Return to Transcripts main page
The Van Jones Show
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Andrew Gillum Talk About Donald Trump, Potential Government Shutdown, Michael Cohen and The National Enquirer, ICE, Immigration, NRA, #MeToo, Florida Governor's Race, Voter Suppression, President Obama. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired December 15, 2018 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[19:00:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
VAN JONES, HOST AND CNN COMMENTATOR: Good evening. I'm Van Jones. Welcome to "The Van Jones Show". We got a powerful show for you tonight. We got two big stars in the Democratic Party. Both have got some 2020 presidential buzz going for them. Tonight you're going to hear from New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and the Democratic nominee in the 2018 Florida Governor's race, Andrew Gillum both on "The Van Jones Show".
Now, we all know it's been a rough week for the Trump presidency, as usual. I'm going to get to that. I'll get to that. But it's the holiday season, and before I talk about the many ways that Trump has been naughty, I want to point out two areas where the Trump administration has actually been nice.
Number one, it looks like Trump's very strong and vocal support of criminal justice reform may actually be paying off. Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell has agreed to bring forward the First Step Act to a vote in the senate next week. If the bill passes, 100, 000 Americans behind bars right now will have the right to earn their way home a little bit sooner and be reunited with their loved ones.
I love this thing. I worked on it really hard with the #cut50 campaign, which is about criminal justice and I am excited about that. So that's one good thing. There's another good thing on the nice list.
President Trump signed an Executive Order implementing opportunity zones, which is a tax incentive program. It could drive billions of dollars of private capital into communities that really need that.
Now, some critics are pointing out that some of Trump's friends and family are taking advantage of the tax break. But the outcome still helps people, so I see that program as a good thing. So, see, I'm fair. So there you are. There's your nice list.
And now the naughty list, it's long. I can't get to all of it. You're refusing to hold the Saudi Prince accountable for the death of a journalist, rejecting reports on the climate crisis, the treatment of asylum seekers at the border is terrible, especially in light of that 7-year-old girl who died while in custody at the border control, all that stuff is bad. But what stands out the most to me is that Donald Trump continues to try to outsmart and outspend his biggest political enemy, the truth. But he can't do it. In fact, he keeps getting fact checked and reality checked in real-time in big and often embarrassing ways.
I don't know if you saw soon to be Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer talking to Trump. Trump was trying to defend his beloved border wall and he wound up getting schooled and spanked on live TV.
NANCY PELOSI, MINORITY LEADER OF THE UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: What the President is representing in terms of his cards over there are not factual. We have to have an evidence based conversation.
JONES: And not only did Schumer and Pelosi publicly remind the President that he didn't have the votes in Congress for a wall and that Mexico is still not paying for the wall, but they even got him to take responsibility for a potential government shutdown.
Now, even more serious than that, Trump is facing new revelations about the hush money payments to his alleged mistresses. Trump denies these affairs. But do you remember this?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, did you know about the $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels?
DONALD TRUMP, 45TH U.S. PRESIDENT: No, no.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Then why -- why did Michael Cohen make this, if there was no truth to the allegation?
TRUMP: Well, you have to ask Michael Cohen. Michael's my attorney, and you'll have to ask Michael Cohen.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you know where he got the money to make that payment?
TRUMP: I don't know, no.
JONES: Well, the FBI took him up on that, and they asked Michael. And Michael Cohen and The National Enquirer's parent company quickly confessed that they had paid hush money to help Trump win the election, and that's a crime. And Trump's own Justice Department says that Cohen made payments at Trump's direction.
So, what are the consequences here? Well, The National Enquirer's parent company actually escaped criminal charges by making a deal with the prosecutors and agreeing to cooperate in the probe, and Michael Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison. But first, he's doing an interview, saying that Trump isn't just lying about the hush money, he's also lying about his campaign's dealings with Russia and other stuff.
MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER TRUMP ATTORNEY: The man doesn't tell the truth and it's sad that I should take responsibility for his dirty deeds.
JONES: So that is all I need to say. That's beyond naughty. This is now a snowballing crisis of truth that threatens the Trump Presidency itself. Check out this tweet from former Nixon lawyer, John Dean.
[19:05:00] He says, "Trump's campaign, Trump's transition, Trump's inauguration, Trump's presidency, plus Trump and plus Trump and family all are under state and federal criminal and civil investigations. This is much more damning than Watergate and it is just getting started".
And he is right about that, because next year, the democrats take over the House, and they're going to fire like a thousand subpoenas over the wall at Trump and his staff and Mueller will be getting closer to releasing his findings.
So next year, we're going to need some leaders to guide us through this tumultuous time, give us some hope, and one such leader has emerged in the senate. Her hard and messy truths are making waves on the right and the left and she is with us tonight. Please welcome to "The Van Jones Show", Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.
KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND, U.S. SENATOR: Hi, Jones. Thank you for having me on.
JONES: Thank you very much.
GILLIBRAND: It's a delight. Hi.
JONES: I told you. I told you. All right. I am so honored to have you here. I hope you heard my intro. But it seems to me that the legal appeal for the President just got a lot worse this week. Is that the way you see it?
GILLIBRAND: I saw it the same way. I think not only has the Michael Cohen sentencing really clarified how much trouble he and his family are actually in, but it shows the depth of it. That it's -- it is collusion, it is fraud, it is obstruction of justice, and all those allegations are real. And I think what Mueller's trying to develop are the facts around these allegations and present it to the American public so we can have transparency.
The most important thing that we can do in the senate right now is protect the Mueller investigation. It's outrageous that Senator McConnell has been unwilling to let this bipartisan bill actually get voted on. It is essential that this investigation is completed, that he is allowed to follow the facts where they lead, and make a presentation to Congress.
JONES: You said we got to get McConnell to change his mind. What would get the Republicans to act better and act differently?
GILLIBRAND: To flip the Senate in 2020 and I think then we're in charge. No, but more than that, I think we have to keep talking about the needs of the people that we serve. We're public servants first. We're supposed to be helping people.
JONES: The last bipartisan moment that we saw, though, was -- in the White House with Chuck and Nancy talking to Pence and Trump. How do you feel that Chuck and Nancy did in that famous exchange now between them and the President?
GILLIBRAND: Well, they did very well. Senator Schumer just smiled as he said, "I will shut down government. It will be a Trump shutdown". And Chuck's like, uh-huh. Yes, it will, that very confident smile.
And Nancy Pelosi showed that she is tough as nails, that she is an extraordinary person who understands not only the power she brings to the table, but how important the American people's voices are in that meeting.
JONES: Was it frustrating to you to see people turning on Nancy Pelosi after she--
JONES: -- she had such a tremendous victory?
GILLIBRAND: It's very frustrating, because she's really effective. She's one of the best power players ever in the history of ever and she was one of the reasons why we were able to pass Obamacare and actually begin the conversation as healthcare is a right and not a privilege. She was the one.
She's just effective and I don't know why people want to change leaders when you have someone who's exceedingly effective, who's getting it done and winning a majority in the House of Representatives.
JONES: Well, she's going to be tested, you're going to be tested, Schumer's going to be tested about this coming shutdown over the wall. What is your view? Are you willing to see America's government shut down to stop Trump from getting his wall?
GILLIBRAND: I got to tell you, a shutdown is bad for America and he should not be trying to shut down the government, because there's a lot of public servants and it affects real people. But I have to say this issue of immigration is breaking my heart, because a 7-year-old just died in custody.
A 7-year-old died in custody of dehydration. That happened in the United States. So, I am so upset about what's happening at our border that mothers and children, parents and children are still being separated. And we are not caring for the least among us. It is outrageous.
And so, this President's constant focus on this wall as, as Nancy Pelosi said is disturbing. It is just -- it is not good policy. It is a waste of money. And it's just going to continue to divide this country in a way that is not right. Of course, Democrats believe in border security, but a wall's not going to get you where you need to go.
JONES: Let's talk about that, because, you've evolved on the question of immigration. When you first started out, you were representing more of a rural district, more of a red district, and you were against sanctuary cities, et cetera. And over time, your position is different. How do you explain where you were and how you are now?
GILLIBRAND: It's opening your heart and meeting with people who are suffering because of terrible immigration policies.
[19:10:00] When you care about families being separated, when you hear about the trauma that's created in children's lives, you want to change that.
And so, when I became senator, I just spent more time talking to my constituents around the state and realized, I really didn't have it right. And so I changed, I changed my view, and I really do care about families and I care about immigrant children as much as I care about my own children, as we should. And that's who we are as Americans.
JONES: I love growth, but now where you are, people may wonder if it's wise. I mean, you've been criticizing ICE. You've got a lot of democrats saying abolish ICE. That's almost like saying abolish the police to a lot of people. How do you explain yourself to take a position so critical of a really important function for the government?
GILLIBRAND: So, Democrats believe in border security. Customs and borders actually in charge of border security. ICE was created in 2003, specifically with an anti-terrorism mission. Their job, after 9/11, was to make sure that we don't have cross border terrorism, to deal with human trafficking, to deal with drug trafficking, weapons trafficking.
And unfortunately, as 19 ICE agents actually wrote in a letter, because of the family separations at the border, it has so destroyed ICE's reputation that they are no longer able to accomplish their anti-terrorism mission. Not only--
JONES: People don't trust them or--
GILLIBRAND: Not only are funds being diverted to removal operations and enforcement operations, but local law enforcement are not trusting them to do the anti-terrorism operations. So, 19 ICE agents, heads of the anti-terrorism mission, wrote to the Secretary of Homeland Security and said you need to get rid of ICE because it is so destroyed. So, I believe you should disband it. You should take out those two missions, make sure you have a strong anti-terrorism mission that is fully funded that can stay under Homeland Security. But I believe that immigration should be under the Department of Justice where you have real judges who deal with asylum.
The fact that this President doesn't believe in asylum is an outrage. That is who we are as Americans. We're a country founded by immigrants. And so that mission should be dealt with so differently from a much more humanitarian perspective. We are not afraid of refugees.
JONES: But if you were a skeptical progressive, you kind of look at you and you say, well, you start off in a different place on immigration, and now you're more progressive on that. On guns, you started off more kind of pro Second Amendment. Now you went from having an "A" to an "F" from the NRA.
GILLIBRAND: "F", yes.
JONES: People are going to look at you and say, who is she? Is she growing? Is this authentic? Or is she just repositioning for higher office? How do you respond to those skeptical progressives who aren't sure if you mean what you say?
GILLIBRAND: I would encourage them to look at my heart, because when I became a senator almost ten years ago, I recognized that there was a lot of things I didn't know. And when I first met a mom and a dad who lost their daughter, Nyasia Prayer to a stray gun bullet and met all her classmates, I knew immediately there was no way I was not going to do something.
And so I immediately sat down -- and this was almost 10 years ago, with Commissioner Kelly and a lot of moms who had lost their children and said, what needs to be done? And the thing they wanted me to work on was get rid of gun trafficking, because 90% of weapons used in crimes in New York state and New York City come from out of state, and nearly all of them are illegal.
And that's why I wrote a Gun Trafficking Bill and it's why I've been fighting ever since to end trafficking, have universal background checks, make sure we get rid of assault weapons and large magazine clips and making sure people on the terror watch list can't buy weapons. So common sense stuff--
JONES: That's good stuff.
GILLIBRAND: But if you ask, Van, folks in Upstate New York where I used to represent, do you think these common sense ideas make sense, they would say yes.
GILLIBRAND: And so these are the common sense things we should all be fighting for and I should have been fighting for them before. JONES: For me, it's kind of -- sometimes it's painful because I'm like
-- these kids were getting shot. It was on TV even though we weren't a senator.
GILLIBRAND: I should have known.
JONES: Yes. So that's -- I think that's--
GILLIBRAND: There's no defense. I should have known, and I should have cared.
JONES: I am looking at you as somebody who might be in the White House someday, and I am hoping that you will love me enough to break some news on my show. Is it, or is it ain't? Are you running? What's going to happen? Let me know. Give me some ratings.
GILLIBRAND: Well, I'm definitely thinking about it, of course. And I'm going to think about it over the holidays with my children and my husband and I will make a decision soon. But I do think it's a moral question, and this is sort of where my faith drives me.
I do believe in these moments of great darkness, of great pain, of great suffering, of great division, of great hatred, that all of us are called to do something, to change that, to restore the light, to restore what is good in our world. And I feel very called at this moment to fight as hard as I possibly can to restore that.
[19:15:00] And whether I do that from the Senate or whether I do that as a Presidential candidate is decision I will make.
JONES: Why wouldn't you run? Like what would stop you from running?
GILLIBRAND: Well, I just need to make sure my family is ready. It's -- it is a very arduous and serious process, and I just have to make sure that we all believe in the cause. Now, we believe in the golden rule. We have always believed that you should treat others the way you want to be treated, except for this President, except for this presidency, except for the hate he has spewed constantly.
JONES: And he's spewed it at you personally.
JONES: This would be a very tough thing. I mean, he basically said that you were coming into his office willing to do anything for money--
GILLIBRAND: Yes, he did.
JONES: And you fought right back. Is that kind of nastiness, though, a deterrent for you to get in this race?
GILLIBRAND: No, I'm not afraid of him, and I'm not afraid of his nasty language and his name calling. I'm certainly not afraid of that. And I have a vision for America about what's right in the world. I do believe we should fight for each other's kids as hard as we fight for our own.
I do believe that we should restore the golden rule and actually care about one another and I do believe, no matter what block you grew up on, you should have a chance to live up to your god given potential and that means good schools, better public schools, debt free college, things that really make opportunity possible.
So I have that vision. And so, the question is, do I do that from a presidential platform or do I do it from the U.S. senate? And that is the question I will decide very soon.
JONES: We got Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren and you all are thinking about running for President? Does it get awkward at lunch? Is that weird? How does that work?
GILLIBRAND: Well, I'm rooting for all of them, because the truth is--
JONES: That's not possible.
GILLIBRAND: --they have to be better and they're all better than Trump. So one of us will be the nominee, one of us, of any of the people who are considering it, will be the nominee, and whoever that person is, I will promise you all of us will be helping that person.
JONES: We got a poll, we should put up at some point. I did notice in the poll that the top three were, I think, Biden, Bernie, and Beta, three Bus and all white guys. In a party as diverse as ours, does it worry you to see the top three being white guys?
GILLIBRAND: Yes. Why? Why?
JONES: I just -- I aspire for our country to recognize the beauty of our diversity in some point in the future and I hope someday we have a woman president. I love the fact that Barack Obama was our President for eight years.
I hope more people of color, not only aspire and win the presidency, because that's what makes America so extraordinary that we are all of that. We are everything. And I think a more inclusive America is a stronger America.
JONES: Wonderful isn't it? Can't get better than that. Senator Gillibrand has been called the #MeToo Senator. When we get back I'm going to ask her what she thinks about that title. We're also going to talk about some of the political fallout from her positions on the movement. All that stuff when we get back.
[19:20:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
JONES: Welcome back to "The Van Jones Show". I'm talking to Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. Now, listen, we're in a different moment now in, I think, American history in terms of the women's movement coming back under the #MeToo brand.
But you are not a band wagoner. You've been fighting for this stuff before it was popular. You were trying to clean up a lot of this stuff in the military, on college campuses. Why do you personally care so much about this issue?
JONES: I guess, it comes from meeting people who have felt they were worthless, because when you are abused or assaulted or treated so horribly, you feel devalued, and you feel -- you feel so much less than. And when I meet someone who has survived a sexual assault or any kind of sexual trauma or heard their story, it breaks my heart.
And when you meet with someone in the military who literally will die for this country, will give everything they have for this country, to not only be sexually assaulted and raped, but then disbelieved and then be retaliated against because they were the ones assaulted it's unacceptable.
And so the rage in me builds so intensely when people are discriminated against in that way. So interestingly, it was not an issue I ever intended to work on, ever, but it came to me over and over and over again. I don't know if you're a faith driven person.
JONES: I am.
GILLIBRAND: But there's this book of Esther in the Old Testament, and the whole story is about a woman who's picked out of nowhere to be this Queen of Persia. And she's young, and she's beautiful, and she's really inexperienced.
But when her uncle says the Jews are going to be slaughtered and you are the only one that can stop it. You have to be ready today. Maybe you're at this position at a time like this for a time such as this and you have to be brave.
And I just think it kept coming like, you need to look at this Kirsten. There's a lot of problems with women in the military, lot of sexually --I kept saying, I'll look at it and I never looked at it. Until finally, within several times, someone hands me a film and says, watch this, and it was called "The Invisible War" and it made me cry. I made my whole staff watch it. And I just said this is going to be our thing, we are not going to stop until we achieve this.
JONES: But you've also been fighting for that inside of Congress--
JONES: --which brings me to, of course, Al Franken.
JONES: How do you, looking back now, a lot of people were frustrated with you. They said you went to fast, a rush to judgment, maybe it wasn't fair the way that they went down with him. Looking back, how do you evaluate your role in Franken deciding to resign?
GILLIBRAND: So, sometimes you just have to do what's right, even if it's painful, even if it's hard, even if it's someone you like or love. And the truth was, there were eight credible allegations and the last person was a congressional staffer. And having worked in this space for five years, if I can't protect the
women in my work space, if I can't not only stand up for women who feel abused or feel harassed in our workplace, then I'm not doing my job, and so I just got to a point where enough was enough.
And you have young sons, I have young sons. The conversations I was having at home with my oldest son and Theo would say, mom, why are you being so tough on Al Franken? I said, Theo, let's be clear, you cannot grope women anywhere on their bodies without their consent. It's not OK for you, it's not OK for Senator Franken.
And so I chose not to stay silent, because that was my option. Say nothing and through my - say nothing defending, or say it's not OK with me. And so, after the eighth allegation, I just said, it's not OK.
JONES: So there was a third option, which is to say, "Hey, get through this process, go through the process. I'm concerned, but I'm not calling for the resignation". Looking back, do you have any regrets that you didn't take that third option and go through the process with him?
GILLIBRAND: That was his decision, not mine. My decision is to say whether I think groping eight women without their consent is OK, and it's not.
[19:25:00] And it's an outrage that people believe that a woman who says it's not OK should be to blamed for someone who groped eight women. That is also not OK.
I just think you have to do what's right, even when it's hard, especially when it's hard, and this was really hard. We all respected and really liked Senator Franken and I was as sad as anybody was that there were eight allegations, credible allegations against him.
JONES: You've been making some tough choices inside of this. I think the other tough choice is with regard to the Clintons. I think you were close to them. I don't know if you're still close to them. But in reflection, you now say you feel that Bill Clinton should have resigned during the Monica Lewinsky situation.
How hard is that, personally, for you? Which he did wasn't acceptable, and I don't think it should -- how tough is that?
JONES: Very. But the conversations we're having today are so different. That wasn't necessarily how people felt back then. It wasn't the standard. But today, when we have someone in the white house, President Trump, who has been credibly accused by more than a dozen women of sexual assault, we need transparency.
President Trump should resign. Congress should investigate him. There should be oversight and accountability. It's not OK. And we -- ultimately, Van, what all these conversations are about is do we value women? Do we actually value them? Do we listen to them when they talk about being harassed or assaulted or raped? Do we believe them? Believe them just enough to do the investigation? If someone came into your office and said, my computer was just stolen, you're not going to say, well, was your computer stolen or what were you wearing? Like, honestly, that is the question that women get asked.
JONES: You tweeted out, the future is female, and you broke the internet. People felt that you were saying that the future is female only and that you were leaving men out. The bad thing about Twitter is you can't edit. Would you edit that post now if you had the opportunity just to clarify it?
JONES: No, I just think that people who were so concerned don't understand what it means. It just means, please include the ladies in the future because they're not really included today.
What we just saw in this last election was extraordinary women running, 120 women ran for Congress and won. The first two Muslim- American women won. The first two Native American women ran and won. We had women of color. We had black women, it was so extraordinary and they won because women voted.
JONES: But can you see how -- like, when we said black lives matter, a lot of white people said -- thought we were saying only black lives matter--
JONES: And I almost wish we had said black lives matter too or the future is female too.
JONES: Can you see how people might hear it bad?
GILLIBRAND: Yes, and they just don't get it.
JONES: Yes. You are doing everything you can to make sure people do get it, including this beautiful, amazing book. She is an author, by the way. Give her a big round of applause for being an author. It's called " Bold and Brave: Ten Heroes Who Won Women the Right to Vote". And your kids were involved in this project or your youngest...?
GILLIBRAND: Yes. So Henry helped me and we talk about ten women who did extraordinary things for the suffrage movement. Ones that you know from our history like Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth and Susan B. Anthony, and ones that you might not know as much about like Mary Church Terrell or Alice Paul or Inez Milholland. But these stories will come to life for any person of any age.
And what it shows the young readers is that sometimes you have to be really bold and really brave to breakthrough, for people to listen to you, to know what's important to you. And then I want to teach kids that it's been done before. You don't have to be afraid. You can be bold, you can be brave.
JONES: Senator, I thank you so much for being here. I guess, just a best of luck. Whatever you decide in do in 2020, we are behind you. We love you. Coming up, you're going to hear from another rising star in Democratic Party. He just barely lost the election from Florida Governor. Find out what's next for Andrew Gillum when we get back.
[19:30:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
JONES: Welcome back to "The Van Jones Show". Believe it or not, the midterm battles are still being fought out with alarming reports about voting problems and possible election fraud.
My next guest lost the Governor's race in Florida by less than 1 percentage point. I'm still barely recovered from it. I recently got a chance to sit down with Andrew Gillum to talk with him about how he is reflecting on his razor thin loss, whether he thinks voter suppression played a role in his defeat, and what's next for him? Take a look.
VAN JONES, HOST AND CNN COMMENTATOR: Oh, look at this man.
ANDREW GILLUM, FIRST BLACK NOMINEE FOR FLORIDA GOVERNOR: Good to see you, man.
JONES: I love this brother right here. I love this man. I got -- first of all, what an incredible inspiration you've been, coming out of nowhere to inspire the world, came so close. Before we talk about that, Donald Trump came at you really hard.
Now Mueller's coming at him really hard. Do you think the democrats now, given these new revelations, should go hard at him, Pelosi and those guys, in Congress, should they wait? How do you look at the peril that Donald Trump is in right now?
GILLUM: Yes. First, let me say, Van, thank you for having me. It's good to be with you. But importantly, man, you mentioned the President coming hard at me over the course of my run for Governor, and as you probably could notice, I really wasn't into taking his punches and walking away.
JONES: Not at all.
GILLUM: I think, honestly, for me, I wasn't really interested in getting down into the mud with him, but I also wasn't going to allow him to throw attacks and throw punches and let them go unanswered.
And so for me, the strategy was always, push back and then go higher. Go back to what it is that you want to talk about, because this President is the master of trickery. He's the master of trying to throw everybody off their game, have them talking about the stuff he wants to talk about and never getting to the issues that I think really matter.
JONES: I know you. I've known you for almost ten years. How much did it hurt to have the President of the United States call you a thief on national, international media? GILLUM: Well, I mean, you have to value the people who are talking
about you for them to impact you. And I got to tell you, I don't -- I don't -- if the President's mouth is moving, you can expect either something untrue or an insult or something just wildly inappropriate to come out.
[19:35:00] It didn't really pierce me in that way. I understood what he was trying to do.
JONES: What was he trying to do?
GILLUM: I think the President was trying to play to a stereotype. He called me a thief. He called my good friend Stacey Abrams unqualified, one of the smartest women -- people that I know. That's his style, that's his modus operandi.
What I was always told and I shared this along the trail, a lot of my grandmother-isms, she once said, and tweeted this out, "You never, ever, ever wrestle with a pig, because you both get dirty, but the pig likes it".
Now, I'm not calling the President a pig. I'm simply saying the metaphor is that for some people, they really do thrive in the mud.
JONES: That's not you.
GILLUM: And for others, if I got in the mud and I got equal with him, that costs me in the process. It costs him nothing. He loses nothing in that.
JONES: You came within 0.4% of becoming the Governor, 34,000 votes out of 8.1 million. What's the toughest part of coming that close and then not getting there?
GILLUM: Well, Van, I'd be lying if I didn't say this, not walking away with that win was difficult, and it's still difficult. I mean, I really am still processing through it. One of the things I did early on after learning and coming to terms with the results is that I was not going to go back and analyze every single step, every single place I went, every single speech, that kind of thing.
What I know for sure is that the last election for governor in my state turned out about 6 million people. While I didn't win that transaction, and I got to look at it that way, man, because the truth is, what we were running for was yes, to win this election and nobody wanted it more than me.
But what we were also trying to do was to engage and awaken part of our community and a body politic that had felt ignored and unseen and unheard in that process and we got a little bit closer. In fact, I got the closest of any democrat since we last won the race in 1994. I knew it was going to be hard.
But what we got to do now in my state is we got to keep building. Like, the last thing I want anybody to walk away from this race thinking is, we didn't win and now this doesn't work for us, politics doesn't work. It does work. It just takes a little bit of time sometimes.
JONES: You know, there's a big debate inside the Democratic Party. Should we put forward people like you, strong progressives, younger, browner, cooler, better dressed, you know.
GILLUM: Yes, right.
JONES: Or should we attack a little bit closer to the center? In other words, you lost the rural vote, the suburban vote, so did Stacey Abrams. How should Democrats now look at this?
GILLUM: Well, I should say, let's just look at what the numbers show, which is in Texas and Georgia, as well as in Florida, all three of us got closer in our races than any of our predecessors who ran.
In my case, in the last 24 years, we were a rounding error away from winning the race for governor.
GILLUM: I mean, it is unbelievable when you consider the third largest state. The swingiest -- the swing states of all swing states in the State of Florida has a lot of swings. But the truth is we got exceptionally close. I ran every day believing strongly in what I was out there saying.
When I talked about creating healthcare as a right, I wasn't talking from a talking point. I was speaking about the fact that I remember growing up in Richmond Heights and Miami Dade, watching my mother who was a school bus driver and my dad, who was a construction worker, who sometimes didn't have construction work to do, so he would sell fruits and vegetables on the street corner.
I remember watching them argue between which bills they could pay before something got cut off and waiting for the free clinic to come through the neighborhood before we could have our teeth cleaned.
This was not an abstract idea for me and it's not because my parents were lazy. They were working. They were working harder than anybody else I knew. They just weren't always earning a wage where they could take care of me and all my siblings.
And as the fifth of seven kids and the first to graduate from high school and the first to graduate from college, you couldn't tell me that I couldn't do anything that I set my mind to. I believed that. And so, we got into this thing and the one thing I wanted to make for sure, which is that I wanted to recognize myself on Election Day as the same person when I jumped into this race, as the same person coming out of it.
And so the credit goes to the voters who said, forget the typograph. I realize you don't look like, sound like, don't come from what our nominees have traditionally been, but I believe in you. And if I had advice for anybody, it would always be, if you're looking at running in public office, run as yourself.
[19:40:00] If I had pride in anything, it's the fact that I feel like I ran this race as myself all the way through.
JONES: I think you deserve a round of applause for that. That's beautiful.
GILLUM: Thank you.
JONES: One of the things I love about you so much is the kind of father that you are. How did the kids take it? And what did you say to them?
GILLUM: Yes. Well, first, I should say, Van, my kids are -- I got a set of 4-year-old twins, my son Jackson and my daughter Caroline and then a 17-month-old who was born after I entered the race for governor. My wife is a saint, by the way, for letting me even attempt that. And I love her so much for it.
But the truth is, after the election, because my kids would say when they saw me with luggage, dad's going to campaign. I'm like dad is going to campaign today. And so when they saw me not leaving with luggage, it was like, campaign over? So, they -- and then it was like, park? Ice cream, this kind of stuff.
The great new -- I guess, if I took any, safe haven in it is that my kids were young enough not to really understand the win, the loss, the negative commercials. They would see ads come on television with me in it -- negative ads, by the way, and they're like, dada. I'm like, that is not dada. That is what they're saying. It ain't true.
But they're young enough to really not have been affected in that way. But I tell you, when they are aware enough, I hope they'll take pride in what we tried to do in this case and it only, I think, further strengthens me for the road ahead.
JONES: Well, I can guarantee you they're going to be proud of you because the whole country's proud of you. Even President Trump tweeted something positive about you. That lets you know how well you were doing.
Coming up, we have a lot to talk about with Andrew Gillum when we get back, including an issue that's having a huge impact on everybody's life, climate change. Trump is actually trying to undermine alarming new reports from his own government. How can we get people to pay attention, especially in places like Florida, before it's too late?
Also, what is next for Andrew Gillum? We're going to find that out when we get back.
[19:45:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
JONES: Welcome back to "The Van Jones Show. I'm talking to the former Tallahassee Mayor and Florida Gubernatorial Candidate, Andrew Gillum. Look, I got a lot of policy stuff I want to hear.
Climate change. I mean, Florida is in tremendous risk. I mean, they show maps of Florida where it's like, half of its gone.
GILLUM: I'm beach front property, according to some of those maps.
JONES: You're going to be property-less, brother. So, what can be done when the President doesn't seem to care?
GILLUM: Well, first of all, I got to acknowledge that we had climate deniers in my state before we had Donald Trump on the national stage. The incoming United States senator, when he came in as governor, said that state employees could not talk about climate change and global warming in state documents.
This is the Department of Environmental Protection and all the agencies of the government listened. If in the State of Florida, we don't wake up and begin to pay attention to this, a state that is surrounded by water on three sides.
GILLUM: A state that today, during a normal rain event, we got water that is basically puddling and then beginning to enter into property and homes. This is serious challenge.
JONES: As governor, what could you have done?
GILLUM: Well, first, I mean, you'd have a governor who believes in science, which is, more than a notion, apparently, these days. But two, we have yet to form a sort of statewide sanctioned by the governor task force to deal with climate change and resiliency in my state.
JONES: So you are in the state that's probably most ground zero -- and you haven't even really -- you've gotten started on it.
GILLUM: And I will tell you, where the leadership can come from, however, even under this new administration where we've now elected a new republican governor, is at the local level. The same week that Donald Trump pulled out of the Paris Accord, I broke ground in my city on a 120-acre solar farm, tripling the amount of solar energy that we produce.
It was already fully subscribed before it ever went online. That just gives a sense of the demand.
JONES: --people want it.
GILLUM: You talked about this a long time ago and it still means a lot and I know you still do, but the green economy. The future of Florida's economy very much so exists in us leaning into this climate change challenge, not only do we have the opportunity to save our state, but we can also create jobs that pay good wages, that are domestic jobs. That if you want to put photovoltaic on the roof, you got to have a person right here in Florida go up and put it there.
JONES: That's a real job--
GILLUM: A real job that pays real wages. JONES: I can tell you're still passionate and you are continuing to
speak out. But do you feel like there was voter suppression in Florida?
GILLUM: Well, if you're a working mother or father and you got to wait an hour and a half in a line to go and vote, when being an hour and a half late might cause you to lose your job, you got to know that that has an impact on people.
If you signed your name on the back of an absentee ballot and you sent that in and somebody, again, who is not a signature expert then gets to say whether or not your vote gets counted, that's a problem.
JONES: However, races going forward could be different because the voters now say if you're formerly incarcerated and you've served your time, you can get a chance to vote.
GILLUM: That's right. 1.4 million returning citizens who will have the ability, come January 8th, to fill out their voter registration card and put themselves back in the process.
JONES: Now, that is a huge victory and you have to get 60% plus. It wasn't like a -- you got a lot of support to make that happen. I could beat up a lot, because I'm so passionate about prison reform. I'll work against everybody and with everybody to get it done. And I've worked with the Trump administration to try to get prison reform done.
Do you think this issue is important enough that we should reach out to the Trump administration? Or is that administration, from your point of view, so toxic that you just can't even work with them on prison reform?
GILLUM: No, I mean, I think you've got to work -- this is the administration that is in power at this time. And I think we've got to do what we have to do to leverage that, to create advancement on the issues that we care about, prison reform being one of them.
The point that we got to be careful for in my state is not to treat these folks as a target, a former felon, and let's go get you registered and politicize you.
[19:50:00] We've got 1.4 million people in my state right now with a right to vote who don't exercise it.
GILLUM: So having the right to vote is not enough. What we have to do is talk to people about how voting impacts their everyday lives, their everyday lived experience, how it changes things. I banned the box in my city.
JONES: What does that mean?
GILLUM: We don't ask about background -- criminal background history when you apply for a job in the city government.
JONES: Let people apply and see if they're worthy?
GILLUM: Measure them on their merit.
GILLUM: Are you qualified, can you do the work, will you make a good employee. And if the answer is yes, they're welcomed aboard.
JONES: I just love his passion on criminal justice. We've got more with Andrew Gillum coming up. Does he have plans for 2020, what does he think about Beta O'Rourke? And you're going to find out when we get back.
JONES: Welcome back to "The Van Jones Show". Andrew Gillum recently met with former President Obama and that fueled a bunch of speculation about a potential presidential run. So I ask him all about 2020. Take a look.
JONES: I want to talk about the future. A lot of people are looking at folks who ran in 2018 and thinking about other things, so first and foremost, should Beta run for President?
GILLUM: If it's our desire -- look, I've got nothing but mad respect for him and so many others, by the way, who are being talked about.
[19:55:00] I'm so glad you started there, I have to tell you. Listen, I've had to answer this in my own new respect too much lately.
I keep saying, are you all trying to get me divorced?
(LAUGHTER) I went through 21 months of me moving around the State of Florida. But the good news is that there is a lot of interest and I think a lot of talent out there of people who are interested in helping to lead not only our country--
JONES: Now so he's moved, well, he's does moved, I didn't hear no.
GILLUM: Oh, man, please. Let me be very clear, my first order of business is trying to get a vacation with my wife. Second will be with my kids and my wife, I want to make that distinction.
JONES: A real vacation, ain't no kids.
GILLUM: Yes. We got to work with -- make them, right. But really, I'm looking forward to helping too in my state make Florida ready over these next two years that forever -- for whomever is the Democratic nominee that we can flip for the blue on their behalf.
JONES: I cannot wait to see what's there for Andrew Gillum, and I want to thank him and Senator Gillibrand for being here and thank you for watching. I'm Van Jones, "The Van Jones Show". Peace and love for one another.