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Romney on Ballot in Utah; Medical Milestone with Marijuana; Civility in Washington. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired June 26, 2018 - 08:30   ET

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


[08:30:37] ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Voters heading to the polls today in seven states, including Utah, where Mitt Romney is trying to reboot his political career. In an op-ed over the weekend, the one-time Republican presidential nominee says, if he's elected to the Senate, he won't walk in lock-step with the president.

CNN's Dana Bash spoke with Romney and she joins us now live from Soho (ph), Utah.

Dana, good to see you this morning.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Good to see you too, Erica.

Look, Mitt Romney, if he wins today's primary, is almost surely going to be the next U.S. senator from Utah because this is such a Republican state. The question, though, is whether or not he is prepared to get to Washington in what he admits is Donald Trump's Republican Party.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BASH (voice over): Watch what happens when a Utah voter hands Senate Candidate Mitt Romney re-elect Trump buttons.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can I give you some of these?

MITT ROMNEY (R), UTAH SENATE CANDIDATE: You can give them to me, but I don't know if I'll put them on, because I haven't decided who I'll support yet.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right.

ROMNEY: That's a little early.

BASH: Take the Trump button. Don't put it on. A simple moment, summing up Romney's complex approach to this campaign, embrace Trump policies he agrees with, blast what he doesn't. These days, that's on immigration.

ROMNEY: The policy that led to the separation of children at the -- from their families at the border was -- was heartbreaking, heart- wrenching and simply wrong.

BASH: In early 2016, Romney was the never Trump poster boy.

ROMNEY: Donald Trump is a phony, a fraud. His promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University.

BASH: Eight months later, a different tone as President-Elect Trump considered him for secretary of state.

ROMNEY: These discussions I've had with him have been enlightening and interesting.

BASH (on camera): When you go to the Senate, which Mitt Romney is going to go, the one that called Donald Trump a fake and a phony or the one who talked to him about being secretary of state?

ROMNEY: I believe I've made it pretty clear that I'll stand with President Trump if the policies he's proposing are good for the state of Utah, for other states, for the nation. On the other hand, if he were to say something that is divisive and significant, something which were racist or anti-women or anti-immigrant, then I feel a moral responsibility to speak out.

BASH (voice over): The few Republicans doing that now, from Jeff Flake to Bob Corker, are retiring.

BASH (on camera): Is that one of the reasons why you're going to Washington?

ROMNEY: I recognize that if you're in Washington and you're elected as a leader of our country, even though you're only one of 100 in the Senate, you need to speak out on things you care very deeply about.

BASH (voice over): At 71, this two-time GOP presidential candidate thought his campaign days were behind him. Then, Utah Senator Orrin Hatch decided to retire and urged Romney to run for his seat.

ROMNEY: I did not expect to do this after I lost to Barack Obama. Did you know I lost? Did you know -- yes.

BASH: Wife Ann pushed him to do it.

ROMNEY: And she said, well, you can get more done for Utah and for our country than the average junior senator from Utah.

BASH: Romney first ran for Senate a quarter century ago in Massachusetts, challenging Ted Kennedy and losing by 17 points. He later ran for governor there and won. But key for Utah, stepping in to lead the 2002 Salt Lake Olympic Committee in the wake of a bribery scandal. His GOP opponent calls Michigan born Romney a carpet bagger, but his ancestors were early leaders in what is now Utah's large Mormon population.

ROMNEY: I joke that I'm a five generation Utahan, but my dad and I took a little time off for our business career.

BASH: Running for president, Romney was known to make awkward statements that landed with a thud, not in Utah. ROMNEY: Hostess Twinkies?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's all I need.

ROMNEY: That's right. Those were built about two and a half years ago, but I'm told they're still good.

BASH: A longtime confidant tells CNN, Utah is a natural fit for Romney.

But what about being one of 100 in the Senate?

ROMNEY: I spoke to one senator who said, you're going to hate us. It scared me to death. But, you know, this is a time that it's critical.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HILL: It is fascinating to see.

In all seriousness, though, Dana, we heard him say, you know, oh, Ann pushed me. Why does he want to go be one of 100 senators at this point?

BASH: You know, I asked him, Erica, right -- I told him that I have spoken to so many former governors and CEOs in the halls of Congress who look at me and say, wow, this is really different. It's hard to be one of 100. You have to learn the art of legislating.

[08:35:08] He says he understands that, but he, obviously, will not be your typical freshman back bencher. He has a national, international platform. He knows that. And that is why he is going. He wants to get back into the game. Public service, he says, is obviously his thing and has been for a couple generations in his family.

But, Erica, you know, the thing is, about the -- seeming to kind of have it both ways. What we found in talking to voters is, there really is a split. Some want him to tow the line with the president and some say we want him to go there and be a counterweight to Donald Trump. That might explain why he's saying both things.

HILL: Yes, and why he's -- and why he penned that op-ed to make it very clear to everyone how he would be reacting to it.

BASH: Exactly.

HILL: Dana, appreciate it. Thank you.

BERMAN: You know, it's really interesting, actually. Mitt Romney, in that op-ed, didn't say "if" Donald Trump says racist or objectionable things, he said "when."

HILL: Sure, he said "when." Yes.

BERMAN: He said "when."

HILL: That's a very good point. BERMAN: You know, I don't know if that was on purpose or not, but we'll see what happens.

JOHN AVLON, CNN ANCHOR: Because he hasn't been sleeping through the last several months.

BERMAN: Yes.

AVLON: But he's in a tricky role. And that tradition that Corker and Flake are carrying forward now, and McCain has as well, someone's going to need to carry that mantle in the Senate. And it's a really important one to support Trump when they think he's doing right and to stand up to him when he's doing wrong.

HILL: And to be able to do it when you're not about to retire.

AVLON: Yes.

BERMAN: You're talking about a group of Republicans there, perhaps the patron saint of that specific group of Republicans might be George H.W. Bush, one of them. I mean Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

AVLON: The lone star gang.

HILL: Look at that segue, John Berman.

BERMAN: And here he is. I can do the segue thing.

AVLON: This is beautiful.

BERMAN: That is Bush 41, along with Bill Clinton. We know they have been friends. They're hanging out up in Kennebunkport, Maine. And showing off -- and I hope you can see it there in the picture. I believe those to be Bill Clinton socks.

HILL: Oh, they are.

AVLON: They are Bubba (ph) socks. And it is a beautiful thing.

And we're talking a lot about civility this morning and is it a dying tradition in American politics. Here are two men who fought bitterly in 1992, but have forged a real and genuine friendship in hurricane relief and elsewhere and it's a reminder that we can -- you know, every difference of opinion is not a difference of principal. It's a beautiful photo.

BERMAN: I wonder if Bill Clinton gets a cut for those socks, right?

AVLON: I hope so.

BERMAN: There could have been a business deal involved in that.

All right, the first ever FDA approved medicine made from cannabis, marijuana. Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins us next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [08:41:14] HILL: CNN has learned a Russian troll group was behind a don't shoot FaceBook page to organize a rally in the hours after Philando Castile was gunned down by a police officer during a traffic stop. I do want to remind you, this is tough video to watch.

The Russian trolls used the video his girlfriend had streamed on FaceBook. Black Lives Matter activists noticed the FaceBook page running ads targeting people living near Minneapolis and promoting an event called Justice for Philando Castile. It turns out it was just one of many examples of Russian trolls leading up to the 2016 presidential election.

BERMAN: And we forget so often what we know the Russians did during this election.

HILL: Yes.

BERMAN: We know the games they were playing. And I know, for instance, than an intelligence committee is just infuriated that so much the focus has sort of left that area.

AVLON: No. And -- but it's key. And what this great reporting shows too is just a reminder that they really were about sowing the seeds of division and dissension.

HILL: Yes.

AVLON: And it wasn't purely political. It was about, let's amp up the divisions in American society to divide our country.

BERMAN: All right, a medical milestone. For the first time ever, the FDA has approved a prescription drug made from marijuana.

CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta, who I have to say has done more reporting on this issue than really anyone in this country, joins us now.

Sanjay, what are you learning here?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, it's a big medical milestone, as you point out. This is the first medication that comes from the cannabis plant. There's a distinction here. There have been other medications where basically you synthesize a molecule from the cannabis plant, you turn a drug in from that.

This is the actual plant itself. What is called a CBD plant, which is a type -- one of the ingredients -- one of the primary ingredients in the cannabis plant. That's what this medications comprised of.

It is called Epidiolex. And the reason that it is used is for people who have seizures that simply do not respond to existing therapies.

You may remember, John, it was about five years ago we profiled, talked about a little girl named Charlotte Figgy (ph). She was exactly one of these children who had been through all these different generations of medications for her seizures. She was having 300 seizures a week. Nothing worked for her. Her mother essentially formulated the CBD sort of oil in her kitchen, that's the only option she had at that point, and took her seizures down from 300 a week to two times a week. It was -- it was pretty remarkable.

So, fast-forward five years later now. You have the first, as you point out again, the first FDA approved drug to try and treat these sorts of seizures. It's a -- it was a pretty fast process. You know, the drugs usually take a lot longer than that to develop. There's -- there's -- this is a non-psycho active version of cannabis. So it's not the THC. It's not inhaled, which makes it something that can be taken really by anybody, John.

BERMAN: All right, fascinating, important development. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, thanks so much for being with us. Appreciate it.

GUPTA: Again, thank you.

BERMAN: Do not miss an encore presentation of Sanjay's incredible documentary, "Weed 4: Pot vs. Pills." I learned so much from this. That's Friday night at 10:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN.

HILL: Still to come, "The Bottom Line," civility in politics, can it co-exist?

BERMAN: But first -- can it co-exist? Tune in to find out.

But first, the non-profit Shelters to Shutters gives a hand up instead of a hand out to the homeless in this week's "Impact Your World."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ODESSA MOORE, FORMERLY HOMELESS: I was going through a divorce, or a separation, with my husband. I had lost my job. I was evicted. I had to go to a shelter.

I was sad. I was embarrassed. I didn't feel like I was good enough for my kids at that time.

CHRIS FINLAY, FOUNDER, SHELTERS TO SHUTTERS: Over 70 percent of all homeless are what I call situational homeless, people that have simply had a catalyst in their life that has taken them from being working and productive to unfortunately finding themselves without a home.

[08:45:05] MOORE: They actually transitioned me out of the shelter and into -- back into my own place.

FINLAY: The mission of Shelters to Shutters is taking somebody who's homeless, transitioning them to economic self-sufficiency.

MOORE: Now I'm an assistant manager for an apartment complex.

FINLAY: The job fairs have been tremendously successful. It is no better way than by putting people in front of hiring managers.

When you see an opportunity to make an impact, I think we have an obligation. MOORE: My kids tell me, mommy, I'm so proud of you. It just does

something to me and it fires me up.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:50:00] HILL: The White House hoping to change the focus, the conversation from those 2,000 children, who are still separated this morning from their parents at the border, changing the conversation to one about civility in the wake of a restaurant owner asking Press Secretary Sarah Sanders to leave. In a new op-ed writes, Max Boot writes, the hypocrisy is gulling. The administration thinks that a Colorado baker should not be forced to serve a gay couple because their wedding offends his religious beliefs, but insists that restaurateurs should be forced to serve Trump aides whose conduct rather than their characteristics offend their most deeply held belief.

Let's get to "The Bottom Line" with CNN global affairs analyst Max Boot.

There is a stunning level of hypocrisy in Washington, as we know. But you also said, to save our country, we have to practice heroic self- restraint and courageous civility in the face of this grievous provocation.

How -- I mean when does that start?

MAX BOOT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, it's not easy because there's no question that Donald Trump is destroying our politics with his venomous hatred, his partisanship, his toxic racism and xenophobia. And I'm as mad as anybody about all of that. And I can understand why people are deeply, deeply offended, especially when you're seeing children being taken away from their parents and locked up in steel cages. I mean this should cause outrage.

But the question is, how do you manifest that outrage? And I would argue that hounding Trump administration officials when they're going out to dinner is not productive. It basically just energizes their base, gets them angry, gets them to go out to the poll and it just basically, as Martin Luther King said, meeting hate with hate begets more hate. And it's -- I just don't think it's the right way to go. I think the right way to go is to mobilize and organize and defeat Trump and his supporters in November.

BERMAN: Where's the right place to protest then besides the ballot box? Maybe not a restaurant, but is it OK to stand outside the Department of Homeland Security and protest Kirstjen Nielsen at HHS?

BOOT: Oh, of course. Absolutely. I mean I'm all in favor of like the women's march on Washington or the march for gun control. I mean that is entirely appropriate. That is a great American tradition. And I think we should see more of that, in fact, to protest these heinous decisions being carried out by the Trump administration. But I think there's kind of a line being crossed where Maxine Waters

says that any time that these Trump cabinet officials go out in public, that they should be hounded by people. I think that's, you know, stooping to their level, essentially.

BERMAN: Yes, hasn't the administration, though, hasn't the president erased those lines? Can you cross a line if the lines don't exist anymore?

BOOT: Oh, absolutely. The president is -- I want to stress, is the worst offender. And, you know, I was a little bit offended by what Maxine Waters said. But far worse is what Trump said in response where he was implicitly threatening physical harm against a member of Congress. I mean this should not be acceptable.

But all I would say is that those of us who are critics of Trump, we are never going to win a race to the bottom. He is always going to go lower and lower and lower and to the gutter. And the whole country will be a loser if Trump's critics try to emulate his tactics. I think we have no choice but to take the higher road because he's got a monopoly on the low road.

AVLON: You know, you talk about heroic self-restraint. And it's not a quality our era or our political leadership is known for right now. You talk about the examples of Dr. Martin Luther King, (INAUDIBLE) Gandhi. Obviously these are powerful. But they seem so distant, almost unachievable. At a time when people believe that politics is personal, people say, look, families are being separated, gay people are being treated differently by this administration, that temptation to blur the public and the private is really powerful. What do you say to people who say, look, politics is personal to me. Why shouldn't I not cross that sphere?

BOOT: Well, I agree. I mean it should be -- you ought to take it personally. I mean it is what Trump is doing is deeply offensive. We've never had a president like this who has crossed every boundary of normal civilized discourse. All of the barriers that protect our democracy, he's trying to destroy them. You should be upset by that. The question is simply, what is the right reaction to that? Is it to make it difficult for Trump and administration officials to go out to eat? I don't think that's going to accomplish anything. It's actually going to rile up their base and feed into their victimhood narrative, which is bogus, but that's how they see themselves. I think the way to defeat this kind of hateful rhetoric and action is by mobilizing at the ballot box. That's how we deal with people who offend us in American democracy.

HILL: But --

BERMAN: Sorry.

HILL: Go ahead.

BERMAN: But I was just going to say, but it didn't work. It didn't -- you know, it didn't work the last election.

BOOT: We have another chance in November. I mean --

BERMAN: He won. He won.

BOOT: Well, yes, but every two years we get another chance. And in November, all these people who are upset about what Trump is doing -- now, I'm upset. They ought to be going out there and voting against his supporters. And there's a good chance that they could defeat a lot of them, especially in the House.

AVLON: And I think there's something a little bit tricky about the he won argument, right, which, obviously, he did. But, you know, as Richard Nixon used to say, and Steve Bannon quoted the other day, you know, they don't teach this in Sunday school, but fear motivates people more than love. That example, if you follow it through endlessly, is dangerous for our democracy. It's part of what Max is saying. And so, yes, he won the electoral vote, lost the popular by an unprecedented amount. But I do think that what, you know, Max -- the point Max is making is there's another election. People need to put their energy into that. And if simply fear versus fear, hate versus hate, that's so destructive for the country.

HILL: And in that vein, you were talking about the right places, right, the proper places to protest. Should it be happening on social media, because it seems like that does nothing but bring us to a lower and lower level and that's not achieving a whole heck of a lot either?

[08:55:11] BOOT: Well, I certainly think that you ought to make your views known on social media. There's nothing wrong with that. I just think there's a right and a wrong way of doing it. And just, you know, meeting Trump's name calling and meeting his barbarous kind of rhetoric with more barbarous rhetoric is not the right way to go. And that's also why I thought it was a mistake for Robert De Niro and Samantha Bee and others to engage in vulgarity in attacking the most vulgar president we've ever had. I think that's playing right into his hands. That's exactly what he wants. He wants to bring all the critics down to his level. He wins if you do that. So I think by all means disagree and disagree strongly on social media and in every other form that there is, but do it in a civil fashion because, remember, this is all about preserving our democracy.

BERMAN: Time for a quick yes or no question. Do you think the images of their kids separated from their parents will still be in the heads of voters in November?

BOOT: It should be. And if it's not, Democrats are not doing their job.

BERMAN: Max Boot, great to have you here with us.

BOOT: Thank you.

BERMAN: Appreciate it.

CNN "NEWSROOM" with Poppy Harlow picks up right after a quick break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. I'm Poppy Harlow.

The presidential bromance with Harley-Davidson is officially over this morning. The president is venting over Harley's plans to move some of its production out of the United States to avoid paying sharply higher tariffs slapped on their bikes in Europe. Tariffs imposed in response to these sharply higher U.S. tariffs on European steel and aluminum.

[09:00:14]