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Final Weeks of Obama Administration; Co-Stars Remember Carrie Fisher; Adopted Child's Photo Goes Viral. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired December 28, 2016 - 08:30   ET


[08:30:47] DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: President-elect Donald Trump has 23 days before he takes office. Trump is feuding with the man he will succeed after President Obama said that he would have defeated him if he could have run for a third term.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In the wake of the election and Trump winning, a lot of people have - have suggested that somehow it really was a fantasy. I - I am confident in this vision because I'm confident that if I - if I had run again, and articulated it, I think I could have mobilized a majority of the American people to rally behind it.


LEMON: Well Donald Trump, of course, says no way. So let's get "The Bottom Line" now from the man who interviewed the president, CNN's senior political analyst Mr. David Axelrod.

David, it was a fascinating interview. Thank you for joining us this morning.


LEMON: You know, this is being billed as a feud between the two men. Was that a swipe, do you think, at the president-elect, or was it just you having a conversation with someone you know very well?

AXELROD: Honestly -

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Or was it criticizing Hillary Clinton a bit?

LEMON: Or Hillary Clinton as well, right.

AXELROD: You know, honestly, I don't think it was - it was either. It was really a service of a larger point which he was saying that the things that he ran on, and the basic progressive vision of an open, inclusive country that he stood for, were not overturned in the election because, a, a majority of Americans didn't vote for Mr. Trump, and then he said, and I think if I had run, I could have - I could have prevailed with this.

In terms of Hillary, he was very, very effusive in his praise of her in this interview, said she had run a wonderful campaign under tough circumstances and said she was treated unfairly by the news media. So he was careful to set those principles forth before he made his point. So I don't think he was trying to engage Mr. Trump, nor was he trying to malign Secretary Clinton. I think he was trying to make a larger point about the direction of the country.

But, the interesting thing about it in the aftermath was just how reactive Donald Trump was to it. And maybe it's not surprising, but it's concerning that he chases every rabbit down the hole. And when you're president of the United States, you can't allow every - every small provocation to drive you into a - into a rage.

HARLOW: We learned a few interesting things about you, Mr. Axelrod, in this interview, namely, you're not a very organizer of goods (ph). He doesn't want your help packing up the White House or moving into his new residence. But - but - but on a -

AXELROD: You would think, Poppy, just looking at me, you could have discerned that. But, anyway.

HARLOW: Your tie's on straight. But - but - but, listen, on a more serious note, I learned something that - and that is, that you were skeptical, despite being a huge supporter of his early on in his career, that a black man named Barack Hussein Obama could actually become the next president of the United States. When was that moment for you, David, when you realized this is happening?

LEMON: David, can I - can I talk about that before, because we both knew -


LEMON: Him from Chicago and I knew you from Chicago too.


LEMON: Yes, right?


LEMON: And, remember when he ran for Senate, it was interesting to see the - what led up to that because he didn't stand a chance to win as senator.

HARLOW: Right.

LEMON: In Illinois.

AXELROD: Exactly.

LEMON: And then basically sort of the same thing played out nationally for him to become president.

AXELROD: You know, my skepticism was really about the Senate race more than the - more than the presidential race. And there were a lot of reasons for that skepticism. One was his name was Barack Hussein Obama. It was one year - he started looking at this one year after the attack on the World Trade Center. He - there had been one African- American senator elected from Illinois in the modern era. It was a very tough thing to do. He had no money. Had just lost a congressional race by 30 points. There were a lot of reasons to doubt. And that campaign, Don, as you'll remember, was kind of a revelation because he took the state by storm. He won in places that not only an African- American but Democrats often didn't win. And it became clear that he had some special gifts that could take him a long way. In terms of the presidential race -

[08:35:17] LEMON: And two of his rivals actually dropped out, you know, by surprise and then they brought in Allen Keys (ph) at the very end and he didn't win.

AXELROD: But the thing that - in that race that was really interesting was, he was in a field of seven. There was a well-funded candidate. Much better known candidates. And he ended up getting 53 percent of the vote in a seven-person field and winning places that were very unsuspected - unexpected. The northwest side of Chicago, white ethnic enclaves there. So - and so he showed an ability to cross lines that hadn't been crossed before.

But in terms of presidential race, it was really when he won the Iowa caucuses that I felt that this was going to go. I saw glimpses of the possibility earlier. Certainly his speech at the convention in 2004 was a harbinger of something. But it was really when he won the Iowa caucuses in a state that was 98 percent white that it - that - that looked to me like the country was - was ready.

HARLOW: After he takes this long, as he calls it, very nice vacation with his better half, what do you think -


HARLOW: Is the single most important thing to him to accomplish in his post-presidency? And for whom?

AXELROD: You know, he addressed that, Poppy, at the end of the podcast and he said that he saw his role now as trying to lift up, shine a light on, inspire, and support young leaders around the world and in this country, 20-year-olds, 30-year-olds, who were doing important things, pointing in the right direction. He - he feels that his best purpose is to give support to those people. In other words, his view is that his turn has come and gone and now his - his best role is to encourage others to pick up the torch and run with it. And not necessarily on a partisan basis, but in terms of dealing with problems in a progressive way, in an innovative way, in an entrepreneurial way and that's, I think, where his - he's going with his - his foundation and his presidential center. So -

LEMON: Hey, David -

AXELROD: Uh-huh?

LEMON: Before we get to the break, I have to ask you a question.


LEMON: People - someone have said that we will never see another, you know, black president or president of color in our lifetime. Do you think we'll see another black president, a president - a Hispanic president, a woman president in our lifetime? Meaning the next 20 or 30 years.

AXELROD: Oh, absolutely. I think - I think that - that - that has - the remarkability of that has been punctured by the Obama election and now I think you will see that. And you see a country that is becoming more diverse. So I think you'll see candidates emerge, black, Hispanic, women, who will compete for the presidency, and some will win. And I think one of the things that happened in this last election was that because Barack Obama had won, the idea of a woman as president seemed less remarkable than it would have previous to that. So I think that's a good thing for the country if it becomes a less noteworthy that someone is of a given race, or gender, but is judged more on the basis of what they have to offer the country.

HARLOW: David, thank you so much. It was a fascinating interview.

AXELROD: OK, guys -

HARLOW: If you haven't heard it, go to "The Axe Files."

AXELROD: Good - thanks, Poppy.

HARLOW: Thanks, David.

AXELROD: OK, thank you.

HARLOW: Tributes are pouring in for Hollywood legend Carrie Fisher. Two of her "Star Wars" co-stars reflect on her life and her legacy, next.


[08:42:57] LEMON: Some movies are timeless, and that's - that's one of them, "Star Wars."

HARLOW: Absolutely.

Carrie Fisher, obviously the legend, the actress, Princess Leia, remembered for her iconic role in that Hollywood block buster franchise "Star Wars." Two of her co-stars joining us now to reflect on her life and her legacy. Anthony Daniels starred as C-3PO, and Peter Mayhew - well, Anthony Daniels is with us for now and we're hoping to get Peter Mayhew, who starred as Chewbacca.

LEMON: Chewbacca.

HARLOW: Thank you for being with us, Anthony.

As you were talking in the break, you said -

ANTHONY DANIELS, ACTOR, PLAYED C-3PO IN STAR WARS: It's been - it's - I will - it's kind of a pleasure to share - share the memories and share the sadness because you don't have to feel bad alone I'm finding.

HARLOW: Yes. Oh, no, you have the world with you. You have the world with you. And Peter Mayhew is with us, as well. He played Chewbacca.

Such a pleasure to have you both.

And, Anthony, let me begin with you, as you reflect on the woman you knew, off screen, the kind of woman she was, what's your fondest memory of her?

DANIELS: Well, hanging about on the set. You know, filmmaking's all about sitting in chairs, drinking coffee, or cola or whatever and waiting to do a take, discussing how ridiculous the lines are and whether or not you can remember them, and hoping you can. And just generally being good company. And she always was. You know, the day started slowly before she had the first coffee or whatever. As we all trudge onto the seat, you know, for a walk through, nobody's ready yet and discussing placements and lines and so on, and then, you know, as time went on, she would reappear in the full costume or whatever it is, whether a beautiful princess in a white frock or a very, very gutsy general later on.

LEMON: Peter, I want to bring you in, because your friendship with her spanned decades, really, and you've appeared with her in several "Star Wars" movies, including the latest one. What was - what was it like to have a reunion with her in these films?

PETER MAYHEW, ACTOR, "CHEWBACCA" IN STAR WARS: Well, absolutely wonderful. You know, Carrie was a person that I'd known for, as you say, for a long time. And we just - the relationship was there. I think it was probably my size, as well as, you know, you get security from someone that's a lot bigger than you are. I'm quite a bit bigger than Carrie is, so (INAUDIBLE), you know, Carrie is, and we do. You know, it was nice to be able to just have someone on the set that you could look up to, and be - being a stranger, you know, she was - she was there, and she was available to make things happen.

[08:45:55] HARLOW: She, Anthony, has also been described by some as sort of an accidental feminist. What she's done for women in Hollywood, not only in that role, but sort of throughout generations, spanning generations. So much of her talent was not only on-screen, it was off screen in script writing.

DANIELS: Oh, yes.


DANIELS: And she may have been an accidental feminist, but I don't think the word feminist ever came up. She just was who she was in so many different directions.


LEMON: Go ahead, Peter. MAYHEW: That is true. Yes, I agree with Tony (ph), everything he said

has been, you know, Carrie was Carrie. End of story. She was a unique character. And a unique person.

HARLOW: She was so funny, and so witty. I'm interested, Anthony, in what you think she would, as she watches down on, you know, the world mourning her and remembering her and celebrating her life, what would she - what would be the witty line she would write about herself?

DANIELS: Oh, for heaven's sake, I would be Carrie Fisher myself if I knew those lines because she (INAUDIBLE) could left field (INAUDIBLE).


DANIELS: She would (INAUDIBLE). I think she would be - I think she would be saying to people who maybe are getting a little overemotional, she'd say, you know, whatever, buck up, have a coffee, have a coke, whatever. And she would very much know that life is going on without her. But (INAUDIBLE) -

LEMON: It's interesting that you say that because recently - and I don't have the direct quote here - I just remember her being asked in an interview, was she afraid to die?

HARLOW: Right.

LEMON: And she said that she wasn't afraid to die, but it didn't look very - she said, I've been there when a number of people have died. It didn't look very fun. But it -

HARLOW: She was afraid of death but - of dying (INAUDIBLE), but not death.

LEMON: But not afraid of death. Yes. And she said if, you know, if - when someone was passing over, if they wanted anyone to be there with there with them it was her, you know, to help - to hold their hand.

DANIELS: Yes, to hold their hand and maybe say this - this happens. And don't be afraid of it. And the extraordinary thing about, you know, the entertainment industry, the - the web, the Internet, the ether, is that her memory stays now, her image stays as fresh and anybody who's seen "Rogue One," and I don't want to give any spoilers, but there is - she is as fresh as indeed she literally was back in 1976 when we filmed it. And those images will stay, her voice will stay, as will George Lucas' amazing creation of "Star Wars," will stay forever and ever, way beyond my lifetime, beyond yours, well, beyond everybody who's watching today. That will go on into the ether forever.

HARLOW: And, Peter -


HARLOW: One of the things we've heard so much is that she lived her full self. She was her full self. Especially talking about very difficult things, like mental health issues. She was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, battling with that, battling with drugs.

MAYHEW: Yes, she had a full lifestyle and I think if you accepted that what she was, that you have got a lot more out of her than being, oh, you're just an - you're an actress. But she wasn't. She was the actress of the '70s because of Leia and the way it moved along on all three of the original movies.


LEMON: I think it's interesting. I think it's fair to say that she would say to all of us, don't take yourself so seriously.

HARLOW: Right.

LEMON: Right. Yes.


LEMON: Thank you, Peter Mayhew -

DANIELS: It was very common to - she couldn't take herself seriously in any of this because of the ridiculous hairstyles that George made her wear. She was often snickering about them and fiddling with them (INAUDIBLE).

LEMON: The cinnamon bun.

DANIELS: And then, of course, he - he draped her in that strange bikini outfit in episode six (INAUDIBLE) that's right and she really found that difficult.

HARLOW: Gentlemen -

DANIELS: And being on set, day after day. And of course that - that - if not before that costume, she became the young man's crush from all around the world. (INAUDIBLE).

[08:50:08] HARLOW: Of course. Of course. Gentlemen, we have to -

MAYHEW: So true.

HARLOW: We have to leave it there. I'm so sorry. But thank you for bringing her to life a bit with beautiful memories today. Peter, thank you so much. Anthony -

LEMON: May the force be with both of you.


LEMON: "The Good Stuff," next.


LEMON: This has got to be the cutest story ever with the cutest little boy ever. Take a look at this photo so you can understand why it went viral. Look at him. That's little Michael Brown. He's excited that he was adopted after 832 days in foster care. After two years, he is pumping his fist in the air and joining us now is that adorable three- year-old Michael Brown and his mom Tara Montgomery. And he's being a three-year-old.

HARLOW: Not looking at the camera. Hi, guys.


HARLOW: Hi, guys.

LEMON: How excited are you, mom?


Oh, super excited.

HARLOW: You know, it's - obviously the - what was written along here with the Instagram post that went so viral more than 57,000 retweets on Twitter "forever family."


HARLOW: When did you know that your beautiful - this little - beautiful little boy was supposed to be a permanent fixture of your family?

MONTGOMERY:: As soon as the case plan changed from severance to adopt, we knew that we were going to adopt.

HARLOW: What has he added to your life?

MONTGOMERY:: I'm sorry.

HARLOW: What has he added to your life other than a ton of smiles?

MONTGOMERY: Just pure happiness. I mean his - he's so much fun.

What? OK, go ahead. He's just - it's so much fun having him around and the joy of that is great.

HARLOW: You know, as a mom of an 8-month-old, that's what my daughter was doing last night, trying to go to bed, like, I've got to go to bed, mom. I'm (INAUDIBLE).

[08:55:01] MONTGOMERY: I know.

LEMON: But that's what - that's what she signed up for, so it's completely OK.

HARLOW: That's what she signed up for.

MONTGOMERY: Exactly. Yes.

LEMON: So this - this is the biggest Christmas present you probably could have gotten. We were - we were in the break and I - I - and he said for Christmas, besides getting a family, what did he get?

MONTGOMERY: I'm sorry?

HARLOW: What did he get for - oh.

MONTGOMERY: Hey, hey, what did you get for Christmas?

Yes, he -

HARLOW: He got a family.

MONTGOMERY: He got trains, he got Tomas the Train stuff, and - and, yes, it was so much fun.

HARLOW: And he got a family and I know he wakes up in the morning and he said to you, mom, I'm so happy.

MONTGOMERY: He does. And he goes around to the girls' room and asks them, are you so happy? And it's - it's so much fun.

HARLOW: So very quickly for families considering adoption, considering being foster parents, what do you say to them?

MONTGOMERY: You know, anybody can do it. You know, I'm a single mom. And I really got into foster care to help kids. And it just turned into adoption. And I really hope a lot of people look into foster care and it's so rewarding and to be able to help out kids in transition is so rewarding.

LEMON: Yes. And congratulations, Tara. And tell Michael we said bye- bye. I know he's under the desk being a three-year-old, which is what he should be.

MONTGOMERY: Thank you so much.

LEMON: Thank you. Happy holidays to you.

MONTGOMERY: Thank you. You too.

LEMON: "NEWSROOM" will begin right after this break.


[09:00:11] VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to you. I'm Victor Blackwell, in for Carol Costello this morning.