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A Look At President Trump's Address To The Joint Session of Congress; Trump: My Job Is Not To Represent The World; Trump: Willing To Find New Friends And Partnerships; Trump: We'll Work With Muslim Allies To Defeat ISIS; Trump: Torch Of Truth, Liberty, Justice In Our Hands. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired March 1, 2017 - 02:00   ET


ISHA SESAY, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello and welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Isha Sesay.

JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: And I'm John Vause. We're live in Los Angeles where it's just gone 11 o'clock on Tuesday night.

SESAY: Donald Trump's first address to a joint session of Congress is being widely praised, but more for its tone than substance. But the softer, gentler style was not enough to win over Democrats who kept the applause to a minimum.

VAUSE: Which is in stark contrast to Republicans who stood to cheer and applaud as the president listed his achievements since taking office last month and outline an ambitious agenda.


DONALD J. TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Dying industries will come roaring back to life. Heroic veterans will get the care they so desperately need. Our military will be given the resources its brave warriors so richly deserve. Crumbling infrastructure will be replaced with new roads, bridges, tunnels, airports and railways, gleaming across our very, very beautiful land.

Our terrible drug epidemic will slow down and ultimately stop. And our neglected inner cities will see a rebirth of hope, safety and opportunity. Above all else, we will keep our promises to the American people.


VAUSE: And on the seventh day, he rested.

SESAY: Lots and lots to discuss. Let's introduce our panel of experts. Joining us here in LA, Democratic strategist Matthew Littman, CNN Political Commentator and Trump supporter John Phillips.

VAUSE: Also with us, CNN's senior political analyst Ron Brownstein and talk radio host Mo'Kelly. Great to have you all here.

SESAY: Welcome to you all. VAUSE: Well, some big ideas from the president, small on detail. And, Ron, the reality is so far there are no specifics from the president on how any of this will actually be paid for and no plan as to how this will actually make it through Congress.

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Look, I thought it was a more measured, more controlled, at times even more empathetic speech than we have seen from him before.

But I think it is emphatically a mistake to view this as a reset. If anything, it was a doubling down on his determination to redefine the Republican Party around this populist nationalist agenda, in which he even opened a new front tonight by going after not only his familiar target of undocumented immigration, but for the first time as president indicating that he would support reducing legal immigration as well.

And if you look at the kind of the budget document that he put out the other day, in which he said that he wanted to increase defense spending by cutting domestic programs, which primarily aim at younger people, while completely exempting the entitlement programs of the elderly, which go more toward his constituency of older and especially lower income whites.

You have a coherent strategy here, John. That's the real message for Democrats. They are dealing with an opponent, an adversary who has a theory of the case, a majority - a coalition that he's trying to build, an agenda that he is systematically targeting toward them and that was the real message I took out of this speech tonight. He knows where he is going and the question is whether he can bring a majority of the country along with him.

SESAY: Mo, to bring you in here, what did you make of the speech? What message did you take from it? The president is saying the time for small thinking is over.

MORRIS O'KELLY, HOST, THE MO'KELLY SHOW: It's nice that he said that, but I guess reality is going to be what's more important. We know that this president was presidential for all of one hour - one, on one day, across 40 days.

So, what's more important to see what he does on Wednesday, what he does moving forward because if he can't remain presidential, if something should happen that's negative or someone should not agree with him like a justice, if he can't remain presidential, then this speech was only an insincere and inauthentic moment and not actually a turning point in this administration.

I'm not sure we saw the true President Trump tonight. I think we saw a momentary glimpse of a president, but I expect more of a petulant and petty Trump going forward because that's who he's been for 39 of the 40 days.

VAUSE: Well, Mo, it was 60 minutes and 15 seconds. Let's get into some of the details right now on immigration. Ron brought this up. The president floated the idea of a merit-based system, like they have in Canada and Australia. And it also opened the door just a little to a bipartisan deal on immigration reform. This is what he said.


[02:05:00] TRUMP: I believe that real and positive immigration reform is possible as long as we focus on the following goals: To improve jobs and wages for Americans, to strengthen our nation's security, and to restore respect for our laws.


VAUSE: So, John Phillips, will Republicans in Congress go for this? And what about his base? They didn't vote for immigration reform. They voted for round them up and kick them out.

JOHN PHILLIPS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, he was very tough on immigration today. And we're a country, not a flop house. So, I think the country is going to be behind him as he presses along with those programs.

As a Republican, I thought tonight's speech was so refreshing. I'm used to George W. Bush giving these speeches, which is like watching a drunk band drive down an icy road. What he did tonight is going to cause his poll numbers to shoot through the roof.

Those programs, with that delivery, is a winner and it should scare every Democrat right now in Washington DC, especially those red state Democrats because they're going to look at these poll numbers go up and many of them - ten of them, in fact - are up for reelection in 2018 in states that he won.

And when he would talk about things that were popular, he talked about bringing jobs back home and all the Republicans would be cheering. And you could tell that Nancy Pelosi put the directive out to just sit there stone-faced. And every time the camera would cut to her, she would just sit there with the same expression on her face.

Well, it's hard to be the face of a movement if your face has no movement. And that's what we saw from them tonight. And I'm telling you, he's putting them behind the eight ball if he can stick with it.

SESAY: I'm going to bring in Matt there as the Democrat because you were twitching at points there.

MATTHEW LITTMAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Because you see how I remained calm there.


LITTMAN: Let me just say - first of all, you say Trump's poll numbers are going to go up through the roof, they're not. Here's the biggest problem with what Trump did tonight is, he's already president. This was like a campaign speech, but he's actually the president.

So, his plan on immigration reform, he's not going to have an immigration reform going through Congress. His plan on infrastructure, he talked about tonight, where is the actual infrastructure plan? His plan on tax reform, where is the tax reform plan? His plan on the Affordable Care Act, where is the Affordable Care Act plan?

He is actually president. He's been president for 40 days. Put forward your plans. Let's start to see what your plans are. He's not putting them forward, the American people are going to start to get a little bit angry this is not happening.

SESAY: One plan he did put forward and we heard about it when he signed the executive action was bringing together this new group voice as it were, as it's known as, really calling attention to crimes committed by undocumented immigrants. Take a listen to what he said specifically and then we'll talk about the reaction.


TRUMP: I have ordered the Department of Homeland Security to create an office to serve American victims. The office is called VOICE, Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement. We are providing a voice to those who have been ignored by our media and silenced by special interests.


SESAY: The groaning could not be escaped there.

LITTMAN: Yes. Listen, Donald Trump is trying to demonize immigrants as part of what he's been doing here, but here's the thing there about Donald Trump. He's saying that there is this big problem on the border that actually has not existed for a while, right? Immigration has been going down across the border for the last 16, 17 years.

What he wants to do is create this big ICE force where he hires thousands more people, he wants to spend $25 billion to put up this border wall. By the way, where is the plan for the actual border wall?

This is all huge government spending. 10 percent more for the military. These giant increases in spending. Cutting taxes. But he actually - he's the president. Where are the plans? Put forward that budget. Put forward that plans. He's not doing it. At some point, time is going to start getting short. We're already 40 days in. There are no plans.

VAUSE: OK. Well, he mentioned the issue about Obamacare. We did get some details of his vision for a possible replacement plan for the Affordable Care Act. Here's what he said.


TRUMP: Tonight, I am also calling on this Congress to repeal and replace Obamacare with reforms that expand choice, increase access, lower costs, and at the same time provide better healthcare.

(END VIDEO CLIP) VAUSE: So, Ron Brownstein, to you, is any of that actually going to happen and was it a good idea for the president to essentially call Obamacare a disaster and then turn to the Democrats and ask for their help in trying to fix it.

BROWNSTEIN: He's not going to get their help. Look, he has to intervene. The effort to repeal and replace Obamacare has quickly run into the mud in Congress because of really, at the moment, irreconcilable differences among Republicans.

The core problem they have goes back - we were talking about before. If you look at what the Republican coalition has become, they stand to lose from almost all of the major ideas that Republicans are putting forward as an alternative.

The core idea that the president talked about tonight was deregulating insurance, allowing it to be sold along state lines, eliminating minimum benefit requirements, and in other ways trying to reduce the initial cost of premiums.

[02:10:04] The problem is that if you do that and you unravel the risk sharing, the winners in that process are primarily younger, healthier people at a time when younger people are voting primarily Democratic and the big losers are older working age people at a time when a majority of Donald Trump's votes came from white people over 45.

And that core conundrum of finding an alternative to Obamacare that does not hurt their own voters, I think, is a huge hurdle that Republicans are facing in Congress. And all of the ideas that he put forward tonight, such as selling insurance across state lines, would only compound that problem. It's not clear that they can find a way out of this conundrum, but he does - if they are going to find a way, he is going to have to get his hands a lot dirtier than he has so far.

SESAY: John, to bring you in, you hear what Ron was just saying there, this isn't just an issue if he can get Democrats on board, can he even get Republicans on board for the kind of Obamacare replacement he outlined tonight?

PHILLIPS: Well, this isn't a curveball. This is something that he ran on. He ran explicitly on replacing and repealing Obamacare. We saw a press conference earlier today that Paul Ryan, the Speaker of the House, where our own Manu Raju interviewed him about that.

It looks like the plan that Trump is going to come in with is going to be something very similar to the plan that Paul Ryan has been pushing. So, I believe there is more commonality between Congressional Republicans and President Trump than most people think.

VAUSE: OK. We also heard from the president saying he would ask Congress for a huge increase in infrastructure spending.


TRUMP: To launch our national rebuilding, I will be asking Congress to approve legislation that produces a $1 trillion investment in infrastructure of the United States, financed through both public and private capital, creating millions of new jobs.


VAUSE: So, Mo, to you, given that there is no plan to pay for this and everything else that Republicans are dealing with and the fact that so many Republicans are worried about the deficit and they don't like spending, again, what are the chances of this getting through?

O'KELLY: You basically took my answer. Bill Clinton said many years ago, this is about math. $1 trillion infrastructure project, a $20 billion wall, tax cuts, how is he going to pay for this? It's not feasible. It's not even practical. It's not possible.

But, ultimately, Donald Trump is showing us that he has an oversimplification of these issues. He just realized a couple of - two days ago that Obamacare and healthcare was very complicated. He has not put in the time and he does not fully understand what is necessary in being leader of the free world and also commander-in- chief.

SESAY: Now, Matt, the president proposing a $1 trillion infrastructure project, someone's going to have to show him the money.

LITTMAN: Yes. So, here's the thing. He's not planning on spending $1 trillion on infrastructure. He said a public-private partnership. Then he pointed to what Dwight Eisenhower did in the 50s with the highways. That wasn't a public-private partnership, right? That was public money used to build the nation's highways.

And that's the part about infrastructure. If you want to build tunnels, you don't need a private partnership. There's no money for private companies to make in that sort of thing. If you want to build bridges, there's no money.

So, we all think, wow, infrastructure sounds great, we're going to hire a lot of people. Trump is talking about something very different. He hasn't told us what the specifics of the plan are, but public-private partnership doesn't work when you're building infrastructure projects.

VAUSE: I guess we're running out of time. So, I want to get to one of the last points from his address and it's on national security and some tough talk from the president.


TRUMP: We're also taking strong measures to protect our nation from radical Islamic terrorism.

It is not compassion, but reckless to allow uncontrolled entry from places where proper vetting cannot occur.

We cannot allow a beachhead of terrorists to form inside America. We cannot allow our nation to become a sanctuary for extremists.

(END VIDEO CLIP) VAUSE: So, John, the president seemed to really enjoy using the term radical Islamic terrorism even though his own national security advisor has argued against using those exact words.

PHILLIPS: Well, that's the threat. And I don't know why we should expect him to pretend like that's not the threat right now. He ran on this. Again, this is not a curveball. This is a fastball. This is something that he talked about again and again and again during the campaign and it's something that people who voted for him expect him to address and he put it front and center tonight.

SESAY: Matt.

LITTMAN: But the thing about it is, when he talked about the fact they were not properly vetting, it takes two years for refugees to come to the United States. We vet in a much different way. In Europe, they can come over by boat. They can't really do that here. We have an excellent vetting process already in place.

Again, he's trying to create an enemy where there is none in some of these cases. We do have a problem with terrorism. There is no doubt about it. But he's speaking about it in a way that's completely wrong.

VAUSE: OK. A lot more to get to from the president address to Congress, but we will take a short break. I know you guys are sticking around, so we'll catch up with you all in a short time. We'll take a break. When we come back, President Trump under fire for not responding to anti-Semitic threats and vandalism. We'll tell you what he had to say about that during his speech to Congress.


[02:15:08] TRUMP: Tonight, as we mark the conclusion of our celebration of Black History Month, we are reminded of our nation's past civil rights in the work that still remains to be done.




TRUMP: I am asking everyone watching tonight to seize this moment, believe in yourselves, believe in your future, and believe once more in America.


SESAY: US President Donald Trump delivering his first address to the US Congress. Let's bring back CNN's senior political analyst Ron Brownstein and talk radio host Mo'Kelly.

Ron, to start with you, there's no doubt this speech was strikingly different in tone than the speech President Trump gave at his inauguration. What did you make of it tonally? BROWNSTEIN: As I said, I thought it was more measured. I thought it was more controlled. At moments, it was more empathetic. But it was also a speech that featured a large number of threats that he identified.

The essence of conservative populism, the kind of populism that has propelled Donald Trump in the beginning is the idea that you are defending the virtuous middle against forces from above and below that would threaten them.

[02:20:08] And look at all of the threats that he kind of pointed to in this speech. Undocumented immigrants who are committing crimes. Legal immigrants who might be stealing your job. Muslim terrorists, radical Islamic terrorists, foreign competitors who would be taking your job.

And, basically, he identified a world of threats that were challenging the security of voters that he argued that he would protect. Now, there is a lot of power in that argument, as he's demonstrated. The risk to him is that many Americans hear that as exclusionary, as biased, as kind of rejecting a tolerant inclusive society.

And I think that is the fault line, more than any other, on which the Trump presidency will be fought out and, ultimately, the political verdicts will be rendered in 2018 and 2020. Is this something that is about truly involving and protecting all Americans or is it dividing new lines between us and them at home?

VAUSE: But there was that moment right out of the gate where the president acknowledged the attacks and the threats to Jewish community centers. Also, he did a call out to the racially-motivated shooting in Kansas. Listen to this.


TRUMP: Recent threats targeting Jewish community centers and vandalism of Jewish cemeteries as well as last week's shooting in Kansas City remind us that while we may be a nation divided on policies, we are a country that stands united in condemning hate and evil in all of its very ugly forms.


VAUSE: So, Mo, a lot of people would say that was a long overdue, but yet positive moment for the president. But just hours before this, President Trump was implying that the people behind the attacks at the Jewish cemetery may have been doing to make him look bad, even implied it could've been done by Jews.

O'KELLY: Yes. We've set the bar so low that just because he made one statement which was written for him, not thought up by him, that we want to give him a pass. This is the same president who also said tonight that education is a civil rights era of our time.

That couldn't be further from the truth because this is the same man who was caught up in one of the biggest civil rights cases of the time in terms of the housing discrimination case against him in the early 1970s.

Everything has to do with sincerity. He has yet to prove that he's sincere in what he has to say about African-Americans and other people of color. He still went down that road of rhetoric, talking about African-Americans being disenfranchised, disadvantaged, whore, crime- ridden cities. He doesn't really understand what it means to reach out to someone as opposed to offering platitudes and photo opportunities.

SESAY: Ron, one person he did reach out to was the widow of Ryan Owens, the Navy SEAL who lost his life in that operation in Yemen. It was a striking moment. Take a listen.


TRUMP: I just spoke to our great Gen. Mattis just now who reconfirmed that - and I quote - Ryan was a part of a highly successful raid that generated large amounts of vital intelligence that will lead to many more victories in the future against our enemy. Ryan's legacy is etched into eternity. Thank you.


SESAY: His wife was clearly very emotional. You see her there, Carryn Owens, tears streaming down her face. President Trump even going on to quote lines from the Bible about sacrifice. Notable in that - that I can recall, the first time we've seen really in that kind of comforter-in-chief role.

BROWNSTEIN: Yes. Right. It's the first time we've seen that kind of human empathy, I think. Rarely have we seen that from him. The part about her husband's heroism is not in dispute. Pretty much everything else that the president said in terms of how the raid unfolded and what it produced is in dispute.

But there's no question that this was - as I said, this was a moment of empathy and a speech in which he was able to display more empathy than he has before. It did not seem to be solely about him and his grievances and his desires and his needs, more about a kind of reaching out to others.

But, again, having said that, there were a lot of lines drawn in this speech. Despite a softer tone overall, in some ways, it was still a speech with a lot of us and them and I think the question - that is, I think the core question that confronts this president. Do people see him as someone who is really working to make life better for all Americans or trying to in effect build walls at home even as he builds walls along the border with Mexico.

VAUSE: Well, it was a speech which ended, though, with a call to unity. This is what he said.


[02:25:00] TRUMP: This is our vision. This is our mission. But we can only get there together. We are one people with one destiny. The time for small thinking is over. The time for trivial fights is behind us. We just need the courage to share the dreams that fill our hearts.


VAUSE: Mo, is this a hard sell coming from a man who spent the better part of two years essentially insulting everybody around him?

O'KELLY: Well, we'll see. I know that Saturday Night Live is coming back in four days and then we'll get to see whether he's truly about unity, whether he's truly about putting petty things and small- mindedness behind us.

President Trump, it's all up to him. He can be the president that he wants to present himself to be, but consistency is what breeds confidence. He has to be consistently the adult in the room as opposed to being petty and petulant.

If he goes back to being petty and petulant at 3 AM tonight because he gets a negative review about his speech, or he's watching CNN right now, which he is wont to do, then we're right back to where we started and this speech means little, if anything.

VAUSE: OK. Mo, thank you so much. Mo'Kelly and Ron Brownstein, thank you for being with us. We appreciate it. We should also mention there are poll number in already about the address to Congress.

SESAY: Yes. The CNN/ORC poll.

VAUSE: It's being received very positively. Look at this.

SESAY: Yes. We must point out, 509 Americans were polled for this. Five hundred and nine Americans who watched the speech and it got largely positive reviews, as you see there. 57 percent saying that it had a very positive reaction with them. 69 percent saying the president's policies will move the country in the right direction.

VAUSE: I should also point out that since this is a Republican president, those people watching this address could most likely be Republicans, which may skew those numbers.



SESAY: All right. Time for a quick break now. Donald Trump says America is ready to lead again on the world stage. Just ahead, the president's plan for making new friends and forging new partnerships.



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: What we are witnessing today is the renewal of the American spirit. Our allies will find that America is once again ready to lead.


JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Welcome back to our viewers watching in the United States and all around the world. It's 11:30 on the west coast. I'm John Vause.

ISHA SESAY, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: And I'm Isha Sesay. This is CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles.

VAUSE: President Donald Trump has wrapped his first address to Congress. So back with us here in Los Angeles to talk more, Democratic strategist, Mathew Littman, and CNN political commentator and Trump supporter, John Phillips.

SESAY: And joining us from Moscow, CNN senior international correspondent, Matthew Chance.

VAUSE: The foreign policy in this address to Congress was all very much America first. Listen to the president.


PRESIDENT TRUMP: My job is not to represent the world. My job is to represent the United States of America.


VAUSE: That's a pretty clear message coming from the president. What are the implications of that?

MATHEW LITTMAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, and first of all, part of his job, we are the leader of the free world, so part of his job is actually to represent the world. We're the leader. That's why he's building that military budget, boosting it by 10 percent.

You know, we're also in NATO which he's talked very poorly about in the past, but we need to be leading NATO as well. So I think there's confusion around the world that these cabinet members have to go places. They're like pooper scoopers for Trump and try to clean up his mess all over the place.

Trump is not very clear on his foreign policy at all. Part of it in terms of fighting ISIS seems to be continuation of Barack Obama's foreign policy, but I think it's a terrible thing to take a step pack in terms of world leadership.

SESAY: But John, I mean, U.S. allies around the world will hear that speech and there is a chance that they'd be wondering can they rely on the U.S., especially when you hear the president makes comments like that. Should they be concerned?

JOHN PHILLIPS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Speaking as the voice of the sanitation department, I can say that a very smart American politician, Tip O'Neal, once said all politics is local. And Donald Trump, he's a first time candidate. He's a businessman who is now a politician understands that.

And sometimes politicians, presidents in particular, can lose sight of the fact that they have to deal with the nuts and bolts of domestic policy first and foremost.

When they started getting involved in conflicts all around the world, they take their eyes off the prize. Tonight at this speech, he reaffirmed his support for NATO. He said that NATO is a very important part of our international alliances.

And he is committed to making sure that succeeds, gave them a tip of the hat for destroying fascism and communism and other international victories that they have produced. So I thought it was a great speech and our allies have something to be happy about.

LITTMAN: I'm just going to have to say something. Sorry. Two things. You said he reaffirmed his support for NATO. He affirmed his support for NATO. He hadn't mentioned any support for NATO in the past.

PHILLIPS: He never said pull it out. He wants them to pay their bills.


LITTMAN: Actually, he did last year he said. Two for you to say that a president shouldn't be able to focus on domestic and foreign policies. You are the leader of the free world. I'm sorry, I know Trump said the other day about health care, this is more complicated than he thought it would be.

VAUSE: He did give his support for NATO. He said he respected our allies and said he was in the business of making new friends.


PRESIDENT TRUMP: America is willing to find new friends and to forge new partnerships where shared interests align. We want harmony and stability, not war and conflict. We want peace wherever peace can be found. America is friends today with former enemies, some of our closest allies decades ago fought on the opposite side of these terrible wars. This history should give us all faith in the possibilities for a better world.


VAUSE: And by friends, that would seem to be Russia. Matthew Chance joins us now live from Moscow. Matthew, the president didn't actually say Russia, but that's how it's being read here in the United States. How is it seen there from Moscow?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's been commented on widely in the Russian press that the word Russian wasn't uttered by President Trump, and you get the sense that given the critical remarks that have come from various elements of the Trump administration in the past couple of weeks, there's probably some relief about that.

But in fact, this continues the idea that there's mixed messages coming from the Trump administration when it comes to the policy toward Russia. On the one hand, Trump affirmed his support for NATO. That's something that won't be welcomed very readily here in Russia.

[02:35:09]Of course, they're opposed to NATO expansion. They were hoping that Trump was going to be opposed to that too and was going to be seeing that NATO military alliance more from their point of view.

But also this idea that America is willing to find friends and forged new relationships, and perhaps in a bleak reference to the idea of cooperation of international terrorism, it's something that both the United States and Russia do have coinciding national interests about.

And as supposed to people here in Russia, they still see President Trump or want to see him as pro-Russian in some way, they'll draw some comfort from that.

VAUSE: OK, Matthew, thank you. Matthew Chance live in Moscow. Appreciate it.

SESAY: Matthew Chance to Matt Littman, how did you read the comments? Did you read them as an oblique reference to Russia?

LITTMAN: Of course, obviously. He's not mentioning the word Russia because he doesn't want to be attacked by everybody because everybody questions his alliance with Russia, right. I mean, one thing that we have to keep in mind is we don't have the same goals as Russia. That's why we are not aligned with Russia, right?

So we both like to fight terrorism, but in Syria what Russia is really doing is trying to boost Assad. That's not something that the United States is doing. He doesn't want to mention this because we've been finding out that his campaign had a lot of back and forth with people in Russia.

And there are going to be investigations in Congress, and Donald Trump won't release his tax returns, so we don't know how much Russia has invested in Trump's businesses. But there's a lot of back and forth in congressional investigations that's going to be happening with Trump's relationship with Russia. So that's why he didn't mention the word Russia tonight.

VAUSE: John, last word.

PHILLIPS: I saw it as a meaning of bunch of different things including Russia, including countries that could be helpful in the war in terror, and I would even throw in international trade. We know he wants to renegotiate NAFTA. We know he wants to renegotiate other trade deals. I think he's looking for allies, not just when it comes to defense but when it comes to trade.

VAUSE: OK. SESAY: Funny how you had different reads. What a surprise?

VAUSE: Matthew Chance in Moscow and Matt Littman and John Phillips here in Los Angeles. Thanks to you both.

We'll take a break. When we come back, Donald Trump did not mention Syria or refugees during his address to Congress. So we'll speak to the aunt of a dead Syrian boy, who was a symbol of the crisis. She actually attended the address. She joins us after the break.



VAUSE: CNN has word that President Trump is delaying his plans to sign a reworked U.S. travel ban.

SESAY: This decision came late Tuesday night after his address to Congress. The president talked about taking strong measures against ISIS and not allowing the U.S. to become a sanctuary for extremists.


PRESIDENT TRUMP: As promised, I directed the Department of Defense to develop a plan to demolish and destroy ISIS, a network of lawless savages that have slaughtered Muslims and Christians and men and women and children of all faiths and all beliefs. We will work with our allies including our friends and allies in the Muslim world to extinguish this vile enemy from our planet.


VAUSE: For more on Donald Trump's plans for defeating ISIS, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, Democrat from Hawaii and former vice chair of the DNC is with us now from Washington.

And also to Tima Kurdi, the congresswoman's guest at the president's address to Congress. She is also the aunt of Alan Kurdi, the little Syrian boy who became a symbol of the refugee crisis two years ago when his body was photographed washed up on a beach in Turkey, who drowned along with his mother and brother when their boat overturned trying to reach Europe.

Thank you both for being with us. Congresswoman, first to you, the president only briefly talked about his plans to destroy ISIS, a plan which he says we'll rely on working with allies and friends in the Muslim world. That would seem to indicate a multilateral approach, which is very similar to the Obama administration, isn't it?

REPRESENTATIVE TULSI GABBARD (D), HAWAII: Thank you, John. One thing that I had hoped President Trump would talk about was really a declaration to an end of current U.S. policy which has U.S. taxpayers paying for arms and money and other support for armed militants in Syria who are working directly with terrorist groups like al Qaeda to overthrow the Syrian government. This is a policy of a counterproductive regime change war that

has caused such devastation, tremendous loss of life and human suffering in Syria, this refugee crisis, and has actually worked to strengthen these terrorist groups like ISIS and al Qaeda that we should be focusing all our efforts working with partners to try to defeat.

VAUSE: Well, Mrs. Kurdi, we're about to hear from the president when he will issue a new travel ban. This time it's believed that refugees from Syria will not be automatically rejected. Even so, when the president is talking about wanting to work with Muslim allies and friendly Muslim nations around the world, what impact will the temporary travel ban have?

TIMA KURDI, AUNT OF ALAN KURDI: Yes, honestly, it's -- it does hurt me a lot when I heard this about the indefinite ban for the Syrian refugees. I was thinking about my family and other Syrian people who lost their life trying to go somewhere safe.

And you know, to be honest, I am here. I was hoping to see President Trump, to stop arming the terrorists, stop supporting regime change, and this policy will cause million of the Syrian, my people, to flee their homes. And no country wants them, so stop bombing their country. They don't come to yours.

VAUSE: And Congresswoman, with regard to the president's plan, you want him to stop arming the rebel groups within Syria. You think that is doing more harm than good, but it does seem the recommendations coming from the Pentagon would see the Kurdish fighters inside Syria being and possibly sending more U.S. troops there. If that happens, what exactly will be the consequences?

GABBARD: Well, first it's important to make clear that there are two wars that we are waging right now in Syria. The first war is the war that I've spoken about. It's this counterproductive illegal regime change war to overthrow the Syrian government, of which part of it is we're providing arms and support to militant groups directly working with al Qaeda. This is what we should stop.

The second war is the war to defeat terrorist groups like ISIS, like al Qaeda, and this is the war where we are working with the Kurdish fighters on the ground who have proven to be the most effective fighting force against terrorist groups like al Qaeda.

[02:45:07]We should continue that work and continue to focus our resources and defeating these terrorist groups and working with partners to do so.

VAUSE: Mrs. Kurdi, you know, as somebody who is directly impacted by this civil war in Syria, what do most people there want? Do they want the United States to continue to focus on regime change or would they prefer more of a focus on ISIS? What's the desire for the Syrian population at this point after such a long civil war?

KURDI: You know, from my experience when I was speaking to the Syrian people, the one I met, example in Turkey, in Kurdistan, those refugees, only what they want is to go home. We are outside. If we don't talk to them personally, we don't know what's going on. I did talk to my people. I understand their language. They cry to me, and they told me we want to go home. We need the war to help us and stop arming those -- the jihadists in our country and we want to just go home to rebuild our life.

VAUSE: OK. With that, I think we'll leave it on that note. Thank you both for being with us. Tima Kurdi as well as Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, thanks so much.

GABBARD: Thank you.

SESAY: Time for a quick break now. Coming up, how did Mr. Trump's speech stack up against his predecessor, President Barack Obama? A speech expert joins us to compare the two next.


PEDRAM JAVAHERI, AMS METEOROLOGIST: First day of the meteorological spring across the northern hemisphere. Conditions around parts of the United States have been so mild for so long. The pattern changes a little bit. Severe storms around parts of the eastern corner of the U.S. in fact upwards of 103 million people in a risk for severe weather come Wednesday afternoon.

The highest risk from national toward Lexington on into Cincinnati come Wednesday afternoon with a line of storm moving in off towards the east. The pattern again, the strongest storms sometime late into the afternoon hours. A little bit of daytime heating to destabilize the atmosphere and everything in place there to produce some snow showers.

Chicago, it will begin a cooling trend. It was a historic last couple of months. It's been across Chicago where we've had no snowfall in the month January or February for the city of Chicago. That has never happened for those two months, in a 146 years of recordkeeping, it just happened in the past few hours as March began.

But you notice in Chicago on the first of March, maybe a few flurries coming in. Just in time there temperatures too warm to support anything sticking around. Shots of cold air, but short lived and exits out of the north eastern U.S.

[02:50:03]So the temps look as such, Washington 24 down to 8, Atlanta 24 down to 16 degrees. The Caribbean, San Juan 29, a few showers, blustery weather as well coming into Wednesday. It will leave you with the conditions for the south.


SESAY: Hello, everyone. So how does the style of President Trump's first address to Congress compare to his past speeches?

VAUSE: For more we're joined by a communications consultant, Alita Guillen. OK, so Alita, the president was measured, much more measured than what we're used to. He had an upbeat tone. He wasn't yelling. He stuck to the teleprompter. It sounded like he was trying to be more like a conventional president.

ALITA GUILLEN, COMMUNICATIONS CONSULTANT: It sounded like that way was that because he had a teleprompter and he could walk in and say the words that were given to him and no one was throwing him for a loop. That might have been kind of --

VAUSE: It also sounded rehearsed too.

GUILLEN: He did. He sounded a little more rehearsed. You know, right now people are talking about him and saying he did so well. I mean, my feeling is he had a teleprompter. He was in a controlled environment. There weren't a lot of questions coming at him.

We didn't elicit any emotion for him to snap out of his routine of walking into the teleprompter and reading what was on there. So yes, a little rehearsed, and we should expect that from him. He's a man who spent 10 to 15 years on television. He should do well in this environment.

SESAY: He has a particular speech pattern which tends to be simple vocabulary and sentences. As he makes the shift into being more presidential, did he stick with that tonight?

GUILLEN: I think he did. He speaks in very simple words, as you mentioned. Two syllables per word, sometimes three but not very often. He keeps it toned down and simplifies it. I think that's effective for him. More people understand him. They relate to him. They feel like he's talking to them and not talking above them. So that works for him. He is an effective speaker. He really is.

VAUSE: Let's get in the time machine and head back eight years for a reminder of President Barack Obama's first address to a joint session of Congress.



FORMER PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: If we come together and lift this nation from the depths of this crisis, if we put our people back to work and restart the engine of our prosperity, if we confront without fear the challenges of our time and summon that enduring spirit of an America that does not quit, then someday years from now our children can tell their children that this was the time when we performed. In the words that are carved into this very chamber, something worthy to be remembered.


VAUSE: OK. Now I know we've seen a lot already, but let's compare that to sort of an inspirational moment which President Trump had during his speech.


PRESIDENT TRUMP: Each American generation passes the torch of truth, liberty and justice in an unbroken chain all the way down to the president. That torch is now in our hands and we will use it to light up the world. I am here tonight to deliver a message of unity and strength, and it is a message deeply delivered from my heart.


VAUSE: This is one of those moments when I thought Donald Trump was outside of his comfort zone. He does not do uplifting speeches particularly well. He's the guy who talks like everybody else in the room. And when he does this, it seemed kind of awkward.

SESAY: Right, it does. You know, one of the most effective ways to speak is to be authentic, and for the most part, Donald Trump speaks authentically, because he speaks words that he thinks of. He speaks off the cuff. I think what you're feeling here is that that doesn't feel authentic to you, because you don't hear him speak like that often.

VAUSE: But it felt authentic for Obama.

GUILLEN: Yes, it did, but Obama spoke like that whether he was speaking to you directly in an interview or speaking in a speech. So he didn't really change how he spoke depending on the circumstances.

VAUSE: And I'll ask you, pass me the maple syrup for my pancakes.

SESAY: Yes. Another clip from tonight's speech with President Trump where again he takes a stab at rousing oratory.


PRESIDENT TRUMP: When we celebrate our 250 years of glorious freedom, we'll look back on tonight as when this new chapter of American greatness began.


[02:55:10]SESAY: Well, his supporters like it?

GUILLEN: I think they will. He's a salesman. If it works, he'll continue with this. If tomorrow more people like him because he said that, we will hear more of that.

VAUSE: So he'll respond to basically the positive feedback that he'll get, and he's capable of changing?

GUILLEN: I think he is. He certainly has the tools to be a very effective communicator. Whether or not he does that is really up to him. I think that the way he spoke tonight is probably what many people were hoping for or expecting a month ago and he didn't do it. So we'll see what happens from here on. I mean, this could be a turning point for him or tomorrow he could go back to --

VAUSE: Twitter talk Trump?

GUILLEN: Yes. We don't know. We'll see. VAUSE: This is teleprompter Trump.

SESAY: Thank you so much.

GUILLEN: Thank you.

SESAY: All right. You are watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm Isha Sesay.

VAUSE: I'm John Vause. Our live special coverage continues next with Rosemary Church after a short break.