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Interview with Representative Ted Deutch; Unemployment Rate Below 4 Percent; West Virginia Senate Candidate Targets Mitch McConnell and Family in Ad; Aired 11:30a-12n ET

Aired May 4, 2018 - 11:30   ET

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


[11:30:00] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Just listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Bump stocks, we're writing that out. I'm writing that out myself. I don't care if Congress does it or not. I'm writing it out myself. OK.

SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D), CONNECTICUT: Mr. President, it's going to have to be you that brings the Republicans to the table on this because right now the gun lobby would stop it in its tracks.

TRUMP: I like that responsibility, Chris. I really do. I think it's time. It's time that a president stepped up. It doesn't make sense that I have to wait until I'm 21 to get a handgun, but I can get this weapon at 18. I don't know. So I'm just curious as to what you did in your bill. You don't --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We didn't address it, Mr. President. But I think we --

TRUMP: You know why? Because you're afraid of the NRA.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: So they're pro-regulation, anti-NRA, but then very quickly after that the president had a closed door meeting with the leaders of the NRA and they put out statements afterwards that he still stands for the Second Amendment and is against gun control.

Again I ask, which President Trump will stand up there tonight?

Let's discuss. Joining me right now, Democratic Congressman Ted Deutch of Florida. He represents of course the district that includes Parkland.

Congressman, thanks for coming in.

REP. RED DEUTCH (D), FLORIDA: Good to be with you, Kate, thanks.

BOLDUAN: Of course. If he is -- if he's speaking to the NRA convention today, do you take that as a sign that there is no chance he's going to back any of the changes with gun regulation that you have been pushing? DEUTCH: Well, I think you're asking exactly the right question, which

President Trump is going to show up. I mean, he's talking to an NRA convention that's meeting for first time since the horrific mass shooting took 17 lives in my district. But it's also the first NRA convention since the worst mass shooting in our nation's history in Las Vegas, when 58 were killed and nearly 600 were injured. It's the first NRA convention that's taken place since the business community has started to separate itself from the NRA because so many businesses just like responsible NRA members have been alienated by the extremist rhetoric coming from their leadership. The president --

BOLDUAN: But, Congressman, which president do you think is going to show up?

DEUTCH: Well, I hope it's the president that sat three seats away from me in the White House and acknowledged what the overwhelming majority of people in this country, over 90 percent of the people in this country, believe including the majority of NRA members, that universal background checks need to be passed right now.

What we hear over and over is that we need to enforce the laws on the books, while what we need to do is make sure that everybody receives a background check whenever they buy a gun, so that if they're dangerous they can't get one. That he supported. He supported raising the age to 21, just like Florida just passed, just like the legislation -- bipartisan legislation I introduced. That's what he ought to be talking about.

But, Kate, if I may, the most important thing for the president to do today is to remember what he said when he met with us in the White House. He pointed out that a lot of members of Congress were petrified by the NRA. But that stranglehold of the NRA is weakening and it's weakening because of the leadership we've seen from the student survivors in Parkland, that's what he should keep in mind because they're having an impact, they've had an impact already.

The president should act on behalf of the majority of the American people who want action, not on behalf of the elite lobbyists who run the NRA on behalf of the gun companies.

BOLDUAN: Let me ask you this, because you lay out some of the regulations that you support and many Americans support.

DEUTCH: Sure.

BOLDUAN: We also have fellow Democrat Eric Swalwell, for example. He's from California, he put out an op-ed yesterday arguing to reinstate -- for reinstating the assault weapons ban. But it was not just that. He went quite a bit further and he said that he also -- what he also wants is we should buy back such weapons from all who choose to abide by the law and we should criminally prosecute any who choose to defy it by keeping their weapons.

So when gun rights advocates say Democrats just want to take away your guns, are they now right? DEUTCH: There are gun buyback programs that exist in some

communities. And if people choose to turn in their guns, certainly law enforcement is working with them to do that. I think what we ought to do and what the NRA always --

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: But is Swalwell going a step too far when he says that people should be held criminally responsible if they don't turn over their weapons?

DEUTCH: Well, I think what's important is to stop the production of weapons of war that don't belong on our streets. And then just, Kate, remember, just remember this, it was just about 90 years ago, also on Valentine's Day.

BOLDUAN: Right.

DEUTCH: That a massacre -- a massacre in Chicago led Congress to say we can't have all these machine guns on our streets. No one has questioned that decision. Now it was another massacre on Valentine's Day, here in Parkland, that should prompt Congress to say we can't have all these assault weapons on our streets. No one has complained about that law.

Let's treat these assault weapons the same way we treat machine guns. That ought to be something that everyone can get behind, no more manufacturing, let's get them out of our communities.

BOLDUAN: Now, well, a lot of people are saying Congress really can't act and won't act so it's up to the states, and we're seeing some of those states are acting in the face of some of these massacres.

[11:35:01] I do want to ask you, while I have you, Congressman, about everything that we have heard in the last 24 hours and I cannot list it all out, of the president, the presidents' attorney, the admission from the president and his attorney that the president did reimburse his personal attorney Michael Cohen for payments to Stormy Daniels, so he's long said he knew nothing about it and now this morning the president saying about the admission from Rudy Giuliani, you know what, he's new on the job, he'll get his facts straight. What do you think?

DEUTCH: I found, look, I -- as stunning as I found it, that Rudy Giuliani went ahead and acknowledged that the president's been lying about this the entire time and Sarah Sanders has been lying about this the entire time, as much as that stunned me for the president to then come back again this morning and say, he's new, he's going to get -- he's going to learn how to get his facts straight, does that mean he's going to learn how to get his facts straight after the administration, after the White House tells him what those made-up facts should be?

I believe that the truth matters. I think what we've seen over the past 24 hours raises enormous concerns about everything that we have heard from the administration. And the real -- the specific concern I have is if we now know so clearly about these lies, how are we going to be able to trust the statements coming from the president in serious matters, that affect the national security of our country? I think they need to come clean, they need to be up front about all of this, the president needs to talk to Mueller so that he can complete his investigation. That's what the country deserves.

BOLDUAN: We shall see. Trust but verify keeps coming to mind these days.

Congressman, thanks for coming in. I appreciate it.

The new jobs --

DEUTCH: My pleasure. Thanks.

BOLDUAN: The new jobs numbers are in and it is good news for the U.S. economy. The last time that we saw this, Bush v. Gore was in front of the Supreme Court and Facebook wasn't even a twinkle in Mark Zuckerberg's eye. We'll have the details next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:41:27] BOLDUAN: It being an election year, it should all be about the economy, stupid, right? If so, then this morning there is good news for the president and the Republican Party. Hitting levels we haven't seen since 2000.

Joining me right now, Christine Romans, CNN chief business correspondent and the co-host, of course, of "EARLY START."

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning.

BOLDUAN: Hey, Christine. What are you seeing there?

ROMANS: Well, you know, the president's already tweeting and has made some public comments about how we're at full employment, that he's really glad about this unemployment rate and this is what he's talking about. Below 4 percent for the first time since the year 2000, 18 years. 3.9 percent unemployment right here.

This has been something that has just been steadily declining since that terrible peak all the way back in 2000. So year on year of progress and that's what it looks like. Jobs added 164,000 net new jobs added here.

When you look at these numbers, you see an economy that is doing well and you hear from companies who are saying they would hire more workers even if they could find them. A lot of economists saying they think maybe the summer or late fall you could see the unemployment rate all the way down to 3.5 percent.

So where is the hiring. Business and information services, strong hiring there. Health care, Kate, we're seeing labor shortages in hospitals and in nursing facilities. Health care added 24,000 net new jobs. And manufacturing up 24,000. Interesting as you look at a metal fabrication, there was a little uptick there. Also in mining. Maybe that could be tied to some of the president's trade policies, who knows.

The market here is up. But I'm going to tell you it's not up because of these numbers. It's up because Warren Buffett said he bought a whole boat load of Apple shares. And so Apple is driving the market here higher over all.

I'll tell you what's interesting about these numbers, the 3.9 percent unemployment rate, about 236,000 people left the labor market. And I'm not talking about just retirees, I'm talking about all different age groups. So that's something to kind of watch out here, too. Wage is only 2.6 percent. You'd would like to see bigger wage growth eventually.

If you have such a tight labor market, we should see wages moving up so when you're talking about politics, it's the economy, stupid, do people feel like it is full employment yet? We'll have to wait to see.

BOLDUAN: That's exactly right. Great to see you, Christine. Thanks so much.

ROMANS: You too.

BOLDUAN: All right. Is Donald Trump Jr. the voice of the Republican establishment? In West Virginia, he just may be. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:46:44] BOLDUAN: Last year, we shared the story of Coach Collie Sweeney, a top 10 CNN Hero from Detroit who uses boxing to lead kids on a path to academic success. His story has inspired so many but it really struck a chord with one social studies student from New Hampshire. Sweeney said he had to go and thank that student in person. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Come here for a second. Remember we said that he wanted to Skype with us.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He decided to do a little more than that. Can I introduce Mr. Collie Sweeney from downtown boxing gym and youth program from Detroit, Michigan.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm so honored to meet him, meet somebody like Collie Sweeney who changes lives every single day.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: To see the full story of Collie's surprise or to nominate someone you think should be a CNN Hero, go to CNNheroes.com.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BOLDUAN: Try this one on for size. A man convicted of crimes associated with the death of 29 coal miners back in 2010. He gets the maximum sentence and spends one year in prison. That man gets out and decides for his next act, he'll try politics.

Enter Don Blankenship and his crazy ads.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DON BLANKENSHIP, WEST VIRGINIA REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE: Politician ran a lot of crazy ads. They blew up the coal mine and then put me in prison. Now they're running the ads that say the coal mine blew up and I went to prison. There's no surprise there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: It's not exactly "I'm not a witch," but is sure is close. And then today he's releasing this one.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BLANKENSHIP: Swamp captain Mitch McConnell has created millions of jobs for China people. While doing so, Mitch has gotten rich. In fact, his China family has given him tens of millions of dollars. I will beat Joe Manchin and ditch cocaine Mitch McConnell for the sake of the kids.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[11:50:01] BOLDUAN: Yes. To clarify, the cocaine part is -- follow this -- a reference to drugs found aboard a ship operated by the shipping company owned by the family of Mitch McConnell's wife. It goes back in 2014.

Blankenship is running for the GOP nomination for Senate in West Virginia. He would be of course, if he gets the nomination, running against Democratic incumbent, Joe Manchin, but he's mostly running against the top Republican in the Senate, Mitch McConnell, and is apparently sees his path to victory as disparaging McConnell's wife and her family.

So let me fill you in on McConnell's family tree. Elaine Chao was born in China. Her family came over when she was just 8 years old. Here's how she described it to Dana Bash.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ELAINE CHAO, TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY, SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL'S WIFE: As an adult looking back and seeing my mother who was only like 27, you know, how frightening it must have been for her as the only woman aboard this cargo ship with three young girls.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Is that right?

CHAO: I mean, that's pretty rough. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: Chao's family started a shipping company. She rose to become the first female Asian American to serve at a president's Cabinet under George W. Bush. She is now Trump's secretary of Transportation. The same president Blankenship says he's running for the Senate to support.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHAO: For young people and young women, I want to give them strength and hope and confidence. Just because there are no role models doesn't mean that you can't be the future role model that you now seek. Just pursue your life's passion. Do what you really love and the way will unfold.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: So while she may have been born in China, it sure sounds like she's living the American dream to me, Don. I don't know about you. So you don't have to take my word for it, though, that Blankenship is a slightly fringe candidate. Just ask Donald Trump Jr. He weighed in on Twitter, with this.

"I hate to lose. So I'm going to go out on a limb here and ask the people of West Virginia to make a wise decision and reject Blankenship. No more fumbles like Alabama. We need to win in November."

I don't know -- I don't know what should be more unsettling right now for Republicans, the fact that the party continues to attract candidates with huge political baggage in their past and like to throw fireballs every time they open their mouths, or that Donald Trump's son is starting to sound more and more like the Republican establishment.

Let's discuss. Here with me now, Republican strategist and former communications director for Ted Cruz, Alice Stewart, and CNN political commentator, Democratic strategist and a former Clinton White House aide, Keith Boykin.

All right. Let's get to it. Alice, is Don Blankenship the next Roy Moore or is he the future of the Republican Party?

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, did you just read a half a card's script or is this really happening?

BOLDUAN: No, that was the -- that was recent in fact. I don't it's hard to come by these days but that I actually did fact check.

STEWART: Look, I think Don Jr. has a point here because Blankenship is just not the right person for this race. So this is the key opportunity for the GOP to turn the state from blue to red. And we absolutely must do that. Blankenship got in a little bit too late, he's got a lot of baggage, and right now Morrissey and Jenkins are the two front runners. They're the ones that have the majority and the momentum. Democrat super PACs are taking out ads against them. It shows they're in a favorable position. And right now Manchin, the Democrat, his poll numbers are -- approval ratings are going down. So it's a key opportunity. We can't have Blankenship in there given his history and baggage, and I do say Donald Trump Jr. has a point.

(LAUGHTER)

BOLDUAN: But, Keith, do you applaud Donald Trump Jr., since I know you love -- applaud him all the time, for weighing in on this and encouraging Republicans to choose a different path?

KEITH BOYKIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, I do. I think it's a smart move for Donald Trump Jr. The writing is on the wall. I mean, Don Blankenship, not only is he responsible for this coal mining accident where 29 people were killed, he went to prison for it. He doesn't even live near the district, he lives outside Vegas. He's the worst possible candidate. He's putting out these racist ads against Mitch McConnell and his family.

I thought the contrast is interesting between the two white babies he was holding up in the end and the China people who he's talking about in Mitch McConnell's family. I mean, that's blatant racism. And I think --

BOLDUAN: So he says it is not because he gets it to -- he apparently seems to like to make a differentiation between geography and race. Continue.

BOYKIN: Well, yes. Well, and there's also hypocrisy because the guy has spent years and years in China. He actually wanted to become a Chinese citizen himself. The idea that Republicans would actually take him seriously is a reflection of just how the Republican Party has gone off the rails. Maybe not just the establishment but the rank and file. I mean, but I have to put some of the blame on the establishment, too, because they're the people who gave us people like Sarah Palin which led to the Donald Trumps and the Don Blankenships of the world.

You can't put up these crazy candidates and feed the red meat to the base and then accept no responsibility for the consequence.

BOLDUAN: But focus on the here and now. The fact that Mitch McConnell has now become such a bogeyman. I mean, he really has become a bogeyman in West Virginia at a debate. All three Republican candidates were asked to raise their hands if they supported Mitch McConnell for majority leader and none of them raised their hands.

STEWART: Well, they're not making this race about Mitch McConnell. They're making it about -- one thing that all three of them do agree on is they're going to raise their hand if they support Donald Trump.

[11:55:05] Donald Trump won that state by 42 points over Hillary Clinton. All three of them are embracing him. It's not a big leap to say that some people running this year will distance themselves from McConnell and they're no exceptions. BOLDUAN: What was discussed since the 2016 election was is this

Donald Trump's Republican Party or, look, say, Mitch McConnell's Republican Party? I mean, that seems to be a real fight of what they're fighting about right now.

STEWART: Well, certainly. It varies state-by-state. And you're going to see in congressional races in the midterm.

BOLDUAN: Yes.

STEWART: And the Senate races. It's state-by-state. They're going to look at how the electorate, how they view Trump, how they viewed Washington. Clearly draining the swamp is going to be a big key thing. But in West Virginia right now, unequivocally Donald Trump is popular. That's why we'll probably see him more than once between now and the election.

BOLDUAN: Yes.

STEWART: And this is --

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: It's also not -- not just about Mitch McConnell, it's not just -- it's also not like Nancy Pelosi is super popular when it comes to Democratic primaries.

BOYKIN: No, she's not terribly popular in Democratic -- well, the Democrats actually don't have a problem with her.

BOLDUAN: Right.

BOYKIN: It's actually the people in the middle who have a problem with her.

BOLDUAN: Yes. Yes.

BOYKIN: And they've got bigger issues.

BOLDUAN: I digress. But I digress. Well, you all got bigger issues, and I got bigger issues, too.

All right. Thanks so much for joining me. Up next, "INSIDE POLITICS" with John King. Confusion and crisis of credibility in Washington. That's coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)