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New Book Calls Vice President Pence A "Shadow President"; CNN "Reality Check": Is Trump Really Terminating NAFTA?; GOP Candidates In Arizona Senate Primary Embrace Trump. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired August 28, 2018 - 07:30   ET



[07:33:55] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: It is the first in-depth look at Vice President Mike Pence's time in the Executive Branch. And now, the author is taking us inside the relationship of two men who really do seem like complete opposites. We're talking about the vice president, Mike Pence, and the President of the United States, Donald Trump.

Joining me now, CNN contributor Michael D'Antonio. He's a Donald Trump biographer and the author of this new book I have in my hands called "The Shadow President: The Truth About Mike Pence."

So let me just ask about the title, first of all.


BERMAN: "The Shadow President" -- I have it right here. What do you mean by that?

D'ANTONIO: Well, absolutely everything that Mike Pence does is oriented toward him becoming president -- his decision to accept Donald Trump's offer to be his running mate. But it even goes back much further.

By the time he left high school, he had decided he was going to be President of the United States. And as he rose through life, becoming a member of Congress and then governor of Indiana, he actually sort of heard in his being God's direction and he thought that God was calling him to now be vice president and function as a president in waiting.

[07:35:09] So we see Donald Trump in this huge crisis -- this rolling chaos -- and I think with every day, Mike Pence imagines he's one day closer to the Oval Office.

BERMAN: All right, I want to unpack that if I can. We'll get to the religiosity in a moment there.

But when you're talking about political ambition, if Mike Pence wanted to be president from the time he was in high school all that does is make him like 100 senators, 50 governors --

D'ANTONIO: Sure. BERMAN: -- and 435 members of the Congress.

D'ANTONIO: Every senator wakes up and sees a president in the mirror in the morning.

And I think what people overlook is how effective he's been at this pursuit.

You know, when he chose to run for governor of Indiana he had been in Congress for 12 years, risen in the leadership. He had a leadership position in the House but he had never actually authored a successful bill.

So what his aim was was not legislating, it was going out on the hustings and issuing this red meat rhetoric which few people have heard from him, but it's a thing he does every day. And then, getting executive experience in Indiana and positioning himself. He's been very effective at it.

BERMAN: And again, I want to get to some of the quotes in the book because they're extraordinary.

But just so I understand what you're suggesting here, in his time as vice president do you believe he's maneuvering to get the top job at the expense of the president?

D'ANTONIO: Oh, I think -- yes. I think he's positioning himself to be the normal guy, the guy you can trust. And he's out across the country continuously now promoting the president's agenda, but really promoting the development of his own network.

He established the pack before any vice president ever did. His infrastructure for running for office is complete.

So, should Trump stumble, should he decide not to run again, Pence 2020 would be an automatic thing.

BERMAN: All right. You mentioned before his religiosity and the spirituality.

One of the things you write in the book is, "With his oath of office, Vice President Mike Pence became the most successful Christian supremacist in American history."

Now, he's not the first committed Christian to be anywhere near the White House. I mean, there have been a lot of deeply religious figures there.

D'ANTONIO: There have been.

But if you think back to JFK's presidency, when he ran for office he was asked who's going to be calling the shots? Is it you or will it be the Pope? And he actually signed a statement indicating that his religion would be second to his patriotism.

Mike Pence goes around saying I'm a Christian, I'm a conservative, and I'm a Republican in that order. He doesn't say I'm an American. I think he's a very divisive figure.

He would like to impose a religiously-inspired politics on our country. That means rolling back marriage equality. It means a ban on abortion. A whole host of policies that are religiously-driven and he's very upfront about it.

BERMAN: Well, he did some of that in Indiana. Where do you draw the line between whether or not it's religiously driven or those are your political values? I guess that's the question.

D'ANTONIO: Well, right.

But think about how our pluralistic country fits together. It fits together because we've agreed that I'm not going to go tell you God tells me that I have the right vision and you are wrong. And their faith says that anyone who doesn't believe as I believe lacks God's grace and literally will burn in hell.

So this is a tough thing to hear from a president.

BERMAN: And the Supreme Court is making some decisions along these lines.


BERMAN: Who gets to decide which ones -- which person's faith has the predominance there. We're seeing that in some of these cake decisions.

There's a quote here I want to read to you. "The vice president actually believed he could bring Trump to Jesus. And like Jesus, he was willing to do whatever was necessary to help save Trump's soul."

D'ANTONIO: That's true. It was in the faith that Mike Pence subscribes to. There's this idea that anything is permissible in the pursuit of a higher goal, so the higher goal would be bringing Donald Trump to Christ.

Anything that goes on in order to do that, including Mike Pence abandoning many of his principles.

He was always against a religious test for entry to the United States until President Trump said we're going to do it. It's not in Mike Pence's heart to put kids in cages and separate them from their families but Trump did it, so Pence is for it.

You can go down the list -- Roy Moore. There are so many things that he hasn't spoken up on.

BERMAN: The president's own personal family.

D'ANTONIO: Yes, yes. I mean, to imagine Mike Pence with this grabber guy as his running mate running for president is almost mindboggling. And yet, he keeps his mouth shut.

You look at him standing behind the president at various events. Expressionless doesn't really capture it. He -- you can't tell what he thinks ever.

[07:40:05] BERMAN: Michael D'Antonio, thanks so much for being with us.

I promise you this is going to be provocative and start many conversations and I think that maybe that's what you were after, at least to an extent.

D'ANTONIO: Absolutely.

BERMAN: All right -- Alisyn.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: I think it already has started a conversation. Thank you very much.

So, the president says he's getting rid of NAFTA. We get a CNN "Reality Check."


CAMEROTA: All right, it's time for a CNN "Reality Check." The president says he is taking the U.S. out of NAFTA but is he?

CNN senior political analyst John Avlon has all the facts for us. Hi, John.


OK, so you all remember that President Trump spent a huge part of his campaign blasting the North American Free Trade Agreement or NAFTA, so remember this?


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: NAFTA is probably the worst economic trade deal ever signed in history. NAFTA's one of the worst deals ever signed by our country. Nothing's as bad as NAFTA.


AVLON: Well, yesterday, President Trump got rid of NAFTA -- or did he?


TRUMP: I'll be terminating the existing deal and going into this deal. I like to call this deal the United States-Mexico Trade Agreement. This is one of the largest trade deals ever made -- maybe the largest trade deal ever made and it's really something very special that two countries were able to come together and get it done.


[07:45:02] AVLON: Let's be clear. None of what you just heard from the president is actually happening. President Trump hasn't terminated NAFTA or even pulled us out of it. That would require, at the very least, six months' notice and more than likely, permission from Congress.

The new deal the president's talking about is, according to his own trade representative, a preliminary agreement in principle to just update NAFTA. Rebranding does not change reality.

In other words, there is no new deal, just a new name -- maybe, if Canada and Mexico agree to it, which hasn't happened yet.

Look, there's always room for improvement and if President Trump's tough talk can improve the deal for American workers then that's something to celebrate, but we're a long way from declaring victory on that front.

Here's where we actually are.

Mexico never agreed to freeze Canada out of the deal. In fact, Mexico President Pena Nieto made it very clear they want Canada to be part of any deal going forward.

Now, NAFTA has been a favorite punching bag of populist politicians since it was first negotiated in the early 1990s.

Independent candidate Ross Perot coined an iconic political phrase when he said this.


ROSS PEROT, BUSINESS MAGNATE, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's pretty simple. If you're paying $12, $13, $14 an hour for factory workers and you can move your factory south of the border and pay a dollar an hour for labor, there will be giant sucking sound going south.


AVLON: Ah, the giant sucking sound going south. Perot lost that election to Bill Clinton, a Democratic supporter of NAFTA, which had been originally negotiated by Republican Bush 41.

The deal took effect at the beginning of 1994 and since that time, trade among North American neighbors has more than tripled.

But there is no question that President Trump connected with voters, particularly folks in the auto industry who felt NAFTA hasn't been working out for them.

So let's be clear. Yesterday was a significant day.

The preliminary agreement with Mexico would require at least 75 percent of a car's parts to be manufactured in the United States or Mexico. That means more local steel and aluminum would be required.

Most significantly, at least 40 percent of that car's parts would need to be made by workers earning at least $16 an hour. That's a big win for workers and a big gift to labor unions.

So yesterday was a big step in the right direction, but in typical Trump fashion not nearly as big as he made it out to be.

And that's your "Reality Check."

CAMEROTA: OK, John. That is so helpful. That was so --

AVLON: You're welcome.

CAMEROTA: You're welcome, America.

That was so helpful to know exactly what it is. And anytime you start a "Reality Check" with "none of that really happened" you have my attention. So --

AVLON: That's really my only aim with these.

No -- but, you know, it's important to cut through the spin, as you know. And it's really fascinating to see the coverage of this Ali because the White House kind of played it right in their press release victory lap, keeping his promise to renegotiate NAFTA.


AVLON: But take a look at what folks at Fox News said. This is an opinion piece, granted, but "Trump replaces NAFTA and triumphs new trade deal."

No replacement, no new trade deal.

Words matter. Fact-checks are part of real news. That gap is stark and it's worth noting.

BERMAN: Words matter, phones matter. Good phone service --


BERMAN: -- matters, too.


AVLON: Looking forward to that.

CAMEROTA: Here you -- here you go.

Thank you, John.

Now, that NAFTA conference call that John alluded to got off to a bit of a rough start and reminded some on Twitter of "CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM."


TRUMP: I believe the president is on the phone. Enrique?

Yes, you can hook him up.


TRUMP: You tell me when.

It's a really big thing. A lot of people waiting.


TRUMP: Hello? You want to put that on this phone, please? Hello?


CAMEROTA: Oh my gosh. First of all, I think the president was incredibly patient.

BERMAN: That's a lot, actually.

CAMEROTA: He was very patient. He wasn't getting -- he wasn't losing his temper, he wasn't yelling at anybody. He was very patient.

That shouldn't happen for a President of the United States. They should have tweeted about that phone.

BERMAN: Hello? Hello?


BERMAN: Hello?

CAMEROTA: And I like the way he looks over -- how are you?

Don't worry, that was just oatmeal.

Meanwhile, another Twitter user married the uncomfortable call to the closing credits of HBO's "VEEP." Oh my gosh, let's check this out.

BERMAN: Are you going to spit on me after this, too?


TRUMP: I look very much forward to it. And I believe the president is on the phone? Enrique?

[07:50:05] Yes, you can hook him up. You tell me when.

It's a really big thing. A lot of people waiting.


BERMAN: It's a big thing. It's a big thing. People are waiting. Hello?


I like the music from "CURB YOUR ENTHUSIAM" better. I think that's actually funnier.

BERMAN: I think they're both perfect and it gets to what was a really astounding thing to see.

CAMEROTA: Yes, it was, and people have a lot of time on their hands. That's what I get from those.

BERMAN: Yes, all right.

As the state mourns the loss of John McCain, voters in Arizona getting set to go to the polls for a Senate seat that is getting the attention of Republicans across the country.


[07:55:04] BERMAN: As Arizona continues to mourn the loss of Sen. John McCain, voters head to the polls in a primary to replace retiring Sen. Jeff Flake. But unlike the current senator, these candidates are openly embracing President Trump.

CNN's Kyung Lah has more.


Trump's name is not on the ballot but he hangs over this entire primary day. The question before these GOP primary voters who tend to be a bit more conservative is are they Trump enough?



LAH (voice-over): In her final pitch to Arizona Republicans --


LAH: -- U.S. Senate candidate Kelli Ward pledging she's the ulti-John McCain.

WARD: Are we going to elect another senator cut from the same cloth as Jeff Flake and John McCain?



LAH: This was hours before the senator died.

LAH (on camera): Was it a thought to maybe not say something today?

WARD: There is Sen. McCain, the person, and I feel very bad for him and for his family. But there's also Sen. McCain, the politician, that has let down Arizona again and again and again.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Trump calls everybody names.

LAH (voice-over): Riding with Ward, conservative provocateurs Tomi Lahren and Mike Cernovich.

LAH (on camera): Do you welcome their viewpoints?

WARD: I mean, I welcome viewpoints from everyone.

LAH: Even if they're completely false and dangerous?

WARD: And how does that pertain to me?

LAH: You've had him on your bus.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As promised, we have Kelli Ward in the house.

LAH (voice-over): This is the battle for Arizona's Republican base -- Ward --

WARD: I voted proudly for Donald J. Trump.

LAH: -- in lockstep with Trump, calling her opponent --

WARD: Report all services.

LAH: -- establishment-backed Arizona Congresswoman Martha McSally --

WARD: OK, watch your mouth.

LAH: -- a GOP phony.

WARD: She's pretending to be a supporter of Donald Trump. She running as though she's Kelli Ward and we don't need a cheap imitation. We've got the real thing.

MARTHA MCSALLY (R), ARIZONA SENATE CANDIDATE: As we say at the beginning of a fighter engagement in the air, the fight's on.

LAH: She should know.

MCSALLY: Alrighty.

LAH: McSally is a retired Air Force combat pilot. A Congresswoman who won in a moderate district. She's now shifting to the right --

MCSALLY: Mr. President --

LAH: -- sitting at the table with Trump in Washington --

MCSALLY: Lower taxes, less regulations.

LAH: -- echoing him on the trail.

MCSALLY: I think the Mueller investigation needs to wrap up. There's been no collusion so let's get over it. Let's move on.

I had a 97 percent voting record with the president's agenda -- more than anyone else in the Arizona delegation. So those are just the facts. LAH: But before Trump was president, McSally felt differently, calling his "ACCESS HOLLYWOOD" tape disgusting and unacceptable. Tweeting she was "appalled."

To this day, not revealing if she voted for Trump.

WARD: She still can't take say build the wall. Give me a break.

LAH: Opening herself up to attacks, not just from Ward --


LAH: -- but also Republican Senate candidate Joe Arpaio, longtime Maricopa County sheriff convicted of criminal contempt for racially profiling Latinos --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And here he is.

LAH: -- then pardoned by President Trump.

ARPAIO: I'm the guy that's going to win this.

LAH (on camera): You think you're the frontrunner?

ARPAIO: Not according to the polls. Who cares about the Mickey Mouse polls? They're all stacked anyway.

LAH (voice-over): He's not expected to win.

WARD: Vote Kelli Ward.

LAH: Ward thinks she has a fighting chance. McSally --

MCSALLY: We're going to win by a lot.

LAH: -- already pivoting to the general.

MCSALLY: We look forward to having unity after we're the nominee on Tuesday night. We're in a strong, confident position. This is a high-stakes election.


LAH: Now, Trump has not endorsed any of these three candidates. He's in a bit of a tough spot here because he has publicly embraced each one of them in his own way and maybe the safer political route, John, to simply wait until after voters have their say -- John.

BERMAN: It will be very interesting to see, Kyung Lah. And again, this is for the Jeff Flake seat. Now there's another open seat in the state of Arizona as well.

Kyung, thanks so much.

A lot of news to get to. We're on it.


TRUMP: We very much appreciate everything that Sen. McCain has done.

SEN. JOHNNY ISAKSON (R), GEORGIA: Anybody who tarnishes the reputation of John McCain deserves a whipping.

SEN. JIM INHOFE (R), OKLAHOMA: John McCain was partially to blame. He disagreed with the president in certain areas.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is fitting and proper that the flags be lowered in his memory.

GOV. JOHN KASICH (R), OHIO: You're never going to have another John McCain, but do I think that his life will inspire other people? We certainly hope so.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do not despair of our present difficulties. We believe always in the greatness of America.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a great tragedy and a real loss for this body.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He always belonged to America and now he belongs to the ages.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.

BERMAN: All right, good morning. Welcome to your NEW DAY. It is Tuesday, August 28th, 8:00 here in the east.

And this morning, the flag at the White House -- it is at half-staff in honor of the late Sen. John McCain. We have new details about why President Trump initially refused --