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CROSSFIRE

Can Hillary Make Up for Finances Gaffe?; Surprise Tea Party Loss

Aired June 25, 2014 - 18:28   ET

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


S.E. CUPP, CO-HOST: Wolf, after two weeks of trying, Hillary Clinton finally came up with a decent answer about her wealth. But will anyone buy it? The debate starts right now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: Tonight on CROSSFIRE, Hillary Clinton tries to explain her wealth one more time.

HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: My inartful use of those few words doesn't change who I am.

ANNOUNCER: Are voters buying it? And does just about everyone agree with her on this?

CLINTON: You have to be a little bit crazy to run for president.

ANNOUNCER: On the left, Van Jones and Donna Brazile. On the right, S.E. Cupp and Kevin Madden.

And did the Tea Party scare Mississippi Democrats into voting Republican? Plus the "Outrage of the Day," tonight on CROSSFIRE.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUPP: Welcome to CROSSFIRE. I'm S.E. Cupp on the right, joined tonight by Kevin Madden and on the left by Van Jones and Donna Brazile.

Both Clintons are trying to spruce up the Hillary Clinton pre-campaign campaign tour. And the results, I think it's a draw. While Bill was able to defend the Clintons' wealth in a more natural way than Hillary, I'm not sure running to her rescue did her any favors.

Sounds like Hillary might agree. In a brand-new interview with PBS's Gwen Ifill, she said, quote, "My husband was very sweet today. But I don't need anybody to defend my record. I think my record speaks for itself."

And Hillary's third attempt at sounding relatable despite a lifestyle that one prominent Democrat called "more Downton Abbey than America" finally went pretty well. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON: I shouldn't have said the, I think, five or so words that I said, but my inartful use of those few words doesn't change who I am, what I have stood for my entire life, what I stand for today.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUPP: Donna, this is, as the kids say, this is a thing now. This -- this narrative isn't a Republican invention. It's due to some unforced errors by Hillary Clinton. It's a narrative that Democrats are hoping to cement and the media is hoping to cement. Is this something that she can get away from, or is this now the narrative going forward for the next two years for the next...?

DONNA BRAZILE, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Well, you know, the kids also say get over it. I think it's important that we start -- we stop litigating the Clintons' wealth. Clearly, she has given us something to talk about.

But I believe that what she's trying to talk about and pivot to, in addition to being blessed, is the fact that the Clintons give a lot of time and their money to charity. She's trying to get back to the growing inequality in our society and how we combat poverty. And perhaps if we can stop focusing on whether or not she's wealthy or was in the poorhouse, we can get back to those subjects, because I think most Americans want us to talk about how we grow the economy, how we...

CUPP: We all want to get past it, but it's hard to do when she keeps inartfully discussing her wealth.

VAN JONES, CO-HOST: Well, Kevin, you have -- you were on team Romney. You've kind of been through this yourself. What is she doing wrong? And what -- I mean, you're probably having flashbacks.

KEVIN MADDEN, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: I actually have had flashbacks about it, especially when I hear the way she talks about it.

But look, I think one of the big problems is that she's trying -- she's never going to be able to get past this to an argument about economic inequality when she's talking about herself. And I think that's the main problem right now. Is that every time Hillary Clinton now is trying to talk about an issue that she thinks is relevant to the American people, she does it through the lens of herself.

And quite frankly, voters have self-interest. They're not really interested in Hillary Clinton's economic status. They're more interested in how it's going to affect them. And that's one of the problems that candidates often have, which is they feel the need to talk in very grand, sweeping platitudes about the American people and the economy. But they don't relate to the daily day-to-day struggles that Americans have.

JONES: She's trying to pivot back. She's trying to get there, but then she somehow manages to screw it up. MADDEN: She's a really bad candidate. She has always been an

overrated candidate. And the Obama folks found that in 2008. And here we are eight years later...

BRAZILE: She's a little uncomfortable talking about her wealth.

MADDEN: She's going to have to talk about it every single day on the campaign.

BRAZILE: But you know what she's not afraid to talk about? You know what she's comfortable, today she talked about youth unemployment. She talked about an initiative that would get major companies to go out there and hire disadvantaged kids. She's always been comfortable talking about children, bringing people up the proverbial ladder. That's -- that's good.

MADDEN: It's whether or not people find it believable. And attributes are important part of how people judge candidates. And right now, she doesn't answer the question in the affirmative, "This candidate understands the problems of people like me."

CUPP: Here's what -- here's what I think might be a problem. Again, it's not Republicans pushing this narrative. I don't understand, and maybe, Donna, I can get your insight. I don't understand why Democrats are piling on. I mean, we've got scores of unnamed Obama advisers coming out of the woodwork. What's going on in the White House?

BRAZILE: By the way, I picked up the phone and called about 12 of them I know personally.

CUPP: What's going on?

MADDEN: You know who the unnamed folks are? Can you just tell.

BRAZILE: Clearly, I didn't reach them because no one knows them.

I mean, the fact is that I think the power on it is, you know, reporters who -- by the way, I cannot go one day without five or six questions about Hillary Clinton. I love Hillary Clinton. I have known her for over 30 years. I think she's dynamic. I think she's remarkable. I think she's phenomenal. But you know what I don't like?

CUPP: ... seems like some Democrats are bashing her.

BRAZILE: I don't know if they're bashing her, but this is their way of them saying, "We were better. We did better." And they're comparing her to Mitt Romney. She's no Mitt Romney.

MADDEN: Mitt Romney had more dynamism, I think. I mean, you look at the answer that she gave in that -- that recent clip that we just saw, there's not a dynamic fresh-faced Democratic candidate who's going to transform the American economy. That's somebody who's...

BRAZILE: She's not dinging (ph) the 47 percent behind closed doors. She was at least in the open.

JONES: Well, I want to ask a couple things of Kevin. First of all, don't you think to a certain extent she's had a couple of bad weeks out of a 30-year career. Most Americans right now have a lot more to say about the World Cup than they have to say about any of this stuff. Do you -- don't you think we're getting a little bit too excited? Now we've finally got her in a box. He's had a lot of time to get out of the box. Right about that?

MADDEN: First of all, I think the fact that so many people are paying attention to Hillary Clinton says a lot about President Obama right now. Largely, the American public and the Democratic Party has tuned Obama out, and they are looking for somebody.

The big problem that she has is exactly what you said. This is not a fresh face on the scene who's going to bring new energy. She's been on -- she's been on the scene now for 25 years. She hasn't driven a car since 1996 and hasn't had Secret Service. Has had nothing but Secret Service protection.

JONES: We get all excited about she says this little thing. I think if you're the average person -- if you're the average person, you think Hillary Clinton, you kind of know who she is. She might put her foot in her mouth sometimes, but you don't think she's gone Hollywood; she doesn't care about anybody.

BRAZILE: I mean, it's been three weeks, and we've seen a lot of her, thanks to all the various networks and everyone else and all the ink that we've been spilling, but you know what? She's still relevant. She's still fresh. She still has a vision of how America should grow not just as an economy, but how America can help the least of these in the 21st century. And you don't get that from Republicans today.

CUPP: Well, OK. Let me -- let me play one other clip from that Gwen Ifill interview which struck a weird tone with me. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON: You have to be a little bit crazy to run for president. Let me just put it like that. Because you have to be so totally immersed and so convinced that you can bring something to that office.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUPP: You know, tell me if I'm reading too much into this.

JONES: You are.

CUPP: But it sounds to me -- I mean, I get what she was trying to be a little folksy, and maybe that was humble Hillary Clinton. I don't know. That was her try at humility. But it seemed a little like she was belittling the opportunity. To call it crazy to want to serve the country in that honorable capacity...

BRAZILE: This is what's wrong. You're taking it literally.

CUPP: yes, taking it...

BRAZILE: I have worked on seven presidential campaigns. Clearly, I've earned the gray stripes here. I'm having a problem with Clairol getting it together.

MADDEN: I guess that's how I got mine, too.

BRAZILE: Thank you very much. But you've got to be just a little bit. But because it's such a great opportunity, such an -- such an awesome opportunity to serve the American people. No question about it. I think that's...

MADDEN: Can I make just a quick comment? She's right to a certain extent. It is a grueling, very difficult process. I always joked that if I were to ever write a book about running for president, I would title it "Begging for the Right to Be Humiliated." Because it is a very tough process.

But to S.E.'s point, you have to love it in order to really be good at it. And you can tell through her body language and the way she talked about it that she didn't love it.

Say what you want about Mitt Romney. He didn't win, but he loved every minute of it out there. And you could tell he did. He enjoyed it. She doesn't enjoy campaigning. I think that's going to be a huge problem.

BRAZILE: You must have -- you must have watched the first half of the Democratic primary, because I watched the entire season, and she loved it. She got in there. She went down to Texas, and she kicked butt. She was in Ohio, down in Union Hall. She kicked butt.

MADDEN: I think eight years away from it clearly made her not relish the opportunity.

JONES: Hold on. I think she...

BRAZILE: She's traveling the world, but you know what? She can still walk on Main Street and everybody. She still has street cred.

CUPP: She doesn't have street cred. That's her problem.

MADDEN: Surrounded by...

(CROSSTALK)

JONES: Very good. Very good. Quick, quick, quick. Stop, stop. Look, next, we're going to come back after the break. Look, the Tea Party finally got what was coming to them. And you're going to be surprised at who it was that taught them the lesson they needed.

But first, today's "CROSSFIRE Quiz." Name the U.S. senator who has the most seniority? Is it Harry Reid, Patrick Leahy or Thad Cochran? Going to give you an answer when we get back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) JONES: Welcome back.

Here's the answer to our CROSSFIRE quiz. It's actually Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont has the most seniority. And Donna Brazile knew that in her own head. It's kind of nuts.

But, anyway, also Mississippi's Thad Cochran is number three. As you probably know by now, Senator Cochran just won his Republican primary in large part because black Democrats showed up to vote against his Tea Party opponent Chris McDaniel.

Well, hello, Mr. McDaniel. Maybe you didn't notice this, but Mississippi has open primaries. That means everybody can vote, so everybody matters.

Now, there is a big lesson for Republicans like McDaniel who, by the way, voted against a civil rights museum in Mississippi, keynoted an event for the Sons of Confederate Veterans, and said a whole bunch of offensive comments on his radio show.

Here's your listen, sir, in a democracy, if you just disrespect people, they will find a way to be heard.

Now, to you, Kevin, I think there are some Republicans that have just continued to, as George W. Bush said, misunderestimate the black vote. Just misunderestimate the black vote.

In 2012, there was enthusiasm gap. Romney was going to keep it really close. We put a million more African-American voters at the polls in 2012 than 2008, because of voter repression that we thought was coming from Republicans. Don't you think that it's time for Republicans to rethink the way they relate to the black vote?

MADDEN: Yes, sure, I mean, the easy answer is yes. Politics is about addition. And we have to do a better job of engaging those communities.

And the funny part about it is it's not just about whether or not you're going to increase your African-American share of the electorate from 8 percent to 12 percent. What that says to the larger electorate is a whole a lot of these independents who judge parties based on their ability to have a more inclusive message. So, yes.

BRAZILE: Well, you know, S.E., I found it strange that Mr. McDaniel said last night, he was a little angry. You got to admit it. He was testy.

He said that, you know, we just elected some liberal-loving guy who is going to cross the aisle and be compromising. I mean, isn't that what we elect people to do, to come to Washington, D.C. and find common ground, and find ways to solve problems versus, all of a sudden, it's back bad to work with the other side?

CUPP: Yes. But you know what I find amazing is that both of you at the table, Democrats at the table, are talking about the guy that lost. He lost the election. JONES: Yes.

CUPP: He's not -- he's not going to the Senate. Doesn't it worry you that the candidates that you guys label as extreme, they have lost their elections?

BRAZILE: Not all of them.

JONES: Well, first of all, I'm very glad, you got a lot of Democrats saying, we should have stayed back and let McDaniel become the nominee so we could beat him up more. No, I don't think we should play that kind of games. When you have somebody that extreme, I think you take them out when you can.

MADDEN: Many Democrats do feel that. They do feel that what -- their goal for this campaign was to have a lot of, quote-unquote, "extreme Republican candidates that they could tie to a national Republican brand and then run against. That's not happening.

BRAZILE: Well, the brand is what you have made of it. You have allowed the most extreme voices to be the, quote-unquote, "face of the party." We didn't put --

(CROSSTALK)

CUPP: Donna, you know, that's not fair because let me just tell you in this election cycle, you had a Maryland gubernatorial candidate who said an Iraq War vet wasn't capable of holding a real job. You had an Iowa --

JONES: A Democrat.

BRAZILE: And lost.

CUPP: Democrat. You had you, Democrats, had an Iowa Senate candidate who's saying that farmers aren't as smart as lawyers. You've got a potential presidential candidate who's saying that all Southern look effeminate to him. They're not the face of your party.

BRAZILE: He's not -- but let me just say this. He was wrong to say that. And I'm glad, Dianne, Senator Feinstein corrected --

(CROSSTALK)

JONES: Knocked him down.

CUPP: But those aren't the face of your party? They're not the face of our party.

BRAZILE: They're not running. They're not running to Congress.

And let me just say this, I have to say this on behalf of the African- Americans who might have crossed the line yesterday and voted for Thad Cochran. I think they went out, many of them who voted for him, because he has a good constituent service operation because he represents all Mississippi in the United States Senate, not just the Tea Party faction of the conservative wing or the liberal wing, all Mississippians.

And the reason why I say that is because I have family in Mississippi and I can tell you after Hurricane Katrina, the Thad Cochran office was back open, helping people in the Gulf Coast and other places that lost at home. And people remember that.

And also, Thad Cochran has a history of getting black votes in the general election. Not a lot.

MADDEN: We had this conversation before on the show, but I think one of the ways that Republican candidates have flourished during the cycle is that they haven't allowed Democrats to frame them as a party, as being only against things and instead they talked about what they are for. What their vision for economic growth is, what their vision for economic opportunity is, where they stand on immigration.

BRAZILE: And the approval rating, only 28 percent --

MADDEN: If we're going to talk approval ratings --

(CROSSTALK)

MADDEN: I feel very good.

BRAZILE: Where are the parties? Where are the parties?

(CROSSTALK)

JONES: Kevin, you're trying to brag on Republicans how well you're doing on your positive vision. You know who disagrees with you? Erick Erickson. Conservative Erick Erickson says as a result of this most recent rounds of fights inside your party, the Republican Party has no agenda now except no to Obama and yet to your own corporate interest.

Now, I could have written that. I mean, that's in fact Erick Erickson. How do you respond to the fact that you may think your party is doing well on vision but Erick Erickson doesn't?

MADDEN: I disagree. And I actually think, if you take it candidate by candidate and look at those who have won, they have gone out there and said -- look, even if there are big disagreements on immigration reform, I think everybody agrees that we need to reform the immigration system.

Republicans have flourished in these campaigns have talked about what it is they're for, what it is that they're for on growing the economy, what it is they're for on education reform, how it is that they believe that we can create more economic opportunity. Rather than saying against this, against that --

(CROSSTALK)

JONES: I'm going to shock you. I'm going to brag on one of your Republicans.

MADDEN: Yes.

JONES: Cochran. Cochran in Mississippi actually ran his last ads actually pointed out, guess what, if federal government's important. America's government's important. We need America's government for roads and schools.

(CROSSTALK)

JONES: That's now become a Democratic message. Why is it now the case that you have to be -- you have to go outside the Republican Party to brag on American government?

MADDEN: No, he actually had a campaign that had all the classic well- oiled moving levers of a good campaign, which is he had a message. He clearly drew a contrast with his opponent.

CUPP: Yes.

MADDEN: He made sure that he identified voters. He went out and contacted them. I mean, he did have a good campaign.

CUPP: And McDaniel didn't run a great campaign.

But can I ask you this? I would love it if Republicans would always work this hard to court the African-American vote.

MADDEN: Right.

CUPP: Do you think we're going to see more of that?

BRAZILE: Once upon a time they did.

CUPP: Sure.

MADDEN: One thing, S.E., is we have nowhere to go but up there.

CUPP: Yes, that's true.

MADDEN: We can't get any worse. So -- and I do think that it's an important message it sends to the entire electorate about, that we have the confidence in our message, our agenda that we can take it to communities that don't agree with us 100 percent but they were willing to take that message to those communities and we can win.

BRAZILE: Start in Mississippi --

MADDEN: You look at the leaders that emerge on a national level, they're the ones that are -- Rand Paul, Paul Ryan, they're engaging those constituencies.

CUPP: All right. Well, you guys are great. Stay here.

We want you at home to weigh in on today's Fireback question which involves another story here in Washington. Should Speaker Boehner sue president Obama over executive orders? Tweet yes or no using #Crossfire. And we'll have the answers after the break. We also have the outrages of the day. I'm outraged that a vasectomy

can be a bargaining chip in a plea deal.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CUPP: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE.

Now, it's time for the outrage of the day.

Have you ever looked at one of the couples you know and thought those two should not have kids? Me too!

Well, one Virginia prosecutor took such matters into her own hands as part of a plea deal. Jesse Lee Herald, the father of seven or eight children by as many different women, was offered 20 months in prison, five years of probation and a vasectomy after facing child endangerment and hit and run driving charges. The prosecutor's reasoning, we felt it might be in the commonwealth's interests for that to be part of the plea agreement.

Now, I'm sure Jesse's a pretty terrible parent, but I'm also sure what the state just did is tantamount to eugenics. And I thought we solved the forced sterilization debate a while ago. While I don't want Jesse procreating any more than you do, it's chilling to watch the state make that decision for him.

JONES: Chilling, yes, like in the most chilling of ways.

CUPP: Oh, for more than one reason.

MADDEN: I guess you get that guy an ice pack.

BRAZILE: The judge should have issued an audit just saying, keep your candy in the wrapper.

(LAUGHTER)

CUPP: Keep your candy in the wrapper. Donna Brazile for the win.

JONES: Exactly.

Now, for our Fireback results, should Speaker Boehner waste time and money suing president Obama over his totally legitimate executive order?

CUPP: You added something to that.

JONES: Did I? Did I?

Right now, 22 percent of you say yes and 78 percent of you say no. What do you guys think of those wonderful results?

MADDEN: Those numbers would be different if you ask should the Congress be able to sue the presidency. Because I do think that's what it's about. It's about the separation of powers. BRAZILE: You know, the Republicans are suing the president for doing

his job, we should sue the Republicans for not wanting to work with the president.

MADDEN: All these Democrat trial lawyers, I'm sure you guys got plenty of people that would do that.

CUPP: I think there's a kernel of truth to the argument that the president has both overstepped his bounds and underperformed in enforcing existing laws.

BRAZILE: The president has been cautious in using his pen. We should send him some ink tonight. Give up the pen. Come on. He's very cautious.

(CROSSTALK)

MADDEN: Passed the ACA, and then they didn't enforce it.

JONES: Listen, I'll give you this, on the ACA, yes, you can argue about how that got rolled out.

MADDEN: That's how it is relevant.

JONES: But beyond that, he's had fewer executive orders than Reagan, fewer executive orders than George W. Bush.

MADDEN: This isn't about volume. It's not about volume. It's about some of the steps that he has taken that have overstepped.

(CROSSTALK)

MADDEN: You know what? This is not about --

JONES: -- George W. Bush was much worse.

MADDEN: This is going to affect future congresses and future presidents.

JONES: Good. Well, listen, I want to thank both Donna Brazile and Kevin Madden, kind of.

(LAUGHTER)

BRAZILE: Thank you, Kevin.

MADDEN: Thank you, Donna.

CUPP: I'll thank Kevin.

JONES: The debate continues online at CNN.com/Crossfire, as well as on Facebook and Twitter. (INAUDIBLE) tomorrow for another edition of CROSSFIRE.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.

MADDEN: I bet you like me.

JONES: I love you, man.