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Inside Politics: Jeb Bush Taking Establishment Money; Congress to Debate AUMF; The Oscars' Diversity Controversy; Wal-Mart to Raise Wages for 500,000 Workers

Aired February 20, 2015 - 07:30   ET




The coalition is taking on the biggest battle yet in the war against ISIS. The Pentagon wants you to know when, why and how. Details of a spring offensive by the U.S. and Iraqi forces. Officials say as many as 25,000 Iraqi troops could be involved, backed by U.S. air power and advisers. We don't know what that will mean yet, but it's expected to begin in April or May. And also what's not known is if our troops are actually going to be deployed. Now, Mosul is Iraq's second largest city. It's an ISIS stronghold and they've had it since June. Very important.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: An American missionary has been freed in Colombia after allegedly being linked to rebels, Russell Martin Stendal was arrested after allegedly providing support for a rebel group in Colombia's decades-old civil war. But a judge said there wasn't enough evidence to keep him in jail. Stendal isn't completely off the hook, though. The attorney general will continue its investigation and can appeal the judgment.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: A surprising move from a federal advisory board on health, easing warnings on fat and cholesterol in food. A report published by the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee shows that dietary cholesterol has little or no effect on the blood cholesterol levels. So food like eggs and shrimp don't pose that big of a health risk. The committee still recommends limiting added sugar to no more than 10 percent of your daily calorie intake.

Speaking of sugar, here's a man who's oh so sweet.

CUOMO: Oh, that was a good segue.

BERMAN: Let's go "Inside Politics" on NEW DAY with John King.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A very busy day to go "Inside Politics." Mr. Berman, just three words for you, pitchers and catchers. It's a good day. It's a good day. Let's go "Inside Politics" this morning.

Here in Washington with me to share the reporting and their insights, Nia-Malika Henderson of "The Washington Post," Jonathan Martin of "The New York Times." Let's start with the headlines this morning. Politicians get up in the

morning and they look at the newspaper and think, Chris Christie's going to be a little grumpy this morning. Both "The New York Times" and the "Washington Post" front-page stories about trouble in Trenton. He's thinking about running for president. He's been to Iowa and New Hampshire. But Jeb Bush is starting to take a lot of that establishment money, including people who have previously have backed Chris Christie.

Here's what the head of Chris Christie's super PAC says, "we're just kind of getting things going. Jeb's been working it for a year, Chris hasn't. It's a competitive race for donors. Jeb's been in the game longer. He's also got the Bush family name and legacy that he's drawing on. We've got to compete with that." A little bit of dog ate my homework there, right?

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Yes, I mean because if you compare Bush's strategy, which has been referred to as a shock and awe strategy, he's just out there, and they're being very slow and donors don't want to see that. And also, if you look at how he's doing in these different states, if you look at his internals in Iowa and New Hampshire, the more he's out there, the more people don't really like him. He was at 45 percent in terms of unfavorability and he's at 54 percent now in Iowa. Not -- the numbers also not looking good in New Hampshire. He's got to figure something out. I think one of his aides said, there is a -- there's not a finite amount of money in donors out there. Actually, there is and people are out there scooping that up as he sort of waits on the sidelines.

KING: And it's not just Jeb. Scott Walker is moving into that space as well and others.

JONATHAN MARTIN, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Yes. Yes. Two bad things happened to Christie in the last of couple months. First of all, Jeb Bush ran and there were doubts that he was going to do that. And second of all, Scott Walker has gotten off the block pretty early -- pretty fast and gave a nice speech in Iowa. And being politics, that goes from a nice speech in Iowa to this huge moment in Iowa where, you know, it's all self-reinforcing. So his poll numbers get a nice pop after that, which creates more stories, which creates better poll numbers, and you know how it goes, John.

And so I think the fact that you've got two establishment (INAUDIBLE) that's -- who are out there, who are getting a lot of attention means that they're getting lots of money, and that's a problem for Christie. Is it fatal? Not necessarily. It's still very early yet. But there does seem to be, as my colleagues Maggie Haberman and Nick Confessore have in today's "Times," there seems to be sort of odd, almost breezy unconcern from Christie about this challenge that he's facing right now. It's puzzling.

KING: He thinks the power -- he thinks the power of his personality will --

HENDERSON: Person -- yes. KING: He can sort of plow through it and make up for the delay. I've been told by a couple of people who say that he's been grumpy at his own team.

MARTIN: Right.

KING: But this goes back to choosing (ph) the principal. It's usually the guy at the top.

MARTIN: It is.


MARTIN: And look, his whole appeal is so -- it's so biographical and so about him and it's not necessarily about his vision for the country or even his record. It's all wrapped up in his persona and --

HENDERSON: Yes, in his personality.


HENDERSON: And if he can't sell that, then he's got a problem.


KING: We were talking yesterday morning about the former New York City mayor, Rudy Giuliani, at a private dinner in New York with Scott Walker, the Wisconsin governor and likely presidential candidate in the room, saying that he didn't want to say it, it was a horrible thing to say, but he doesn't think President Obama loves America. He did a couple of interviews yesterday were we looked (ph), OK, will he try to clean this up? And he said, no. He said, I don't believe he loves America. Not like my generation. Not like most Americans.

He also -- this is a quote from "The New York Times." He said, quote, "some people thought it was racist. I thought that was a joke since he was brought up by a white mother, a white grandfather, went to white schools and most of this he learned from white people. This isn't racism, this is socialism or possibly anti-colonialism." The mayor clearly believes what he believes.


KING: Sometimes in politics when you say something, it's good to go out and further explain it. Either clean it up or cement what it is you meant. I think this is proof in this case sometimes it's also good to just go away.

HENDERSON: Go away, right. And -- but we know that Giuliani isn't that kind of person and it reminds people of why a lot of New Yorkers didn't really like Giuliani very much. He was a very divisive figure. There was a moment when he was America's mayor on the cover of "Time" magazine, and that has since passed and he's sort of living off of the fat of the land in some ways in a cable news staple at this point. I think it does, for these candidates who are going to be out there running in 2016, it reminds us of how difficult it's going to be in terms of engaging with people who are freelancing and saying stuff like this that is offensive to many people.

KING: Right.

MARTIN: Yes, I mean because what happens is, is that the next question is for Walker, well, do you agree with that or not?

KING: Right.


KING: Right. And Walker punted yesterday, saying I'm not going to judge Mayor Giuliani.

MARTIN: Right. Right.

KING: New Yorkers speak bluntly. You can't, over time, if you want to lead, president's lead, you have to make judgments.


MARTIN: Right.

KING: You want to pick a cabinet? Are we going to cut a deal with Iran? You have to make judgments. You have to make decisions. And Governor Walker -- we'll see if Governor Walker learns from this as we go forward in the campaign.

All right, help me explain this one because draft Elizabeth Warren folks, they want her to get in the Democratic race, they want her to run against Hillary Clinton. She's consistently has said no, no, not going to do it, no. Listen to her yesterday where she says still no, but I get it.


SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: I don't think this is about me, I think it's about the message. Americans understand that the game is rigged. And they've had enough of it. They're ready to fight back. They want a Washington that works for them.

I think that people are getting more engaged politically and they're seeing through a lot of the rhetoric that politicians have been throwing out there for a long time. They want to see some real change and I -- I think that's what we work on.


KING: This is -- what I love about this is she says it's not about me. Her staff still says no.


KING: But the draft Warren movement is spreading these comments saying, see, she gets it, we can still get her in.

HENDERSON: Yes, she's not getting in. No, no, no, no, no she's not getting in. But it is about her and it is about the message. It's about her unique ability to deliver that message in a way that no one else really can. Hillary Clinton certainly can. Now she's tried to channel. Elizabeth Warren hasn't been able to. So -- but, you know, this will -- this will make some people excited in that draft movement. It's still not going to happen.

MARTIN: It also shows just how eager those draft folks are to get her in the race because listen to her there. It's the same talking points that she uses everywhere she goes. Now, it's in the context of a question about this effort to get her into the race, which she uses as a vehicle to talk about this great movement out there about changing Washington, but it's still the same talking points, John. I mean that's sort of the thing, right?

KING: Yes, the game is rigged.

Lastly, let's quickly get to this. Congress is about to debate authorization of use of military force so the president can wage war against ISIS. It's a huge debate about what to do. Some liberals are afraid to give the president any war-making authority. They're skeptical about that. Some conservatives want to give the president very robust war-making authority. Listen to Ed Royce here. He's the chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee, speaking on Hugh Hewitt. He wants to go -- he's thinking about -- he thinks it would be a good idea to go even beyond a war against ISIS.


HUGH HEWITT: Do you, personally, I don't know what the committee will do, but would you support giving the president the explicit authority to strike at the Iranian nuclear capacity if they do not abandon it themselves?

REP. ED ROYCE, CHAIRMAN, HOUSE FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE: I think it is a good idea. And I will tell you, Hugh, that there are two jihads goes on. One of them is the ISIS jihad, which you and I are familiar with. The other is something that's not being talked about that much, but that is the jihad that's coming out of Iran.


KING: The jihad coming out of Iran. Yes, they support Hamas, they support Hezbollah, they support other very unhelpful, to be polite, players in the Middle East.


KING: But is this Congress going to, in this resolution that they can't agree on anyway just specifically about ISIS, going to include Iran?

HENDERSON: No, and this is the fear that a lot of people have about, you know, sort of an open-ended AUMF, that it's a slippery slope. The other thing about Iran is that I believe Iran is going after ISIS. So it would be weird in this AUMF that's going after ISIS to then go after Iran, which is also in some ways coordinating with us and trying to defeat ISIS.

MARTIN: Yes, I don't think Congress is going to pass a resolution authorizing the president to strike Iran. That's probably not very likely.

KING: That's one set of powers he does have (INAUDIBLE). It does show you -- it does show you ideologically the shift between the most conservative members who need to debate this and the liberal members who need to debate this, which tells me that it's going to be interesting to watch and see if they can come up with a final product -- a final product that the president likes.

MARTIN: Consensus language, yes.

HENDERSON: Most -- and most -- and (INAUDIBLE). Yes.


KING: Happy Friday. Nia-Malika Henderson and Jonathan Martin.

Mr. Berman, as we get back to you, that will be a debate worth watching. And on a very cold day. It was 4 degrees when I got in the car this morning and the only thing that kept me warm was thinking, you know, pitchers and catchers, Red Sox Nation.

BERMAN: That's right. Yes.

KING: See if the Cuomo guy treats you nice after I say that.

BERMAN: I had 1 degree at 2:30. It made me question my own life decisions. But, John King, thank you so much.

And, of course, make sure to watch John King and his "Inside Politics" panel break down the best political news of the week, that is every Sunday at 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time. A lot to talk about this week.

All right, so did you see any of the Oscar Best Picture nominees? You will never believe who did not. Controversy at the Academy Awards. We will take you live to Los Angeles.


MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Oh, look at that, Hollywood Boulevard in the heart of Hollywood, Los Angeles, is looking good this morning. I'm Michaela Pereira, live in Hollywood.

Final set-up is underway. All the votes are in. Not all is sparkling here in Hollywood, though. There's a little bit of controversy brewing ahead of the big night. A report out that 6 percent of Oscar voters haven't seen all of the Best Picture nominees.

Let's bring in Joseph Kapsch, executive editor for, joining me once again right here on the red carpet is Pete Hammond, awards editor for

Gentlemen, always good to have conversations with you. I think, obviously, off the bat we have to talk about the diversity

issue. And, Joseph, I want to talk to you about that and get your sense of it. A lot of buzz about the lack of diversity in the Oscars this year. Twenty acting nominees out of this year, they're all white. Do you think the Academy has a diversity problem?

JOSEPH KAPSCH, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, THEWRAP.COM: The interesting thing, I think it was more -- it's more a Hollywood cyclical casting issue this year --

PEREIRA: Interesting.

KAPSCH: Or even just that the field this year didn't -- didn't really, you know, it didn't really offer up enough performances that were diverse actors. I mean if you really looked at the field. And I think that everyone came down really hard on the Academy once again. Like, oh, the Oscar voters are so, you know, racist or there's no diversity. But if you really looked at the performances that were offered up, this year was not this plethora of performances like last year Lupita was the best actress winner, you know?


KAPSCH: Next year, if you look at the field, as we did at thewrap --

PEREIRA: But, Pete, you know, there -- there are going to be people that will push back --



PEREIRA: Pete, people are going to look back and say, wait, wait, wait, David Oyelowo was snubbed entirely.

HAMMOND: I know.

PEREIRA: And that was a performance of a lifetime.

HAMMOND: It was a great performance. David Oyelowo as Martin Luther King. The first time the movies have ever dealt with Martin Luther King in a kind of leading role in a movie. But there were 30 great actor performances. You know, it could have been two votes this year. I thought Jake Gyllenhaal was great in "Nightcrawler." He should have gotten nominated as well. Sometimes that happens.

PEREIRA: So you think there's just always going to be people that get left out.


PEREIRA: But there are people that are saying, look, you look at that Oscar picture, the Oscar class of 2015 --

HAMMOND: Yes. PEREIRA: There's no diversity. Not just among African-Americans and other minorities, but also the fact that there's no diversity in the field of gender. In cinematography and in directing, there's no female directors nominated.

HAMMOND: And there's no women nominated for writing this year either. You know, this is a problem for the industry. They need to put more people to work to make more movies so that the Academy has a wider range to choose from. Last year, though, they did. "12 Years a Slave," you know, that was a great year.


HAMMOND: This year it didn't turn out as well, although I really did think David Oyelowo would come up with a best actor nomination.

PEREIRA: really quickly I want to show you something that's going on. "The Hollywood Reporter" -- to get some buzz going around the Oscars -- they're releasing a series of articles. They say they spoke to and interviewed anonymous Academy voters and they're releasing sort of little excerpts of their conversations with them. And I want to show you a full screen from one of them. What -- and this is what one person said. "What no one wants to say out loud is that 'Selma' is a well-crafted movie, but there is no art to it. If the movie had been directed by a six-year-old white male, I don't think people would be carrying on to the level that they were." Do you think this is a fair assessment of the average Hollywood -- Academy voter?

HAMMOND: I do not. I talk to voters all the time. Last night I was talking to a bunch of them too. That -- this does not represent the Academy. This is one person. I think "The Hollywood Reporter" pulled this out to be, you know, sensational, quite frankly.

PEREIRA: Right. Get a little buzz going.

HAMMOND: This doesn't represent the people I talked to. Everybody's got a different opinion. To paint the Academy like this is to say essentially they're racist, and I don't believe that they are.

PEREIRA: But, wait, now, you know, we have to point out, Joseph, I know you used to work at "The Hollywood Reporter" --


PEREIRA: The fact is, the average Academy older is older, is male, is Caucasian.


PEREIRA: There's something to that, no?

KAPSCH: I -- no, I agree with Pete here. I do. I think -- I think it's like one segment of you're talking, like, what is it, 6,000 Academy voters total? I mean this is one voter. I agree, I think it's --

PEREIRA: Yes, yes, yes. KAPSCH: Could there be a racism among some voters? Absolutely.

PEREIRA: OK. Let's talk about the voting because right now that is the -- it's done.

HAMMOND: It's done.

PEREIRA: It's in the books. It's done for another year. But it's a really secretive process, is it not?


PEREIRA: Guarded under lock and key.

HAMMOND: Yes. Very secretive. Pricewaterhouse. Only two people are going to know the results. And nobody can ever break that either. We're never going to know who came in number two, which is what I'd like to know. But nobody knows how it's going to come out. The voting -- the way they count for best picture is very difficult. It's called preferential.


HAMMOND: So that your number two and number three choices on that ballot can be just as important as your number one in a close race like this year is going to be very close. It could be a --

PEREIRA: There's 10 pictures in the best picture category. A little different --

HAMMOND: Yes, eight actually this year.

PEREIRA: Or eight this year, but it's a little different from in years past.


PEREIRA: All right, some of those early indicators are obviously some of the gild races -- or the gild shows -- or gild shows and the critics award shows as well. So we'll have to wait and see.

I want to say thank you to you, Pete Hammond, Joseph Kapsch joining us from the L.A. bureau.

HAMMOND: Thank you.

KAPSCH: Thanks.

PEREIRA: And I want to ask you folks at home, because you -- you've probably seen a lot of these films and you have a conversation around the dinner table with your friends and film friends, do you think the Oscars have a diversity problem? This isn't just us making this up. It's a conversations many are having. You can tweet us @newday or go to

And, of course, don't forget to join us, 6:00 p.m. Eastern, 3:00 p.m. Pacific Coast Time. Don Lemon and I hosting Hollywood's biggest night live from the red carpet right here in Hollywood. That's Sunday. We can't wait for it. Hopefully the weather will hold.

Chris, Brianna.

CUOMO: Mich, I am torn because you look so gorgeous and I can't wait to see you and it's going to be so fun, but you've got that Lemon next to you and I'm --

PEREIRA: Are you trying to borrow money from me?

CUOMO: No, I -- you know how I feel. It's deep and strong. But that Lemon, he killed me on the quiz show and I just can't let it go.

PEREIRA: I know. He did.

CUOMO: We'll check back with you this a second.

PEREIRA: Sorry, fella.

CUOMO: All right, so how about this one. Fox News host Bill O'Reilly, you know who he is, he says, listen, I didn't lie about knowing war and I am not Brian Williams. We have what is called proof to the contrary. We report, you decide, straight ahead.


BERMAN: For CNN Money now, our chief business correspondent Christine Romans is in the money center.



Wal-Mart, at long last, raising the pay of half a million workers. The lowest paid workers will get $9 an hour and that will go up to $10 an hour next year. Fixed schedules also coming. That's critical for people working more than one part-time jobs. Labor groups applauding the move. The next big question, will more retailers follow Wal-Mart's lead? Although many employer groups saying we would have liked to have seen this a long time ago.

Intrigue and rumor this morning about Apple's designs on making a car? Apple is being sued for poaching top engineers from a company that makes batteries for electric cars. The latest evidence that Apple may be pursuing an electric vehicle. Apple didn't invent digital music, digital music player or the smartphone, but, you know, Apple revolutionized both categories. Google also developing car technologies. Tesla, watch your back.


KEILAR: All right, thanks, Christine. The biggest battle yet against ISIS. Iraqi troops hoping to retake the second largest city in Iraq. With stakes so high, will the U.S. be able to stay out?