, more than any particular policy or analysis, is what's called upon right now, I think.


TAPPER: He seemed at times unleashed from the constraints of his office, emotional and emboldened by the week's historic events. It's unlikely this was a swan song from a lame-duck, but rather a

preview of what is next from a reenergized president. We have invited some of the people who know him best and who were there at the beginning of this journey that led Obama to this moment, Ben LaBolt, former campaign secretary, Anita Dunn, former White House communications director, and Stephanie Cutter, former deputy campaign manager.

We have you here to give us the insider view. I could have given any number of titles for all three of you. There were too many. But you have been with Obama since '06, you since '07, you since '08, in a variety of capacities, on campaigns, Senate staffs, and, of course, in the White House.

Ben, let me start with you, because the same-sex marriage issue is not one that's just a theoretical one for you. You're gay. When did you first tell Senator Obama that you're gay?

BEN LABOLT, FORMER OBAMA CAMPAIGN PRESS SECRETARY: Well, you know, the funny thing is, Jake, when I first told him, he didn't exactly hear what I was saying.

So, I was down with some other colleagues at the DNC for a meeting when I first started working for him and bumped into a female colleague of mine from the Hill. And there were some jokes between the staff about whether I was flirting with her or not. And so I thought it was time to...

TAPPER: The answer is -- the answer is, you were not.

LABOLT: I was not.


LABOLT: And it was time to bring the senator into the loop.

So, I said, "Senator, just so you know, I'm gay."

And he said, "You have got game? I just saw it. I'm standing right here, Ben. We all saw it."

TAPPER: He thought you said, you have got -- "I have got game"?

LABOLT: "I have got game."

And I said, "No, Senator, I really am gay."

And it took about five or six times to clarify out of the elevator, down the stairs, into the car.

And I said, "Senator, I just want to tell you I really am gay."

And he said: "I thought you said you had game. All right. I'll keep my eye out for you."

TAPPER: "I'll keep my eye out." LABOLT: And he did.


TAPPER: I have to ask you, though, because it's not as though this has always been his position, in favor of same-sex marriage.

I mean, I know you want to give him credit for being the first president to embrace it. But it wasn't until 2012. On a personal level, did it bother you working for somebody who didn't support same- sex marriage in '07-'08?

LABOLT: I think you have to understand how quickly the country shifted on this issue.

I mean, when I was going to college in Vermont, probably, the most liberal state in the nation in 2000, that was the first time the civil union issue ever successfully passed in a state. And a bunch of elected officials lost their jobs for that.

In 2004, President Bush ran on a platform of a constitutional amendment in the states to ban gay marriage. So, just a few years after that, then-Senator Obama is out there advocating for civil unions, advocating to repeal don't ask, don't tell, advocating for the rights of gay couples to visit their loved ones in the hospital.

And we have seen all that change realized under President Obama in really so few years...

TAPPER: Yes, I know. It's...

LABOLT: ... since the country's shifted.


TAPPER: It's a fair point.

But, Anita, I have to ask, because Axelrod in his book seems to suggest that it's kind of blurry as to when Obama changed his mind and when he acknowledged having changed his mind.

ANITA DUNN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: And, Jake I think what Ben said is absolutely true.

You know, it was only 20 years ago that a huge majority of Congress, Democrat and Republican alike, and a Democratic president passed DOMA, Defense of Marriage Act, and it was signed. And that was at the time pretty settled thinking.

And if you look how swiftly, since 2008, this country has changed, and I would argue that much of what President Obama does has helped accelerate that change, in terms of the decision not to defend don't ask, don't tell, to change that, in terms of the decision to no longer defend Defense of Marriage Act, and to stop having the Justice Department out there arguing those cases.


TAPPER: So you're arguing that he was kind of on the tip of the spear?

DUNN: I would argue also...

TAPPER: You think so, even...


DUNN: Yes, absolutely.

And I would also argue that everyone's -- everyone in this country has moved very swiftly, and that his evolution has been -- you know, is part of a leading edge here, but that a lot of people in this country have gone through the same evolution in a pretty quick time span as well.

TAPPER: Let's talk about the speech that he gave on Friday, because, Stephanie, I know your first encounter with him was when you were working for John Kerry, and this young Illinois state senator came on stage and gave that speech that electrified the Democratic Convention in 2004.

And you said to me when we were talking about this that the Obama you saw Friday is the same one that you and other Democrats fell in love with years ago.


You know, the president has given many, many good speeches. And I don't think anybody disagrees with that, regardless of your politics. But the speech that he gave on Friday was the same Barack Obama, the same emotional Barack Obama speaking truth to this country, and bringing everybody along with him. I mean, I don't -- I haven't seen something like that since 2004.

TAPPER: Really?

CUTTER: And that's with someone who gives great speeches. But the emotion, the rawness of it was so real to me.

TAPPER: It was a weird bookend, because, Anita, I remember covering Obama's race speech in Philadelphia during the convention -- during the primary races in 2008, kind of like a weird bookend to that speech.

DUNN: And I might disagree just mildly with Stephanie here, because I actually thought that March 2008 speech, a more perfect union, that was given at a time of great controversy around race...


DUNN: ... around then-Senator Obama's pastor...

TAPPER: Reverend Wright, sure.

DUNN: ... Reverend Wright, I thought that speech was a very emotional and extraordinary speech in the middle of a presidential campaign and at a very pivotal time, where he really needed to go out and explain to the American people this basic piece of his life that had to do with his faith, that had to do with his church, that had to do with his pastor, but also a broader context of how he approached these issues.

And I was really struck, Jake, listening to his speech on Friday, at how much -- how far, again, he has come and this country has come in terms of discussing these issues since March 2008.

I think what you see, what you saw this week was the president that we all know, who has an iron will when it really comes to issues of social justice, of racial justice, and of economic justice. And all three of those issues, you saw this week.

TAPPER: And he said in the podcast that ran on Monday, Marc Maron's podcast, that he was fearless.

Ben, I think it's fair to say that there was more reluctance in the first term of the Obama presidency. I don't know if it was Obama or the aides around him, but there was more reluctance for him to talk emotionally, especially about racial issues.

LABOLT: I think, if you look back, the financial crisis really defines the first months and years of the presidency, and dealing with pulling the economy back from the brink and passing health care.

I think, in the past few weeks, the American people have seen the transformative president I think we all thought he could be when he's addressing these burning, persistent issues that have been bubbling under the surface. He's done it on a policy level in the Affordable Care Act.

But now he's doing it by leading a national conversation that I think is so important.

CUTTER: And I would also say that it's the president who's always taken a long view.

DUNN: Yes.

CUTTER: And that's, you know, what we worked so hard with him on, and one of the big reasons we signed up with him, that he did have -- we weren't going to win these battles overnight. These are long battles to be had.

And if you look at what happened this past week, it was a long time coming...

TAPPER: Right.

CUTTER: ... whether you're talking about gay marriage.

LABOLT: It felt immediate, but it was decades.


CUTTER: That wouldn't have happened without a lot of hard work, and including the work that the president did in his first term,repealing don't ask, don't tell, deciding not to defend DOMA.

Those things were absolutely essential to bringing the country along with us for what happened on Friday.

TAPPER: A great insider view. Thank you so much, Anita Dunn, Ben LaBolt, Stephanie Cutter. Great to have you here.

CUTTER: Thank you.

TAPPER: Coming up, the Donald, polls now show that, whatever you think of him, he is a serious White House contender. I asked him what he thinks about same-sex marriage.


TRUMP: I'm traditional marriage. It is changing rapidly.

TAPPER: But what do you say to a lesbian who's married or a gay man who is married who says, Donald Trump, what's traditional about being married three times?




The race for 2016 now: a shock to the body politic this week, with Donald Trump showing real strength in a series of polls. Our latest CNN poll shows him in second place in New Hampshire, trailing only Jeb Bush. Another poll has that same result nationally among Republicans.

Love him or hate him, the mega-millionaire real estate developer and reality TV star is now an actual contender for the Republican nomination.


TAPPER: In 2000, when you were flirting with running as a Reform Party candidate, you wrote that you're a liberal on health care, and you supported a Canadian-style system, where the government acts as an insurer.

Is that what you still believe in?

TRUMP: You know, I looked at that. I looked at it very seriously.

I do believe, and I -- some people don't agree with me on this. I want everyone to have coverage. I do want people to have coverage. I think that a great forum could be -- and I love the free market. I love the way it works. But we never had a free market. Even before Obamacare, it wasn't really free market.

As an example, we're in New York right now. And when I wanted to bid out my health insurance and all sorts of things, we had boundaries. I could only go in New York. If I wanted to bid it out to a company from California or New Jersey, anywhere, I mean, and I was getting like -- you get no bids.

TAPPER: But the single payer, no more, you're not interested in...


TRUMP: No. No.

And, you know, there are different times. And over the years, you are going to change your attitudes.


TRUMP: You're going to learn things and you're going to change. And I have evolved on that issue. I have evolved on numerous issues.

TAPPER: Let me ask you about China, because, as you may or may not know, this is a Trump tie.



TAPPER: I bought it for this interview.

TRUMP: Oh, and not only that. I mean, I buy a lot of stuff, because...

TAPPER: But, as you know, they're made in China.

TRUMP: Very beautiful tie, though.

TAPPER: It's a lovely tie.


TAPPER: It's made in China.

TRUMP: Correct.

TAPPER: Is it hypocritical at all for you to talk about this...

TRUMP: No, not at all, not at all.

TAPPER: ... while you're manufacturing your clothes in...

TRUMP: No. And I buy -- I'm building the old post office. And I just made

an order from China, because they have cut their currency to such, I have an -- I'm a private person. I may not be a private person for long. Who knows. We will see what happens.

TAPPER: Right.

TRUMP: I talk about my ties in speeches.

TAPPER: Right.

TRUMP: You know, I'm open. I say, my ties, many times, are made in China, not all of them, by the way, but a lot of them are made in China, because they have manipulated their currency to such a point that it's impossible for our companies to compete.

TAPPER: When it comes to outsourcing jobs, which is what this tie would be a representative issue of, one of the issues is that the people in China, the laborers, are paid a lot less and the standards are worse when it comes to the environment and health care and worker safety.

TRUMP: Many problems. I agree with that.

TAPPER: Isn't that what -- but what do you say when somebody says, well, why don't you -- why don't you be a leader and make these in Philadelphia? I would be willing to pay more for this tie.


TRUMP: You would. And, unfortunately, you would see that it's very, very hard to have anything in apparel made in this country. Do you know how much is made outside of the country?

TAPPER: Most of it.

TRUMP: And now...

TAPPER: But some of them...


TRUMP: ... Vietnam, so many other places.


TRUMP: The problem...

TAPPER: American -- American Apparel makes stuff here.

TRUMP: And just so you understand, I know you bring that up, but I put ties in my speeches.

TAPPER: It just seems interesting, because you dinged Ford for manufacturing their cars in Mexico. TRUMP: I do. No, no, no, I don't ding them. I say,

congratulations. I think it's a great deal, but I wouldn't let you do it. I wouldn't let them manipulate their currency, because that's what they do.

TAPPER: Back in 2012, you tweeted -- quote -- "The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing noncompetitive."

TRUMP: Well, of course I'm being sarcastic, you know. I love to...


TAPPER: That's not to be taken seriously?

TRUMP: No, it's a little bit serious. There's a little bit of seriousness there.

Look, we are restricting our factories much more than China. I go to China. They have factories that are much more competitive. I'm not saying friendly, but they're certainly not environmentally friendly. I'm a huge believer in clean air. I'm not a huge believer in the global warming phenomena.

TAPPER: But the overwhelming majority of scientists say it's real and it's manmade, and things are happening

TRUMP: Well, there could be -- there could be some manmade, too. I mean, I'm not saying there's zero, but not nearly to the extent.

When Obama gets up and said it's the number one problem of our country -- and, if it is, why is it that we have to do our and clean up our factories now, and China doesn't have to do it for another 30 or 35 years in their wonderful agreement, you know, our wonderful negotiators?

They have much smarter, much better negotiators than we do. It's really as simple as that. We don't have -- and that's part of the reason I'm doing this, because...

TAPPER: Because you're a man that wrote "The Art of the Deal."

TRUMP: I did write "The Art of the Deal," in all fairness.

And a lot of people -- the administration hasn't read it, obviously. But we have horrible trade deals.

TAPPER: So, you would tear up NAFTA, tear up the...

TRUMP: I think NAFTA has been a disaster. I think NAFTA has been a disaster.

I think our current deals are a disaster. And I'm a free trader. The problem with free trade is, you need smart people representing you. We have the greatest negotiators in the world, but we don't use them. We use political hacks and diplomats. We use the wrong people.

Mexico is smart. They have outnegotiated us to a fare-thee-well. They're going to be the capital of automobiles pretty soon, the way they're going. I respect what they're doing. I think it's great. I like Mexico. I love the Mexican people. I do business with the Mexican people.

But you have people coming through the border that are from all over. And they're bad. They're really bad. I have spoken to border guards, and I said, how bad is it? They said, Mr. Trump, you have no idea how bad. You have people coming in -- and I'm not just saying Mexicans. I'm talking about people that are from all over that are killers and rapists. And, I mean, they're coming into this country.

TAPPER: Let me talk to you about that for one second. The government of Mexico called those comments prejudicial and absurd.

And I think that what they're objecting to is the idea that, of the 11 million undocumented workers, illegal immigrants, whatever you want to call them, in this country, that you're painting them with a very broad brush, rapists, criminals, when that's probably a very small percentage.


TRUMP: No, no. Well, I don't think it's a small percentage. It's a lot. But it's not Mexicans, necessarily. They're coming from all over.

TAPPER: You talked about building a wall and having Mexico pay for it.


TAPPER: How exactly are you going to get Mexico to pay for it?

TRUMP: Well, the way -- look, Mexico has not treated us well. Mexico treats us as though we are stupid people, which, of course, our leaders are.

I don't blame Mexico. China's even worse.

TAPPER: But how do you force a country to build a wall?

TRUMP: No, no, you force them because we give Mexico a fortune. Mexico makes a fortune because of us.

We -- a wall is a tiny little peanut compared to the kind of money...


TAPPER: So, you would cut off business or impose tariffs unless they built the wall?

TRUMP: I would do something very severe unless they contributed or gave us the money to build the wall. I would build it. I would build it very nicely. I'm very good at building things.

TAPPER: Can we talk about ISIS for one second?



TAPPER: The -- I think you said that you want to bomb the oil fields in Iraq...


TAPPER: ... to take on ISIS?

TRUMP: The only way you're going to beat them is that. You know why they're rich? Because they have the oil. Now, if you remember...

TAPPER: They have the oil in Syria, though.

TRUMP: They have some oil in Iraq.

TAPPER: There's a refinery that they're fighting with the Iraqis over.

TRUMP: They're fighting, and they're going to get it. They're fighting with Iraq. They're going to get it. When are the -- the Iraqis will throw up their arms, they will leave, and they have -- it's just one of those things.

TAPPER: But I don't think Iraq -- I don't think the government of Iraq would want us to bomb their oil fields.

TRUMP: The government of Iraq? There is no government in Iraq. The so-called government in Iraq went to Iran to meet with Iran. Iran is going to take over Iraq. That's as simple as that. OK? As simple as that.

TAPPER: I don't know that Iraq, the government of Iraq, or whatever you want to call them, would support our bombing the oil fields in Iraq since...

TRUMP: Who cares?


TRUMP: I don't care about the government of Iraq. They're corrupt. The government -- the government of Iraq is totally corrupt. Who cares?

TAPPER: Let me ask you about a few social issues...



TAPPER: ... just because I'm not -- they haven't been issues you have been talking about for several years.

I know you're opposed to abortion.

TRUMP: Right. I'm pro-choice.

TAPPER: You're pro-choice or pro-life?

TRUMP: I'm pro-life. I'm sorry.

TAPPER: Pro-life.

So, how important is that issue to you now? When President Trump picks Supreme Court justices, would that be a litmus test?

TRUMP: It is. It is.

Look, you have a lot of pro-choice people out there. But that is an issue, it's very interesting, because, in terms of polling, the pro-choice is actually going down a little bit. You know, it's very interesting.

TAPPER: Let's talk about same-sex marriage. You said a few years ago that you were evolving on that issue.



TAPPER: Where are you?

TRUMP: I'm traditional marriage. It is changing rapidly.

TAPPER: But what do you say to a lesbian who's married, or a gay man who is married, who says, Donald Trump, what's traditional about being married three times?

TRUMP: Well, they have a very good point.

But, you know, I have been a very hardworking person. I have had -- actually, I have a great marriage. I have a great wife now. And I -- my two wives were very good. And I don't blame them. But I was working, maybe like you, 22 hours a day.

TAPPER: I'm not asking you to explain your divorces, but -- but...

TRUMP: No, I know. No, I'm just saying it was -- I blame myself because my business was so powerful for me. I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing.

TAPPER: But what do you say to a lesbian or a gay man who are married, and say...

TRUMP: I really don't say anything.

TAPPER: OK. TRUMP: I mean, I'm just -- I'm just -- Jake, I'm for traditional



TAPPER: I want to note that the interview with Mr. Trump took place before the Supreme Court issued its ruling on same-sex marriage Friday. He said afterwards that he would have preferred that the high court leave the issue to the states.

Our interview with the Donald is not done yet. Polls show he is hot on the heels of Republican front-runner Jeb Bush, and he has a lot to say about Mr. Bush.


TRUMP: I really think he's a nice man. I think he's a wonderful man.

I don't know if I want him negotiating with ISIS. I think Trump will do a lot better. You think so too, but you're not going to say it.




TAPPER: Welcome back.

The so-called 11th commandment, often erroneously attributed to Ronald Reagan, decrees to Republican candidates, thou shalt not speak ill of another Republican. Now, plenty of folks have flouted that rule, but perhaps none with as much relish as one Mr. Donald Trump, taking notable aim at Jeb Bush, who is just ahead of him in the latest polls.


TAPPER: You seem to really be taking on Jeb Bush in particular in your campaign appearances. Why is that?

TRUMP: I don't mean to.

And I have been told that by others. I was actually told that by my wife. And I don't mean to, because I think he's a nice person. I watch him. I think he's a nice person.

And I actually felt bad, because I hit him very hard one day, and I said, why am I hitting him so hard?

TAPPER: His approach to you seems to be not taking you seriously, his campaign not taking you seriously.

TRUMP: Trust me, he takes me seriously. TAPPER: You think so? Because I was going to say, what is --

what is your message to Jeb Bush?

TRUMP: We have been contacted.

My message is, I think he's a wonderful person. And I look forward to seeing him.

TAPPER: No, but in terms of him not taking you seriously, what do you say?

TRUMP: Oh, I -- you know he takes me seriously. And his people have -- believe me, he takes me seriously.

TAPPER: Why do you say that?

TRUMP: Because they call.

TAPPER: And what do they say?

TRUMP: What would you think?

TAPPER: Stop it, stop attacking Jeb?

TRUMP: They -- you know what? They take me so seriously, and they do call and they write. And just believe me, they take me very seriously.


TRUMP: But, with all of that being said, I really think he's a nice man. I think he's a wonderful man.

I don't know if I want him negotiating with ISIS. I think Trump will do a lot better. You think so too, but you're not going to say it.

TAPPER: Well, I don't know if anybody who is going to negotiate with ISIS.

TRUMP: Well, you could bring them to a point. Look, the whole ISIS thing has to be ended. It's got to be stopped. We have to stop that. What's going on over there is incredible.

TAPPER: Let me ask about the other side of the aisle, Hillary Clinton. I was surprised to read that Hillary actually went to your wedding.

TRUMP: She did.

TAPPER: She went to your wedding. And I know you have contributed to her campaigns in the past. You have said that her husband is the best post-Reagan president

TRUMP: Well, I can't go with Bush. And senior Bush, I really liked. But "Read my lips," I couldn't stand it. TAPPER: Are you -- are you still in touch with the Clintons?

TRUMP: No, I'm not. I'm not at all, actually, no.

TAPPER: How do you -- are you worried at all that somebody who has given money to Hillary, she was at your wedding, that...

TRUMP: No. I give money to everybody.

TAPPER: But that Republican voters in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina might be concerned about that?

TRUMP: No. No. In fact, a lot of people like it.

You know, we have gridlock in Washington. For instance, I have helped Nancy Pelosi. I have helped Reid. I have -- I'm a business.

TAPPER: Right. You gave money to -- to Reid and Pelosi to help recapture Congress in 2006.

TRUMP: Hey, Jake, Jake, I'm a -- I'm a business. You know, I was in business. I built a great company. They always treated me nicely.

We need that in Washington. We have total gridlock.

TAPPER: So, you will argue to voters, yes, I gave money to Reid and Pelosi to help recapture Congress in 2006.

TRUMP: I'm a business. You know, I was in business. I built a great company. They always treated me nicely. We need that in Washington. We have total gridlock.

TAPPER: So you will argue to voters, yes, I gave money to Reid and Pelosi to help recapture Congress but this is what we need, more bipartisan --

TRUMP: I'm a conservative Republican. I'm a very conservative person, actually. But I get along with everybody. I would be more successful in beating Hillary, assuming that she gets it, which I think she probably will. Although --

TAPPER: Who knows?

TRUMP: Who knows? I mean if you go back a few years she was going to get it before Obama came along.

TAPPER: Sure (ph).

TRUMP: That was -- you know, that was like a dead -- that was a done deal.

TAPPER: You think Bernie Sanders can beat her?

TRUMP: Well he's making a lot of progress. You know, you would have said and I've watched him and -- you know, I've seen his crowds. I get crowds that are fantastic, too. He's got that. I mean, he has got a lot of people going to see him.

Do I think so? No I don't think so. But you know, stranger -- hey, you've been in this world a long time.

TAPPER: Absolutely.

TRUMP: Stranger things have happened.

TAPPER: Some people look at you running for president and say, this is just about ego. It's just about getting his brand out there.

What's your message to those people?

TRUMP: My message is that they're wrong. It's something that I've looked at over the years. I looked at it very seriously as you know four years ago. I've been thinking about it very seriously over the last period of time. And I've decided I'm going to do it. And --

TAPPER: And you're in it to win it. You're serious.

TRUMP: I'm in it to win it.

Look, I give up a lot. I give up hundreds of millions of dollars in deals and potential -- you know, things that I do. In all fairness, I don't want to sound trivial; NBC renewed "The Apprentice" because we had a great season last season. And they would love me not to be doing this. I will tell you right now. I mean, the top people come to my office and they say, please do this -- I'm not doing it because of this. I can't do it. I'm not allowed to do it. Essentially, legally I'm not allowed to do it.

But "The Apprentice" -- I give (ph) up "The Apprentice." These politicians, Jake, I see them all the time. I mean, I'm with them now. They run. They lose. They win. They -- all they do is run. They don't lose anything. They help themselves.

I'm giving up hundreds of millions of dollars. Forget about what it cost. That's peanuts. The peanuts. The cheapest part is what it costs to do it. I'm giving up hundreds of millions of dollars to do this. I'm giving up a prime-time television show. I'm giving that up to do this. I'm a little blunt, but --

TAPPER: Just a little.

TRUMP: But you know what? Maybe that's what we need. We have to take it back. We have to take our country back.

We've lost our jobs. We've lost our money. We're a third world nation and we're a debtor nation at the same time.

You need somebody with the kind of thinking -- I built a great company. I have some of the great assets of the world. And I talk about that only from the -- not bragging. I talk about it because that's the mentality that this country needs. We need that mentality now. And we need it fast.

TAPPER: Donald Trump, thank you so much for spending time with us.

TRUMP: Thank you very much.


TAPPER: Coming up, the fight over the confederate flag is far from over as the protester who shimmied up the flag pole yesterday to take it down has just been released from jail. Where does the national conversation on race go from here? We'll get into it with our amazing panel. Stay with us.


[09:37:28] TAPPER: Welcome back.

Had I told you two weeks ago that by today, my third episode of STATE OF THE UNION, confederate flags would be coming down throughout the south and same-sex marriage would be legal everywhere in the nation, you probably would not have believed me. But that's how change sometimes happens. Very slowly, and then all at once.

Let's go deeper with the best political team on television. Talk radio giant Hugh Hewitt, CNN's Gloria Borger, CNN's Jeff Zeleny, and CNN political commentator Van Jones.

Hugh, let me start with you. So, the response from Republican candidates has been interesting. None of them in favor of the same- sex marriage ruling by the Supreme Court. But four of them, Ted Cruz, Bobby Jindal, Rick Santorum, Scott Walker calling for constitutional amendments either to leave it to the states or to say marriage is one man and one woman. And the rest, Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, et cetera, saying, no, they don't want to make this a constitutional battle.

Is this going to be an issue on the campaign trail in the Republican primaries you think?


I just came last night from the Western Conservative Summit which is 4,000 people in Denver, hosted by the Colorado Christian University. So it's really conservative westerners. And while there is a division in the House over whether or not same-sex marriage is a good idea, it may surprise a lot of your viewers to learn there are a lot of Republicans who favor it but almost none that favor the court deciding it. And so you've got unanimity of all of the speakers who were there. Whether it's Huckabee or Santorum or Fiorina about the fact that court not to have intervened here. But as to the issue going forward I think it will be about judges, not about an amendment.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: But this is what's so cynical about this, actually. You have Ted Cruz, talking about what he called retention elections for judges.

TAPPER: Explain what that means?

BORGER: Well, that means that after a certain period of time you'd have to sort of have judges become politicians and effectively run for re-election like Supreme Court justices. So turning -- because he didn't like this decision. So what he wants to do is effectively turn Supreme Court judges into politicians. I don't think that's the answer.


BORGER: Talking about a constitutional amendment that will never happen.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: And he said that in Iowa. That is key here. He's a former clerk on the U.S. Supreme Court. He knows that this is a -- no one would support that. But he said it in Iowa and this is why I think this is going to be an issue at least to some element of the Iowa social conservative caucus electorate. They want to hear candidates talking about this. We're going to see a pander fest from Ted Cruz and others trying to get that small slice of Iowa caucus goers. That's why it's an issue in the primary.

[09:40:02] BORGER: Here's a little factoid that Ted Cruz was a young clerk on the Supreme Court during Bush versus Gore 15 years ago and he wasn't exactly calling for retention elections. For judges then.

HEWITT: Ted Cruz is the only guy who argued and won nine Supreme Court cases to ever run for the United States.

TAPPER: He was solicitor general of Texas.

HEWITT: When he was solicitor general of Texas. So, he knows the law very, very well.

I think what really is playing out is who's going to be the next four Supreme Court justices. Ruth Bader Ginsburg is 83, two are 81, 79 -- Justice Breyer is 78. And so this is going to be a huge issue going forward in 2016.

And I talked to Jeb Bush on Friday and Scott Walker 10 hours ago, about who they're going to pick. And I think this language of who you're going to pick for the Supreme Court will matter a lot.

TAPPER: You know what's interesting about this division, and Van I'd love to get you to respond to this. We'll take a listen to Mike Huckabee. He was asked about this ruling by the Supreme Court.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you saw the White House last night lit up in rainbow colors to celebrate the gay marriage decision. What did you think?

MIKE HUCKABEE (R), FORMER ARKANSAS GOVERNOR: Well I thought that this is a president who just three years ago held the same position that I do. As did Hillary. As did Joe Biden.


TAPPER: That's overstating the case a bit because the president, Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton not in favor of same-sex marriage three years ago, but they were in favor of same-sex couple rights. But he has a point. Democrats are now acting as though there's no other alternative that squares with reality. But they had a different point of view three years ago.

Van, you've been in favor of same-sex marriage literally for decades.

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Absolutely. (INAUDIBLE). Well first of all inside the Democratic Party there were those of us who in the 1990s were saying that civil unions were not enough. That we wanted marriage and also we were concerned about the question of how people were being treated in the military. So there was a fight inside the Democratic Party for a very long time.

Reality is, we won that fight inside the Democratic Party. We won that fight in the hearts and minds of American people and just won that fight in the U.S. Supreme Court. And so now the people who are on the other side are in a different posture.

My heart was broken, frankly, to hear Huckabee, who I admire. I'm a southerner. People forget Mike Huckabee put more African- Americans in high position in office as governor than Bill Clinton did.

Mike Huckabee is someone who is a revered person, but when he comes out and makes the kinds of statements that he sometimes is making, it makes him look like someone who doesn't care. I know that he cares. The Republican Party has a big problem now. They now seem to be a party that is so out of touch with the humanity, the basic humanity that was on full display in front of the Supreme Court, and they seem to be more concerned now with hiding behind the old state's rights rhetoric that was anti-civil rights rhetoric of the past than embracing the future.

TAPPER: Hugh, I want -- I want you to respond to that. But I have to say, Democrats were calling for the flag to come down in the wake of the horrific terrorist attack at a church. But Republicans led the way. Nikki Haley, Lindsey Graham, Tim Scott, but with the exception of Graham and Jeb Bush who took the flag down in Tallahassee 15 years ago, Republican presidential candidates were not leading the way.

HEWITT: Not surprisingly. I think, Van misunderstands the Republican Party. And I'm here to tell you that in fact it's not divided. There's quite a lot of energy going forward over whether or not who decides. What the chief justice said in the dissent is this court is not a legislature. He implied it as well in the Obamacare decision. And I do believe that within the Republican Party there will be great unanimity, not division, and they will find in the Senate of America a great unanimity that it ought to be the people's business to change the law, and that it ought to be not as Justice Scalia (ph) said -- JONES: It is a fundamental human right. I got to tell you, I

speak as somebody --

TAPPER: You're talking about marriage?

JONES: I'm talking about marriage. We can go back to the flag in the second. Let's talk about the rainbow flag for one minute.

This is a fundamental human right. And if we had had to wait for the entire American people to say that civil rights were OK for our children as black children to go to school together, we'd be waiting a long time. And loving the decision I am in an interracial marriage myself that was not put up for a vote. It was a Supreme Court of the United States that said my marriage is legal and other people in the country should have that same right.

BORGER: Well, I covered Proposition 8, Ted Olson, conservative justice, you know him well. He was the person who said, this is a civil rights issue. You've got to use the 14th amendment.

And at that time, years ago, there were -- there were a lot of people in the gay community saying don't do it so quickly because it will then -- gay marriage will then become a wedge issue like abortion became a wedge issue after Roe v. Wade. So you don't want to do that in the court. Well, public opinion has evolved --

HEWITT: But this court -- this panel reflects a weak public opinion and Justice Scalia (ph) said we've got -- this is an unelected group of nine people, five of whom agree with one point --


[09:44:51] TAPPER: I got to take -- I got to take a very quick break. We're going to come back with our panel. The insurgent candidates are strength on the 2016 frontrunner. Should Hillary Clinton be worried that and more from our great panel when we come back.



[09:49:22] BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Maybe we now realize the way racial bias can infect us, even when we don't realize it, so that we're guarding against not just racial slurs, but we're also guarding against the subtle impulse to call Johnny back for a job interview but not Jamal.


TAPPER: That was President Obama on Friday in Charleston, South Carolina.

We're back with our round table.

Van, I want to start with you because you were in the executive branch early on, in President Obama's first term. He didn't talk candidly about race really all that often. A couple of moments here and there maybe with Henry Louis Gates or whatever. But generally speaking it seemed as though his staff didn't want him talking about it.

[09:50:10] JONES: Well, it was a very, very big concern.

Now, he -- early in his career he did talk about race. His book was about race. He was forced to talk about race with Jeremiah Wright, and he did well.

Once he got into the White House he said something about skip Gates being arrested. He got hit so hard that he found himself in a beer summit with a beat cop just trying to escape from the backlash. And he was basically silent and a racial pinata for years.

Blacks beating him up saying he wasn't saying enough. Whites beating him up saying maybe he was going to play the race card and he just did not feel comfortable dealing with this issue. This past year, really starting with Trayvon Martin, with this past year with the Fergusons, the Baltimore, and now to have a friend of his, a young black leader gunned down. You now see Obama 3.0.

The country is ready for this conversation and he is ready to lead it. And I think that what you're going to see going forward now is a much more liberated president to talk tough about tough issues, because I think the country is ready. And whether it's marriage equality, people can hide behind judicial activism, states' rights, the Bible. The country is ready for a different conversation and I think this president is ready to lead.

TAPPER: Hugh, what's your take on...

HEWITT: I would like to see the president lead by getting out ahead. I was introduced -- brought into the studio by a recent graduate of Washington and Lee University. There is a confederate soldier standing in the King Street and George Washington Parkway. I would like the president to go out and say, here is where we're going to draw the line on the attack on the symbols of the American south. And I would like him to lead as opposed to react. I would like Hillary to lead when she says something about guns.

She actually specified this. She wants to confiscate guns. I think it is not leadership to speak in the aphorism into which people can read their own ideas. But I haven't yet heard him lead. I've heard him orate terrifically but I haven't heard him lead on -- what about Washington (INAUDIBLE)?

JONES: I want to say something surprising about the confederate flag.

I am a southerner --

TAPPER: You're from Tennessee.

JONES: I'm from Tennessee, born and raised. I feel the contempt that folks on the coast and from the north have for our region. It is the only acceptable bigotry now to write into Hollywood scripts if a stupid person has a southern accent. There is a contempt for our region.

There is a need for regional pride but this flag cannot be that symbol. And so I understand the need for regional pride. I understand the sense that we're not respected but this flag can no longer be the symbol.

TAPPER: As long as we have a point that I think both you and Hugh can agree upon in terms of contempt for the south. Let me shift if I could to Hillary Clinton.

And Jeff, I want to bring you in. There is some movement in the polls in New Hampshire. Let's put up our CNN poll showing Hillary Clinton among Democrats, 43 percent. Bernie Sanders, from neighboring Vermont, 35 percent. That's single digit. That's striking territory, Jeff. Is she really in trouble here?

ZELENY: Not yet. But she is having to deal with the summer of Sanders, as I've call it.

I think that she did not think that she was going to be eight points away from Bernie Sanders. But what's happening inside this poll is he has consolidated the support from Elizabeth Warren. The last time a poll was conducted in New Hampshire (INAUDIBLE) at 20 percent. He is getting those people. And he's getting people that want to give her a contest.

So, the questions is, how does she respond to this? Does she go after him aggressively? Not yet. But she is increasingly talking more about Republicans.

She is attacking Republicans to try and get some of those Democrats...

TAPPER: By name.

ZELENY: ...sort of by name and she's going to be doing more of that I'm told. She is also being pulled to the left specifically on policy issues.

But Bernie Sanders is out there saying, listen, I was a progressive and a liberal long before Hillary Clinton was on a variety of things. So, watch Bernie Sanders. We may in Washington think of him as a socialist or whatever, out there people like what he has to say.


TAPPER: Very quickly.

BORGER: He is Bernie. He is relatable. People like him.

If you look at the poll numbers about cares about people like me, which is so important in a presidential contest. Bernie Sanders does a lot better than Hillary Clinton. People just can't accept her as somebody who understands their problems yet.

TAPPER: Although she is leading of course in every poll. Gloria Borger, Hugh Hewitt, Van Jones and Jeff Zeleny, thanks so much. A great round table. I wish we had another hour.

Up next. Joe Biden's malarkey is raised to a jiggery-pokery. What's behind some of the most colorful phrases from a Supreme Court justice this week in this week's "State of the Cartoonian."


[09:58:50] TAPPER: Welcome back.

We were reminded this week that behind those black robes of the Supreme Court justices lurks one of the most vivid vocabularies we've encountered. Antonin Scalia, I'm looking at you in this week's "State of the Cartoonian."


Being on the losing end of two historic Supreme Court decisions didn't stop Justice Antonin Scalia from making his mark with his patented sick (ph) Scalia burns.

We imagine Justice Scalia working to perfect some of his zingers on the Obamacare decision. What's a euphemism for horse hockey? Renaming Obamacare to, hmm. And perhaps the most memorable wordsmithing. Jiggery-pokery. His distinction for the court's decision on same-sex marriage took him in a florid direction suggesting that one ask the nearest hippie. Comparing (ph) the verdict to the mystical aphorisms of the fortune cookie.

Or saying before he would associate himself with Justice Antony Kennedy's prose (ph), I would hide my head in a bag. I the end Scalia was unhappy with the outcomes of the cases but we suspect he was quite pleased with his descents (ph).


[10:00:13] TAPPER: Thanks for spending your Sunday with us.

Fareed Zakaria, "GPS," starts right now.