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INSIDE POLITICS

Fears of Overreach Cloud Democrats New Strategy; Former Clinton Adviser: She's Running Again in 2020; Trump Tweets Grievances to European Allies; The Campaign for Beto to Run in 2020. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired November 12, 2018 - 12:30   ET

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


[12:30:00] TARINI PARTI, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, BUZZFEED NEWS: That leads to a lot of questions.

So he sort of given, you know, this opportunity where Democrats could have gone wrong and, you know, made some potential mistakes. He's instead giving them a clear opening in to investigating him even more.

MARGARET TALEV, SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, BLOOMBERG: It's not even the firing of Mueller as much as his replacement at this point I think. But what's interesting to me is that, you've seen some really early messaging of late in the public forum of Democrats who you might have thought of as left of center before trying to like message the voice of reason to the incoming class without doing it behind the scenes in a meeting so they're doing it like in the New York Times or on T.V. appearances. But it's not just Nancy Pelosi saying, put the brakes on the impeachment talk, it's Jerry Nadler, Eric Swalwell, you know.

ELIANA JOHNSON, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, POLITICO: I think that's true about Sessions, but I question whether Whitaker will even be the attorney general two months from now which is an open question. And I think Swalwell's statement is interesting because Donald Trump is somebody who presents so many ripe targets for Democrats that there is a temptation to go after everything. And I think we saw in last week's press conference where Donald Trump went on for 90 minutes and essentially overshadowed what was Nancy Pelosi's first press conference that it's going to be difficult to for these investigations to break through. And I do think that there is going to be -- it's going to be difficult for Democrats not only to prioritize, but then to make sure that the targets of their investigations really break through in the media coverage. Trump presents a challenge on that regard.

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: You better be right. You better be right, you better be right, you better be right. And then you have to sell it.

To that point though, that's what -- this is part of the challenge for Democrats. They know what they are against, it's President Trump. But what are they for? And there are differences within the party on that.

And so this is a letter Nancy Pelosi just sent to her Democratic colleagues because the Democrats don't take power until January. But there is a lame duck session of Congress that begins pretty quickly here in Washington.

A lot of big questions about spending. Will the president get his border wall? Can you cut a deal now? I don't think so. But could you put an immigration deal like DACA in exchange for the border wall on the table?

Nancy Pelosi writes this in this new letter. "As we travel to Washington for this lame duck period, House Democrats are anything but lame ducks. We have great opportunity and therefore responsibility to get results for the American people. In the next few weeks, we need to be unified, find common ground with Republicans in our legislative engagements but stand our ground when we must."

She is trying to make a point that there's a period to make a down payment on the, what we're for part. Can they?

CARL HULSE, CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well, I think that they got some leverage coming in and it's a big, good question of what all the lame duck Republicans who wants to feed it leaving, you know, where they want to be on this. Do they want to help Trump out on the border wall or do they want to make some last statement. And I think this kind of goes to the heart of the problem for the Democrats. To me, it's not so much, you know, are they going to over investigate. There are lots of targets, they're going to have to step up and get it.

But can they legislate at the same time? You know, can they do both things? And to me, that's a question. These people haven't been in power for a while. The staff is not there.

Some of these people have never run committees before. And they need to produce quickly some real legislation and not just get caught up in the investigation.

KING: That's part of Pelosi's reason. For her arguing (INAUDIBLE) in- charge. I've done this before, I can stand up to the president, some of you needs (INAUDIBLE).

Listen to Kevin McCarthy here who wants to be the House Republican leader. Paul Ryan is living. They have to have an election. Kevin McCarthy being opposed by Jim Jordan.

Listen to him right here saying the Democrats don't seem like they want much.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R), HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER: I look at what the Democrats agenda is. What is it? It's investigating the president, trying to impeach him, abolishing ICE. America is too great to be led by such a small vision.

(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: Now, Democrats would counter. Republicans passed the tax cuts, what else did you do for your last two years in power maybe. But to that point, that is part of the challenge for the Democrats. You do have progressive Democrats coming in who did say abolish ICE, who are saying impeach the president. And they have to try to manage that and it's clear the Republicans are going to try to poke it wherever they can.

JOHNSON: Yes. I think the challenge for Democrats in terms of legislating and talking about a positive vision is that they have so many legislators in both the House and the Senate who are looking at 2020 candidacies. And they have to view cooperating with the Trump administration through the prism of that and whether it behooves them to cooperate with the president or to resist him at every turn.

TALEV: And the challenge for Kevin McCarthy is to show that he is, you know, Republican enough compared to Jim Jordan to satisfy that portion of the caucus. It's a different job in the majority than it was in the majority. But nonetheless, everyone is -- I mean, both parties are dealing with the split between the people who think they can harness the dissatisfied middle and the people who think the only way to win this is to energize the people who were out for a pound, you know.

HULSE: And a lot (INAUDIBLE) for Democrats but they're pretty happy that they're going to be in charge.

KING: They're in charge as they deal with the difficulties now as opposed to being in the minority.

When we come back, a pollster who worked for the Clintons for a long time says, get ready for Hillary Clinton to run again. Really?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:39:24] KING: Topping our political radar today, an update on the Arizona Senate race. Democratic Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema currently under 32,000 vote lead over her Republican competition Congresswoman Martha McSally. About 90 percent of the votes have now been counted in Arizona.

And, ready for Clinton 2020? Former Clinton strategist Mark Penn says Hillary Clinton will run for president again. Penn writing in a Wall Street Journal editorial said, quote, Hillary 4.0 would give another shot and, quote, won't let a little thing like two stunning defeats stand in the way of her claim to the White House. Penn this morning on Fox News said the conditions however have to be right.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[12:40:01] MARK PENN, FORMER SENIOR CLINTON ADVISER: If she does go, it will be because no one emerges as a clear front-runner. It looks like the party is splintered in lots of different ways and she could come in. Re-energize the core of the Democratic base, take the nomination and have the biggest rematch in history with probably the biggest voter turnout in history based on that. (END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: What do you think? No? Yes?

HULSE: There will be quite a crowd running for president I think in the Democratic side. So, it won't be a slam dunk.

KING: The written word, a lot less favorable than the spoken word there. And to me, that's the hard part. It used to be in this town if you work for somebody in the campaign, even if you had a falling out, as they did, that you just kept that to yourself.

We live in a new age. We just leave it at that as we watch for this thing.

Before we go to break, special thank you to all the veterans who have served this country. And we want to share this.

An Iraq War veteran Tammy Duckworth, she's a Democrat, a senator now from Illinois. Whether you're a Democrat or Republican, listen to this. She tweets, "Today is my alive day. The anniversary of the day I almost died but didn't. On this day 14 years ago, an RPG tore through the cockpit of the helicopter I was flying over Iraq, taking my legs and partially use of my right arm with it. I was quite literally in pieces. But my buddies risked their lives and refused to leave me behind."

Our thanks to her buddies and, thank you, Senator Duckworth for your service.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:45:36] KING: Welcome back.

President Trump today, tweeting his own review of his weekend trip to France, bragging he got a lot done on a visit many others saw as a disappointment or worse. Here's the tweet. "Just returned from France where much was accomplished in my meetings with world leaders."

He went on to say, "Never easy bringing up the fact that the United States must be treated fairly which it hasn't on both military and trade. This situation cannot continue", the president says. "It is time that these very rich countries either pay the United States for its great military protection or protect themselves. And trade must be made free and fair."

That list of grievances is hardly new for the president. European diplomats say, if no or not much progress was made on this trip in their view is because President Trump was detached and disinterested. One global expert put it this way.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

IAN BREMMER, EURASIA GROUP PRESIDENT: It is kind of like that's a nice continent you've got here. Be ashamed if something were to happen to it. But we also know that Trump has given that message before at the NATO summit, at the G7 summit, at the G20 summit.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: This was a strange, it was a quick trip. It was meant to honor World War I, the hundredth anniversary of the allied victory in World War I. The president got criticized for not going to one cemetery many was supposed to go to.

But it was just a weird trip. A weird trip. His friendship with Macron has clearly gone downhill. What do we make of this? Is it, so what or is there something transactional here?

JOHNSON: Well, I think it showed that the one time allies are no longer so closely tied anymore. And Trump is really at the vanguard and the sort of new nationalist forces that are remaking the European continent from Victor Orban in Hungary to (INAUDIBLE) in Italy and elsewhere. And that everybody from Trump himself to Emmanuel Macron in France are grappling with it. And so there aren't any sort of clear takeaways.

I think it will remain to be seen at what happens post-Trump and after some of these new nationalist leaders leave the scene in Europe. But clearly, we're sort of at a tipping point both in the U.S. and in Europe.

KING: And to that point, a lot of the European leaders think that these European forces which pre-exist, most of them were there before President Trump. But they believe that they are encouraged and inspired in gaining energy of the example of President of Trump. So you had the president of France, Emmanuel Macron, who remember, had dinner with the president at the Eiffel Tower, had a parade for him (INAUDIBLE), their body language in their previous meetings has been great. It was much more chilly.

The body language this time and then from the president of France with the United States president right there, this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRESIDENT EMMANUEL MACRON, FRANCE (through translator): Patriotism is the exact opposite of nationalism. Nationalism is a betrayal of patriotism by saying our interest first, who cares about the others.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: You get the sense that the first few meetings, they didn't like a lot of things the president said, they didn't like his tone on Twitter. They're trying to figure out if we can work with him. Is he a different person in private? Does he have to do that for his political audience that can we work some business? They seem to have given up on that.

TALEV: Well, certainly that was a rebuke to President Trump but it was a rebuke to President Trump with a continental purpose which is to remind not just the leaders who were weakened in places like Germany and England, but to remind the voters, the constituents of Europe, you know, to remember the lessons of World War I and also World War II. And to say do you want to be more like what President Trump is selling or do you want to remember the lessons of World War I. So, that's Macron's purpose.

Where does this all go though? And I think that's the question. You've got the European's trade negotiator heading to the U.S. for a week in which Trump wants them in a weakened position. And you've got Macron standing lowered, Merkel standing lowered.

These summits or gatherings like this can sometimes at their best be used to leverage everyone's common belief. The most common beliefs in those alliances are afraid right now and I think the message coming out of this is that, those forces that talk about alliances and NATO and unity and kind of, you know, Democratic values are weaken and are divided right now.

PARTI: I think the direct rebuke of the president also felt a little jarring for two reasons. One, that's usually the president's job -- President Trump when he's done these trips.

[12:50:03] He's the one sort of making these comments in front of world leaders that really gets their attention. And secondly, we saw the president all week last week really become this combative person post-election. He took a victory lap and then immediately, you know, had the executive action. You know, he took away Jim Acosta's press credentials.

So we saw him take a lot of action and then during this trip, really take a back seat and let the other world leaders take the front stage.

KING: And he was criticized for not taking a drive when he could in a helicopter tour American military cemetery. The White House is saying it would take two and a half hours each way. Two and a half hours each way.

We can show a map. It's 50 -- about 50 miles outside of Paris. If the president wanted to go, he could have gone. A little more than hour, not two and a half hours each way. I'll leave that for people at home to process.

HULSE: I think a lot of these overseas events are about images for the public consumption. I think these were bad images for Trump. He went over there, this was supposed to be the substitute for his parade here.

World War I 100th anniversary, this is a big, big moment. And I think the image people are going to take away from this was, the president being scolded for being a nationalist.

KING: Yes and the mood issue. Let's see where (INAUDIBLE).

Up next, Beto O'Rourke says he's here to help the country whatever way he can. Some Democrats say head to Iowa, run for president.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [12:56:06] KING: Welcome back.

Beto wants you to know it was pancakes and bacon and eggs to start the day at the O'Rourke house and then a little movie night to end it. Oh, and yes, it was a, quote, bitter loss to Ted Cruz. But also he says a remarkable journey for which he is grateful.

O'Rourke of course was the Democratic Senate candidate in Texas who became a national celebrity to progressives. In his long note -- a long note to supporters of the week and he said he's looking forward to a little downtime and a little dad time. And for those hoping he keeps running as into Iowa and into 2020, quote, just know that I want to be part of the best way forward for this country whatever way can I help in whatever form that takes. O'Rourke writes, "Know that I am honored to have run in this campaign with you and that I want to continue to honor and to be honest to what was powerful about it."

The signature, quote, see you down the road, Beto. And what road?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

HULSE: I mean, how does he resist, right? There are so many people urging him. He ran a great race in a tough state. He is super popular, super high name recognition right now. I think that he's going to be drawn into it as are a lot of people.

Conventional wisdom says that running from a losing race is not the best way to really launch your presidential campaign. But what's he got to lose? What's he got to lose?

KING: That conventional wisdom says Donald Trump can never win the Republican nomination and never win the presidency.

To that point, listen, this is some cnn.com. This is Jeff Roe who's Ted Cruz's chief strategist and this is a compliment. Ted Cruz just beat Beto O'Rourke. Cruz's chief strategist Jeff Roe said Democrats, quote, don't have any one of his caliber on the national stage. I pray for the soul of anyone who has to run against him in Iowa. He used a fog machine at his concession speech. He ain't done.

TALEV: Barack Obama was always pretending to eat carbs also and then you'd be on the plane he'd been eating like almonds and microgreens. Like, Beto is doing what anybody in Beto's position would be doing. And to that point, I think when Jeff Roe saw for a long time looked like a nine or 10-point cushion and watched what Beto O'Rourke was doing. He concluded what any polls concluded which is, this guy is preparing for 2020.

KING: Now, there are people saying stay in Texas. John Cornyn is up in 2020. Stay in Texas to keep that organization up and running. Stay in touch to those people, run there. Is that too small?

PARTI: I think that, you know, based on everything we've heard about Beto, he probably wants more. And I think Jeff Roe's comment that was perhaps a little bit of a troll as well because we're seeing Republicans also push his name more and more. Because they feel like, you know, without -- with this sort progressive person, they can win, you know, the middle of America again and have that same 2016 argument that will help them in 2020.

KING: And? So, he puts out a long note. He's having pancakes, it's movie night. What do you do at this moment when you had -- you were a national sensation, you lost, and that hurts. That hurts. So you're thinking could I have won if I done this (INAUDIBLE) that differently?

Is it your calculation that you want to join a field of 20, 30, or 40 or is it your, I came so close in a big state like Texas, stay here?

JOHNSON: He had a tremendous learning experience where I'm sure he took a lot of lessons and became a better candidate from that. And I don't think there's any reason for any Democrat to sit out the 2020 race. There are going to be a lot of improbable candidates. And I think you're going to see most people when they weigh things decide to jump in rather than to sit it out.

KING: Welcome to debate night in America. All 40 of the Democrats running for president are here tonight. Strap in, folks.

All right, thanks for joining us on the INSIDE POLITICS today. Special ending to the show today, Brianna Keilar starting a new show, called RIGHT NOW after us, 1 p.m. in the East.

Welcome, neighbor.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: I know. It's great to be neighbors with you, John. I'm so excited to be here. And we'll be seeing each other everyday

KING: And the management drafted this day so we need a nice clean slate for Brianna to start. So no Florida recounts, no contested elections, no uncertainty. Give her a nice smooth launch. Ready?

KEILAR: And I don't think you got the memo, John, but thank you so much.

KING: Take it away.

KEILAR: And under way right now.