Return to Transcripts main page
Trump Thanks Supporters, Reprises Campaign Rhetoric; Trump & Clinton Aides Clash at Harvard Forum. Aired 7-7:30a ET
Aired December 2, 2016 - 07:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John.
[07:00:03] It was kind of a return to a natural habitat for the president-elect after months after months after months on the campaign trail, rally after rally after rally, he'd been cooped up for more than three weeks in three separate Trump properties. Last night he was able to get out, and he had quite a few points to make.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our victory was so great. We have the House, we have the Senate and we have the presidency.
MATTINGLY (voice-over): President-elect Donald Trump saying "Thank you" and "I told you so."
TRUMP: Remember, "You cannot get to 270"? See? Dishonest press.
MATTINGLY: Returning to the stage where he appears most comfortable and delivering an unmistakable message. The unconventional candidate who won a stunning victory three weeks ago is here to stay.
TRUMP: I love this stuff. Should I go on with this just a little bit longer?
MATTINGLY: The president-elect boasting about breaking Hillary Clinton's blue wall.
TRUMP: We didn't break it; we shattered that sucker. That poor wall is busted up.
MATTINGLY: Taking a jab at his former opponent while firing up the crowd with some red meat.
TRUMP: We did have a lot of fun fighting Hillary, didn't we?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Locker her up! Locker her up!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Locker her up! Locker her up!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Locker her up! Locker her up!
MATTINGLY: But also calling for unity of a deeply-divided nation after a contentious election. TRUMP: We condemn bigotry and prejudice in all of its forms. We
denounce all of the hatred. And we forcefully reject the language of exclusion and separation. We're going to come together. We have no choice. We have to, and it's better.
MATTINGLY: Trump stressing the populist message that won him the White House.
TRUMP: From now on it's going to be America first, OK?
MATTINGLY: While doubling down on key campaign promises.
TRUMP: We are repealing and replacing Obamacare. We will finally end illegal immigration. Have to. We will construct a great wall at the border.
MATTINGLY: And veering off script to break some big news about his own cabinet.
TRUMP: I want to save the suspense for next week. And don't let it outside of this room.
MATTINGLY: Trump announcing that he has selected retired Marine General James Mattis as his secretary of defense.
TRUMP: Mad Dog Mattis. They say he's the closest thing to General George Patton that we have, and it's about time.
MATTINGLY: While defending the other wealthy cabinet picks he's made so far.
TRUMP: He knows how to make money. I've been honest. I said I am going to be putting on the greatest killers you've ever seen.
MATTINGLY: The raucous rally coming on the heels of Trump's victory lap at the Carrier plant in Indiana.
TRUMP: Companies are not going to leave the United States any more without consequences. Not going to happen.
MATTINGLY: The president-elect touting the deal, spearheaded by his running mate, current governor of Indiana, to keep nearly 1,000 jobs in the state.
GOV. MIKE PENCE (R-IN), VICE-PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: Carrier chose to stay in Indiana because America chose to make Donald Trump the next president of the United States.
MATTINGLY: And, guys, an interesting wrinkle to that secretary of defense pick. James Mattis is actually not eligible to be the secretary of defense yet. You have to be retired, by U.S. policy, for more than seven years from the military. Mattis retired in 2013.
Now, Trump transition officials tell us that they believe they won't have a problem getting a waiver from members of Congress to clear that pathway forward.
However, already, New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a really key voice in the Democratic Party, Democratic Caucus, came out last night very quickly, saying she was opposed to such a waiver, stressing that civilian control of the military is, quote, "a fundamental principle of American democracy."
Not expected to be a big problem, but keep an eye on statements like that -- Alisyn.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: OK, Phil. Thanks so much for all that.
Joining us now is a member of Donald Trump's presidential transition team, hedge-fund executive Anthony Scaramucci.
Good morning, Anthony.
ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI, MEMBER OF TRUMP TRANSITION TEAM: Hey, good morning, Alisyn. Thanks for having me.
CAMEROTA: General Mattis, what does he bring to the table?
SCARAMUCCI: Well, just so many different things that he brings to the table, but the main thing that he brings is common sense in an approach to the military.
Now, listen, we have to redesign many elements of the military. Not only the pivot to Asia, but we really have to now think about how we're going to deal with ISIS, Syria, the resurgence of these people in Iraq that want to overthrow the democracy. And so this entire landscape has now had the opportunity, with General Mattis, to change it.
Moreover, because of his experience inside the military, he convinced President-elect Trump that he is the person that can help make the military procurements way more efficient. And so, there's just so many great things that we're going to get out of General Mattis being the secretary of defense.
CAMEROTA: So, in other words, the fact that he has not been out of the military for seven years, as is what is dictated, you think is an advantage, because he actually knows better what's happening in current-day military.
[07:05:10] You've heard from other people, just -- let me just say this before you answer. Senator Gillibrand who says that it's going to be tough. That she will put up a fight about that congressional waiver, because a lot of people think that that seven years is important.
SCARAMUCCI: Well, listen, I think Senator Gillibrand will be making a mistake with that. Because, at the end of the day, if you got know Jim, Jim is a citizen first; and he's somebody that served the country valorously. I don't see him as a militaristic general.
Moreover, if you study American history going back to General Washington, Andrew Jackson, Dwight Eisenhower, when generals switch over to civilian activity, because they know the horrors of war more specifically than other civilians that have not served, you have a tendency to have a reduction in warfare and a reduction in servicemen and women casualties. So you can look at that historically.
And this is something that the President-elect Trump has an enormous amount of instinct for. He recognizes that a guy called "Mad Dog" is a guy that actually is against war, and he just wants to reintroduce the element that Ronald Reagan said in the 1980s: Peace through strength.
So, I really hope that Senator Gillibrand, once she gets to know General Mattis, will see him the way we see him, which is a citizen and a gentleman that served the country valorously...
SCARAMUCCI: ... and is now, as a private citizen, going to sit at the top of secretary of defense. And...
SCARAMUCCI: ... because he knows the system as well as anybody, we think we're going to create more efficiencies inside that system.
CAMEROTA: Well, that would certainly be welcome.
President-elect Trump certainly seems to favor having military generals around him. You can see some -- here are the ones that he has already installed, as well as General Petraeus. What do you think General Petraeus's role will be in this administration?
SCARAMUCCI: Listen, only President-elect Trump can tell you what General Petraeus's role is going to be. But I can speak about General Petraeus quite well. I have an 11-year relationship with him. I know him personally. We socialize together. This is an absolutely brilliant man.
In addition to being a four-star general, he has a Ph.D. from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton. And I think there's nobody in the United States that understands the geopolitical system better than General Petraeus that is currently active.
We have to leave out Henry Kissinger here for a moment...
SCARAMUCCI: ... due to his age. But as it relates to an active person that could serve the country, General Petraeus understands our alliances.
SCARAMUCCI: He understands the need to work with the secular Muslims to help us defeat ISIS. General Petraeus is a man that has the backbone that somebody like President-elect Trump would love. CAMEROTA: Yes.
SCARAMUCCI: But he also has the administrative capability. Let's say that he was, as an example, going to be the secretary of state.
SCARAMUCCI: We've got a problem in that department. We have $6 billion missing from that department. And so I know the president- elect is looking for somebody that not -- can only be his voice outside the United States and express the diplomacy that we want to gear up for, but also to cure the organizational -- that's in disrepute, if you will.
CAMEROTA: So I mean...
SCARAMUCCI: So for me, I love General Petraeus.
CAMEROTA: OK. So you would like him best.
SCARAMUCCI: If you guys want to focus on him being a general, as opposed to just being a great American, I think that's a big mistake.
CAMEROTA: Well, that's not about General Petraeus. I mean, the other focus for General Petraeus is that, you know, he was convicted for mishandling classified information. Would Mr. Trump pardon him?
SCARAMUCCI: Well, he wouldn't necessarily have to be pardoned if he was put up and nominated for secretary of state. He's already paid the fine. He pled to a misdemeanor.
And listen, he's apologized. He's obviously been punished for that. His resignation -- he left his perch at the CIA.
And I think this would just be a terrible mistake if we're throwing eggs and tomatoes at people like General Petraeus that have all this worldwide experience, are incredible team players and great leaders. You know, listen, he who has not sinned, throw the first stone. I'm not going to throw that stone. And I will tell you right now, if we can't get General Petraeus back into service because of that misdemeanor, it's a mistake for the country. And, so I hope that people will overlook that, as well.
CAMEROTA: Secretary of state, you think that that is who's going to get it?
SCARAMUCCI: I don't know. And I'll tell you, I think there's only one person that knows who's going to be the next secretary of state, and that's the president-elect.
SCARAMUCCI: OK. Carrier. The deal that was -- is now going to keep 1,100 jobs in Indiana. They are going to get a $7 million tax break. Was this a good deal?
SCARAMUCCI: Well, it was a fantastic deal. If you think about the jobs, and you think about the $7 million paid out over ten years at $700,000 a year; it's about $875 per job.
[07:10:05] And then if you understand the positive externalities of keeping those jobs and the multiplier effect through the economy; that income tax paid goes back into the treasury. Then they go out and spend money in the shopping malls and the local stores. That circulates back into the economy. This is an absolutely phenomenal deal.
And I think the American people should be very, very happy about this, because this is advocacy for the middle class. This is advocacy for working-class families. And this is delivering on the promises that vice-president-elect and president-elect have said consistently that they want to help the American middle class.
And so there were people hugging Vice-President-elect Pence yesterday and hugging President-elect Trump and thanking them profusely for helping them keep their jobs. Americans want to work, Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: Yes. Of course.
SCARAMUCCI: And our goal in the transition and the administration is to put people back to work. We've got 97 million people...
SCARAMUCCI: ... that are out of the labor markets right now. The participation rate on the labor side is the worse it's been since 1976. We're bringing those jobs back, and we're going to make sure that Americans have the aspirational opportunity that we'd like to have them have.
CAMEROTA: One last thing, Anthony. Last night at Mr. Trump's rally in Ohio, he talked about how we spend too much time on what divides us. Now is the time to talk about what truly unites us. That is a great message.
It also happened to come at around the same time where he brought up Hillary Clinton and how much fun he had on the campaign trail going after her. And the crowd chanted, "Lock her up, lock her up, lock her up." Mr. Trump did not stop them from that. How is that uniting all of us?
SCARAMUCCI: I think what has a tendency to happen in these situations when you're performing on a live stage, there could be a level of enthusiasm that kicks in. I think he's been very, very clear. I know he gave an interview at "60 Minutes" where he said that he has no interest in pursuing that...
SCARAMUCCI: ... as it related to Secretary Clinton. He's been on the record saying that she has suffered enough.
SCARAMUCCI: And so, I think that's the indication from him. I do think that what happens...
CAMEROTA: So is it time for him to quell the crowds? I mean, is it time for him say, "We're not going to do that"?
SCARAMUCCI: Well -- well, here's what I really think. He's on a thank-you tour. He was, obviously, in a tremendous mood last night. He's got a great sense of humor. And at the end of the day, there's one aspect about the president-elect that the American people like. He's contemporaneous. He's spontaneous.
And so, when he's in a crowd like that, and I think you mentioned this a little earlier. I think Cory said it. A lot of his supporters are viewing what he's saying symbolically and are taking the entertainment piece of that.
SCARAMUCCI: And some of the journalists have a tendency to listen to it literally and specifically. And I think that's why a lot of the journalists have set their hair on fire over the last six months.
SCARAMUCCI: And so what I would say to those journalists out there, let's focus on what the game plan is. Let's focus on when he's off that live stage and the message coming from him and the transition team about the unity that we're trying to create.
SCARAMUCCI: Look at his schedule.
SCARAMUCCI: Seventy meetings...
CAMEROTA: We -- yes.
SCARAMUCCI: ... between him and the vice president. He's meeting Democrats.
CAMEROTA: I hear you.
SCARAMUCCI: He's meeting Republicans that weren't supporting him.
CAMEROTA: We've got to go. We've got to go, but we do look...
SCARAMUCCI: We're bringing it together. Alisyn, we're bringing it together. You're going to be very happy.
CAMEROTA: Anthony, we do look forward to hearing some of that unifying rhetoric. Thank you very much for being on NEW DAY -- John.
BERMAN: On the unity subject, Alisyn, you think the bad blood between the Clinton and Trump campaigns ended on election day? Think again. Campaign leaders, they had a tense showdown at a post-election forum. We're going to speak to Hillary Clinton's chief strategist, who really was in the middle of it all. That's next.
[07:17:44] BERMAN: So on the campus of Harvard University, the Trump and Clinton campaigns clash in a very heated discussion on how the presidential race was won and lost. This was -- this was dicey. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JENNIFER PALMIERI, COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, HILLARY CLINTON CAMPAIGN: If providing a platform for white supremacists makes me a brilliant strat -- a brilliant tactician, I am proud to have lost. I would rather lose than win the way you guys did.
KELLYANNE CONWAY, CAMPAIGN MANAGER, DONALD TRUMP CAMPAIGN: Do you think I ran a campaign where white supremacists had a platform? Are you going to look me in the face and tell me that?
PALMIERI: It did, Kellyanne. It did.
CONWAY: Oh, really? And that's how you lost? Do you think you could have just had a decent message for the white working-class voters?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: So Joel Benenson was in that room while this discussion -- debate, argument -- was going on. He was the chief strategist of Hillary Clinton's campaign, and this is his first television interview since the campaign.
So Joel, thanks so much for being with us.
JOEL BENENSON, CHIEF STRATEGIST, HILLARY CLINTON CAMPAIGN: Thanks for having me.
BERMAN: As part of that exchange back and forth between Jennifer Palmieri and Kellyanne Conway, you were part of it, too. And you said that the Trump campaign sent out dog whistles. What did you mean?
BENENSON: Well, look, first of all, we -- part of the discussion revolved around them saying it was media bias to focus on Donald Trump's comments about Judge Curiel, an American who was born in Indiana, who he said couldn't do his job because of his Mexican heritage. Like if that was not -- in fact, Paul Ryan said that is the definition of a racist statement. Not me, Paul Ryan said it.
When you have in your campaign, as your chief strategist, the man who says his news outlet, Breitbart Media, is the platform, not a platform. "The New York Times" today said "a platform." Mr. Bannon called it "the platform" for the alt-right, which is a movement that has -- has promoted...
BERMAN: I understand -- I understand this argument. This is a supply side argument. You are saying that they were sending out a racist message. Now, when you're talking about how the election was won or loss, you
need to establish that there was a demand. So are you saying that there were enough people receptive to that message, which you consider racist, to decide the election?
BENENSON: Well, if you look at the exit polls, John, in six key states -- some of the Rust Belt states, North Carolina, Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin -- between 20 and 31 percent of the people answering the exit polls said they believe minorities are favored in this country. Donald Trump himself during the campaign talked about how badly minorities were treated. When he went to cities and said, "You've been forgotten. You've been left out." Of those people, in each of those states, they voted between 7-1 and 10-1 for Donald Trump.
[07:20:10] BERMAN: Racial feelings -- I don't want to call it racist feelings, but you're saying racial feelings were decisive.
BENENSON: I think there -- no. I'm saying there were many factors in this campaign that were decisive. The discussion at Harvard is for the purpose of history, and you're supposed to have an honest conversation about the strengths, the weaknesses, the ups and downs and how the campaign was played. And that was part of the discussion. And I think we are still...
BERMAN: But a contributing factor were people with these racial opinions who voted along...
BENENSON: We talked -- we have a candidate for president who talked about banning people -- and now the president-elect who talked about banning people from this country because of their religion. We had a president who talked about a judge not being able to do his job because of his heritage. He talked about a whole people coming from Mexico, sending their rapists...
BERMAN: But you're saying now, to be clear, enough people liked it.
BENENSON: I think it was striking a cord with some people. I do. I mean, why were they saying it? Were they saying it just because he believes it and they were throwaway lines. He didn't back away from any of them. He never said, "Hey, I shouldn't have said any of these things."
Look, he's the president-elect right now. He's got a responsibility to both run the country and show moral leadership. And when people, like they did in Washington, D.C., a few weeks ago, you know, deliver the Nazi salute blocks from the White House, he should be denouncing them by name; he should be calling them out. He should be saying the Ku Klux Klan should not be celebrating and parading in North Carolina.
BERMAN: A lot of people agree. There should be no statute of limitations for calling out the KKK or people making Nazi salutes. I was just trying to establish that you thought that it wasn't just the Trump people and Donald Trump himself sending this message, but that there were enough people out there hearing this message and approving of this message to make him win. BENENSON: Well, I mean, look, I think they are part of many reasons
why the campaign was won by the Trump campaign. I'm not saying it is the reason.
But I'm saying when you have 20 percent in exit polls who say that minorities are favored in America, which I just think is counter to every piece of data and fact that we have, then you're saying that there is an audience for this.
BERMAN: Received -- OK.
BENENSON: And if they're receptive to it, that's not, you know, whether it's coincidental, but it was a reality in the campaign, and it was a legitimate part of the discussion yesterday.
BERMAN: Comey, decisive?
BENENSON: Look, John, again, you're looking for me to say there's one thing...
BERMAN: No, no. Contributing factor. How much of a difference did Comey make?
BENENSON: I'd say I think Comey made a difference. We always knew that there were third-party voters, because we always asked our horse race with the head-to-head race between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump first. We always know there were a group of Trump defectors and Hillary defectors we call them, people who went from our vote in the two-way to third-party voters in the four-way race. And we had third- party candidates polling at very high numbers.
Coming out of the third debate, we felt we were consolidating. We saw we had a good, comfortable lead. Not -- not -- listen, this was -- I said right here.
BERMAN: You always said it was close.
BENENSON: Five points, right? And what we saw after Comey's first statement on that Friday was our defectors drifted right back to third-party candidates. We were not able to get them back in those last 11 days, and I think it was a significant factor.
BERMAN: I can understand how that may have swung things or been part of the swing in Michigan, you know, and Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, where things were very close. Look at Ohio, right, which went from an Obama win four years ago to nine points.
BENENSON: Yes, but I...
BERMAN: Or Iowa. So something else was going on.
BENENSON: But John -- but John, in reality, again, you've got to remember the things I said right here to you and this show and Alisyn and, you know, at your show at 11.
We said Ohio and Iowa were going to be tough from the beginning. We did not think Ohio and Iowa were going to go our way at almost any point in this election. We campaigned in Ohio, a point in the fall. We really thought it was going to very tough to win there.
BERMAN: You campaigned the last weekend there, which is a discussion for another time.
I do want to talk about, again, something else that came up at Harvard. You were in the middle of a discussion sort of about the future with Kellyanne Conway and the idea of a mandate. Let's play a little bit of that sound.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BENENSON: Listen -- listen, you guys won. That's clear. You won the Electoral College. But let's also be honest. Don't act as if you have some popular mandate for your message. The fact of the matter is, is that more Americans voted for Hillary Clinton than Donald Trump. So, let's put it in total context.
CONWAY: And there was nothing that said "The Road to Popular Vote" anywhere. OK, guys, we won. You don't have to respond. I mean, seriously. Hold on. Why is there no mandate? You've lost 60 congressional seats since President Obama got there. You've lost more than a dozen governors; 1,000 state legislative seats.
BENENSON: Let's talk about this election, Kellyanne.
CONWAY: No, no. You said there is no mandate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: Want to...
BENENSON: I really hope you can find a tape somewhere in eight years of Kellyanne Conway saying that President Barack Obama had a mandate when he won twice with more than 50 percent of the vote and exponentially more votes than Donald Trump won in this election. He won them in both. So I think it's a little hypocritical to say he won a mandate. Here's the reality.
It was a very close election. A mandate is when you win decisively, when you carry everything with you. We picked up a couple of Senate seats. We didn't have a great night all around in the House. Obviously, we lost this election.
[07:25:12] And as I said in that clip, the Electoral College is the currency of winning, and Donald Trump won the presidency; he is the president-elect.
But when 2.5 million more Americans voted for Hillary Clinton than Donald Trump, don't talk about how your message drove a mandate in this election. This is one country. This is one nation. He's president of the entire United States, not the states he won. The entire United States. So, to act as if you had a mandate when 2.5 million more Americans voted for Hillary Clinton, when the people who said, "Who cares most about me," Hillary Clinton won those voters. Who rate the economy the No. 1 issue? Hillary Clinton won those issues.
So to have an honest discussion at Harvard and to pretend you had a mandate I called out, because I think that's not the purpose of the discussion; and I also don't think it's the reality.
BERMAN: Joel Benenson, great to have you here with us.
BENENSON: Thank you.
BERMAN: Thanks for -- thanks for coming back out and talking to us. Appreciate it.
BENENSON: Always. Happy to be here.
CAMEROTA: All right. Donald Trump wheeling and dealing as president- elect, putting on a show in Cincinnati after announcing an agreement that would save those jobs in Indiana at the Carrier plant. Is that a good deal? We have the reporter who knows the most.
CAMEROTA: Donald Trump visited the Carrier plant in Indiana yesterday to bask in the glow of their deal...