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CROSSFIRE

Official: Spy Plane Snarled Air Traffic; A Republican 'Wave' in 2014?; Does Clinton Need Primaries?

Aired May 5, 2014 - 18:30   ET

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


NEWT GINGRICH, CO-HOST: Wolf, even with today's strong new poll numbers, I think it's too early for Republicans to start relaxing about this fall.

VAN JONES, CO-HOST: You got that -- you got that right. You just ask President Romney about that. The debate's going to start right now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: Tonight on CROSSFIRE, as a Republican wave heads for Washington in 2014, President Obama stirs trouble for 2016.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Hillary had to dodge a flying shoe at a press conference.

ANNOUNCER: On the left, Van Jones. On the right, Newt Gingrich. In the CROSSFIRE, Ted Strickland, a one-time Democratic governor of Ohio. And former Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum, the author of "Blue Collar Conservatives." How much trouble is ahead for Democrats? Are Republicans their own worst enemy? Tonight, on CROSSFIRE.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GINGRICH: Welcome to CROSSFIRE. I'm Newt Gingrich on the right.

JONES: And I'm Van Jones on the left.

In CROSSFIRE tonight we've got two big voices for each party. Now, look, the Republicans are just drooling over today's brand-new poll numbers. They include some of these numbers that just got released by CNN.

The GOP looks like it's edging out Democrats on a generic ballot, about 46 to 45 percent. Scary remembrances of 2010.

And now the president's approval rating remains stubbornly stuck at 43 percent. Now, everybody is sitting there thinking, though, that 2014 is going to be a simple replay of 2010 needs to remember one thing. We're Democrats, and we remember 2010, too. We've learned our lessons, and let me just say, we've made a few adjustments.

So, Republicans may have big momentum. The Koch brothers may have given them big money, but we've got a big base and we know how to use big data to find and deliver our vote. We just elected a Democratic governor in Virginia. Don't forget about that. So don't count your chickens or your House and Senate seats too early, Newt.

GINGRICH: Well, I would say you also have big fantasies and big hopes for things that ain't going to happen. We're going to get to that in just a minute.

In the CROSSFIRE tonight, Democratic former governor Ted Strickland, former governor of Ohio and someone I served with, and Republican Rick Santorum, former senator from Pennsylvania, who ran for president in 2012, who I also served with. He's just published a new book called "Blue Collar Conservatives."

Ted, let me start with you, because I think it's, you know, in a sense, you came into office in 2006 as governor on George Bush's tidal wave collapse, and then in 2010 you had this huge mountain of tidal wave as Obama collapsed. You've seen these waves get started.

My sense is that reality is beginning to overwhelm rhetoric and that the Democrats do, in fact, have a challenge in the next five months. I'm curious from your perspective, you know, what's your reaction to the wave you see beginning to build?

TED STRICKLAND, FORMER GOVERNOR OF OHIO: Well, I agree with you, Newt. The Republicans should not celebrate too soon, because things can change politically very, very rapidly, and my prediction is that over the next five to six months, that the polls will go up and down, and this race, these races have yet to be decided. I don't concede anything to the Republicans. Even control of the United States Senate.

Now, winning control of the House, that's going to be really difficult. I'll concede that point, but I think the Democrats can hold the Senate.

JONES: And speaking of the Senate, Senator Santorum, you guys technically should already have the Senate, but you don't, because you keep nominating people who have these extreme views, many of which you agree with, that can't get elected. So what's your response? Don't you agree that folks like yourselves, extreme conservatives -- I love you personally, but real extreme views. Aren't you keeping your party in the minority? I think you are.

RICK SANTORUM, FORMER SENATOR OF PENNSYLVANIA: I think the extreme views are on your side of the table, not my side of the table. Extreme views of believing in lower taxes, less government, more freedom. I know that's extreme in your world. But I think most Americans share those. But you're right. I think a lot of this is what candidates are nominated. We have to nominate good candidates.

I give the Tea Party credit. The round of Tea Party candidates that we're seeing this time is a lot better than what we've seen in the past. And that bodes well for Republicans that we're going to have strong candidates for these seats. And if we do have strong candidates for these seats, I think the problem that the Democrats have right now, which is failures on all fronts -- national security, Obamacare, the economy, growth, et cetera -- I think is going to really come up and bite them at election time.

JONES: Do you agree with this?

STRICKLAND: Listen, thanks for letting me break in here. The fact is the Republican Party is so fractured, and especially those who would be president are so diverse in their points of view. It's going to be, I think, impossible for the Republican Party...

SANTORUM: Republicans are the "Big Tent" party because we have a lot of diverse views, as opposed to the monolithic Democratic Party, which only has one point of view.

STRICKLAND: But Rick, those diverse views are contrary to the views of most Americans. Most Americans want fair taxes. They want jobs. They want choice. They want education. They want unemployment extended. They want equal pay for equal work.

GINGRICH: Ted...

STRICKLAND: Democrats are on the right side with the American people.

GINGRICH: Explain this to me, then. Everything you just said. You have poll after poll coming out that at a minimum show that the Democrats are on defense, that President Obama has lost support, et cetera.

But in addition, if you look at the Senate races in state after state where Romney carried the state -- Louisiana, Arkansas, Montana, Alaska, just to pick a few -- would you go in there and say to that candidate, you know, "You're an incumbent Democrat, stand firmly right next to Barack Obama. The two of you can win"? Or would you say to them, you know, in this state given the current mood, maybe you ought to run as an independent and forget who the president is.

STRICKLAND: Well, I think every candidate's got to decide how they run, what message they take. But let me tell you, if I were running in Ohio -- and Ohio is one of those critical swing states -- I would be supporting Obamacare, because millions of people now have access to health care that -- Newt, they were without health care. They were without...

GINGRICH: So you would encourage Kay Hagan and others to show up with the -- a lot of these Democrats now won't even show up with him. I mean, would you say to them, "You ought to have courage. Stand right there next to the president and say, 'I'm a proud Obama Democrat'"?

STRICKLAND: Well, I don't want to tell Kay Hagan or anyone else how to run for office, but I believe the president has given this country something that we've need for decades. And that's a comprehensive system of health-care coverage that now prevents insurance companies from denying care for pre-existing conditions, allows millions of young people to stay on their parents' policies. You know, these are good things.

JONES: Eight million Americans agree with the governor. Now, I'm sure that you -- at this point now, 8 million people have signed up are finally in favor of insurance companies not being able to dupe and deny people.

SANTORUM: Half of them lost insurance because of Obamacare in the first place, and they had to find an alternative insurance. Many of them -- many of those folks are ending up on Medicaid instead of on private insurance which they don't want to be at. But running -- I will agree with you on this, that running against the administration, running against the failure of Obamacare and the bad economy, that only should be step one. We do need -- and I know Newt will back me up, because he was a firm believer in this, and that's why 1994, we need a positive agenda. And there's been an area that we have failed. It's not painting that positive picture.

JONES: So, so, positive agenda. Rand Paul, who now seems to be everywhere, He's the front-runner in your party. You agree with his ideas? Are you going to support rand Paul?

SANTORUM: Look, as I said before, there's diversity in the Republican Party.

JONES: Well, speaking of diversity, now you've got Rand Paul. He's your front-runner. There he is with Rupert Murdoch there at the Kentucky Derby. Is this the new face of the Republican Party? Is this your leader?

SANTORUM: Well, no, he's not my leader. I can tell you that for sure. But his father and I had some disagreements during the last campaign.

JONES: If a libertarian like him becomes the leader of the Republican Party, gets the nomination, will you vote for him?

SANTORUM: Well, I don't think that will happen. Because the Republican Party is not a libertarian party. It is a conservative party. And it will nominate a conservative, not a libertarian.

STRICKLAND: Rick, you've been doing some good things. You've been talking about blue collar workers.

SANTORUM: Yes, sir, I have.

STRICKLAND: And that's good. And my understanding is that you now support, or maybe you always have, supported increasing the minimum wage.

SANTORUM: I voted for minimum wage increases when I was in the House of Representatives as I did when I was in the Senate. I believe a dollar increase in the minimum wage would make sense. But that's not what the president is doing. The president is trying to push forth a living wage, trying to dramatically jack up the minimum wage to a point where it would dramatically impact the cost of labor and put people out of work. We need a more modest increase.

GINGRICH: We're going to come back to that in a minute.

In a moment, I'll share with you Hillary Clinton's real problem for 2015. And, no, it isn't Benghazi. We also invite you to test your memory by taking today's "CROSSFIRE Quiz." How many contests did Hillary Clinton win during the race for the Democratic nomination in 2008? Is it 17, 20, or 23? We'll have the answer when we get back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GINGRICH: Welcome back.

Now, the answer to our CROSSFIRE quiz, Hillary Clinton won 23 contests during the 2008 primaries compared to 34 for Barack Obama. I think a tough primary like that made him a stronger candidate.

Democrats would be smart to make sure they have a real primary in 2016 and stop Hillary's coronation. Hillary Clinton is a great celebrity, but if you look at her record as secretary of state, she's fundamentally endangered America.

Some are fixated on Benghazi, but I'd argue the crisis in Ukraine is much worse. We can thank Hillary's so-called Russian reset for the chaos we see today. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY CLINTON, THEN-SECRETARY OF STATE: We worked hard to get the right Russian word. You think we got it?

SERGEI LAVROV, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: You got to wrong.

CLINTON: I got it wrong.

LAVROV: It should be perezagruzka. And this says peregruzka which means overcharged.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GINGRICH: You know, that was the Russian foreign minister laughing with her.

I personally believe they were laughing about rather different things. And I think that this particular scene will be the most devastating campaign to come in 2016 -- after all, if that was a reset, we sure can't afford very many of them by a President Hillary Clinton.

In the CROSSFIRE tonight, Ted Strickland and Rick Santorum.

And we're delighted you're both here.

Ted, let me ask you. It's a practical matter because you've been through a lot of campaigns. Don't you think it actually would be better for the Democrats to have a serious primary fight and have some kind of real contest rather than to allow the Republicans to totally dominate the space for eight or nine months?

TED STRICKLAND (D), FORMER OHIO GOVERNOR: I'll answer that question, Newt, but I want to remind you that your President George W. Bush looked into Putin's heart and saw his soul and apparently liked what he saw.

Now, in regard to the primary for the Democratic presidential nomination, there will be a primary. Whether or not there will be a serious primary I think is questionable at this point because Hillary Clinton is very strong. She's strong among the Democrats. She's also strong with independents. I think she'll be strong with some Republicans.

GINGRICH: So do you think the party will be better to have a serious primary fight?

STRICKLAND: If it can be avoided, I think that would be good for the party. It will help us conserve resources and so on. But I do believe that the contest between Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama was good for both of them. I think it strengthened Barack Obama, but Hillary Clinton, I don't think needs the seasoning of a tough primary because she's been through it before and I think she's already ready.

RICK SANTORUM (R), FORMER PA SENATOR: To justify her record as secretary of state and a complete debacle. I mean, you look at one area of the world where the United States is stronger. You mention Russia. That's a classic example.

You know, she was the one who was involved in the START 2 Treaty, which is again, looking back, we gave huge advantages to the Russians in that. A reset to try to help them.

VAN JONES, CO-HOST: Are you saying if you're president of the United States, that you would not reach out to the Russians as George W. Bush did, as President Obama did, as Hillary Clinton did and try to get that relationship on the rails? You wouldn't have done that? That was wrong? It was wrong to try?

SANTORUM: It's wrong to give away strategic advantages, yes.

JONES: What strategic advantage did the United States give away? First of all, we were able to get --

SANTORUM: A 10-1 disadvantage in tactical nuclear weapons. The Russians believe --

JONES: Are you afraid the Russians are going to nuke us? Is that what you're saying? It's 1954?

(CROSSTALK)

SANTORUM: Contrary to what the president said, the Russians believe that they have -- we have to get a signoff from the Russians in order to move forward with missile defense. These are serious issues about protecting ourselves and our allies. And Hillary Clinton is going to have to account for the deficiencies in that treaty.

GINGRICH: Let me ask an interesting question. You're not afraid of the potential use of nuclear weapons?

JONES: I'm not afraid the Russians are going to use nuclear weapons.

SANTORUM: You weren't afraid that they were going to come to Crimea, I bet. You've probably not afraid --

(CROSSTALK)

JONES: I never heard you talk about Crimea until they did it. I never heard anybody talk about Crimea.

SANTORUM: But no one was afraid of Russian aggression two or three years ago, but we created a vacuum of opportunity.

JONES: That's absolutely not --

(CROSSTALK)

STRICKLAND: Rick, we have the strongest military on the face of God's Earth. Is there any question about that? Russia knows that and the rest of the world knows that.

SANTORUM: That's not the point. The point is whether we have --

STRICKLAND: What's the point then?

SANTORUM: The point is --

GINGRICH: Let me just disagree. There is no usable American military in Crimea. It is inconceivable --

STRICKLAND: Do you want us to go there with military force?

GINGRICH: No. My point --

STRICKLAND: Of course, you don't.

GINGRICH: -- is you say we are the strongest military in the world. Are you saying we are not the strongest military --

SANTORUM: That's not relevant, because no one was suggesting we were going to use military power. There's other forces --

STRICKLAND: But you're suggesting we do.

SANTORUM: There are other forms of power than military power.

STRICKLAND: What are you talking about? Be specific.

SANTORUM: For example -- well, for example, well, let's use one military example, which was which was when we send signals to the Russians, which we did. We aren't going to defend and stand by our treaty, allies, and in the case of Ukraine, in the case of Poland and the Czechs --

STRICKLAND: What about Georgia and George Bush being president?

SANTORUM: I agree with you on that, I think he made mistakes there. But on the issue of Poland and Czech, right from the beginning of his administration, he said we're not going to give missile defense systems to them. We basically made it clear we weren't going to stand by our obligations with Ukraine to protect its sovereignty. And we've created an opportunity --

JONES: This is a wonderful talking point. It is not true.

STRICKLAND: We don't have a legal obligation. Ukraine is not a part of NATO. We are doing what I think the American people want us to do.

SANTORUM: You're saying the agreement Bill Clinton signed isn't worth the paper it was written on?

JONES: OK. We're going to come back. I want you guys to stay here. I want you guys at home to weigh in.

We're going to come back and finish off, but I want you to weigh in at home on our "Fireback" question, Newt's question -- would a tough primary fight make Hillary Clinton a stronger or a weaker 2016 candidate? You can tweet stronger or weaker using #crossfire. And we'll give you those results after the break.

Also, when we get back, we're going to have the outrages of the day. I am outraged at you but I'm also outraged that on Wednesday, some members of your party, the party of Lincoln, are actually talking about seceding from the Union that Lincoln saved -- when we get back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GINGRICH: Now, it's time for our outrages of the day.

I'm outraged by a growing liberal fascism on campuses. Over the weekend, it forced former Secretary of State Condoleezza rice to cancel her planned commencement address at Rutgers University. Brandeis University also surrendered to pressure groups and cancelled plans to honorary degree to Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Somali woman and advocate for reform and for women's rights in Muslim countries.

But the real outrage is an elite media that would have been screaming if right wing groups had done this to a Somali woman and an African- American woman, and yet they have been overwhelmingly silent. That's the outrage.

You were governor, I mean, would you have tried to get a public university to actually honor its commitment?

STRICKLAND: You know, Newt, when I was in Congress, I voted "present" four times, I know exactly why I voted "present" those four times. One of those times was when Farrakhan said something that was deemed anti-Semitic at a university and the Congress voted to condemn him for saying that.

I think as individual members, we had the right to condemn that speech, but as a congress of the United States, we did not have a right to condemn the speech of a free American, and I would agree with you about these other matters.

GINGRICH: What do you think, Rick?

SANTORUM: I experienced this myself. I got boycotted at commencement addresses and was asked to not give a commencement address. This was at St. Joe's (ph) University. It turned out when I did give the commencement, they asked me to leave and I said, no. If you want to disinvite me, they gave the opportunity for anybody who wanted to lead before my speech, if you want to leave, you can leave.

You know who left? Four students out of 1,000 and three-quarters of the faculty. That tells you where the problem is, it's not the students.

GINGRICH: And, by the way, I'm frankly a little disappointed that Governor Chris Christie did not do anything to stand up to the Rutgers faculty, who are paid by the taxpayers of New Jersey.

JONES: Well, I want to give my outrage. You're concerned about free speech, I'm concerned about nutty speech.

Now, here's a question for you, is the party of Lincoln, who saved the Union, now having second thoughts about this whole one nation united thing? Could be.

The Wisconsin Republican Party took two outrageous voice votes over the weekend. One resolution would have affirmed a state's right to secede from the Union. Another asserted that individual states can nullify laws like Obamacare.

Now, fortunately, both resolutions actually lost, but it is ridiculous in this day and age that Republicans are even debating ideas like this. States cannot secede from the Union, period. Remember the civil war? Thought we resolved that.

Nor can states nullify our federal laws. In fact, the last people who suggested that they could were the segregationists. So, now, you've got some Republicans who are turning against Dr. King and Abraham Lincoln. To me, that's outrageous. So --

GINGRICH: Let's check on our fire back results, I do agree it would be outrageous if ever passed. Would a tough Democratic primary fight make Hillary Clinton a stronger or weaker candidate in 2016?

Right now, 70 percent of you say stronger, 30 percent say weaker. I'm with the 70 percent.

JONES: Well, I want to see a good primary myself.

I want to thank Ted Strickland and Rick Santorum.

The debate's going to continue online at CNN.com/Crossfire, as well as on Facebook and Twitter.

By the way, let me do this -- I don't know what you're doing for lunch tomorrow or breakfast on the West Coast, but at 12:30 Eastern, you're going to get a chance to debate with me and S.E. Cupp and ask us some questions in a live video chat. You can tweet us the questions in advance using #Crossfire, or just bring them with you to the debate. Check the Web site for the details. Going to look forward to seeing you there.

From the left, I'm Van Jones.

GINGRICH: From the right, I'm Newt Gingrich.

Join us tomorrow for another edition of CROSSFIRE.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.