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President Trump Messed Up On Charlottesville; President Trump No Tolerance For Hate; President Trump Speech To The Nation Of Afghanistan. Aired 11-Midnight ET
Aired August 21, 2017 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)
[23:00:00]ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: So that is what I want from the President of the United States. A very strong, unequivocal, condemnation of terrorists, foreign and domestic.
DON LEMON, CNN TONIGHT NEWS SHOW HOST: Yeah, well, Dan, I hate to disagree with you. Not so much because I think that my issue is that their issue of race and what we're dealing with right now should be prioritized just as much as the issue in Afghanistan because we have people out on the streets now who are fighting in our very own country, not that is many lives are being taken as in a war in Afghanistan but this should be a priority for the President especially after having bungled it by so many people's estimation that he should specifically address this and not put it somewhere in the beginning, the middle or end of a speech that is about a war somewhere else. Jason, you want to say something?
JASON MILLER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yeah, I think, it's great the President brought it up. I just fundamentally disagree with you. I agree with Ana, it's good we're hearing from the President on this.
LEMON: I just said if he wanted to speak about this, he could have said I'm going to address the nation regarding Charlottesville and race. And he could have addressed the nation regarding Charlottesville and race and hold a town hall, he could give a speech about it, but he didn't. He addressed a nation about Afghanistan and then snuck something in there and didn't even mention Charlottesville, didn't mention the words, he just alluded to it. That is not a forthcoming approach.
MILLER: He brought it up right off the top.
LEMON: He didn't even mention Charlottesville. If you were just sort of a casual listener, maybe you knew what he was talking about, maybe you didn't. But if he came out and said I want to address what I said and what actually happened in Charlottesville because there is -- there's so many issues around it and so many people, maybe misunderstood what I said and I want to make it perfectly clear, that didn't happen on the speech.
MILLER: Don, there is not one person who is watching the speech at home that didn't know what the President was referring to. Obviously we have serious race issues in our country. I think if President Trump as often as he wants to talk about this and address it, I think that is good. I think he wants to continue to talk about the education differences, how certain communities have been left behind, how communities have been left behind on jobs and wage growth as well as what we see from bigotry and hate groups where there's no place for, good for President Trump for bringing up and speaking to it.
LEMON: He didn't address that tonight. He didn't address it tonight. He gave two or three sentences regarding that.
MILLER: But good for him for bringing it up.
LEMON: If he really wants to talk about it, he should talk about it. He is taken no questions and answers about it, no one from the White House has spoken since he gave his last speech. He is been tweeting about it and he has not been clear on this particular issue. You cannot sit here and tell me that Jason.
MILLER: I hope he brings it up tomorrow in Phoenix. I think it's great when President Trump brings it up. I think we should be giving him credit where credit is due when he brings this topic up.
LEMON: I think he brought it up. I think he deserves credit for bringing it up, but if he is going to do it, do it and don't do it in a backhanded manner where he is trying to sneak something in in order to change the subject.
MILLER: I would say I don't think there has to be a negative context to him bringing it up. The fact he brought it up is good. There are a lot of the opportunities for him to bring it up. Good for him.
LEMON: There's no negative context, because he comes out and addresses it that would be positive if he addressed it.
MILLER: That is why I was saying it was positive he brought it up at the beginning of his speech. The rest of the Afghanistan speech, which we didn't get a chance to get into --
LEMON: We've got a lot to talk about.
MILLER: I loved it.
LEMON: Let's talk now about the poll numbers in response to this Charlottesville. Only 28 percent of Americans approve of the President's response to Charlottesville according to a new "Washington Post" ABC news poll, 56 disapprove. What do those numbers tell you?
STEVE ISRAEL, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, they tell me that President continues to struggle and have a challenge with the American people on his response. Look, the President I don't think is all that focused on the poll numbers of the day but we just heard from Paul Ryan. He is the guy who looks at the numbers and he has to worry. He is going into a midterm election. Whether the Republicans will lose the majority remains to be seen. But I will tell you what, this is going to be the most competitive midterm election since 2010 when the Republicans took the majority from the Democrats. And so these poll numbers and this steady erosion of support for the Republican brand, it's just perilous for Paul Ryan's majority. They're focus is on this and have the most to lose as we go forward over the next 17 months.
LEMON: Cliff, the President also announced the long awaited strategy for the U.S. in Afghanistan tonight. And he is asking the nation to trust his leadership at a time when his competence and moral authority are in question, as well. How do you think he did tonight?
CLIFF MAY, FOUNDATION FOR DEFENSE OF DEMOCRACIES: I think he did a pretty good job overall tonight. Look, I think it was difficult for him. There are people on the right, isolationist who's won't like what he had to say tonight. He said look, I thought as a candidate that maybe we just would abandon the entire enterprise in Afghanistan.
[23:00:09] I think he realizes that for the U.S. after all these years, to be defeated on the battlefield by the Taliban and by Al Qaeda is not a good idea. He doesn't want that to happen. He introduced several new ideas and he introduced a strategy. I'm not going to tell you it's the best strategy. It gives a lot more authority to his commanders in the field, on the battlefield. I think that is a good thing. I think a President shouldn't be sitting there with a map trying to figure out how to run these battles. Among the things did he, for example that are new, he said there will be no safe havens anymore in Pakistan. You can't be like chasing Bonnie and Clyde to the state line and then turning around and going home. We've been doing that for years. As a result, Al Qaeda and Taliban leadership can live in western Pakistan and feel relatively safe. He said that he was going to continue with this effort not on basis of time say in six months, don't worry, we'll get out, but withdrawal will be conditions based when the enemy is no longer able to take over and say they've defeated the United States which would be catastrophic in many ways.
He is going to change the rules of engagement and use all instruments of American policy it, economic, diplomatic and other. I think it's important that he said we're not going to lose there. We're going to do what we have to do to make sure the Taliban and Al Qaeda do not defeat us. I think it's important to put this in a larger global strategy. We're fighting a lot of various forms of jihadists that is what they call themselves. This is going to be a long war, an uncomfortable war. We're not going to win it any time soon. We could lose it very soon if we're not careful. That would be catastrophic.
LEMON: Steve, how do you think he did tonight?
ISRAEL: Let's understand that tonight was a dividing line, Don. From tonight on, President Trump owns the Afghanistan strategy. You can't blame the prior administration or the administration before that. He owns it now. Now, I've been to Afghanistan 13 times as a member of congress and 16 years. This war's been going on for 17 years. I've been through three Presidents going to Afghanistan and Iraq. Under all three Presidents I saw the difference between the easy solutions you mentioned on a campaign and the hard decisions you have to make as President. Tonight Donald Trump made some hard decisions. There are no good decisions anymore. We're down to the least bad. Remaining in Afghanistan and increasing troop levels though he wasn't specific is the only option we have right now. Withdrawing completely would have been a disaster. One final thought, Don. We're talking about this war as a 17-year war. This is a 178-year war. The British tried to tame Afghanistan. They couldn't. The soviets tried, they couldn't. I agree with Cliff. This is not a short-term solution. It's probably a much longer period than the American people had an appetite for. And if we're going to continue this engagement, we'd better learn to do more for the 1 percent of population of Americans that are doing the fighting for the other 99 percent of us.
LEMON: Anna, was he clear, do you think? Do you agree with Steve? He owns the war now?
NAVARRO: He absolutely does own the war. He is the commander in chief. He is got no option. I think did he fine on Afghanistan. He was reading off the script. He is got a chief of staff who is a four- star marine general, seasoned combat veteran. He is got a very strong combat veteran general running the defense department. He has got another one at his national security adviser. And you know, I have a Senator friend who said to me when Trump doesn't think he knows the subject matter well, he defers to the people who do. And that often happens on military policy, it often happens on foreign policy. Much less so on domestic policy. When he is sticking to script, a script that was clearly written by the seasoned military veterans around him, he is fine. As long as he sticks to script. When he is talking off the cuff, you know, it gets a little scary.
MAY: And this would be -- to speak that off the cuff, but this speech that he made tonight this strategy he endorsed, this was a big decision and I think it was a difficult decision on his part to take. And I think yes, he listens to his top advisers. Yes, he listens to his generals. I think that is what you want a President to do. A President who doesn't listen to his generals who doesn't give them the resources they need to do the job you're asking them to do with fail. That is not what you want.
NAVARRO: I think you're seeing -- I think you're seeing much more the influence of John Kelley and much less the influence of the Steve Bannon isolationist alt-right types.
LEMON: You can see it because the President on the campaign trail said different things about Afghanistan wanting to get out and he said it was a war that wasn't worth fighting or that we had been in it for too long. Thank you, panel. I appreciate it. Great conversation.
[23:10:08] I want to get back to senior political analyst. Mark Preston live for us in Wisconsin, Mark as we have been discussing in addition to Charlottesville and the town hall, the President gave a significant speech on Afghanistan. Why did they choose to do this speech today?
MARK PRESTON, SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST, CNN: Well, a couple things. This has been in the works since President Trump got into office. He said he wanted a plan put in place but he wanted it well thought out. There was one interesting thing he did say during his speech. When you become President, you look at things a little bit differently. Clearly, when he was running for President and even before that, he was very much against staying in Afghanistan. However, now we know that he is in it to win it. So he says. Why did he do it now? Well, perhaps he actually had come to the conclusion where they finalized their plans however, it is politically advantageous for him to do it in August for a couple reasons.
He doesn't have members of congress in Washington, D.C. Those members who would be against adding more troops to Afghanistan. Members of congress who would prefer that we pull out of Afghanistan. So it kind of takes a little bit of the oxygen out of the room for those in congress who would oppose him including probably several Republicans, Don. That is one thing. Another reason, he is been under a lot of criticism over the past week or so given what happened in Charlottesville. This certainly changes the topic at least for today and maybe for the next day or so. It will change the topic from Charlottesville. But did he address Charlottesville in some way, shape, or form. At the top of his speech. He didn't specifically go to that -- he didn't specifically say it in general, but what he did do is that he said look at all our men and women in the military. They serve all together. They're all patriots. If they can work together, then everyone can work together, don.
An interesting comment for him to make, specifically given his comments about transgender individuals serving in the military which were rebuked by several of his commanders, Don.
LEMON: Thank you, Mark Preston, from Wisconsin, I appreciate that. I want to bring in now Admiral John Kirby, CNN military and diplomatic analyst, also military analyst Col Steve Warren and General Wesley Clark, former NATO supreme allied commander. Good evening to all of you. Thank you for joining us. General Clark, the President unveiled his plan for the U.S. strategy in Afghanistan. America's longest war. I want you to listen and then we'll talk about it.
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DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: A core pillar of our new strategy is a shift from a time-based approach to one based on conditions. I've said it many times how counterproductive it is for the United States to announce in advance the dates we intend to begin or end military options. We will not talk about numbers of troops or our plans for further military activities. Conditions on the ground not arbitrary timetables will guide our strategy from now on. America's enemies must never know our plans or believe they can wait us out. I will not say when we are going to attack, but attack we will.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So from -- he wasn't very specific. So what is, general, the new strategy for Afghanistan?
WESLEY CLARK, FORMER NATO SUPREME ALLIED COMMANDER: Well, it's a little hard to say. I think the framework's ok to say you're going to involve all elements of U.S. power. I think its fine to say conditions based, that is not innovative, we had done that most other cases. I think its fine to say you're not going to give out the specific troop numbers. But this really comes down to the diplomacy of it. He says he is going to put the pressure on Pakistan. He is going to invite India in. That is really the heart of the solution. Will Pakistan really cooperate and cut off the Taliban and Haqqani network? Are we really going to be able to isolate the theater of operations, stop the outside flow of money, materiel and so forth from Iran as well as Russia?
So the Afghans can deal with it themselves and bringing India in? Well, I mean, if you bring India in economically, you would infuriate Pakistan and encourage them to be more deeply engaged. If they do that in an overt manner that helps the Afghan government, that is a good thing. Maybe there's a sort of rhyme or reason here. Maybe the Saudis will go to the Pakistanis and say, you know, President Trump is really our friend and helping us. So you Pakistanis, if you don't cooperate, we're going to cut off all our resources to you. Maybe that will help. Maybe the Indians and Pakistanis can compete overtly for economic development.
[23:15:05] Maybe. I'd say what's really behind this is President Trump told us we're going to have victory and we're going to win. That wasn't defined. My guess is, that this is a way to try to bring us out successfully. And I think that is his real objective. He didn't say it, but that is the objective. You know it's a strategy that might work but it depends more on Rex Tillerson than it does on Jim Mattis.
LEMON: Listen, Colonel Warren, the President was presented with multiple options over how to handle a war that has cost almost 2300 U.S. lives. Why did he choose this one and what exactly is different about it? Because his rhetoric seemed very similar to the former President, President Barack Obama, the policy seems very similar to the Bush administration.
STEVE WARREN, MILITARY ANALYST, CNN: Yeah, the policy and the rhetoric are very familiar because the strategy is develop familiar. I think what we have largely is the strategy that we've had for quite some time with maybe some of the rougher edges filed down, specifically the edges that many of our commanding generals on the ground didn't agree with. Restrictions on troop numbers, other types of restrictions and capabilities that the generals really wanted to bring to bear to this fight. But other than that, we haven't seen, I don't believe, a significant adjustment. To the strategy that we've been pursuing now for almost a decade and a half.
LEMON: Admiral Kirby, President Trump has spoken now. Do you agree Admiral Kirby that there's very little policy change, very little specifics, very similar to the two former administrations, the Afghanistan policy?
JOHN KIRBY, MILITARY AND DIPLOMATIC ANALYST, CNN: Absolutely. This is Obama strategy 2.0, just some nibbling around the edges as Steve pointe out. I mean answered some of the complaints that previous military leaders have had about time lines, about authorities. About numbers, that kind of thing. But it's basically the same strategy that President Obama put in place and you know, and look, I got to tell you, I am actually glad, I was happy to hear that President Obama, I'm sorry, President Trump is going to continue to support a strategy in Afghanistan and continue to support our contribution to both the NATO mission and the U.S. counterterrorism mission. I'm glad to hear that.
LEMON: the reason you said that, because for many years as a private citizen and when he was running for President, he said quite the opposite. Let's listen. I'll let you finish making your point. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: It's a total and complete disaster and I'd like to see money spent on this country. I'd like to see us take our money and build schools and build highways here and build transit here and reduce the debt of the country which is now almost $16 trillion. Instead of building a school in Afghanistan and then it gets blown up the following week.
Are they going to be there for the next 200 years? What's going on? It's going to be a long time. We made a terrible mistake getting involved there in the first place.
We're on track now to spend, listen to this, $6 trillion, $6 trillion. Could have rebuilt our country twice, all together, on wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the Middle East.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So how do you square, how does that square with what you heard tonight, admiral?
KIRBY: It's the difference between campaigning and being a private citizen and being commander in chief when you have to sign these deployment orders and approve the plans that the generals want to put in place and all that responsibility falls on you. Your last panel Don, talked about the fact that Trump now owns this war. I couldn't agree more. I would argue that he owned on January 20th. He certainly owns the strategy going forward now. What I would have liked to have heard now that I agree that I think it's good to he wants to move forward in Afghanistan, what conditions are you going to be basing your decisions on. I would have liked to have heard him talk about as General Clark mentioned, Iran's role in Afghanistan which has not been helpful. Russia's role in Afghanistan which has not been helpful. On Pakistan, again, I agree with General Clark. What makes him think he can change the calculus just by waving more sticks at Pakistan?
They want an unstable Afghanistan. They want to continue to foment problems in Afghanistan. It helps their bottom line strategically with the Taliban that they have to deal with in those federally administered tribal areas. There's a lot of unanswered questions here that I still have after this speech. I'm glad he is moving forward and going to support -- that he is not withdrawing and going to support it. I think we need a little bit more specifics. And on the numbers, Don, it's just not sustainable for him to say he is not ever going to talk about numbers. Believe me, congress less have hearings when they come back in September. They want to know more specifics. The Pentagon and President will not get away without talking about what troops we have on the ground and what they're doing, the taxpayers, moms and dads sending their sons and daughters. They have the right to know that.
[23:20:03] LEMON: Thanks for making the point I tried to make earlier. Colonel, here's another tweet every private citizen Donald Trump, back in 2013. I agree with President Obama on Afghanistan. We should have a speedy withdrawal. Why should we keep wasting our money? Rebuild the U.S. It looks different from the oval office as the President said tonight.
WARREN: It sure does look different. The reason it looks different is because he realizes now that in Afghanistan that is ungoverned is an Afghanistan that threatens the United States of America. If this area becomes once again a safe haven for terrorists and others who would do us harm, that will cost American lives. That will cost American dollars. Right here in the homeland. It's sometimes difficult to see that he when you're outside looking in. But once you're inside and you hold the whole weight of the country on your shoulders, it becomes much more real.
LEMON: General Clark, I want to put this up only because of timing. Otherwise we wouldn't be showing this headline. We all know that former chief White House chief strategist Steve Bannon is now back at Breitbart. Here's their homepage following the President's speech. Trump reverses course. Will send more troops top Afghanistan. Defends flip flop in somber speech. And there was another one that says Donald Trump echoes Obama blank check rhetoric in Afghanistan Speech. What's your reaction to that?
WARREN: I think that is true. I think you know, what John and Steve have said is true. There's not that much different in the way that strategy is outlines. The question is, will the Trump administration be able to be execute differences. How will they actually engage with Pakistan? How will they use India in this? What they say to Russia and Iran? If it's business as usual, we'll be here three years from now with another group of American families who have lost their loved ones there and more treasure expended and we'll be having the same discussion. So it's really incumbent on President Trump. He thinks he is got a different strategy, prove it.
LEMON: Thank you, gentlemen and thank you for your service. I appreciate it. I want to bring in now CNN Fareed Zakaria, the host of Fareed Zakaria GPS. I want to get your response. How do Trump supporters reconcile that he is basically going along with Obama with Obama's policy in Afghanistan? Because that is not what he said he would do.
FAREED ZAKARIA, FAREED ZAKARIA GPS SHOW HOST, CNN: It is actually a significant moment. If you cut through praising the military necessary and he did it well. There were strong words he gave and the strategy like the Pakistan part which was the necessary point to make, but fundamentally, Trump just signed onto the forever war in Afghanistan. What you have is somebody coming in 16 years later, $1 trillion later after the United States has had over 100,000 troops in Afghanistan for years and years and years and saying we just need a few more -- 4,000 more troops and this time it will do the trick. What has happened in the last three years, which somehow Trump didn't mention is, Afghanistan is being taken over by the Taliban. And about 43 percent of Afghanistan is now governed by the Taliban.
The problem is not that we lose the United States loses in battles. It's that the United States secures areas and then as it withdraws, it finds the Taliban creeps in. So the only -- it has done that in six towns this year and in all six towns, the Taliban came back. The only way to prevent that from happening is to stay and essentially occupy Afghanistan forever. If not, I don't understand what the conditions are that will ever allow the United States to leave because the United States has this massive military footprint even though we have very few troops left. We'll have about 10,000, 14,000 at the end of the Trump surge. But the United States U.S. Aid to Afghanistan is equal to 40 percent of Afghan's GDP. If you add up all the spending we do, it's equal to more than Afghanistan's GDP. The minute the United States pulls out, these forces that are inherent and local to Afghanistan will come back. The only strategy then seems to be we just stay in Afghanistan forever.
LEMON: Do you think his approach is right? Do you think it's the only viable approach?
ZAKARIA: No, this was a real lost opportunity. I actually feel like where is Steve Bannon when you need him. This was an opportunity to really have a rethink to, sit back and ask fundamentally, what we could do. West Clark I think was closest to the truth when he said the fundamental challenge is actually diplomatic. In any one of these wars when you're the country that is 8,000 miles away, the locals know one day you're going to go home. So the question is, how do you construct some kind of political settlement that will last when you leave? And that means getting the Pakistanis involved, the Indians involved but also the Russians, also the Iranians who we don't talk to.
[23:25:10] Unless they're all buying in, right now you have a situation where none of them are buying into the U.S. war. They're all undermining it in various ways except for the Indians. And we're surprised it's not working. We don't have any really local traction. What you need it seems to me is a regional diplomatic effort, not 4,000 more troops. What will 4,000 American troops do that 140,000 couldn't do five years ago?
LEMON: It reminded me of he says our commitment is not unlimited and our support is not a blank check and he goes on to talk about that. Do you remember the Obama speech in 2009?
ZAKARIA: It's exactly the same.
LEMON: The effort must be based on the performance. The days of providing a blank check are over.
ZAKARIA: And Obama also kept saying no nation building.
LEMON: There's no fundamental basically there's no fundamental or no big change in policy than why the speech, especially if you're not going to give specifics, because the American people are owed specifics. ZAKARIA: It's a very important point John Kirby made. This is a
democracy. You can't conduct a war secret from the American people. There's a certain issue about not revealing too much to the enemy. Congress has to appropriate funds to the troops you're deploying. This can't be done all in secret. The more important point is if you look at every element of his strategy, it has been tried. No nation building. Obama said we're not going to nation build, we are just going to do counter-terrorism. We're not going to do counter insurgency. Here's the problem. You go in these places and say how are we going to get out? Everyone says what you need is for the local government to be seen as competent and honest. Ok. Then we've got to help the local government become competent and honest. That is called nation building when you start helping the Afghan government become competent and honest. The reason is you want to get out of there and want them to take the burden. Each one of these is riddled with problems. I think it was a much less impressive speech when you drill down. It was full of contradictions. It was in many ways confusing. It was surprising to me that he made simple mistakes, you know, whoever briefed the President wrote that speech memo to that person Afghanistan does not have a Prime Minister. It has a President. It is extremely embarrassing to have the President of the United States.
LEMON: I didn't want to say that.
ZAKARIA: -- talk about an office that doesn't exist in the country he is about to send more troops into.
LEMON: There were lots of little sayings. I was looking for specifics. As I was looking through, there wasn't much difference. I mean there were lots of things like you know, you know, we don't want to be predictable, lots of words and phrases. They're criminals and yes, they're losers. And on and on and on. It was filled with that that you can put as we call a lower third on the screen and it will get your attention. But there was no real meat in this.
ZAKARIA: This is the establishment strategy on Afghanistan. That is why Breitbart is rightly confused and upset. This is the establishment strategy on Afghanistan. It's a minor tweaks here and there. The Pakistan thing is rhetorical boiler plate. Here's the problem with Pakistan. We say that but Pakistan provides the main logistical lines of supply by which we supply troops to Afghanistan. If the Pakistanis get upset which they have, they just shut off our supply routes. You can't prosecute a war if you have no way of supplying your troops.
So the Pakistanis view the money, the billions that the United States give them as payment for those supply lines. They don't -- by the way, as one of your guests said the, they believe keeping Afghanistan off unstable and off guard helps them strategically. I think it's kind of misguided way of looking it. This is what the Pakistani's have thought for 40 years. If Donald Trump thinks a few words from him is going to change that, good luck to him.
LEMON: I am always honored to having you with me. Thank you very much. I appreciate it. Fareed Zakaria. When we come back is, President Trump all bark and no bite? He has failed to deliver on his biggest campaign promises. Now on the eve of a big rally in Phoenix, will his base still be happy to see him?
[23:32:57] DON LEMON, CNN TONIGHT NEWS SHOW HOST: President heads to Phoenix tomorrow for a big campaign style rally. The big question which Donald Trump will show up there you. The unleashed President we saw or the teleprompter President we saw tonight. Let's discuss Jason Miller, he is a former Trump senior communications adviser and Amanda Carpenter, former communications Director for Senator Ted Cruz. Both are CNN political commentators. I am so glad you are here. Good evening. Amanda, I want you to check it out. This is a video of protests are in Charlottesville taking over a City council meeting. Let's listen a little bit.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PROTESTERS: Blood on your hands. Blood on your hands.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So give how raw things are right now, the violence that we see on city streets and we have been watching over the past week, do you think this is a good time? Is this rally, good timing?
AMANDA CARPENTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think we're all being whipsawed a little bit. Can we take a minute to consider the fact that not very long ago, we were considering the prospect of preemptive nuclear strikes in North Korea and then we went to Charlottesville and then the attack in Barcelona and then now sending thousands of troops in Afghanistan and now he is going to Arizona where things will be hot. Tensions are very high. Not only is he walking into a hot situation, there's just a lot going on right now that I think the public is struggling to absorb. And it has the capacity to come out in unexpected and potentially dangerous ways.
LEMON: What do you think? What do you think of the timing, Jason?
JASON MILLER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, this is summer. This is when members of congress and Senators are doing town halls and get together. This is the opportunity to have these longer form conversations with voters. I hope what the President does tomorrow in Phoenix is he dives into tax reform and starts talking about the economy. Is the time when the administration needs to make that pivot and start setting up September? September is a very pivotal month for the administration. Need to start talking about taxes and the economy now.
[23:35:00] LEMON: You know he is going to talk about probably border security, immigration, and I'm sure that is the central reason he is going. I'm not sure taxes is the central reason. At least the background we're getting.
MILLER: For sure it will come up. This is a great opportunity to start talking about the divide, going back to the forgotten men and women of this country. This is the, again, this is the time when it's quieter. You can have longer conversations when things aren't so condensed and not just the sound bites. That he would be start to start talking about it now.
LEMON: Listen, I know you've been wanting to talk about Afghanistan in the last segment you were on. For years, Donald Trump before he was President called for a complete withdrawal from Afghanistan. Tonight he changed his tune. It's one of multiple campaign promises he is broken. Remember this, watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I will build a great, great wall on our southern border and I will have Mexico pay for that wall.
NATO is obsolete and extremely expensive to the United States. Disproportionately so. And we should readjust NATO.
Real change begins with immediately repealing and replacing the disaster known as Obamacare.
LEMON: So what is -- do you think he is going to having an effort energizing -- I don't know if he has to reenergize, or energizing his base because Mexico is not going to pay for the wall. The wall may get built. Who knows if it will or not. NATO it's time to get rid of NATO he said. Now he supports NATO a repeal and replace. He doesn't done repeal and replace. Is it going to be tough energizing the base?
MILLER: No, I think what we saw tonight when he drove into the realism, this is not nation building. This is getting in there and saying he realizes that we can't go to remove all of the U.S. troops. Otherwise we'll have a situation like we did in Iraq after 2011 where that is how ISIS sprang up. I think they have a good plan. They've laid it out. I think it shows a lot of maturity in the President as leader to take a step back and say I need to look at south Asia overall and come up with a comprehensive plan. He said maybe I saw it one way before but now I've analyzed and gone through it. If we completely remove all our troops now, it's going to get a whole lot worse.
LEMON: Amanda, this President, Donald Trump wouldn't be the first politician to say something on the campaign trail and not follow through with it. This was the central core of his message. This isn't just one or two small things mentioned on the campaign trail. This was the central core, the wall, ending the wars, getting out of NATO. And repealing, definitely repealing and replacing Obamacare. What do you think?
CARPENTER: There's a lot going on with all of those issues. But I think if you go to the bottom line of all of them, it gets down to the fact he is changed his mind without really a clear explanation to the public why. Listen, I think reasonable people will look what he is doing in Afghanistan and say ok, if you talk to the generals this is what they recommend. He is going to do it. But to have a different position last week, go into a weekend meeting, change his mind and give a speech tonight and then jump to the next thing illegal immigration tomorrow that is hard for people to follow along with. People need to know that he is committee to a certain kind of mission and be able to follow through with it, especially when you're talking about American lives. I do have to touch on this one thing in his speech. You're seeing a bigger theme come out about patriotism and loyalty and a lot of people, Republicans, Democrats, independents everybody wants to be patriotic to this country. But he kind of sets up these preconditions and getting to a very uncomfortable spot where you can only be patriotic to this country if you're loyal to him. He is dancing way close to the edge and he needs to back off, because if he keeps going down that road with that kind of messaging he is going to turn a lot of people off. When you're talking about sending troops into harm's way, you want everyone to get -- have every reason in the world to get behind you.
LEMON: You are absolutely right. If the generals say this is whatever, it's a good idea to send troops, I think most Americans will get behind it, because they have trust in the generals. But Amanda, listen, the President has already signaled that he is running for re- election. That clearly -- he is going to need the base behind him. Republican Senator Susan Collins says she is not sure fell be the only Republican on the ticket in 2020. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He is already run are for re-election. What happens next?
SEN SUSAN COLLINS, (D) MAINE: It's too early to tell now. There's a long race between now and that point.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you think he will end up the Party's nominee in 2020?
COLLINS: It's too difficult to say.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Interesting. Too difficult to say? I mean, do you think Trump will be your Party's nominee in 2020?
CARPENTER: I don't know. The way things are going. I would say it's most likely. But here is the thing, Susan Collins is looking, what she says doesn't cause me as much concern for Trump as the things that actually Breitbart news is writing. I disagree with a lot of Breitbart news rhetoric when it comes to women and Jewish people, when it comes to a lot of different things.
[23:40:11] But what they have honed in on and why they became a successful website is because they're hitting issues conservative voters care about particularly when it comes to illegal immigration, health care and now with our approach in Afghanistan. Republican voters have concerns about the direction of the country. Breitbart news has been one of the few outlets to hit those issues. What is our defense policy? Whereas other mainstream conservative outlets like "The Wall Street Journal," even Fox News have been afraid to go there. I would pay attention to the issues that Breitbart news continues to hit because that is where Trump's base is, if he loses his base, he'll be in far more trouble than if Susan Collins is upset with him. LEMON: Jason, I want to give you more headlines. Because he said
Bannon said he was going to be going to war for the President. If you look at some of the headlines, America first? With Steve Bannon now globalists push for more war abroad. Close to the President, H.R. McMaster endorsed book that advocates Koran kissing apology ceremonies. And then Bannon urge Trump to move the U.S embassy to Jerusalem was blocked by Kushner and you saw of the headlines before tonight. Go on and make your point.
MILLER: The point is when Washington politicians attack President Trump, the base sees exactly what's going on. They realize that the swamp is fighting back and that is something that helps the President and so you know, for all these.
LEMON: This is from attacks from other people in the White House and also from the outlet that supposedly is his base's outlet from Breitbart.
MILLER: This one's a little bit different. Steve I think obviously has a different viewpoint from what the President announced tonight and the first major speech, I think Steve's putting down a bit of a marker showing that he is going to have independence in what he is doing.
LEMON: And Breitbart is looking for attention.
MILLER: The very first thing you do you walk into the school yard and throw a punch and pick a fight to go and assert your independence. Look, Steve's a master communicator. He was a big part of helping to elect the President. That is what he is doing here. Look, the President I think speech like tonight I think did help fire up the base. Tomorrow in Phoenix I think it will be another thing that helps motivate the base. As we move into September, how do we grow that and get the whole Republican Party united is we move on to tax reform.
LEMON: I got to run. I have to go. Thank you very much, I appreciate that. Thank you, Amanda, and when we come back, the candidate called a walking talking Bruce Springsteen song. The man known as iron stache, he is promising to give working voters a voice. And he wants to unseat speaker Paul Ryan. We'll get his response to Speaker Ryan's CNN's town hall tonight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[23:45:48] LEMON: President Trump ran as the ultimate outsider, the billionaire businessman promising to give a voice to the little guy. Well, there's another outsider candidate making a pitch for the working class, working class voters and he may be a new kind of Democrat. He is Randy Bryce, an iron worker who goes by the name iron stache, remember him? He is gunning for Paul Ryan's seat in congress. Randy Bryce joins me now from Milwaukee. Randy so good to have you on. What did you think of Congressman Ryan's appearance tonight? Did you hear anything that surprised you?
RANDY BRYCE, (D) RUNNING AGAINST PAUL RYAN FOR CONGRESS: No, I think it showed he is a better dancer than a speaker. I did notice that he slipped up a couple of times and let it be known it's a tax cut bill, it is not tax reform. I was very disappointed when he was talking about percentages of what some companies pay that he neglected to mention that we have a lot of multibillion dollar corporations that aren't paying their fair share and he totally left out the backbone of the American economy, I didn't hear small businesses mentioned once.
LEMON: What did you think of his explanation for why he took so long to specifically denounce President Trump's speech last Tuesday about Charlottesville?
BRYCE: I don't buy it. There's a definite lack of leadership on his part. He needs to be called -- if you coddle somebody that supports white supremacists and doesn't call out Nazis as being domestic terrorists, then you just dance around the issue, I mean, you bring out the issue but you don't call out the man who everybody looks for towards for leadership. I want to hear hip call out Donald Trump and say Donald Trump, do you denounce Nazis and this white supremacist that is becoming all too common in the United States.
LEMON: Do you think Ryan is trying to have it both ways?
BRYCE: Absolutely he is. Absolutely he is. It was you know, and then again, Donald Trump, can he came out one way about it, changed his mind and then went right back at it. And that is -- you know, we need leadership that is going to say we need to unite people from the beginning. We've got to stop putting politics over people. And regardless of what is saying things or who is not saying things which is a big issue here, we need to have them called out, regardless of political affiliation.
LEMON: Let's talk about what's happening in Wisconsin, specifically because it relates to you. Donald Trump is softening his support there, softening in Wisconsin, 34 percent approve of his job performance, and 56 percent disapprove. Is that what you're seeing on the ground?
BRYCE: It absolutely is. I was at a retiree picnic the other day and talking to a person that voted for Trump. And he came over and he says, I'm really glad to see you. I know you. You're what we -- I'm what he was looking for in somebody like Trump. I was like, well, nothing says ticking it to the man like voting for a billionaire, right? And you know, there's a lot of buyer's remorse going on. People -- they want something shaken up in Washington, D.C. So that is why he got a lot of votes. But they're seeing that there's just a total and completive aptitude. The Republicans are in the driver's seat right now with the hands on the wheel and the car isn't starting.
LEMON: You launched your campaign against Paul Ryan with this clip of your mother talking about her health care. She has a pre-existing condition, multiple Scoliosis. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's a very painful condition. It's like hot knives going through and I can't talk. You can't swallow. It's terrible. I'm going to cry. I'm on 20 drugs. And if I don't take the one that costs thousands of dollars, I don't know what would happen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Here's what Paul Ryan said about health care tonight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL RYAN, HOUSE SPEAKER: I think what we have offered make sure that we fulfilled the objective we all want, affordability, accessibility and make sure people with preexisting conditions get good health care and affordable rate without going broke and without getting sick. That is what we are trying to achieve. That is why we can't take doing nothing for an answer.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[23:50:11] LEMON: Randy, what is wrong with what Speaker Ryan is proposing? Your mom would be ok, based on his goals here.
BRYCE: What he is doing is -- he is taking away -- they have the repeal part down. They voted for it, I don't know how many times. They haven't offered anything in return. All they're doing is just offering -- they're going to take people's health care away and allow the wealthiest people even more wealth. That is why they need to get this done before they can work on the tax cut bill, as he slipped up twice. The time is long overdue for Medicare for all. It's going to help create jobs. It is something that employers don't have to worry about, it is something that is very doable. But it doesn't have to be done right away. Senator Tommy Baldwin has introduce legislation that allows lowering the Medicare age to 55. It is not only a job creator but it ensures health care for everybody, which is something every American deserves. His family, they benefit from the best health care available in the United States. Don't the rest of the American people deserve the same thing?
LEMON: Randy Bryce, thank you for your time, sir, I appreciate it.
BRYCE: Thank you. Appreciate the invitation.
LEMON: I want to turn to President Trump's plan campaign style rally in Phoenix tomorrow. The city mayor says now is not the time for that. I want you to listen to what he told CNN's Jim Sciutto tonight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP GREG STANTON, (D) PHOENIX: This is not the time for a visit of this nature. It's so shortly after the tragedy in Charlottesville in which a young woman was murdered by neo-Nazis and white supremacist. Unfortunately the President failed the country, filed the people of Charlottesville, failed the young lady's family, and failed United States of America, by failing to unequivocally condemn the Nazis and the white nationalists and the white supremacists. And to then, so shortly thereafter have a campaign rally in Phoenix.
(END VIDEO CLIP) LEMON: Let's discuss now. Joseph Outreach Share for the New York
State young Republican is here, CNN political contributor, Maria Cadorna, joins us and CNN political Commentator Mike Shields with us as well. Maria do you agree with Mayor Greg Stanton?
MARIA CARDONA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I agree, absolutely it's not the right time for this. And it's not politically astute from the standpoint of this President bleeding support from all corners of the country, because of his morally reprehensible response to what happened in Charlottesville. We all know that these kind of rallies for this President is a security blanket. He goes to them when things are going downhill. And doings are going downhill and fast for him. Which is why he wants to go there, but I think it will add fuel to the fire if rumor has it's he is going to talk about the possible pardon of George Rapallo a known criminal who has essentially been in contempt of court for going after Latinos and racially profiling them on purpose. He is a known racist. He is a national disgrace. And for President Trump to go there and even talk about the prospect of pardoning him, as a Democrat, I say go for it. I think it's going to underscore how much Arizona is going to be put in play if he does this, but from the standpoint of political strategy for him and for his own self-interest, it is absolutely a very stupid move.
LEMON: Joseph a new "Washington Post" ABC news polls show that only 28 percent approve of President Trump's response to Charlottesville. 56 percent disapprove. You say the pain of what happened last week is still here. Explain.
JOSEPH PINION, CHAIR, CONSERVATIVE COLOR COALITION: I think it's very apparent right now that if you look at what happened, right in Charlottesville tonight, at that town hall meeting, the emotions are very much raw. We still have individuals in this country, who are confronting the reality that the progress that we have made on race, still is not where we would like it to be. When you talk about going down to Phoenix, having a campaign-style rally in the week of that, talking about border issues and other issues that will inflame the emotions of a nation, I think that is a very dangerous thing.
LEMON: Tonight part of the discussions as I having back and forth with Jason Miller was he said, at least the President mentioned - and with Ana Navarro as well, my feeling is, if you're going to give it -- this is such a big issue that is core to -- to America, if you're going to speak about Charlottesville and race, you speak about that. It should not be muddled with a speech about war.
[23:55:00] PINION: I think there's a time and place for everything. There's a time to die. There's a time to be born. If they're going to talk about race, we need to sit down and have a talk about race. If you're going to talk about the longest running war in the nation, let's have a very clear conversation about that. I think there was some good things in that speech about what we're going to do in Afghanistan. And I think there's other things.
LEMON: If you're going to do it, do it. Ohio governor John Kasich who is far from a President Trump supporter had this to say about his rally. Watch this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV JOHN KASICH, (R) OHIO: You're going to go to Phoenix, and make a speech, fine. He has free speech just like the rest of us have. When you go, try to use that as an opportunity to say something that will bring people together.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: What do you think of that? Do you agree?
MIKE SHIELDS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I actually do. Look, I was disappointed in the second -- the transportation infrastructure press conference that turned into some really unfortunate comments by the President. I like what he said on the Monday. When he came out and actually denounce Neo-Nazis and the bigots in Charlottesville. That is the right thing to do. I think he got to continue to do it. I think he should give an entire speech on race. That is called for.
LEMON: Thank you, Mike. I'm glad you say that.
SHIELDS: I disagree is to criticize him when he brings it up. He could be talking about this every chance he gets. If he goes to Arizona tomorrow and does what he did tonight, which is talks about bringing people together and he is saying it in Arizona to his people, his base, his supporters at a campaign-type rally, that is a pretty significant thing for him to do, and I think he should get credit for doing it.
LEMON: Wouldn't you like to see him take some questions on it and be accountable to folks about it?
SHIELDS: Yes and no. Look, he got asked about the "USS John McCain" the other day.
LEMON: 20 seconds left.
SHIELDS: I think he is better when he has time to say what he wants to say, as opposed to speaking off the cuff and that I what we want from the president.
LEMON: Isn't that what the in his heart?
SHIELDS: I think he makes mistakes sometimes when he does that. I think it's better --
CARDONA: Because that is what he really feels. That is what makes him so inept.
LEMON: I have to go. I appreciate all of you joining us.
CARDONA: Thanks Don.
LEMON: That is it for us tonight. Thanks for watching us. See you right back here tomorrow.