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Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Talks 3-State Solution in Iraq; Can Hillary Clinton Win Back Black Voters; Rick Santorum to Announce Another Run for President; Queen Elizabeth Opens Parliament in Royal Crown, Robe. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired May 27, 2015 - 13:30   ET



[13:31:13] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer, reporting from Washington.

We're back with Representative Tulsi Gabbard, a Democrat from Hawaii, a member of the Armed Services and Foreign Affairs Committee.

If the president of the United States, Congresswoman, were to call you and said, all right, you served two tours in that region, you understand the military, and you understand what the region is all about, what should the United States be doing next, what would you say?

REP. TULSI GABBARD, (D), HAWAII: Well, the first thing we need to be doing is make sure that the primary recipient of our support through arms, weapons, equipment, intelligence, training, needs to go to the Kurds and to the Sunni tribes. These are proven trusted partners that we have worked with in the past successfully to defeat al Qaeda. We need to work with them as our troops on the ground now in this fight against ISIS in Iraq. We need to step up our airstrike campaign and make sure we're dealing these decisive blows against ISIS in a very targeted way to stop the momentum they have been building. As they capture more territory and capture more ground, this just goes to add to their ability to recruit more fighters, to show that they're actually winning in this battle. We need to make sure that we put stop to that. And we need to make sure we stop of continuing this failed policy of supporting and propping up this central government in Baghdad, this fantasy, really, of a one unified country of Iraq and support this three-state solution of empowering the Sunni tribes, the Kurds and Shiites, each of them having three autonomous territories rather than continue what we've seen really has failed for so long. By doing this, we can get rid of the oxygen that has allowed ISIS to maintain its stronghold here within this area of Iraq.

BLITZER: For so many experts in Iraq, going back over the years, including by, when he was a Senator, the Vice President Joe Biden, basically said there should be three autonomous areas, this whole fiction of unified Iraq was controlled by a dictator, Saddam Hussein, a brutal dictator, when he was in power with his Baath Party, the whole fiction of a unified Iraq is simply that, a fiction. There should be an independent Kurdistan, a Sunni area and a separate Shia area. That is something you would support?

GABBARD: I think it is not only would I support it, I believe it is critical for us to be able to get rid of these terrorists, Islamic extremist elements like ISIS form this region. We have to look at the fact that Iraq was created -- this country of Iraq was created not by the people who live there, not by the Kurds or the Sunni tribes or the Shias. It was created by these outside elements with these lines that were drawn that have nothing to do with the territories that were held by these different tribes. As a result of that, we've seen these sectarian battles that have gone on for really generations. And now, because of the United States supporting this central government in Baghdad, previously led by Nouri al Maliki, now continuing here with Abadi, it continues with this fictional idea that Iraq can be a one unified country when you have the Kurds, Sunnis and other tribes saying we want to fight for our own territory, empower us to govern and have the safety of our communities and people. We need to provide that support for them in order to do that and to push ISIS out and defeat them.

BLITZER: Tulsi Gabbard, Congresswoman from Hawaii.

Congresswoman, thank you for joining us.

GABBARD: Thank you, Wolf. Good to see you.

[13:34:59] BLITZER: Thank you.

Up next, Hillary Clinton is counting on African-American voters in her bid for the White House, many of them abandoned her for Barack Obama back in 2008. Can she get them back this time around?



BLITZER: -- crucial for a victory there. We'll talk about that in a moment.

The other headline from today's visit could come from the only woman in the crowded GOP field. Carly Fiorina, who is also in South Carolina today, holding an event outside the very same location where Hillary Clinton is speaking.

Our senior Washington correspondent, Jeff Zeleny, is in Columbia, South Carolina. Our CNN senior political reporter, Nia-Malika Henderson, is here with me in Washington.

First of all, Jeff, tell me about these dueling events where you are today.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, I think Carly Fiorina is trying to step into Hillary Clinton's spotlight. And why not? There is a captive audience here. Carly Fiorina had probably the largest gathering or press gathering of her campaign. She was taking advantage of the people waiting for Hillary Clinton to show up. She really has been going across country, like most Republicans, trying to distinguish herself by attacking Hillary Clinton. That is really what Republicans are trying to do, trying to elevate themselves in their own very crowded field. But particularly Carly Fiorina. She is trying to take gender off the table and said if she was at a debate with Hillary Clinton at a debate site, and Hillary Clinton could not say she could be the first woman president. An uphill climb, no question, for Carly Fiorini but she is campaigning here in South Carolina and across the country.

[13:40:33] BLITZER: Her strategy, again, focusing on Hillary Clinton rather than her fellow Republicans seems to be paying off, right?

ZELENY: Well, it's paying off in the short term. She is getting some attention, and it is probably pretty smart scheduling by showing up in the same place. She says this trip has been on her schedule for a long time. I'm not sure who was first on that. She is definitely gaining attention, not just reporters, it's voters. When she appears at these crowded Republican gatherings, people are ling up around the room to talk to her. So she is definitely gaining a lot of attention and ground. But it is a very crowded Republican field. Hard to know if she will actually rise to the top when it really matters.

BLITZER: All right, Jeff Zeleny, in Columbia, South Carolina, thank you very much.

I want to turn to another challenge Hillary Clinton is facing, winning the black vote. She is determined to erase the memory of 2008 when a surge of African-American voters propelled Barack Obama to the top of the presidential run. They dismissed then=Senator Barack Obama, and severely angered some black voters, and maybe helped to put him in the White House. Take a look at the numbers. 65 percent of black eligible voters turned out in 2008. Five full percentage points higher than 2004. Two million more blacks voted in 2008. Many of them young people. That group showed an 8 percent increase over 2004.

Nia-Malika Henderson has written extensively about what is going on.

She really needs to bring out this African-American vote.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: That is right. Pollsters call it the Obama surge that we saw in 2008 and 2012. One of the things you hear people saying in terms of trying to get the voters back on board is listen, you have a chance to make history one, with Barack Obama and will get a chance to make history again with Hillary Clinton if we vote her into the White House. So that is one of the arguments I heard people make down there. And so far it seems to be working. A lot of people on Barack Obama's side in 2008 and obviously in 2012 are now on Hillary Clinton's side, working on her campaign and doing some of the grass roots organizing, as well.

BLITZER: Because the history was made with the election of the first African-American president in the United States. You think blacks will turn out to elect the first woman president in the United States?

HENDERSON: I think if you look historically, African-Americans tend to vote Democratic, a trend that has been going on for the last 50 years. Republicans have not been able to eat into that, if you look at the way Nixon was able to do in the '70s. But the big issue for Clinton is getting over the hurdle. A lot of people say they moved past it. But the other question is whether or not she will get the energy and excitement that was so much a part of the Obama campaign and really made it a movement. That is the question for Hillary Clinton.

BLITZER: Because Obama, in 2007 and 2008, in that primary he won South Carolina, that primary, decisively.

HENDERSON: That's right. He won it decisively, and won African- American voters by a 4-1 margin. You saw them really jump ship from the Hillary Clinton campaign. And partly that is because he did so well in Iowa, who won Iowa and all of a sudden looked like a candidate who could win. There were some racially charged remarks, at least some thought there were racially charged remarks, particularly from Bill Clinton and that turned people off. She is meeting with African- American business owners and really the key to the vote after all. They vote in higher percentages than any other demographic group. That is one of the reasons she is reaching out to the group.

BLITZER: And James Clyburn is one of the high ranking members of the House of Representatives. He's from South Carolina. He will play a significant role, possibly on her behalf.

HENDERSON: He was neutral in 2008, and at some point, told Bill Clinton to chill out when he got antsy down there. He may be neutral but he already has seen Bernie Sanders and Martin O'Malley. Looks like he will remain neutral. He is certainly someone that the Clintons want out there on their behalf.

BLITZER: This is going to move forward.


BLITZER: Good article you wrote on and "CNN Politics." I recommend it to our viewers.

HENDERSON: Thank you.

[13:44:58] BLITZER: Thank you for joining us.

Up next, an addition to the Republican presidential field. Later today, a former Senator, a former Republican presidential candidate will formally toss his hat into the ring for another try. Stay with us. There you see Rick Santorum getting ready to run for president of the United States.


BLITZER: Getting back to politics here in the United States. Right now, later today, the former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum is expected to announce he will run for the Republican nomination for president. Santorum emerged as the conservative alternative, more conservative alternative to Mitt Romney back in 2012. He actually scored a narrow victory in the Iowa caucuses. Our senior Washington correspondent, Joe Johns, is traveling with

Santorum in Pennsylvania right now. Santorum is from Pennsylvania, representing Pennsylvania in the U.S. Senate.

So, Joe, how is he going to break out of an extremely crowded Republican pack right now?

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, it is an extremely crowded Republican pack. This is pin united technology, the factory floor for Pennsylvania, just about 10 miles away from where Rick Santorum grew up. Among other things, the people working with him say, look, this is the guy who should be the frontrunner. He is next in line, having finished second to Mitt Romney in the last primary go-around. He has an organization in a variety of places, including all the countries of Iowa. And he's done this before. So he doesn't have to be trained how to answer questions, as some of the other candidates have. There's high hopes here. They're putting together what they see as a very professional kickoff. This time, they're going to talk a lot about poverty and helping people get jobs.

So the intent here, Wolf, is to try to portray this man, Rick Santorum, in the second go-round as someone who's more than a social conservative. We'll see how it plays -- Wolf?

[13:50:31] BLITZER: He won the Iowa caucuses, did well in several other states in 2012. Is he going to repeat that same strategy basically in Iowa, spending all of his time there, almost all of his time visiting all 99 counties, going door to door sometimes? Is that going to be his strategy this time, or has he got some other plan?

JOHNS: Well, we do know he's going to pay a lot of attention to Iowa. In fact, he's going to go from here to Iowa this week, spend some time there. Then he's going to move on to South Carolina. Both of his sons go to the Citadel in the Charleston area. He's expected to spend a lot of time in the south. I even talked to one of his former state directors in Alabama who says they're looking forward to having Rick Santorum back because he doesn't just have supporters, they say, among conservatives. He has a lot of broad support in the Republican Party. And if he can broaden his base, they say a lot of the other people getting into the race might have a hard time beating him -- Wolf?

BLITZER: All right. Joe Johns, reporting for us from Pennsylvania. We'll see what happens.

We'll have coverage of Rick Santorum's announcement later today in "The Situation Room."

Still ahead, a royal display of politics and pomp. Britain's Queen Elizabeth opens a new session of parliament. What her speech revealed about the newly elected government's plans for power.


[13:55:31] BLITZER: The Vice President Joe Biden says Russia is critical to negotiations with Iran. He says regardless of what's happening in Ukraine, the United States and Russia, he says, can work together when their interests intersect. The vice president also offered this assessment of the working relationship.


JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We continue to look for, as we say, the phrase used, off-ramps for President Putin. We're not looking to embarrass him. We're not looking for regime change. We're not looking for any fundamental alteration of the circumstances inside Russia. We're looking for him to, in our view, act more rationally. If he does not, we'll continue to confront what I characterize as pure aggression.


BLITZER: "Pure aggression," his words. The vice president also said to protect U.S. allies against what he calls pure Russian aggression. He called on NATO partners to step up when it comes to defense of the NATO allies.

Britain's Queen Elizabeth opened a new session of parliament today in a ceremony with all the customary pomp and circumstance. For the occasion, the queen wore the historic imperial state crown, an 18-foot robe of state. And then, sitting on a gilded throne, she delivered a speech laying out the new conservative government's new agenda, including a referendum on Britain's membership in the European Union.

CNN's Max Foster is joining us live from London.

Max, even though the queen reads the speech, it's written for her by the government. Tell us how this all went down.

MAX FOSTER, CNN LONDON CORRESPONDENT: Well, it was interesting. She's done this more than 60 times now. She's got more experience than any of the politicians in that building. Her skill, really, is showing no opinion, keeping completely neutral, keeping it very monotone. She stays out of politics. She doesn't want anyone to think what she thinks of the various policies involved.

Also, that crown very heavy. She did a good job of balancing that.

Crucially, what you have here is David Cameron. He's not got a majority government after the election. It's only a very thin one. What he's done here is set out, if you'd like, all the laws he wants to get through parliament over the next year. Top of the list, as you refer to, is this issue with the European Union. His party is very split on whether Britain should be a member of the European Union, but he promised a referendum to the British people during the campaign. By the end of 2017, Brits will have the choice on whether or not to stay within the European Union, if he can get this bill through. That was really the headline from today.

BLITZER: What does Cameron want?

FOSTER: David Cameron wants -- it's interesting. He's got a split in the party. The far right would rather come out of the European Union. He's sort of sitting on the fence by saying he wants British people to decide. But he's got this other issue he's facing. Potentially a breakup of the European Union or at least a split in European Union on that front. But also within the U.K., a split within the union of the United Kingdom as well. The Scottish Nationalists did incredibly well in the election. He has to give them something. Also today, we heard a compromise from him saying we're going to give more power to Edinburgh. He's offering the same to Wales and to the English regions. Potential breakup of the European Union and the U.K.

BLITZER: And so basically, when it comes to Scotland, I hear you saying, sort of like he is on the E.U., sort of on the fence. At the same time, not necessarily going in either direction all the way. Is that right?

FOSTER: Well, he's not necessarily saying we should keep the European Union together, but he's definitely saying we should keep the United Kingdom together. He's saying you don't have to go for full independence in Scotland, because that's what the Scottish National Party really want and voted for. What you can do is have a compromise. We'll give you more power over various local issues in Scotland, but you don't need to break away. You'll lose so many benefits of the defense protection, for example, and diplomatic embassies around the world as well. They need to stay together.

[13:59:57] BLITZER: All right, Max. Thank you very much.

That's it for me. I'll be back 5:00 p.m. eastern in "The Situation Room."

For our international viewers, "Amanpour" is next.

For our viewers in North America, "Newsroom" with Brooke Baldwin starts right now.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Wolf Blitzer, thank you so much.