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State of the Union
Interview With Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA); Interview With Sen. J.D. Vance (R-OH); Interview With U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken; Interview With Former Vice President Al Gore. Aired 9-10a ET
Aired December 10, 2023 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST (voice-over): Trump in focus.
As President Biden takes the fight directly to Donald Trump...
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He doesn't know what the hell he's talking about.
TAPPER: ... Trump looks to cement his hold on the GOP.
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES (R) AND CURRENT U.S. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No, I'm not a threat. I will save democracy.
TAPPER: What would a second Trump term look like? Top Trump ally Republican Senator J.D. Vance of Ohio is ahead.
Plus: on the line. A split over foreign aid divides Congress, as world pressure grows over the civilian death toll in Gaza.
ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: There's more that has to happen.
TAPPER: Does the Biden administration have any conditions in its support for Israel in the war? Secretary of State Antony Blinken is next.
And survival. World leaders meet to confront the climate crisis and consider phasing out fossil fuels. But will they go far enough?
AL GORE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If there is an agreement to phase out fossil fuels, it will be a success. If there's not, it will be a failure.
TAPPER: Former Vice President Al Gore joins me exclusively.
TAPPER: Hello. I'm Jake Tapper in Washington, where the state of our union is preparing for what looks to be a quite ugly 2024. We're closing in on a presidential election year, and America already
feels irreparably divided. Late last night, we saw former President Donald Trump leaning into his new argument that, despite his and his allies' efforts to overturn this the 2020 election, it is he who will save democracy, days after he told Hannity that, if reelected, he would be a dictator on day one, though just on day one, a line many of his fellow Republican officials laughed off.
Democrats, of course, face their own divisions. The president of the University of Pennsylvania resigned yesterday after ham-handed comments at a hearing on antisemitism in which she said, any calls to commit genocide against Jews on campus would only violate campus harassment policy, depending on the context.
And with Congress stalled over foreign aid to Ukraine and Israel, the pressure on the Biden administration over its Israel policy is only growing this weekend after the U.S. vetoed a U.N. Security Council cease-fire resolution that was backed by allies, and the State Department said it would bypass Congress to send Israel more ammunition for tanks, as Israel pursues its offensive against Hamas and Gaza, an offensive which has killed thousands of innocent Palestinians.
Hamas hides among the civilian population, of course, but the U.S. continues to say it wants Israel to do more to stop the bloodshed of innocents. Aid officials are now warning that the scale of the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza is only growing. And the president's support for Israel is continuing to divide the Democratic Party.
Joining me now is Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
Mr. Secretary, thanks for joining us.
So, the U.S. stood alone at the U.N. Security Council on Friday to block the cease-fire. And the administration is sidestepping Congress to rush more weapons to Israel.
You said this week there is -- quote -- "a gap" between the intent to protect Palestinian civilians and the actual results that we're seeing on the ground in Gaza. Can you describe that gap? What is Israel doing right now that you think does not demonstrate enough care or protection of Palestinian civilians?
BLINKEN: Jake, we think there needs to be a premium put on protecting civilians and making sure that humanitarian assistance can get to everyone who needs it.
And, as I said, I think the intent is there, but the results are not always manifesting themselves. And we see that both in terms of civilian protection and humanitarian assistance.
We want to make sure that, as Israel continues this campaign -- because, remember, they are dealing with a terrorist organization that engaged in the most vicious possible brutality on October 7 and has made clear that it would do it again and again and again if given the opportunity. So, Israel needs to be able to deal with this to protect itself, to
prevent October 7 from happening again. But, as it does that, it's imperative that civilians be protected. And, here, the critical thing is to make sure that the military operations are designed around civilian protection and to focus on that.
When it comes to humanitarian assistance, that we, as you know, made the argument many weeks ago to get humanitarian assistance in. It started to flow. We got it doubled during the humanitarian pause for the hostage releases that we helped to negotiate.
But now what's critical is this. Even as Israel has taken additional steps, for example, to designate safe areas in the south, to focus on neighborhoods, not entire cities, in terms of evacuating them, what we're not seeing sufficiently is a couple of things, one, making sure that the humanitarian operators who are there, starting with the United Nations, performing heroically, that there are deconfliction times, places, and routes, so that the humanitarians can bring the assistance that's getting into Gaza to the people who need it.
Similarly, we need to see the same kind of deconfliction, time, pauses, designated routes, plural, not just one, and clarity of communication, so that people know when it is safe and where it is safe to move to get out of harm's way before they go back home.
These are the kinds of things we're working on every single day, again, to make sure that that gap between intent and result is as narrow as possible.
TAPPER: The IDF told CNN, I believe Alex Marquardt, earlier today that they estimate they have killed about 7,000 Hamas fighters.
When do you anticipate this phase of Israel's military campaign is going to end? Obviously, they can't kill every member of Hamas. And even if they did, 150,000 new ones would show up the next day. Are the Israelis telling you anything about when this phase is going to wrap up? Because, obviously, the civilian death toll is mounting.
It's unimaginable. Secretary Austin suggested that Israel might ultimately be facing a strategic defeat by chasing so many Palestinians into the arms of Hamas.
BLINKEN: Jake, we have these discussions with Israel, including about the duration, as well as how it's prosecuting this campaign against Hamas. These are decisions for Israel to make.
But Hamas has decisions to make too. It could get out from hiding behind civilians tomorrow.
BLINKEN: It could put down its arms tomorrow. It could surrender tomorrow, and this would be over.
TAPPER: Right, obviously.
But will the U.S. continue to back Israel, the way it's backing Israel right now, if this continues for months and months, as opposed to days or weeks?
BLINKEN: Again, Israel has to make these decisions.
Of course, everyone wants to see this campaign come to a close as quickly as possible. But any country faced with what Israel is facing, a terrorist organization that attacked it in the most horrific way possible on October 7, and, as I said, has said repeatedly that it would do it again and again and again, it has to get to the point where it is confident that that can't be repeated.
But you make another point that's very important. When the major military operation is over, this is not over, because we have to have a durable, sustainable peace, and we have to make sure that we're on a path to a durable and sustainable peace.
From our perspective, I think from the perspective of many around the world, that has to lead to a Palestinian state. This is -- we're not going to have durable peace, we're not going to have durable security for Israel unless and until Palestinian political aspirations are met.
And, of course, what happens the day after in Gaza itself once military operations, major military operations, are over, that's also hugely important and urgent to make sure that governance, security, reconstruction, all of that is in place, so that there's no vacuum.
TAPPER: The Committee to Protect Journalists says at least 63 journalists and members of the news media have been killed, 56 of them Palestinian, in this war, presumably, mostly, if not entirely, by IDF strikes.
Is that acceptable to you? You have made press freedom a hallmark of your term. How do you explain all these deaths of journalists? How do the Israelis explain it?
BLINKEN: Jake, as I see journalists, including some of your colleagues, but also from many other news organizations, putting their lives on the line to just bring the news, bring the facts, bring information to the world, I have extraordinary admiration for what they do, for the courage that they show, and for the vital importance of their mission.
And we want to make sure that, just as every civilian is protected to the greatest extent possible, of course, journalists are too. And they're -- when it comes to instances where journalists have been killed, we want to make sure that that's investigated, and we understand what's happened, and there's accountability.
TAPPER: Congress is scrambling to reach a deal to pass foreign aid for Ukraine and Israel. Republicans are insisting on more border funding and new asylum restrictions, that that be added to the bill.
What would it mean for Ukraine and Israel if Congress does not pass any additional support by the end of the year? And why not agree to tougher border protections, which is an issue of national security as well?
BLINKEN: Well, Jake, the border piece, as you know, is out of my purview, but I can say this.
I know, on day one of this administration, or at least day two, the president put before Congress, I think, the first bill on immigration reform. Unfortunately, Congress hasn't acted on that.
In this request for additional funds, there are $6 billion to enhance border security, including having more people, more agents on the border. So, I know that's very much part of the discussion and something the president's fully prepared to engage on.
But in terms of what it would mean for Ukraine, what it would mean for Israel, what it would mean for our efforts to be competitive in the Indo-Pacific, I think the only people who'd be happy if the supplemental budget request is not voted on and approved by Congress are sitting in Moscow, sitting in Tehran, sitting in Beijing.
For Ukraine, this is absolutely vital. They have made remarkable progress over the last year in pushing back Russian aggression, taking back more than 50 percent of the territory that was seized since February of 2022. But they're in a ferocious battle now in the south and the east.
We are running out of funding for them. By the way, 90 percent of the assistance, the security assistance, that we provided Ukraine is actually invested right here in the United States to our companies, to our manufacturers.
Similarly, we have had extraordinary burden-sharing with our allies and partners. We have provided very significant assistance, about $70 billion over the last two years, our European friends and partners beyond Europe more than $110 billion for Ukraine. So we have the burden-sharing that we need.
This is a time to really step up, because, if we don't, we know what happens. Putin will be able to move forward with impunity, and we know he won't stop in Ukraine. And he may well end up going after a NATO country. That would bring us in, given our obligations to our NATO allies.
So, here, an ounce of prevention is really worth 10 pounds of cure.
TAPPER: Antony, as you know, CNN has led the coverage when it comes to the evidence mounting in Israel of rapes and sex crimes committed by Hamas against women and girls, maybe even against men, on October 7.
Why do you think the United Nations and the international community has been so slow to condemn these atrocities? I can't think of a real reason. Well, let me just put it this way. I have heard antisemitism hypothesized as a reason why the U.N. and the international community might be so slow to acknowledge this.
What do you think?
BLINKEN: Jake, first, I really applaud the extraordinary work of CNN in bringing this to light and bringing this before the world. You have performed a remarkable service in doing that.
As to your question, I don't have an answer. I don't know why countries, leaders, international organizations were so slow to focus on this, to bring it to people's attention. I'm glad it's finally happened.
The atrocities that we saw on October 7 are almost beyond human description or beyond our capacity to digest. And we have talked about them before. But the sexual violence that we saw on October 7 is beyond anything that I have seen either.
So, thank you for doing that.
And, look, I don't have a good answer to that question. I think it's a question that these organizations, these countries need to ask themselves.
TAPPER: Secretary of State Antony Blinken, thanks for joining us today. Appreciate it.
BLINKEN: Thanks, Jake. Good to be with you.
TAPPER: Have Republicans who oppose more aid to Ukraine already won the fight in Congress?
Senator J.D. Vance of Ohio joins me next on that and a report he's on Donald Trump's vice presidential short list.
Plus, could world leaders actually agree this week to phase out fossil fuels? Former Vice President Al Gore will join me ahead.
Stay with us.
TAPPER: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper.
We're five weeks out from the Iowa caucuses, but much of the political dialogue this week centered on what a second Trump term might look like, particularly after comments by the former president and former aides. Last night, Trump called concerns about what he might do in office -- quote -- "the threat to democracy hoax."
For more on that and the debate that is dividing the Senate, key Trump ally and Republican senator J.D. Vance of Ohio joins me now live in studio.
Thanks so much for being here. Really appreciate it. So, you just heard Secretary Blinken trying to make the case for aid
to both Israel and Ukraine. You and Senate Republicans recently blocked the package to support Ukraine and Israel, among the reasons, more support for a border package to protect the Southern border.
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, however, talking about the aid for Israel and Ukraine, said that threats from Russia, China, Iran, Hamas are all interconnected. I want you to take a listen to what he had to say.
SEN. J.D. VANCE (R-OH): Sure.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): The challenges facing America and our allies today are not a la carte menu of projects we can address at our leisure.
America doesn't have the luxury of facing these threats individually. Our ability to contend with complex simultaneous threats is exactly what our adversaries are testing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Now, you disagree with that, and you oppose aid to Ukraine. Explain your position.
VANCE: Well, so, first of all, Jake, I think it's possible to have separate debates. In fact, congressional Republicans tried to force an Israel-alone aid package just a couple of weeks ago that Democrats blocked in the Senate.
So we can have separate debates. And I think that we need to have separate debates. But on the Ukraine question, in particular, everybody knows, everybody with a brain in their head, Jake, knows that this was always going to end in negotiation.
The idea that Ukraine was going to throw Russia back to the 1991 borders was preposterous. Nobody actually believed it. So what we're saying to the president and really to the entire world is, you need to articulate what the ambition is. What is $61 billion going to accomplish that $100 billion hasn't?
We have to remember, Jake, Ukraine is functionally destroyed as a country. The average age of a soldier in the Ukrainian army right now is 43. That's tragic. That's older than me. I'm 39. If this thing goes on a little bit longer, the average age of the Ukrainian soldier is going to be older than you, and then, a year later, it could be a Wolf Blitzer.
That is a tragedy. What does it look like?
TAPPER: I don't like this age graph thing you're doing. Go ahead.
VANCE: I'm sorry, Jake.
TAPPER: I'm 54, for those wondering.
VANCE: I -- I...
VANCE: We are getting to a place...
VANCE: ... where we're going to be functionally on the hook to pay for Ukrainian pensioners, to rebuild the entire country.
VANCE: We need to bring the killing to a stop, and that's what American leadership should be doing, not writing more blank checks to the war.
TAPPER: So what do you make of the argument, though, that, if the U.S. and NATO and the E.U. cede part of Ukraine to Putin or even all of Ukraine to Putin, that really all we're doing is putting out the welcome mat for him to then invade a country that is in the NATO alliance, such as Poland?
VANCE: So, there's two reasons I don't buy this.
First of all, Putin has showed he's much weaker than a lot of people feared. The Ukrainians have fought bravely. They have also stalled Putin at a very small amount of territorial gain relative to the entire country. The idea that he can march to Poland or Berlin is preposterous.
And the other thing that this really misses here is, we have to remember, our NATO allies, with the exception of a few Eastern Europeans, are not carrying their fair share of the burden. Most of them don't even spend 2 percent of their GDP on defense.
If Putin is a threat to Berlin, that means the Germans should be changing something about their defense policy. It doesn't mean we can write indefinite checks to Ukraine.
TAPPER: Right, but Russia has been proven to be something of a paper tiger because the U.S. has been helping Ukraine, right? I mean, that's the reason.
VANCE: Well, it's also because, of course, the Ukrainians have fought very bravely.
And I think it's also because, look, you cannot occupy an entire territory the size of Ukraine with the amount of troops that Russia has. The idea that you can go even further and control multiple European nations is, I think, a scare tactic to get people distracted from the fact that our Ukraine policy just doesn't make a ton of sense. I listened to Secretary Blinken. What are we trying to do, Jake? What
is the end goal here? How long does this go? Until the president can articulate the answer to those questions, I don't know why we would write another blank check.
TAPPER: Well, I guess the argument might be -- and I'm certainly not sure. Secretary Blinken, but the argument might be that Russia invaded a sovereign nation that is an ally, and what Russia -- and this is pretty -- pretty stark morality tale, that what Russia is doing is evil, and Putin's goals are, as he has stated them time and time again, to rebuild the former USSR.
VANCE: It is a stark morality tale Jake, but we can't make strategic decisions based on stark morality tales. We have to figure out what is in America's best interest.
We have a food crisis that's getting worse because of the prolonged war in Eastern Europe. We have an energy crisis that's threatening to swamp multiple allied governments in Western Europe. What's in America's best interest is to accept Ukraine is going to have to cede some territory to the Russians and we need to bring this war to a close.
But when I think about the great human tragedy here, hundreds of thousands of Eastern Europeans, innocent, have been killed in this conflict. The thing that's in our interest and in theirs is to stop the killing.
TAPPER: Let's turn to some domestic issues, especially on your doorstep.
Ohio's new constitutional amendment protecting abortion rights went into effect Thursday. You said after it passed -- quote -- "We have to recognize how much voters mistrust us on this issue," us meaning Republicans.
TAPPER: This week, the Texas Supreme Court is blocking a woman in Texas from obtaining an abortion, even though her fetus has a rare genetic condition that is almost always fatal.
And her doctors want her to be able to get this so that she's able to have babies in the future and for her health. Isn't that situation an example of why many voters might not trust Republicans?
VANCE: Well, I don't know the details of that story, Jake, but I will say that we have to accept that people do not want blanket abortion bans. They just don't.
And I say this as a person who wants to protect as many unborn babies as possible. We have to provide exceptions for the life of the mother, for rape, and so forth. That is just a basic necessity.
And when I say that people don't really trust us, Jake, what I'm getting at is, look, I am luckily a person of means, but I have been shocked by, you go to the hospital, you have a baby, you get a $20,000 unexpected bill. What does that look like for a middle-class family that is trying to figure out how to pay the mortgage?
We have made it way too hard to have children and to have families in this country. In that environment, if people see Republicans not as the party that's trying to make it easier to have babies, but is just trying to take people's rights away, then we're going to lose.
I want to protect as many unborn babies as possible. I also think we have to win the trust back of the American people. And one of the ways to do that is to be the truly pro-family party. I think we are. We have got to carry that message forward and actually enact some public policy to that effect.
TAPPER: Does -- is birth control part of that policy, empowering women to be able to make those decisions before they get pregnant?
VANCE: Look, obviously, people need to be able to make those decisions. I don't think that I know any Republican, at least not a Republican with a brand, that's trying to take those rights away from people.
But I think it goes deeper than that.
TAPPER: I mean, I could provide a list for you, if you wanted.
VANCE: Well, OK. Not anybody I talk to, Jake.
But, look, I think the more important question is, I talk to a lot of people, a lot of young families who want to have babies. They can't afford mortgages.
VANCE: They're terrified about health care expenses. We have got to answer those questions for people. We have got to have a role to play, because, look, we have a real problem in this country.
Not enough American families that want to have children are able to do it. That's how you destroy a nation.
TAPPER: Let's turn to Trump, because there are a lot of conservatives who have deep concerns about President Trump, a second term, and democracy if he's reelected.
Take a listen to what former Congresswoman Liz Cheney told me this week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FMR. REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): He already tried to seize power once. So it shouldn't be hard for anybody to imagine that he will do it again. Once a president decides that he's above the law, as Donald Trump has, everything unravels nearly immediately. (END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Do you really have no concerns that Donald Trump might try to abuse his power if reelected?
VANCE: No, Jake, I don't.
Look, the guy was president for four years. We had peace. We had prosperity. We had wages rising faster than inflation. Joe Biden has been president for three years now. The average Ohio family pays $10,000 more to afford the same standard of living.
The idea that Trump is going to be radically different than what he was four years ago is just preposterous. He was an effective, successful president. I think he will be an effective, successful president again. That's why I have endorsed him.
And I think this desire to make the election all about the past is indicative of the fact that Democrats don't have much to run on, and I think Republicans do.
TAPPER: Well, with respect, the one talking about the past more than anyone is Donald Trump, and he's out there talking about how the 2020 election was stolen from him. He's using all sorts of bogus evidence, lies, assertions that were disputed and overruled by court after court, judge after judge, election board after election board, judges and election boards that Republicans -- and judges that were appointed by him.
I mean, he's really the one focused on 2020.
VANCE: So, look, you just showed me a clip of Liz Cheney, and I think that's a person who is clearly obsessed with 2020 and talks almost nothing other than January 6 of 2021.
I think, if you look at what the president is out there campaigning on, he's campaigning on redelivering peace and prosperity for the American people. Now, if you want to talk about the 2020 election, we can have that conversation, but I want to talk about and I think President Trump wants to talk about the future.
That's what this election is going to be decided on. That's what I'm focused on.
TAPPER: Well, I think the concern is that he wouldn't stock his administration with the J.D. Vances of the world. He would stock them with individuals who would not be able to tell him no.
One voice that I have heard people express concern about is a guy named Kash Patel. He was on the NSC. He served briefly as the chief of staff of the Pentagon. Here's what he had to say on Steve Bannon's podcast earlier this week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KASH PATEL, FORMER DEPUTY ASSISTANT TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: We will go out and find the conspirators, not just in government, but in the media. Yes, we're going to come after the people in the media who lied about American citizens, who helped Joe Biden rig presidential elections.
We're going to come after you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VANCE: So, look, I know Kash very well.
Let me -- let me think -- talk about what I think he was talking about, though I didn't see the full context of the clip, Jake.
TAPPER: You sound like a University of Pennsylvania president.
VANCE: We know...
VANCE: We know, in 2020...
VANCE: ... that there were massive pieces of evidence that were suppressed by collusion between the national security state in this country and various -- various...
TAPPER: You're talking about the Hunter Biden laptop.
VANCE: The Hunter Biden laptop story. The reason that...
TAPPER: It was out there.
VANCE: The reason that -- no, it was suppressed on social media.
TAPPER: For like a day or two on Twitter.
VANCE: Jake, millions of Americans -- there have been studies on this -- didn't see that story that would have seen it if there hadn't been that collusion between these technology companies and members of the media who had security clearances.
These people were using the trust acquired over a lifetime of public service and lying to the American people in order...
TAPPER: So, you agree with Kash Patel?
VANCE: I agree that we need to look seriously at how there was collusion between members of the press and big technology companies and members of national security state.
Jake, that's not journalism. It is not journalism to take your security clearance, lie to the American people, and then persuade the big technology companies to censor anti-Joe Biden stories. That's not journalism. That is cooperation between the government and journalism.
It's the opposite.
TAPPER: Well, Donald Trump was president at the time that any censorship was going on, so nobody in government -- I mean, any Biden people were not -- that were asking that were not in the government at the time.
But I will just say, as somebody that tried to see the laptop, Rudy Giuliani wouldn't let us see the laptop. He wouldn't let us. So we weren't able to report on it, because he wanted us just to go by his word.
VANCE: Jake, I'm much less concerned about what you were reporting on and much more concerned about the fact that millions of Americans get their news through social media, and we know the FBI was working with the social media companies to censor a troubling story.
VANCE: I think, when we talk about threats to democracy, that's crazy. The FBI encouraging private companies to censor journalists? That should really piss a lot of people off you included.
TAPPER: So, before you go, Axios is reporting that you're on Donald Trump's short list possibly for 2024 to be V.P. Any interest?
VANCE: Look, I was elected to be a senator for the people of Ohio. I think that's the way that I'm most effective. But I'm going to help Trump however I can, because I think he was a good president.
I think the American people will benefit from having him president again.
TAPPER: All right, J.D. Vance, thanks so much for being here, Senator. Really appreciate it.
The world's leaders are huddling right now over the climate. Does Al Gore think they're doing enough to heal our planet? He's here next.
Stay with us.
TAPPER: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper.
As the world's climate nears a breaking point, world leaders are in the UAE, of all places, this weekend, hammering out an agreement to try to stop rising temperatures. Experts insist you cannot do that without phasing out fossil fuels. But oil-producing nations are pushing back strongly on that, not surprisingly, including the host of the climate conference. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
TAPPER: And joining me now is former Vice President Al Gore.
Vice President Gore, thanks so much for joining us.
So, you were just with world leaders at the COP 28 global climate summit being hosted by the UAE, one of the biggest oil-producing countries in the world. The president of the summit is the CEO of a state-run oil company, who recently said that there's no science to support phasing out fossil fuels. That's obviously not true.
This all feels like having an arsonist host a fire prevention seminar. Do you have any hope that something substantive can actually come out of this?
GORE: Well, Jake, they have overreached.
The fossil fuel industry has sought to control and manipulate this process for a long time. They're way better at capturing politicians than capturing emissions. But they have gone too far. And I think that it could possibly end up as a kind of blessing in disguise, because it has awakened a lot of people to how absurd this situation is.
The climate crisis is a fossil fuel crisis. And they try to pretend that they can separate fossil fuels from emissions from the fossil fuels and keep on burning them and catch the emissions on the way into the air. It's kind of ridiculous.
Maybe, one day in the future, that might be possible, but it's nowhere feasible. It's nowhere close to being feasible now. Anyway, I think there's a chance that we could see a surprisingly good outcome here, if the majority of the countries there hold on to -- hold on their convictions and demand a phaseout of fossil fuels. I'm hoping.
TAPPER: For people who are not familiar with this conference, can you explain why on earth a climate conference would be held in a major oil-producing country to begin with?
GORE: Well, it's kind of ridiculous. It should not be, although it's not so much that it's in a country that produces oil.
It's the appointment of the CEO of one of the biggest and least responsible oil companies on the planet to be the head of the conference. And here's the reason that's a direct conflict of interests, Jake. He's charged with the -- by the U.N. with the responsibility of guiding the world toward a sharp phasedown of these greenhouse gas emissions, which mainly come from burning fossil fuels.
But he's charged by his sovereign, the -- and the company that he heads with a massive expansion of fossil fuels. They have got a plan to expand production of both oil and gas by an enormous amount, starting the minute the gavel bangs to end this conference. And that's a direct conflict of interests. And it's not a nitpicking
thing to point that out. The people of our world deserve to have some confidence that this process has integrity. And we have been seeing the fossil fuel polluters try to manipulate this process for a long time, and the world's running out of patience, because this is so serious now.
We're in the hottest year ever measured. We're seeing these extreme climate-related weather events just causing havoc all over the world. And the scientists, who've been spot on and dead right in their past predictions, we have seen it play out, we need to give them careful attention to what they're saying would happen if we don't phase out fossil fuels.
So we have got to do it. And I'm hopeful that, this time, we will really finally see some meaningful action.
TAPPER: It does look like the 2024 election will come down to President Biden versus former President Trump.
And I'm wondering what you think the world would look like under President Trump being reelected, which is certainly a possibility, not only when it comes to the climate, but also when it comes to democracy.
GORE: Well, I saw the other day where he pledged to be a dictator on day one, and you kind of wonder what it'll take for people to believe him when he tells us who he is.
And the solution to political despair is political action. And for those in the Republican Party and the Democratic Party and independents who love American democracy and who want to preserve our capacity to govern ourselves and solve our problems, now's the time to get active.
There's a mental health crisis around the world, Jake, that we hear people talking about. I think that one of the main reasons for that is that young people look at the fact that we are not yet solving the climate crisis or dealing with some of these other challenges. And we hear this word thrown around, polycrisis.
Well, solving the climate crisis is a poly-solution. We know what to do. We have the means to do it, and we have to make sure of that we make the right political choices in our democracy to enable ourselves to make the right choices.
TAPPER: I also have to ask you, sir, because you are a Harvard alum.
The presidents of Harvard, Penn and MIT were before Congress this past week, and they were asked whether or not it -- explicitly calling for the genocide of Jews on their campus would constitute harassment, and they seemed to struggle with that, although the presidents of Penn and Harvard issued clarifying statements.
[09:40:10] And I was wondering what your reaction to it, as somebody who has been a strong supporter of the Jewish community, a strong supporter of Israel, and also, as I noted, a proud Harvard alum.
GORE: Well, I was shocked by the tone-deafness of those comments. And I think they got bad legal advice in putting together what they were going to say.
And they sure -- they certainly do need to clarify that. And we need to respect one another in our country. And when statements of the kind that were -- they were asked about come out, we need to stand against them and stand firm as Americans for respect for all of the communities that make up America.
E pluribus unum. We need to be one country.
TAPPER: And, lastly, obviously, for eight years, the Clinton/Gore White House grappled with the issue of the Israeli-Palestinian crisis.
Your former boss a few years ago said he killed himself to try to settle the issue once and for all. Obviously, there was a deal on the table when he had the leaders of Israel and the Palestinian people in the United States, trying to offer a deal.
Given all that history, given the blood, sweat and tears of the Clinton/Gore administration to try to bring peace to the region, what goes through your mind when you see the crisis unfolding as it is right now?
GORE: Well, it's heartbreaking, and beginning, of course, with the Hitler-level atrocities of October, just unbelievably horrific.
And, of course, as our secretary of defense has said, it's important not to make the same kind of mistakes that our country made after 9/11 that ended up making things worse. So, the suffering of civilians in Gaza has to be attended to.
And the response to the atrocities of October 7 have -- are what Israel has a right to pursue. But it needs to do it in a way that doesn't end up making the situation worse. And I think there probably are a majority in Israel that agree with that.
We have to go back to the two-state solution, Jake. Sometimes, a solution appears to be so hard that people quit talking about it. And Hamas doesn't want a two-state solution, and some even Cabinet members of Netanyahu don't want a two-state solution.
But the majority understand that is where this needs to go in order to solve it for the long term.
TAPPER: Vice President Al Gore, always a pleasure. Thank you so much for your time today, sir.
GORE: Thank you, Jake.
(END VIDEOTAPE) TAPPER: A new poll has Nikki Haley up double digits in a hypothetical matchup against Joe Biden. We will dig into what's behind those numbers with my panel next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Under no circumstances, you are promising America tonight, you would never abuse power as retribution against anybody.
TRUMP: Except for day one.
He says, you're not going to be a dictator, are you? I said, no, no, no, other than day one.
He said that I want to be a dictator. I didn't say that. I said, I want to be a dictator for one day. And you know why I wanted to be a dictator? Because I want a wall.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION.
Donald Trump says he wants to be a dictator, but don't worry, it will only be for one day.
My panel joins me now.
Boy, Sean Hannity was really trying to help him there.
MIA LOVE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: He was like, listen, this is, I'm giving it to you. I'm giving it to you. Just say, absolutely not, I mean, trying so hard to help.
LOVE: Just giving it to him.
TAPPER: And he wouldn't do it.
LOVE: And he wouldn't take it.
LOVE: He couldn't do it.
DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, he got too cute by half, I think. He wanted to make this point that look that I'm -- let's first stipulate Donald Trump doesn't believe in rules or laws or norms or institutions. He thinks they're for suckers. And part of his message is, I'm not going to let that stuff get in the
way. We're just going to drill. We're going to build that wall and take care of the border. And he thought this was a cute way to say that. But he intermingled it with this word.
And, by the way, he's given us enough evidence that he does have these autocratic designs...
AXELROD: ... that everybody lit their hair on fire.
TAPPER: So that's the thing, because it's not really about the wall and it's not really about energy. It's about the other things he said that suggest autocratic impulses.
Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I will appoint a real special prosecutor to go after the most corrupt president in the history of the United States of America, Joe Biden.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
TRUMP: If I happen to be president and I see somebody who's doing well and beating me very badly, I say, go down and indict them.
GLENN BECK, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: And if you're president again, will you lock people up?
TRUMP: The answer is, you have no choice because they're doing it to us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: And that's just a little pastiche, it's a little sampling of it.
And he's not going to have around him next time, should there be a next time, the John Kellys and the Bill Barrs and the Mark Espers. He's going to have around him a bunch of people who just say, yes, that's a great idea.
KRISTEN SOLTIS ANDERSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: There are a lot of people who came out of that first administration who I do not think would be very interested in going back for a second time.
So I think you're right. You're going to see a very different cast in season two of Trump as president. And the real challenge is that for -- and I see this on both sides a little bit, that people feel like their own side in politics has been losing, that they have been on the losing end and that it is the other side that doesn't care about rules, that is willing to break norms, that is willing to do what it takes to take power. [09:50:03]
And you find that that Trump is the very potent vehicle for that entire way of thinking on the right, the idea that -- I mean, he talks about Republicans being weak far more than he ever talks about Democrats being weak.
This has been a key part of his message from day one. It has been core to his appeal to Republican voters.
REP. RO KHANNA (D-CA): I think it's time for the Democratic Party to turn the election, not in a referendum on Joe Biden, but to vividly point out what a Donald Trump presidency is going to mean.
It's going to mean, by his own admission, a Muslim plan on day one. It's going to mean that you have the politicization of the Justice Department to have prosecutions against people he calls vermin. And it's going to mean cuts for people who are struggling today, cuts in education, cuts in housing assistance, cuts in possibly Social Security and Medicare with a debt commission.
The way we win this campaign is to vividly describe what a Donald Trump presidency is going to mean.
TAPPER: If he becomes the nominee, we should note, because with five weeks until the Iowa caucuses, a new "Wall Street Journal" poll shows President Biden ties with Ron DeSantis in a hypothetical matchup. He trails Donald Trump by four points, but he would lose to Nikki Haley by a whopping 17 points, 17 points.
That suggests a whole lot of Democrats and independents that look at the choice of Biden and Haley and think, oh, that's a no-brainer. And yet, Kristen Soltis Anderson, she's still not likely to get the nomination.
SOLTIS ANDERSON: So I think Nikki Haley would be an enormously formidable force in November of 2024. I would not put money on her winning the presidential election by 17 points or whatever the poll found.
TAPPER: Right, of course not. But...
SOLTIS ANDERSON: That's probably an exaggeration.
TAPPER: That's never happened.
SOLTIS ANDERSON: But she is -- I think there is plenty of data that shows it's very clear she would be the most electable of the options Republicans have in front of them.
The problem she's facing is, that to sort of use a "Star Wars" analogy, she's got to do like...
SOLTIS ANDERSON: ... the trench run on the Death Star. Like, everything has to go right in order for her to, first of all, win in New Hampshire.
And then you have got the Empire is going to strike back in South Carolina. I mean, the gauntlet that she has to run to be the nominee is enormous.
AXELROD: This is the dilemma for the Republican Party. And we saw it last year in the midterm elections.
The things that it takes to get nominated in that party make you a bad general election candidate. The things that would make you a good general election candidate make you objectionable to the party's base. It's hard to be a center-right Republican and do well in this process.
TAPPER: Congresswoman, you agree?
LOVE: I think she's threading that very well, though. I think she's actually doing a better job than anybody else threading that line, making sure she shows her conservative policies and also she can be mainstream.
TAPPER: Yes, but she's not. I mean, Donald Trump is still far and away the leader for the nomination. And it's not even close.
LOVE: It's not even close.
But I do think that there is a pathway for Nikki Haley. I do. I think that even Republicans -- I mean, think about this. Even Republicans are saying, I have had enough, I can't do another four years of this.
TAPPER: Not enough of them.
KHANNA: ... is going to be abortion, as David pointed out, and as you asked J.D. Vance.
I mean, they are on the extreme right. You have got Donald Trump, who appointed three justices, who took away women's rights, and you have so much of the party saying, no exceptions for rape, or, in Texas, where the health of the mother is at stake.
Nikki Haley at least is saying some exceptions, and that's probably why she's not going to win. It's Donald Trump who's upholding the extreme abortion policies,by the way, that even Ronald Reagan and George Bush didn't have, and I think that's another reason the Democrats will win.
AXELROD: This point -- I think Haley, first of all, she's a tremendously skilled politician, and I think she's done very well in this process.
But the nature of this process is, the better you do, the better you have to do, and the more scrutiny you get. And so trying to walk the line and please everyone in that party becomes harder and harder, and you get challenged. Right now, DeSantis is running, or one of the PACs supporting him, a
kind of Nikki Haley conflicting statement ad, like a flip-flop ad. "Tricky Nikki," they call her. This is a vulnerability, so we will see. If she actually becomes competitive with Trump, my guess is he's not going to wave her through.
TAPPER: Right. No.
SOLTIS ANDERSON: I want to disagree with one...
LOVE: The Koch brothers came out and supported her.
SOLTIS ANDERSON: I want to disagree with one thing, though.
I think that the fact that she takes a more sort of nuanced stance on abortion is not the reason or even a really contributing factor to why she's not first in this primary. The reality is that Republican voters just still kind of like Donald Trump, and that a lot of these candidates running against him have not tried to lay a glove on him too much up until this point.
AXELROD: Right, including her.
SOLTIS ANDERSON: There hasn't been a sustained assault on Donald Trump.
LOVE: ... on her.
SOLTIS ANDERSON: He's been able to ride above it all, and so that's a big -- yes, in the last debate, she certainly had all the cannons turn toward her.
So I think that's part of it too. Republican voters, they may like Nikki Haley. They may even agree with her position, that more nuanced view, but they think Donald Trump did a good job in his first term. And until Republican voters believe otherwise, that's what's going to make it so hard to overcome him in the primary.
TAPPER: And then what about what about the threat to democracy that so many people, including Liz Cheney, feel he poses?
SOLTIS ANDERSON: So, I mean, I think of somebody like a Liz Cheney.
She's sort of made noises about, is she going to run for president? A lot of folks that really have those concerns have left the party. They could be open to voting for a third-party candidate, but, frankly, I think that hurts Joe Biden more than it would hurt Donald Trump in a general election.
TAPPER: All right, thanks, one and all for being here. Appreciate it.
LOVE: But the other thing I wanted to say...
LOVE: ... Ro Khanna is right about going and saying, this is what's going to help the Democrat Party, is by pointing out what a Trump presidency looks like. But...
TAPPER: If they successfully make that argument.
LOVE: But there's also an argument that's actually working against Joe Biden, in terms of what he's doing today and how it's hurting the American people.
LOVE: They just -- they're just going to keep going. I mean, it's not -- we're still suffering from inflation. We're still suffering from...
TAPPER: Tune in this week to two CNN town halls with Republican presidential candidates in Iowa.
On Tuesday, I'm going to host Governor Ron DeSantis at 9:00 p.m. On Wednesday, Abby Phillip will host a town hall with Vivek Ramaswamy. We hope you will join us.
She is a barrier-breaker on and off the tennis court, but what is it like to be Billie Jean King? My co-host Dana Bash got to know the tennis star, and you can too. Tune into "Being Billie Jean King." That's tonight at 10:00 p.m. Eastern right after "CNN Heroes."
Thank you for spending your Sunday morning with us.
"FAREED ZAKARIA GPS" starts next.