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Trump Asks America to 'Dream Big' in Speech to Congress; President Urges Lawmakers to Repeal and Replace Obamacare. Aired 6- 6:30a ET
Aired March 1, 2017 - 06:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: A new chapter is now beginning.
[05:58:38] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He walked into that room as the winner of the controversial election. He walked out the president of the United States.
TRUMP: We are a country that stands united in condemning hate in all of its very ugly forms.
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MINORITY LEADER: His speeches and the realities are very far apart.
TRUMP: I believe that real and positive immigration reform is possible.
SEN. CORY BOOKER (D), NEW JERSEY: The policies that he's doing don't add up.
TRUMP: Repeal and replace Obamacare.
REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I thought it was a home run. I think he did a fantastic job.
TRUMP: Believe in yourselves. Believe in your future. And believe, once more, in America.
ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right. We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is NEW DAY. It is Wednesday, March 1, 6 a.m. here in New York. And it is a NEW DAY indeed for America's president.
In a big speech to Congress, it was a big plea for unity and optimism. Trump stuck to the script, avoided the petty sniping that has gotten him in trouble. Instead, laying out an ambitious fiscal policy filled with tax cuts and also more money for infrastructure and the military.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: So, the president spoke about overhauling health care and, as Chris said rebuilding infrastructure. He also said the time is now to compromise on immigration reform. President Trump also gave an emotional tribute to the fallen Navy SEAL, Ryan Owens.
It is day 41 of the Trump presidency. Let's begin our coverage with senior Washington correspondent Joe Johns, live at the White House -- Joe.
JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Alisyn.
He really was using the kind of language and rhetoric and tone that the country has become accustomed to from its presidents. Mr. Trump certainly reaching for the reset button last night on Capitol Hill, and a speech very well-received by one critical audience, those congressional Republicans who are going to have to try to push through his agenda.
JOHNS (voice-over): President Trump striking a more presidential and optimistic tone...
TRUMP: I'm here tonight to deliver a message of unity and strength.
JOHNS: ... in his hour-long speech to a joint session of Congress.
TRUMP: It is a message deeply delivered from my heart.
JOHNS: Off the top, the president condemning the surge in hate crimes since he took office.
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 in policies, we are a country that stands united in condemning hate and evil in all of its very ugly forms.
JOHNS: Spending much of his speech laying out a very ambitious agenda.
TRUMP: Everything that is broken in our country can be fixed.
JOHNS: His solution: an echo from his campaign, "America first."
TRUMP: Buy American and hire American.
JOHNS: And once again, using national security as the basis for his proposed border wall with Mexico.
TRUMP: We want all Americans to succeed, but that can't happen in an environment of lawless chaos.
We will soon begin the construction of a great, great wall along our southern border.
JOHNS: The president touting his deportation efforts of undocumented people with criminal convictions.
TRUMP: We are removing gang members, drug dealers and criminals that threaten our communities and prey on our very innocent citizens.
JOHNS: And defending his controversial travel ban, halted by a federal court weeks ago.
TRUMP: It is not compassion but reckless to allow uncontrolled entry from places where proper vetting cannot occur.
JOHNS: But signaling that he might be open to compromise on immigration.
TRUMP: I believe that real and positive immigration reform is possible.
JOHNS: The president told network news anchors before the speech that he's open to a legal status for millions of undocumented immigrants if they never committed a crime.
TRUMP: I believe Republicans and Democrats can work together to achieve an outcome that has eluded our country for decades.
JOHNS: ON health care, the president laying out five points for a plan to replace Obamacare.
TRUMP: We should ensure that Americans with pre-existing conditions have access to coverage.
JOHNS: Arguing that people should be able to buy insurance across state lines and leaning on tax credits to ensure that Americans can afford their premiums.
TRUMP: It must be the plan they want, not the plan forced on them by our government.
JOHNS: The president also announcing a huge plan to boost the nation's infrastructure.
TRUMP: 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.
JOHNS: On the war against ISIS, the president using this controversial reference.
TRUMP: Radical Islamic terrorism.
JOHNS: Even though sources say his new national security advisor urged him not to use "radical Islamic terrorism" in his speech, because it alienates Muslims.
TRUMP: Extinguish this vile enemy from our planet.
JOHNS: The president ending his speech with a very emotional moment, honoring the widow of Ryan Owens, a Navy SEAL killed last month in Yemen, saying he was part of a highly successful terror raid.
TRUMP: Ryan is looking down right now. You know that.
For the Bible teaches us there's no greater act of love than to lay down one's life for one's friends.
JOHNS: And the administration feeling so upbeat about the speech last night that they've decided to adjust the schedule to let the buzz play out over it a bit. The administration originally was planning to roll out its new and, hopefully, improved travel ban today. They decided to delay that -- Chris and Alisyn.
CUOMO: All right, Joe. It's a good move for them. The president should have a good day. If you're watching, Mr. President, stay off Twitter. Just listen to the praise that comes in because there was a lot of optimism in that speech last night.
Our CNN/ORC poll gives us some instant feedback about this and also, encouraging results for the president: 78 percent of speech watchers say they had a very positive or somewhat positive reaction to the president's address.
[06:05:10] CAMEROTA: Meanwhile, 69 percent of speech watchers say his policies will move the nation in the right direction. That number for context is a little lower than in 2009 and 2001 when Barack Obama and George W. Bush did this. They had higher numbers in their early stages of their presidencies. Still for President Trump, these numbers are quite high.
CUOMO: Now, as is often the case, when you do an instant sampling like this, you're going to have more of the party that is in power. So this one leans a little bit more slightly Republican, because more of the watchers of the speech will wind up being Republican.
But not to qualify it too much, it was a good night for the president.
Let's bring in CNN political analyst David Gregory; CNN political analyst and senior congressional correspondent for "The Washington Examiner," David Drucker; and CNN political analyst and Washington bureau chief for "The Daily Beast," Jackie Kucinich.
David Gregory, the question now is, he's got some "mo" going here, but can he deliver on these promises? Can he avoid the political disputes that can come with this debate? That remains to be seen, but this was a good start.
DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It was a very good start. There were a lot of potential pitfalls here that are coming up, and that's really within his own party. The guidelines on Obamacare were coherent, but they still kind of gloss over the disagreements within the Republican Caucus around how you keep some of the popular consumer aspects of Obamacare while still gutting the program and repealing it.
Do you force young, healthy people to get insurance, which helps to pay for older folks who are going to use more of the services? That's an area that has to be dealt with.
Taxes, tax reform. Very popular for Republicans and for a lot of the middle class who would benefit from that. Still unclear how he's going to work out some of these differences.
But I think when you pull back -- we've talked about it -- different tone; more presidential, more disciplined, more optimistic. Also, a coherent view of what he wants to do for the country: infrastructure spend, tax cuts, tax reform, good for the economy. We're seeing that in the stock market.
And although he didn't tread too much on foreign policy, a coherent view of how he sees America and the world. Still leading, still part of NATO, still a world force that can bring stability. But very clearly saying we are going to view the world in terms of what's good for the United States. So a coherent view there, as well.
Plenty to disagree with if you're a Democrat last night. But certainly a different President Trump.
CAMEROTA: Jackie, look, all leaders have a choice to make in terms of how they present their vision. And they can either dwell on fear or they can opt for optimism. And last night, as David Gregory just said, we heard a much more optimistic tone, certainly, than President Trump's inaugural speech. So just to remind people of, you know, the different tacks that he's saying in terms of communicating his vision, here is then and now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.
I'm here tonight to deliver a message of unity and strength; and it is a message deeply delivered from my heart.
The wealth of our middle class has been ripped from their homes and then redistributed all across the world.
A new surge of optimism is placing impossible dreams firmly within our grasp.
We will no longer accept politicians who are all talk and no action.
Solving these and so many other pressing problems will require us to work past the differences of party.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: And Jackie, this is more than just interesting rhetoric. This has an effect. Last night, the polling shows that 69 percent of people who watched President Trump's speech felt more optimistic. It has an effect on the listener when you use different language, Jackie.
JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Absolutely. And this truly was a tale of two speeches, and I don't know that he changed many Democratic minds, to be perfectly honest last night, but he may have changed the mind of Republicans, particularly those in that room who have been very nervous about the tone, and frankly, some of the policies that President Trump has put forward in these early weeks.
So the fact that he was softer -- he did talk a lot about unity -- it could pertain to his own party, particularly on the issue of health care. That's who I'm going to be listening for today, is those Freedom Caucus members, those members of the Republican study committee, the more conservative members of the Republican Party.
When they listen to that president, do they have more optimism that they'll be able to get something done on Obamacare and bring his own party together, certainly this speech, you know, gave some hope to Republicans that a lot more is possible than perhaps they thought.
[06:10:06] CUOMO: Right. And there's no question, David, he is benefitting the president from a low bar. You know, for many when they listen to him speak, to hope he doesn't give them a heart attack about something that's going to happen. But even still, he probably impressed anybody who was listening in terms of coming across better than expected.
But he seems to have three major challenges. David Gregory outlined the first. How does he deal with his own party and the conservative factions in doing all this spending and not paying for it dollar for dollar. The second one is what Jackie mentioned. Right now, what they're hearing about how they want to fix health care could very well make it more expensive and cover fewer people. That's a problem.
The third one is going to be with Democrats and any kind of compromise on immigration. He did still go to fear last night on this issue, David Drucker, and it still doesn't match the facts. He called it lawless chaos. That is not what the immigrant reality is on our criminal justice system here. They commit fewer crimes per capita than citizens. And if you want to round up the bad hombres, you've got a lot more rapists and killers who are citizens than immigrants. How does that play?
DAVID DRUCKER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, look, stipulating that the president at any moment could drop a tweet and get back into a fight with his political opponents in the media, stipulating as well, three are a lot of details that weren't answered last night, that he made a lot of promises that are going to be hard to deliver on.
The speech really was a home run, and if you want to get people to follow you, if you want to work out the details, you have to give them someone to follow that they can feel good about. And that's what he did, really, and felt, for the first time last night, I mean, look, don't forget. Most Americans don't pay attention to the president and what happens in Washington on a daily basis the way we do. And I'm paid to do it, and they've gotten lives to get about taking care of. They probably last looked at the president this closely around negotiation.
So they tune in, and they see somebody who for, really, the first time looks in control, looks -- sounds heartfelt, sounds like he cares, and when you couple that fact, with the data that has shown that the president's policies have been a lot more popular than him, if you can put those two things together, a president the people like a lot more, respect a lot more and with policies they already like. This could really reset his ability to lead the country.
It's also going to calm a lot of nerves on Capitol Hill among Republicans, because they've been very concerned about the man who's been in the White House and worried that their agenda is going to run into a lot of trouble if the president keeps getting caught up in these side shows.
CAMEROTA: Yes. David Gregory, let's talk -- let's dive into some of the civics, because he talked about a $1 trillion infrastructure plan that he thinks can bring Democrats and Republicans together. Of course, Republicans had bristled previously at something much less ambitious. Paul Ryan, the speaker, had said when it was first suggested and there was half of that cost, 500 billion, he didn't like it. Listen to Paul Ryan back in September.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: You help a President Donald Trump pass a $550 billion or more infrastructure program. Would that be something that you would help him achieve?
RYAN: That's not in the better way...
BROWNSTEIN: Not in the better way?
RYAN: Just so you know, we did pass the biggest highway bill.
BROWNSTEIN: Since the mid-1990s.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: In case people are just listening and not watching, he was slapping his knee in hilarity at the prospect of that, and now it's double.
GREGORY: Look, Paul Ryan as House speaker has for years and going back to a vice-presidential candidate talked about a looming debt crisis in the world that would affect America and indeed, would come home to America.
So conservatives like Paul Ryan do worry about the debt. They worry about it deeply. They worry about populist measures like abandoning free trade. And they worry about how the math kind of works in terms of making these kinds of investments. So this is very much going to be a clash. I'm not sure how it gets resolved.
And that's why I think the most important follow up to last night is how the president is more specific and how he negotiates with those folks on Capitol Hill who -- whose districts he still has control in but who could end up turning on him. So it's a huge question.
CUOMO: To be very clear, the president says "we, we, we" when it comes to health care, but that's really on Ryan's plate. And right now there's a lot of concern among his own party members that what they're doing is going to make Obamacare more expensive and cover less people.
CAMEROTA: Yes. Panel, stick around if you would, because we have much more to discuss. I mean, coming up in our next hour, we have Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. He's going to join us with the Democratic reaction to the speech and then at 8, we have Republican Senator Ron Johnson. He'll discuss his thoughts on President Trump's address. We saw him smiling broadly and applauding a lot.
CUOMO: There was a lot for people to smile about, especially Republicans last night. We should note the vice president, Mike Pence, is doing the rounds this morning. He's going on all the morning shows. He was invited to come on NEW DAY. The White House declined our request. So the talk about unity still has a little ways to go.
CAMEROTA: All right. President Trump making it clear that he is determined to repeal Obamacare. So what will the replacement look like and will some Americans be left without coverage? That's next on NEW DAY.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We should help Americans purchase their own coverage through the use of tax credits and expanded health savings accounts. But it must be the plan they want, not the plan forced on them by our government.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: All right. That was President Trump urging lawmakers to repeal and replace Obamacare in his address last night to Congress. He endorsed the bill championed by House Speaker Paul Ryan that has drawn criticism from conservatives, among others.
Let's bring back our panel. We have David Gregory, David Drucker and Jackie Kucinich.
David Drucker, here as we understand it, let me just put up the principles of Mr. Trump's health care plan as we understand them: "Access to those with preexisting conditions." That's very popular. "Help purchase plans through tax credits and health savings accounts." That one's a little bit more complicated. "Give governors flexibility with Medicaid. Bring down the cost of insurance and drugs." OK? That's a good goal. Obviously, the devil's in the details. "Allow plans across state lines." Republicans have been calling that -- for that for a long time.
So do you understand today where the Republican plan is with repealing and replacing Obamacare?
DRUCKER: No, look, those are all platitudes. I think the president deserves credit for putting them in a coherent fanatic message where he sort of lays out his principles for healthcare reforms. That's what Republicans have been talking about the last eight years.
So where they are now is a chance to get this all done. And what's been holding them up is a lack of consensus over what the legislation should look like. They're going to produce a number of bills, not just one big bill. And what they really need is for President Trump to get in a room with them and say, "Look, this is how -- this is sort of my bottom line. What problem are you having? All right. Let's fix that."
And I think that, if he gets involved, then a lot of the Republicans on the Hill that are complaining they don't like this plan or that plan are going to start to come in line. It's going to be hard work, and there are a lot of political challenges; but this is what remains to be done. The speech didn't answer that question. But it probably makes Republicans on the Hill a lot more comfortable that the president is going to finally be engaged.
CUOMO: Well, except David, you know, again, this is tricky stuff. It's hard to cover. It's hard to understand, but there's no question. David has been reporting this out. We've been reporting this out. The Ryan plan is not a home run, even within his own party. There seems to be an inclination for Ryan to take money out of the plan, deliver it back as part of the tax cut. That's going to create a huge burden on how you keep the same number of people covered. And even within their own party, they're fighting about that, that that is a death sentence politically, if people wind up dropping off the rolls, even if there is a tax cut. How real is this issue?
GREGORY: It's a big issue, and this is a real divide between conservatives and progressives about how you manipulate the market, essentially, you know. How is it that you can't -- you don't want to just make coverage accessible. You want to make it affordable. Right? This is what Bernie Sanders talks about all the time.
Forcing younger and healthier people to buy insurance under the risk of a penalty if you don't do it is meant to balance out the system. Because the way you keep insurance premiums down is if you have young healthy people who are paying into the system but not using it as much as older, unhealthier people. That's what balances it out, and that's what's been a problem for Obamacare in its implementation, is not getting young people to sign up.
So to have a tax credit or use a health savings account that still has the potential to leave people dropped out of the program and that's going to become the big issue if you want to also protect the ability to have no preexisting conditions and have people on their parents' policies until they're 25.
CAMEROTA: Jackie, next issue, immigration. It's hard to pin down, frankly, where President Trump is on immigration, because he says different things at different times. Yesterday before the address in front of Congress, he sat down with broadcast journalists, the anchors of all the major networks; and they reported after this private meeting that he had suggested that there could be a path to...
CUOMO: No, not a legal pathway. But... CAMEROTA: A legal pathway.
CUOMO: ... to stay here and work. Legal status.
CAMEROTA: Legal status.
CUOMO: Not a pathway.
CAMEROTA: Not to citizenship. But to legal status for some of the 11 million undocumented people who are here who have not committed crimes. That's not what he said last night.
KUCINICH: No, that's not what he said last night. He sort of hinted at it: if we all come together, we can -- I can't remember an exact line -- but we can all solve immigration problems that have been around for decades.
That said, when you actually look at the speech, the immigration part was sort of the darkest part of the speech. There was a lot of fear. Immigrants are going to take your jobs. The bad ones are going to commit crimes. That was definitely an undertone.
He also didn't really mention DREAMers, who were in the gallery. A lot of them were guests of Democrats that were surrounding him and that's something he has a soft spot for and puts him at odds with some of the more hardliners in his party. So, you know, we've seen several presidents give speeches that include
immigration, but as with everything, how he tries to implement this, how he tries to get this legislated is going to be the question. And, you know, the master salesman is going to have some work to do.
CUOMO: Well, David, isn't he making it harder for himself by continuing this fallacy that the immigrants in this country are this base of lawless chaos? Those were his words last night. The statistics just don't bear it out. Yes, you have people who are in this country illegally who commit crimes and need to be thrown out. Nobody disputes that.
But he created a notion of an environment of unsafety for Americans that is just not born out in reality. How important is that to the analysis?
[06:25:13] DRUCKER: Right, and we saw Democrats grow visibly irritated, audibly irritated when he talked about the new homeland security task force that's going to focus on crimes committed by illegal immigrants.
But there's another way to look at this, as well. If the president could deliver on some of his security promises, he could create some of the political space on the right that has been very resistant to any form of comprehensive immigration reform, which is always going to involve some sort of pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants.
I know that the president maybe talked yesterday about a pathway to legal status to work here. But Democrats are never going to jump on board and do a big deal unless there's citizenship involved. And if the president were able to get the wall built, which is still a big question because of all the lawsuits that are going to hold it up, let alone the money and all of that, but if he were able to make changes on the security front first, there could be, if he wanted to -- and we don't know that he really wants to -- space to then do a big deal that involved the citizenship of people that are here.
CAMEROTA: OK, panel. Stick around, because we do want to let our viewers know we have an entire segment coming up devoted to what was the most emotional part of the night, and that was when he recognized the widow of Ryan Owens, who was there in the audience. We're going to talk about that.
Also CNN will host a town hall tonight with Republican senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham. What do they think of the direction of the country? Dana Bash is going to moderate at 9 p.m. Eastern, only on CNN.
CUOMO: You get a good look at the face of potential resistance within his own party with those two gentlemen tonight.
Also we're going to give you some reality checks on last night's speech. We're going to take a closer look at some of the claims. We have to make sure that we get the facts right.