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Trump And White House Insist NFL Feud "Not About Race"; How Do Voters Feel About The President Today?; Trump Vs. Bannon; Questions Mount About Trump's Response To Puerto Rico. Aired 7:30-8a ET
Aired September 26, 2017 - 07:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[07:30:05] ED MARTIN, PRESIDENT, EAGLE FORUM FUND, TRUMP SUPPORTER, FORMER GOP CHAIRMAN, MISSOURI REPUBLICAN PARTY: Nobody said --
CUOMO: That's great anger.
MARTIN: Nobody said I love the anger. Great -- and by the way --
CUOMO: Great anger.
MARTIN: -- you know this. Great anger --
CUOMO: The loudest booing I've ever heard. Great anger. What does that mean?
MARTIN: Loud anger, yes. No, there is anger. The country is fed up with this. We're fed up with people --
MICHAEL ERIC DYSON, AUTHOR, "TEARS WE CANNOT STOP," SOCIOLOGY PROFESSOR, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY: What part of the country --
MARTIN: -- like the doctor saying that we're wrong.
DYSON: What part of the country -- wait a minute. The part of the country I live in is fed up.
MARTIN: The part of the country that won the election.
DYSON: Let me tell you this.
CUOMO: Well --
DYSON: The part of the country I live in --
MARTIN: Who lost the election.
DYSON: Let me tell you this, sir.
CUOMO: Well, hold on a second.
DYSON: He is my president.
CUOMO: Gentlemen --
DYSON: Wait a minute. Hold on. The president -- CUOMO: Doctor -- Doctor, hold on one second.
CUOMO: Let's refocus on this last point that Ed has made and we've heard it from others persons, Doctor, and you have to deal with it, which is the people who are protesting in the NFL, you're too rich to be upset about police brutality.
MARTIN: That's not what I said. That's not what I said.
CUOMO: You guys have it easy. Look, when you say there's hypocrisy because they're in the one percent --
DYSON: Yes, you did.
CUOMO: -- that's the best reckoning of that point.
MARTIN: On -- no. On the doctor -- on the doctor saying slicing and dicing --
DYSON: No, no, no, no.
MARTIN: -- instead of -- instead of describing --
DYSON: No. You, sir --
CUOMO: You said the people who are protesting are in the one percent, Ed.
DYSON: Here's the bottom line.
CUOMO: Well, hold on. Doctor, hold on. Ed, that's what you said, right?
MARTIN: Yes. No, what I said was --
CUOMO: The people protesting are in the one percent.
MARTIN: No, what I -- what I said to the --
DYSON: That's what he said.
MARTIN: -- doctor -- no, no.
CUOMO: All right, say it again. Make your point.
MARTIN: What I said was the doctor -- yes, the doctor jumps in and says let me slice and dice all Americans into categories.
DYSON: I didn't say that.
MARTIN: The only he leaves out --
DYSON: I didn't say that.
MARTIN: -- is that the people that are protesting --
MARTIN: -- are different than me and him, and even you, Chris --
DYSON: That's why they have a voice.
CUOMO: All right, move on.
DYSON: That's why they have the ability to --
MARTIN: I understand but there are also employees.
DYSON: Let me finish. They have a platform. They have a platform. Wait a minute.
CUOMO: So that's the point. Doctor, that's the point. Ed's saying the people protesting are in the one percent so there -- it rings disingenuous when --
DYSON: Did I say --
CUOMO: -- they protest --
DYSON: Wait a minute.
CUOMO: -- police brutality. Do you buy it?
DYSON: Let me ask -- let me ask you how? The President of the United States of America is a billionaire, so by that predicate he should not be able to speak or be president.
Here's the point. The reality is is that those who are gifted and talented, those who have a platform use that platform to articulate ideas that echo throughout the land for those people who understand them.
Those leaders in the African-American communities and historically, those athletes -- Jackie Robinson made more than everybody else. Muhammad Ali made more than everybody else. But because they had a platform they were allowed to articulate ideas and sensibilities that people with far less fame, wealth, and the ability to be public use that for a good purpose.
So to argue that because they're rich --
DYSON: -- they can't speak doesn't mean the fact --
MARTIN: No. No, no, no, no, no, no, no.
DYSON: John Kennedy -- John F. Kennedy was rich and got murdered in this country -- CUOMO: All right. Doctor --
DYSON: -- as a result of what he was as the president.
MARTIN: Chris --
DYSON: My point is that the -- one of the richest men in the world is now the President of the United States of America.
MARTIN: Chris --
DYSON: If being rich disqualifies you from being able to speak he should, therefore, be quiet.
CUOMO: Understood. Ed --
MARTIN: No, but Chris -- but Chris, one thing. Listen, no, no -- you're not hearing what -- I'm sorry. I must have not stated clearly.
I'm not saying that they're not allowed speak, I'm saying they are. Everyone is.
By the way, you can speak, Chris, right now and say something on the air. If CNN doesn't like it they'll fire you.
MARTIN: But here's the thing. What I'm saying is if the doctor wants to slice Americans into categories --
DYSON: I don't.
MARTIN: -- one of the categories he says matters is not just black, not just white, but also the amount of wealth they have.
And some Americans are sitting out there saying gosh, instead of hearing about what your problems are you very, very successful, gifted, wonderful people, you're kneeling during the Anthem. It doesn't make sense to us and that's what Trump's tapped into.
And by the way, he's really good at this. He won the presidency because he knows what the people feel, and it's not racist.
CUOMO: Well, that's a different --
MARTIN: It's not what we feel.
CUOMO: That's a different conversation.
Should the President of the United States -- should his job -- should his mandate be to foment tensions or should it be to find a way to lead through those tensions? We'll take it up on another day.
Ed Martin, thank you very much. Doctor, as always, appreciate it.
MARTIN: Thanks, Chris.
DYSON: Thank you, Chris.
CUOMO: And gentlemen, thank you for doing this civilly.
MARTIN: Thanks, Chris.
CUOMO: The way we debate matters. Alisyn --
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: So Chris, how do President Trump's supporters feel about the fight he's picking with the NFL? How about his slow response to the crisis in Puerto Rico?
On Monday, I sat down with Trump voters from Florida, Virginia, North Carolina, and New York State for one of our signature panels and a very candid conversation.
Some of them say today, they regret their vote for Donald Trump. And all of them, to a person, wish that President Trump would stop attacking athletes who take a knee.
Here's our latest pulse of the people.
CAMEROTA: Show of hands. How many of you are feeling just as positively today about Donald Trump as you were on Election Day? Two of you.
How many of you are having some second thoughts or reservations or regret your vote? Three of you.
OK, so Jordan, what was the moment that you started regretting your vote?
JORDAN JACQUAY, REGRETS VOTING FOR TRUMP: A lot of it had to do with his choices for cabinet officials. I'm a high school teacher. His choice for the Secretary of Education is completely unacceptable to me and most of my colleagues.
CAMEROTA: Why? What's the problem with Betsy DeVos?
JACQUAY: Inexperience. She now is in charge of public education. She doesn't seem to believe in it and that was a very big detriment to me.
CAMEROTA: Payton, what was the moment that you starting having second thoughts?
PAYTON ISNER, REGRETS VOTING FOR TRUMP: He's a businessman and I thought he could get the deals done, and once I started seeing that he was too busy tweeting or not really understanding the kind of way Congress and politics really works I was a little disappointed.
[07:35:04] CAMEROTA: What did you think he could pull off?
ISNER: I was hoping for his travel ban to kind of go through and not be so divisive. I was hoping for a health care repeal and replace.
CAMEROTA: Mark, how about you?
MARK O'BRIEN, REGRETS VOTING FOR TRUMP: I think it was the day after Inauguration Day.
CAMEROTA: So soon? What happened?
O'BRIEN: When he was so concerned about the crowds or lack thereof, I was like is that that important? You're the president, let's move forward. And so that probably started my 'what have I done'.
CAMEROTA: When he was so upset about his crowd size what did that tell you? Why did that upset you?
O'BRIEN: Well, I went back to his hands. I mean, size matters to him, I guess, and that's not important to me, you know, and that's not why I voted for him. That's not why I voted for him.
I felt he was different. I thought he could make a change than what we've been used to over -- all these years, but I'm just not impressed.
CAMEROTA: Amapola, what is it like for you when you hear your fellow panelists say that they now have all these doubts.
AMAPOLA HANSBERGER, TRUMP SUPPORTER: I can understand perfectly where they from but I am an issue -- or almost a one-issue person.
CAMEROTA: Your family came from Nicaragua, yes?
CAMEROTA: And --
HANSBERGER: I'm from Nicaragua.
CAMEROTA: You're from Nicaragua.
HANSBERGER: I was.
CAMEROTA: You came legally and now you're American, a naturalized citizen.
CAMEROTA: So I know you take issue with the Dreamers.
HANSBERGER: I take issue with the -- with the favoritism that they receive and when they come and they expect and demand free college education. Boy, would I like to have had that.
And this is why we are resentful. The community of legal immigrants from Latin America are the ones that voted for Donald Trump because of that resentment. CAMEROTA: Let's talk about the NFL. How many of you are comfortable with the president weighing in on what's happening on -- during the National Anthem and some players taking a knee? Are you happy that the president talked about it this weekend or tweeted about it?
Nobody's happy that the president weighed in.
ISNER: I think that these players have the First Amendment right to kneel during the National Anthem or sit out and it's just an argument that really didn't need to be picked. And now, it's what everybody's talking about when there are so many other things that we could be talking about, like the hurricane in Puerto Rico.
CAMEROTA: So why is President Trump weighing in on this?
KATHY GIBSON, TRUMP SUPPORTER: I think it's because he loves America. I don't like the disrespect that these players are showing.
But on the other hand, as my husband I both say, we may not like it -- but my husband served 21 years, my brother-in-law died in service to guarantee both the NFL players' rights to free speech and the president's right of free speech.
JACQUAY: I'm a son and a grandson of veterans and I was always taught that I might not like what you say but I'll defend to the death your right to say it, and that's what the First Amendment's about and that's what this country's about.
Do I like them taking a knee during the National Anthem? Personally, no, but that's their choice and it's their way to protest.
O'BRIEN: What I had concern about was why in the world -- and I live a couple of hours from Charlottesville, Virginia -- he couldn't call those individuals -- the neo-Nazis, the white supremacists -- why couldn't he call them sons of bitches.
CAMEROTA: And why couldn't he?
O'BRIEN: That's a huge concern of mine. I mean, what is really going on in that man's mind.
JACQUAY: A lot of what happened yesterday was in response to what our president said, being very unpresidential using the term son of a bitch.
I believe that if we want to continue to be the country we are we have to allow descending opinion but I agree with Mark, also. If you're going to use that term, let's use that term in Charlottesville as well.
CAMEROTA: And Payton, what do you think about that? Why is he using harsher words for the NFL players?
ISNER: I wish I knew. It just completely baffles me.
When he made the first like condemnation of white supremacists in Charlottesville it kind of seemed like it was lacking any substance. He didn't call anybody out.
Then he made the second one which sounded presidential but it was two days late. And then, the next day he comes back out and kind of retracts what he said the day before and went with his original stance.
And it's just so unnerving to have those flip-flops within days of each other.
CAMEROTA: There are people in the country who think that that's racist. That's racism right there. Not calling out white supremacists and calling out the NFL, 70 percent of whom are black.
GIBSON: I agree, but we use the race card far too often.
CAMEROTA: Do you wish that the president had spoken out more forcefully about Charlottesville?
GIBSON: I think he could have given a much stronger statement. He could have been very condemnatory. These people are not the people who make up America.
CAMEROTA: Why didn't that cause you any erosion in your support?
[07:40:00] GIBSON: Because I try and look at the big picture. I also believe as a businessman he's not used to politics and he's used to going in and making deals and having his own way.
O'BRIEN: And, you know, we're talking about a businessman. Is he? That's what I'm trying to -- he's not making any deals so he's pissing people off that he needs votes for and that sort of thing.
So, you know, I just -- you know, I voted for him because he was different because he wasn't a politician, but I didn't vote for somebody that I have great concern about his thinking.
CAMEROTA: So listen, I mean, that's different than what you've heard in the past, you know. I appreciate their candor. It's not easy to say all of that on national T.V. and to admit that you now regret your vote.
But all of them -- I mean, you heard them. For the life of them, none of them could explain Mr. Trump's rationale for what he's saying right now with the NFL.
They don't get it. They want to understand it. They don't get why he's picking this fight over other presidential responsibilities.
CUOMO: Well, and that's a legitimate confusion, you know.
There's a calculated risk for the president here. When you play to cultural tension you're playing to visceral issues. It's an easy access. That's why demagogues go to the emotional, not the intellectual. But the farther you get away from people's pocketbooks -- you now, that group of voters, some of them seem to be business savvy -- you know, entrepreneurial.
CAMEROTA: Oh, yes.
CUOMO: Once you start taking me away from what matters to me -- my pocketbook -- deals you said you would get done -- reducing fiscal -- you know, increasing fiscal responsibility, reducing my taxes -- now I'm not going to like what you're doing. So there's a calculated risk.
CAMEROTA: Tomorrow we'll hear from them on health care, as well as where they stand on Dreamers. They have very strong feelings about that and it's on all sort -- it's across the spectrum. So stay tuned for that tomorrow.
CUOMO: And often, we're seeing what the president is him distracting from things he doesn't want to get attention, like the health care bill, like what's going with Korea, like what's going on in Alabama.
This has been a dicey proposition for the president because he and his former buddy adviser, Steve Bannon, are backing different candidates.
So we're going to discuss why Steve Bannon, who says he's all in for the president, is going against the president on this. And he says it's in an effort to help the president save himself from himself, next.
[07:45:55] CAMEROTA: Voters in Alabama will head to the polls today for a GOP runoff for the Senate seat vacated by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
Interestingly, the race is pitting President Trump against his former chief strategist and "Breitbart" honcho Steve Bannon.
CNN's Alex Marquardt is live in Point Clear, Alabama. How's it looking, Alex?
ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's also pitting the president against many of his own supporters. This is a race that perfectly illustrates the fight for the soul of the Republican Party.
One the one hand, we have President Trump who has taken a huge gamble throwing his support behind the establishment candidate Luther Strange, a former Washington lobbyist and Alabama attorney general who appeared at a rally last night with Vice President Mike Pence. Pence making it clear that their support for Strange comes from the loyalty that Strange has shown in advancing their agenda.
Just a short time ago the president tweeted about today's election saying, "Luther Strange has been shooting up in the Alabama polls since my endorsement. Finish the job. Vote today for Big Luther." Now, it's a very tight race and on the other side we find Steve Bannon supporting the very controversial Judge Roy Moore. They held their own rally last night. Bannon wasted no time tearing into Mitch McConnell and the establishment, calling them "the most corrupt and incompetent group of individuals in this country."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVE BANNON, FORMER WHITE HOUSE ADVISER: They think you're a pack of morons. They think you're nothing but rubes. Remember, these are the same people that have tried to destroy Donald J. Trump from the first day he announced for office.
For Mitch McConnell, and Ward Baker, and Karl Rove, and Steven Law -- all the instruments to try to destroy Judge Moore and his family, your day of reckoning is coming.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MARQUARDT: At the same time, Bannon did not criticize the president or try to explain why the president is supporting Strange. Instead, seeming to try to want to comfort the pro-Trump crowd, saying a vote for Roy Moore is a vote for Donald J. Trump.
This is a complex race with huge implications, Chris.
CUOMO: Alex, thank you very much. Appreciate it.
It's time now for "CNN Money Now." Hurricane Maria leaving behind billions in damage. That's a huge burden on Puerto Rico's economy.
Chief business correspondent Christine Romans in our Money Center to tell us why.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Chris.
Well, damage in the Caribbean forecast to be as much as $85 billion in insured losses and 85 percent of that is for Puerto Rico alone.
Puerto Rico's economy is ill-equipped to deal with that cost. It has been in recession for 11 years. There is a financial crisis and $74 billion in debt. It is the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history.
Two things will make the economic hit worse. There's no electricity. Most of Puerto Rico is still in the dark.
And, if more residents flee the island that is a big problem. About 450,000 have left since 2005.
Skilled workers will be necessary to rebuild. Unemployment on the island, right now, more than 10 percent. That's double the national average.
Now, few people could leave right now. Most major airlines still can't fly into Puerto Rico. Thousands of passengers are stranded. San Juan's international airport has no power, it has damaged radar.
Only about 10 commercial flights leave each day. Still, United, American, JetBlue have all managed to fly in emergency supplies.
The corporate relief efforts are just getting started. Starbucks, Verizon, Google, and Lowe's all donating to relief efforts. Alisyn and Chris --
CAMEROTA: Oh my gosh. Christine, I mean, it's just hard to get your mind around how long the crisis there is going to last.
ROMANS: It's going to take some real leadership, actually. It's a big, complicated problem and someone's going to have to solve it quickly.
CAMEROTA: All right, Christine. Thank you very much for the update.
So the president has been slow to speak out about the crisis in Puerto Rico. What do things look like on the ground there this morning? We see for ourselves, next.
[07:54:10] CAMEROTA: Puerto Rico is suffering apocalyptic damage after Hurricane Maria.
President Trump tweeting about that devastation last night, saying "Texas and Florida are doing great but Puerto Rico, which was already suffering from broken infrastructure and massive debt, is in deep trouble.
Its old electrical grid, which was in terrible shape, was devastated. Much of the island was destroyed with billions of dollars owed to Wall Street and the banks which, sadly, must be dealt with.
Food, water, and medical are top priorities and doing well."
Joining us now on the phone is the mayor of San Juan, Carmen Yulin Cruz. Madam Mayor, thank you so much for being us this morning.
Can you tell us what the situation on the ground is like in San Juan?
CARMEN YULIN CRUZ, MAYOR, SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO (via telephone): Yes, good morning to all of you.
First of all, Maria has left behind her a trail of devastation and a humanitarian crisis.
[07:55:05] Just yesterday, we have been canvassing one-by-one all of our elderly homes finding our elderly. And I'm not kidding, we had to transfer 11 of them in near-death conditions.
No food, no water, no electricity. And really, the sanitary conditions were deplorable. So we are seeing a humanitarian crisis.
The aid is starting to come in and that is making people feel like we're not alone and we can make it.
But yesterday we couldn't get to two people in time and frankly, hospitals are losing their diesel. When they get diesel it's for one day only. And places for people with disabilities are also losing power, in terms of whatever power they can get from diesel.
So we have a humanitarian crisis in our hands right now and we must one, pull together.
Two, be able to set up all the logistics for the distribution of all the aid that is getting -- that's why I'm grateful --
CRUZ: -- that the people of New York City have made camp in San Juan.
And three, pull together as a country in a united front with the U.S. and with everyone. I'm getting calls from other countries that are willing to help and getting boots on the ground.
And, of course, the FEMA people which have been wonderful and have been here since last week --
CRUZ: -- helping us and setting up the logistics.
It is a massive endeavor that we have to deal with. But make no doubt about it, there is a humanitarian crisis not only in San Juan but in the rest of the island. In the southern part of the island the small town of Yauco lost five bridges that was totally incommunicative.
There are thousands and thousands of people that are getting now -- going back to their homes and now noticing that I don't have a home to go back to. So --
CAMEROTA: And, Mayor, you've painted just -- I mean, you've given us, I think, a vivid picture of just how dire the situation is.
I know when we spoke to you last you talked about that being your greatest fear and you are quite emotional about the fact that you haven't been able to reach people in time and that it's been too late for some people.
Do you think that you have found all the people who are trapped in San Juan or are there more people in that situation?
CRUZ: No. No, we haven't found them all, ma'am. Just yesterday we canvased two elderly homes and we are going inside the rural area. Most people think San Juan is a -- has more of an urban environment but it really has more of a rural environment.
We're finding dialysis patients that haven't been able to contact their providers so we're having to transport them in near-death conditions. We're finding people whose oxygen tanks are running out because their small generators now don't have any diesel. And there are disabled people. They can't just -- they live alone. They can't just walk somewhere.
I just got an SOS message and these are the ones that I get most terrified about. The ones that say if anyone can hear me. The ones that say I have no more food, I'm out in the streets. But they're so petrified and they're so scared that they don't give you their point of location.
So we are in a desperate, desperate search for people anywhere and the only way to do that is to canvas every structure that you can get your sight on.
We are fortunate enough that we're getting our brothers and sisters from SEIU and from other unions -- local unions in Puerto Rico and stateside unions, also. So they're using San Juan as their base of operations.
And yesterday, we got a huge shipment which is still coming today from the people of Chicago and the Puerto Rico Civil Liberties Foundation, and the help is getting in.
The logistics people from New York --
CRUZ: -- and Mayor Bill de Blasio are going to help us set that up, not only for San Juan. Anything we get will be shared with anybody.
So, boots on the ground 20 hours a day but a lot of spirit. Every time we find a person that is gasping for air -- and I'm not painting a poetic picture. I'm telling you I have seen them, I have held them in my arms, I have helped move them into an ambulance.
Every time we do that, of course, we get a little frail and, of course, we get a little afraid. But we also get a lot more resolve to push on, to move on, and to do whatever. Our bodies are so tired but our souls are so full of strength that we will get to everyone that we can get to.