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AT THIS HOUR WITH BERMAN AND MICHAELA

President Obama and Italian PM Renzi Speak Live. Aired 11:30a- 12p ET

Aired October 18, 2016 - 11:30   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:32:37] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hillary Clinton is seeing her lead widen in national polls. The latest CNN poll of polls has Clinton eight points over Donald Trump. No candidate has successfully overcome that kind of a deficit in October polls in modern presidential history. But this is an unconventional campaign. With that it seems the Clinton calling it audible?

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Key decisions here. There's three categories, number one, play it safe, number two, run up the score, or number three, focus on down-ballot races, specifically the Senate.

Joining us, CNN chief political correspondent, host of "Inside Politics," John King.

I understand there's some overlap within these three groups. Let's treat them as distinction categories. Play it safe, and what would that look like?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT & CNN HOST, INSIDE POLITICS: Because you're not sure of these polls. Even the Obama McCain race when you knew it was a big Democratic year, it was closer than that. The Obama/Romney race was tied on this day in 2012. That's a blowout if you think of the polarized politics in this country. Do you believe those numbers? Do you think there's a secret Trump vote out there? Do you focus on blocking him? Win Pennsylvania, win Florida or North Carolina or both, and Donald Trump could not be president. If you just do that -- look at that map -- just do that, defend the light blue states, try to get one or two of those toss-up states, boom, you're safe, you're president. If you're the campaign manager, that's your first priority. Number one, get through the debate tomorrow night and then see what the polling looks like.

BOLDUAN: Very logical, a win is a win. Then why is -- what is the argument then for running up the score? Running up the score, the electoral vote score, and where do you focus?

KING: To send a double whammy message. Rigged election, I just won Arizona. Rigged election, I just want Utah. Rigged election, I just won Georgia. One or two of those ruby red states. Hillary Clinton can win one of those, two of those, really hard for Donald Trump to say the election is rigged if conservative states repudiate Donald Trump. Number two, it's a governing message. She can sit down with McConnell and Ryan, whether they're in the leadership or the Republicans are in the minority. And we'll get to that. But she can sit down with the Republicans in Washington and say I beat you on your turf, you have to do business with me. Will they? That's a big question. Argument that I won a sweeping victory, I won in Republican areas, I didn't just win blue states, I turned some red states, you need to pay attention.

BERMAN: This is the third argument which is start to focus on some of the down-ballot races.

[11:35:08] KING: If you're in Utah, there's no Senate race. Boy, what a message it would se if you could beat him. What a message it sends to the Republicans. There's no competitive Senate race there. You're not going to get John McCain in Arizona. So why do you spend a lot of resources there? Should you be thinking if you're Hillary Clinton, doesn't matter if I get 270 or 271. Let's go to New Hampshire a lot. Try t| keep the governor over the finish line. Go to Pennsylvania, a lot. Get Katie McGinty against Pat Toomey over the finish line. A lot of times in North Carolina Republicans have the edge in that Senate race right now. Do you pour resources into there? Florida, I don't think you'll get Marco Rubio. But do you just focus on the states where you're thinking. I want 51 so that Democrats or the chairman of those Senate committees gives you a little bit of a message.

BOLDUAN: Hillary Clinton getting ready to head off. She's in White Plains, New York, getting ready to head off to Nevada for the big debate.

As we look at that, John, look, we're three weeks out from Election Day. Like, where is the level of conversation? When do these decisions need to be made? Where do you pour the resources?

KING: They're being debated all the time. Remember, we're talk about the Clinton campaign. So there are also Democrat super PAC decisions. Where a super PAC might think we're going to spend money to support Hillary Clinton. She's in good shape now. We're going to target these Senate races. Another calculation here, she's not campaigning as much. She's been often the trail for four days. She's been in debate prep. But the Democrats have an advantage. Decide Hillary's going to focus on this state for the sent in the president. The first lady is essentially the advance scout in Arizona. She's going to go into Arizona. Bernie Sanders goes into Arizona. Then poll again. Did we move the numbers? What are the voters looking for? So she has a deeper Bench so they don't have to necessarily make one of these choices. They can use Hillary Clinton for play it safe and they can send the Obamas and Bill Clinton and Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren into these other states and try to play around it. They have a lot more pieces. Trump has Trump and Mike Pence.

BERMAN: John King, great to have you here.

BOLDUAN: You know some stuff. Thanks, buddy.

(LAUGHTER) So with hopes of turning a red state blue, Hillary Clinton is making a play for, John was talking about, traditionally red Arizona. Sending in big names to make a big splash, First Lady Michelle Obama, Chelsea Clinton, Bernie Sanders, all heading to campaign in the state this week.

BERMAN: Joining us to discuss, the chairman for the Arizona Republican party, Robert Graham.

Mr. Graham, welcome back.

Michelle Obama coming to town on Thursday. What's your message to the first lady?

ROBERT GRAHAM, CHAIRMAN, ARIZONA REPUBLICAN PARTY: Well, I'll tell you, she can be here and be entertaining but she's not going to move the needle as relates to the outcome on November 8th. We're confident given the groundswell we have and the voter registration and other elements that support good campaigning that her visit will entertain people but it won't be something that will move the needle to a victory for Hillary Clinton.

BOLDUAN: What are the chances Hillary Clinton wins Arizona?

GRAHAM: You know, you think about that all the time because you want to do everything you can to protect your state. You take everything serious. But really three more points to consider. One, voter registration, in the state of Arizona, the voter -- 175,000 voter advantage over the Democrats with the largest voting bloc. We have 21 active field offices. We've done about one million live phone calls. We've got 12,000 volunteers. Arizona's a red state because people engage in the base. It may be tied in the polls. But when you call into the households, you're seeing a very different outcome as it relates to the support for Trump versus Hillary.

BERMAN: The Clinton campaign sees something. "The New York Times" reporting the spending in the next two weeks. They think there's a chance because of the growing Latino population there. The Mormon vote is significant in Arizona. Donald Trump's having some problems there. So, you know, are there areas of weakness you see, Robert?

GRAHAM: The Hispanic vote has always been large and significant. We have 31 percent of our population is Hispanic. That's where we've been doing a lot of engagement. We've been reaching into these because literally the Democrats have taken the Hispanic vote for granted. The Republicans historically haven't been showing up in these Hispanic communities because they believe that the Democrats have the vote. So what I've done in this state with many volunteers is we've been in these communities participating in their events, communities. We're now seeing the support coming back. Jobs is a big, big issue for the Hispanic population. And so they believe that Trump really is the jobs president. They might not like him on other issues but right now it's about providing for your family and that's where Trump wins with a lot of Hispanic voters.

BOLDUAN: Do you need Donald Trump to campaign more, especially when we were talking about this issue specifically when it comes to Hispanic voters? Do you need Donald Trump in your state more to shore it up?

[11:40:03] GRAHAM: No. You know, Donald Trump's been here six times. And Mike Pence has been here a couple times as well. I don't think we need that right now. We're already in full swing. The early ballots are out. Again, when you brought up the LDS or Mormon vote, we're seeing a big swing back. Even in Utah you're seeing the numbers start to point back to a Trump victory. At this point, people are voting if you want to say their conscious. So it's about stopping a lot of different states. Arizona's one that supports Trump and despises Hillary Clinton.

BERMAN: So don't come, that's your message to Trump, we don't need you?

GRAHAM: No, actually, Donald Trump stay and go work the states that need your help and Hillary Clinton, spend all your money here, because it's going to be the worst investment you've made in your campaign.

BOLDUAN: Can Donald Trump win without winning Arizona? Can he win the White House without Arizona?

GRAHAM: Yes, I don't -- it's additive, right, you want 270 votes. We've got 11 here. Every single vote counts right now. So I would say that when you're running a smart campaign, you want to win every state. You want to have the best outcome where he can. When you have a red state like Arizona that's been semi-predictable over the years, the, yeah, you put that in the win column. He needs this state to help assure the victory. It's a big state. It's one to watch.

BERMAN: Robert Graham of the currently red state of Arizona, but will it be that way in three weeks and one day? We shall all see.

Robert Graham, thank you.

GRAHAM: Thanks. It's great to be here. Thanks.

BOLDUAN: Thank you.

Any minute now, we're look at live pictures from the Rose Garden. President Obama holding a news conference from the Rose Garden. What will he say? You can be really confident when he takes questions he might get a question about the current election. What will he say this time? He's not been secret about his feelings. We'll bring you the president live any minute now.

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[11:44:09] BERMAN: President Obama with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Once again, I want to welcome Prime Minister Renzi and his delegation back to the White House. As we all saw this morning, Matteo's English is much better than my Italian. Michelle and I are looking forward to hosting Matteo andAgnese at tonight's state dinner. But as I believe our Italian friends say, Prima il devere for il paiachere (ph).

(LAUGHTER)

Which means, "First duty then pleasure."

Tonight's dinner will be a pleasure. Today, we're focused on our duties -- our work to advance the security and the prosperity of our peoples.

I want to begin once again by expressing our deep gratitude as Americans for the extraordinary alliance with Italy.

[11:45:05] The United States is lucky to have many strong allies around the world. Few are as strong and as reliable and as capable as Italy.

In good times and in bad, we can count on each other. I want to thank the government and people of Italy for the hospitality and the generosity they show to the many American military personnel and families who are stationed in Italy far away from home.

Matteo, please also know that our thoughts continue to be with the people of Amatrice and I know that you are still working closely with local governments there to recover and rebuild from the devastating earthquake that took place this summer.

In our work together over the past two years, I have come to count on Prime Minister Renzi as one of my closest partners and friends on the world stage. By virtue of his progressive vision, his energy, the reforms that he is pursuing, which are sweeping, the bold vision that he has for Italy and the world, I think Matteo embodies a new generation of leadership, not just for Italy but also for Europe.

And this is critically important because, as I have said repeatedly over the last several years, a strong and united and confident and prosperous Europe, anchored in liberal traditions and democracy and rights, that's a necessity for the United States and it's a necessity for the world. It's a strategic interest of ours that we have a successful, united Europe.

And today we focused on a number of key challenges facing Europe, our transatlantic alliance and the globe.

On the economic front, we agree that our focus has to remain on growth, creating jobs and prosperity for our people. Matteo has been pursuing some very bold economic reforms, structural reforms in Italy, that are not easy, that are often resisted by existing institutions and inertia.

But the Italian economy has shown signs of growth. It still has a long way to go to put Italy on a path to long-term and sustainable growth. And the upcoming referendum to modernize Italy's political institutions are (sic) something the United States strongly supports because we believe that it will help accelerate Italy's path towards a more vibrant, dynamic economy, as well as a more responsive political system. Matteo shared his thoughts on how, in the wake of Brexit, the European Union can move forward and focus on delivering security and prosperity that Europeans deserve.

And we both agreed that, without an emphasis on demand and growth and investment and infrastructure and projects that can put people back to work, particularly young people, that much of the economic fragility in Europe will continue.

And, by the way, that has impact around the world, including on the American economy as well.

We both reaffirmed our strong support for negotiations around the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, which can support jobs and exports and innovation and growth on both sides of the Atlantic.

We talked about, as NATO allies, our unified determination to defend every ally and to continue to strengthen NATO's defense and deterrence posture. Italy will be a key contributor to NATO's join task force, which is now operational and can deploy anywhere in Europe on short notice.

We discussed our shared concerns around the situation in Ukraine and the importance of keeping sanctions, including E.U. sanctions, in place until Russia and Ukraine are both implementing commitments under the Minsk agreement. And we are determined to work diplomatically with the Normandy group in order to achieve that goal.

I thanked Italy very strongly for its leading role in the coalition against ISIL. After the United States, Italy is the second largest contributor of forces in Iraq. Italian forces are helping to stabilize cities through its training of police after they are liberated from ISIL.

The start of Iraqi operations to liberate Mosul is another major step forward. Mosul, as many of you know, is Iraq's second largest city and ISIL has been entrenched there for more than two years.

Perhaps 1 million civilians are still living there.

[11:50:01] And so in addition to rooting out ISIL, our focus jointly is on the safety and the humanitarian aid for civilians who are escaping the fight. That's going to be a top priority for both our governments.

Mosul will be a difficult fight and there will be advances and there will be setbacks. But I am confident that just as ISIL has been defeated in communities across Iraq, ISIL will be defeated in Mosul as well and that will be another step towards their ultimate destruction.

Meanwhile, Italy continues to be one of our strongest counter- terrorism partners as we work together to prevent terrorist attacks in our countries. More broadly, we agree to continue our strong support of the Libyan government of National Accord, which as we've seen in recent days, continues to face challenges to its authority. Italy provided critical diplomatic support to Libya's efforts to forge the government.

Together, we intend to continue to support the government of National Accord as it works to eject ISIL from Libya, provide stability and services throughout the country, and as ISIL tries to expand its presence in Afghanistan, Italy continues to play a vital role is we train and assist Afghan forces and support Afghan development.

We discussed the continued need for strong, coordinated responses to the largest migrant and refugee crisis in Europe since World War II. As the leader of E.U.'s naval operations in the Mediterranean, Italy and its partners have helped to save hundreds of thousands of lives.

As NATO agreed in Warsaw, the alliance is moving ahead with plans to increase its support of these E.U. operations, and Matteo, I want to commend you and the Italian people. The leadership in Europe that you have shown as an eloquent voice for a collective, orderly, and humane response to this crisis is in keeping with our values and our shared commitment to human dignity.

And finally, the past two weeks have been a powerful reminder that when our countries work together we can leave the world a little bit better than we found it because the United States and Italy joined with other nations across the globe, we brought the Paris Agreement on climate change into force, we reached an agreement to limit aviation omissions, and through the Montreal Protocol, nearly 200 nations just this past week agreed to phase out production and consumption of dangerous hydrofluorocarbons, which are an enormous contributor to greenhouse gases and a major step towards achieving the goals that we set in Paris.

Meanwhile, Italy continues to be a strong partner for development, especially to combat hunger and malnutrition around the world.

So, once again, Matteo, thank you for your friendship, thank you for your partnership. I could not ask for a better partner, and the American people could not ask for a better friend and ally than Italy. So, Grazie.

MATTEO RENZI, PRIME MINISTER OF ITALY: I'm not sure if your Italian is well as (ph) my English, because...

OBAMA: No worries (ph).

RENZI: ... you improve very quickly your Italian. To surprise (ph) - grazie mille...

(THROUGH TRANSLATOR): Thank you kindly for the reception. What we said about the great honor, which is clear today for Italy. It's something that I'd like to confirm, something that I'd like to underline with great strength. But as President Obama said, our meeting was also an occasion to talk about our duties, and after that to talk about pleasure.

In those topics that have to do with our political times, I want to thank the United States of America for the extraordinary support through the battles that Italy is having in our country, within Europe, to affirm a paradigm of growth. And not only of austerity at all levels, United States are a model in this since 2008, 2016.

Constantly, your country has indicated, shown us the way of how to get out of the bigger (ph) crisis after the war. I believe that Europe can and should do more, Italy considers the American example as the reference point in this battle.

Of course, we also know that we have to do our homework at home, the structural reforms, and therefore, what the president just reminded us of is the priorities starting with the labor market reform.

I had to ask for his forgiveness because I used the expression Jobs Act, which is obviously something that I copied, but this is something that is opened source, and I think that we can copy each other's expression from the great initiatives that were set forth by the Obama presidency.

[11:55:09] This has created 588,000 new jobs in Italy, which for Italy are still insufficient, but at least they're a first step to leave our difficult situation.

Thank you, President Obama, for the work you've done as a leader in the energy field. Today, Italy is one of the main nations that sustains and upholds the vision of COP 21 in Paris. We will be working in Marrakesh in November. In the next few years, we will be working in this direction in order to have clean energy, sustainable environment for our children.

And thank you for the work that we've done together in the field of culture -- the cultural field. I believe that we find ourselves in a season of our political lives. Maybe some people choose hatred, the culture of intolerance. We have to bet on liberty. We have to bet on our identity, the values that make this country extraordinary. And Europe -- Europe has a desperate need to find its own soul.

And this is due to its children. This is due to its grandchildren. So this is the first topic of conversation that we had with President Obama. In terms of Italy, we want to make sure that the G-7 in Taormina, in Italy, in the beautiful Sicily, is an important, a relevant appointment. And we commit ourselves because the work that we began together, dear President, under your presidency, may continue.

The legacy of President Obama will not only remain in the United States. It has to be absolutely clear and absolutely loud, it will involve Europe. And we feel totally committed in this direction.

And finally, before I talk about international policies, I want to tell you that we thank you for remembering Amatrice. Amatrice is a small village in the center of Italy which has been affected by a dramatic earthquake. It's also the town where pasta alla Amatriciana was born. This is one of the typical products of Italy.

And so the small community at Amatrice that had so many dead, has not left its courage. Dear President, when you come to visit Italy in the next few months, I believe that we will want you to taste, thanks to the cooks in Amatrice, one of the best pastas that you have ever tried in your life, particularly pasta Amatriciana. I think that this is a way of saying to this community -- a community that has been folded (ph) by this terrible tragedy, that food can be an element of identity in the future.

In terms of our international policies, the international -- the Italian agenda is in agreement with the American agenda. We are thoroughly convinced of the need to affirm values of being able to live together, of being civil throughout the world. That's why we commit ourselves to work with the international coalition in all theaters, starting in Iraq, in Mosul, where Italian troops are supporting an operation to save the dam in Mosul.

And we believe that it's fundamental. It's crucial not to succumb to the culture of fear. As a future, we cannot know what will happen, but if there is a great inheritance left by the American (ph) Dream, this is the best way to proceed.

Recently, a lot has been said about innovation and technology. And this has made -- made people think that the future is a threat. I am completely convinced that in Italy and the United States we can help the new generations to think of the future not only -- think of this as a great opportunity. And for this reason, the agenda that the United States has presented today is an agenda that we agreed upon, and we will be working together on it.

Thank you so much, Mr. President.

OBAMA: OK. We're going to take a few questions, and I will start with Kevin Freking of A.P.

QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President.

Donald Trump says Hillary Clinton talks too tough about Vladimir Putin, and that both of you consult the Russian leader. He also said that if elected, he might meet with the Russian leader before his inauguration. What do you think of Trump's approach to Putin? And how would it affect America's interests on the international stage?

[12:00:02] Secondly...

(CROSSTALK)

OBAMA: I can still hear.