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Ohio Voters on Trump's First Month; President Trump Visits African-American Museum; President Comments on Anti-Semitism. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired February 21, 2017 - 08:30   ET

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


[08:30:00] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: In mass Sunday was the turn the other cheek Matthew Gospel. And I was wondering, I wonder if -- if the -- if the president went to service, I wonder if that was the Gospel and I wonder what those words mean to him in terms of dealing with his critics.

But, Rick, thank you for making the case, as always. Christine as well.

Alisyn.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: OK, Chris.

President Trump's been in office just over a month, so how do voters think he's doing? We went to the battleground of Ohio and found passions on both sides running high. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CAMEROTA: It's been one month since President Trump took office, so how are voters feeling about him? Well, we travelled to Columbus, Ohio, to take the pulse of the heartland. I sat down with a group of Trump supporters and Trump critics at the Ladies' Gallery inside the Ohio Statehouse. And as you'll see, very quickly our conversation turned to the big issues of faith and fear.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CAMEROTA: How many people here are very excited by what they have seen in the past month?

DENNIS MCKIRAHAN, RETIRED SALESPERSON: I am.

CAMEROTA: You three are very excited. Dennis, tell me what the good signs are, what you've been most excited about?

MCKIRAHAN: I am a Christian and I believe from our perspective that I'm seeing hope in what I call religious freedom and restoring some values that we look at from our perspective, you know?

CAMEROTA: And what has Mr. Trump done that has given you that hope?

MCKIRAHAN: Well, I think the fact that he's already got a vice president who definitely stands firm in my belief, very firm. I really believe in him. He's a very conservative man. I think he'll be good for everybody.

CAMEROTA: Kris, tell me what good signs you've seen.

KRIS MCCURRY, MORTGAGE BANKER: From a business perspective, I think it's turning jobs, turning around. I would like to see everything go back to America. Too many jobs have gone overseas.

CAMEROTA: Sara.

SARA MARIE BRENNER, VOTED FOR DONALD TRUMP: I'm a big school choice person and my husband and I both do a lot of work in that arena, and so I'm -- I'm just excited that we're going down that path, too. And whatever you think of Betsy DeVos, I think she's in a position to implement Trump's policies.

CAMEROTA: OK, this side of the table, I'm sensing that you feel differently.

REV. DR. MARY REAMAN, PASTOR, TREE OF LIFE COMMUNITY: We have to really find our integrity again. And that's what concerns me the most, maybe, is that I see a lack of integrity in this administration.

CAMEROTA: Michael.

MICHAEL MILISITS (ph), PREMISE (ph) TECHNICIAN: What we've seen in the first month is we've seen just -- I mean his -- his administration is in disarray. We have no national security apparatus. Our national security adviser just stepped down because he's been implicated in violation of the Logan Act with the Russians. I mean that's -- that's a real concern. And we can't just say, oh, we're going to give him a chance. I mean it's almost on the level of Nixonian style scandals in just a month.

[08:35:17] CAMEROTA: Christian.

CHRISTIAN TAMTE, FOUNDER OF RISE TRAVEL LLC: I am heartbroken often. Often this last month has been heartbreaking. And as a Christian, I'm offended often by what other people are calling Christian behavior, which is -- I see it as furthest from that and --

CAMEROTA: Such as?

TAMTE: The immigration. There's so much lack of empathy for anyone that's different from themselves. And they -- oftentimes people that are claiming to be doing this in the name of Christ, in the name of God, it's -- it's offensive to me. It's offensive to me as a Christian because it is so far from -- from what God has laid out as a plan for us.

CAMEROTA: What do you think and feel when you hear everybody talking about how quite concerned they are, Dennis?

MCKIRAHAN: Well, first of all, I would apologize for the Christian faith, if we ourselves are causing any of this problem because Jesus said we're to love one another, you know --

CAMEROTA: But do you think that --

MCKIRAHAN: But we're not one. We're totally separated. But even within the Republican Party we're separated.

CAMEROTA: Right. But as a Christian, do you think that the travel ban is less than compassionate?

MCKIRAHAN: Every president, the last six presidents, have had a travel ban of some kind on foreign entry. And even in the Obama administration have admitted that's where most of the problems have come from, those people, those groups. And it's true because you don't see Israelis coming in here bombing people or you don't -- you know.

CAMEROTA: But you don't see Syrian refugees coming in and bombing people either?

MCKIRAHAN: Well, Syria -- I think the problem with Syria is the fact that many of the people that come, if you noticed, are men more than women and children.

CAMEROTA: I don't know that to be true. I don't know that to be true.

MCKIRAHAN: What I -- what I was finding, it would seem to be true. And I do agree that the vetting process that they're using should be strong enough, but evidently there's still some problems. We know this is a fact. Muslims are not separating government and their faith. It's one thing.

CAMEROTA: Do you guys want to take this on? Mary, are you a minister?

REAMAN: I am a minister.

CAMEROTA: What do you think when you hear people -- and there are many people who feel like Dennis, who feel that Muslims are in a different category?

REAMAN: I just -- I don't buy it. When -- if you go to the Gospels, if you were -- I mean we can look at the story of Jesus at -- the woman at the well and she was a Samaritan. And Jews and Samaritans, back in that day, hated each other. They were -- there was a social contract that they did not speak to each other. Jesus' message was about, look, we are in this together. We are one. You can say you're Muslim and I'm Christian. It doesn't matter.

BRENNER: I don't really believe in most of what you've said. So I mean when you --

CAMEROTA: What part?

BRENNER: Well, the -- yes. So I guess just kind of going down what all's been said, I don't care if someone's Christian, I don't care if they're Muslim, I don't care if they're Hindu. But, in this day and age, we do have laws and we do have ways of coming into this country. I do not hate Muslims. I do not hate, you know, people who are refugees. That's not what this is about.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE).

BRENNER: I wish that you all didn't think that that's what we thought, because it truly isn't. At the end of the day it's simply a matter of when someone comes here, whenever they're from, I want to know that when they come here that they want to be here for the right reasons and that when they come here they're going to assimilate.

CAMEROTA: Right.

TAMTE: We don't believe that you hate Muslims, any of you, or -- I think that that -- and -- those people are quite few that hate Muslims. I think that's pretty rare. By the way, both sides of this are fiercely patriotic. And I think that's the one common ground that we have, is that we love this country. We want to be safe. And we want everyone, as you just said, to assimilate.

MCKIRAHAN: When the Muslims want to make it sharia law, they're taking -- they're saying the law of our land is not good enough for them.

CAMEROTA: There's not sharia law. I don't think that that law supersedes our Constitution.

MCKIRAHAN: (INAUDIBLE).

CAMEROTA: I mean, and I don't --

MCKIRAHAN: And I don't think any of (INAUDIBLE) --

(CROSSTALK)

CAMEROTA: Of course, it doesn't. It's impossible. It doesn't.

MCKIRAHAN: But that's a big part of our fear. You know, (INAUDIBLE) --

CAMEROTA: that is a part of your fear?

MCKIRAHAN: That's a big, big part of the fear.

CAMEROTA: Dennis, I hear what you're saying. You're scared. You're scared --

MCKIRAHAN: I'm scared for my family. I'm scared for my daughters and my grandchildren. And I'm scared for your children.

TAMTE: He ran on a whole campaign of fear, and he continues to do that. Every time he says it, he tells you how horrible it is and then he leaves it there for you to just eat it up and sit in it and be afraid.

MCKIRAHAN: I don't think Trump is saying he's against somebody that believes in values differently than him. He's not saying -- he's saying, I am here to protect every American citizen. Did he not say that? Everybody's rights. TAMTE: Here's the thing to also remember is, when you're afraid of all

these Muslims coming in and hurting us and blowing us up and shooting us, most of them are white Americans doing this.

[08:40:09] MCKIRAHAN: (INAUDIBLE).

TAMTE: People are afraid. They just -- there are dangerous things and they believe the things that backup what they have

I do think that that's the case for some -- some Trump supporters out there. And -- and that is what I'm seeing happening a lot. And that's not putting your faith in God either.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CAMEROTA: I think that that was an interesting point. I mean the intermingling of faith and fear and which one trumps which. I mean, look, you heard Dennis there, there are a lot of websites and alleged news sites that have talked erroneously about sharia law. I mean it's basically fake news. But it depends on where you're getting your news.

CUOMO: Well, sharia law is real. It's a cultural adaptation in most places. Some states do have it as a parallel system. But the idea that Muslims --

CAMEROTA: It's not superseding the U.S. Constitution.

CUOMO: Right. The point that Muslims want to come here and make sharia our law, and you heard the woman in there say, I want to make sure -- I don't care who they are, but whoever comes here, I want to make sure they want to be here for the right reasons and they want to assimilate. Those are questions that were never asked of any other ethnic group. Not my grandparents. You know, not the new East Asians. Now that's the test and it speaks to a prejudice. It just does.

CAMEROTA: All right, we'll have more with the -- those voters tomorrow with many more topics.

Meanwhile, on a much lighter note, beloved giant panda Bao Bao is leaving the only home she's ever known, Chris. Her next destination and the story behind her Washington send-off. Adorable.

CUOMO: I see -- I see the panda --

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:45:51] CAMEROTA: We do have some breaking news for you right now because President Donald trump has just arrived at the Smithsonian National Museum of African-American History and Culture. It, of course, is Black History Month. Joe Johns is live at the White House to walk us through what we're seeing here.

Joe, tell us about this visit.

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, we have been told this morning that the president was to be accompanied at the museum with, among others, HUD secretary nominee Ben Carson, and his wife, Candy Carson, and we were given some other names, including Alveda King, who is the niece of the slain civil right leader Dr. Martin Luther King, as well as Senator Tim Scott. So a whole list of people there. We're told Ben Carson's family, including his grandkids, expected to be there also.

This was a visit to the museum that was apparently set up by presidential aide, Omarosa Manigault, and apparently the second time trying. We're told it was penciled in on Donald Trump's schedule before he was inaugurated mid-January-ish and it was nixed, we're told, according to a source, by the Secret Service citing security concerns. So this is an opportunity for the president to get to this very popular attraction in Washington, D.C., that only opened back in September of last year to some fanfare. And since then it's taken in about a million visitors. And very hard to get a ticket. So the president and a group of African-American folks from here in Washington, D.C., all going to the museum. And don't know if we're going to hear from the president, but he's there.

Back to you.

CUOMO: All right, Joe.

Let's bring in CNN political director David Chalian.

Politically, what does the trip mean? What issues are supposed to be raised? Do we have any indication of how the White House wants to use this?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: I -- you know, I don't think the White House is going to use this more than for the optics of the trip. As Joe mentioned, this was something, though, not fully confirmed on the schedule, was planned for mid-January pre- inauguration. So that did not happen. And getting this trip done during Black History Month, after his wife was there with Bibi Netanyahu's wife, is a good time for him to go and make this trip. Also to, as you know, he made comments last week in his press conference about his performance with the African-American community in the election, and pushing back on any charges that he is racist. He was pushing back against that accusation in the press conference last week. So having this trip here of the president going to this very popular new attraction in Washington during Black History Month to me seems they're just sort of optically moving through it. I don't think that we're going to necessarily hear from the president.

CAMEROTA: We just saw some video of when the first lady, Melania, visited there with Prime Minister Netanyahu's wife. And, again, as you say, I mean this museum, it took 13 years to build and create. So these are some of the first visitors. Well, it opened in September, but, still, first, obviously, high-profile visitors. It's always interesting, David, to hear how decisions are made at the White House and who has the president's ear, and this one was Omarosa.

CHALIAN: Yes, who we know has been advising him throughout the campaign and now into the administration on outreach to the African- American community and others. She's a part of the communications and press staff now at the White House. You see her sometimes sitting along that side row of staffers when Sean Spicer gives his briefings in the press briefing room.

And, listen, you guys know, nothing ends up on the president of the United States' schedule haphazardly or that isn't deemed important enough to be there. There are tons of request for the president's time. The fact that he's giving his time to make this trip and to obviously then bring all the accompaniments of the office along with him --

CUOMO: Right.

CHALIAN: To see the trip, that's no small thing.

[08:50:05] CUOMO: Well, absolutely it is not small thing. And I hope that it's not just about the optics. There's so many issues that came up during the campaign, Joe, that still demands voice. You know, Chicago is not the sum total of all things that matter to African- Americans. And it is an opportunity for the president to use the trip to then make some statements about what he wants to see in his own agenda, and what he wants people to focus on in terms of priorities. I mean it could be used for a lot of different reasons, couldn't it?

JOHNS: Absolutely that's true. And the president has talked a number of times about rebuilding the inner cities, which he has describes in some terms that some African-American leaders disagree with. So I think it's significant to see Ben Carson traveling over to the museum with him, even though Carson has yet to be confirmed by the Senate. He is one of the people who would lead the charge on some of the president's issues, including rebuilding the inner cities when he gets around to that.

CAMEROTA: As you guys are speaking, Chris and I are monitoring this feed from inside the museum. And it doesn't look like our camera is completely set up and ready to go. But we did just see Sean Spicer scurry by obviously on the way to either find the president or get into the right position. Yes.

So, you know, we've been talking this morning about how the president decides what he's going to speak out about most vociferously, David. Obviously this past weekend there was bad news for Jewish community centers around the country. There was a spate of bomb scares, hoaxes called in there. And then Ivanka Trump, President Trump's daughter, who herself converted to Judaism, tweeted out just how important religious tolerance is and our faith centers. Do you think that we'll hear from the president responding to what we're seeing about the anti-Semitism across the country?

CHALIAN: We may. I mean we did get a very strongly statement -- worded statement from his press secretary last night. We haven't heard the president himself in his own words quite that way. But Sean Spicer put out a statement last night that indicated where the president's thinking is on this. So it would not surprise me terribly if we do eventually hear from the president on this himself because what we have heard from him when he was questioned about it twice, two days in a row last week, he strangely did not issue a statement that was as forceful as his press secretary or his daughter issued last night. Instead, he sort of took at as personal umbrage, a personal upfront that he was being asked about this. in some ways suggesting that he was responsible sort of what his response was --

CUOMO: Right.

CHALIAN: And talked about his election victory. But we may hear from him. And now, you know, Hillary Clinton tweeted, you guys put it up a little earlier. This is the first tweet since President Trump's been president that she has directly, specifically referenced the president and gone to the president with a suggestions. She's been supportive of the women's march, against the travel ban, but this is the first tweet since he's taken office where she basically says, step up, Mr. President.

CUOMO: The president's walking in right now. We just saw his advance team. We're waiting for him to come into focus here. Let's see what we see.

CAMEROTA: We just saw -- here we go, photographers. We saw some of his Secret Service detail. But, again, everybody seems to be -- OK, so people are -- and there he is. There is the president now, along with Dr. Ben Carson behind him and --

CUOMO: His daughter, Ivanka, joins him here. As we --

CAMEROTA: Omarosa.

CUOMO: As we heard, the first lady was there with Bibi Netanyahu, the prime minister of Israel's wife. She's not making this trip again. Omarosa is there. And they are getting a tour of the exhibits. Let's see if we can hear anything.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because I wanted people to realize that we can't understand Jefferson (ph) without understanding slavery. But even more importantly, we talk about slaves. I wanted to talk about Peter, Lucy, William, try to humanize everything. And so, for us, this whole museum is about humanizing stories of people that have been left out of history, and making sure that you don't think about migration, slavery. You think about the individual who lived their lives.

And so, for us, this was an opportunity to tell these stories. And we have wonderful material from Jefferson, but also (INAUDIBLE). So we have Benjamin Banneker, who helped to create Washington, D.C. We have Toussaint Louverture, who was the leader of Haiti, who was really so important because when the Haitian revolution occurred, so many slave owners came to the new world. So it really increased the number of slaves. We have Phillis Wheatley on the other side. So basically to give people a sense of who was living around this time. And so I just think that we wanted to give people the sense and then to give them distance, to understand that the 19th century is really all about (INAUDIBLE) give people that sense.

[08:55:05] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know Benjamin Bennett (ph) from this area. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know (INAUDIBLE).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some of the land that we live (INAUDIBLE) --

(CROSS TALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These are actual shackles.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He made the conference (ph), too. He made the conference.

(CROSS TALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We also wanted to say, here are the (INAUDIBLE).

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Fantastic, right? (INAUDIBLE).

(CROSS TALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, I come down here sometimes and just say their names, (INAUDIBLE).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was telling Mr. Trump (ph) (INAUDIBLE).

(CROSS TALK)

CUOMO: All right, so we were listening to Lonnie Bunch. He's the director of the National Museum of African-American History and Culture. And then the man you just saw discussing the entire exhibit with the president is David Skorton, he's the secretary of the Smithsonian.

Joe, it was interesting the way Lonnie was explaining what he wanted to communicate with these stories of slaves. He said he didn't want people to just think about the slave migration as numbers but individual people and their stories and their journey.

JOHNS: Right. And just talking over the weekend with so many people who have been to the museum. I, in fact, tried to get passes just yet with my kids. It is a real experience that's described by many as sort of exhilaration going in, and a real sense of depth and almost sadness in places coming out.

CUOMO: Joe Johns, appreciate it. David Chalian, thank you very much.

CAMEROTA: Yes.

CUOMO: It will be interesting to see what the president takes away from this, and what he talks to the rest of us about, and the world.

CNN "NEWSROOM" with Poppy Harlow is going to pick up right after the break.

Thank you for spending your morning with us.

CAMEROTA: See you tomorrow.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. I'm Poppy Harlow. John Berman has the day off.

[09:00:00] And you are looking at live pictures of the president right now visiting the National Museum of African-American History and Culture, a new museum that is open in Washington, D.C.