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AT THIS HOUR WITH BERMAN AND MICHAELA

Bill Clinton Campaigns for Hillary; Cruz Super PAC Ad Portrays Rubio as "Distracted". Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired January 4, 2016 - 11:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[11:30:00] BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: -- saving the auto industry, advances for LBGT rights, trying to work out the extreme difficulties involved in supporting immigration reform, but not letting anybody just show up at the border and jump ahead of everybody else who's been waiting in line for years. He's worked through a lot of that. And a lot of it, especially in the environment and health care, will be reversed if you get a Republican Congress and a Republican president. And we need to stop that.

So, if that's what the election's about, how do you have inclusive prosperity, inclusive social policy, more inclusive politics, and stop us from going in reverse at the very moment when we're poised to grow together, who's the best person to do it?

CROWD: Hillary!

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: All right. She's here speaking for herself. I won't go through all the details of her plan, but I have reviewed it --

(LAUGHTER)

-- and I think it is the plan which offers the best chance to have the most rapid movement to more broadly shared prosperity.

And let me remind you, we now two years ago, in late 2014, about a year and three months ago, we celebrated the tenth anniversary of my library opening in Arkansas.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: Some of you were there. So anyway, the reporter asked me just out of the blue, well, what are you most proud of? What's the most important thing you did? And I don't think I even brought it in here, but I happen to have a little chart that showed that, as compared with President Reagan's term, which was the best trickle-down time because that's the first time we'd ever basically spent more money and cut taxes at the same time in peace time to that extent, we add 50 percent more jobs. But the most important thing was 100 times as many people worked their way from poverty into the middle class. They worked their way there.

(APPLAUSE) CLINTON: And it was fascinating. The top 5 percent actually did slightly better under President Reagan than me. Everybody else did better in the 1990s. The 60 percent to 80 percent of people, about a third better, 30 percent. The ones in the middle, 70 percent better. 20 percent to 40 percent earners, more than twice as much income growth. Listen to this, the bottom 20 percent, their incomes increased 0.7 of 1 percent in the 1980s and 23.6 percent in the 1990s.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: We grew together. We can do this.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: And so I think what Hillary wants to do with creating jobs and the clean energy economy -- I think this Paris agreement was great, by the way. It's going to open up millions of new jobs for America. With modernized infrastructure, with more research, with making sure the banking rules don't cost too much to make small business loans, and understanding we can do that without imperiling the heart of Dodd/Frank, all of those things are really important. Paul Krugman, a leading progressive economist in our country, said Hillary of all the candidates running had the toughest program to ensure that we wouldn't repeat the abuses of the past. And so I think those are good programs.

I think what she's offered on the prescription drug abuse and heroin problem, on the Alzheimer's issue, on many other health issues that we face are good. I think it's obvious that now that we've got 90 percent of our people insured, we've got to keep going the rest of the way.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: But I want to say to you -- there's a story in the paper today about how young people are leading the way this year in increasing enrollment in the health care plans, and more than two million of them. And if that happens, the spike we had in premiums this year will not be repeated next year because what happens is, if you try to drive everybody away, especially in the states that didn't take the Medicaid expansion, you get people who are my age and we spend more money on health care than younger people do. The more age mix we've got, the more your premiums will stay down. So, I like her plans there.

[11:35:00] I like the fact that in an uncertain world where borders look more like nets than walls, and nobody's in total control, she understands what it takes to keep our country as safe as possible, to stop, big, bad things from happening and make as many good things happen as possible. When she was secretary of state, she negotiated those sanctions on Iran and unbelievably got Russia and China to sign off on it. I didn't think she could do that.

(LAUGHTER)

And they made a difference. Even the people that don't like the Iranian nuclear deal agreed the sanctions were good. The only thing that has survived the estrangement of the United States and Russia from our attempt to do better is something called the New START Treaty negotiated by Hillary's State Department, which makes us much safer from the prospect of an accidental or intentional nuclear exchange. In a dangerous world, I think that's a pretty good deal.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: One of the things I love, because you've got to make more friends all along, too, is that the PEPFAR for our program, President Obama's finest program, which funds our efforts against AIDS, T.B. and malaria, was saving 1.7 million lives with the money we were spending on it when Hillary took office. When she left with the same amount of money by buying generic drugs, we were saving three times as many lives, 5.4 million.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: That's unbelievable, 5.1 million. That's --

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: Now, this will never be a headline at the election because nobody knows the name of those 3.4 million people, principally in Africa, but not entirely. But I'll tell you what, in the countries where those people live, they like America a lot better, which is why our approval rating was 20 points higher on average around the world when she left office.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: But I want to just close by something that's personal to me. Every presidential election, people run and, believe it or not, it's kind of scary this year, but believe it or not, most everybody actually tries to do what they say they're going to do when they're running. They're telling you what they believe. And so you've got to take them seriously. But you also have to take seriously whether they have any chance of doing what they say they're going to do or any record of doing it. So, this is what I want to say. Things that a lot you have may not know. When we met, it will soon be 45 years ago in a couple months, when we met, we fell in love. I thought she was the most amazing person because, unlike now, where more than half the law students in America are women, then they were a distinct minority. And there she was at Yale Law School. She could have written her ticket to go anywhere she wanted. All she was really interested in was providing legal services to poor people. When we got out, she could have gone to work, big law firm, get a fancy clerkship. She took a job at the Children's Defense Fund. There was a nice story in the press, you may have seen in the last several days talking about a trip she took to Alabama to see if the so-called tax-exempt private schools were really just segregation academies and, therefore, not entitled to the tax exemption. I valued even more a trip she took to South Carolina to see why so many African-American children were being held in adult prisons. It's hard to remember 40 years ago what things were like. She hadn't been elected to anything. But everything she touched, she made better. Then she came to Arkansas to be with me and we were teaching in the

law school and she started the first legal aid clinic we ever had. She used to get me to drive her out to see her clients and stuff. And there was -- I'll never forget the day she was supposed to go actually formally get the acceptance of the legal system in this town where the university is for her running legal aid. So, we had to go before the judge who was in charge. He was a crusty old guy named Tom Butts who wore wire-rimmed glasses and bow ties and looked over those glasses at you like there was something wrong with you and he just hadn't figured it out yet.

(LAUGHTER)

[11:40:10] So Hillary's standing there and he said to her -- I remember this like it was yesterday. He said, you know, I don't like legal aid very much. And I don't like lady lawyers very much. So help me god, he used that phrase. Within six months, she changed his opinion on both things. She hadn't been elected to anything.

I get elected governor and we're in Little Rock. And we had been just killed by some of the economic developments that we faced. One day, Hillary walked in and said, you know, we got all these poor families, many of their parents have never had any education and they're doing their best. And I just read about a program in Israel called Hippy, believe it or not, Home Instruction Program for Preschool Youngsters. It was set up to teach parents to be their kids' first teachers, even if they didn't have any education themselves, for emigrant kids coming into Israel that didn't speak Hebrew or English. She said, I think it would really work in the Mississippi Delta and in the Ozark Mountains, which are -- then were our version of Appalachian. I said, well, it sounds interesting, but what are you going to do? She said, oh, I just called the woman that started the program and she'll be here in 10 days and we're going to set one up.

(LAUGHTER)

CLINTON: Before you knew it --

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Bill Clinton, former President Clinton, in Nashua, New Hampshire, his first solo campaign rally of the year. Talking about a side of Hillary Clinton we haven't seen or heard much about, the early days when they met some 45 years ago.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: 45 years ago. He said everything she touched she made better. We're going to continue to listen to former President Bill Clinton. We'll get in a quick break. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:45:32] BOLDUAN: Welcome back. Let's head back to Nashua, New Hampshire, where former President Bill Clinton is stumping his first solo campaign appearance for his wife, Hillary Clinton. Listen in.

CLINTON: -- government when you were there, but I was the British secretary of state for Northern Ireland. And you remember that in 2010 we almost lost the Irish peace process. I said, yeah, I -- this was the 20th anniversary of the cease-fire we got in Northern Ireland, so I've been celebrating it this year. So, he said, I was desperate, we were at loggerheads. The thing was about to come apart and I called Hillary. I said, Hillary, I know you don't have any responsibility for this now, but you're the only person who can fix it. Because of what you and your husband did, he said, all I know is, 36 hours later, everybody was back at the table. We'd solved the problem and we kept it going. He said, I'm telling you, she did that for a lot of people. And some of us would like to help her back. And so --

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: Why am I telling you this? Because of this. When I was president, it made a big impact on me because of what you did for me. That I was only the second president of a small state to become president. The first was Franklin Pierce. And so, I started pretty much with Franklin Pierce, reading everything I could in those eight years about my less well-known predecessors. And here's what I concluded. Almost everybody goes into the White House with the best of intentions. Whether they succeed or not depends upon whether their instincts, their experience, their knowledge and their psychological makeup fits the time. Franklin Pierce, whose only child was killed in a railroad accident when he was on the way to become president, he and his wife were depressed for a year and the country was coming apart at the seams anyway. I think there are almost no circumstances under which he could have succeeded. But he had a great career in the Mexican war. He had a good career in Congress. He was a good governor here. The times took him out. Abraham Lincoln, had he governed in the 1950s, might never have been regarded as a great president because he was gripped by crippling depression. It was only in the blood of the Civil War that somehow he burned through his own feelings and absorbed the grief of the nation and let his depression go.

I spent a lot of time thinking about this. I do not believe in my lifetime anybody has run for this job at a moment of great importance who was better qualified by knowledge, experience and temperament to do what needs to be done now to restore prosperity --

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: -- to deal with these human issues, to make us as safe as possible.

Thank you very much. And God bless you.

BERMAN: Quite an endorsement, quite a speech from former President Bill Clinton. His first campaign rally of the season on behalf of his wife, Hillary Clinton. And at the end he said, no one is better fit to be president based on knowledge, experience and temperament than his wife, Hillary Clinton.

BERMAN: A lot to discuss. A lot happening in politics, as that event goes to color bars. We'll discuss right after a break. We'll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:53:00] All right. Just moments ago, former President Bill Clinton wrapped up his first solo campaign rally of this campaign season for his wife, Hillary Clinton, in Nashua, New Hampshire.

And our Brianna Keilar was in the room.

Brianna, what did you hear?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: A couple of things they noted listening to this, John and Kate, and that included that we were wondering if he would push back against Donald Trump's comments that he has been an abuser of women, and, no, he did not elevate the argument. But there were a couple of the veiled knocks on Donald Trump, and even are from the opening when he said that I don't fit in anymore, and I'm not mad at anybody, and he also highlighted two examples of heroisms by Muslims both here in the U.S. and abroad. And that is a knock on some of the anti anti-Muslim rhetoric that we have heard. And when he was talking about Hillary Clinton and her headline traits, I guess you could say, he stressed temperament which harkened back to the beginning.

A couple of thing, he did talk about Hillary Clinton's achievements as a woman, but he did not talk about the women's issues. He talked about Hillary Clinton and her successes and he called being a lady lawyer something that the judge are referred to pejoratively and then he stressed instead, her early effort efforts to defend children and to work to advance the children and poor children of the U.S. -- John?

BOLDUAN: A lot of things in that speech, and no direct references to Donald Trump or anybody else, but perhaps some veiled references.

Brianna, thank you so much.

Brianna Keilar in there at that event in Nashua, New Hampshire, and first of the many for Bill Clinton, for sure.

And let's bring in Mo Elleithee. He was a senior spokesman for Hillary Clinton's 2008 campaign and now the executive director of the Georgetown Institute of Politics and Public Service; and Mike Shields, the former chief of staff at the Republican National Committee.

And, guys, it is great to see you.

We got the hear from the former President Bill Clinton there, and, Mo, your thoughts, the fact that despite the fire coming at Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton from Donald Trump, Bill Clinton, who does not shy away from a fight when he wants to, he did not reference, and did not pick on Donald Trump in this speech. Should he have?

[11:55:16] MO ELLEITHEE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, GEORGETOWN INSTITUTE OF POLITICS & PUBLIC SERVICE & FORMER SENOR SPOKESMAN FOR HILLARY CLINTON'S 2008 CAMPAIGN: No, he should not have. I think he did exactly what the campaign would want him to do, and it is probably the right approach here. And look, there's two things that he can do, and nobody else can do. One, help introduce people. Right? The role of the spouse in a presidential campaign is to help the voters see a side of the candidate that they might not see otherwise. That is particularly important when the candidate is Hillary Clinton that people feel they know very well. He can show a side that nobody else can see. Secondly, she is the only person out there who has done the job before, and so when you marry those two things, who can know Hillary Clinton, and who can do the job, and someone who did it, and we respected for what he did, he needs to keep doing it, and he did it very well today.

BERMAN: Mike Shields, I want to get your take on Bill Clinton, but I'm nervous I'm going to run out of time because we have some breaking campaign news in the form of a ring humdinger of a campaign ad. It really is.

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: It's a super PAC ad, one of those super PACs backing Ted Cruz, is putting out a campaign ad. Robert Koster (ph), of "The Washington Post" broke this. It is a negative ad going after Marco Rubio, and I will let you watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(MUSIC)

SEN. MARCO RUBIO, (R), FLORIDA & PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I know I have a debate, but I have to get the fantasy football thing right, OK?

ANNOUNCER: Keep the Promise One is responsible for the content of this advertising.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Dealing the fantasy football card and dealing right from the bottom of the deck, Mike Shields, and that is negative just for the sake of being negative.

MIKE SHIELDS, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: And welcome to the primaries. We are 28 days away, and we are the real game is on now, and you'll see the harsh ads. And they will have a strident tone of the issues, because there is such a lack of leadership in the White House that the real issue is fear and anxiety, and you'll see the candidates mixing it up on these issues. But I have bad news for all of the Democrats out there, and it is hard for them to take, but the candidate that you saw on stage in New Hampshire, he is not on the ballot, his wife is, and she is terrible candidate. And that is really contrasted when you see Bill Clinton and all the natural skills that he has, and realize that Hillary Clinton has only won one competitive election. He was her husband in 2008, and she blew it. She lost it because she's such a terrible candidate. So Bill Clinton gives a great speech, he did a great job, everybody is going to enjoy seeing him out on the trail, then they're going to realize, oh, there's a letdown when voters go to the ballot and they realize that Hillary Clinton is the person they have to vote for. BOLDUAN: Mike, do you believe it is a smart move that Donald Trump is

bringing up the Bill Clinton past in taking on Bill Clinton this way?

SHIELDS: Well, Bill Clinton and the Hillary Clinton are putting all this on the table. When you start putting him on the stage, he becomes an issue. And I think the bigger issue will be the Clinton Foundation. That is a huge liability for her. Bill Clinton, therefore, both of them, have been making millions of dollars giving speeches for the foundation from countries that had business in front of the State Department, even though she vowed not to do that. So she violated the ethics agreement she set up with the Obama administration while he was making money from it. Now that he's even more openly a part of the campaign that puts all of those things on the table. I think Bill Clinton really highlights some of the huge weaknesses that Hillary Clinton has as a candidate. Not only do you see the contrast of how poorly she connects versus him, but it also brings to the forefront what a terrible secretary of state she was. That's a contract from him. And also the Clinton Foundation issues, which I think are things that are going to dog them throughout the election. The Democrats are needing an enthusiasm factor, and so they are trying to bring Bill Clinton out. In fact, it is going to be worse when they start realizing what a terrible candidate Hillary Clinton is and they're not that enthused for her.

BERMAN: Mo, we have about 30 seconds left. I know you disagree with Mike.

ELLEITHEE: Yeah.

BERMAN: But the next question, is there too much Bill Clinton? Is there a risk to the Hillary campaign of too much Bill Clinton on the stump?

ELLEITHEE: Well, she is the candidate, and she has to be out there. He plays a role. He knows he's a supportive cast member this time.

And, look, to the other question, this is brilliant primary politics for Donald Trump, because when he does it, it keeps the other candidates out of the news. At a time when Ted Cruz is ascendant and others are struggling to break through, Donald Trump talking about this, it guarantees that nobody else is going to get any oxygen. That helps him in the primary, but I don't think it helps him in the general election. It did not hurt Bill Clinton in 1988 politically in the midst of impeachment, I don't think it is going to hurt him all of these years later.

BERMAN: Mo Elleithee, Mike Shields, thanks so much. Great to have you with us.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, guys.

And thank you all for joining us AT THIS HOUR.

BERMAN: "Legal View" with Ashleigh Banfield starts now.