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Debt Ceiling Hike Vote Possible; Interview with Reps. Wasserman Schultz & Wagner; Susan Collins Comments on Negotiations; Market Reaction to Latest Shutdown Talks; Starbucks Petition to End Government Stalemate

Aired October 11, 2013 - 13:30   ET

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


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back.

We're watching whether or not there's a deal or no deal as far as the government shutdown is concerned, as far as raising the nation's debt ceiling is concerned. The president has literally just wrapped up a lengthy meeting with all the Senate Republicans. They were seen leaving the north portico of the White House to go up to Capitol Hill only a few moments ago. We're expecting to speak live with one of those Republican senators, Roy Blunt of Missouri. Hopefully he'll join us in the next few minutes, give us his readout on what happened inside that closed door meeting with the president.

We're also waiting to hear from Jay Carney, the White House press secretary. He's getting ready for his daily briefing. His Q&A with reporters there in the White House. Once he walks to the microphone there, we'll have live coverage of that.

This is clearly a critical day. Gloria Borger is still here.

Gloria, Dana was reporting earlier that the Republicans in the House, and that's the key - the key issue right now, the House of Representatives. The Senate, I think, they're going to go along with what the House decides, Senate Republicans, and there's a Democratic majority in the Senate. So the real - the real issue about - is John Boehner, the House Republicans, will they put something up for a vote. Apparently they're going to put something up for a vote, maybe as early as today, to raise for six weeks the nation's debt ceiling, but not immediately deal with the government shutdown. How's that going to play?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it's not going to play well because the president, A, wants to deal with the government shutdown. He said, B, no negotiations on anything until you deal with the government shutdown. We don't know what strings might be attached. There's all kinds of reporting out there but we haven't seen an actual list of strings that might be attached. And the president has said he doesn't -- he doesn't want any. So this is far from being resolved, Wolf. I do believe, as we were talking about before, the Republicans are looking for some kind of a fig leaf as a way to get out of this because those poll numbers are scaring them. They know this has been a bad political move for them. And suddenly, of course, we're not much talking about Obamacare anymore, which is what got them into this in the first place. BLITZER: You think they're really beginning to feel the heat? I know Senate Republicans are feeling the heat and many House Republicans but I'm not so sure that the core sort of pro-Ted Cruz Tea Party element of the House Republicans that they're really feeling it. They think that they're scoring points.

BORGER: They're fine. They're fine. I don't think we can talk about "the" Republican Party anymore because there are so many different groups within the Republican Party, it's so disparate that there's not one way to talk about it.

So if you take the 30 to 40 member of what I call the hell-no caucus, they're doing fine back in their districts. This isn't going to bother them. But those Republicans who are actually in seats in which they could have races, this could be a problem for them.

One interesting thing in that poll last night that I looked at, which kind of made my eyes each a little wide, is the generic number. You ask people, if the election were held today, would you vote for Democrats to be in control or Republicans to be in control of the Congress. And the numbers that are saying they wanted Democrats to be in control was up nine points. That's double, Wolf, from what it was over the summer. So that's a very big jump. And that tends to focus the mind.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: This latest "Wall Street Journal"/NBC poll shows that Republicans may be even taking a bigger hit now than they took in '95- '96 when Newt Gingrich --

BORGER: Yes.

BLITZER: -- was speaker and they had the government shutdown at that time.

All right, so that's putting a lot of pressure, as you report, on these Republicans to make a deal. Let's see if they do.

All right. Stand by.

We're going to take a quick break. When we come back, two members of Congress, Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the chair of the DNC; Republican Congressman Ann Wagner of Missouri. We're going to get their reaction to all of these late-breaking developments. Stand by for that.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: This could be a critical day. I keep saying that. This could be a critical day, potential turning point in the standoff over the government shutdown, the nation's debt ceiling. You're looking at live pictures from inside the White House briefing room right now. Anticipating Jay Carney will come out and brief reporters, take their questions on what the president discussed with the Republican Senators who just left the White House only a few minutes ago. We'll have live coverage of Carney's briefing. That's coming up.

Positive conversations though are taking place. We are told that emerged from yesterday's meeting between the president and the Republican leadership in the House of Representatives.

Let's discuss what's going on with two key members of the House. The Florida congresswoman, the chair of the Democratic National Committee, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, is joining us. Also Ann Wagner, Republican Congresswoman from Missouri, is joining us right now as well.

To both of you, thanks very much.

I'll ask you the question, Congresswoman Wagner, first. Do you see a deal emerging as early as today?

REP. ANN WAGNER, (R), MISSOURI: I hope so. We met with the president. I was one of 18 at the table last night with the president, the vice president, and the secretary of the treasury, Lew, and our leadership. And we talked about immediately beginning negotiations that evening, and they did. They began and we're hopeful that we're going to get somewhere on a temporary debt ceiling lifting so we can actually tackle the big issues, issues like entitlement reform, tax reform, some of the drivers of growth in our economy, and also and most importantly get this government shutdown finished and get our government and others back to work.

BLITZER: I'll bring Debbie Wasserman Schultz in in a second. Would this go beyond raising the nation's debt ceiling for a short period of time, six weeks, would it also immediately reopen the government?

WAGNER: Well, we'll see. Nothing is on or off the table. We had a very useful and open and frank conversation with the president. We were pleased that finally we could get to the negotiating table. It took an hour and a half last night but we actually had a good useful conversation, one that brought clarity and I think jump-started the discussions that went in through the night and into the weekend, if necessary. But the sooner the better is what the American people want. They want solutions. They want us to work together and they want us to reopen this government and take care of the big issues out there.

BLITZER: They certainly do.

All right, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, that sounds encouraging. There's a separate piece of legislation that comes up today or tomorrow to extend the nation's debt ceiling, let's say, for six weeks. Doesn't immediately deal with the government shutdown but it does take care of the debt ceiling. Would you vote in favor of it?

REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ, (D), FLORIDA & CHAIR, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE: I'm hopeful we will be able to reach an agreement that reopens the government and make sure we pass a clean continuing spending resolution and make sure we're paying our nation's bills. You know, my view and the view of most Americans is that we need to make sure we're paying our bills far beyond the next six weeks. But it is absolutely critical that we continue to work together, that we work towards a resolution. And I'm glad to hear what Ann is saying and some other Republicans are saying. But we should be clear that the negotiations that will take place should take place not in the midst or tied to the reopening of the government or whether we pay our bills. And so that's going to be the important -- the important and critical thing here.

BLITZER: Because that's the position the president has been taking, Congresswoman Wagner. You know what, all of these issues, including health care, Obamacare, everything can be discussed, but first pass a resolution to let -- to end the government shutdown, pass a resolution, a separate piece of legislation to extend the nation's debt ceiling, then everything can be -- Senate conferees, you can get together and talk about everything and try to come up with entitlement reform, tax reform, spending cuts, whatever you want. Is that acceptable?

WAGNER: That's what we talked about last night. And I think our sense is that everything is on the table. And the president felt the same way also. He even put issues dealing with the Affordable Care Act and Obamacare on the table as open for discussion. So, you know, we're pleased at the direction we're moving. It's a direction we should have gotten to sooner, to be honest. It's a disservice to the American people when we don't come together and get these jobs done. Crisis-by-crisis management is not productive.

And the most important thing we have to protect is the full faith of credit of the United States of America and make sure that our debt ceiling is lifted while we negotiate the bigger things here and get to a permanent solution, to tackle the big things that will jump-start this economy. I think there are areas of great commonality. And I agree with Debbie and I appreciate her support.

Debbie, there were at least six women at the table last night with the president.

(CROSSTALK)

WAGNER: I think that's why we may have gotten things done.

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: And there's hope.

(LAUGHTER)

BLITZER: A lot of people think that, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, if the women were running this negotiation right now, it would have been resolved a long time ago. How do you feel about what we just heard from Congressman Wagner, get more women involved in this process and maybe you can make a deal?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: No question, the women of the House and the Republicans and Democrats, we talk all the time, you know, privately, on the floor, about how if you just put us in a room, women are such consensus builders and are so committed to make sure we get to yes and are not quite as focused on the winners and losers-aspect of negotiation that it's -- it warms my heart that there were a bunch of women in the room with the president and vice president last night. But at the end of the day, we've got to make sure -- Ann and I are in total agreement -- we can't jeopardize the full faith and credit of the United States. We've got to pay our bills and reopen the government. Both have to happen at the same time. We have to make sure -- and the president always said, as we identify problems that arise with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, of course, we should work together to sort those out and make changes as they come up. But we can't continue to keep the government shut and jeopardize whether we're going to pay our bills and tie those issues one to the other. That's what is going to shake the economy and really put us on firm ground.

BLITZER: So one final question, Congresswoman Wagner. Is there going to be a vote on the House floor today to raise the nation's debt ceiling?

WAGNER: We'll see. We'll see. I'm not sure if it will happen today or tomorrow but the negotiating teams are fast at work. I just passed by one of the rooms where I know they're huddled together. So progress is happening. We're moving forward. We're finally talking. And I hope we're going to have a resolution as quickly as possible.

BLITZER: All of us do indeed. And I suspect if the two of you were in charge, there probably would have been a deal and --

(LAUGHTER)

-- maybe there wouldn't have been a government shutdown --

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Let's go make it happen.

(LAUGHTER)

BLITZER: -- on any of these issues a while ago. But maybe that's overly optimistic.

Thanks so much for both of you for coming in.

Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, your book is coming out soon I hear? Is that correct?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Yes, next.

BLITZER: When is it coming out?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: It's coming out on Tuesday --

BLITZER: Next Tuesday?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: -- and it's called "For the Next Generation."

BLITZER: What's it about?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: It's about these very issues, how we make sure that we make the tough decisions and come together, stop the gridlock and work together to make sure that we can change the dynamic for our kids on so many issues, education and health care and the environment and the economy.

BLITZER: What about you, Congresswoman Wagner, any books coming out?

(LAUGHTER)

WAGNER: No, I just want -- I want the first autographed copy, all right, Debbie?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: No problem. You got it.

(LAUGHTER)

BLITZER: I'll look forward to that.

(CROSSTALK)

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Thank you.

BLITZER: All right, guys, thanks very much for coming.

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Thanks.

WAGNER: Thanks.

BLITZER: We're standing by. Jay Carney, the White House press secretary, is getting ready to brief reporters. We're told some of those reporters are getting ready to be seated fairly seen. We'll see if there is a two-minute warning soon.

Hopefully, we'll also speak to one of those Republican Senators, Roy Blunt from Missouri, and get his take from what happened during that nearly two-hour meeting that these Republican Senators just had with the president.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Senator Susan Collins was among the Republican Senators who just wrapped up an hour and a half, nearly two-hour meeting with President Obama at the White House on the government shutdown, raising the nation's debt ceiling. She just spoke to reporters as soon as she got back to Capitol Hill. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS, (R), MAINE: And also make sure that there's income verification for the Obamacare insurance exchanges to prevent fraud. The president listened carefully. He said that some of the elements were issues but he certainly did not endorse them. There were many conversations on the long-term debt problem. Many members expressed concern about raising the debt limit without naming a specific plan to deal with our $17 trillion national debt. It was a good exchange, but it was an inconclusive exchange.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: You have been here long enough and you certainly have been involved in many of these over the years. Do you feel like something is moving here? Is this the beginning of something, perhaps?

COLLINS: I believe it is. After all, the president initially said that he would not negotiate. Now he has sent somewhat conflicting signals about what length of a debt ceiling increase he would accept and what might be attached to it or what might not be, but at least he's talking to members of Congress from both sides of the aisle. He may not want to call it a negotiation. That's what I could call it. And I do view that as progress. What had been so unfortunate since government closed down was that there were so few conversations of this type. We really need to get government reopened. It's having dire consequences. They get worse with each passing day. And we cannot ignore the looming prospect of the United States not being able to pay its bills. On the other hand, we also can't ignore the fact that we have a $17 trillion national debt.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Was your discussion on what the House had called for during the meeting with the president and what the prospects of that are?

COLLINS: Since I was not in the meeting with the House members, I really don't think I should comment upon that.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: You indicate that you would be willing to sign some --

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: All right. Susan Collins, the Republican Senator from Maine, just emerging from that lengthy meeting with other Republican Senators and President Obama. Just coming back to the Hill, saying it was a pretty good meeting she thought but inconclusive. Her word, inconclusive. More negotiations, more discussions clearly needed. She is encouraged though that negotiations -- her word, negotiations -- are under way. She says the president doesn't want to call it negotiations but she's willing to call it negotiations. She has her own plan that she's put out there to extend the debt ceil for six months.

All right, we're standing by. We'll get more reaction from the White House. We'll hear from some of those other Republican Senators who were inside that meeting.

Much more of our special coverage right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: So let's see how the market is reacting to the latest developments in Washington as far as the government shutdown is concerned.

Alison Kosik is monitoring the latest numbers.

Inconclusive, we just heard from Senator Susan Collins. That's not necessarily a word that the investors would like to hear. ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: No, but it looks like investors are staying positive. We're seeing that positive momentum continuing from yesterday's rally of more than 300 points on the Dow. That momentum continuing with the Dow up another 86 points. Here, you put it all together, that's more than 400 points in two days. You know, one trader putting it to me this way. He's saying the proof is in the pudding with the debt ceiling deal. These games we're seeing, they can very quickly turn into losses if a deal isn't done, if a deal isn't signed. And there are plenty who are skeptical. Look at volume right now, the number of investors who are actually buying in, there aren't many people on the market because investors are uncertain about what Washington is really going to do, so they're staying on the sidelines, staying away. Other signs of nervousness, too. You look on Main Street, confidence plunged this past week. A Gallup poll shows confidence dropped by the biggest amount since Lehman collapsed in 20008. Then you look at the numbers. The proof is in the numbers. I'm talking about short-term bonds. Fidelity money market mutual bonds, they sold their short-term treasury bonds. Those bonds are due in October, early November. JPMorgan reportedly doing the same, selling the short- term bonds because there's a lot of worry out there that the government may not be able to pay them. However, many economists do say they believe a default is unlikely. And as I said, at the moment, Wall Street is optimistic, keeping the Dow in positive territory, up 87 points -- Wolf?

BLITZER: Let's see if it stays that way.

Thanks very much, Alison Kosik.

Starbucks once again diving into a hot-button issue. This time, starting a petition urging lawmakers here in Washington to get their act together, end the stalemate. You'll hear from the CEO of Starbucks, Howard Schultz. He's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: So grab a cup of coffee and make your voice heard in Washington. You can do both at Starbucks this weekend. CEO Howard Schultz is starting a petition to urge lawmakers to figure it out, reopen the government, and reach a budget deal.

He spoke with our Poppy Harlow.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

POPPY HARLOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What do you think the consequences are if we do not reach a long-term debt ceiling deal? What does that mean?

HOWARD SCHULTZ, CEO, STARBUCKS: Well, the consequences are dire. Our standing in the world, the fracturing of consumer confidence, the psyche of the American people, small and large businesses across the country will be significantly affected. No one will be immune.

And what's so perverse is this is not something that has been invented. This is something that is self-induced. This is something that is just political. We have to bury the hatchet in terms of our political differences, have civil discourse, and let people get in a room and commit to themselves they're not going to leave the room until they solve the problem for the American people.

HARLOW: If a short-term debt ceiling deal is reached and the president signs it, does that really do anything to move the needle on clarity for business to make big moves, big investments, and frankly, confidence for the American public? Does that accomplish anything?

SCHULTZ: All this noise about a short-term deal, I think, for me, it's really fool's gold. It will not accomplish anything over the long-term. And any confidence that is provided into the American economy and to the American consumer and our standing in the world will just come right back and be fractured again.

HARLOW: Back to some comments you made in November 2012, right around the election, and you supported the president. And you said, "What I wanted from the president was an ability to work closely with Republicans in Congress to be able to get things done." Do you think he is doing that right now?

SCHULTZ: I think there's enough blame, Poppy, to go around on both sides. I'm not here to place blame. I'm here for a solution. And I'm trying to leverage the Starbucks platform on behalf of the American people to extend their voices to Washington, to Congress, to Speaker Boehner and the president of the United States and say listen to the people. They deserve better than this. Please solve their problems in terms of reaching a long-term deal, and do not, do not default on our debt.

HARLOW: Are you disappointed in the president that you have supported?

SCHULTZ: I'm disappointed in the leadership in Washington across the board, as is the entire country.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Howard Schultz with Poppy Harlow.

That's it for me. Thanks for watching.

NEWSROOM continues right now with Don Lemon.