Return to Transcripts main page

NEW DAY

George Will: Vote Against The GOP This November; Iowa Farmers Face Challenges As Tariff Battle Escalates; Vet's Ad For Congressional Run Goes Viral. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired June 25, 2018 - 07:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[07:33:50] ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Conservative commentator George Will is telling people to vote against the Republicans in the midterm elections, writing, "In today's GOP, which is the president's plaything, he is the mainstream. So, to vote against his party's cowering congressional caucuses is to affirm the nation's honor while quarantining him."

Joining me now, CNN political commentators Ana Navarro and Charlie Dent, who, of course, served in Congress for more than a decade before leaving a few weeks ago. Good to have both of you with us.

And, Charlie Dent, we're going to start with you on this one. We know you said that obviously, President Trump wasn't the deciding factor in your decision to retire but was a part of it.

When you see George Will now making these statements -- I mean, just your reaction to that?

CHARLIE DENT (R), CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, FORMER MEMBER OF CONGRESS: Well, I have a high regard for George Will. In fact, he wrote a very favorable column about me several months ago and I share his frustration -- I share his frustration.

Let's back up by saying this. Look, I am not for the Democrats taking the House. After watching Maxine Water's diatribe there, I think that gives me a lot of pause about putting her in charge of the Financial Services Committee.

That said, George Will has a point that this failure of Republicans in the House and in Congress, generally, to push back against the excesses of this president where it seems, at times, where isolationism, protectionism, nativism -- these are not qualities of a great nation and at times, this president has pushed this type of an agenda.

[07:35: 13] Politics is really an exercise of inclusion, not exclusion; addition, not subtraction. And simply doubling down on an angry base does not help you retain a majority.

As a guy like me who ran for office 13 times in a district of more Democrats than Republicans, I can assure you that if I just simply appealed to my base I would never have been elected to anything. We have to appeal to swing voters. We have to talk to people. This tribalism is destroying the country. The president stops -- he must not continue to divide people in this way because there will be a political consequence to my party in the midterms.

So, George Will is absolutely right about that. People want to see measured statements, temperance, order, stability, discipline. Not chaos, anarchy, disorder.

I mean, this border situation, just like the travel ban. I mean, these are -- these policies are ill-conceived and horribly implemented so there's going to be a consequence. But I'm not going where George Will is on asking for the Democrats to take over.

HILL: Ana, how far would you go?

ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You know, it's a very difficult choice and I'll tell you why it's a difficult choice because some of us have lifelong friends who are Republican officeholders. I can tell you that I am personal friends with the three people -- the three South Florida congresspeople and it would be incredibly difficult for me to vote against them.

Fortunately, the one that represents me, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, is retiring. Actually, unfortunately, because she is a woman of conviction and principle who stands up for what she believes.

But -- so, it's a tough choice. It's not that black and white.

And look, here's the bottom line, though. It's a binary choice, right? I mean, it's -- and I think that so many Americans -- so many Republicans who feel like me, who maybe feel like Charlie does, are frustrated, disappointed, heartbroken to see the Republican Party feed its principles -- feed American values to a man who wasn't even a Republican until a few years ago.

It feels like a hostile takeover, but it feels like the hostages are willingly going his way and are just handing themselves over.

So the binary choice is do you vote for a party that no longer represents traditional Republican principles? Do you vote for a party that is failing abjectly -- failing miserably at its job of being a check and balance to the President of the United States and instead, have become a party of trained seals and a rubber stamp for anything that Trump does?

Do you vote for a party that remains silent in the face of Trump's divisiveness and hostility and racism and misogynism -- and we could go on and on -- or do you vote for a party that you don't agree with in principle? That you don't agree with in the things that it espouses -- a lot of them -- when it comes to policy issues?

Look, it's a tough choice and it's not something that I think most people are taking lightly.

I can tell you I have a lot of friends who have left the Republican Party. I have a lot of friends who are not going to vote for Republicans. I have a lot of friends who have closed their purse strings -- who are Republican donors who have said not one more dime until this happens.

You know, as I think about it, I think the key question becomes do you think the Republican Party is salvageable or not? If the Republican Party is going to stay being what it is today, even after Trump, then it's not salvageable. If you think that it's going to change -- that this is a cultive personality led by Trump, then you don't make the Steve Schmidt decision of leaving, you stick around.

But it is not an easy decision by any means.

HILL: Mitt Romney, in his own op-ed on Sunday, making a case that he, if elected, would be one of those Republicans to speak out -- to stand up to the president. To not be in lockstep simply because his party would be in the executive office.

Is that enough, Charlie? I mean, having somebody like Mitt Romney -- as he's running here, of course -- making that case. It's one thing to say it now.

How difficult is that to do once you're actually in Washington because from what we've seen it seems the answer would be very?

DENT: Well, Erica, my answer is this. I agree with Mitt Romney on this point. It's OK to say that you if you agree with the president that you'll support him and when you disagree you'll do it respectfully.

And when he goes off the rails, as he does from time to time, you have to call him out on the travel ban or on Charlottesville or on this recent separation of children from their parents. He has to be called out and I think that's really the issue.

And I would say that to Democrats, too. They should take that same approach with the president.

I mean, look, people don't want the Congress to be taken over by the hard left of the Democratic Party either. They don't want to see the Bernie Sanders-Elizabeth Warner wing running the country, for heaven's sake, just as they don't want to see this kind of nativist wing trying to run the Republican Party. We have to get the better balance.

[07:40:09] And I would recommend that people support candidates who have a capacity for governance. That's what we should be doing. People who can actually sit down and talk to each other, not people who are going to just go into their -- into their tribal corners and just hurl insults every day. I mean, that's the problem we've got in this country.

So I think Mitt Romney is the type who can stand up and maybe get a little bit above it all and try to bring some better balance to the discussion.

HILL: Really, before I let you go, also this weekend, Jeff Flake suggesting that perhaps maybe the way to go is to hold up when it comes to judges. Maybe that would get the president's attention when we're talking about different issues that are before them.

Ana, is that the right road to take?

NAVARRO: Well look, they've got to take -- make some sort of move, right? If not, what they're doing is allowing Donald Trump to define the Republican Party.

I think Mitt Romney is in a very unique position. He is a statesman. He was a former Republican nominee.

He comes from a state that is a solid red state so he has the freedom, and he's got the conscience, and he's 70 years old, and he's got all the money in the world. He doesn't need this. This is not a career step for him.

If he's going to go to Washington and get in the middle of this it is to make a difference, it is to be definition. It is to be a voice for people who feel disenfranchised right now from the Republican Party and from government in general.

And so, I think -- I hope Mitt Romney takes this opportunity to stand on principles when he sees fit. He is a man of character. He is the antithesis to Donald Trump.

He is a guy who is civil, he is a guy who is polite, he is a guy who espouses Republican values and American values. He's a decent human being.

HILL: Ana Navarro, Charlie Dent, appreciate it. Thank you, both.

DENT: Thank you.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: You know, look, it's interesting listening to Republicans struggle with who they are and what they are, and this has been a question for months. I mean, for years, frankly. Is this the party of Donald Trump or is this the party of Paul Ryan?

And I think for Charlie Dent and Ana, it's different.

JOHN AVLON, CNN ANCHOR: It is. Look, I mean, it is the party of Donald Trump. Donald Trump has a 90 percent approval rating now among Republicans.

But what's causing so much angst from centrist Republicans, like Charlie, people like Ana, and George Will -- this is the dean of the conservative columnists. For him to come out say vote Democrat is a huge deal within the context of the conservative movement and that national debate.

It's because a lot of the folks who have been advocating conservative principles for so long, and policy ideas and find them entirely abandoned by this president. And that's not only causing personal identification crisis, it's also about putting the republic ahead of the Republican Party. It's a fascinating moment.

BERMAN: It's interesting, a guy like Mitt Romney -- how long he can walk that line there.

AVLON: Yes.

HILL: Yes, it is. It is a little bit of that. And it's also interesting, I think, as Ana points out, right? He's in a much different position than a lot of other people.

BERMAN: Yes.

HILL: But isn't that sad that this is the state of our country. That we look at leaders and we say well, you know what, you've been in this long enough. You're 70, you've done these things. You can say that.

Shouldn't everybody be able to?

AVLON: Yes.

BERMAN: All right.

Coming up, we're going to talk about a group of people who were very supportive of the president and his campaign but are now questioning one of his big moves. What farmers are saying about the president's trade policies -- policies that are hitting them in the wallet. Stick around.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[07:46:59] AVLON: Iowa farmers say that steep tariffs on soybeans and pork products are taking a toll on their bottom line. Can they afford to remain loyal to the president, given his stiff trade policies?

CNN's Nick Watt where the rubber meets the road in central Iowa.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Dark clouds over an Iowan soybean field, there just might be a metaphor in that.

BRIAN SAMPSON, SOYBEAN FARMER: I'm worried some. I'm concerned.

WATT: What about Iowan hog farmers?

AL WULFEKUHLE, HOG FARMER: It's anxious times. Yes, no doubt about it.

WATT: Because in April, China slapped an extra 25 percent tariff on imports of American pork.

WULFEKUHLE: The pigs, you're probably talking a $200 million to $300 million impact already.

WATT: That's just Iowa.

Now, China threatens something similar on soybeans. The two largest economies on earth locked in a trade war largely over intellectual property and the tech industry.

WULFEKUHLE: We get punished -- we, as agriculture, so to speak. That was a good one.

WATT: Iowa gets hit hard. One of the country's top soybean producers and the top pork producer.

WATT (on camera): Did you vote for President Trump?

SAMPSON: Yes, I did.

WATT: You voted for President Trump?

WULFEKUHLE: Yes, I did.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have to come to Iowa --

WATT (voice-over): But his tariff-laden trade policies might now hit his base hard.

Chinese motives are failed but Mexico now blatantly targeting tariffs at states like Iowa that voted Trump, slapping 10 percent on pork.

Iowan Congressman Rod Blum now among the most vulnerable incumbent Republicans in the midterms.

WULFEKUHLE: We'll get more vocal as it gets more painful, but we're going to try to be patriotic.

WATT: So, is there a point when Iowan farmers abandon Trump?

SAMPSON: Yes, there is a point.

WATT (on camera): There is a point?

SAMPSON: Yes.

WATT: And where is that point?

SAMPSON: Gosh, I wish I knew. I wish I knew. We might be there.

WATT (voice-over): The president has pledged to help farmers. The details remain unclear.

WULFEKUHLE: A lot of the stuff he's done is good. Right now, with the trade negotiations going on, ask me in six months because it's painful right now.

WATT: Right now, Al Wulfekuhle stands to lose over half a million dollars this year alone.

Nick Watt, CNN, Iowa.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BERMAN: Our thanks to Nick for that report.

All right.

One Air Force veteran is running for Congress in Texas. She put out an ad that has taken over the Internet. Why is it catching so many eyes and where does she stand on the crucial issues of the day? That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[07:53:42] BERMAN: A former Air Force combat veteran running for Congress in Texas, and M.J. Hegar -- her latest ad has gone viral with nearly two million views in just five days.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

M.J. HEGAR, DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE, 31ST CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT, TEXAS, PURPLE HEART COMBAT VETERAN: This is a story about doors -- a lot of them. And that's me, M.J. Hegar, an Air Force combat veteran and a mommy.

This door behind me is from my helicopter. It's all that's left of the aircraft that I was flying that day.

I was on a rescue mission in Afghanistan as a combat search and rescue pilot. I heard the windshield crack and realized I'd been shot. I continued the mission and airlifted the patients out. After taking even more fire we crashed a few miles away.

But my story begins much earlier. One of my first memories was of a door but it was my dad throwing my mom through a glass door. Three years later, mom got the courage to walk out the door and she opened a new one for my sister and me here in Texas.

And it was here that I put my foot on the gas and followed my dream to be a pilot. And that meant opening, pushing, sometimes kicking through every door that was in my way.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: And, M.J. Hegar joins us now. Major, thank you so much for being with us.

[07:55:00] What message do you want to send with that ad -- two million views and counting -- and what do you make of the reception it's received?

HEGAR: I think we need to elect people who are more reflective of the districts they come from. My district has more veterans in it than 97 percent of the rest of the country and our current congressman hasn't served and has failed the veterans in his district. So I'm trying to let people know that I'm one of them. I'm representative of the district that I've grown up in my whole life.

And I'm hoping -- I think that part of the reason it's been so well- received is because the message resonates with people. A lot of people across the country feel like they have absent representation and that their voices are not being heard.

BERMAN: So we'll let people go online and see the ad themselves if they're interested in that.

Let's talk about some of the issues of the day that are so important, particularly in your state of Texas where you're running right now.

The border very much an issue. The president signed the executive order suggesting he no longer wants to separate children from their parents at the border.

What do you think should happen to parents who cross the border -- not at legal checkpoints, but cross the border in between with children? Should they be detained indefinitely as families?

HEGAR: Well, I think that there's a big difference between people who are just crossing the border illegally and those that are seeking asylum. And I think that there should never be a policy of separating families, especially just as a deterrent. I think that we can secure our border in smarter ways with technology and resources and not with terror.

And I think that these types of policies are damaging to our military as it damages our reputation and our reputation on the world stage and how we deal with our allies is something that saves lives in American -- in uniform.

So, I think --

BERMAN: So the administration says that it's not separating -- it's not separating parents from children who go through the designed checkpoints. If they don't go through a checkpoint do you feel that the parents should be held with their children -- alongside their children indefinitely?

HEGAR: Yes. I think that the policy is not necessarily the problem. I mean, I have issues with the policy but the implementation I think is representative of a broader problem that we have when we talk about immigration and is reflective of the broken legislative branch, frankly. I think that we need to do all we can to keep people safe and keep families together.

We see the same thing with Dreamers. We have a lot of veterans that are Dreamers that get deported because -- and, you know, deported away from their families and then they can't get V.A. services for the wounds that they sustained in combat serving our country or for PTSD and what have you.

And just a broader -- we need to -- we need to elect people that can work together on real solutions and understand that security and compassion are not mutually exclusive.

BERMAN: So Congress, where you want to go, may or may not have a vote on immigration reform this week. It's very unlikely to pass anything substantive. Let's talk about your Democratic leadership -- perspective leadership. If you win, would you support Nancy Pelosi to be the Democratic leader, whether the minority leader or speaker of the House?

HEGAR: You know, I don't know that that's a question that anybody in my district is really asking. I've knocked on thousands of doors and received over 20,000 responses to the video and not a single one has been about this. So I think this is a D.C. question.

BERMAN: Well, but it's a question --

HEGAR: I will say that I don't know --

BERMAN: It's a question you will have to face. It is a question you will have to face.

HEGAR: Sure, sure, eventually, and we'll know who she's running against and then I can make an informed decision on who is going to represent my district better. I'm going to always vote for the values of my district and what I think is best for them.

I will say that I come from a military culture in which we rotate our leadership out every two or three years in different positions, and I think that that's healthy.

BERMAN: You talk about the discourse in this country right now. It's been a heck of a weekend in terms of discourse. Look, it's been a heck of a few years in terms of discourse in this country.

HEGAR: Yes.

BERMAN: But, Sarah Sanders, the White House press secretary -- she was not allowed in -- or she was sent out of a restaurant where she was eating.

Do you think that -- what did you make of that decision? Do you think that helps the discourse that we're trying to have in this country?

HEGAR: I think that it's another example of something that makes people turn the television off when we start talking about politics, and that's hypocrisy. I think that people on both sides of the aisle will be for or against something depending on which party it impacts, and I don't think that that's right.

I will say that there -- I'm disturbed by the parallels that are being drawn to discriminating against things like couples and things like that because your political beliefs, and your integrity, and your character doesn't make you a protected class.

BERMAN: Major M.J. Hegar, thank you so much for being with us.

Look, thank you for your service. Independent of what happens to you politically we owe you a debt of gratitude for everything you've done for this country. We appreciate you being with us this morning.

HEGAR: Thank you so much. Thanks, John. BERMAN: M.J. Hegar right there.

It's interesting. Look, she is running this ad and it's caught on like there's no tomorrow. She wouldn't commit to supporting Nancy Pelosi right there.

AVLON: That was one of the headlines out of that interview, no question.

I mean, look, the district she's running for is just north of Austin. It went for Romney by 60 percent, Trump by a slightly lower margin. But the fact she's full-throated backing Pelosi and invoked the fact that the military rotates its leaders, really interesting.

That ad, also -- that's a viral hit. That is a Scorsese-inspired ad.

BERMAN: Two million and the question is how many people inside the district have seen it --

AVLON: Always.

BERMAN: -- and will they vote on it. That's another issue.

HILL: That is the question.

BERMAN: All right, a lot of news. Let's keep going.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president suggesting that immigrants should not receive due process.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[07:33:50] ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Conservative commentator George Will is telling people to vote against the Republicans in the midterm elections, writing, "In today's GOP, which is the president's plaything, he is the mainstream. So, to vote against his party's cowering congressional caucuses is to affirm the nation's honor while quarantining him."

Joining me now, CNN political commentators Ana Navarro and Charlie Dent, who, of course, served in Congress for more than a decade before leaving a few weeks ago. Good to have both of you with us.

And, Charlie Dent, we're going to start with you on this one. We know you said that obviously, President Trump wasn't the deciding factor in your decision to retire but was a part of it.

When you see George Will now making these statements -- I mean, just your reaction to that?

CHARLIE DENT (R), CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, FORMER MEMBER OF CONGRESS: Well, I have a high regard for George Will. In fact, he wrote a very favorable column about me several months ago and I share his frustration -- I share his frustration.

Let's back up by saying this. Look, I am not for the Democrats taking the House. After watching Maxine Water's diatribe there, I think that gives me a lot of pause about putting her in charge of the Financial Services Committee.

That said, George Will has a point that this failure of Republicans in the House and in Congress, generally, to push back against the excesses of this president where it seems, at times, where isolationism, protectionism, nativism -- these are not qualities of a great nation and at times, this president has pushed this type of an agenda.

[07:35: 13] Politics is really an exercise of inclusion, not exclusion; addition, not subtraction. And simply doubling down on an angry base does not help you retain a majority.

As a guy like me who ran for office 13 times in a district of more Democrats than Republicans, I can assure you that if I just simply appealed to my base I would never have been elected to anything. We have to appeal to swing voters. We have to talk to people.

This tribalism is destroying the country. The president stops -- he must not continue to divide people in this way because there will be a political consequence to my party in the midterms.

So, George Will is absolutely right about that. People want to see measured statements, temperance, order, stability, discipline. Not chaos, anarchy, disorder. I mean, this border situation, just like the travel ban. I mean, these are -- these policies are ill-conceived and horribly implemented so there's going to be a consequence. But I'm not going where George Will is on asking for the Democrats to take over.

HILL: Ana, how far would you go?

ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You know, it's a very difficult choice and I'll tell you why it's a difficult choice because some of us have lifelong friends who are Republican officeholders. I can tell you that I am personal friends with the three people -- the three South Florida congresspeople and it would be incredibly difficult for me to vote against them.

Fortunately, the one that represents me, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, is retiring. Actually, unfortunately, because she is a woman of conviction and principle who stands up for what she believes.

But -- so, it's a tough choice. It's not that black and white.

And look, here's the bottom line, though. It's a binary choice, right? I mean, it's -- and I think that so many Americans -- so many Republicans who feel like me, who maybe feel like Charlie does, are frustrated, disappointed, heartbroken to see the Republican Party feed its principles -- feed American values to a man who wasn't even a Republican until a few years ago.

It feels like a hostile takeover, but it feels like the hostages are willingly going his way and are just handing themselves over.

So the binary choice is do you vote for a party that no longer represents traditional Republican principles? Do you vote for a party that is failing abjectly -- failing miserably at its job of being a check and balance to the President of the United States and instead, have become a party of trained seals and a rubber stamp for anything that Trump does?

Do you vote for a party that remains silent in the face of Trump's divisiveness and hostility and racism and misogynism -- and we could go on and on -- or do you vote for a party that you don't agree with in principle? That you don't agree with in the things that it espouses -- a lot of them -- when it comes to policy issues?

Look, it's a tough choice and it's not something that I think most people are taking lightly.

I can tell you I have a lot of friends who have left the Republican Party. I have a lot of friends who are not going to vote for Republicans. I have a lot of friends who have closed their purse strings -- who are Republican donors who have said not one more dime until this happens.

You know, as I think about it, I think the key question becomes do you think the Republican Party is salvageable or not? If the Republican Party is going to stay being what it is today, even after Trump, then it's not salvageable. If you think that it's going to change -- that this is a cultive personality led by Trump, then you don't make the Steve Schmidt decision of leaving, you stick around.

But it is not an easy decision by any means.

HILL: Mitt Romney, in his own op-ed on Sunday, making a case that he, if elected, would be one of those Republicans to speak out -- to stand up to the president. To not be in lockstep simply because his party would be in the executive office.

Is that enough, Charlie? I mean, having somebody like Mitt Romney -- as he's running here, of course -- making that case. It's one thing to say it now.

How difficult is that to do once you're actually in Washington because from what we've seen it seems the answer would be very?

DENT: Well, Erica, my answer is this. I agree with Mitt Romney on this point. It's OK to say that you if you agree with the president that you'll support him and when you disagree you'll do it respectfully.

And when he goes off the rails, as he does from time to time, you have to call him out on the travel ban or on Charlottesville or on this recent separation of children from their parents. He has to be called out and I think that's really the issue.

And I would say that to Democrats, too. They should take that same approach with the president.

I mean, look, people don't want the Congress to be taken over by the hard left of the Democratic Party either. They don't want to see the Bernie Sanders-Elizabeth Warner wing running the country, for heaven's sake, just as they don't want to see this kind of nativist wing trying to run the Republican Party. We have to get the better balance.

[07:40:09] And I would recommend that people support candidates who have a capacity for governance. That's what we should be doing. People who can actually sit down and talk to each other, not people who are going to just go into their -- into their tribal corners and just hurl insults every day. I mean, that's the problem we've got in this country.

So I think Mitt Romney is the type who can stand up and maybe get a little bit above it all and try to bring some better balance to the discussion.

HILL: Really, before I let you go, also this weekend, Jeff Flake suggesting that perhaps maybe the way to go is to hold up when it comes to judges. Maybe that would get the president's attention when we're talking about different issues that are before them.

Ana, is that the right road to take?

NAVARRO: Well look, they've got to take -- make some sort of move, right? If not, what they're doing is allowing Donald Trump to define the Republican Party.

I think Mitt Romney is in a very unique position. He is a statesman. He was a former Republican nominee.

He comes from a state that is a solid red state so he has the freedom, and he's got the conscience, and he's 70 years old, and he's got all the money in the world. He doesn't need this. This is not a career step for him.

If he's going to go to Washington and get in the middle of this it is to make a difference, it is to be definition. It is to be a voice for people who feel disenfranchised right now from the Republican Party and from government in general.

And so, I think -- I hope Mitt Romney takes this opportunity to stand on principles when he sees fit. He is a man of character. He is the antithesis to Donald Trump.

He is a guy who is civil, he is a guy who is polite, he is a guy who espouses Republican values and American values. He's a decent human being.

HILL: Ana Navarro, Charlie Dent, appreciate it. Thank you, both.

DENT: Thank you.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: You know, look, it's interesting listening to Republicans struggle with who they are and what they are, and this has been a question for months. I mean, for years, frankly. Is this the party of Donald Trump or is this the party of Paul Ryan?

And I think for Charlie Dent and Ana, it's different.

JOHN AVLON, CNN ANCHOR: It is. Look, I mean, it is the party of Donald Trump. Donald Trump has a 90 percent approval rating now among Republicans.

But what's causing so much angst from centrist Republicans, like Charlie, people like Ana, and George Will -- this is the dean of the conservative columnists. For him to come out say vote Democrat is a huge deal within the context of the conservative movement and that national debate.

It's because a lot of the folks who have been advocating conservative principles for so long, and policy ideas and find them entirely abandoned by this president. And that's not only causing personal identification crisis, it's also about putting the republic ahead of the Republican Party. It's a fascinating moment.

BERMAN: It's interesting, a guy like Mitt Romney -- how long he can walk that line there.

AVLON: Yes.

HILL: Yes, it is. It is a little bit of that. And it's also interesting, I think, as Ana points out, right? He's in a much different position than a lot of other people.

BERMAN: Yes. HILL: But isn't that sad that this is the state of our country. That we look at leaders and we say well, you know what, you've been in this long enough. You're 70, you've done these things. You can say that.

Shouldn't everybody be able to?

AVLON: Yes.

BERMAN: All right.

Coming up, we're going to talk about a group of people who were very supportive of the president and his campaign but are now questioning one of his big moves. What farmers are saying about the president's trade policies -- policies that are hitting them in the wallet. Stick around.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[07:46:59] AVLON: Iowa farmers say that steep tariffs on soybeans and pork products are taking a toll on their bottom line. Can they afford to remain loyal to the president, given his stiff trade policies?

CNN's Nick Watt where the rubber meets the road in central Iowa.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Dark clouds over an Iowan soybean field, there just might be a metaphor in that.

BRIAN SAMPSON, SOYBEAN FARMER: I'm worried some. I'm concerned.

WATT: What about Iowan hog farmers?

AL WULFEKUHLE, HOG FARMER: It's anxious times. Yes, no doubt about it.

WATT: Because in April, China slapped an extra 25 percent tariff on imports of American pork.

WULFEKUHLE: The pigs, you're probably talking a $200 million to $300 million impact already.

WATT: That's just Iowa.

Now, China threatens something similar on soybeans. The two largest economies on earth locked in a trade war largely over intellectual property and the tech industry.

WULFEKUHLE: We get punished -- we, as agriculture, so to speak. That was a good one.

WATT: Iowa gets hit hard. One of the country's top soybean producers and the top pork producer.

WATT (on camera): Did you vote for President Trump? SAMPSON: Yes, I did.

WATT: You voted for President Trump?

WULFEKUHLE: Yes, I did.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have to come to Iowa --

WATT (voice-over): But his tariff-laden trade policies might now hit his base hard.

Chinese motives are failed but Mexico now blatantly targeting tariffs at states like Iowa that voted Trump, slapping 10 percent on pork.

Iowan Congressman Rod Blum now among the most vulnerable incumbent Republicans in the midterms.

WULFEKUHLE: We'll get more vocal as it gets more painful, but we're going to try to be patriotic.

WATT: So, is there a point when Iowan farmers abandon Trump?

SAMPSON: Yes, there is a point.

WATT (on camera): There is a point?

SAMPSON: Yes.

WATT: And where is that point?

SAMPSON: Gosh, I wish I knew. I wish I knew. We might be there.

WATT (voice-over): The president has pledged to help farmers. The details remain unclear.

WULFEKUHLE: A lot of the stuff he's done is good. Right now, with the trade negotiations going on, ask me in six months because it's painful right now.

WATT: Right now, Al Wulfekuhle stands to lose over half a million dollars this year alone.

Nick Watt, CNN, Iowa.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BERMAN: Our thanks to Nick for that report.

All right.

One Air Force veteran is running for Congress in Texas. She put out an ad that has taken over the Internet. Why is it catching so many eyes and where does she stand on the crucial issues of the day? That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[07:53:42] BERMAN: A former Air Force combat veteran running for Congress in Texas, and M.J. Hegar -- her latest ad has gone viral with nearly two million views in just five days.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

M.J. HEGAR, DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE, 31ST CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT, TEXAS, PURPLE HEART COMBAT VETERAN: This is a story about doors -- a lot of them. And that's me, M.J. Hegar, an Air Force combat veteran and a mommy.

This door behind me is from my helicopter. It's all that's left of the aircraft that I was flying that day.

I was on a rescue mission in Afghanistan as a combat search and rescue pilot. I heard the windshield crack and realized I'd been shot. I continued the mission and airlifted the patients out. After taking even more fire we crashed a few miles away.

But my story begins much earlier. One of my first memories was of a door but it was my dad throwing my mom through a glass door. Three years later, mom got the courage to walk out the door and she opened a new one for my sister and me here in Texas.

And it was here that I put my foot on the gas and followed my dream to be a pilot. And that meant opening, pushing, sometimes kicking through every door that was in my way.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: And, M.J. Hegar joins us now. Major, thank you so much for being with us.

[07:55:00] What message do you want to send with that ad -- two million views and counting -- and what do you make of the reception it's received?

HEGAR: I think we need to elect people who are more reflective of the districts they come from. My district has more veterans in it than 97 percent of the rest of the country and our current congressman hasn't served and has failed the veterans in his district. So I'm trying to let people know that I'm one of them. I'm representative of the district that I've grown up in my whole life.

And I'm hoping -- I think that part of the reason it's been so well- received is because the message resonates with people. A lot of people across the country feel like they have absent representation and that their voices are not being heard.

BERMAN: So we'll let people go online and see the ad themselves if they're interested in that.

Let's talk about some of the issues of the day that are so important, particularly in your state of Texas where you're running right now. The border very much an issue. The president signed the executive order suggesting he no longer wants to separate children from their parents at the border.

What do you think should happen to parents who cross the border -- not at legal checkpoints, but cross the border in between with children? Should they be detained indefinitely as families?

HEGAR: Well, I think that there's a big difference between people who are just crossing the border illegally and those that are seeking asylum. And I think that there should never be a policy of separating families, especially just as a deterrent. I think that we can secure our border in smarter ways with technology and resources and not with terror.

And I think that these types of policies are damaging to our military as it damages our reputation and our reputation on the world stage and how we deal with our allies is something that saves lives in American -- in uniform.

So, I think --

BERMAN: So the administration says that it's not separating -- it's not separating parents from children who go through the designed checkpoints. If they don't go through a checkpoint do you feel that the parents should be held with their children -- alongside their children indefinitely?

HEGAR: Yes. I think that the policy is not necessarily the problem. I mean, I have issues with the policy but the implementation I think is representative of a broader problem that we have when we talk about immigration and is reflective of the broken legislative branch, frankly. I think that we need to do all we can to keep people safe and keep families together.

We see the same thing with Dreamers. We have a lot of veterans that are Dreamers that get deported because -- and, you know, deported away from their families and then they can't get V.A. services for the wounds that they sustained in combat serving our country or for PTSD and what have you.

And just a broader -- we need to -- we need to elect people that can work together on real solutions and understand that security and compassion are not mutually exclusive.

BERMAN: So Congress, where you want to go, may or may not have a vote on immigration reform this week. It's very unlikely to pass anything substantive.

Let's talk about your Democratic leadership -- perspective leadership. If you win, would you support Nancy Pelosi to be the Democratic leader, whether the minority leader or speaker of the House?

HEGAR: You know, I don't know that that's a question that anybody in my district is really asking. I've knocked on thousands of doors and received over 20,000 responses to the video and not a single one has been about this. So I think this is a D.C. question.

BERMAN: Well, but it's a question --

HEGAR: I will say that I don't know --

BERMAN: It's a question you will have to face. It is a question you will have to face.

HEGAR: Sure, sure, eventually, and we'll know who she's running against and then I can make an informed decision on who is going to represent my district better. I'm going to always vote for the values of my district and what I think is best for them.

I will say that I come from a military culture in which we rotate our leadership out every two or three years in different positions, and I think that that's healthy.

BERMAN: You talk about the discourse in this country right now. It's been a heck of a weekend in terms of discourse. Look, it's been a heck of a few years in terms of discourse in this country.

HEGAR: Yes.

BERMAN: But, Sarah Sanders, the White House press secretary -- she was not allowed in -- or she was sent out of a restaurant where she was eating.

Do you think that -- what did you make of that decision? Do you think that helps the discourse that we're trying to have in this country?

HEGAR: I think that it's another example of something that makes people turn the television off when we start talking about politics, and that's hypocrisy. I think that people on both sides of the aisle will be for or against something depending on which party it impacts, and I don't think that that's right.

I will say that there -- I'm disturbed by the parallels that are being drawn to discriminating against things like couples and things like that because your political beliefs, and your integrity, and your character doesn't make you a protected class.

BERMAN: Major M.J. Hegar, thank you so much for being with us.

Look, thank you for your service. Independent of what happens to you politically we owe you a debt of gratitude for everything you've done for this country. We appreciate you being with us this morning.

HEGAR: Thank you so much. Thanks, John.

BERMAN: M.J. Hegar right there.

It's interesting. Look, she is running this ad and it's caught on like there's no tomorrow. She wouldn't commit to supporting Nancy Pelosi right there.

AVLON: That was one of the headlines out of that interview, no question.

I mean, look, the district she's running for is just north of Austin. It went for Romney by 60 percent, Trump by a slightly lower margin. But the fact she's full-throated backing Pelosi and invoked the fact that the military rotates its leaders, really interesting.

That ad, also -- that's a viral hit. That is a Scorsese-inspired ad.

BERMAN: Two million and the question is how many people inside the district have seen it --

AVLON: Always.

BERMAN: -- and will they vote on it. That's another issue.

HILL: That is the question.

BERMAN: All right, a lot of news. Let's keep going.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president suggesting that immigrants should not receive due process.