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GOP Presidential Candidates Face Off in Las Vegas; The Campaign for a Female U.N. Secretary-General; Imagine a World. Aired 2-2:30p ET
Aired December 15, 2015 - 14:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST (voice-over): Tonight: high stakes in Las Vegas as front-runner Donald Trump goes head to head with his
Republican rivals on the last Republican debate of this year.
How well will America's most controversial presidential contender play his hand?
I'm joined live by two longtime observers of the political scene.
Plus: placing bets on the next woman at top of the world. I ask Israel's former foreign minister why she thinks the next U.N. secretary-
general must be Her Excellency.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TZIPI LIVNI, FORMER ISRAELI JUSTICE MINISTER: It is more important to send this message, let the best woman win.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
And we start tonight with 31 people from all over the globe who became American citizens today. And President Barack Obama was there to witness
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm so excited.
OBAMA: You are men and women from more than 25 countries, from Brazil to Uganda, from Iraq to the Philippines. I'm proud to be among the first
to greet you as my fellow Americans.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Now, perhaps that doesn't count as breaking news. But today it is extra special and extra relevant as it coincides with the last
GOP presidential debate of the year.
And what a year it's been for anti-immigrant hysteria, fanned especially by the leader of the GOP presidential pack, Donald Trump, but
generated by the others on tonight's debate stage as well.
Tonight we delve into this phenomenon and we ask, does Trumpism symbolize America and, if so, what does that say about America?
Joining me from Santa Barbara, California, Ann Louise Bardach, a veteran political reporter and writer, who's recently profiled both Ted
Cruz and Marco Rubio, who are climbing up the polls.
And from Washington, D.C., Mehdi Hasan, host of "UpFront" on Al Jazeera English. He says that, as a Muslim, he really misses George W.
Bush these days.
Welcome to both of you.
And let me start with you, Ann, because you have been profiling these candidates.
How can you imagine that Donald Trump, despite some of what many people call outrageous and racist rhetoric, is racing up the polls?
ANN LOUISE BARDACH, JOURNALIST AND AUTHOR: Well, Donald Trump is the gift from God to the Democrats that keeps on giving. And to some degree,
he is also for the other candidates.
But I will tell you that, among higher-ups within the GOP and the establishment, they're absolutely mortified and, privately, some of them
regard him as a boisterous buffoon.
But he does touch a nasty strain of nativism that goes hand in hand with the traditional American warm welcome that we've always offered to
immigrants. You have to put it in a historical perspective.
In 1915 in this country, a major newspaper denounced Catholics, suggesting they should be barred because they were papists, Romanists.
In 1939, a ship containing 935 German Jews fleeing the death camps, literally, they were turned back; 20,000 Jewish refugee children were not
allowed to enter.
So hand in hand with the warm welcome America always offers to immigrants is this other -- it's a lesser strain but it's nasty. And so I
do not believe there's inherently an anti-Muslim bias. It keeps appealing to this same kind of nasty impulse in American culture.
AMANPOUR: Let me move to you, Mehdi Hasan. You are British but you're broadcasting from the United States on Al Jazeera English.
MEHDI HASAN, AL JAZEERA HOST: I lost you there.
AMANPOUR: Can you hear me, Mehdi?
Can you hear me now?
HASAN: I've lost sound.
AMANPOUR: OK. We're going to get sound back from you. And we'll continue with Ann. When you can hear me, let me know.
Ann, you say it's the gift that keeps on giving to the Democrats, to the other rivals. But that's clearly not what Donald Trump is doing. He's
not there to be a gift to all his opponents.
What do you think he's doing? And to be honest with you, answer my question.
AMANPOUR: What does this say about America?
Because it's really troubling a lot of people around the world. And it goes beyond that hand-in-hand welcome and dismissal of the foreigner.
BARDICH: Well, first of all, we have to understand we're talking about a Republican primary. His numbers are spiking among Republicans at
the far right end of the spectrum. Now we could very well say here that the Republicans have got themselves in this position by their own doing.
For the last decade, Republicans have very, very successfully gerrymandered as many statehouses as they could around the country. That
means getting the governorships, getting the legislatures. And they did so by digging deep into their far right conservative flank. And now you could
say the chickens have come home to roost. They have emboldened the most far right end of their party.
And this is the segment that is so attracted to Donald Trump. Now you can bet there are other people as well. Lookit, there have been -- the way
President Obama has handled Syria, Iraq, has certainly left an opening for Donald Trump and a lot of his far right rhetoric.
You will hear tonight in the GOP debate, you will hear all the candidates say what they say at almost every other debate, which is
President Obama refuses to say the so-called I word. He will not say "Islamic terrorism;" he will not say "Islamic extremism. " And they will
argue that, how can you fight an enemy if he will not even identify it?
AMANPOUR: All right, Ann --
BARDICH: And you know, it does strike a resonance with the Republican Party.
AMANPOUR: Well, let me put that precise point to Mehdi Hasan.
What about what Ann has just said?
Is some of the blame because of too much political correctness, as a Muslim, as a Briton broadcasting in the United States, what do you think?
HASAN: I don't think anyone can say that there's too much political correctness when it comes to Islam and Muslims. Some might say it's the
opposite here in the United States. At the moment you listen to some of the rhetoric coming out from mainstream politicians, from journalists, from
pundits, from members of the public in the street.
I mean, I don't think anyone can say Islam or Muslim is being handled with kid gloves. And I always find this amusing, this whole --
AMANPOUR: But others are saying that -- yes, OK.
AMANPOUR: Yes, yes, you just brought it up. I was just going to --
HASAN: -- I was just going to say, I find it amusing, this Republican line about, Obama won't say "Islamic terrorism" as if tomorrow he says
"Islamic terrorism" and Raqqah will fall and ISIS will disappear in a puff of smoke. It's absurd.
And George Bush -- of course, he was the last Republican president -- took a much different line. He didn't say Islam is a problem, either. No
one accused him of political correctness.
AMANPOUR: Well, you're absolutely right. And you didn't support the Iraq war and yet you have come out, saying, oh, my goodness -- in fact, you
wrote about it, "I miss George W. Bush."
Explain to an astounded audience, from your perspective, of course, why that would be true.
HASAN: Well, as you said, I was a critic in the Iraq invasion of Bush, of Cheney, of Guantanamo and all of the rest of that.
But there's no denying the fact that, when it comes to the specific issue of Islam and of American Muslims, George Bush didn't peddle the
politics of fear, division, hatred in the way that the current crop of GOP candidates do, day in, day out.
Six days after 9/11, Christiane, George Bush went to the nearest mosque in D.C.
He said, "Our war is not with Islam," Islam is a religion of peace, this terrorism is not the face of Islam. We must respect our fellow
American Muslims, especially women in headscarves.
Today if George Bush did that on the campaign trail, he would be drummed out of the party. He would never win the nomination in 2016, that
George W. Bush. because today's candidates are in a whole different league in terms of what they're saying, what they're doing, how they're
approaching this problem.
And of course Trump is the most egregious example.
But the problem with Trump is, Trump is so extreme, that he makes the rest of them look reasonable and moderate.
And as you suggested, they said some pretty outrageous things as well.
AMANPOUR: Well, let me turn to Ann about that.
Because you have profiled, Ann, you have profiled Ted Cruz, who's second after Trump now in many of the polls. You've also profiled Rubio.
Both of those have immigrant backgrounds --
BARDICH: Marco Rubio, yes.
AMANPOUR: -- Marco Rubio, sorry, yes --
BARDICH: Yes, I have written -- I've -- yes.
And yes, well, certainly in the case of Ted Cruz, you could almost argue he's Trump Lite. And I agree with Mehdi; a lot of what Trump is
saying is the boisterous buffoon version of what many other of those Republican candidates also feel but would put it more genteelly.
I would also argue that George W. Bush did the right thing, of course, and said the right words about our peace and not having any war with Islam,
BARDICH: But he also invaded Iraq and created probably the blueprint for the disaster we're in.
So I mean, so what's better, having the right rhetoric or causing arguably World War III?
HASAN: We have neither right now.
BARDICH: Listen, I would also say that --
BARDICH: I know but just on a historical perspective here maybe, I would say that when Gandhi was murdered, he was immediately identified, the
assassin, as a Hindu nationalist.
When Yitzhak Rabin was murdered, the assassin was immediately promptly called a religious Jewish extremist.
I think it's a little bit underestimating the American public that we cannot discriminate between an extremist ideology and a billion peace-
loving Muslims. And the fact that Obama refuses this has sort of made it a bit of --
AMANPOUR: All right.
BARDICH: -- a little bit of a -- and I -- he left an opening for them --
AMANPOUR: OK. He may have done so or not.
But let me ask you, Mehdi and -- well, Mehdi first.
Do you think that the Republican Party should eject anybody who espouses that kind of racism?
And, for you, what does it say about America?
We keep asking overseas, Mehdi, what does this mean about America?
Does Trump symbolize America?
How do you feel?
How does the Muslim community feel?
HASAN: Well, just to take your first point about ejecting people -- I'd love if we ejected people out of parties who take bigoted stance. And
the problem with modern Republican Party is if you started ejecting people out of the party, there would be very few people left on that stage
tonight, maybe Chris Christie, maybe John Kasich.
I mean, it's very hard to find those candidates, you know, Marco Rubio, supposedly the mainstream establishment favorite, has said that --
he's compared nonviolent Muslims to nonviolent Nazis. I mean, that's the kind of rhetoric coming out from some of these guys.
So I'm not sure you can eject -- I think Ann said it right earlier, that they created this monster, now the Republican base is what it is. I'm
not sure how you kind of pull them back from the brink.
But let's be clear, Christiane, it is the Republican base.
Let's not tar all America or all Americans in the same way that we shouldn't tar all Muslims. Let's not tar all American non-Muslims in the
Trump has, what, 30 percent of the Republican vote according to the polls. That's around 13 percent, 14 percent, 15 percent of Americans. The
media give lots of coverage to Donald Trump for all the obvious reasons.
But he does not speak for Americans. He does not speak for the majority of Americans.
HASAN: -- Republican. So there is some positivity.
AMANPOUR: Let me just ask you, Ann, because in our final moment, in our final moment it is obviously an important point.
What do you think happens, then, this is the last debate of the year, then we have the real votes, we have the caucus, we have the New Hampshire
primary and on we go.
What do you think that is going to shape up like?
BARDICH: I would say, as of today, that Ted Cruz will likely win Iowa. He has run a very smart, very shrewd campaign. He's stayed out of
the crosshairs of Donald Trump, in which ideologically they're not so dissimilar. New Hampshire is a little less certain. Let me point out,
though, we're in a big brouhaha today about the polls, et cetera.
The last man for the Republican Party who won the Iowa caucus was Rick Santorum. The Iowa caucus is hardly telling about what's going to happen.
And mind you, when we get through this primary, which is, again, the gift of God to the Democrats, they're all going to have to get back
somewhere to the center and compete in a general election, where most Americans robustly reject this nativism that's being espoused by Donald
Trump and to a lesser degree by the other candidates.
AMANPOUR: All right. Well, wish we could go on. We have so much more to discuss. But sadly, out of time for tonight.
Mehdi Hasan, Ann Louise Bardach, thank you so much indeed for joining us tonight.
And as the Republican race generates headlines, as we've been talking about, around the world, the leading candidates are being viewed around the
world with interest and alarm.
After a break, why a woman should be the world's peacemaker-in-chief. The view from Israel's former foreign minister next.
AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program.
As Trump battles it out on the debate stage in Las Vegas, his controversial proposal to ban all Muslims from entering the United States
has not gone down well overseas, even in Israel, where Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected Trump's remarks. And tonight, Tzipi Livni,
Israel's former foreign and justice minister, joined me from Tel Aviv to talk race baiting and why perhaps a woman would be a better world peace
negotiator as the next secretary-general of the United Nations.
AMANPOUR: Tzipi Livni, welcome to the program.
LIVNI: Hello, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: I want to start by asking you about this political craziness that's going on in the United States and reverberating around the
Donald Trump has called for a ban on all Muslims coming to the U.S. and this has had an effect, at least in terms of his visit to Israel, to
the prime minister, being canceled or postponed and the prime minister said that those comments do not reflect Israel's view of Muslims.
LIVNI: Yes. The last thing that they want to do is to interfere or to make comments about different candidates for the presidency of the
United States. But I am glad I would say that Donald Trump didn't come to visit Temple Mount as was mentioned before.
This is the last thing that we need today, you know, something that can really ignite the region by entering, again, or putting again Temple
Mount as the focus in our region.
And basically I believe that we need to address terror in a different manner; not all the Muslims are terrorists, not all the Arabs are
There is extreme Islamist organizations that are using terror. We need to act against them as in an understanding they represent a religious
kind of conflict. But it's not a conflict between the entire Muslim world and the others. It is a part of the Muslim world against the others,
including other Muslims.
AMANPOUR: What does this kind of rhetoric that is now becoming so alarming and viewed with such alarm around the world, how do you think that
would shape or affect American foreign policy in the region?
LIVNI: I think that it is not only about American policy and it's not only about policy. It's about moral values and it doesn't happen only in
the U.S. We can hear also these kinds of voices in Europe and unfortunately also in Israel.
And those believing in different values need to fight together against this kind of rhetoric. This is one.
So the idea is to work together, all the pragmatic moderates, against these lunatics, these extreme Islamist groups that are using terror. And
by saying that all the Muslims are the same, basically affect the possibility of the U.S. to work with the Arab world against this religious
part of this global conflict.
AMANPOUR: To that end, Saudi Arabia has announced that it has -- it is drawing a big coalition in the Arab world, in the Muslim world, to try
to face down daish, ISIS, and to face down this kind of extremism.
Firstly, how do you think that's going to work?
Because Saudi Arabia is not the most moderate country and many would say a lot of the inspiration, the Wahhabism, the Salafism is what drives
these, as you call them, extremist lunatics.
LIVNI: I believe that this is a good message. I believe that the message should come also from other Muslim and Arab states. In the end,
it's a --
LIVNI: -- clear division between those extremists that are using terror, representing horrific -- or changing the religion into something
horrific and between the others.
So the message coming from the Saudis and others today saying, listen, it's not the entire Islamic world against the Western world. But it's also
about us. It's a very important message to young people in the Arab and Muslim world, that daish doesn't represent them.
AMANPOUR: Let me switch over to the highest diplomatic job in the world and that is the U.N. secretary-general.
Former U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Bill Richardson, has written an article saying that it's time for a woman to take the lead, in particular
woman and women as the top international peacemaker might make a big, big difference.
The secretary-general himself, Ban Ki-moon, has said that every time he's asked about his successor, he says, you know, he's asked will it be a
What do you say about that?
What is your view on how to change that dynamic?
LIVNI: Now we have here a great opportunity. It's really the biggest or the strongest place to affect the situation in the entire world.
So how symbolic this can be in sending a message to young women in different places, in Africa, in Asia, elsewhere, saying, we are not just
talking about empowerment of women; we are doing it. We are putting, in the place that can contribute, that can change your life, a woman to do so.
So I believe that this can really be great. I support it. I believe that this is the right thing to do. And I believe that there are great
women that can do the job.
So why not?
AMANPOUR: Well, let me ask you to comment on this as a former foreign minister who's had to deal with all sorts of issues, not least development.
And you know the United Nations itself has put out countless reports about the Muslim world, saying that the lack of development in very key
areas has got everything to do with holding back 50 percent of their population: the women.
Give me your take on what difference it might make if women are empowered in your part of the world, particularly the Muslim part of the
world, your neighboring countries.
LIVNI: The message, if we have a secretary-general, a woman as a secretary-general, is saying also to the Muslims, to the Arabs, to the
entire world, because it's not only about them, that there is a possibility that women would lead this -- that a woman would lead this world.
And in fact, the need to meet her, to fit with her, to deal about conflict with her, to speak about world security with her, it's something
which is more than symbolically. It says that women can do everything in the world.
AMANPOUR: Can you imagine how a campaign would proceed?
I mean, might you spearhead a campaign?
How to get this message out, in other words?
LIVNI: The more public it is, the more support we got, the more possible it is that we would have the next secretary-general a woman.
And I believe that this is not just, you know, the role of women to support women for the job.
I believe that this is really something that men that truly care about equal rights should support this, not for women in the world but for the
entire -- for the society.
AMANPOUR: Well said, as always.
Tzipi Livni, former Israeli foreign minister, thank you very much for joining me tonight.
LIVNI: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: And another quick note on the ISIS effect and the ordinary people unexpectedly caught up in it, Mark Oberholtzer of Mark-1 Plumbing in
Texas sold his van to a car dealership and was then horrified to see it turn up in one of the ISIS front line propaganda videos, converted into a
The footage shows his Mark-1 Plumbing, the branding and the phone number. The dealership apparently exported it for sale in Turkey and then
lost track of it. Mr. Oberholtzer is now suing the dealership.
AMANPOUR (voice-over): After a break, a story truly out of this world, when we come back.
AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, imagine a world brought together in common purpose for an interstellar goal. Here on Earth, the U.S. and U.K.
are often at loggerheads with Russia over issues like Syria and Ukraine.
But today, a Russian Soyuz rocket launched the first official British astronaut, U.K.-funded Major Tim Peake, into the stratosphere and onto the
International Space Station. Departing from the Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, Peake will spend seven months in orbit.
It's big news in Britain and Prime Minister David Cameron tweeted this picture of himself watching, not only will Peake be doing scientific
experiments in space, he will also be running the London Marathon.
In April he'll start pounding away on his zero gravity treadmill at exactly the same time as the 37,000 runners pound the pavement in London
and complete 26 miles for charity. He'll do it with a virtual app that recreates his route as he jogs.
And tomorrow on this program, we'll be taking a space trip of our own, we'll be linking up live with the International Space Station for an
interview with the American and Russian astronauts. It's quite a feat making this happen. And we're excited to know how they team up in space
while their leaders down here are staring daggers into each other.
That's it for the program tonight. Remember, you can now also listen to our podcast, see us online at amanpour.com and follow me on Facebook and
Twitter. Thanks for watching and goodbye from London.