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Standing by for Trump's Speech to Congress; Interview with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D), New York; Trump Arrives at Capitol for Speech to Congress. Aired on 8-9p ET

Aired February 5, 2019 - 20:00   ET


[20:00:20] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: And good evening. I'm Anderson Cooper with special edition of AC360.

Tonight, President Trump will walk into Nancy Pelosi's House to deliver his first State of the Union Address since she became speaker and his most powerful rival. She will be right over the president's shoulder.

It was a battle, of course, to even get to this night. Speaker Pelosi uninvited the president last month during the longest shutdown in U.S. history and another shutdown could happen just next week. Staring back at the president tonight, Democrats who want his job and are looking to challenge Mr. Trump in 2020 and the Democrats who now control the House.

I'm going to bring in Wolf Blitzer and Jake Tapper.

Wolf, a lot to watch for.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, certainly is, Anderson.

Even as the White House has promised a message of unity, there's new reporting that the speech might not be so unifying after all. The president has been complaining that the speech is too soft on Democrats and he reportedly wants to hit Democrats a lot harder. At the center of all of this: the president's insistence on the border wall.

Today, he once again stood firmly on his demand.

Jake, what's your take on the message we can expect to hear?

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Well, it's tough to say, because I mean, look, I think it's fair to say this is a president who doesn't particularly like being challenged, liking accountability in addition to the fact lit be a baker's dozen of Democratic senator who are running for president. He's going to be looking at, seeing 235 Democrat House members.

They control the House. They now have subpoena power in some instances. In addition, behind him will be House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. And unlike Speaker Ryan or Leader McConnell, not somebody who feels that her future is tied to him, not somebody intimidated by him. So, the question is, will the president be able to adapt to this new

reality or is he going to expect it to adapt to him. I don't just mean about the speech. Although certainly about the speech as well but in terms of how he governs. You might remember, last year at the State of the Union, he promised unity and within the week, he was literally saying that Democrats were un-American and treasonous because they didn't stand up and applaud for him sufficiently.

So, it's just a question of how the president is going to deal with this new reality. Is he going to be combative or is he going to try to actually get something done?

BLITZER: And we're getting some new reporting from our chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta

Jim, you're hearing the president wanted to change that draft of the speech will be a lot tougher on the Democrats.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. I'm told the state of the union speech may not be as unifying as the White House has been saying over the last few days. The president is certainly not in a very unifying mood is what I'm hearing behind the scenes. A Trump adviser tells me the president is expected to deliver a much more aggressive speech than the one that is being drafted by speech write who are have gone in made tweaks after he wanted to toughen some of the language aimed at Democrats.

That raises the possibility that we'll be seeing the president act much more combative tonight than what the White House has been forecasting to reporters over the last several days. Mr. Trump is annoyed with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and their negotiations over border security and the wall the president wants on the border.

Based on what we're hearing from our sources, that has clearly gotten on the president's nerves. Now, at this point, a White House official says the president is not expected to declare a state of emergency in a speech to force the military to build his wall in the border. But that is expected to remain an option on the table for the president until the next funding deadline for the government in just ten short days and we're going to have a government shutdown.

One looming question tonight, finally, is whether the president will turn to Pelosi during his address and congratulate her on becoming speaker of the House. President George W. Bush did that in 2007.

That appears to be an open question at this hour. I asked one White House official whether or not the president would do this, that official responded to me (VIDEO GAP) Wolf.

BLITZER: Very soon.

Our Chief Political Correspondent, Dana Bash is over at Statuary Hall just out outside the entrance to the House Chamber.

I understand, Dana, you're already getting reaction to what's expected to be a tougher tone on the Democrats from the president.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. I just spoke to a senior House Democratic source who said that he -- meaning the president -- is setting up another shutdown if, in fact, the president delivers a much more fiery speech than we had been led to believe, or that his aides had hoped he would give until perhaps the president started to change it.

And what this source said to me was that the House speaker today with a group of reporters including me and also earlier in the week had been making more clear that she is open to a physical barrier and that by being aggressive -- if the president is this aggressive tonight -- he could shatter the whole notion of any compromise if that is even a sliver of a hope.

[20:05:03] But the other thing that's on substance, just on decorum tonight, that the House speaker told me and a few others that she has made clear to her members, there are going to be a lot of them, a lot more, very boisterous, very passionate, that they should understand the rules of the House, the decorum of the House and that if members can't follow that, they should go find someplace to have dinner -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Dana Bash up on Capitol Hill, thanks very much.

Anderson, I think all of us should get ready for a pretty lively night.

COOPER: No doubt about it. Also, of course, there will be the Democratic response right afterward.

John King, I mean, you just heard Danny Bash is reporting that the Democrats are sending essentially warning to the president about being too aggressive.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPODENT: Look, this is about politics so far, let's let the president speak. He's going to go up there. All Americans should listen to the president on this night.

I do think it is hard to see as credible this president -- he's going to give a speech that says it's time for us to all come together, it's time to unify the country, if you look back at the last two years, he has not tried to do that. Neither have the Democrats to a great degree, it's not just all on him. So, it'd be very -- it's very hard to see that.

Can the president reset and worried some White House aides? Yes, he can if he wants to but he's not going to do it in a speech. He could start it in a speech and then he could travel the country and talk about infrastructure if he wanted to. He could say he's open to some deal on his border wall. Nothing tells you that's what he's going to do even if that is what he says tonight.

This is a critical moment of his presidency. The question is, is he Jimmy Carter or is he Ronald Reagan? Both -- when both of those incumbent presidents went into their third year State of the Union in very weak political standing. Jimmy Carter was a one-term, Ronald Reagan was not.

What are Donald Trump's instincts? For all the criticism and he'll get a lot maybe from this end of the table and across the table tonight, he's had good political instincts. He won the Republican nomination. He won the presidency, when everybody said there's no way he could do either one of those things.

What is his instinct now? Because he's in a deep ditch.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: How many times have we heard reset, Donald Trump pivot, which should be outlawed, right?

COOPER: Change of tune.

BORGER: Thank you very much. Any others?

COOPER: I think police shades (ph) are there.

BORGER: Right. So we've heard that so much about Donald Trump. I think the White House staff has been spinning overtime this week trying to convince everyone that he is going to reset, pivot, change -- that's just not going to happen.

And there are -- our Hill team is reporting that no the negotiators behind closed doors are making a lot of progress on the wall, for example. But nobody knows where Donald Trump is. And will he work with them or will he insist on his cement wall or barriers or slats for $5.7 billion?

People on the Hill in his own party don't know the answer to that question and pivoting I think is something that's not in his vocabulary.

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. You know, this is a great opportunity for every president. You know, you have unfiltered our to talk to the nation million people and the question is what is your objective who are you talking to?

His instinct is to talk to his base at all times. So, is he going to speak to the base again tonight or is he going to try and expand the base?

And if he does make a move toward unity, is it going to be credible? Unity for this president has generally meant you unify behind me, which is not necessarily a winning message.

JOHN KASICH, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: And I've heard that that the administration, the White House, is pretty comfortable with them sticking with their base. They think they can maybe win an election just with their base and they're going to wait to see who the Democrats nominate and then make it all about that person.

Now, that's a risky strategy. That means a lot of things have to fall your way. This may be an experiment tonight, to see if he can broaden a little bit, if he can talk to somebody beyond his base. But, you know, as a old fellow used to tell me, it's don't tell me, show me. So, whatever he does tonight, he's going to have to follow through on it if it's a unity speech tomorrow, over the next couple weeks and the biggest story is going to be the negotiation with the appropriations committee.

You know, they're in there negotiating. When you're do -- you go in to negotiate in a conference committee, you go in to try to fix a problem. The question is, if they give him something is he willing to say yes or is he going to just keep this thing going.

One final point, tonight, there will be things that will be directed towards his base. There isn't any question about it. But then the question will be, will there be other things that will be directed at a larger portion of the American electorate? I think in the experimenting as to how they think they can win.

COOPER: I got to get a quick break in. We're going to have more with our group.

We'll speak to one of the newest Democrats now in the House majority, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. And any minute, we'll see President Trump departing from the White House.

Stay with us.


[20:13:28] COOPER: Our Dana Bash is live on Capitol Hill right now with Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez -- Dana.

BASH: That's right, Anderson.

Thank you so much, Congresswoman, for joining me, and also for you, Ana Maria Archila, who's her guest. We'll get to that in your story in a minute.

But first let me start with you, Congresswoman. You tweeted today that the State of the Union Address, people should watch, quote, none of it. Are you going in with an open mind?

REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D), NEW YORK: I think that, you know, for me, what I see is that as a representative and as a congresswoman, it's -- I'm going in there to definitely listen what to what the president has to say. But I do represent many vulnerable communities, many of whom have been traumatized and feel very vulnerable to the president's actions and the president's words, from air traffic controllers whose paychecks were being withheld for a month, to immigrants who aren't sure if their visas will be renewed, or if their applications will be approved.

So, I think that if it's going to be harmful for you, you know, I wanted to give that permission to folks see if they you know it were feeling some type of way about.

BASH: Is there anything that you think the president could say tonight that would make you go, huh, I could work with him on that? Do you see any common ground?

OCASIO-CORTEZ: Well, I do think that there was some proper made on criminal justice reform and in, you know, in the last couple of months and I'm open to that. I'm open to meaningful investment and infrastructure that does not kind of loot the public money, but it's actually an investment in our country. But I think overall, it's something that, you know, I -- while, I don't expect him to change too much of this tune, I expect him to dress it up.

[20:15:10] But I -- you know, I'm open -- I'm certainly open if he wants to change his platform.

BASH: Hmm, I don't know if that's going to happen anytime soon.

I just want to ask you. So, you are a constituent of the congresswoman but people out there might recognize you because you were the one who confronted senator -- now former Senator Jeff Flake in the elevator during the whole Brett Kavanaugh controversy.

You are here for what reason?

ANA MARIA ARCHILA, ACTIVIST WHO CONFRONTED JEFF FLAKE: I'm here I think as an invitation to everyone around the country to use their voices and tell their stories because our democracy cannot exist, it cannot work if we're not all in it, shaping it, making our demands, making sure that the people who represent us understand our lives, and that they understand our priorities.

And I feel so lucky that I have the best representative in Congress, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

BASH: And you're going to be in the room in that chamber with now Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

ARCHILA: Yes, I just realized that yesterday. It is still very painful for me and I think for many women across the country to know that our elected officials fail to understand the opportunity that they had to signal to the country that they were not going to reaffirm a culture that enables sexual violence in the first place, and they failed by putting Kavanaugh in the Supreme Court. But I feel very encouraged by the leadership of women, like my congresswoman, and the leadership of so many other women that are actually presenting a new vision for the country.

BASH: What do you think the State of the Union is?

OCASIO-CORTEZ: You know, I think that this is an opportunity and it is a window for change it is a moment where we can come together and really talk about our values, that we are a nation that embraces immigrants, we are a nation that that believes in justice and equality and the ability for everyday working people to work 40 hours a week and supply and provide for their families. And I think that's the country that we're fighting for.

And I think that at its core, that's something that we can agree on and it's just about having and making the commitment to get there. BASH: Before I let you go -- you were both wearing white, almost every woman with a congressional pin that I've seen walking by is -- they're wearing white. Describe why. Explain why.

OCASIO-CORTEZ: Well, 2019 is the 100th anniversary of the women's right to vote and I think that we're all coming here -- there's so much more that we have to fight for from wage equality, to paycheck fairness, to protecting ourselves and believing survivors. And I think that this is a really amazing opportunity.

We have a very large number of women, a record number, and in certainly in the freshman class that have been elected to Congress this year. And I think it shows that over a hundred years, this battle and this fight for women's equality has been long and it's been difficult but it has reaped many rewards in our democracy.

BASH: A hundred and two women in the House of Representatives. It certainly is historic and you're part of that history and you're here to see it. Thank you so much.

Anderson, back to you.

COOPER: Dana, thanks very much.

Any moment, we expect to see President Trump, as we're getting the very first look at some of what the what he plans to say tonight. We'll have that. Stay with us.



[20:22:17] COOPER: And welcome back.

As we await the beginning of the State of the Union, Van, during the break, while we're watching Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez speak to Dana, you were talking about sort of how you see her in relationship to Donald Trump.

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, these are two movement leaders. Their role is not defined by the Constitution. It's defined by this bigger sense of mission and constituency that they have.

And it's remarkable. I mean, she is -- I'd never heard of her six months ago. She's got more Twitter followers than Madonna and she just grows every day.

But what I thought was most interesting when asked the question, is there any room to work together, she said criminal justice reform and infrastructure. So, even with these two movement leaders pulling apart with very different constituencies, they do see some common ground.

I just want to say, it's a lot harder to do than to say working on that, first step back, you know, we have the right-wing groups that came in, Freedom Works, American Conservative Union, the Koch brothers, Jared Kushner, that was great. It was harder on the left. We were able to -- we started off with Hakeem Jeffries and #cut50 and Justice Action Network.

But most of liberal groups, they held back, they said this bill is not strong enough, it's not good enough. That created leverage when you got to the Senate, the bill got stronger and then we got critical support from ACLU, critical support from the Brennan Center, critical support from Center for American Progress.

But then right-wingers balked, they said the bills too good. And this went back and forth and we barely got that thing signed two hours before the government shut down. So, the idea that you could just say bipartisanship, even when you had as much work as when at the first step, from, you know, the ACLU to Fox News agreeing it was still almost impossible

So let's just -- I'm hoping that the window stays open for more of this, but it's very tough.

COOPER: Senator Santorum, when you see Speaker Pelosi sitting behind the president tonight, is that going to be odd for him? And also he sees a lot of Democrats staring back at him now more than he'd seen before.

RICK SANTORUM, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, at least he has some Democrats because most of them boycotted in the past. So I give them credit for at least showing up for this one.

So, no, I think look, he congratulated Nancy Pelosi right after the election. I mean, he was very -- I thought he's very gracious to Nancy Pelosi. I think he'll be gracious to her tonight. I don't think that's going to be an issue for the president.

You know, I think the president's going to go out there and deliver a speech that you know the country is actually doing pretty well. The State of Union is actually pretty good. The economy is really good.

I heard, you know, AOC talked about you know everyday working people. Donald Trump would be wise to talk about everyday working people and how they're doing in America. You know what? They're doing better than they have in a long, long, long time.

JONES: Well --

SANTORUM: And he could go out there and take credit for his policies, his economic policies that have increased wages, that have increased -- decreased of poverty among people who the hardest time finding jobs in America, the participation rate in the economy is growing, more and more people coming back to work.

[20:25:05] This is a good news story and if he -- and I think he should go out there and tell it, and he should pick a couple places I would add, paid parental leave an area where the president has been out front.

COOPER: Ivanka. SANTORUM: Ivanka has done a terrific job. You have people who are on -- Marco Rubio and Joni Ernst and others who are coming forward.

And I go back to Van. The problem on this issue is not whether we can get a paid parental leave bill, it's whether the left will compromise enough to allow something that Republicans can vote for and the president can sign.

JENNIFER GRANHOLM, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Let come back to this -- you know, AOC rightly talked about working people. You just raised this issue about working people. The vast majority of working people do not feel like this economy is working for them.

Three out of five people feel like they have gone backward. Forty percent of Americans don't even have $400 in their bank account in case of emergency. This tax bill that he did, the tax bill benefits people at the top because a trillion dollars worth of that tax bill has gone to buybacks of shares and 48 percent of Americans don't even have a single share of stock.

SANTORUM: They have pensions.

GRANHOLM: So this hasn't been an economy --

SANTORUM: A lot of people have pensions, a lot of people have retirement savings.


GRANHOLM: -- do not, do not.

Sure, some do, but they are not -- the point is, that this bill, Rick, this bill was all about the top. It was not about real people.

SANTORUM: You can't argue with the growth and the economic opportunities have been created with this bill. And the wage growth for the lowest income people --


COOPER: Nia, we haven't heard from you. I'm just wondering you're expecting.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, I think one of these is going to be most interesting is just the tableau of Democrats, right? You talk about on 102 women that are there. They're going to be all wearing white. We're going to have a rebuttal to this presidency, or to this president tonight by Stacey Abrams.

This is the Democratic Party essentially arguing who they are and what the president of this party is. Before, they thought it was white men. Those were the folks who were the rebuttal speakers. Tonight, it's going to be Stacey Abrams. That's going to be fascinating to watch.

It's also going to be fascinating to watch the president on foreign policy to see what kind of split are already with his own party.

COOPER: Yes, we're going to take another break. Standing by for the president to depart from the White House. As we said, he'll be facing Speaker Nancy Pelosi for the first time since their shutdown battle.

We'll be right back.


[20:31:05] COOPER: We have been talking about Speaker Pelosi tonight. Dana Bash just -- she just passed by Dana Bash last third question. Let's play the tape.


BASH: Madam Speaker, the President might be more aggressive, we're told than he had plan. How are you going to react?

NANCY PELOSI, HOUSE SPEAKER: The House will be in order.


COOPER: The House will be in order.

BORGER: I love her.

KASICH: Anderson we're about 30 minutes away. I attended 18 of these state of the states -- State of the Unions. I delivered eight state of the states. In the beginning it's a glorious moment. My wife and I saw Hamilton over the weekend and, you know, that is something that just people feel in their gut. And in the beginning of the speech when they say the President of the United States and they open the door and the President, right then, we're all Americans. And I think we all hope he will be a unifier. We're not so certain that overtime that he will be but there's two issues that I think would really strike.

I mean, first of all, infrastructure is fine but you better pay for it. The debt is $21 trillion. You just don't throw an infrastructure bill and mortgage our kid's future. But there's another one that's a very difficult. I've been involved in criminal justice reform in my state. Let me give you another one really could resonate, the reform of drug costs.


KASICH: But that one is really hard because it means you got to fight off the special interests. You have to put the people first. You don't want to wreck the drug industry. But there's plenty of room for change. And we need significant reform of that industry and the whole health care industry. If he could hit on drugs, you know, the President have me at the White House right after he won, I went to see him because what do you think. I told him a lot of things. But one of the things I said was the drug issue is a big issue. And nobody seems to want to address it. And it's really hurting.


SANTORUM: Costs are coming down.


SANTORUM: A very small group of drugs. You're right, here's the things, there are very small group of drugs who we should be focused on where pharmaceutical companies are ripping off the public by taking existing drugs and jacking up their prices. But this talk of we have to go after the -- innovation that's saving lives is something we have to be very careful about taking a sledge hammer.

JONES: But hold on a second, here is what I want to say about that. I am pro-innovation. I'm all for it. But we do have these companies who are taking public dollars on their research, doing profit dollars and then jacking up the prices on life saving stuff. And I think if you're going to be a real populist, you're not --

SANTORUM: Give me an example.

JONES: The HIV drug that costs six bug bucks to make and charging $1600 worth, that's the kind of -- going to be a real populist. If you're not anti-innovation, you're breaking up monopolies.

SANTORUM: OK, just because the drug cost $16 to make, it didn't mean it cost a billion dollars to create. And some was going to pay for that innovation.


SANTORUM: The American taxpayer -- the American workers were all paying for it but we're also benefits from it. And we don't want to kill them.

AXELROD: Rick, I was going to say to you before in the context of the discussion about the economy and I will say to you on this issue that you need to link up with the reality of people in their lives and how they see it and how they're an experiencing it. If the President of the United States gets on television tonight and says the economy is great and drug prices are coming down, I think that people are going to turn the TV off.

COOPER: It is interesting though, there's been reporting that the President is going to talk tonight about an issue which we haven't heard much from Presidents in the last -- well, certainly from this President which is HIV/AIDS and an effort to essentially end the epidemic in the United States. I think by 2030 has been the reporting. I'm not sure with date they're actually going to set. I'm not sure this administration has a lot of credibility on the issue given their attitudes toward so far toward people with HIV and people with AIDS. But it's interesting that they are now, seem to be, according to the reporting, focusing on this.

[20:35:03] KING: Again, on any issue and any president, Democrat, Republican, Donald Trump, anyway. If they have something to say that's important, they should rise that issue. The question with this President constantly is the follow through on any big thing.

If he came in tonight and said we'll going to lower drug prices, what he going to do tomorrow is he's going to bring people into the room. He balanced a budget with Bill Clinton, he travel the country with Bill Clinton and talked about social security. We'll see the president finally he did do criminal justice reform with Van Jones. So he had one example, really one example.

Now, will he do more whether it's on HIV/AIDS. We talk about Speaker Pelosi and the new power dynamic. We talk about the President at the halfway mark of his chairmen, his reset. He's also going to be looking at the Republican Party that he has walked away from his party on trade. Walked away from his party on foreign policy, walk away from his party's traditional commitment to deficit reduction and spending issues.

Is he now going to challenge them on infrastructure? Republicans don't like -- don't want to use federal government money to pay for it. Will he take them on and say I'm sorry. You know, the pharmaceutical industries been your friend, you don't want us meddling in the markets I want to do something to get into the market. Will a Republican President going into a reelection campaign poke his party once or twice or three times again? That's a big question.

BORGER: I think he'll do it if it's good for him, to tell you the truth because it's always about him.

JONES: Here is something very simple on AIDS, he could appoint the Office of National AIDS Policy but he doesn't have one. So listen, I love all the stuff when you're talk about, you know, let's get out here and do good stuff together. The problem is we aren't going the basics. We actually aren't staffing America's government. It's hard to --

COOPER: In fact, I think the entire advisory panel on HIV/AIDS, some quit early on. The rest were let go.

GRANHOLM: There's also the basics about health care overall. His first executive order was to instruct his departments to do everything possible to dismantle the Affordable Care Act. And he has taken 21 actions, executive and legislative to reduce people's ability to have access to health care and consequently 7 million people have lost health care as a result. It is not the opposite. He had -- so he shuts the window in which people can sign up. He defund the outreach --

SANTORUM: He's expanded insurance opportunities for people to be able to get insurance that they can choose.

GRANHOLM: Junk insurance that doesn't provide adequate healthcare.

SANTORUM: That's not junk. He let people make choices.

GRANHOLM: 7 million people have lost their health care under him, Rick.

SANTORUM: So you realize, there's now more people --

GRANHOLM: 7 million that's what happened in 2018.

SANTORUM: -- on Medical sharing plans than on unsubsidized Obamacare.

GRANHOLM: Rick, why do you think that so many people were elected in 2018? It was health care.

SANTORUM: I agree with you.

GRANHOLM: Access to health care was the number one issue.

SANTORUM: No, it was preexisting preconditions. So I agree with you. They were. And Republicans did a lousy job in articulating it.

COOPER: Mitch McConnell obviously, we saw Vice President Pence has arrived. You have Senator Grassley.

BORGER: Here is a man in middle, Mitch McConnell because he doesn't want the declaration of the national emergency. He's warned the President about it. He said, you're going to have trouble, Congress will vote disapproval on this and you'll lose a bunch of senators. And he's been staying kind of private and away from all of this. And he's --

AXELROD: He's been burned.


COOPER: By the way, the warm conversation between these two is extraordinary.


JONES: They won't even make eye contact.

HENDERSON: Yes, if this is what bipartisan looks like, then I don't think there's going to be much bipartisan.

KING: He served in the House. They're not strangers.

KASICH: Let me ask you a question, you're a great pro in this politics. Let's see the President of the United States got up tonight, he said, you know what, yeah we got to have some sort of a barrier but we're going to work together and get this done and not let the government of the United States close.

Now, I guess some of his base would be angry but how would that play out across the country if he did it, said it and accomplished it.

AXELROD: Well, I think it would play very well and I'm sure that's would President Kasich would have said. But the fact is that --

KASICH: Oh I'm seating here and I'm not delivering the statement.

AXELROD: Right. And that's what he's thinking too. I think he has staked this out as a symbolic pillar of his presidency. And so the question is can they fashion a compromise that he can call a victory for him plausibly with his base or is he willing to stand up to his base on this which I think is less likely.

HENDERSON: I mean, if you think about how much energy in time and time on Twitter he spent on the wall. I mean, it's basically blotted out any other vision. It's blotted out any other agenda item. And we'll see if he's able to resolve it at some point, through a bipartisan deal or if it looks like he is going to declare a national emergency.


GRANHOLM: I think the language will be a tell about whether he is setting this up to create an emergency, right? Because if he goes on and on about the caravans and about the costs and the crime and all of this stuff he has tweeted about before, which have been proven to be false, nonetheless he wants to create an emergency.

BORGER: 62 out of 3, I think people believe that you shouldn't shut down the government because -- to build wall. You know, he doesn't have the public --

COOPER: Let's go back to Wolf for just a bit. Wolf?

BLITZER: Anderson, it's interesting as take a look at the senators who are now arriving, we saw Mike Pence, who is the President of the Senate, is already up there with Nancy Pelosi that's up but we're taking a look now at the White House. This is the presidential limousines. The President will be getting into the presidential limousine. You see him right there.

[20:40:16] The first lady is already up on Capitol Hill. Our Kate Bennett is reporting that she separately went up to Capitol Hill. But the President is not going to be making the short drive, Jake, up Pennsylvania Avenue towards Capitol Hill.

TAPPER: That's right. And he'll be looking out at an audience that's more hostile than any audience he's looking at in quite some time. Usually obviously he speaks to room full of supporters. But even in his previous addresses to Congress and State of the Union Address he was looking at Republican controlled House, Republican controlled Senate. He'll be looking tonight at a house controlled by Democrats and he'll be looking at a sea of democratic senator who want to take him on. We saw earlier Cory Booker and we've seen other Democrats who want to challenge him.

WOLF: Yeah, we see Rand Paul. We saw Mitt Romney, a new senator from Utah. The senators have gathered. This is going to be very, very precise, Jake. Everything that is done now between now and few minutes after 9:00 p.m. Eastern when the President starts speaking, everything is plotted out.

TAPPER: That's right, there's a protocol. We know when the diplomats are going to start walking in. We know when senators are going to start walking in, we know when the President's cabinet is going to start walking in. There is Senator Elizabeth Warren.

WOLF: She's got a little controversy going right now.

TAPPER: Little controversy going on. The Washington Post is reporting this evening and CNN has confirmed that in 1986, she filled out a registration card for the state bar of Texas and she put down as her race, American Indian on that registration card for the state bar of Texas. Obviously, she's not an American Indian.

Warren spokesperson says, "Senator Warren has said, she is not a citizen of any tribe and only tribes determine tribal citizenship. She was sorry that she was not more mindful of this earlier in her career." So there again the story that is dogging Elizabeth Warren for months now and it's one that she's had to face for a long time ever since she ran for Senate. The idea of how she represented her ethnicity.

WOLF: The President keeps going after her sort of non-stop, almost day after day after day.

TAPPER: That's right. And actually a lot of Democrats think that when she launched her campaign with that video and she had done that DNA test, which was not received particularly warmly by Native Americans who say that it's not blood that determines tribal citizenship. A lot of people thought she was playing too much into the hands of the President.

WOLF: There's Kirsten Gillibrand, up in New York State.

TAPPER: Kirsten Gillibrand, yes.

WOLF: Another potential democratic presidential candidate.

TAPPER: She's declared. She's actually running. Sometimes it's tough to tell who is declare --

WOLF: Right.

TAPPER: -- and who has done an exploratory committee, through essentially they're all candidates but Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. There's Amy Klobuchar. Senator Amy Klobuchar --

WOLF: Another potential candidate.

TAPPER: -- of Minnesota who is contemplating, non-announced Senator Ted Cruz of course who came in second right behind President Trump. Senator Mark Warner of Virginia, who called for the governor of Virginia to step down a few days ago, although it seems like years ago when Governor Northam of Virginia was in that scandal.

There's Amy --

WOLF: Amy Klobuchar.

TAPPER: Yeah. There's a tradition that goes back to the days of the cold war when the most unimaginable was often thought of which is that some member of the president's cabinet would not attend the State of the Union Address just in case the absolute worst happened again, this is -- I think it started during the Kennedy years and we can now report that the designated survivor for this evening as the person is called is the Secretary of Energy, former Texas Governor Rick Perry.

WOLF: Designate. And that responsibility for at least a couple hours is to stay away from Capitol Hill with security, with potentially access to the nuclear code in case, god forbid, something awful were to happen.

TAPPER: Yeah, I mean, I've heard stories about the designated survivor going to the most secure spots in the area in a mountain where they are guarded like the lost Ark of the Covenant. And not, you know, they are under complete security just in case the worst happens. There's some of the Republican leadership of the Senate John Thune, Chuck Grassley, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

WOLF: Yes, the chamber is going to be full with representatives and senators. They're going to be standing and sitting and it's going to be interesting as we watch all of these members when they stand. Democrats will be sitting a lot. Republicans will be going up and down and applauding very vigorously.

TAPPER: We were talking about this earlier with former Congresswoman Mia Love, who is now obviously a CNN --

WOLF: By the way, Congresswoman Jackie Speier of California.

TAPPER: Jackie Speier. Mia love was talking about how it's kind of annoying to have to constantly stand and sit and stand and sit and also the kabuki of who stands and who sits and what do you do. There's Senator Chuck Schumer, the Democratic Minority Leader of the Senate.

[20:45:12] WOLF: He and the President have really gone after each other over the past 24, 48 hours to, no love lost there.

TAPPER: Well, Senator Schumer gave a speech bemoaning the State of the Union and President Trump sent out a tweet saying Chuck Schumer hasn't heard the speech. Why is he attacking me? In Senator Schumer's defense because that is a decent point by President Trump, last year President Trump did do a call for unity at the State of the Union.

There's former vice presidential candidate and senator from Virginia Tim Kaine who has also called for Ralph Northam to stand down. Joe Manchin of West Virginia but in Schumer's defense to a degree, last year the President called for unity and within days he was attacking the Democrats for not standing and applauding for him enough, calling them un-American and treasonous actually within the week of the State of the Union. So I think Schumer not feeling the love.

WOLF: Yes, it's interesting that the senators, all of them, seem to be already in the House Chamber. They're going to be introducing members of the joint chiefs of staff, members of the Supreme Court, the diplomatic for -- It's a very, very formal process that they are about to undertake. And they're, you know, you can see Lindsey Graham, the senator from South Carolina.

Anderson, we're watching all of this very closely together with you.

COOPER: We are. And Gloria you were commenting on the difference this time post the mid term that we see with so many women in the House.

BORGER: Yes. First of all, look at how many women are in the chamber right now. And you see these women wearing white, particularly from the House, commemorating suffrage movement. You see Nancy Pelosi strikingly behind the -- should be behind the President. She and Mike Pence, I think, it's safe to say have an uneasy relationship. There's not a lot of warmth there.

But -- and they couldn't be more different politically, to be honest. And what will be interesting to watch will be how the President treats Nancy Pelosi. Will he be gracious like George W. Bush was when she first became speaker and say Madame Speaker and note the moment in history or will he not do that. We don't know.

JONES: I think a couple things, first of all --

PELOSI: The session will come to order.

COOPER: Go ahead.

JONES: It's like 102 women and like 200 people running for president like in that audience. So I also think it's going to be interesting when you've got these new young Congress people, how do they handle this? Do they feel like they need to make a moment for themselves? Are you have one of those you lie moments from the left or is it going to be pure decorum?

SANTORUM: There's no down side. Look, if you look -- we're talking about AOC. Why are we talking about AOC because she's done pretty, you know, some outrageous things, she's said some outrageous things. The reality is, this is how you make your moment. And we've got some really interesting new characters on the House right now. And Nancy can say, well, you know, the House will be in order.

AXELROD: I don't know that she said outrageous things. She said pointed things. But that's different that --

COOPER: I agree. She also had a pretty stunning victory against a pretty powerful --

SANTORUM: I agree. All I'm saying is, this is an opportunity for a moment. And there's lots of folks out there who may be looking for --

AXELROD: Do you know there was a congressman from South Carolina who had one of those moments --

SANTORUM: You lie.

AXELROD: -- when President Obama was speaking and it was -- it maybe it helped him with his base. SANTORUM: He's still there.

AXELROD: It was a bad moment for the house. He is still there. You're right.


KASICH: For somebody sitting in the House of Representatives just to yell out to the President of the United States, you lie. Back in the old days when I was in the House, Bob Michael, the Republican leader would have taken them out in the back room and would have taken some time for us to hear from them again. Because there is a decorum in the house to this degree, deteriorate it and it has to be stop. We are all serving the country.

JONES: Well, I think Nancy Pelosi has the gavel and I think she would behave in that way. My only point is, this is a big moment for a whole new generation of young Democrats who are now sitting there and for some of them this is the first time they have ever been in the room with Donald Trump.

And they're going to have to process those emotions. They're going to have to figure out what they want to do and I'm just saying I hope nobody creates a moment. But let's just watch and see how these young people do. A new generation is taking over this party. This is the first time they're going to be in the room with Donald Trump.

COOPER: By the way, this is the man who survived the Tree of Life shooting in Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburg, survivor of the holocaust, if my memory serves me correct, he's been invited to attend and they're speaking with Jared Kushner.

AXELROD: One of the things, Van, about that though is this is a test of Pelosi as well and whether she is control her delegation. She seemed pretty pointed that the House will be in order.

JONES: In order.

AXELROD: I'm sure that conversation has been had.

[20:50:03] HENDERSON: Yes, she's done pretty well so far.

COOPER: Senator Blumenthal speaking with Murphy.

HENDERSON: Yes, he has done pretty well so far in terms of keeping her folks in order. She, you know, came out on sort of the winning end of the government shutdown. Her approval rating was up at least among Democrats. So, you know, we'll see.


GRANHOLM: If you're a freshman in there, though, you're -- as a Democrat you're going to be watching her --


GRANHOLM: -- and you're going to be taking your queues. When do I applaud? When do I stand if I do?

COOPER: But just in terms --


SANTORUM: I mean, I don't think this is a hierarchical set of folks --

GRANHOLM: No, I'm just saying that --

SANTORUM: -- that are sitting out there.


JONES: Look at that ways. Look at that all ways.

GRANHOLM: That is awesome.

COOPER: Just in terms of what the President may or may not say, and I mean, how important is tonight for? I mean, it's a question we ask, frankly, pretty much every State of the Union and some are more important than others, some stay in the history books and others are forgotten.

BORGER: Well, I think this is a very important moment for his presidency. I don't want to overdo it. But you're facing a government shutdown here and what he says tonight may affect that.

I think he's a President who has never reached above 50 percent in popularity and I think that's a difficult place for him to be. He's got a great economy going, but he can't get his personal popularity up.

And this is a President, as David was saying earlier, who never makes an effort to expand beyond his base. And I know the governor was saying that too, because he thinks he can win the presidency again with that base.

State of the Union addresses are supposed to be about talking to everyone in America. And the question is, can Donald Trump do that? And in a written speech, I bet he can.

SANTORUM: I think he will.

BORGER: And then the question is, can he stick to that?

SANTORUM: I think he won't.

BORGER: Last year he had a whole field of unity as well.

AXELROD: I'm with Santorum.

KING: And what will the climate look like a week and a month and three months from now? Meaning, will these negotiators present a deal? Will the President actually accept a compromise on border security? Will there be another government shutdown where he say, we're not going to go through that experience again?

And then the unspoken, hasn't been mentioned her tonight, it will not be in the President speech, what's going to happen with all these investigations? You now know the Southern District of New York has subpoenas for the Trump organization. You know the Southern District of New York has subpoenas for the Trump inaugural committee. We're waiting on the Mueller report.

The great unknown, not just to the Democrats, but as they ramp up their House investigations, but to the Republicans is this is a president who's weak politically right now if you look historically. But, is he going to get weaker or stronger? You can't answer that question. The speech won't answer that question.

KASICH: Anderson, you ask the question, do State of the Unions matter? Some were saying we shouldn't have it anymore. I think they matter greatly.

COOPER: I agree.

KASICH: And I can remember when Ronald Reagan went to that podium and, boy, he just lit the place on fire. He was so good. And Bill Clinton facing the end of his presidency through the possibility of impeachment got up and delivered what everybody said was really a blockbuster. They matter because it's an opportunity for the President to paint a beautiful picture.

AXELROD: It is. The question is how lasting is that paint?

KASICH: David --

AXELROD: Because, you know, I think every president gets a bump from the State of the Union and I predict he'll get a bump as well. The question is how long does it last?

KASICH: Absolutely.

AXELROD: How meaningful is it? It's most meaningful when you layout the pillars of the campaign that's going to come. I don't know. He's not that kind of a long-term player, you know. He's kind of moment to moment kind of player.

KASICH: If he doesn't, he's going to have to rely on his base, excuse me, Van. He's going to have to rely on his base and that's not ideal this country. The fighting and the recrimination in the next campaign will be unbelievable if we don't have some change here.

JONES: Well, one thing that's exciting is looking at so many people up there in the gallery. You got that -- that's Ms. Alice Johnson who President Trump let out of prison. She's going to be, I think, called on. There's going to be a lot of, I guess, gallery calls, I don't know what you call them, when they have somebody stand up. What do they call (INAUDIBLE)? What do they call those things?

BORGER: I think Ronald Reagan started it.

JONES: Ronald Reagan started that tradition. So, there's going to be, I think, some criminal justice call outs from the --

SANTORUM: It's the best moment of the speech.

JONES: I agree.


SANTORUM: Trump in the past has done a good job, unlike other presidents that sort of waited to the end, he sort of moved them into the speech and did a really nice job of that. And actually, you know, one of the things that Republicans aren't very good at is humanizing their policy and their message and he did an excellent job of that. I expect he will do that again tonight, and that can be lasting.

Now, again, I agree, he has to follow through on the policy. But, I really do believe that he did a great job last year and he got a very, very solid bump and I think he can do it again.

COOPER: The members of the Supreme Court are just being welcomed in. Let's go back to Wolf and Jake.

BLITZER: Yes, there you see the Chief Justice John Roberts. Justice Kavanaugh for the first time is walking in as well with other members of the Supreme Court. Not all of them, Jake, are there. Several of them have decided to sit it out. But there's a nice representation.

TAPPER: That's right. We have Chief Justice Roberts, Kagan, Kavanaugh, and Gorsuch. You'll notice that Ruth Bader Ginsberg is not there. She's obviously had health problems recently. She also has not attended the last two State of the Union addresses, so this would be the third that she hasn't attended.

[20:55:07] A lot of Supreme Court justices don't like being there because they're not allowed to express any sort of visible emotion at all, smiling, or clapping, or sitting pointedly, or standing pointedly and it is uncomfortable. So, you know, Alito is not there either. Obviously he had a reaction that was covered after President Obama said something.

But Kavanaugh is the one, obviously, that a lot of eyes are on. We saw Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez brought -- the congresswoman from New York brought a guest who is of note because she challenged senators to vote against supreme -- now Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

And his nomination, of course, that became quite a bitter acrimonious debate and a touch stone and really one of the reasons why I think there are so many Democratic women that were involved in the political process in the midterms, many of them winning House seats.

BLITZER: Yes, they're wearing their robes, so four justices of the Supreme Court, including Chief Justice John Roberts there, Elena Kagan, Brett Kavanaugh, and Neil Gorsuch. But interestingly enough, Justices Ginsberg, Breyer, Sotomayor, Alito, and Thomas, they are not there tonight for whatever reason. And they probably all have pretty good reasons. TAPPER: That's right. There's Joe Manchin from West Virginia. The President targeted him for defeat, Democrat in a Trump state, but he won fairly easily. There he is greeting. I think he voted for both of these justices, Kavanaugh and Gorsuch, both Trump justices. Elena Kagan, of course, a Clinton justice and Thomas -- I'm sorry, and Roberts a George W. Bush justice. And here is the First Lady.

BLITZER: You know, Kate Bennett is here as well. There is the First Lady of the United States. Kate will be doing a lot of reporting on her, what she's wearing and everything else involving the First Lady and why she came up separately.

KATE BENNETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Right. This is, you know, last year when she took the separate motorcade, everyone was surprised by it. It was a break with tradition and it was an independent history (ph) that we've seen her before.

It was also just weeks after the Stormy Daniel story broke which was, you know, obviously a time that everyone was focused on the first couple's marriage. We hadn't seen the First Lady in about a month before last year's State of the Union.

And, again, I have to say, Wolf, this year, this is the First Lady's first public appearance since December 27th when she returned from Iraq with the President for that surprise Christmas visit. Obviously tonight she is wearing black, not white, as she did last year.

A lot of people saw that white pantsuit she wore last year perhaps as a quite signal. Again, we look at all the Democratic women here again and we wondered what she was thinking wearing white, but certainly the First Lady taking her own motorcade, greeting the guests, having a separate reception with them in the White House without the President before arriving to the Capitol.

So she's really made a thing, I guess, if you will, out of hosting the special 13 guests this evening that are invited to sit with her in the box.

BLITZER: She spent a lot of time in Mar-a-Lago down in Palm Beach over the last few weeks. Tell us a little bit about the First Lady's box, some of the special guests that she has invited to sit there and watch together with her.

BENNETT: Right. So one of the people in her box is actually a young boy, he's a 6th grader from Delaware. His name is Joshua Trump. He was bullied. He was ridiculed for his last name.

BLITZER: No relation.

BENNETT: No relation. Obviously Melania Trump is to be best campaign --


BLITZER: There you see the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the Secretary of the Treasury. They're walking in right now, the members of the Cabinet. And it's a pretty different Cabinet, Jake, this year than last year and certainly the year before.

TAPPER: That's right. There are eight individuals who were in the President's Cabinet a year ago who have since resigned or been ignominiously shown the door. We should also point out that the President has five acting Cabinet officials. They have not been confirmed by the Senate and this is rather extraordinary that he has so many individuals that he has chose to -- chosen to use as executive office to just put them up there and have them serve in that role temporarily as acting secretaries.

The President reportedly says he likes that because they're more beholden to him than those who have actually been confirmed by the Senate and are serving in that role. So, it's unusual in a lot of ways.

There is the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen, the Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development Dr. Ben Carson, the new Secretary of Defense, Acting Secretary of Defense, the Acting Attorney General, I could go on.

BLITZER: Yes. They're walking in and there you see members of the Cabinet coming in. This is a moment just before the big event when the President of the United States will eventually be introduced as well.

And we're watching the introduction of members of the Trump Cabinet as they're coming in. They'll be seated. They'll be well received. There you see the director of National Intelligence. That's Matt Whitaker, the Acting Attorney General.