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AT THIS HOUR WITH BERMAN AND MICHAELA

Paul Ryan Elected New House Speaker, John Boehner Steps Down; Interview with Kevin McCarthy; Cruz, Rubio Breakout in GOP Debate; Tim Pawlenty Talks When a Candidate Should Drop Out of Race. Aired 11:30- 12p ET

Aired October 29, 2015 - 11:30   ET

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


[11:30:00] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Let's pray for each other, he says. Let's be frank, the House is broken but, he says, he's beginning by wiping the slate clean.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: You have to love the formalities of the House of Representatives and how this all happened today. And it was a strange road getting to this point for Paul Ryan.

Let's discuss this. Let's bring in senior political reporter, Manu Raju; senior Washington correspondent, Jeff Zeleny; and A.B. Stoddard, the associate editor for "The Hill" newspaper.

Manu, let's start with you.

I covered John Boehner on the Hill alongside you for a long time, and now seeing this handing over of the gavel, it's a very big moment, not just for Paul Ryan, but for the entire Congress.

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: It really is. It's a generational shift. Of course, he's a 45-year-old congressman. He has served in Congress for 19 years, but this will be a brand new approach for the leadership. He's saying this will be a new day for Congress.

What I was really struck by was the inside and outside messaging that he was really delivering. He was speaking to two audiences. One, those House Republicans in the conference who have been concerned about the approach, what they believe has been a top-down approach from legislating, cutting deals behind the scenes, not including them more in the process. He said that's going to change. They're going to fire up the committee process, bring more people in. We're not going to see that anymore. Then he was talking more about the messaging, lifting people out of poverty, fixing the tax code, having big ideas, reforming Washington. So, he's really speaking to the public at large and also members of Congress, his own conference, particularly people who have been skeptical of his party leadership.

Now, I should caution, a lot of this stuff is much easier said than done. You guys know full well how difficult it is to legislate. Sure, you can get legislation passed in the House but then it stalls in Senate where you need 60 votes to do just about anything. That means bipartisan support. We'll really see how he's able to get stuff done. One thing that's been good for him, though, is the big budget deal is

clearing Congress as early as this week. It frees his hand to do a lot of things. He'll still have to address some of the spending issues in December. But for now, he's soaking up this moment. He's going to have a celebratory lunch with his family and also a big party at the Library of Congress tonight. And then the real hard work of legislating begins soon thereafter.

BERMAN: Jeff Zeleny, big picture right now. What does this mean for the business of the people? Paul Ryan is someone that this White House has acknowledged it can work with. Does this mean there might be more agreement going forward?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: John, I think at this point in time it's hard to imagine much agreement going forward on any big issues because of the period of time we're in and this president's term. We're entering the final term of President Obama's time in the White House. We're in the middle of a hard-fought presidential campaign.

But what I'm struck by is how big Paul Ryan seems. He's an ideas man. He's been called the intellectual core of this Republican Party. In a presidential race that has often seemed small and bickering and back and forth, Paul Ryan, I think, elevates this Republican Party. Certainly makes a new generation of leadership. And the Republican Party is ahead of the Democratic Party in terms of presenting a new cast of leaders here to take the country forward here. But I think any big deals, any big possibilities will probably come with the next president, whoever that may be.

That's why this is so interesting that this is happening at this moment here. Paul Ryan, of course, is familiar to so many people because he was -- he was Mitt Romney's running mate in 2012. That gave him a bit of stature that few House speakers have here. So, I think the degree to which he can use that, and he can sort of guide this Republican Party, is something that we definitely have to watch here.

But I think in his speech, he's very much a -- I'm trying to be a leader here, but one thing he said I was struck by. He said, I'm not interested in laying blame. We're here to settle scores. Some people are interested in that. His first challenge is to lead this Republican Party into a new era. If anyone can do it, perhaps he can. But it's definitely a big challenge.

BOLDUAN: I wrote down that exact same line. He said after that, Jeff, we are wiping the slate clean. As Manu said, maybe a little easier said than done, but he has many challenges before him.

A.B., two people I was thinking about during Paul Ryan's first speech as speaker. What is John Boehner thinking? And then also seeing him sit there in the House gallery, what is Kevin McCarthy thinking?

A.B. STODDARD, ASSOCIATE EDITOR, THE HILL: Well, let's start with John Boehner. John Boehner had Paul Ryan as a college student at Miami University in Ohio, interning on his congressional campaign. These two have known each other a long time. John Boehner is enormously fond and protective of Paul Ryan. And you have to imagine in his clean out the barn kitchen sink bill that's under fire from conservatives this week, you know, he did it clearly to protect Paul Ryan, to give him a good start and a soft landing so he could be in a position as a new speaker, a reluctant speaker, to move on to bigger ideas, tax reform, entitlement reform, and sort of a renewal of the House culture without being held to these cliffs, these emergencies, where conservatives seek leverage and then shutdown.

I think Kevin McCarthy had a very strange episode. It seemed like a last-minute rush to the speakership, but he had actually been planning it a long time. People thought Boehner would leave at the end of this cycle, so Kevin McCarthy was going to inherent that job. This is a total upheaval. But I think Kevin McCarthy is probably happy to be leader, happy that Paul Ryan is a very good friend, who he has enormous respect for, is in the job, and there might be some stability in the House without, like I said, all these emergency legislative must-pass moments that create so much chaos.

[11:36:03] BERMAN: A.B., stand by.

Let's go back to Manu Raju because I believe Manu has with him the House majority leader right now, Kevin McCarthy right now -- Manu?

RAJU: Yes, I do. I'm here with Mr. McCarthy.

Mr. McCarthy, thank you for joining us.

You've been a friend with Paul Ryan for such a long time. He really spoke about the things that he wants to do, but you've been around Congress for a long time. What do you think some of his biggest challenges are going to be going forward here as he tries to legislate?

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY, (R-CA), HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER: Well, it's always to move the body but this is the unique position Paul's in. This is a policy guy that has changed the direction of America when it comes to how we deal with the deficit and others, taxes. I think this puts him in a very key place that this House is going to become the power. This would start moving policy that's going to become law but it's going to be a thinking idea that every voice is heard. I'm excited about today. I think you're going to look back at this fundamental change, a generational and cultural change for the House.

RAJU: You know full well you can pass legislation here, but then it goes to the Senate and sits there because they need 60 votes to two just about anything. What advice would you give Paul Ryan and how to deal with the folks on the Senate?

MCCARTHY: That's the difference with Paul. Paul is not just a member of Congress. Paul is who America knows, he's thoughtful. He looks for solutions. He doesn't just think, how do I move it out of committee? How do I transfer and change America at the same time. So, I think Paul moving legislation is a little different. I think you'll be able to move and have the power within the Senate and across the country. My best advice is get out to the country, talk about the ideas, win the idea before you win the vote.

RAJU: Of course, a group of 30 or 40 members of that House freedom caucus who actually opposed you when you were thinking about running for speaker and were also one reason why John Boehner has decided to draw -- decided to resign. How much of a threat is that group to Speaker Ryan now going forward?

MCCARTHY: You know what, if you noticed, a lot of them voted for Paul. Paul is a uniter. And I think you're going to find his ideas will unite people and will unite this country. And I think he's the right man at the right time. And it's a good day today for America and for all America.

RAJU: One last question. Do you regret not running for speaker? Do you wish it was you right there right now?

MCCARTHY: No. Look, I never came here to be speaker. I will always put this country before myself. And I think the decision I made was the best decision. You saw it today. We're much more united because of that. I'm proud of the decision I made.

RAJU: Thank you, Mr. McCarthy. Appreciate it.

Back to you, guys.

BERMAN: Manu Raju, Jeff Zeleny, A.B. Stoddard, thanks so much.

And just one more word about John Boehner, the outgoing speaker, the now-gone speaker. Nancy Pelosi noted he was a man who served the country, served his district honorably for 25 years. Nancy Pelosi recognizes that in this country it's important to honor the service of people.

BOLDUAN: A man who served in that institution for 25 years. And a man that you can see, as he often gets a -- made fun of a little bit for it, but a man with a tender, loving heart. You saw it on display today.

He had one line I think really endures, "Real change takes time. Yes, freedom makes things possible," said Speaker Boehner, "but patience makes things real." A wonderful, parting message from the outgoing speaker, John Boehner.

BERMAN: Coming up next, there was a debate last night. Wow, was there drama there. We'll talk to winners, the losers, some of the big moments, some of the small moments and where Jeb Bush stands this morning.

[11:39:33]BOLDUAN: Also ahead for us, plus, there is one -- there was one key target last night and it was probably the one that brought all the candidates together, their anger toward the moderators and the media. The RNC chairman even piling on. A former top RNC official is joining us next to discuss.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BOLDUAN: A dramatic shakeup in the race for the White House this morning. With most everyone waiting to see in last night's debate, the front-runners, Donald Trump, Ben Carson, facing off, there were two other breakout stars, the junior Senator from Florida and the junior Senator from Texas.

BERMAN: If the headlines this morning are any indication, there was kind of a clear, not so, winner. The key moment came about 20 minutes in when Jeb Bush jumped in to attack Marco Rubio for missing Senate votes.

So, let's talk about this. Joining us now live from Boulder, Mike Shields, former chief of staff for Republican National Committee; Nan Hayworth, who is here with us from New York, she's the New York co- chair for Carly for America -- and Pax Hart is a Donald Trump supporter.

Mike Shields, I want to start with you in Boulder because it was in Boulder where that moment occurred I'm talking about where Jeb went in to question Marco Rubio's record, voting attendance. I do not believe the exchange ended the way he hoped it would. Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEB BUSH, (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE & FORMER FLORIDA GOVERNOR: You can campaign or just resign and let someone else take the job. There are a lot of people living paycheck to paycheck in Florida as well that are looking for a Senator that will fight for them each and every day.

[11:45:14] SEN. MARCO RUBIO, (R), FLORIDA & PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Do you know how many votes John McCain missed when he was carrying out that theory of come back that you're now modeling?

(CROSSTALK)

RUBIO: Jeb, I don't remember you -- well, let me tell you, I don't remember you ever complaining about John McCain's vote record. The only reason why you're doing it now is because we're running for the same position. And someone has convinced you that attacking me is going to help you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BERMAN: What a lot of people see here, Mike, is a candidate not achieving what he needed to achieve on the stage. Jeb Bush and, perhaps, Marco Rubio perhaps surging ahead.

MIKE SHIELDS, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: First of all, before we talk about the debate, I would be remiss to speak a little bit as someone who worked in the House Republican infrastructure for the last 10 years, what an honor it's been to work for John Boehner. You talked about House protocol. It's not protocol to have the previous speaker walk off the floor the way John Boehner did. That was a gesture he was making to his colleagues and to Paul Ryan to say, it's someone else's turn, and I'm leaving now. That's an amazing statement of what a leader John Boehner was. Sort of mixed emotions for all of us who know Boehner and know Paul Ryan and are excited about having our party's best spokesman, who didn't run for the job, but was asked by his colleagues to serve in that position. I had to mention that, first of all, because it's a mixed emotion day for all of us that work around House Republicans.

But in terms of the debate last night, there's a lot of people had off-nights. The two front-runners were low key and the people that really had off-nights, so maybe they're sort of glad they're talking about something else, is the moderators from CNBC. They had a disastrous night. They were talking over each other, arguing with each on other, going after the candidates on the stage. It's really fortunate to see that because the RNC put together a really good debate structure. They didn't have the debate on MSNBC. They purposely put it on CNBC, the pro business channel. They put Rick Santelli on, the Godfather of the Tea Party, so you have more of a conservative element talking to candidates about real tax policy and those sorts of thing. Instead, it sort of devolved into this gotcha kind of debate.

Some candidates didn't have a good night. The talking points the next day is how horrible a night the CNBC had in hosting the debate.

BOLDUAN: That's one thing that unified the folks on the stage.

Pak, as a Trump supporter, you heard Mike Shields, say the two front- runners, being Donald Trump, they were low key last night. Here's one moment a lot of people were talking about, the back and forth between John Kasich and Donald Trump. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN KASICH, (R), OHIO GOVERNOR & PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This stuff is fantasy. Just like getting rid of Medicare and Medicaid.

DONALD TRUMP, (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE & CEO, TRUMP ORGANIZATION: You said yesterday --

(CROSSTALK)

KASICH: Come on. That's just not -- you don't scare senior citizens with that. It's not responsible.

Folks, we got to wake up. We cannot elect somebody that doesn't know how to do the job. You've got to pick somebody who has experience, somebody that has the know-how, the discipline.

TRUMP: This is the man that was a managing general partner at Lehman Brothers when it went down the tubes and almost took every one of us with him. He was so nice. He was such a nice guy. And he said, oh, I'm never going to attack. But then his poll numbers tanked. He's got -- that's why he's on the end.

(LAUGHTER)

And he got nasty. (LAUGHTER)

And he got nasty. So, you know what? You can have him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: Today and after the debate, Trump not being talked about as commanding the stage as we've seen him in the past. Does that concern you?

PAX HART, DONALD TRUMP SUPPORTER: No. You know, we were talking about this before. I -- the evolution of this campaign has been Trump came out very bombastic, very confrontational, which served the purpose to get him on the charts and it got him to the top. Now we're seeing he's kind of reeling it back. He's becoming a little more mellow, a little more experienced with handling the media, handling -- you know, the speeches he gives are incredibly powerful. You know, whether or not he's the best debater out there -- I think Marco Rubio is fantastic, but Donald Trump, I think, is a visionary, he's a negotiator. He is -- you know, he is getting things done. You know, he is more of a leader. You know, if you look at -- you know, if you want to look at nuance, you see Kasich there who seems really kind of rattled. Donald Trump was pretty laid back. So, I think that's kind of a shift. I don't think it's a bad thing. I just think we're seeing an evolution.

BERMAN: Nan, you heard Mike bring up the media and the moderators there. That ended up being the dominant theme on the stage with everyone on stage attacking everyone sitting just off stage asking the questions.

Ted Cruz may have had his standout moment of the campaign when he did that. Let's listen to that right there.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. TED CRUZ, (R), TEXAS & PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The questions that have been asked so far in this debate illustrate why the American people don't trust the media.

(APPLAUSE)

CRUZ: This is not a cage match. And you look at the questions -- Donald Trump, are you a comic book villain? Ben Carson, can you do math? John Kasich, will you insult two people over here? Rubio, why don't you resign? Jeb Bush, why have your numbers fallen? How about talking about the substantive issues people care about?

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

[11:50:16] BERMAN: That was the complaint right there.

Danny Diaz, the campaign manger for Jeb Bush, was knocking on the CNBC control board demanding more time. Carly Fiorina spoke more than anyone last night.

NAN HAYWORTH, NEW YORK CO-CHAIR, CARLY FOR AMERICA: She did.

BERMAN: Not because she was asked the most questions, because she sort of seized --

(CROSSTALK)

HAYWORTH: She's assertive. She's authoritative.

BERMAN: So are these people complaining about nothing?

HAYWORTH: No, not at all. But Ted Cruz pointed out and what the field pointed out and what Carly took the most advantage of is that the questions were distinctly slanted towards trying to somehow embarrass these candidates and what our Republican field showed was they were more than up to the challenge. They had substantive policies to talk about and real abilities, which is I was so glad that Carly emphasized the fact that she has successfully wrangled bureaucracies as a leader. She knows how to account for budgeting. She knows how to do the things that everybody's been talking about for so many years and yet hasn't gotten done. And that was a key point that Carly made last night. I think it was very well taken. She is actually someone who has done this, can do this, and will do this as a leader.

BOLDUAN: We'll see where the polls stand. Again, there's 10 days until the next one, so not a lot of time to recover and prepare.

Great to see you all. Thank you, all, so, so much.

Coming up for us, after a poorly reviewed debate performance, how bad are Jeb Bush's troubles today? A tough question for all underperforming candidates is, when do you decide to bow out? We'll talk to one man who has been on that debate stage, has been in a crowded field, and has faced that very same question.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:56:17] BERMAN: Breaking news. CNN has learned the United States intercepted two Russian military planes that flew near the "USS Ronald Reagan" aircraft carrier in the Pacific Ocean. The U.S. Navy says it launched four armed fighter jets but described this as standard operating procedure for just the escort planes flying near naval vessels. We'll have more on this coming up.

BOLDUAN: Back to last night and what it means for today, after last night, the question a lot of people are asking right now, should any of these Republican presidential candidates be calling it quits?

BERMAN: This is the dilemma our next guest knows all too well. Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty ran for president four years ago, dropped out just after the Ames straw poll.

Governor, thank you for being with us. Really appreciate it.

TIM PAWLENTY, (R), FORMER MINNESOTA GOVERNOR & FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Good to be with you.

BERMAN: So the reviews, not kind to former Governor Jeb Bush today. People thought he might have been lackluster, may not have seized the moment, perhaps wilted in his exchange with Rubio. After the debate, with our Dana Bash, he sort of complained about the debate, the questions he got, and he didn't seem at all happy. Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: I'm running for president of the United States. I'm running with heart. I'm not a performer. If they're looking for an entertainer in chief, I'm probably not the guy. If they're looking for someone who has a proven record of results, 32 years in the business sector and eight years in the most reform-oriented conservative probably in the last 30 years in the country, I'm their guy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: He says I'm not a performer. Is that enough of an explanation there? Isn't that the same thing as saying if only the voters saw how great I really am, I'd be doing better?

PAWLENTY: Well, in the modern-day world of campaigning, you have to be, from a party perspective, pure enough to get the Philosophical test passed so people support you in terms of your philosophy. You also have to be capable to do the job. Jeb certainly can do those two things. But let's face it, part of leadership is to inspire. In this media/news/political world, you have to be inspiring. He has to up his game. The debate last night, and even before, the response has been that wasn't sufficiently inspiring, and that's part of leadership.

BOLDUAN: Take us behind the scenes. Being in that crowded field, being on that stage. Afterwards, when you have these lackluster performances -- and I'm not necessarily pointing the finger only at Jeb Bush, but some of the other underperforming candidates who are low in the polls. When does the conversation begin? What is that conversation like when you decide it's time to bow out?

PAWLENTY: Well, before the dawn of super PACs, and people running for reasons other than winning, you dropped out when you ran out of money. I dropped out of my race because I was going into debt and I didn't want to be in debt particularly as a conservative. I dropped out because we ran out of money. But there's a bunch these candidates that are running such low overhead campaigns that with a minivan, a college -- you know, a handful of college kids and some McDonald's, you can keep your campaign alive for a long time if you have a small budget. It doesn't take much money to keep it going. With a super PAC, they can keep you alive, too. For those candidates, many of them, they probably know they're not going to win. But they either like campaigning or have some other message or objective in mind. They don't want to seem to want to go away. One of the commentators referred to them as zombie candidates.

BERMAN: Governor, we have 10 seconds left here. In short, Jeb Bush has got money. Can he turn it around in time?

PAWLENTY: Well, he's a meritorious candidate, but he's underperformed so far. He's not going to have to quit, obviously. He has the money to play out his hand, but he's going to have to up his game or the marketplace is going to move away from him.

BOLDUAN: And doesn't have a lot of time. Next debate, just 10 days away.

Governor Tim Pawlenty, it's good to see you. Thank you.

PAWLENTY: Good to see you.

BOLDUAN: Thanks so much.

And thank you all so much for joining us AT THIS HOUR.

BERMAN: "Legal View" with Ashleigh Banfield starts right now.

[12:00:12] ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Ashleigh Banfield. And welcome to "Legal View."