tv Inside Politics CNN March 29, 2019 9:00am-10:00am PDT
welcome to "inside politics." i'm phil mattingly. john king is off today. immigration, the economy, but no russia. who am i yes, he definitely talked about russia repeatedly. the president is putting together a working group of senators to come up with a new health care plan. but apparently no one has told those senators yet. at least, not yet. as a crucial dundrai2020
fundraising deadline comes up, there is the question, could these actually help the cash flow? and i knocked her out of the race, i guess. we got plenty more to knock out, you're right. >> are you looking forward to a debate with donald trump, the president? >> oh, yeah, you bet. >> at least he's not calling you pencil neck. >> we begin this hour in the post-mueller america, or at the very least, president trump's post-mueller america. the president traveling to michigan last night for his first rally since special counsel robert mueller concluded his investigation and handed his report to the attorney general. it's the country's first uninterrupted look at the president who believes he no longer has the cloud of the russia investigation hanging over his head. the russia report writing the
headline in two words: trump roars! >> the russia hoax is finally dead. total exoneration, complete vindication. the democrats have to now decide whether they will continue defrauding the public with ridiculous [ bleep ]. robert mueller was a god to the democrats. they don't like him so much right now. >> as i was saying, he talked about russia last night. here with me to share their reporting and their insights, cnn's abby phillip, julie hir h hirschfeld davis with the "new york times." i want to start with the trump rally, and it was truly a rally.
let's start with some sound and follow it up with a poll. >> the country's roaring will always take patients with preexisting conditions, always. help us fix our broken trade deals, china! china! get the damn plants open. we passed massive tax cuts. the russian hoax is finally dead. the collusion delusion is over! >> we pulled up a poll of voters just after the 2018 midterm elections and what they said was their priorities. the president talked about the economy, check. health care, check. immigration, check. trade policy, check. he's in full election mode, am i right, in this one. >> and i think the end of the mueller investigation for a lot of white house aides and
campaign aides feels like a real start for 2020 for trump. he's cleared the decks on mueller in his view and can move on to really framing the argument of his election around the economy and around people persecuting him. that was the key bit of this 2020 strategy that they really couldn't put into place while the investigation was ongoing, and so now this is about the president being constantly attacked by democrats who are only trying to destroy him, only trying to bring him down. and now finally with this out of the way, he can make that argument to the public. he's also put health care back on the table now to the chagrin to some people on the hill, but he's put health care back on the table because he understands this is a potential weakness for him. repeal and replace did not happen, so in order to move forward, they have to at least make the claim that they're working on this issue and it is something to be determined to be finished in a second term, potentially. >> we'll get to health care in the next block.
we have a lot to talk about on that one. i've been talking to a lot of conservative folks on the health care side of things to figure out the rationale to dive back into what was a damaging debate for the party. this was nine years of. pinning themselves on the mueller investigation was effective. is the base enough? that's something we'll be asking ourselves for the better part of the next 18, 19 months. >> for the last two years for president trump, it certainly has been. we did not see him try to pivot the way most presidents do when they come into office and have a more conclusive message that maybe worked the base at the white house and allowed him to win. we didn't see that running up to the midterm congressional elections. it seems now he has this b bifurcated message.
he was talking about things like the economy, which aides begged him to talk about. he's talking about immigration. his advisers look at the polls and they know that's something people really want to see. but he also is pivoting back to this idea of being this embattled underdog persecuted person, and that was his message in 2016, that nobody got him, he was misunderstood. they were all just attacking him and he was the only guy that was going to tell the truth. that was going to be a really hard case to make when you're president of the united states when you're the incoming president. but now that the mueller investigation has ended the way it has, he's really trying to reclaim that as well and do this in two different ways. >> he's the vindicated victim at this point, and it gives him more fuel to be able to revive that and say he was always
right, he always told you so. >> although it's hard to say you're vindicated at the same time you were exonerated, right? if there ever was a witch hunt, he's saying it's over now. so if it was effective, and i don't know that it was, but if it was effective for him to rile up supporters and say he's being persecuted, that is gone as a talking point. if we're talking about trump space, i think of trump space of about 20% of the electorate who loves him no matter what. he doesn't actually have to do anything for them because they'll vote for him no matter what. that's the definition of your political base. but those are the kinds of voters who respond to the victimization. those are the kinds of voters that feel any attack on trump is an attack on them, and so the victimization argument potentially riles them up, makes them more likely to vote. the other source of his support, the crucial source of his electoral support that he can't get reelected without are the
soft supporters, and those are mostly traditional republicans. so it's them i think he's talking to when he talks about health care and he talks about tax cuts. because they're the ones who might not have loved trump as a human being but voted for him for policy reasons. so when he's talking about either of the promises he claimed to have kept or things he hasn't done but is promising still to do, this is why there is that bifurcation in the message because there's two different audiences. >> but i also think there is a fascinat he's trying to do that are sort of cross purposes, right? i think if he's smart, he wants to reach out to those people who might actually take a second look and say, oh, maybe this russia stuff really wasn't anything and maybe we spent the last two years on something where there is no "there" there and we need to give him a second look. people were turned off by the first two years and maybe didn't vote for a republican as a result in 2018, but they were
turned off by the rhetoric we heard last night. mocking asylum seekers, saying ridiculous b.s. the rhetoric stuff that his base loves. so if he wants to get those kind of people, it will be hard for him to do based on the performance we saw last night. >> in a way, democrats are doing him a favor, right? even though mueller is done, democrats on the hill have not let this go. they're saying there's still stuff to see here, that they need to see the full mueller report, that there was collusion even if it didn't rise to a crime. so it keeps president trump punching at it. that's how he can get away with his sharp tongue. he can argue, i'm not the one still doing this, so i'm not the one dragging this out. it's different when you talk about immigrants. it's different when you talk about people who are genuinely sympathetic, that there's feeling on both sides of the aisle of the children getting stuck at the border, people in
hardship are getting a raw deal. so he can kind of play both tones but he has to choose where he's going to strike and not going to strike. that he hasn't exactly finessed. >> where he was last night, in grand rapids, michigan, mitt romney won it by 25,000 votes, donald trump by only 10,000 votes. the message is necessary. not the red meat message, the i did stuff on health care, i did stuff on conservative policy. all of that going forward. we'll be talking about this again and again and again. before we go to break, some dramatic pictures coming in to cnn. protesters have blocked streets around the house of parliament. this comes as lawmakers rejected yet other key brexit vote. the vote was a major loss for british prime minister theresa may. today, march 29, was supposed to be the day the u.k. left the european union. we'll keep an eye on that. up next, president trump may be making some big health care
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if you can't afford your medication, astrazeneca may be able to help. democrats demand to see the full mueller report this week. president trump has tried to turn the page a little bit, making a new pitch to ditch obamacare and making the gop part of health care. but senate majority mitch mcconnell says at the moment he's happier dealing with
democrats than being the point man. he said, i look forward to seeing what the president is proposing and what he can work out with the speaker. i am focusing on stopping the democrats' medicare for none scheme. you may have heard him say he's putting together a group of four or five senators to come up with an obamacare replacement. no one can seem to find who those senators are. jerry, you've been doing some
behind-the-scenes digging to find out who this group is. what have you come up with? >> as you know, the president and his administration are reporting the full validation of this law, but they do not have this viable obamacare repla replacement ready to go yet, and that's where the president came in yesterday and said four or five senators will be looking for the replacement. he named bill scott and senator john veraso. we spoke with those offices and none of them mentioned the existence of a working group. one senator public aide who i spoke with said it seemed like the president was just listing off names of republican senators who he has spoken with on health care, because those senators had indeed been having conversations about health care, about drug pricing amongst themselves and with the president, but that doesn't necessarily mean they are running point here on coming up with an obamacare replacement. as you mentioned earlier, senator mitch mcconnell, the
majority leader, he is trying to keep his caucus as far away from this as possible, so that's where we stand right now with neither the white house nor republican leaders working at the moment on a viable obamacare replacement while this case is still working its way through the courts. we will see if ultimately that judge's ruling striking down the health care law in its entirety is upheld. phil? >> thanks, jerry. keep digging on that. so much of this week has reminded me of 2017 and covering health care. you were standing in the halls with me. we were all covering health care to some degree, and this is one of the issues the president would have. he would come out and say, x is happening. so us hill reporters would go talk to senators and say, can you explain what x means? and they would have no idea what he was talking about. we laugh about it. this is often difficult between any white house party, but this
frankly matters to so many people. that's why you see mitch mcconnell say what he says to politico. again, a man of few words, that comment spoke a lot of words. julie, where do things go from here at this point? >> you almost have to pity the senators who he name checked, because no one in the republican party wants this job right now. they tried painstakingly to come up with an alternative plan that would be appealing to people who could pass even with their own member support, and they couldn't get there repeatedly. a lot of it was because of the president and the fact they couldn't nail down exactly what he would go for and what he wouldn't. this is politically very difficult. you need the cover of the sitting president if you're going to tackle something this complicated and this politically risky, and not only do they not know if they have it from this president, they know that they probably won't have it. the interesting thing when we covered this in 2017, he was a new president. he could credibly make the case that, hey, i just got here. i really need you, congress, who have been working on this and
promising this for years to do something. but that's gotten a little bit stale by now. he's been in office for two years. he's gone back at this issue affirmatively now, and it feels like he's setting himself up to make that argument again and throw it in their laps, and you saw mitch mcconnell saying, hey, no, this is all on you, you know? >> and this week the president made a comment that perked my ears. he said, i understand health care now more than anyone. i think he was referring to the last time they did this when one of the critiques from republican lawmakers working on this was that the president didn't seem to have a grasp of how health care even worked in this country, let alone how to fix what they believed was wrong with the affordable care act, and now the white house has basically thrown uncertainty into the water here, and they're saying we're not even going to be the ones to come up with something. the president is saying, i'm just going to name three random republican senators and they're going to be the ones to do it.
what this is really about, phil, is actually politics. it really has almost nothing to do with health care. the white house is saying they don't even think this is going to get to the supreme court until the summer of 2020, meaning they'll have like a full 18 months to say whatever they want to say about health care and do potentially nothing but still just have this talking point for the upcoming election that they think is advantageous to the president. there is no plan to replace obamacare at the moment. there is no legislative strategy. they're just kind of going with the flow here, just trying to make up communication strategy out of this court case that they believe can help the president. >> real quick, an important point is taking the other side of it, which is where the republican senators are and what mcconnell was talking about. you put up a poll among democrats who are split. 44% want to improve obamacare and 46% want to pass medicare for all. that's the riff to some degree, to the extent it exists, that
republicans would love to dive in on, just focus on that in the election. they don't want it on their backs, i don't think, actually produce something. when you produce something, it gives somebody a target. >> none of those democrats want to repeal or make health care available to the government. there is an agreement on that among democrats and independents. spoiler. nothing is going to come of health care. they could probably pass health care through senate at this point, they probably do have votes. because john mccain is not there, the senators who are there are more likely to be in favor of it, and that's a political problem for them. that chart you put up earlier saying 80% of voters care about health care, number one issue, guess who won the midterms on that issue? it was democrats because they told voters not without evidence that the republicans are trying to take health care away from people. you know, you meet a lot of
voters out there who actually think republicans already have taken their health care away, even though they haven't managed to pass that health care legislation or to repeal obamacare. so the republicans could back off of this. i think what mitch mcconnell would like would be for republicans to back off of this issue or maybe try to actually improve obamacare in some way, not to keep trying to attack it in all of these ways. in the courts, in congress, administratively through the executive branch. i guess to their credit, they do actually keep trying to do what they said they were going to do which is to damage obamacare in every way they possibly can and try to bring the thing down, but that's not something that works for them politically. >> and the courts have been problematic just this week. a number of court rulings about what they're trying to do administratively. by the way thanks for telling my boss that my job is essentially useless. up next, the 2020 democrats have a fast-approaching
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2020 totals. the numbers they put up is an indicator of who is cashing in and who is barely scraping by, which explains the sudden mad dash for cash. we don't have actual numbers yet, but we have where the big dogs or behemoths are. tongues wagging in the first 24 hours for beto o'rourke with $56,000. kamala harris 1.5 million in 24 hours. down a little bit from that, amy klobuchar 1 million, john hickenlooper 1 million. why this matters so far away is dual. every candidate knows this is about momentum, this is about viability, and it shows whether the grassroots actually cares and wants to give you money. the other question is it has a direct correlation to who exactly is going to be on stage for the debates.
that's why the dnc has set it up this year. and that might explain why, if you scroll through all these text messages, you might see increasingly panicked e-mails from people, including julian castro's mother, saying, i'm humbly asking for $1 to help my incredible son, julian, kwaul foye fr the democratic presidential debates. to make the point that it is still early, look at this. about 10 candidates we're still waiting to hear from. they won't need to file because they haven't actually declared. see the dots with the texting like they haven't finished yet? it's early, candidates don't have to report if they haven't declared yet, but for those who have, they need to post big numbers early. what makes that a little more complicated? well, the democratic position on where they want ta money to come from. >> i don't take corporate pac money. i don't take pac money of any
kind. >> i take not a dime from a single pac or lobbyist. >> i will not take corporate pac money. >> i'm not taking corporate pac money in this campaign. >> i'm not taking corporate pac money. >> i'm not accepting a dime of pac money. >> not having a superpac and being dependent on millionaires to get elected, too radical! >> cnn's jeff zeleny joins us now. jeff, candidates don't want to take corporate pac money. some scoff and say 580 days away, calm the heck down. explain why this matters? >> not everyone will have 580 days. a lot of people will have a much shorter time frame, and i think it matters because it's the first metric. it's not just the media making the metric, it's the measure of the candidates. the dnc is saying for the first time ever to reach that debate stage, to qualify in june, you have to have 25 different donors
from 25 different states. that is a benchmark not every candidate will be able to make. most, i think, will. but it matters because it shows a sign of strength. there are big donors among smaller donors. barack obama, the first time he was taken seriously was the end of the first quarter when he had an eye-popping, outraising hillary clinton number. we've seen a lot of expectations, a lot of desperation landing in our e-mailboxes saying, i just need a dollar. it's about the number of donors now as well as that bottom line. >> it is about the bottom line to the extent that if you don't have money, you can't run a campaign. these candidates are deliberately hobbling that because it's a lot of money. if you don't have enough money, that's it, it's goodbye. it is more of a pure metric of strength than it used to be because of that refusal of corporate pac money. if they were taking pac money,
you can have a jeb bushlike candidate who has a lot of money but fewer relatively rich donors. they hav it is a sign of grassroots support, but they can't all have it. it limits the pool of there are fewer viable campaigns down the stretch when they start running on fumes. >> it's also an interesting thing in terms of the way candidates frame this. kamala harris put out a fundraising e-mail that said when this deadline passed, i want to complement the other democrats running. we know some have outraised us, and that's okay, because we know we won't be outworked. what do the candidates do who are going to fall far below, even if there is a decent amount of money? >> what you're hearing from
kamala harris is a little bit of campaign setting, saying this is a metric but only a little bit of metric. people need figure out who to pay attention to, who to do some research into, and one of the ways they do that is by saying, oh, wow, look how much money that person raised who i never heard of? or look at how many people are interested in that candidate to give some money, even though it might be a small amount of money. but again, as shet said, it migt be a matter of intensity. who is willing to give a big amount of money this early in the game? >> i think it's a proxy for interest in candidates, and it's a correction from the last cycle in which -- i think a lot of democrats felt like there was a candidate who was anointed at the beginning and it didn't really matter what happened, and that person raised money in a very traditional way, and there was actually nothing wrong with the way hillary clinton raised money, but then you had bernie
sanders coming out of nowhere with these small dollar donations so the democratic party was trying to correct for that. it will be interesting to see how people like kamala harris, how people like joe biden deal with this new reality. the world is a little different now for democrats. i think the party wants to know whoever they put up there has an intensity of support that can match what's there for president trump. i think that's what this is also about. we tried to say -- a lot of people tried to say crowds don't matter, street signs don't matter. maybe they do matter. maybe they show you that people actually, when they're excited about a candidate, that that does actually matter at the end of the day. >> keep in mind there's also other ways to raise money, and that is candidate merchandise. it's always fun to look at those things. you have the john delaney memory eraser to forget what the president says. john hickenlooper beer coozie.
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parliament when u.k. rejected her brexit deal for a third time. nick is joining us from downing street. nick, i guess the question everybody has had for weeks, what happens next? >> reporter: that's what the prime minister is going to have to figure out this weekend. there are a number of things we know for sure, that she has to held te tell the european by the 10th of april what's going to happen next. is she going to leave without a deal or will she go for a much longer period, either the end of the year or the end of the following year? however, there are other options and it's hard to be declar ativ e with this brexit deal because there are other options. one is she tries to push the deal again in one more week, something that might get more support from the mps and the
opposition party. the risk is if she tries to do that, does she lose support from the mps in her own party? but she absolutely has to tell the eu which way she's going to go. no deal, leave, or long extension when she attends the european leaders emergency summit on the 10th of april in brussels that was called immediately after she lost the vote today so significantly again. phil? >> nic robertson on downing street. how buttigieg is establishing himself in a crowded field. >> what you want to do is nominate a young, inclusive, good-looking mayor.
is the buttigieg buzz real? first, his campaign has raised more than $600,000 since his town hall on march 10th. a few days later, the south bend mayor announced he had reached the donor threshold to qualify for debates. he has since seen his crowd sizes grow and more people have googled his name than the prior weeks combined. and the mayor had his best showing in a national poll to date, jumping from 1% to a statistically present 4%. but as you see, the top contenders are still the big b's, the biden, the bernie, the be beto. it's the battle of the young guns that will be especially key to watch. one of the realities is buttigieg is a new-generation
candidate and now beto o'rourke is in the race, and beto fills a lot of space. they're swimming fishing in thed and beto has a larger fishing pole. i guess one of the questions i have, are they in the same lane at this point? is that how we read them? >> that's how voters appear to be looking at them. they have a lot of the same appeal, and i think that's what ax was looking at in that quote, if you're looking for a young generational candidate, but also a candidate who is inspirational, a candidate who people feel swept up on an emotional level, rather than some calculation of how liberal or how far to the center are they. i think it's sort of curb appeal, if you will, that voters just enjoy listening to these
guys talk. >> they both have a character you weren't really expecting to see come into the fray this time. beto was in the senate race but he's still kind of a breath of fresh air. buttigieg is kind of the same way. when i compare the two, i always think what if there was a high school comedy with the two of them, because beto is kind of the cool kid and buttigieg speaks norwegian. i'm sorry to make a joke in a way, but you don't know which one you'll gravitate towards in the end. they are not the same person even though they're similar in age and how they look. you could say that of any of the people that are in the younger generation, but these are the two that seem to have captured the public attention because they do have a measure of charisma. it's just that we're going to learn what's behind that opening in the months ahead. >> it's a great point you're
making. your colleague in the "new york times" had a piece on pete buttigieg, and in that he talked to voters. always talk to voters in rallies, people. he heard beto o'rourke the day before saying, quote, i think buttigieg is more down to brass tacks. i think bets oe has a dance track going on in his head when he's speaking. >> they do have a similar look about them, a certain appeal in the way they talk and come across. i won't make the comparison to barack obama, but some people have, obviously, for both of them. but, you know, there has been a bit of a common thread in some of beto's campaign appearances, both when he was running for senate and since he has been running for president, that he likes to talk in grand terms about big principles and inspirational ideals.
we have actually heard pete buttigieg at some of his events get real technical and in detail about his policies and how they would work and how they're a viable alternative to what republicans are posing. those are things that as we get down the line in this race voters will want to hear. i think there is some differentiation still to take place, and even though they may look the same on paper, they may not even be coming from the same sort of political lean, if you look, you know, between left and center and moderate. i think they may be positioning themselves a little bit differently. >> i think buttigieg's argument was he was a mayor. he actually had a job in which he was doing things, in which he was an executive in that sense, and he understands that part of the job. i think that's going to become a big thing for beto o'rourke, because even while people -- there is a lot of curb appeal with beto, he has a much shorter track record. he has a track record of running for things, but the question is does he have a track record of
running things. i think that's one of the many ways they're going to start to diverge as we go along this path. it's interesting also to see that buttigieg is rising. he's getting people's attention from complete obscurity, and that's going to be a big factor as we go forward, too. >> no question about it. and the usual caveat, it's early. it's very early. not as long a lane for many as we might think. up next, how is education secretary betsy devos feeling about her position at the moment? >> i'm glad you're education secretary, are you? >> i am, yes. most days i am. what makes these simple dishes the best simple dishes ever?
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because when you're ready for what comes next, the only direction is forward. after days of bipartisan outrage over proposed funding cuts from the special olympics, president trump is pulling an abrupt about-face. >> the special olympics will be funded. i just told my people, i want to fund the special olympics. and i just authorized a funding of the special olympics. i heard about it this morning, i have overridden my people. we're funding the special olympics. >> that may have sounded like the president's voice but it was also the sound of the president throwing his education secretary essentially under the bus. for two days on capitol hill, betsy devos defended the proposed cuts and received a grilling from lawmakers. >> let's not use disabled children in a twisted way for
your political narrative. that is just disgusting and it's shameful. >> madam secretary, let me tell you what. eliminating $18 million out of a 70 or $80 billion budget, i think, is shameful, too. i'm not twisting it. >> now following the president's reversal, devos said in a statement, i am pleased and grateful the president and i see eye to eye on this issue and that he has decided to fund our special olympics grant. this is funding i have fought for behind the scenes over the last several years. >> it's not always easy to be a cabinet secretary, particularly with this president sometimes. what happened? >> it looks like exactly what it looked like happened happened, which is that this budget proposal, which was never going to go anywhere, but is an important symbolic document, it's a laying out of the administration's values and what they would do if they were -- if they had control of everything, and if you think about it, this
is always what happens is you have -- people say, we could just balance the budget by making little trims here and there. we'll witness waste fraud abuse, but oh, you can't cut that thing, and that thing, too. it all adds up. you do have to make cuts that are going to be painful, and that is what betsy devos was trying to defend -- >> on the administration's behalf. >> -- on the administration's behalf, but there is a little bit of a dagger in her statement as well, right? you hear her all but saying, i didn't want to do this, don't look at me. >> she said that. >> she quite literally said that. >> i think what you have here is you have the folks in the management of the budget who are trying to be conservatives and trying to trim all the fat over the money they're willing to sacrifice, and you have a president who in theory wants to have that approach but hates to
be seen as the bad guy, particularly where children are concerned, particularly if he's getting pushback from anywhere, and in this case he was getting bipartisan pushback. so he was willing quite literally to throw his education secretary under the bus. she was making it clear that she didn't agree with those cuts, either. it doesn't really matter that they weren't going to take effect in the first place. i think it was just an extraordinary example of the ways this president was not willing to go to bat for members of his administration when they are a problem for him. >> he hates bad press. when the press is bad, he's the first person to say, actually, i didn't even know anything about that. i'm just going to tell my people not to do it anymore. >> when you're talking about kids at the border, that's a hot button issue, a hot potato. physically disabled children, there's no middle ground on this one. >> also just a quick reminder, the president can't authorize spending. a budget proposal is dead on arrival and aspirational.
that's what the appropriations committee did, so he didn't say okay on the spending, he just changed his mind on the budget detail. thanks for joining us on "inside politics." we'll see you back here sunday at 8:00 a.m. brianna keilar starts right now. i'm brianna keilar live from cnn's washington headquarters. it is friday, it is nearly april, and the mueller report is still a secret. but president trump giving us a preview of the post-mueller fighting mood he'll bring to the 2020 campaign with an aggressive and even profane attack on democrats still fighting to see robert mueller's full report, n with very small quotes from the attorney general. our kaitlan collins is at the white house. what are we hearing from the president, kaitlan? >> reporter: it was the