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Government Shutdown Continues; Elizabeth Warren Launches Presidential Exploratory Committee: New Year's Celebrations Begin. Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired December 31, 2018 - 15:00   ET

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


[15:00:23]

RYAN NOBLES, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, and happy New Year's Eve. I'm Ryan Nobles, in for Brooke Baldwin.

It's 3:00 in New York, but it is officially 2019 in Dubai, Oman and parts of Russia. Live pictures here from Dubai. Looks like a pretty good party there.

But, when the clock strikes 12:00 back in the United States, the East Coast will be hit with heavy rain showers.

(WEATHER UPDATE)

NOBLES: Now let's go to our team of reporters covering celebrations across the United States and beyond.

Randi Kaye drew the tough assignment. She is in St. Barts. And it looks like she has a golf bag behind. We're going to get to -- we're going to get to Randi in a second, because we have to go to Miguel first, who's in the pouring rain in Times Square.

Randi, Miguel's just slightly mad at you right now.

(LAUGHTER)

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's OK.

NOBLES: Miguel, it looks like the crowds there...

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Randi Kaye, I will get you!

(LAUGHTER)

NOBLES: Miguel, what are the crowds like there right now at Times Square? I mean, we're pretty far away from the ball drop, but it looks like they're already starting to fill in.

MARQUEZ: Well, it's not St. Barts, but we are enjoying the purifying celebratory rain that only New York City can bring.

(LAUGHTER) MARQUEZ: It is gorgeous here. And there are already tens of thousands of people who are packed in here. And look at those happy souls over there under plastic. They may be -- they may be having an issue with too much carbon dioxide in that one bag. I'm a little concerned about those people.

But these folks have been packed in here for many, many hours. Why? Because they have front-row seats. Those are the good seats, folks, because that's the pole where the ball actually drops at midnight here in Times Square.

This is a little sense of the crowd a little closer up now. We have people from all over.

You guys ready for this? Happy new year!

CROWD: Happy new year!

MARQUEZ: Japan's represented here, Korea. Where you guys from? The Persians or here. Oh, my God.

Kansas City in the house, newlyweds, and Wisconsin just north of Madison.

NOBLES: All right, we are going to go now -- sorry about that, Miguel -- to Senator Elizabeth Warren, who is speaking about her presidential bid. Here she is.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: ... the United States. I never thought I would run for anything ever in my life.

But America's middle class is getting hollowed out and opportunity for too many of our young people is shrinking. So I'm in this fight all the way.

Right now, Washington works great for the wealthy and the well- connected. It's just not working for anyone else. But I am optimistic. I believe in what we can do together. I'm going to build a grassroots campaign. It's already got people from all across this country who are going to be part of it.

And, together, we're going to make change. And if people out there see it and want to be part of it, I hope they go to ElizabethWarren.com and join us, because this is how we're going to build the movement that will change America. So, thank you all for being here.

[15:05:04]

You have a question?

QUESTION: You know the urgency that a lot of Democrats feel about defeating Donald Trump in 2020.

WARREN: Yes.

QUESTION: What's your message to the Democratic primary voters who says, I love where Senator Warren stands on the issue, but I worry about electability, I worry about a campaign more about Native American ancestry than the middle class?

WARREN: Well, look, I'm in this fight because I understand what's happening to working families.

I grew up in a paycheck-to-paycheck family, and my big chance was a commuter college that cost $50 a semester. I run for office because I'm grateful down to my toes for the opportunities that were given to me. And I am determined that we will give those same opportunities not just to some of our kids, but to all of our kids.

I think when we fight for something positive, for something big, when we show, not just tell, but show what Democrats will get out there and make happen, I think that's how we win.

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: Do you think your politics are too polarizing for a national audience?

WARREN: Look, the way I see it right now, Washington works great for giant drug companies, but just not for people who are trying to get a prescription filled.

Washington works great for for-profit colleges and student loan outfits, but not for young people who are getting crushed by student loan debt. And you could keep going through the list.

The problem we have got right now in Washington is that it works great for those who've got money to buy influence. And I'm fighting against that. And you bet it's going to make a lot of people unhappy. But at the end of the day, I don't go to Washington to work for them.

Our government should be working for the people. And that's the movement I'm going to lead.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) You articulated this very point throughout the course of your career. And you saw a real estate developer from New York expropriate that message in 2016.

How do you basically convince people that this message is still a message that belongs to the Democratic Party, given that it's -- again, it's been expropriated and used effectively by a real estate developer?

WARREN: We have to get out there and be clear about what we're fighting for. And then we got to show we're willing to fight for it.

It's not enough just to talk the talk. We have actually got to be willing to get out and walk the walk. And that means we have got to stand behind the kinds of changes that will matter in the lives of everyday people. And when that means standing up to big drug companies, we won't do what this administration has done.

And that is said, raise prices whenever you want. We will say, we're going to make real change.

QUESTION: A follow-up. How does your message compare to you that of Sherrod Brown, for example, and others who are making some of the same points?

WARREN: I think it's great that we have a strong and growing group of Democrats who are making these arguments, who are fighting these fights. That's how we build a movement. We do it together.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) Do you expect that you need to go head to head, toe to toe with him and hurl it right back at him, as you know he has already started to do to you?

Is that part of winning this?

WARREN: Look, I think the central part of winning this is to get out and talk with people about what we're fighting for.

We want a government that works not just for the rich and the powerful. We want a government that works for everyone. And we can make that happen. We have to do it together. I think that's how we win.

NOBLES: All right, we are going to break away from this, Elizabeth Warren, who today announced that she's forming an exploratory committee to run for president of the United States speaking to reporters for the first time since that happened.

Harry Enten joins me now, senior political writer and analyst for CNN, CNN.

Harry, I'm surprised -- I'm not surprised, but impressed that she didn't just come out and make a blanket statement, but actually answering questions from reporters. I don't know how much she's answering them in specificity.

HARRY ENTEN, CNN POLITICAL SENIOR WRITER AND ANALYST: Sure.

NOBLES: But this, I think, demonstrates that she's taking this seriously and that she's ready to get her foot out there and take that first step.

ENTEN: I mean, she's definitely taking it seriously.

And the fact that she was really the first major candidates to put her foot into the ring, I think, suggests that she recognizes that she's going to have to work hard for this nomination, just as any other candidate will.

But it was very interesting to me to hear the questions and her responses to them on the questions of electability, as well as on the question of, she's not going to be the only progressive voice in this campaign. NOBLES: Right. Right.

ENTEN: Bernie Sanders, Sherrod Brown are most likely to get into this race. And how is she going to separate herself from them in order to win the nomination?

NOBLES: It's interesting. I have heard a lot of Democrats answer very similarly along the same lines that she did, by saying the more the merrier, let's get more voices out there who think in similar ways that I do. The more of us talking about it, the better that is for the country.

[15:10:03]

At some point, though, you have got to draw some lines of distinction between you and these other candidates, right?

ENTEN: Absolutely.

I mean, keep in mind, it's still December 31, right? We haven't even gotten into 2019. But, as we get closer to 2020, I think you will see those progressive voices start to go at each other.

But, at this point, I think they're just happy to be in the race and want to see, before they go negative, can they make a step going positive?

NOBLES: OK, Harry Enten, thank you for being here...

ENTEN: Thank you, sir.

NOBLES: ... to hear this latest from Elizabeth Warren here.

You're very interesting, but you're not nearly as interesting all as this next person that we're going to go to or where she happens to be.

ENTEN: Oh.

NOBLES: And that is our Randi Kaye.

Randi, basically, everyone here in the New York City bureau is jealous of you. We know Miguel is jealous of you because he's out in the pouring rain.

KAYE: I know.

(LAUGHTER)

NOBLES: Explain to us where you are and what is going on in St. Barts and how they're going to ring in the new year.

KAYE: Well, I am in St. Barts. And I am at Gustavia, which is the main port here.

And this is really a billionaire's playground, because this is where everybody comes for New Year's Eve. But, as you remember, Ryan, many year -- well, last year, there was 170 mile-an-hour winds here from Hurricane Irma, destroyed much of St. Barts.

There was more than a billion dollars' worth of damage. But you can see that they have rebuilt. And if you take a look at this scene here behind me, these are all multi, multi, hundreds of million dollar yachts.

It's incredible here, just absolutely incredible. As we pan around, these are owned by mainly billionaires. They come here for the New Year's Eve celebration. It's a huge party. A lot of celebrities are here. Paul McCartney's here. Mariah Carey is performing tonight.

But we are on a yacht called the Gene Machine. Thanks to Super Yacht St. Barth and Gene Machine for hosting us. And let me just tell you about this yacht. It's 180-feet-long. It has jet skis here. I'm not sure if you can see. It has a Jacuzzi. It has a swimming area in the back, a Jacuzzi, and then it also has a rope that you can climb up the side with for fun.

It has a water slide that you can go out. They put it out in the water when they're not tethered here in port and you can go down the water slide. It also has what I'm standing on here, a golf green, can you believe it, right here. So I'm no golfer, but just for kicks, and so everybody can have a good laugh at me, I am going to give it my best.

Now, there's some boat traffic. So we're going to yell fore, and we're going to make sure that I don't hit anybody. But let's see. OK. Ryan, I don't know if you're a golfer. But I'm going to try my best here. Hold on. We got a boater going by. Stand by. One moment.

It's busy. It's busy time here, so lots of traffic. But we're going to be on -- we're going to be on this yacht tonight for the big New Year's Eve show at 8:00, and starting at 8:00 p.m.

OK, here we go. Oh, did you see it went? It was perfect. I know you didn't follow it. We're going to do one more before I let you go. Here.

NOBLES: All right.

KAYE: There's a green out there. You see that? There's a green. I'm going to try and hit that before any other boats come by.

NOBLES: Did you hit it?

(CROSSTALK)

KAYE: You ready? Here we go. We're going to try it. One more.

NOBLES: All right, very close.

KAYE: Ooh, I got about halfway there.

(LAUGHTER) KAYE: Anyway, we're going to have a great party tonight. So much fun. I hope you will join us from sunny St. Barts -- back to you, Ryan.

NOBLES: All right, Randi Kaye definitely drew the short straw for CNN today.

Excellent swing, Randi. We're all very impressed back here in New York.

KAYE: Thank you.

NOBLES: Thank you, Randi.

(LAUGHTER)

NOBLES: Still ahead: Comedian Louis C.K. walks into yet another controversy by mocking the students who survived the Parkland shooting in his routine. You will hear the tape for yourself.

But, first, here's a look at more of Dubai's spectacular New Year's show. Look at that. Unbelievable. That's from just moments ago.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:18:40]

NOBLES: Congressional Democrats say that President Trump's plan to build a border wall is going nowhere. And it appears John Kelly may agree with them.

In an "L.A. Times" interview, Trump's outgoing chief of staff says: "The White House gave up on the idea of a concrete wall," his words, "early on after talking to those on the ground. Kelly added that, despite the president's claims to the contrary -- quote -- "To be honest, it's not a wall."

As you might expect, the president is pushing back, tweeting -- quote -- "An all-concrete wall was never abandoned."

Joining me now is Ben Ferguson. He's a conservative talk radio host and CNN political commentator. And Nina Turner, who is the president of Our Revolution and a CNN political commentator.

So, Ben, I mean, I think the best way to describe this is mixed messaging on behalf of the president, which is not uncustomary from this White House. But this particular issue is the president's signature campaign issue. He talked over and over again, first about a concrete wall, and then, secondly, that Mexico was going to pay for it.

Now we're talking about steel slats, or some version of that, and taxpayers paying for it. I mean, explain this kind of changing position from the president.

BEN FERGUSON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Look, I think when the president on the campaign talked about Mexico paying for the wall, he actually believed that he was going to be able to get that done.

In reality, he has to deal with Congress. And you have seen what Congress -- how hard they have been to deal with. And so the president understood, I think, after getting to Washington, becoming the president, that the reality of us being able to get Mexico to pay for it was probably not going to happen.

[15:20:15]

And that's the reason why the American people that voted for him said, Mr. President, we're fine with us paying for this. We don't have an issue with it. That's why the president's dropped it, but others have used that as a talking point against him.

I would go back to this. The president's been consistent. We need border security. In fact, 54 Democrats in the Senate just five years ago voted in favor of spending a significant amount of money on border security, including border wall or slats, whatever you want to call it.

And now they're saying no to it, and it's only because Donald Trump wants it so badly. So do a lot of the American people, though, and that's where I think they're messing up.

NOBLES: But, Ben, it seems as though, I mean, even in this conversation, you're moving the goalposts here a little bit.

I mean, Donald Trump came in as the great deal-maker. He had Republicans in both the Senate and the House. I mean, aren't you giving him kind of a big out here by saying that Congress has been too difficult to deal with for him to deliver on his signature campaign issue, when he promised that was the great deal-maker that could get these things done?

FERGUSON: Again, I would point to the 54 Democrats just five years ago that vote in favor more than $40 million in funding to build border security and the border wall.

And now, because of Donald Trump being president, they're saying no. You got to have the 60 votes in the Senate to do a deal. And the president has been advocating for this for the last two-plus years.

And when you don't have the votes because Democrats refuse to do what's right for border security, that's the reason why we have the government shutdown and what we're in the position we're in right now.

The present understands this is an issue of national security. It's an issue protecting American workers and wages. And it's an issue of making sure that people come into this country the legal, lawful way.

You look at the police officer that was killed in California. He came to America, by the way, as an immigrant legally into this country, and an illegal immigrant who did not follow our rules was able to kill him right around Christmas.

So this is -- this is an issue the president's gone all in on. I think he's been very consistent about that. And, unfortunately, you have got politics here.

NINA TURNER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Ryan, is this a conversation here or just one person?

(CROSSTALK)

NOBLES: Yes, no, Nina, I'm about to get you.

FERGUSON: I would love for you to come in, Nina. Come on in.

(CROSSTALK)

TURNER: So, the president has been -- he said Mexico was going to pay for the wall. That was not ever going to happen, because no president of the United States of America can dictate what -- how another country is going to spend their money. That's number one.

Number two is securing the country is a holistic conversation that is bigger than just a wall and bigger than just scapegoating one group of people just on the southern border.

(CROSSTALK)

TURNER: In terms of a police officer being shot, no...

(CROSSTALK)

TURNER: Hello, Ben. I mean, you had all this time. Let a sister get in here.

In terms of a police officer being shot, all of our hearts should ache. My son is in law enforcement right now, took the oath to protect and to serve. My husband is a former police officer, so I get it on both ends, both on the protection side, and also being a black woman who's the mother of a black son.

So everybody in this country should be upset when police officers are gunned down.

FERGUSON: Amen.

TURNER: But let us not scapegoat -- people have bad behavior, whether they're American-born citizens. Look at what Dylann Roof did to black parishioners at a church, Mother Emanuel.

So there are bad people, whether they're immigrants or not. And so native-born folks can be bad and do horrendous things too. What we should not do, though, however, is scapegoat an entire group of people just because there are bad actors across the spectrum, whether they're white, black, brown, yellow or red.

Human nature can be extremely unpredictable.

(CROSSTALK)

NOBLES: So, Nina, then, what is the path forward? (CROSSTALK)

NOBLES: Ben -- Ben, hang on.

Nina, what's the path forward here? How do Democrats handle this situation now? They have got a president that's unwilling to deal on that front. They're going to take control of the House here in a couple of days.

If you're advising the Democratic Caucus in the House, how do you see a way forward that can accomplish your goals, but at the same time get this government back open?

TURNER: Well, Ryan, that said, we got to open the government, so we need grown folks to get together around the table and determine first things first, 800,000 employees of the federal government right now who are in flux, who need to pay their mortgages or their rent.

They need to eat. And they have families to take care of. That should be the first, second, third, fourth and fifth concern. Secondly, do a deal. Do what -- we need comprehensive immigration reform.

FERGUSON: I agree.

TURNER: And, hopefully, Ben would agree with that. That's long overdue, that this Congress for several Congresses and also presidential administrations have not addressed comprehensive immigration reform in this country.

We need to help our DACA recipients. So there's so much that we should be able to come together to do. But the first concern, Ryan, is to make sure that those 800,000 people who serve this country in a different way or not left in waiting and not knowing how they're going to pay their bills or where their next meal is going to come from.

(CROSSTALK)

NOBLES: All right, we're going to have to leave it there.

Ben Ferguson, Nina Turner -- sorry, Ben. We have got to go, a lot to cover today. We appreciate you both being here. And happy new year. Thanks for being on.

[15:25:05]

TURNER: Happy new year.

FERGUSON: Happy new year.

NOBLES: Next: day 10 and counting. We're live at the White House with the latest on the government shutdown and what Democrats plan to do as soon as they take power.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NOBLES: As we count down the hours to the new year, the days to the partial government shutdown are racking up.