Return to Transcripts main page
THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
Interview with Senator Mike Lee of Utah; Pope Wants More Acceptance for Gay Divorced Catholics; How Do Candidates Plan To Fix $19 Trillion Debt?; A First Lady Unaccustomed To Playing Second. Aired 4:30-5p ET
Aired April 8, 2016 - 16:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
GOV. JOHN KASICH (R-OH), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We're not winning? We're winning on about everything.
[16:30:01] We are still the strongest country by far in the entire world and people ought to stop whining about America. That's playing to people's fears.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Now, as for Cruz, in addition to courting some big donors here in Las Vegas, he will address a Jewish group run by mega donor and casino tycoon Sheldon Adelson tomorrow.
Trump, he tweeted he is in the office today running his company but gets back on the campaign trail on Sunday in Rochester, New York, and probably not a moment too soon. He needs to get back out there and start going after those delegates himself -- Jake.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Jim Acosta, thank you so much.
And joining me now is Senator Mike Lee of Utah. He has endorsed Senator Ted Cruz.
Senator, thanks for joining us.
SEN. MIKE LEE (R), UTAH: Thank you.
TAPPER: So, Senator, I want you to take a listen to what New York's most prominent current Republican office holder, Congressman Peter king, said on the Joe Piscopo show this week.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
REP. PETER KING (R), NEW YORK: Any New Yorker who even thinks of voting for Ted Cruz should have their head examined.
Here's a guy -- really, here's a guy who refused to sign on to the 9/11 health care act for the cops and firemen. Here's a guy who talks about New York values.
I hope he gets the cold shoulder and other things from every New Yorker. Send him back where he belongs. He's a phony. I just can't stand that guy.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
TAPPER: Wow. Your response, Senator.
LEE: Yes, apparently, he's not a fan. Look, this is someone who doesn't know Ted Cruz like I do. Ted Cruz is a friend of mine, he is a colleague and he's someone I have a lot of respect for.
He's also someone who's gaining a lot of attention, getting a lot of votes all around the country. So I look forward to the success that he's going to continue to have in this presidential election cycle.
TAPPER: But why should New York Republicans, I guess is the question, take your word for it over that of their fellow New York Republican Congressman King?
LEE: Well, look, I'm not going to tell them not to listen to their congressman. But what I will tell them is what I believe, which is that Ted Cruz understands that people in Washington, D.C., have been getting richer and more powerful every year for many, many years now. This is inured to the benefit of the political class in Washington but it's inured to the detriment of people throughout America. It's hurt the poor and middle class throughout this country.
He wants to restore constitutional protection that have been put in place to protect the poor and middle class and that can be restored and with it, we can benefit the poor and middle class.
TAPPER: Senator, in retrospect was it worth it for Senator Cruz to go after Donald Trump for having, quote, "New York values"? Does Senator Cruz wish he had not said that?
LEE: I don't know what he wishes he had or hadn't said. My reading of that statement was simply that he was point out what I think is a fairly unremarkable proposition, which is that New York City aligns differently from a political standpoint with a lot of other places throughout the country. I think he might have been in Iowa when he said that and I don't think it's any secret, any mystery that people in Iowa are a little bit more conservative, politically speaking, than they are in New York City.
I don't think it's any secret that Mayor de Blasio in New York leans a little further to the left than people in other parts of the country.
TAPPER: The race is basically down to Trump versus Cruz. And many Republicans have said they don't want Trump to be the nominee, but I have to say there is such an ambivalence about Cruz among your colleagues.
After Senator Risch said that he hoped Cruz would win the presidential nomination, Wolf Blitzer noted that Risch was only the third senator to endorse Cruz, joining you and Lindsey Graham.
And listen to what came next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JIM RISCH (R), IDAHO: Did I just endorse, Wolf?
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: I don't know. You sort of said you prefer him over the other --
RISCH: I do.
BLITZER: That sounds like an endorsement, doesn't it?
RISCH: I guess it depends on your definition.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: I guess? What's the problem here? Shouldn't Republican senators be rallying around Cruz if they have such a disdain for Trump?
LEE: I think they should. And I hope and frankly I expect that they will. This will happen.
Look, it's important to remember that not every Republican senator decides to endorse in a presidential primary within the Republican Party. In fact, most have chosen not to get in up to this point.
Now, Senator Risch is one of those who had previously endorsed, but he had endorsed Senator Rubio who is now out of the race. A lot of those who have previously endorsed like Senator Risch have understandably decided, you know, maybe I'll wait it out for a while. I picked someone else earlier in this race and that person didn't last, and so, maybe I'll stay out for now.
TAPPER: Republican strategist Paul Manafort, who's Donald Trump's convention manager, he said Senator Cruz is not winning enough big states and Trump will wrap up the nomination in June before the convention.
LEE: That's not at all clear to me. In fact quite to the contrary, I think the momentum is with Senator Cruz and I think it's also important to remember that throughout the country, New York possibly being an exception, Donald Trump usually tops out somewhere around, 30 percent, 35 percent, 40 percent of the vote.
[16:35:05] In my home state of Utah, he topped out at 14 percent of the vote in our presidential contest in Utah. And so, you know, most of the people who are voting in most of these contests throughout the country are supporting someone other than Trump. And most of those who are not supporting Trump are pretty strongly against him.
I think that coupled with the delegate recruitment effort of the Cruz campaign and the momentum they're picking up gives the advantage to Senator Cruz.
TAPPER: All right. Senator Mike Lee, always good to have you on. Thank you so much.
LEE: Thank you.
TAPPER: And be sure to tune into CNN on Tuesday for a special town hall with Donald Trump and his family. It all starts at 9:00 p.m. Eastern, only on CNN.
Pope Francis going where few pontiffs have gone. He says the Catholic Church should be more welcoming when it comes to divorce. But is this really the big change some are touting it as? That's next.
[16:40:17] TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.
He is the pope who has captivated much of the world by reaching out for hands instead of slapping wrists. Today, Pope Francis continued to add some substance to his ground-breaking style by urging more understanding for the realities of modern family life, including divorced and remarried Catholics, gay and lesbian couples and women trapped in abusive relationships -- though the pope still closed the door on same-sex marriage.
I'm joined now by Father Timothy Kesicki, president of the Jesuit Conference, as you viewers may know, Pope Francis is a Jesuit.
Father, every time we do a story on the pope, there always seems to be a discrepancy between what the pope actually said and what a bunch of secular reporters hoped he had said. Break this down for us: what exactly did he stay today? How groundbreaking was it?
FATHER TIMOTHY KESICKI, S.J., PRESIDENT, JESUIT CONFERENCE: Well, many of us, Jake, have had the experience of boarding an airplane where all the premium customers are lined up and eager to get on the plane and the airline suddenly says we give priority now to those with special needs, those with children in strollers, et cetera. And I almost take that image and picture the pope at the doors of the church telling all the regular faithful stand back, I want those in irregular situations, those in perhaps failed marriages or those who feel they have been excluded from the church to come in first, to know that they're loved.
So, it's a clear pastoral invitation consistent with the preaching of Pope Francis.
TAPPER: And what stands out to you most in this document itself.
KESICKI: Well, it's nine chapters, it's 200 pages, so I'm going to give my first impressions. In the eighth chapter, he's giving advice to priests. And in reading it, one of the clear things is he says don't use moral teaching to throw stones at people. You really need to invite them in in a loving way.
And then he makes a very bold statement when he quotes himself. He wrote an apostolic exhortation paper in 2013 and he says, perhaps someone who is in a difficult situation and makes small steps is more pleasing to God than someone who has his whole life in order and does nothing to advance himself or does nothing to face difficult decisions. So, he's almost saying God loves the sinner are estranged person more.
TAPPER: Interesting. A few years ago the pope, we all remember, made some waves worldwide by saying, "Who am I to judge" when it comes to Catholics who happen to be gay or lesbian. Previous popes have called being gay a disorder. Is this attitude you think likely to trickle down? Is the church evolving in terms of its attitudes as quickly as the pope is calling for?
KESICKI: Well, as you note, he has two paragraphs in the apostolic exhortation where he says the church should be loving and accepting of gays and lesbians, and then goes on to say he doesn't see the sacrament of matrimony extended or open to gays and lesbians. But he doesn't write that much about it. There's only two paragraphs.
He's really looking at all the people in the church throughout the world who somehow feel estranged and he wants them to feel welcome and loved.
TAPPER: Father Timothy Kesicki, thank you so much. Appreciate it as always.
It's enough $1 bills laid side to side to reach from here to the Planet Uranus. So, what would the 2016 candidates do to fix our mind- blowing debt? That's next.
Plus, it's Flashback Friday. The headbands, the hair styles, the pant suits, they have all changed, but some perceptions of Hillary Clinton -- well, they have not.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In 3, 2, 1, engine ignition. Liftoff of the falcon 9 rocket for science today and deep exploration tomorrow.
TAPPER: Just in, liftoff on THE LEAD. The company, SpaceX, sending another rocket to the International Space Station from its base in Cape Canaveral, Florida. This one carrying an inflatable space house, one that NASA thinks could one day easily be transported and used by astronauts on Mars.
In the words of campaign strategist, James Carville, it is the economy, stupid, so just what would today's candidates do to fix the country's $19 trillion debt? We took a closer look at their ideas in our weekly segment, "America's Debt and The Economy."
TAPPER (voice-over): This week, Donald Trump made a rather dumbfounding declaration that he would pay off America's $19 trillion debt in just eight years. A goal almost every expert says is impossible.
BEN STEIN, ECONOMIST/ACTOR: He might as well say he's going to flap his wings and fly.
TAPPER: Even if one could pay it off that fast, it could be harmful.
MAYA MACGUINESS, PRESIDENT, COMMITTEE FOR A RESPONSIVE FEDERAL BUDGET: You'd no longer have a treasury market and you would probably very greatly weaken the economy.
TAPPER: Trump's plan may not have hit a bull's-eye, but it did aim at a crucial issue rarely addressed on the campaign trail, the debt.
MACGUINESS: It involves things that politicians don't like to talk about. You end up hearing fairy tale promises. It's like Alice in Wonderland budgeting.
TAPPER: Bernie Sanders has no qualms about who he thinks should foot the bill in paying off the debt.
BERNIE SANDERS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The top 1/10th of 1 percent now owns almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent.
TAPPER: Sanders campaign tells CNN, quote, "Republican trickledown tax policies are a major reason we have the debt that we do." The campaign says the wealthy should pay their fair share and while we are at it, quote, "We need to limit unnecessary and costly foreign wars."
[16:50:01]HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I will pay for everything that I am putting forth. We've got to be physically responsible.
TAPPER: Hillary Clinton says she is proposing ways to pay for $100 billion in new spending. But even without adding any new spending new programs, the interest on the current tab costs hundreds of billions of dollars each year.
MACGUINESS: We are going to have to raise taxes, cut spending, reform entitlements and grow the economy. But really, what politicians like to talk about is cutting taxes and increasing spending.
TAPPER: Senator Ted Cruz says he can save the country $500 billion over a decade. How? In part he says by cutting, quote, "unconstitutional government agencies."
SENATOR TED CRUZ (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We are going to reign in the EPA and the alphabet soup of federal agencies.
TAPPER: As Senator Cruz has been vocal about balancing the budget but as a crowd-pleasing candidate, he has proposed billions in new spending.
Donald Trump's promise to eliminate the national debt is, according to the Kasich campaign, just another example of how he is not prepared to be president. Former Congressman Kasich says he is the only contender with a balanced federal budget under his belt.
JOHN KASICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I finally got us to a balanced budget four years a row, paid down half a trillion dollars of the national debt.
TAPPER: But he has given no detailed plans for how he hopes to repeat the feat. The specifics have not been forthcoming and the debt continues to grow even as the race narrows.
TAPPER: When Hillary Clinton was first lady she had stumbles in the press. We will take a look at how those stumbles are influencing her presidential campaign, even 20 plus years later as we come back.
TAPPER: Welcome back THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. Let's revisit our Politics Lead, interrupted by Black Lives Matter protesters, former President Bill Clinton went on something of a tear yesterday in Philadelphia, defending the world as he saw it in 1994 when he signed a crime bill in to law.
One that many now fault for the over incarceration of African- Americans. As it would happen, the next episode of CNN's "Race For The White House" Sunday night winds through Bill Clinton's wild ride to the White House and reminds us of Hillary Clinton's first step on the national stage.
It's been 16 years since she last occupied the White House as first lady. Tom Foreman is in Washington. Tom, Clinton really changed the rulebook for first ladies.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: She opened the door for a lot of first ladies to do a lot of different things, but it was a bumpy ride -- Jake.
FORMER PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON: And that is why today, I proudly announce my candidacy for president of the United States of America.
FOREMAN (voice-over): Bill Clinton's first presidential campaign barely had begun when white hot rumors of an affair erupted. And aside from the candidate, no one felt the heat more than his wife. For many Americans this was Hillary Clinton's first big moment, just 44 years old, on "60 Minutes."
HILLARY CLINTON: You know, I'm not sitting as some little woman standing by my man like many Tammy Winett.
FOREMAN: An avalanche of complaints came from Winett and legions of voters who felt she was insulting traditional marriage then it happened again just months later.
HILLARY CLINTON: I suppose I could have stayed home and bake cookies and (inaudible), but what I decided to is to fulfill my profession, which I entered before my husband with a public life. PATTI SOLIS DOYLE, FORMER HILLARY CLINTON STAFFER: As soon as it came out of her mouth, we knew, she just offended half of the women in the country.
FOREMAN: Even staffers from back then like Patti Solis Doyle say it was a rough start.
DOYLE: I think it's really important for people to understand that this was the first time that she was under the glare of the media. Ever. You know, and that is hard for anybody.
FOREMAN: Perhaps it should have been no surprise. Hillary Clinton played an active role in her husband's bid to unseat the first President Bush. And she wanted a say in White House policy.
But after the win, that spurred scrutiny uncommon for a president's spouse over her ties to the legal profession, a real estate deal even the suicide of a family friend.
HILLARY CLINTON: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
FOREMAN: And when she took the lead on healthcare reform a firestorm followed.
HILLARY CLINTON: I have seen firsthand the strengths of our healthcare system.
DOYLE: No other first lady had done it before, but the amount of vitriol towards her did surprise me. It was visceral. The reaction was visceral.
FOREMAN: The initiative failed, but the lightning rod stayed and first impressions forged in the long-ago race is still making friends and enemies for Hillary Clinton.
FOREMAN: And to this day, Jake, as you know, there are plenty people who knew her then and now, some of which remain great, great fans and others who do not care for her campaign at all -- Jake.
TAPPER: Tom Foreman, thanks. Sunday night, at 9:00 Eastern and Pacific, the comeback kid takes on the incumbent on the next episode of "Race for the White House, Clinton V Bush."
Be sure to tune in to "STATE OF THE UNION" this Sunday at 9 a.m. Eastern. My guests will be Democratic presidential candidates, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.
That's it for THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. I turn you over to Wolf Blitzer. He is in "THE SITUATION ROOM." Thanks for watching. Have a great weekend.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, terror captured two of the world's most wanted, they are now in custody suspected in the involvement in both of terrorist and Brussels massacre. Could one of them be the so-called man in the hat caught on surveillance video before and after the --