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President Trump Address to Congress; Trump Speech Honors Navy SEAL; 22 Tornadoes Rip Through Midwest, At Least 3 Dead; Interview with Former Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired March 1, 2017 - 06:30   ET



[06:30:50] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right. President Trump laying out his plans for the country in a major address to Congress. So, these plans are only as good as the facts on which they are based.

We want to talk about a couple of them right now. We have big numbers that were offered last night about the state of the economy. There was a big claim about the current state of the labor force. OK?

So what did we see? We had 21 Americans. Let's listen to what he is saying.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As a country, we must honestly acknowledge the circumstances we inherited. Ninety- four million Americans are out of the labor force. Over 43 million people are now living in poverty. And over 43 million Americans are on food stamps.


CUOMO: All right. You're going to hear a lot about these two numbers. They will be a big part for any kind of fiscal change. So let's take a look at them: 94 million Americans are out of the labor force.

That happens to be true. The Atlanta Federal Reserve says it's actually higher, 95.1 million Americans are not working.

But guess what? There is a reason for that that has nothing to do with the strength of the economy. About 92 percent of those people are retired, disabled, taking care of a family member or in school or job training.

So, they're not looking for work and not always for bad reason. So, that claim is true but misleading.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: All right. So, now, let's talk about poverty and what the president said. He mentioned here the claim that more than 43 million people are on food stamps. That is true. As of last November, that number had been going down,

though, over the past two years. It's about 2 million people lower than in November of 2015. So, it's going in the right direction.

He also said, 43 million people are living in poverty. That is also true. But the 2015 census report found the poverty rate has started to fall for first time since the economic downturn of 2008. In other words, Mr. Trump's plans are true, but he leaves out important context that the numbers are improving and have been improving for a while.

CUOMO: So fiscal policy was certainly what people are listening for. But they didn't wind up being those policies, the big moment of the night. There was an emotional moment that wound up dominating when the president honored our fallen Navy SEAL and his widow.

She was a champion of perseverance last night, holding it together. Why this moment was greeted with such applause and what it could mean going forward, next.


[06:37:07] CAMEROTA: So, there was this very emotional and cheerful moment last night. President Trump honoring fallen Navy SEAL Ryan Owens who was killed last month in a terror raid in Yemen and his widow Carryn was trying to process it all at last night's address. Watch this moment.


TRUMP: Ryan died as he lived, a warrior and a hero, battling against terrorism and securing our nation.

Ryan's legacy is etched into eternity. Thank you.



CUOMO: I tell you we are letting the applause play because there was more applause than I've heard in any speech in that chamber before, and it was for good reason. Nothing brings people together like mutual respect for the veterans. But this has some components to it that we have to talk about going forward.

CAMEROTA: This is complicated. You can't get past her looking up to the heavens for strength during that moment. It was out there, all of the emotions she was feeling, everybody was feeling.

Let's bring back our panel to talk about this. We have David Drucker and David Gregory. Also joining us is CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr.

Barbara, we're happy to have you here with us, because this goes to the heart of all of us want to believe that Ryan Owens, the Navy SEAL, did not die in vain and we want to believe what President Trump was saying last night that because of him, the, you know, the Pentagon was able to get this cache of intelligence that will keep the country safe. He called it highly successful.

But there are differing reports, obviously, on whether this was a highly successful raid. John McCain said, no, it was not.

What is the feeling at the Pentagon about whether this was highly successful?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Look, I think you still have to start with this young woman. Unbelievable she is there and actually I would say quite composed. This young woman widowed just 30 days.

You look at those pictures. She is reaching out, I don't know too many of us that could do that. So, you see there, the actual reality of what the price that military families pay for the service of their loved ones who do fall in battle.

[06:40:07] And, you know, this question of whether it was worth it, whether the mission was in vain, it's two separate questions, actually. For the military families, the sacrifice is unimaginable for most of us.

The question is, did they get intelligence? Now, what we know from senior U.S. officials is they got a significant amount of intelligence. They got intelligence about al Qaeda's explosive manufacturing techniques, about their training, about their recruiting.

Why did they go to this compound? Why did they go into Yemen? Because al Qaeda in Yemen is the one organization right now that has been able to reach out and launch attacks in the West. They were behind that "Charlie Hebdo" attack against the cartoonists. In Paris, they are practicing and making bombs that are undetectable, to a large extent, by airport security and that can get on airplanes.

There is a much renewed campaign inside the military to go after this organization. Military commanders will tell you beginning middle and end of the story, that made the mission worth it. It does not mean that it's not under investigation to see what happened, how they ran into so much opposition when they went there.

CUOMO: Right. David, as Barbara often has to remind us, you know the military doesn't look at loss of life as dispositive as to whether or not something is a success. They see that as the price of these missions going into it. They don't -- not take on missions because there might be a loss of life.

And yet, what we saw last night is this really powerful, powerful stuff that can come up in politics. Nothing galvanizes the American people and American politicians like the military. But we've seen before those men and women in that audience have gotten up and cheered and cheered for military and not delivered for them.

President Trump is in a similar situation now. Will he deliver on the veteran stuff? That's the easy part of the analysis. He kind of blamed the generals for what happened on this operation. He said they lost Owens.

So, you know, last night, he was in the right place for this grieving widow. There's no question about it. But what happens if there become real questions about the political process. The father of Owens wasn't there last night for a reason. What is the plus/minus on this?

DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think it is complicated, because this was a president who gave an order to go into war. This was his first time, first order. This had been a raid that had been in the planning stages in the Obama White House and as you said, for the president to say, look, I got the best generals and you know it was really their plan. He's the commander-in-chief and he has said before he knows more than the generals about how to prosecute the case in the battlefield, on the battlefield against al Qaeda, against ISIS.

So, he's going to bear responsibility for this and this had to be a sobering moment for him when you order men and women into battle for any new president, they go through that. There is going to be more investigation into this kind of raid and it speaks to judgment, miscalculation, all of which are brought to bear when you order these kinds of missions. And any president has to bear that burden and maybe a lot more investigation to come, a lot more than we know about this raid that seemingly didn't go well on a lot of levels, you know, as opposed to what the planning suggested could happen.

CAMEROTA: Yes, David Drucker, in fact, I believe there are three negotiations under way to make sure this all, the protocols were all followed, because as we know, Ryan Owens' father, who himself a veteran, he has said that he's called it a stupid mission. And it's not just that his son was killed. It's that the father believes that it was a grand display at the beginning of the Trump presidency for reasons other than just going into battle.

CUOMO: Right. He's asking for an additional investigation t. Three that are going on as Barbara reported a military. He wants a political investigation of the process by which this president made this decision to go.

CAMEROTA: Yes. David?

DAVID DRUCKER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. Look, I think what was interesting last night in terms of the politics, is that the president had started out the day passing the puck on okaying the mission. He laid it on the generals. Those were his words and what he was able do last night was sort of take back and it appears though he in a sense was taking back responsibility before what happened with the mission. Even though he only mentioned the positive parts of it.

Most interesting to me, he relied on Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis as somebody who is very reassuring to the public to prove that everything with the mission went well and was a success. And, look, time will tell and we'll see if the president gets more comfortable in his role as commander-in-chief.

CAMEROTA: Yes. Panel, thank you very much for walking us through all of that emotional moment.

[06:45:00] CUOMO: All right. There is a lot to look at in this speech last night. We're going to take you through the analysis and the fact checks.

But, first, there was other news. There was a deadly outbreak across the Midwest. The threat may not be over.

We got Chad Myers on it, next.


CUOMO: All right. Breaking news: an outbreak of tornadoes ripping through the Midwest, leaving at least three people dead. Winds so powerful, some 20 junkyard vehicles were blown on a Missouri interstate, killing a driver, injuring others.

CNN meteorologist Chad Myers has your forecast.

What do you see, my friend?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Same thing we saw yesterday, Chris. We talked about this, the potential for those tornadoes, and they were there, 22 separate reports of tornadoes.

This weather report for today brought to you by Purina, your pet, our passion.

That weather continues moving to the east. Cincinnati, Columbus, all the way down to even Cleveland and Nashville coming up in the next few hours as the storms continue to march to the east with their severe potential.

There is even wind potential in D.C., Baltimore, New York, Philadelphia today. Not 10:00 when the rain gets there the first time, but about 4:00 when the storms get there the second time. Flying today could be kind of a bumpy ride through the northeast. So, kind of keep your hats on there, keep your patience, severe weather is expected not quite as severe yesterday, though, Alisyn. That is some good news there.

CAMEROTA: Fasten your seatbelt. Things are going to get bumpy. Thank you very much, Chad.

MYERS: You bet.

CAMEROTA: All right. Golden State Warriors fans holding their collective breath after Kevin Durant goes down with an injury.

Cory Wire has more in this morning's "Bleacher Report."

Hi, Coy.


This injury could have implications around the entire league and depending on the outcome of Durant's MRI, a power shift could occur. Especially in that western conference, the Spurs and Rockets now licking their chops after this early in the first quarter against the Wizards, you see there, Durant gets fallen into by Zaza Pachulia, his own teammate, his leg hyper-extends a bit, he hops away.

And he actually did go on to play the next two positions, but eventually he was hobbling around on that left leg, he was taken to the locker room by the trainers. He did not return for the rest of the game. Results from the MRI should come in sometime today.

Here's your hero of today. Boise State hosting Fresno State in college hoops last night, and the ball gets wedged next to the shot clock. Players from the team will come out and try to nudge this thing loose. They're throwing the ball, hoisting the ball; 6'7" giant up there jumping without a mop cannot dislodge that ball.

But a hero would emerge amongst the mighty men, an 8-year-old Hunter Hales lifted by his father, climbing that goal, like a three in the backyard. He would dislodge that ball. The crowd starts chanting "MVP". Young Hunter saves the day.

That itself great work by you, young man. Good stuff.

CUOMO: That was impressive. Impressive. Very nice.

Cory Wire, appreciate it, my friend.

WIRE: You are welcome.

CUOMO: So, Kentucky's former governor became the face of the Democrats last night, was defending Obamacare and giving point for point rebuttal to the president. What did he make of this speech? Are we moving forward? Can the Democrats work with the Republicans? The Democratic response, next.



TRUMP: Obamacare premiums nationwide have increased by double and triple digits. As an example, Arizona went up 116 percent last year alone. Governor Matt Bevin of Kentucky just said Obamacare is failing in his state, the state of Kentucky. And it's unsustainable and collapsing.


CUOMO: President Trump outlining his plan to repeal and replace Obamacare kind of, there really weren't any details about that and his party still hashing it out. But he did single out Kentucky, which actually saw one of the steepest decreases of uninsured residents after Obamacare went into effect.

And it's part of the reason that last night, the face of the Democratic rebuttal was former Democratic Governor Steve Beshear.

[06:55:06] He gave the response last night, sitting in a diner, as I recall.

Yes, Governor?

STEVE BESHEAR (D), FORMER KENTUCKY GOVERNOR: Yes, that's exactly right, Chris. We figured that it was time to focus this debate on everything going on in this country, on the folks that it really affects -- real people out here in America.

CUOMO: Now, one point of curiosity is that usually the rebuttal, they will have some charging young tiger, the future face of the Democratic Party. You guys went a different way, which means either you're going to run for president in 2020 and that's why you did that last night or there was a different strategy at play. What's the answer?

BESHEAR: Well, Chris, the first thing you mentioned is not the answer. I'm not running for president in 2020.

Why I think they picked me, probably two reasons.

Number one, I governed for eight years in a state bringing Democrats and Republicans together. We had a success story here in so many ways. We halved our unemployment. We raised our educational standards and our high school education rates. We created lots of jobs and we implemented the Affordable Care Act and gave insurance, health insurance for over 500,000 Kentuckians.

Secondly, I don't have any personal stake in this. I'm not looking at the next office. And so, I think everybody felt like when I talk about these issues, that people can be convinced that I'm doing it from the heart. You know, I'm not trying to improve myself and get myself into the next office.

CUOMO: Well, the president said he was bringing it from the heart last night as well. People will always judge the intentions by the actions, and when it comes to health care, what do you say the reality is in places like Kentucky? Did it work? Is it problematic? Does it need fixes or does it need to be completely revamped?

BESHEAR: Well, obviously, the facts speak for themselves. I know that we're now in this world of alternative facts, but look at the facts in Kentucky. We had some of the worst health statistics in the country and have had them for a long, long time.

Three years after implementing the Affordable Care Act, our uninsured rate dropped from over 20 percent to 7 percent. Our uncompensated care rate for providers dropped from like 25 percent to less than 5 percent. People are actually getting health care coverage now and they like it and preventive care is kicking in and the statistics are showing that people's health is starting to get better. So, it works here in Kentucky.

We also had outside studies from PricewaterhouseCoopers, Deloitte Consulting, and they all concluded the same thing, not only is it work, it's creating jobs. I created 12,000 jobs in the first year that we implemented the Affordable Care Act. It's going to have a positive impact on our budget. You know, those are just the fact. Now, the folks that don't leak

this don't like those facts and so, they just keep repeating that old political phrase of oh, it's just not working. It's not sustainable, hoping that if they repeat that long enough, somebody is going to believe them.

CUOMO: So, last night, the president looked over at the Democratic side of Congress and said, it's time to stop these trivial disputes. There was a lot of pushback on that last night that these disputes are anything but trivial and that was the wrong message, if that was the way towards unity, it was the wrong way. Why?

BESHEAR: Well, look, I think Democrats have always been ready to work with the other side. You know, it takes two sides to work together to find common ground and Democrats are willing to sit down.

Take health care, for instance. We know that there are things that need to be fixed with the Affordable Care Act. Some people's premiums are too high. There are some issues with small business.

You know, we need to sit down and make it better. And we're willing to do that. But our bottom line is simply this. In 2010, this country made a commitment to every single American that they would have affordable good health care in the future and that is our bottom line. Whatever plan is put together, we want everybody to have that kind of affordable care.

And every plan we seen so far from the Republicans goes in just the opposite direction. It rips health care away from millions of Americans and actually from hundreds of thousands of Kentuckians, that's not acceptable. But if you want to make this better, if you want to make sure that everybody has health care, but that it's good, it's affordable, that it works --

CUOMO: Right.

BESHEAR: -- we're willing to sit down and work with them.

CUOMO: Well, Governor, there is a counterfactual on that. There is a broader array of opinion in the Republican Party of what to do. They have real problems t. Ryan plan isn't being accepted by numerous factions in there. So, they have their own challenges.

But what they all say is, the Democrats have been told not to help. Every time I asked, are any Democrats going to work with you on this one? Who's reaching across? They all say the same thing, no, they've been told to lock it up for now. We'll see what happens going forward.