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AT THIS HOUR WITH BERMAN AND MICHAELA

Trump Jumps on Report of Obamacare Price Increases; Concerns Trump Will Bring Down GOP House, Senate. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired October 25, 2016 - 11:00   ET

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


[11:00:00] CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: I hope they get to bring those goats in.

Andy Scholes, thanks.

And thank you for joining me today. I'm Carol Costello.

AT THIS HOUR with Berman and Bolduan starts right now.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: I'm John Berman.

At long last, it is the final fortnight, which means two weeks. It does. That's what it means. It means two weeks.

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: More importantly, it means every bit of news is a big deal. A big bit of news is a really big deal. And now there is news about Obamacare, which Donald Trump hopes is a huge deal to voters.

BOLDUAN: A government report says consumer's premiums will jump by double digits in some cases next year. Donald Trump was quick to jump on that. Here he is just a short time ago speaking in front of some of his employees at one of his Florida properties.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: But Obamacare's just blowing up. And even the White House, our president, announced 25 or 26 percent. That number is so wrong. That is such a phony number. You're talking about 60 percent, 80 percent in increases, not 25 percent.

Obamacare has to be repealed and replaced. And it has to be replaced with something much less expensive for the people. And otherwise, this country's in even bigger trouble than anybody thought.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: Joining us right now is CNN's chief business correspondent, Christine Romans; and CNN chief political correspondent, Dana Bash.

Guys, great to see you. So Christine, there's a lot in this. What do we know from the report

first of all?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: The most important thing here is the sticker shock. You're talking about a 25 percent on average increase next year for folks in the federal exchange, 25 percent. Think about one important bill going up 25 percent for premiums. That's a lot. You've already got people complaining about really high deductibles that they can't handle. It's wide variation across the country, Indiana, for example. Typical premium there would go down 3 percent. But Arizona, it's going up 116 percent. It's a patchwork and maybe that's what Donald Trump was talking about there in that sound bite, but it's a really big patchwork. This is a work in progress. The administration will tell you. And this is a transition where they're trying to find the pricing her, that's going to work. Premiums are soaring. Here are the challenges, premiums soaring, enrollment is critical. You've got to get more young people in. It is --

BOLDUAN: That's what they're banking on.

ROMANS: -- The young people who are healthy, who instead of taking a fan or penalty, they go in there, they buy insurance. That offsets the sicker more older patients. That's not happened. That has been out of whack. You have to keep insurers in the program. Insurers are coming out of the program. So there's not a lot of choice in some states.

BERMAN: That's a lot of the why but for voters what they care about is the "what." The "what" is my premiums are going up average of 22 percent. That's got to have a political implication, Dana.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, and so telling, the states that Christine just put up, Arizona is a state where the Clinton campaign they were hoping to make some inroads, with the premium going up 116 percent and if Donald Trump does what he did this morning which is stay on message. Since Obamacare even came to be, there's been no more powerful message than Obamacare is messing you up or will mess you. Now they can say this is proof. It could help him not only keep Arizona but potentially in a lot of these other swing states.

BOLDUAN: Other numbers we're looking at this morning. New CNN poll numbers out has Clinton up 5 nationally. That tracks with being up 5 earlier this month. What does that mean today, a fortnight out?

BERMAN: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: You're welcome.

(LAUGHTER)

BASH: I'm not even going to touch that one.

BOLDUAN: Sorry. BASH: What it means is the race is frozen. It is a 5 percent gap

which is similar -- I think it's exactly the same frankly, the last poll we had. And so it is if you're the Trump campaign looking at those, looking for some good news, that is good news. And that he has not had a great couple of weeks. And the gap is still the same. If he can stay on issues as his campaign manager says over and over again --

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: Like Obamacare.

BASH: Especially when they have a gift ironically from the Obama -- the Obama government, the Obama administration, rather with these numbers. You can use it.

ROMANS: What I have to tell you is 77 percent of people who are going to get Obamacare are going to get a subsidy that's going to keep them at 100 or less. When you look at the details, it means it costs more. There are government subsidies that are going to prod those young people in. But that's all details. It still shows a messy, messy rollout for --

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: The bottom line, they will be paying more.

Dana, you talked to Kellyanne Conway, Donald Trump's campaign manager. You just spent serious time with her.

[11:10:06] BASH: That's right. We were talking about the very thing we were just discussing, why Donald Trump veers off into talking about things that don't benefit his campaign and what she says to him when that happens. She said she was with him this past weekend in Gettysburg when he was supposed to give a good speech about draining the swamp. Instead, he was going off script, going after the women who accused him. Listen to what she said their discussion was like.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KELLYANNE CONWAY, DONALD TRUMP PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN MANAGER: I don't sugarcoat at all --

BASH: Give an example. I'm Donald Trump and you're Kellyanne Conway and you say something that makes you mad at a rally.

CONWAY: I told him yesterday on the plane you and I are going to fight for the next 17 days and he said and I said because I know you're going to win, and that comment you just made sounds like you think you're going to lose, and we're going to argue about it until you win.

BASH: And what's his response?

CONWAY: He's like, OK, honey, then we'll win.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: We'll see if that happens. The fact that she is saying this publicly, that she really, really needs him to stick to the issues, gives you a sense of what it's like to be Donald Trump's third campaign manager, trying to rein him in and trying to make him as conventional as he needs to be to actually win the race.

BERMAN: That's interesting. They sometimes do have publicly different views on the same subject.

BOLDUAN: Having a public conversation about it two weeks out from the election.

BASH: That's what it is.

She's not the only one trying to send the candidate a message favorite medium, television.

BERMAN: Dana Bash, Christine Romans, thank you.

We'll talk more about this with CNN senior political commentator, former adviser to President Obama, David Axelrod, who happens to be a Chicago Cubs fan.

BOLDUAN: Happens.

BERMAN: More on that in a moment.

David, I want to start with Obamacare, which is obviously a big deal today. A 22 percent increase in premiums is a lot. You know, what does Hillary Clinton do with this news, which is nothing but bad news for the current administration?

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, she's been saying so far as I can see, she's been speaking to those rate increases and talking about the fact that she will take action to try and reduce those rate increases. It's been mostly -- her rhetoric has been mostly aimed at the insurance companies.

But look, the next administration's going to have to make some adjustments to Obamacare. We should make clear, whether voters do or not is another question, that we're talking about a relatively small universe of people who are in these exchanges. Most people have insurance through other means, who are on Medicaid, Medicare. But this is a -- it's a small universe of people who are being affected here for the reasons that Christine said, younger people aren't signing up in the numbers that had been hoped originally. So that has to be worked on in the next four years. It seems doubtful to me this is going to be the decisive issue in the election but it will be fodder for Donald Trump in the days to come.

BOLDUAN: All right, but this was such a big deal for the Obama White House. I mean, it is called Obamacare. It is such a big deal for Democrats in Congress and the Senate getting this through. Hillary Clinton obviously has staked a claim on health care like this. The fact this is coming out two weeks before the election, and not just that, that people are voting right now in key states. To you, do you think that this -- is this enough that Republicans can say I told you so as they're heading to the polls or is this an October surprise too late?

AXELROD: I will say that they will say I told you so, whether it's enough to influence large numbers of voters at this point to change their vote, I think that's highly, highly unlikely.

You know, it is something for Donald Trump to talk about other rigged polls, and accusers of misconduct on his part, and he -- if he's smart, he will seize on it and talk about it. But I don't think it's going to be the decisive issue in this election. I think that so much has been baked into the cake at this point that the notion that this will sway what has been a pretty large trend line for a while seems very remote to me.

BERMAN: Well, in fact, he has already talked about it twice today and it's only 11:09 eastern time so that tells you something --

(CROSSTALK)

AXELROD: Every appearance -- it would be unusual for him to stay on a topic for a long period of time and not --

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: So stay tuned.

AXELROD: We'll see if he can do that.

BERMAN: You know, and there is an opportunity for him, multiple opportunities for him to speak, because Donald Trump is on the trail quite a bit with multiple campaign appearances a day, several a day in Florida right now. He's going to other states at different times. Hillary Clinton really has stuck to after the debate one appearance, one speech a day in a state. That is different, David, in elections than I've covered in the past where, two weeks out, you're going to two, three, rallies a day. Is she working hard enough right now? Could she, should she be doing more?

[11:10:22] AXELROD: Well, I think she feels like she has control of this race and she's being strategic about how she spends her time. It is curious to me that they're not making more stops than they are. You know, and on the other hand, when you look at Trump, he often treats these events as sort of open mic night. And part of what the Clinton campaign is counting on is Trump himself, who creates problems for himself, often when he's on the road at these rallies and then they play off of those.

She also has the advantage of a lot of high-powered surrogates who are covering a lot of territory for her, the president, Mrs. Obama, the vice president, her own running mate. So she's well fortified in a way that Donald Trump is not. That may be part of the calculation.

BOLDUAN: All right, David Axelrod, let's talk about the important stuff. We have to talk about the Cubs.

AXELROD: Finally, we get to the bottom line here.

BOLDUAN: Finally, we like to bury the lead. That's what we like to do in the show. You are a lifelong Cubs fan. Hillary Clinton, born in Illinois, said she was born a Cubs fan, then she became a Yankees fan. Do you accept her?

AXELROD: Yes. Well, look, she -- here's the question. I believe Hillary Clinton -- she is a Cubs fan. I have no doubt that she's a Cubs fan. There's a picture of her enthusiastically watching the Cubs victory, clinching the pennant on Saturday. Here's the dilemma. She's a Cubs fan. They're playing the Cleveland Indians in an important swing state, Ohio. So how enthusiastically she goes out and touts her Cubs fandom is a question. And I don't know whether they're going to have focus groups or polling on this. My hope is she will throw all that aside and let her true Cubs fervor show.

BERMAN: 2008, President Obama, then just Senator Obama, bravely went to Philadelphia and said, I'm a Phillies fan with the Phillies in the World Series. A few days later, went to Tampa and said I'm a Rays fan with the Rays in the World Series so, you know, there are risks for politicians right now.

AXELROD: I have to tell you that in 2008, I went with him to a rally in Boston and you'll appreciate this, you're a Red Sox fan, the -- they gave him a hat. The Yankees were playing the Red Sox that weekend. A critical series. They gave him a Red Sox hat to wear and he threw it away, and he said there's no way I'm wearing that halt, and he said, I'm a White Sox fan. It would be dishonest. So he goes out to the crowd and I said, well, that's good, that shows good judgment. He goes out to the crowd and he said, they want me to wear a Red Sox hat and I told them it was the wrong color sox. Everybody boos. He says, I'll tell you this, when we're playing the Yankees, I'm a Red Sox fan, and they all cheer. And I thought this guy could get elected president.

BOLDUAN: Stick your neck out now. We want you on the record. Your prediction, Cubs are going to win it in how many?

AXELROD: I say Cubs in six, but I'm secretly hoping for five so we Wrigley Field so we can celebrate at Wrigley Field on Sunday night.

BERMAN: And if they don't win, David Axelrod, what are your contingency plans?

BOLDUAN: Exactly.

BERMAN: Are you going to be OK?

AXELROD: I have a watch group that will look over me for several days after. I'll be under close observation.

(LAUGHTER)

Listen, the truth of the matter is the Cubs are young they're talented, everybody wants to win this year, but I have no doubt r at some time, whether it's this year, next year, the year after --

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: You're already hedging, David Axelrod.

BERMAN: I don't believe you for a second. You're already equivocating.

AXELROD: I have to cling to that.

BOLDUAN: Come on, man. Come on.

AXELROD: I have to cling to that. This is how I'm going to get through if it doesn't go the right way, but I'm very, very confident they're going to win the World Series.

BERMAN: Now he just jinxed it.

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: David, we have to bail you out. You're hurting yourself now, man. Nice to see you. Thank you, David.

(LAUGHTER)

AXELROD: Nice to see you guys.

BOLDUAN: Thank you.

Hold it together, man. That's for David Axelrod.

Also this, the tough message or maybe even more of a plea to Donald Trump from someone who tried to defeat Donald Trump. Next, we'll speak with Ted Cruz's campaign manager. What would Ted do?

[11:15:39] BERMAN: Florida -- I'm sorry, Florida says -- actually, Donald Trump says he cannot win the White House without winning Florida, which is like me saying I cannot breathe without air. So what is going on here? That's coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: All right, concern this morning within the Republican Party about the top of the ticket. Will Donald Trump be a drag on Republican Senate and House candidates?

BOLDUAN: Right in the middle of the final debate, remember, between Trump and Clinton, the former campaign manager for Ted Cruz tweeted this, "Hold it together, man, it's all on the line, not just you, all of us."

Let's talk to that man, Jeff Roe, former campaign manager for Ted Cruz.

Jeff, great to see you.

JEFF ROE, FORMER TED CRUZ PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN MANGER: Thanks for having me on.

BOLDUAN: Thank you.

If you were with Ted Cruz two weeks before election day, campaign, before we get to the "hold it together," we got to ask this, two weeks out from general election, you're managing his campaign, this Obamacare news lands in your lap. What would you do with it? How excited would you be?

ROE: It could be a very exciting day, I must admit. This is awful news for the Democrats, the centerpiece of the Obama presidency. A candidate running to be the third term of the Obama presidency, and you're just handed a gift. And everybody gets the letters roughly the same day. It's so like a direct mail piece into 300 million people's homes. It's a wonderful opportunity. I would be pouncing up and down on this all day.

We always thought this should be a referendum on Obamacare because the Democrats have to stick with it and Republicans have is up a winning issue even with Independents. In fact, many people look towards this day even during the Republican primaries, thinking this would be in October, these are all going to come out, everybody's prices will go up, co-pays will go up, so this will be a glorious day for the campaign. I think it will be for Trump because it's still part of the narrative they're pushing.

[11:20:27] BERMAN: Said it would be like a direct mail piece. You think like a campaign operative --

(CROSSTALK)

ROE: That's right.

BERMAN: -- how many points, how many mail pieces.

So let's talk about the debate. Right in the middle of it, most of us watch Twitter with one eye and the debate with another, and your tweet came across, I'm like wow. You're basically warning Donald Trump to keep it together. That was during the debate. In a more global sense in this campaign, what do you mean by that?

ROE: Well, about a half hour into the debate, I actually tweeted if this continues, we're going to keep Senate, keep the House, and he's going to win. I mean, I thought the first 30 was incredible. The second 30 minutes of the debate was like, OK, come on now, we're OK, this is still going to be good. In the last 30 minutes, I thought he got off the rails a little bit. All the public polling -- and we do polling for all our country. This race isn't out of whack. It's starting to resemble a lot like 2012, 2004, starting to break along party lines. Obviously, Clinton has a little lag with her Democrat base. And Trump certainly lags with the Republican base. But it's start to -- there's behavioral outputs of the voters. They're starting to resemble tendencies is you see in more traditional presidential campaigns. So it starts breaking along party lines. The fact of the matter is this is like a layup. This last debate should have been a layup. We have WikiLeaks. We have all these things going on. The Obamacare premiums now that have come out. There's a lot of intrinsic opportunities for Republican candidate this cycle that shows exactly how devastating, and how energized people would be to make a course direction, a direction in course. 70 percent of people want America to go a different direction. And here you have somebody who truly embodies continuing the course, in Clinton, and certainly an agent of change, which would be really any Republican but, for sure, Trump. I feel like they just mishandled some of those situations. But it's still in play. It's still a margin-or-error race. A lot of people are saying the fat lady's singing. I'm not sure if I can say that this cycle or not. Rhetorically, the fat lady's singing.

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: Maybe she's warming up. You've also got Donald Trump for though, all the, you know, problems for Hillary Clinton, but for Donald Trump, you've got, late in the race, the "Access Hollywood" tape coming out and the list of accusers coming out. When you look at the timing of it all, your guy, Ted Cruz, endorsed Donald Trump just days before this "Access Hollywood" tape came out. When it did, would he endorse, then the videotape came out. And John and I were talking, was there regret he made the endorsement when this all happened?

ROE: No, I think -- the way that Mr. Cruz approached this is, if it's a hanging-chad election, which is a nail-biter election, and he withheld his support, and it made that -- withholding of his support actually helped elect Hillary Clinton as president, he couldn't sleep at night. I mean, the direction this country would take with the Supreme Court and all the policy differences that have been laid out ad nauseam in this campaign, that's something he couldn't live with. As a binary choice, it was actually -- as he got there, he didn't get there obviously before Cleveland, but as he got there, he became very comfortable in the choice.

BERMAN: Jeff, level with us though. When that "Access Hollywood" tape came out, did you have a moment where you sat there and said to yourself, how come this didn't happen in March, or in April, when Ted Cruz was going toe-to-toe with Donald Trump?

ROE: Sure, no, that would have been a vastly different -- I take it from two different parts. One, I don't know if I changed my opinion of him during that. I think it was groundbreaking. We studied Mr. Trump up close and had a full-throated conservation about the direction of the country with him for several months. So it didn't tell me anything that I probably didn't already expect. But I think there is some sort of impropriety here when they've had this tape for how many years and it just happens to show up. I think it was actually on October 1st for an October surprise, October 1st or 2nd. You know, you think about how many things -- how many times theme had an opportunity to put this forward as a -- and what else is out there as far as cutting room floor of "The Apprentice" and that sort of thing. I don't think you've seen really an organization keeping information for that long.

BERMAN: -- you wish you would have done more opposition research, done more research yourself? [11:25:10] ROE: Well, I can't break into NBC and get their tapes.

But short of that, I think we did -- we have a lot -- we put out a lot of information flow, a lot of information. But he was starting to get in a situation where he was getting equal parts of conservatives, moderates, Libertarians, and so that is really a conservative attack that you would use against him. And so it was really -- that had already been kind of decided by the point that people were starting to vote. They were already willing to accept some of his irregularities as a candidate, if you will. And so we did a lot of research. We know him up and down. I looked at the WikiLeaks research on Trump. They didn't have anything we didn't have. Short of breaking into NBC and getting all the footage that they cut, I don't think there was any more for us to get.

BOLDUAN: Jeff, just to establish, you are voting for Trump, right?

ROE: I am, sure. I'm going to vote straight ticket.

BOLDUAN: So who's going to win this race?

ROE: If the election were today, Hillary would win. But ii is a margin-of-error race. It is tied or within the margin in all the key battleground states. Think about this, if we were sitting two year ago, saying, OK, the Republican nominee is going to win Iowa, they're going to be either tied or really close in Florida, they're going to win Ohio, they're going to be competitive in Maine, they're going to be competitive in Pennsylvania somewhat, I'd take my chances this year. But we didn't know that at the time. Now we have a situation where there's new maps in play. So Nevada's more in play. Mr. Trump was up, you know, big. Now it's more of a tight race. This was all margin of error.

But the number-one determinative on how elections will go is who people think will win. That's number one. That's why I think the Democrats are playing a wonderful game right now of making this a fait accompli, this is over, the fat lady's warmed up and singing. It's actually not. It's actually a very close race. It's close in all the battleground states. And so that indicator, though, of people who they think will win is starting to rise, and that's very bad news for the Trump campaign.

BERMAN: Jeff Roe, great to have you on with us. Come back again.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, Jeff.

ROE: Thank you.

BERMAN: All right.

As for the other side, President Obama is now openly mocking Donald Trump day, night, and late night. So how far is too far?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)