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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Trump Speaks At Rally, Skipping Correspondents' Dinner; Soon: Comedian Performs At Correspondents' Dinner; Comedy Meets Politics at Trump-Free Correspondents' Dinner. 9-10p ET
Aired April 29, 2017 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JENNIFER GRANHOLM, (D) FORMER MICHIGAN GOVERNOR: -- and he took us right into that swamp. It may not be the swamp that he was talking about on the campaign trail, but I feel like I want to take a shower. I'm so sad for this country. I think of Barack Obama calling people to a higher place, calling us to something better. He called everybody to their worst divisive indicts. I'm just -- I'm sad.
RICK SANTORUM, (R) FORMER PENNSYLVANIA SENATOR: That's just wrong. Barack Obama did not call us to our higher instincts.
SANTORUM: Barack Obama -- and he gave -- and that was a great example, it that was an exception.
SANTORUM: Barack Obama Presidency was about condescending --
JOHN BERMAN, CNN NEWSROOM CO-ANCHOR: But you were not -- when the governor -- when the governor brought up Ronald Reagan and said Ronald Reagan would never give this speech you were not in your head up with that head.
SANTORUM: I agree with that
BERMAN: So talk about that.
SANTORUM: No, I -- look, I agree that Donald Trump is giving a speech that probably no other president would give in a way -- in the tone and the verbal usage. No question about it. But you can't just oppose it. And this is -- I understand how his language and his demeanor and the way he talks offends everybody here.
BERMAN: Yes, so why would he do that?
SANTORUM: And it does offend me, I'll be honest with you. But Barack Obama didn't offend you and he deeply offended me and he deeply offended the people in that crowd because he spoke down to them. He didn't try to elevate them, he try -- he was morally condescending, calling people bigots and racist and people of faith calling them out for their religious beliefs. You don't understand how agitated that base got with Barack Obama just as agitated as you are with Donald Trump.
PARIS DENNARD, FORMER BUSH WHITE HOUSE DIR OF BLACK OUTROACH: We have to put some things in context. When you look at President Trump and the -- and the way pundits and the way people in the media talk about him and his candidacy, that people around him in the west wing, his family it's deplorable. And when you have that type of rhetoric and tone constantly beating at the -- at the drum every single day 24/7 that's not helping America.
And when Paul, when you -- listen, I did not like probably 98 to 99 percent of the things that President Obama did, but I would never call him Obama and I would never call him a moral midget or a needy little baby even if I thought the two things were true about him. So as you sit here with your platform and attack the president with these horrible things about him personally and then say, "Well, Mr. President or Trump, you are doing the same thing," you have to have some type of honesty about how you're talking about the president and how you're talking about the president and how you are talking and how you want him to talk about other people.
We owe this president a little bit more respect in how we talk about him because there's a lot of Americans out there who are suffering and who want to believe in him and when we belittle him and belittle everything about him and his family, his children, his staff -- I'm not talking about you but it's the tone that you set and other people that come on this network and do this. That's the problem and that's why he attacked the media.
PAUL BEGALA, SENIOR ADVISER, PRIORITIES USA ACTION: You respect the office not the man. I respect the office. If he enters the room I stand, if he signs a law I obey, he is my president but he is letting me down and the vast majority of Americans down. We just come off of something -- this is really remarkable. I can't remember a time we've had three two-term presidencies in a row. Clinton, Bush, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama. Very, very different men.
The one thing they had in common, they saw the divisions and they wanted to unite. Bill Clinton was sworn with his book of the Prophet Isaiah, and thou shalt be called Healer of the Breach, this is (INAUDIBLE) George W. Bush, I didn't agree with anything he did, I respected the man though and he wanted be united or not a divider. Barack Obama said there was no red states or blue states, it's United States. This man is a break, he is a breach from every president that I've seen from Reagan to Obama who saw the -- this country is divided. Those divisions are real and the pain is real. But he is making it worse. And I will call him out on that.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN NEWSROOM ANCHOR: Let's hold on for one second. This is going to continue, let's go to the very place that the president opened his remarks tonight. Chris and I, that is the White House Correspondent Dinner in Washington here in the Nation's Capital are John Avlon and Margaret Hoover join us from there. Margaret, of course is a political contributor, works in the Bush White House, John Avlon, Editor in Chief of The Daily Beast. Guys, I'm sure you heard the top of the president's remarks but he said this is a place where Hollywood actors and Washington media are consoling each other in a hotel ballroom right now. Your thoughts.
MARGERT HOOVER, POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Well, let me grab my husband whose blood pressure may be through the roof because of (INAUDIBLE) fabulous commentary. Let me tell you as a republican I would say there are a lot less media and a lot less actors and celebrities here, always the republicans catch up to the White House Correspondents' Dinner. Hollywood never turns out for republican presidents the way they turned out for Barack Obama or for any demo -- or Bill Clinton. So in the George W. Bush years though we didn't have many celebrities either and the Trump era it feels a bit more sedate in the previous year though.
JOHN AVLON, THE DAILY BEAST EDITOR IN CHIEF: You know -- you know -- yes, we're the world's tiniest violin for whatever differential there is in the star quality but let's not forget that Donald Trump was knocking down the doors to get the invites of the Correspondents' Dinner when he was primarily a reality TV celebrity before he became a political candidate and now President of the United States. So there's a deep kind of hypocrisy in contradiction that's baked into the cake of the billionaire populous president.
But I think the larger thing is this he condemned this event tonight. We're focused on free speech, on the First Amendment, on the fact that the constitution doesn't mention political parties but it does mention journalists and those are deeper continuities that we need to focus on as a country right now.
BERMAN: You know, John, Margaret sold you out and said you were listening to the discussion here when Paris was talking, when Paris was talking about how this White House and this president has been treated. She said you got rather heated so why don't you voice what was in the veins on your neck.
AVLON: You know, look, you know, I think it's very difficult to demand for respect for a president who doesn't give respect. The job of the president is to try to unite the American people. Somewhere in his heart Donald Trump believes in uniting Americans, but his words and his actions keep falling far short of that example. And the point, Paul Begala made about the way that Bill Clinton and George W. Bush and Barack Obama all campaigned and tried to act as uniters not dividers, you cannot ignore the fact that that has not been a priority or an impulse of this president. And to ignore that or to try to flip it into some culture war script is BS.
HOOVER: And I just -- the only thing I would say in response to my democratic friends there on the panel and in response to my husband, is that we have a president here who is -- who is clearly his bark is louder than his bite, all right? For all of the divisive rhetoric which I grant you is lacking, I would like to see something more unifying like my friend Rick Santorum said. We have a president who said he was going to call China a currency manipulator. He said he was going to -- he spoke very, very kindly about Vladimir Putin and there were worries that the sanctions would go away. They haven't.
HOOVER: The wall has not been built. Just on Fri -- just a few days ago he failed on another campaign promise about NAFTA, right? So this is a president whose rhetoric --
AVLON: But in confidence is not --
HOOVER: -- whose rhetoric -- he needed to go to his base tonight clearly for political reasons and we -- you all have unpacked that very well.
AVLON: And also for personal reasons. He clearly wanted the security blanket of a campaign event. He's president of all the people now and he needs to start acting like it.
HARLOW: But Parker, what about the argument that some are making on this 100-day mark that perhaps it is those who were the biggest supporters of the president on the campaign trail who were promised radical change and instead haven't seen radical change who have gotten somewhat arguing pence-like presidency when you look at policy and actual implementation. Are those the people that should be the -- more frustrated 100 days in?
HOOVER: Poppy and to everybody who is -- sure, it's hard to, sort of, get our heads around the mystery of Donald Trump. But the truth is the Donald Trump supporters he has an has incredibly long runway, all right? And so those folks that were there at the rally tonight and the many, many folks across the country who voted for him, really -- they take him at his word, they're going to give him more than a hundred days because it takes most presidents longer than a hundred days to figure it out. And he hasn't been in politics before. So -- by the way, like -- this is -- this is the perspective of many of my friends and colleagues who are Trump supporters.
AVLON: Right. But John and Poppy maybe you'll appreciate, I think maybe we're ignoring the obvious that The Rolling Stones song were closed this campaign speech or governing speech, You Can't Always Get What You Want, maybe that was a message to his base but the politic critic sellout of the administration's policies really, you know, you can't always get what you want.
BERMAN: You know, it's -- he has strange music between Tiny Dancer and then My Way and then After You Can't Always Get What You, it's very hard to find the, you know, the thread between it all. Guys, stand by. I want to bring in Stephen Moore from The Heritage Foundation also. You know, big economist and a one-time adviser to the Trump campaign and trump transition. Stephen Moore, thank you so much for being with us. David (INAUDIBLE) you know, who has watched in the administration or two called this the most divisive speech he's ever heard a sitting president give. Your reaction.
STEPHEN MOORE, THE HERITAGE FOUNDATION: I liked the speech. Now, look, it was -- it was divisive but this was clearly a speech to reassure the voters to put him in the White House that he is not straying from the agenda. What -- I think the purpose of this speech was to say to the supporters, "Stay with me, I'm doing the things that I promised I would do." And he ticked off a lot of things just -- he said, "Look, I built the keystone pipeline. We've reduced illegal immigration. We're going to continue to build the wall."
He said that, "We're going to do this tax cut and so on." And I think for a lot of conservatives that I talked to, they've been nervous in the last month or two, is Trump backing away from his promises and I think this was a lot of red meat clearly for his supporters, but I think it's something he needed to do. You know that one poll that came out last week showed about 95 percent of people who voted for Donald Trump would vote for him again.
MOORE: He is trying to firm that up. But I do agree eventually Donald Trump if he's going to be a successful president, I do agree that he has to figure out a way to reach out to more Americans. I think that's true, but for this moment, I thought it was a pretty good speech. He is a great speecher, speaker. I mean, he is one of the best speech makers I've seen in matter of times. I don't know if David would agree with that, but just in terms of the force of his speaking, he is amazing.
HARLOW: Stephen Moore, you shorted the president one point, it's 96 percent, 96 percent of people --
HARLOW: Don't get involved in fake news, Steve Moore, with those inaccurate numbers. But David, you're in a very serious point to bring you in. Look, it is all well and good to promise things they need like these jobs, like a better deal with NAFTA that he believes, you know, that his -- that these people need. However, what is different about what he is saying now on those things than he said during the campaign on NAFTA? On the Paris Climate Agreement? On any of that.
DAVID GERGEN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER TO NIXON, FORD, REAGAN & CLINTON: When he campaigned he did not tell us he would support a health care bill that would have 24 million people lose their health -- life insurance, their health insurance. He didn't tell us that on the campaign. When he campaigned he did not tell us he was going to put forward a tax cut that goes mostly to the wealthy and not to the people who are in Pennsylvania. When he campaigned did he not tell us that regard to his tax cuts he would increase the national debt of this country by hundreds of -- you know, by trillions of dollars literally and that the people were going to have to pay for it were the sons and daughters --
HARLOW: Right. He impacted the rich were going to pay a lot more on Wall Street. He impacted the rich were going to pay a lot more and Wall Street is going to pay up.
GERGEN: The rich are going to put -- the rich are going to have huge tax breaks including Donald Trump.
HARLOW: Right. And he promised the opposite. (CROSSTALK)
BERMAN: He claimed last night he's going to pay more. That's debatable and of course we don't know because he hasn't released his taxes. Kate, that one other thing he said yesterday and it makes me think about what he did tonight and why he did it. You know, he said that being president isn't as easy as he thought it would be. It turns out, you know, it's a hard job. He spoke in wistful terms about his old life and then you see him tonight doing the part of the job he seems to like more than any other part of the job. What do you make to that?
KATE BENNETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: I think the speech was mostly about Donald Trump as most things are. I think he really needs to go out there and I call it the Donald Trump Vampire Theory, he needs to go out and feed. He's been in this sort of cave, the cocoon of the White House, and, you know, he have said it himself, he misses driving. He -- this job is hard. I mean, that was very revealing, truthful interview.
And going back out to his base, reliving the campaign and sort of the glory days of that, going back to the snake, like, hearing the crowds, all of those things I think feed him if a way that make this, you know, sort of gives him enough energy to go back to Washington, back to the White House, and repeat the sort of fight that he's putting on there. I think, as I said, this is for his base but it's also I think a Donald Trump evening.
HARLOW: And Senator Santorum, what does it do if he has just fed, as Kate Bennett put it in that striking --
BENNET: I couldn't think another thing --
HARLOW: How does he use -- how does he use that energy, senator? How does he use that energy, senator when he goes back to Washington to actually implement these things? Does it make him for productive? Does it make him more divided with those on the other side of the aisle? What does he do with this?
SANTORUM: Well, look, it shows number one, to all the republicans in Washington, D.C. His base is still with them him, there's a lot of people out there in this country that want him to deliver. And they -- as he turned around to Mike Kelly and to Tom Marino, two congressmen from Pennsylvania, hey, you guys, you got to -- you got to deliver. And so this was not just I agree, I think he does feed off the crowd and I don't think he sucks their blood, but I do think -- I do believe that he does feed -- get energy from the crowd.
But he also was trying to let everybody here know that the crowd's still with me, the -- you know, people that voted for me, your base, Congressman Kelly and Congressman Marino and everybody else is -- wants us to deliver on these things. So I think that was the message that --
BERMAN: If you don't like the vampire thing talk about Russell Crowe from Gladiator, there was one point during the event where he asked the crowd, you know, is there anything like a Trump rally which is do I not entertain? You know, Russell Crowe from Gladiator and I'm probably misquoting him there. He-- I'm struck tonight by the passion this speech arose. You have David Gergen here again saying it's the most divisive speech you've ever heard a sitting president give.
You had the Paul Begala call him a moral midget. You have the Paris and the senator here come out strongly and say, "No, you're just not getting it here. We're a hundred days in. I mean, we now -- this is now happening. I mean, there's no more we're waiting to see how it plays, I mean, it's now."
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Yes.
BERMAN: And the sides are drawn.
HENDERSON: Yes, the sides are drawn, they might be more firmly drawn now than they ever have been. I think people see politics and partisanship and party affiliation very closely tied to their own identity. Often who you vote for is an expression of that identity and when you see Donald Trump up there, you know, as someone you voted for, you see that he's a winner and you feel like you voted for a winner. And that's why it's not going to be easy I think and we know this and we know this just from polls past.
I mean, Nixon was -- is still doing well among republicans even in sort of the heart of the Watergate. He was two-thirds, you know, perverting among republicans and so I think it's going to be -- it's going to take a lot for Donald Trump to sort of shake that stickiness he has with his own supporters.
HARLOW: Stephen -- let me get Stephen Moore back in here because you advised the president on all things economy and jobs going throughout this election. When you look at the actual numbers, the stock market has sky rocketed. Sure it only affects half of Americans. Bunch of those folks, half that audience doesn't have a dime in the stock market. The growth numbers, he is betting on everything to work by this economy going three to four percent, the growth number is on Friday. We're not good. It was .7 percent. It's not what he's going to need.
MOORE: Well, you're right. I mean, look, in the end, what's going to matter in terms of Donald Trump's -- the success of his presidency and whether he gets reelected it is not any of the stuff that we're talking about right now, it's about whether he gets this economy moving again and gets us up to three and perhaps four or five percent as he's talked about. I wish he had talked a little bit more about his tax plan because that's front and center in terms of reviving this economy, getting workers a pay cut, a tax cut, getting businesses a tax cut.
But you're right, he's got -- and we've got a lousy first quarter number but the economy has only over the last eight months grown at one and a half percentage point. I want to make one of a quick point. One of his biggest applause lines which is one of the reasons conservatives are so happy with him even when he stumbles at times and I think Rick Santorum will back me up on this is when he said I got Gorsuch on the supreme court and that is a huge victory for conservatives.
BERMAN: And it went wild. And look, and he also, the line that got a huge amount of applause is we're going to build that wall. They've got a huge amount of --
HARLOW: As sure as you are standing here tonight we're going to build the wall.
BERMAN: But as sure as they're all standing there tonight the biggest applause line he got from the campaign which he did not repeat tonight was who's going to pay for it?
BERMAN: Mexico's going to pay for it. That's gone. That's the opposite. All right, guys. You know, stand by because obviously there's a lot more to talk about this speech. He mentioned health care, he talked about the media. He bragged about being a hundred miles away from what you're looking at on your screen right now, the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner which is underway. There will be some speakers that you will are going to want to hear and in some ways I imagine they will respond if not directly at least, systematically to the President of the United States. You're watching CNN special live coverage. Don't go anywhere.
TRUMP: A large group of Hollywood actors and Washington media are consoling each other in a hotel ballroom in our Nation's Capital right now. They are gathered together for the White House Correspondents' Dinner without the president. And I could not possibly be more thrilled than to be more than 100 miles away from Washington swamp spending my evening with all of you.
BERMAN: All right. Less there be any confusion about the message President Trump was trying to send by attending his rally in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, that's what it just was. He was at that the event moments ago speaking for nearly an hour as the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner is underway. You're looking at live pictures of that and we're going to hear from the comedian speaker in just a moment, CNN's Brian Stelter is there. Brian, of course, CNN's Chief Media Correspondent, host of Reliable Sources covering the media in this country, it's relationship with politics, and the White House. You get the sense that the president isn't happy with that relationship, Brian.
BRIAN STELTER, CNN HOST, RELIABLE SOURCES: Yes, indeed. You know, John and Poppy tonight at this dinner it a little bit more subdued because the president's not here. It's the White House Correspondents' Dinner. Everybody in the audience has this pinned, this First Amendment pin that's been handed out and President Trump needs to wear one as well. You know, we just saw him display his First Amendment rights and the tone of this dinner because celebrities mostly skipped this event because Trump told his aides not to come tonight is about press freedom.
We're going to hear from Carl Bernstein and Bob (INAUDIBLE) momentarily there will also be roasting and probably some jokes of the president's expense. But I would say for the most part it's a slightly more muted than usual dinner. I'm sitting next to Jeffrey Lord by the way. You know, he lives right near Harrisburg right near the rally we just saw but he decided to come here instead because he was invited here first.
STELTER: And Lord and I we're just debating how effective the president's antimedia tax are. And I think we're in agreement. They are effective but let's recognize how poisonous they are as well. Every single president disputes some news coverage of their presidency but no president until now gets up at a rally and calls news outlets fake. No president gets up at a podium and says the things we've heard from this president tonight. It's nothing new from him. This was really a copy and paste speech as you all were just talking about, but it is insidious, it is poisonous and I think for the journalists in this room just trying to do their best work it is disappointing to continue to hear the president taking this tone.
HARLOW: It's different, Brian when you're leading this democracy than when you're running, right? It's very different to say fake news and then to own it as the person that really brought that label to the floor. Let me ask you this, remind me -- tell me if I've got it wrong, but as the president bashes --
BERMAN: I won't tell her she's wrong. It's an experience, Brian. I'm warning you at that.
HARLOW: -- Hollywood actors --
STELTER: Got it, John.
HARLOW: John is smart. As the president bashes Hollywood actors and the elite, he was indeed one of those famous people who went and sat as a guest at the White House Correspondents' Dinner more than once, am I right?
STELTER: And that's right. That's right. Most recently in 2011 the famous clips of President Obama roasting then businessman Donald Trump in the audience. There are usually a lot of celebrities of this thing, that's true. Trump was one of them. He very much enjoyed the red carpet area behind me when he was here. That's true for a lot of celebs. This year is different, however. There's a lot of A-lister, Hollywood types that don't want to be here.
The president was commenting about Hollywood actors consoling journalists and such. They're not. Most of the conversations of course are about the day-to-day work of journalism, of the media. So the president does have a certain sense of this event. Let's see if he shows up next year and actually seeks better friendlier relations with the press. We have seen him, as you all mentioned doing more interviews recently. He recognizes he does need to perhaps rethink the relationship a little bit. But at the same time his attacks are so appealing to that crowd, even if he doesn't believe that CNN's fake news, and I don't think he does, some of his audience does and that is a problem.
BERMAN: Brian Stelter at the White House Associated Correspondents Dinner right there. Brian, thank you so much. Stand by for one minute because as we were in break, our discussion was float over, it went over the boundaries here between Senator Rick Santorum who's, kind of, in a sandwich, democratic sandwich right now between Paul Begala and Governor Granholm here . It was about the idea that people just see this differently, see this speech differently. You know, Senator Santorum, your view is that it is connecting with people.
SANTORUM: No question. And even the media, the media bashing is connecting. And I would agree with Brian that maybe the president doesn't think that's necessarily fake news, that all of the news that comes out of CNN is fake news. But he does I believe and I know his base believes that what you choose to cover and the tone of which you cover it is not representing the reality of the situation. That's how they -- that's -- in that sense it's fake, in their eyes.
BERMAN: Is there a cost to this? You know, again you say it's effective, you also say you don't agree with it all. Is there -- just is there a long-term cost, not for him, for the country to it?
SANTORUM: Yes, I would say yes on both sides. And this is -- and this is what I -- you know, listening to what was going on, I think the media sort of taking a pass that they nothing -- no blame in what you see with Donald Trump is ridiculous. Of course you have blame. I mean, the real -- I mean, as a republican who's been covered by the national media forever, I mean, I've always felt like I had to, you know, fight tooth and nail to get any kind of honest coverage out of the national media. So I think there -- certainly you can blame Donald Trump for what he is -- what he is doing and saying, but I think the media bears blame also.
HARLOW: Governor, you called this earlier and really an impassion plea a sad night for America. The governor, the senator said you're not hearing the voices of those people who are there tonight. Is there a lesson in tonight in these split screens of Washington's media and the people that support this president so much in Harrisburg?
GRANHOLM: Well, here is the thing. I agree on this. I do think that the media that all of us have to hear, the agony of people who are in the middle of the country who have felt like the rug has been pulled out from under them because their jobs are gone to either globalization or automation, I totally get that.
HARLOW: But you represented a lot of these people in Michigan.
GRANHOLM: That's what I'm saying. I completely get that and that part of his speech where he was talking about NAFTA I was thinking, OK, OK, he is doing -- and then he just went off the rails and that, to me, I mean, there's a lot of people -- there's a lot of people of color who would hear this sort of uttering that went on in this speech and who are in those states that we are in who are working in those jobs who feel like, OK, I could get this part but when you start to like move SWATs of America against you, there is no wonder that his base is around 40 percent.
That he's not going to grow it if he continues to do that. He's got to understand that he has to speak in a way that allows us to listen too. I get it, he's got 96 percent of his base. Why he needs to shore up that 96 percent, I have no idea. But if he wants to be a president for all America, he has got to talk in broader terms. So, yes, there are two conversations going on, but he is president, he has a responsibility to broaden his language.
BERMAN: Paul, you know, I do want to note that, you know, you worked for democrat politicians who had great success speaking to many of these same voters. Bill Clinton. You know, the -- you know --
BEGALA: Both Bob (INAUDIBLE)
BERMAN: Bob both white-working class voters. Are the democrats hitting these people, you know, at home right now? Are they reaching them?
BEGALA: No. No. The democratic party -- the people -- the government at home representing in Michigan, people Senator Santorum represent in Pennsylvania, different parties but they both spoke to those blue-collar working class folks. And the democratic elites walked away from them. Created the opportunity in the audience, the market for Trump. You know, this is a real problem for the Democratic Party. We have got to get back. Now, as a political analyst, what Trump could have done is taken over this country. I mean, both parties. If he had come to the country not with a divisive healthcare plan that hammers the middle class or tax break for billionaires but instead with the infrastructure plan that he promised. A trillion dollars to rebuild roads and bridges so that the crisis of low -- of low-rate workers, of guys and gals who are -- who want the work and don't have it, by the way, which is every community of color and white folks.
BEGALA: He could have united this country, but he doesn't have it in him. He doesn't have the character do it, that's the problem.
BERMAN: Andre, I just want -- I wish there were an honesty camera on everyone's face here when everyone else is talking because a lot of the times you, you know, you yell at each other on camera and then you nod in agreement when someone else is talking. Andre Bauer, you know, you are a Donald Trump and yet, you were agreeing what Paul Begala here, what Paul was saying what the president could have done and didn't do was reach everyone. Why were you nodding in agreement to that?
ANDRE BAUER, (R) FORMER SOUTH CAROLINA LT GOVERNOR: Because I -- there is no question at water talk about it years ago about building the tent and he has an opportunity here now to grow his tent. His basis there. I would to -- he could really make it so difficult on democrats these next couple years midterm elections, he could -- Ronald Reagan said when you can't make them see the light, make them feel the heat.
If he can grow the populous behind him, he can get any legislation he wants passed because he can put the heat back in their districts and he could become a king maker in the legislative process. And that's what really wants to do as legal legacy of getting things changed for the American people. But the way you do that is grow that base of people in districts or in states you want help.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And tonight, your verdict on tonight?
BAUER: There was some opportunities I would have taken a different road. I think he hit some great spots, but I think he missed some too.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN NEWSROOM ANCHOR: Yes. And most diplomatic thing said all night by now. Andre Bauer --
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: And there really just is no sign that Donald Trump is interested in growing his base. He didn't talk much about infrastructure at all tonight. I don't think he mentioned it. I mean, the sort of through line was about the wall, right? And it's, like, the idea that you need the wall to keep out --
HARLOW: And the snake poem is really to that exactly.
HENDERSON: If you look at his -- if you look at his days on the -- on the national scene. I mean, it's a con -- it's a constant strain of sort of utterism (ph) in the way that General Granholm talked about and with that it's really going to be hard to broaden his base, it's going to be hard to get democrats along at this point because the democratic base wants nothing to do with Donald Trump and they don't want their politicians working with him at this point.
HARLOW: Or David Gergen, do you buy -- David Gergen, do you buy Paul Begala's interesting argument and proposal? I mean, perhaps this president could do best by being of neither parties, by being like the Bernie Sanders who said, "I'm not a democrat, I'm -- you know, I'm an independent." Could he do well looking forward to say, "I am not tied to any of these folks, here's what I'm going doing for you the people?"
DAVID GERGEN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER TO NIXON, FORD, REAGAN & CLINTON: Absolutely. Absolutely. He has -- he had the opportunity which I think he's kicking away to become a very different kind of president. Someone, you know, let's remember when Bill Clinton and Paul will remember this, Bill Clinton succeeded because he embraced what was call the third way. He wanted to take the best from the Democratic Party and the best from the Republican Party and built the middle and it helped him govern.
I think there's a very practical point. I mean, this you can hear about, look, this makes it -- this kind of speech makes it really hard for someone in -- on -- in the -- in the senate who's a democrat or in the house to vote with Donald Trump. Because they're going to get killed from their own party. And if he is declaring total war on the other party and not reaching out, just as a practical matter, it's -- the legislation he needs to pass is going to need democratic votes and he is going to have a really hard time getting them with this kind of rhetoric.
GRANHOLM: But I can say for the whole time on this campaign whenever he would do something outrageous people will say, "Oh, he'll learn, he'll learn, we'll come back, he'll change." This is a hundred days in. He is not changing. When are we going to learn this?
BAUER: But he is bringing folks in from the other camp. I think he -- I think he -- sure he is.
GRANHOLM: Who he is bringing in? Name one.
BAUER: Well, he -- he's brought in a lot of the republicans he bashed right off the --
HARLOW: Andre Bauer, the other -- the other camp isn't always defined as republicans in a republican administration.
BAUER: But Donald Trump is really almost an independent. I mean, he is. You know, so he's got to work with his own party too and he's got a lot of dissension there as well that he started out with folks that don't think like he does and are hardened to certain ideas and so he's having to work with them too. But he has invited democrats over to dinner and try to break bread and grow the tent and working with them.
RICK SANTORUM, (R) FORMER PENNSYLVANIA SENATOR: And remember, the first two things he has do right now are going to take republicans and only republicans and that is healthcare and taxes. They're going to -- they're going to be completely -- and so if I'm the president right now, I'm talking to them right now because those are the two things that have to get done that are on the table and we need to move them and that's why I think did he what he did.
HARLOW: We've got to get a break in. We've got to get a break in.
BERMAN: What we're going to do is we're going to take a quick break, we'll come back. Much more on this. We are waiting to hear from the White House Correspondents' Center right now the main speaker is coming up. Don't go anywhere. We are also monitoring what was a situation outside the Trump rally in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, that just ended right now. There are a lot of people, there are police right there. You know, some protests we have seen and then some heated moments, we'll have a live report. You're watching CNN special live coverage. Stay with us.
HARLOW: All right. On day 100 of the Trump Administration we are moments away from the headline comedian at the White House Correspondent Dinner. This as the president has just wrapped up his big almost hour-long rally in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. We want to you watch this as we wait for the comedian to take the stage. This is the video that all those journalists in the room here in Washington just saw.
DANA PERINO, PRES SEC'Y, PRES. GEORGE W. BUSH: There's a lot to celebrate because journalism is such an important part of the freedom that we continue to enjoy in this country and many other countries just wish that they had the benefits that we have because our Founding Fathers were so brilliant with the First Amendment.
MICHAEL BESCHLOSS, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Thomas Jefferson famously said he would rather have a press without government than a government without a press. When the press confronts the government that means that the system is working. That's what the founders wanted.
MIKE MCCURRY, PRESS SEC'Y, PRES. BILL CLINTON: If you don't acknowledge that fundamentally important role that the press plays and protect it, and that's the role of the press secretary sometimes, to protect the role of the press inside the White House against people who are fuming at whatever has been reported, if you don't treasure and protect that relationship, we're losing something that's very fundamentally important in our democracy.
PERINO: I think one of the things that this past election has taught us is that journalists, if they follow the story and the facts and not worry about all the other stuff, maybe like what he is saying, they're saying, I think that journalism will be resurgent and that is a good thing for all of us.
MCCURRY: Any president thinks that they want the American people to hear the truth about what a great job he's doing and in theory the press wants to report accurately and truthfully about what that president is up to. So in theory, both sides are aligned in this adversarial relationship. But we know how often that things get off track.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How are your relationships with the White House press corp?
BILL CLINTON, 42ND PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think they're all right.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They'd like to talk to you.
CLINTON: Well, I answer their questions just about every day. They come in and ask me questions and I answer them.
BESCHLOSS: Nixon hated a lot of things and one of the things he really hated was the White House Correspondents' Dinner because he would come here and he would have to sit while a lot of journalists were given big prizes for stories that were really tough on Nixon and Nixon would go back to the White House and dictate a memo and say I'm never going to go to this dinner ever again. But he did.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As incredible that your personal attorney --
BESCHLOSS: In October of 1973, Richard Nixon had a showdown with the press in the White House and a CBS correspondent said --
ROBERT PIERPOINT, CBS NEWS BROADCAST JOURNALIST: What is it about the television coverage of you in these past weeks and months that has so aroused your anger?
RICHARD MILHOUS NIXON, 37TH PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Don't get the impression that you arouse my anger.
PIERPOINT: Well I have that impression.
NIXON: One can only be angry with those he respects.
BESCHLOSS: That was about the (INAUDIBLE) in the relationship between the president and the press.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President --
JEFF MASON, PRESIDENT, WH CORRESPONDENTS' ASSOC.: The tension between the president and the press is normal, it's healthy, and it'svital to democracy.
RONALD REAGAN, 40TH PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We Americans make no secret of our belief in freedom. In fact, it's something of a national pass time. About a thousand local television stations, 8,500 radio stations, and 1,700 daily newspapers each want an independent private enterprise fiercely independent of the government, report on the candidates, grill them in interviews, and bring them together for debates.
GEORGE W. BUSH, 43th PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The relationship between the president and the press is a -- is a unique relationship and it's a necessary relationship. I enjoy it, I hope you do. As I say, sometimes you don't like the decisions I make and sometimes I don't like the way you write about the decisions, but nevertheless it's really important part of our process.
BRACK OBAMA, 44th PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: But I have enjoyed working with all of you. That does not of course mean that I have enjoyed every story that you have filed, but that's the point of this relationship. You're not supposed to be sync of fans, you're supposed to be skeptics, you're supposed to ask me tough questions. You're not supposed to be complimentary, but you're supposed to cast a critical eye on folks who hold enormous power and make sure that we are accountable to the people who sent us here. And you have done that. So America needs you and our democracy needs you.
MASON: The White House Correspondents' Association doesn't just wrangle with presidents and their aides. We also provide scholarships to young journalists who represent the next generation of our profession.
ANGEL BROOKE: My name is Angel Brooke. I am a 2016 Penn State graduate from the College of Communications. The tuition is very, very high. My mom was saying, "Penn State's a great school but I don't know if we can afford it." It was nearly $30,000 in scholarships from WHDA and I was in shock. That was actually a big portion of my tuition. I ended up being awarded the scholarship and always completely humbled by the experience. I was like, "Wow, you chose me?"
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Five, four, three, two --
BROOKE: And that just gave the drive and I pushed to keep pushing to find a job in the field that I wanted. I'm just thankful because ABC7, WJLA hired me as a production assistant so I do a lot of writing, graphics, floor directing and it's the first step into my career. So I'm just going to go up from here.
UNIDENTIFIED: -- going to do health care and tax reform.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It'll happen. We'll see what happens.
MASON: The WHDA fights hard every day for the ability of journalist to ask questions, to witness the president in action, and to report robustly on what they see. We will continue do that regardless of who is in office and regardless of which party controls the White House. That's our job.
MCCURRY: Yes, there can be spin, yes, there can be a little give and take in the Briefing Room. But at the end of the day it's about the American people that need to hear honestly what's going on.
BESCHLOSS: So every time someone explains about conflict between the White House and the press, we should say that's democracy and we should be grateful.
PERINO: There are changes that are coming that we don't even know about. But here's one thing that doesn't change, facts, the First Amendment, truth, respect, and stability. All of those things are constants that we should be able to agree on.
MCCURRY: That's a keeper.
MASON: Thank you to WHCA Board Member Eliseya Jennings and her team at NBC for putting together that terrific video. The tradition of the White House Correspondents' Dinner is a long one. Journalists, presidents, cabinet members, lawmakers, and diplomats have shown up for decades and demonstrated that even though we have vastly different roles, government officials and reporters can come together for one night. Tonight looks a little different. But the values that underpin this dinner have not changed.
In fact, I think they've been reinforced. We are here to celebrate good journalism, we are here to celebrate the press, not the presidency. And I am happy to report for anyone who's interested, that this dinner is sold out. But what we celebrate tonight is bigger than a dinner. This may get a lot of attention every year, but the work journalists do every day is what is important. And as people in this room know, but perhaps some in the American public do not, the White House Correspondents' Association works every day to stand up for freedom, for press freedom, and advocate for journalists ability to do their jobs.
We do that with every White House regardless of who is president and regardless of whether he's a democrat or a republican. President Trump's White House is no different. We have worked very hard to build a constructive relationship with his press team, and there are clear dividends from those efforts. The press is still in the White House Briefing Room and we are still on Air Force One. In fact, press access under President Trump has been very good.
With all of the tension in the relationship, that aspect is often overlooked. We have had several press conferences, repeated opportunities to see and report on the president's meetings, and with at least one notable and lamentable exception, good access to briefings with press staff and senior administration officials. Nevertheless, we cannot ignore the rhetoric that has been employed by the president about who we are and what we do.
Freedom of the press is a building block of our democracy. Undermining that by seeking to delegitimize journalists is dangerous to a healthy republic. It is our job to report on facts and to hold leaders accountable. That is who we are. We are not fake news. We are not failing news organizations. And we are not the enemy of the American people. The WHCA is proud to stand up for all of our members. An attack on any of us, is an attack on all of us.
At previous dinners, we have rightly talked about the threats to press freedoms abroad. Tonight we must recognize that there are threats to press freedoms here in the United States. We must remain vigilant. The world is watching. Thankfully we are not alone. The out pouring of support for the WHCA has been heartwarming. I'm having journalists Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein here tonight as an outstanding symbol of that support.
Thank you Bob, Carl, Elsa, and Christine for joining us. Just as Woodward and Bernstein inspired hundreds of journalists, we hope the work the White House press corp is doing will inspire our successors. And we are delighted to support the next generation of journalists with our scholarship program which we are raising money for tonight. As the video so beautifully showed, scholarships matter and having spent some time already with this year's group of scholars, I can tell you the future of our profession is in good hands and with that I'd like to invite scholarship chairs Julie Pace and Zeke Miller to the podium as we present to you this year's WHCA scholars.
BERMAN: That was Jeff Mason, the President of the White House Correspondents' Association with a loud defense of press freedom, standing up for the role that White House correspondents and journalists across this country play the important role that they play now and will going forward. Again, we're watching the White House Correspondents' Dinner. We're waiting to hear from the comedian, Hasan Minhaj who will speak very, very shortly. Stay with us, we'll be right back.
HARLOW: We are back with our special live coverage. The White House Correspondents' Dinner still underway. We're about to hear from headline comedian Hasan Minhaj from The Daily Show in just a moments. Let's listen in.
MASON: -- the research on the school's newly hired principal when they uncovered red flags about her educational and professional background. Their tenacious work for a student newspaper, the (INAUDIBLE) led to the resignation of that school official. Congratulations. Please stand so we can recognize you. Journalists like those students witnessed and sometimes impact history with the work they do and that is certainly the same for those of us in the White House press corp.
One way we record that history is through poll reports written by dedicated print journalists and tonight we're excited to give an update on the WHCA's work to create an archive for those reports and I'd like to introduce Vice President Margaret Taleff who has spearheaded this project with Major Garret of CBS. To tell us more.
MARGARET TALEFF, VICE PRESIDENT, REGULATORY AFFAIRS AT ARRAY BIOPHARMA INC.: Thank you. Subject, White House travel pool report number one. Joint base Andrews, April 29th, 2017. Greetings from the (INAUDIBLE) in Suburban Maryland where President Trump sets off on a Saturday night visit to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania to celebrate.
BERMAN: Sorry, we're watching the White House Correspondents' Dinner right now. It is underway. We are waiting to hear from Carl Wood -- I mean, Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward.
BERMAN: They will be speaking with Steen as they were once affectionately known.
HARLOW: We all know what you're thinking. Also waiting to hear from comedian Hasan Minhaj of The Daily Show. He will be the headline, you know, comedian speaking tonight. While we are waiting for that. We're going covering Kamau Bell hosting United Shades of America which I believe is on TV, Sunday night finally once again, thank goodness. The law national (INAUDIBLE) Kamau, you know, you also do your fair share, you know, of standup performing in front of a lot crowds.
Hasan Minhaj is watching these speakers tonight. Probably is aware of the fact that President Trump gave a speech he gave in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania attacking the very dinner where he'll be delivering his routine tonight. What do you think is going through his head?
KAMAU BELL, COMEDIAN AND CNN HOST: Probably I'm glad I don't have to follow Barack Obama like (INAUDIBLE) one more lasts year again. This is a much easier house for him. The fact that the President Trump isn't there helps him out. There's a very smooth runway for him. I'm sure he's going to be great. And which I remember he performed at the congressional press dinner. And that's probably why he is here right now.
BELL: (INAUDIBLE) is working to The Daily Show.
HARLOW: But, you know, Kamau -- I mean, how does he, sort of, thread the needle? Because Jeff Mason who just spoke and for folks who don't know is he heads up the White House Correspondents' Association and he said in interviews leading up to tonight look I wasn't looking for somebody who's going to roast the president in abstention, that's not fair. So everyone's going to be looking at Hasan Minhaj to do a bit of that, because that's typically what happens at these dinners but for the first time in 36 years the president isn't there himself. How does that change the dynamic?
BELL: I mean, it actually makes it easier. Hasan is a very great comedian. He is also a very sincere comedian. It's easy to be sincere about these feelings and not just do the roast jokes that typically happen that don't mean anything. Hasan's a very deep comedian. This is actually -- when I first heard that Trump wasn't going to be there I was really, like, "Well, who are they going to get?" and when I heard it was Hasan, I was like, "That's perfect," because actually is sincere about what he believes.
BERMAN: You know, Kamau, I don't know if you've been -- how much of our show you've had a chance to watch. I am sure you been --
BELL: Oh, no, I'm watching --
HARLOW: -- from the beginning.
BELL: No, believe me. I'm stealing Kate Bennett's joke about Trump being a vampire. She better know, that's the only thing you don't (INAUDIBLE) that's mine.
BELL: And John, it's are you not entertained? Not do I not entertain you?
BERMAN: I know, I know. Believe me, I went to the internet as soon as the segment was over. I know how wrong I was. I'm ashamed. But Kamau, you know, we've been talking about, sort of, the divisive nature. It was the speech of the president gave at David Gergen said the most divisive that a sitting president has ever given or as, you know, Paris Dennard and Senator Santorum we're arguing. He is speaking to an audience there. He's uniting his base. He's speaking to people who feel like they've been unheard sometimes. Your entire show is about, you know, the different opinions, the different voices in this country. You're going out and listen to people. What are you hearing?
BELL: I mean, that's -- he is -- he is -- presidents normally even pretend to speak to everybody. He is continually only speaking to his base. And so I feel, like, my job is to go out there and speak to the other people who feel, like, they're not being covered in these speeches. The people who feel, like, they're being targeted in these speeches. So he can be the president of his people, I'm the president of the other people.
HARLOW: You heard it here first, folks. You heard it here first. Headlines being made all over the place. And Kamau Bell, thank you so much. And I should know as we listen -- let's listen into Jeff Mason once again.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And live from New York, it's Saturday Night.
ALEC BALDWIN, ACTOR, WRITER, PRODUCER, AND COMEDIAN: Keep up the good work.
MASON: Thank you, Alec Baldwin for those quick but meaningful words of encouragement. The next portion of our program is a bit of a surprise too. But not for those of us sitting on the dice. It's for the person helping to make the program run flawlessly back stage. Julia Whiston, our Executive Director, has supported this association with hearts and soul --