Return to Transcripts main page


Biden Discusses Path to Citizenship; Biden Considers 2016 Presidential Run; Biden Compares LaGuardia to Third-World Country; Rand Paul Criticizing Clinton over Lewinsky Affair; U.S. Accuses Russia of Posting Nuland Call Online; Jay Leno Ends "Tonight Show" Run.

Aired February 7, 2014 - 13:30   ET



KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Would you support a bill that falls short of a pathway to citizenship if it came your way?

JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: That is clearly not our preference. Any bill that passes out of the House has to go through a conference committee of the Senate, which passed overwhelmingly a pathway to citizenship. Dual status in America, legal, but not citizens is a bad idea.

BOLDUAN: Isn't there a principle you need to stand for one way or the other. I know you don't like to judge legislation before it's before, you guys, of course --


BIDEN: Let's be straight, as the president says. You see the way the hard right responds to anything the president says. So the president is being very smart. He's saying, what passed, we support. See what you guys pass and then we'll respond. Because what you don't want to do is create more problems for John Boehner in being able to bring this up.


BLITZER: Kate's joining us now from New York.

Excellent interview, Kate. The vice president seemed to be trying to give the speaker some room to maneuver despite those comments this week suggesting it didn't look likely that there could be a deal for comprehensive immigration reform. I suspect the president really wants a deal, so what's the strategy?

BOLDUAN: Well, they clearly really want a deal and he was very careful on not saying that he was going to stand firm even when I pushed him to say they would only take a pathway to citizenship or it's a no go. They're leaving Boehner room because honestly they think they have the leverage here. They think that the Senate has passed a bill, comprehensive bill, in a bipartisan way, and that gives them the leverage and he thinks it's the internal politics in the House that needs to work itself out, and he's not off base on that, before they need to move. He said to me in a different part of the interview, Wolf -- I said do you really think if you stood here right now and said you stand for pathway for citizenship or nothing or it's a no go, that it would impact what happens in the House. He said absolutely. He said, I think no matter what we said, it would have an impact on the internal dynamic and politics in the Republican caucus. We should let them figure their caucus out. They think they've got time on their side, and if the House doesn't act, then the House is left to be blamed that immigration reform wasn't pulled off.

BLITZER: You also spoke with the vice president about 2016, asked him if he was going to run. He didn't say yes, he didn't say no. But he certainly gave me the impression from your one-on-one that he was seriously thinking of running a third time for the Democratic presidential nomination. What was your impression?

BOLDUAN: I had the very same impression. I mean, you know, he's asked any big name is asked almost at every turn at every interview about 2016, so they're ready for it. But I was really surprised on how far he went and how really genuinely honest he was in answering the question. It came up because I had heard him earlier in the week, and I know you did as well, he had some fun speaking before the UAW in talking about how the -- there's one good reason to not run for president and that's so he can get behind the wheel of a Corvette and go from zero to 60 in 3.4 seconds and so I wanted to know if there's any other good reason that he shouldn't run.

So, let's listen to that part of the interview.


BOLDUAN: Can I ask you one final question about Corvettes?

BIDEN: Sure you can. Now you hit my sweet spot.


BOLDUAN: I know hit your sweet spot, what can I say? You had a lot of fun earlier this week speaking to the UAW.

BIDEN: I did.

BOLDUAN: Talking about Corvettes and going zero to 60 in 3.4 seconds.

BIDEN: That's right, man.

BOLDUAN: And that's one reason you said you would not run for president.

BIDEN: Well --

BOLDUAN: Other than Corvettes give me another good reason why you shouldn't run.

BIDEN: I can't.

BOLDUAN: Yeah? BIDEN: There may be reasons I don't run, but there's no obvious reason for me why I think I should not run.

BOLDUAN: Can I have a timetable?

BIDEN: Probably the -- realistically, a year this summer.

BOLDUAN: Is Dr. Biden on board?

BIDEN: When I ran the first time, Jill didn't want to run again. Second time, she came to me and said, you've got to run. The reason she wanted me to run, because she was convinced if I ran we'd end the war in Iraq and have a sounder foreign policy, and she was convinced that if I ran, I would work like hell to make sure the middle-class got a fighting chance.

For me, the decision to run or not run is going to be determined by me as to whether I am the best qualified person to focus on the two things I've spent my whole life on -- giving ordinary people a fighting chance to make it and a sound foreign policy that's based on rational interests of the United States, where we not only are known for the -- the power of our military, but the power of our example. I think the future for this country -- I know, people think I'm too optimistic, but it is incredible. There's so much just within our grasp. Doesn't mean I'm the only guy that can do it. But if no one else I think can and I think I can, then I'd run. If I don't, I won't.

BOLDUAN: Sounds like a man who is thinking seriously.

Thank you very much, Mr. Vice President. Thanks for your time.

BIDEN: Thank you. Appreciate it.


BOLDUAN: And, of course, Wolf, he has a lot of time to decide and a lot of things to consider, but at that moment, that does not look to me like the man in sunset of his career. That looks like a man who wants it and who's thinking about it.

BLITZER: Yeah, totally agree. He would still like to be president of the United States. Good to be vice president, better to be president of the United States.

And, you know, I was intrigued and I watch "New Day" every morning, Kate, as you well know, and your co-anchor, Chris Cuomo, said something intriguing right afterwards.

BOLDUAN: He always does.

BLITZER: He's a very smart guy. He may be reading too much into this. He pointed out Joe Biden can't wait to get into the Corvette and drive, drive, drive very fast and that -- and Chris pointed out that Hillary Clinton, she hasn't driven a car since 1996. Is there a little -- a little rivalry going on there as far as potential Democratic presidential nominees are concerned?

BOLDUAN: I am more to think that's more of a coincidence. He was speaking before the UAW, the United Auto Workers, so there was a reason to be talking about cars in that setting. But that is vintage Joe. He's the every-man. You know him, you've interviewed, you covered him for years, Wolf. I think it's more of a coincidence in my opinion, but you never know when it comes to politics. He definitely did not say her name once in that interview, but he's definitely a man who is considering it. It was good to get some of his time to think about it.

I think you'll agree, though, his timetable seems a little far out, though? Doesn't it? Summer of next year. I think he needs to make some moves --


BOLDUAN: -- to get the machine in motion to start a presidential run before then.

BLITZER: Right after the midterm elections --


BLITZER: -- that's when they really need to have an organization and fundraising and all that stuff ready to go. Even if there isn't a formal announcement until summer of 2015, you have to indicate to your supporters out there this is a go, go, go.

You know, I was intrigued by Chris what he said, well, that he's a man of the people, he likes to drive. Hillary, she likes to be driven --


BLITZER: -- for 20 years or so.


BOLDUAN: We'll leave that for a debate in the primary down the road.

BLITZER: Not necessarily a woman of the people, shall we say? Maybe Chris is reading too much into it, but it was fun to hear what he had to say.

Excellent work.

Kate, thanks so much.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, Wolf.

BLITZER: The vice president, by the way, is getting a lot of attention for his comment about New York's LaGuardia Airport. He compared it to what you'd expect in a third-world country. Biden made the comment in a speech in Philadelphia about the need for more investment in U.S. infrastructure.


BIDEN: If I blindfolded someone and took them at 2:00 in the morning into the airport in Hong Kong and said, where do you think you are. You'd say, this must be America. It's a modern airport. If I took you and blindfolded you and took you to LaGuardia Airport in New York, you must think I must be in some third-world country.


I'm not joking.


BLITZER: Not joking. The vice president, by the way, isn't alone. "Travel & Leisure" ranked LaGuardia Airport in New York City as the second-worst airport in the United States. The worst airport according to "Travel & Leisure," Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport in Little Rock, Arkansas. Wow.

The Monica Lewinsky scandal surfacing once again in the fight over whether Republicans are waging a so-called war on women. The Kentucky Senator Rand Paul doubling down on his criticism of the former president over the Lewinsky affair. But could his criticism backfire?


BLITZER: The Republican Senator Rand Paul taking another swipe at Bill Clinton and the Democrats over the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Senator Paul said recently that Clinton's relationship with the former White House intern is a liability for Democrats. He said it undermines their claim that Republicans are waging a so call war on women. Now he's repeating that criticism.

Listen to what he said in a C-SPAN newsmakers interview that will air this Sunday.


SEN. RAND PAUL, (R), KENTUCKY: I really think that anybody who wants to take money from Bill Clinton or has a fundraiser has a lot of explaining to do. In fact, I think they should give the money back. If they want to take a position on women's rights, by all means do, but you can't do it and take it from a guy who was using his position of authority to take advantage of young women in the workplace.


BLITZER: Let's bring in our chief political analyst Gloria Borger.

He's really doubling down --


BLITZER: -- on the earlier comments, suggesting he was some sort of predator, if you will.

BORGER: And I spoke with someone close to Rand Paul today. Source said why is he doing this?


BLITZER: Why is Rand Paul doing this?

BORGER: Why is Rand Paul doing this? And the answer is very simple, Rand Paul's brand, the brand they want to have, is someone who fights back, who is not afraid of taking people on directly. This appeals to the base of the Republican Party. This is good for them to do if he's thinking of running for the presidency. And the answer was, that Bill and Hillary Clinton -- this is according to the Rand Paul folks -- are running as a team, therefore, it's fair to attack them because Bill Clinton will be Hillary Clinton's greatest advocate and spokesman. And so the feedback that they're getting from their supporters -- and, again, this is a move they're making with the base of the Republican Party. The feedback that they're getting from their supporters is, go right ahead and take them both on.

BLITZER: Because it suggests he's seriously thinking of running for the Republican presidency, he's going after the base like that.

BORGER: Absolutely.

BLITZER: But Bill Clinton is still a very popular guy out there and it could potentially backfire a little bit.

BORGER: Of course, it could. Largely with Independent voters, which would be a problem in a general election should he get the nomination, and obviously with Democrats, but with women. The question is -- he's got to be very nuanced about this and not ever suggest that Hillary Clinton is somehow to blame for her husband's past problems. And there's some nuance there that he has to keep saying, you know, this is not Hillary Clinton's fault. But when you are in the Republican Party, which had 11-point gender gap in the general and a 36-point gender gap among unmarried women, I think this is kind of a dangerous path to go down if you should get the Republican nomination.

BLITZER: But in a contest -- in a Republican caucus or in a Republican primary --


BLITZER: -- going out to the base, it might be a successful strategy.

BORGER: Yeah. And they feel that, you know, again, their brand is taking the Clintons, plural, on directly is something that would be very good for them. That's why he's doing it, Wolf.

BLITZER: Does he really think, though, any of these Democrats who have had money raised by the Clinton --

BORGER: Are going to return it?

BLITZER: -- are going to return that?

BORGER: Of course, not. Of course, not. But as far as his constituency is concerned, there's no political harm in him even suggesting it.

BLITZER: Certainly is doubling down on those comments.

BORGER: Yes, he definitely is.

BLITZER: Not backing away at all.

Thanks very much. Gloria Borger, reporting for us.

Embarrassment of a foreign American diplomat, a senior diplomat, now answering questions about an intercepted profanity posted online. Up next, what was said? What is she saying now? How could this happen?


BLITZER: Want to update you on the breaking news we've been following out of Turkey. A Pegasus Airline airliner -- there you see it. It's a Turkish airliner, private Turkish airliner -- was forced to land back in Istanbul after a passenger on board claimed there was a bomb in the belly of that plane. Wanted the plane to go to Sochi for the Winter Olympic Games. For some reason, we don't know what the motivation of the suspected hijacker was, but the pilot managed to fly the plane instead to the airport in Istanbul, where it landed safely, escorted by an F-16 Turkish air force fighter. The plane is on the ground. We understand that the suspected hijacker is in custody. We don't know what the motivation might have been, but there was obviously heightened sense of concern, security concern as a result of the open -- this being the opening day of the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. But once again, that Pegasus airliner is now on the ground in Istanbul. We'll get more information and update you on what's going on. Just wanted to let you know that we're watching that story. Other news we're watching -- there's an international dust up over a top U.S. diplomat's description of a key American ally. A phone call leaked online suggesting that that the assistant secretary of state for European affairs, Victoria Nuland, dropped the F-bomb when talking about unrest in Ukraine and the response from the E.U., the European Union. Nuland and the State Department won't confirm or deny it's her voice.

Our Brian Todd is looking into what's going on.

The world learned about this because someone posted the audio online and the U.S. is accusing Russia of doing that.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I lot of finger-pointing, Wolf. If you thought the spying between the U.S. and the Russians ended with the Cold War, they are sadly mistaken. The Russians are denying that they posted this. The U.S. and others first found out about it was from a tweet from a Russian official, the top aide to the deputy prime minister. The officials name is Dmitry Lascatov (ph). He posted this, and on it, a voice strongly resembling hers said "F the E.U." with frustration or the Ukraine situation. U.S. officials pointing fingers at the Russians, implying they were the ones who tapped and they were the ones who leaked it.

This is Victoria Nuland today in the Ukraine talking about this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VICTORIA NULAND, ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE: I'm obviously not going to comment on private diplomatic conversations, other than to say it was pretty impressive trade craft. The audio was extremely clear.


TODD: More than a strong implication there that they believe the Russians did this. Also, the State Department spokeswoman says this is a new low in Russian trade craft. Wolf, Jay Carney, the White House spokesman, saying this expresses some kind of a Russian role, reflects a Russian role in this. The Russians not saying at all whether they tapped the call or not, not denying it, but they say they didn't post it. This aide to the deputy saying, hey, I just found it on the internet and posted it. That's where I got it.

BLITZER: What is very worrisome is that the assistant secretary of state for the European affairs has a sensitive conversation with the United States ambassador to Ukraine. He is supposed to be in a secure room at the U.S. embassy in Ukraine. They are supposed to have a secure line back to the State Department. Obviously, if there was a secure line, it wasn't very secure. You have to blame the U.S. national security apparatus if the line was not secure. If they had that phone conversation on an open, unsecured line, you have to blame Victoria Nuland and the ambassador for discussing sensitive information on an open line that you suspect the Russians can easily tap into if they want to.

TODD: I've had a former CIA officer and a former top state official tell me today they can't believe they made the comments on a line that could be tapped, on an unsecure line. They were not classified, but they were sensitive comments. The State Department spokeswoman, asked about this yesterday, why -- don't you instruct your people not to have the conversations on a line that can be tapped. Quote, "We're certainly aware of, in parts of the world, the risks that you run. But I don't have any outlines for you." We've also called the State Department on that today, Wolf. Why were they speaking on an unsecure line? We haven't heard back.

BLITZER: If they were, then you have another much more serious problem.

TODD: A bigger problem.


BLITZER: Obviously, that secure line that they think is secure is not very secure.

TODD: It's not, absolutely.

BLITZER: We will have a lot more. You are working the story for "The Situation Room."

TODD: Yes, sir.

BLITZER: Brian, thank you.

Jay Leno, on a very different note, wrapping up his "The Tonight Show" run. He is leaving after 22 years. Up next, we will take a closer look at his sign off and the stars who helped him say goodbye.

Also, it's "National Wear Red Day," a campaign to raise national awareness of heart disease in women. There are several things both women and men need to be aware of to reduce their chances of getting heart disease.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta is here with that.



DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: We know that exercise and eating well is good for our hearts. We wanted to give you things you can do to keep your heart healthy.


Go ahead. Laugh. When people laugh, their blood vessels expand causing blood flow that cut down on stress and lower blood pressure.


GUPTA: Tune it up.


GUPTA: Whether you are listening to Beyonce or Beethoven, people who play their favorite music had the same benefits as those who laugh. The blood vessels open wider.


GUPTA: Get some shut eye. A good night's sleep not only makes us feel better and brighter, but also helps fight off infection and regulate the blood pressure and cut down on obesity.


GUPTA: Kick the habit. Cigarette smoking not only affects the lungs, but is a major cause of heart problems. Almost 20 percent of all deaths from heart disease in the United States are related to cigarette smoking.


GUPTA: Here's my favorite. Get a pet. We have two. Researchers say pets can help cut down our stress. Some animals are better than a treadmill. Studies have found that when obese and sedentary people were given a dog, they lost an average of 14 pounds a year without dieting.

All good ways to keep our heart healthy and pumping.




BLITZER: It's take two on the end of an era over at NBC as Jay Leno signed off as host of "The Tonight Show." He had plenty of special guests on his last night. Billy Crystal, Carol Burnett, Kim Kardashian and Oprah, just some of the stars. Then Jay had his turn.


JAY LENO, HOST, THE TONIGHT SHOW: I want to thank you, the audience. You folks have been just incredibly loyal. This is tricky.


Ah. We wouldn't be on the air without you. Secondly, this has been the greatest 22 years of my life.



BLITZER: Got emotional, understandably so. More than 4600 shows, more than Johnny Carson did in his 30-year run as the king of late night. We wish Jay Leno only the best. Thanks for all the excellent years. Many more to come.

That's it for me. Thanks very much for watching. See you at 5:00 p.m. eastern in "The Situation Room."

NEWSROOM continues with Brooke Baldwin.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.