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GOP Civil Wars Erupts Before Iowa Vote; Epic Storm Already Hitting the South; Snowstorm Making NFL NFC Game Messy in Charlotte; RNC Disinvited "National Review" from Debate. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired January 22, 2016 - 11:30   ET



[11:31:48] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Moments ago, we heard the pretty strong response from the Donald Trump campaign to the "National Review's" latest issue dubbing Trump, among other things, a menace to conservativism.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Joining us to discuss, Matt Schlapp, political director for George W. Bush and current chairman of the American Conservative Union; and with him CNN political commentator, Van Jones.

Matt let me start with you.

The "National Review," we were talking about it being the instruction manual for generations of Republicans on how to do this. When they come out with this magazine, this issue that basically says, no Trump, anyone but Trump, is that a big deal?

MATT SCHLAPP, CHAIRMAN, AMERICAN CONSERVATIVE UNION & FORMER POLITICAL DIRECTOR FOR GEORGE W. BUSH: Yeah, it's a big deal. You know, I became a conservative largely because I was a subscriber to "National Review" when I was in college. It's a big deal. It's a very important publication for the conservative movement. And this conversation about whether Donald Trump is an orthodox conservative or not is a perfectly valid conversation. I just feel like at the end of the day, what conservatives need to do is they're going to have to unite behind the Republican nominee. Having four or eight more years of what we've seen out of the Obama administration, we'll never get our country back to what it was before, all of these progressive policies. I just hope he we can have this conversation, this family conversation in a way that still allows us to unite. And I think it will.

BOLDUAN: Matt calls it a perfectly valid conversation. The Republican family needs to be having, Van. Looking at the pure politics of where we are right now and when this is happening in the political cycle, does this, the fact that this "National Review" with this list of conservatives coming out so strongly against Trump, does this help or hurt Donald Trump? Does it play right into his hands?

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, time will tell. First of all, this is a family dispute. This is the Munster family? It's like a three-way civil war. Looks like Syria. You have the establishment going after both Cruz and Trump. Here's reality. The establishment actually likes some -- grudgingly likes Donald Trump's personality. They kind of admire his brashness. They just hate his ideas. He's got a goulash of ideas. They don't go together. They like Ted Cruz's ideas but they hate his personality. They hate the fact that Ted Cruz used their faces to springboard into national prominence. They have one guy that liked the ideas, hate the personality. Another guy they like the personality, hate the ideas. So, they're going after both of them full bore. We will see now whether or not the so-called establishment is anything but a paper tiger. I can't tell yet, but this is hardly a polite family discussion. This is a war. This is a full-out war.



SCHLAPP: Van, can I just say something, that might surprise you, Van? I really agree with what you're saying.


The Republican Party is a conservative party. Two-thirds of those who will vote in these primaries are conservatives and they're sending a very strong message. An outsider like a Donald Trump is perfectly acceptable to them. Someone who is a down the line orthodox conservative like Ted Cruz is perfectly acceptable to them. The old way we used to nominate people might have changed because Obama has taken this country to a place where conservatives are so worried.


BERMAN: You know, it's a very valid point. We he this discussion, van, we're having this discussion about both these guys getting attacked by these powerful forces. Both these guys are leading in the polls right now by a lot, in some cases, so there's clearly something about them, both of them, that voters like.

I want to get your reaction again to this "National Review" stuff and stuff in the "Washington Post." There's much out there it makes your hair hurt. Rudy Giuliani saying Robert Costa (ph) of the "Washington Post," if it came down to Trump or Cruz, "There's no question I would vote for Trump. As a party, we'd have a better chance of winning with him."

Van, Matt, what do you think?

[11:35:30] SCHLAPP: You know, that's -- I was asked to write for this "National Review" piece, and although I have a lot of great friends who decided to write for this edition, in the end I want to make sure whether it's Trump or Cruz or Carly Fiorina, governor Christie, whoever turns out to be our nominee, we have to understand it will be a binary choice. It will be them against Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton. That's a very important thing we have to get every vote we possibly can. What Rudy Giuliani is basically saying is that we really can't afford to take any voter for granted because our path to victory, we all know, is slim on -- conservatives all know that. We have to get every conceivable vote we can get.

JONES: Can I say something, though?

BOLDUAN: But, Van, I think it's time to turn to the Democrats. Let's talk about the Democrats.

JONES: Yeah. Yeah.



BOLDUAN: So, Van, last night, Wolf did a great interview with Hillary Clinton and asked her to answer to the attack coming at her from Bernie Sanders, which is that she is part of the Democratic establishment. This is what she told Wolf.


HILLARY CLINTON, (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE & FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: JONES: I just don't understand what that means. He's been in Congress. He's been elected to office a lot longer than I have. I was in the Senate for eight wonderful years representing New York. He's been in the Congress for 25. And so I'll let your viewers make their own judgment.



BOLDUAN: Van, is Hillary Clinton a member of the Democratic establishment?


JONES: Hillary Clinton is the Democratic Party establishment. And god bless her for it. I'll tell you what, I'm proud of this party. I'm proud of her leadership of it. But I think it smacks of a little desperation when you are -- when you and your husband basically represent this party here and around the world and pretend you're not the establishment.

Here's what's going on. The Clintons hoped this was kind of a campaign they could ignore and it turns out, this Sanders surge is real. He has tapped into something that has been hidden for a long time. There is massive, massive pain and discontent and frustration in the Democratic Party, with our establishment, just like there is in the Republican Party. What you're seeing now is the Clintons have to fight back. They may not understand. You've got a whole generation that has come up now hearing FOX News and others call President Obama, who's an economic moderate, a Socialist for eight years. And so --


SCHLAPP: Oh, come on.


JONES: -- the term Socialist no longer has any kind of stigma for a big part of the Democratic base. And I think they thought that that would be an easy stumbling block. It's not. She'll have to fight him heads up. This town hall meeting that is going to happen in three days is going to be Armageddon inside of this party. You watch, they are both going to come out. There will be no -- no gloves, no punches held. It will be a fight for the heart of this party.

SCHLAPP: If I could --

JONES: And it's going to be a real deal.


BERMAN: Matt, quickly?

SCHLAPP: Yeah, if I could. It's absurd to call Barack Obama a moderate in any sense. What's happening to the Democratic Party is Obama has taken the party so far to the left that the base of the Democratic Party, which are basically Socialists and collectivists, they are turning to Bernie Sanders because they say Obama did so much, let's do more. Hillary Clinton can't answer the question between what's the difference between a Socialist and Democratic. You know why? Increasingly, will is no difference. If we're the Munster family, you guys are the Addams Family.


BERMAN: Thank you for bringing us back to '70s TV.

BOLDUAN: Full circle.

Thanks guys.

BERMAN: Appreciate it, Van Jones, Matt Schlapp.

Van Jones with quite a plug there. Not sugar coating it. Armageddon.

BOLDUAN: I don't know if we need to plug the town hall anymore.

Thank you so much, Van.

Great to see you guys.

An additional programming note, Monday night in Iowa, one week before the Iowa caucuses, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Martin O'Malley will go face-to-face with the voters in that state, as Van Jones terms it, Armageddon.

BERMAN: Armageddon, sugarcoating it.

It's not going to be bad, it's just going to be Armageddon.

BOLDUAN: The CNN presidential town hall live from Des Moines. Chris Cuomo will be moderating. That's Monday, 9:00 p.m. eastern. BERMAN: Serious situation going on for millions of people.

Treacherous roads, canceled flights, empty store shelves, messy NFL weekend, too. This could get in the way of the playoffs.


BERMAN: We'll go live to Charlotte, North Carolina, site of the NFC championship game.

[11:39:41] BOLDUAN: Plus, as we've been discussing, the GOP cutting ties with the "National Review" for an upcoming debate in the wake of its anti-Donald Trump issue, even booting the conservative magazine from taking part in the upcoming debate. A top RNC official will be joining us to discuss.


BERMAN: The breaking news, a dangerous blizzard hitting the east coast. Washington, D.C., to New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore all in the crosshairs but the storm already hitting in the south.

BOLDUAN: North Carolina, parts of Tennessee expected to get at least 10 inches of snow.

Let's go live to CNN's Polo Sandoval, who is in Charlotte.

Quite a bit of snow, Polo. What does it look like now?

[11:44:28] POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kate, we have seen just about every kind of precipitation. Right now it really is freezing snow. There was a Carolina Panther pep rally that was scheduled to happen in this park at about noon. They were expecting about 5,000 people. Instead, you'll basically just find me and a couple kids making a snowman. That tent that was initially set up, sitting there, nobody making use of that.

So, this is clearly because officials want people to stay home. This is still a very dangerous situation. We heard from city officials and officials a little while ago who said really since this wave of winter weather began to sweep through the region, they've already responded. At least state troopers have responded to hundreds of accidents. Sadly, four people have been killed in traffic accidents. This is what authorities want to avoid. They're encouraging people, simply stay home.

I can tell you guys from my vantage point here in the heart of Charlotte, people seem to be heeding those warnings. The streets are relatively quiet. A few people have walked out. Officials say, fine do that, be careful because simply walking around can be treacherous enough. However, folks are not looking forward to Sunday, the big NFC championship game. That is something that is still scheduled. There is still -- in fact, the Panthers are practicing at this hour only a couple blocks from where I'm at. The Panthers are tweeting a couple pictures of them in action, despite the snow. So now everybody focusing on that and, of course, on staying indoors right now -- John and Kate? BOLDUAN: Absolutely.

Polo, thank you so much.

Sounds like someone is having fun behind you. Sounded like some kid was having fun.

Let's discuss this and what the states are looking at right now. Let's bring in Mike Charbonneau, the deputy secretary of communications for the North Carolina Department of Transportation.

Thank you for being with us.

Tell us, what is happening right now? Where are your biggest concerns? What's your biggest focus?

MIKE CHARBONNEAU, DEPUTY SECRETARY OF COMMUNICATIONS, NORTH CAROLINA DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION: Thanks, Kate. It's a very dangerous situation on many North Carolina roads today. We have a lot of ice and snow that's been coming down. We've had crews that have been out since Tuesday doing all the pre-operations, putting brine on the roads across the state to prevent the snow and ice sticking. We've had crews out all morning and night across the state to start putting salt down to break up and melt the ice and pushing it to clear. But the bottom line is, it's getting more treacherous by the hour here in the state of North Carolina. We have crews out in full force, but it will take a long time before the roads are safe for travel. While our crews are working hard, we're urging everyone to stay home and stay off the roads, especially since it seems like we're getting more ice than snow with this one.

BERMAN: Mike, quickly, what about the football game. NFC championship game on Sunday. How's that looking?

CHARBONNEAU: Well, we certainly want to get the roads clear and safe to travel before that big game. A big deal for the state. A lot of people in the state and outside of the state will be traveling there. We're working towards that. The biggest challenge we're facing right now, with having ice come down. Ice is much more dangerous and tough for us for several reasons. For one, it's harder to clear. We can't just push it off the road with plows. We have to melt it and take other steps. Secondly, it's harder to see. A lot of drivers get out there and they have a false sense of security. They don't see snow on the roads. So, there tend to be more accidents. It can get slick very quickly. With the ice still coming down, we worry about trees and power lines falling on the roadways which are more dangerous for our crews to handle as well as drivers. Working hard toward the big Sunday, but today and tomorrow, not good days to be out traveling.

BOLDUAN: Mike Charbonneau, thanks so much for your time. We appreciate it.


BERMAN: Coming up for us, the RNC whacks the "National Review." The conservative magazine comes out with its anti-Trump issue, so the RNC says, you know what, you are no longer hosting a crucial Republican debate. A top RNC official joins us next.


[11:52:20] BOLDUAN: The "National Review" dropped from next month's Republican presidential debate on CNN.

BERMAN: The Republican National Committee sent them home overnight after the magazine put out this blunt and brutal anti-Trump manifesto.

And joining us is Sean Spicer, chief strategist and communications director for the RNC.

Sean, thanks for being on with us.

Why did you whack the "National Review"?

SEAN SPICER, CHIEF STRATEGIST & COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: Well, we saw a piece coming out last night. It didn't take long to realize it would be highly inappropriate to have a debate partner or a moderator who would have stated predisposition, pro or con, on any individual candidate. So we immediately informed that we would no longer have them as a partner.

BOLDUAN: What did you think when you saw this, because you have been in Washington for a long time and around politics before a long time, and have you ever seen anything about this before?

SPICER: Well, what disappoints me -- and I have a lot of respect for "National Review" -- this is what disappoints me, that we found out that Hillary Clinton has more server e-mail problems, and she and Bernie Sanders are neck and neck, she's in meltdown mode because of a 74-year-old gadfly Socialist from Vermont is beating her, and yet a lot of folks on the conservative side are having a circular firing squad. And I wish that the same amount of energy and focus would be on Hillary Clinton's record and what direction she takes this country in, or being for more other candidate. If the guys don't necessarily want one candidate, then direct their attention to the candidates they would like or would like to have and why they like them, but going after each other is not helpful in the long run for the party.

BERMAN: You say in you are disappointed in the "national view" and these folks for coming out against Donald Trump.

SPICER: Well, I want to see the same energy focused on Hillary Clinton in what should be one of the worst weeks that she has had in the terms of the disclosure of e-mails and the campaign meltdown that we are in, I would have liked to have seen these same forceful individuals hammering down on her, and the other folks in the field as opposed to attacking one of our own.

BOLDUAN: The "National Review" posted this overnight, "We expected this to be coming, a small price to pay for speaking the truth about Donald Trump." "National Review" has been dropped. NBC has been dropped. I am not trying to be cute here, but are you running out of people to have debates with?

SPICER: I think CNN has done a phenomenal job. FOX has done a great job.


BOLDUAN: We will take all of them.

SPICER: I know you will.


But we are in a business of making each candidate has a level playing field to articulate their visions and solutions for American. We cannot have people involved in the debate process that have come out for or against any candidate, and so we will continue to have all of the debates to be done in a way that put the candidates in the best position possible, and having somebody as a partner who has decided to forcefully come out against someone or for somebody in that matter is highly in appropriate.

[11:55:26] BERMAN: And you said that you don't want people to come out against one of their own, and do you consider Donald Trump one of your own?

SPICER: Of course. He is a Republican and on the ballot in all of the state, and of course, he is one of our own.

BOLDUAN: What is coming next? What is coming next, Sean? I mean, this is not going to end, and this is a civil war within the Republican Party and the national are review coming out against Donald Trump, and the likes of a lot of Republicans on Capitol Hill coming out against Cruz, but these two are the front runners.

SPICER: Great, OK. I mean, look, I don't think that it is a bad thing necessarily, and I would rather have us focused on the energy of attacking Hillary Clinton, but that that being said, politics is a contact sport, and that is how these people get out and describe who they are for or against someone, but it isn't like that it is that crazy. In 2008, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton went after each other until June, and it turned out fine.

BERMAN: Sean Spicer --

SPICER: And this idea of a say civil war is a little over exaggerated.

BERMAN: Sean Spicer, thank you very much for being with us.

Go, Patriots.

SPICER: That's right.

BOLDUAN: And Kate is not the over-exaggerator.

Thank you, Sean.

BERMAN: Coming up, more on our breaking news, the nation's capitol in the bull's eye of a monster storm. A new forecast is coming out soon. (CROSSTALK)

[12:00:06] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

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

Our breaking news right now, Congress --