tv MSNBC Live With Steve Kornacki MSNBC February 23, 2017 1:00pm-2:01pm PST
throughout the presidential campaign. i think they also see this as a way to fire up the base. so i think that this is the type of language that isn't going away and they're not apologizing for it. we saw that on display here with sean spicer. >> to kristen welker, my fellow member of the opposition party. jamaal simmons. kristen welker, charlie sykes. that finishes up things for me. i'll see you tomorrow at 3:00 p.m. you can look for me. i'm steve kornacki, live in new york. day 35 of the first 100 days. topping our agenda, a rare public appearance. >> in regard to us two, i think the biggest misconception is everything that you're reading. >> president trump's top aides, including the normally press-shy steve bannon make an appearance
with reince priebus together on a public panel, giving their take on the first month of the administration. also on the agenda, no mass deportations. >> let me be very, very clear. there will be no, repeat, no mass deportations. >> that is the claim of homeland security secretary john kelly, along with secretary of state rex tillerson. he is in mexico right now defending donald trump's new guidelines on stepped up deportations. and rounding out our agenda, tumult at the town halls. >> how many people in this room are genuinely upset that the politicians aren't working for the working people? [ cheers and applause ] >> more contentious town hall meetings as members of congress return to their home districts during this recess. there are more taking place this hour. we will bring you out to one of them and take a look at what's
being said there. all of that and much more still to come this hour. we begin with our top story. white house press secretary sean spicer in the last few minutes wrapping up his daily press briefing. he addressed president trump's controversial move to rescind protections put in place by the obama administration for transgender students. take a look. >> the president obviously understands the issue and the challenges young children face. he believes this is a state issue that needs to be addressed by states. >> kristen welker pressed spicer on whether the rule change leaves transgender students verbal to bullying. >> isn't the president leaving some of these children open to vulnerable to being bullied at school? >> no. there are bullying laws and policies in place in almost every one of these schools. >> transgender children say their experiences, not being able to use the bathroom they feel comfortable using --
>> you're missing the point. the president said literally it should be a state decision. he respects the decision of the states. you're trying to make an issue out of something that doesn't exist. it was the court who stopped this in august of last year. >> sean spicer a few minutes ago. nbc's kelly o'donnell joins me from the white house. kelly, this has kicked up quite a storm, this decision by the administration, also potentially a difference of opinion within the administration spilling out. is this something they were expecting, they were prepared for? >> i certainly think they knew the questions were coming, steve, because this has been news worthy. there's been public comment about it through organizations like the human rights campaign. at cpac, the conservatives who are gathering near washington, d.c., for their annual convention, they view it differently and believe it should be a states' rights issue where a state legislature would put into effect any restrictions or requirements on schools at a
local level, not at the federal level. i also pressed sean spicer about something -- about the president's personal views on this matter, because he had spoken about a very prominent transgender person, caitlyn jenner, and that she would be able to use any bathroom of her choice at trump tower. to extrapolate that from an individual, specific circumstance to a more broader view from the president, that's what i was trying to go for. because sean spicer was talking about the president's heart, his understanding, also later in the briefing he was asked about would he be willing to take a meeting with the young woman who sang the national anthem at his inauguration. jackie jackie evancho, whose sibling is
transgender. talking about this issue of it's got to be put through the courts and decided by states. that's an answer conservatives want to hear and, at the same time, this is an issue where the president politically has not weighed in on this very often and, yet, it surprised people that he chose to do this and to see what happens with the courts. i think they definitely knew this issue was coming, steve. >> all right. kelly o'donnell at the white house. news there from the white house on this issue of transgender rights and bathroom access. meanwhile, also this afternoon, trump chief of staff reince priebus, white house chief strategist steve bannon making a rare public appearance together. gave their thoughts on how the first month of trump's presidency is going. >> if you look at the opposition party and how they portrayed the campaign, how they portrayed the transition and now they're portraying the administration, it's always wrong. >> all president trump does every day is hit his agenda, every single day. whether it's tpp, whether it's
deregulation, whether it's neil gorsuch. what it is, his promise is coming through every day. >> here is what's going to get worse. he is going to continue to press his agenda. and as economic conditions get better, more jobs get better, they're going to continue to fight. if you think they're going to give you your country back without a fight, you are sadly mistaken. >> nbc's caskasie hunt is at th conservative political action taking place in national harbor, miles an hour . steve bannon is probably, least talked about, least heard from member of the trump administration, it is him. that message is very much the one he has been associated with all along. very combative and confrontational. >> that's right. first of all, it's 76 degrees today in washington, d.c. we have stepped outside because we are waiting for secret service to clear the ballroom. a little bit of summer here at
cpac. steve bannon was kind of basking in it himself. his opening line to the crowd was, hey, thanks for inviting me this time. he's not somebody who has been welcomed here in the past. that has been a tension that's been on the surface. an interesting, textured glimpse into these two men and into this white house on stage today at cpac. steve bannon also talking a little bit, kind of in broad strokes, about how he sees the world and what the trump administration is going to try to do. he talked about deconstructing the administrative state, which was his way of talking about the bureaucracy and regulations that have sprung up. he talked about economic nationalism and talked about other members of the white house team that are trying to work on reconstructing trade agreements. steve mnuchin, he mentioned, for example. he was sitting, of course, next to reince priebus, who wanted to focus on the supreme court nomination. that's what he was essentially saying, hey, conservatives who have been with us for years, he
promised he was going to give you a conservative judge. that's what he did. that's what you should focus on. i want to show you a little bit of the conversation to give you a little bit more of an idea of what it was like in the room. take a look. >> it's not only not going to get better, it's going to get worse every day from the media. here is why. by the way, the internal logic makes sense. they're corporatist, globalist media that are adamantly opposed -- adamantly opposed to an economic nationalist agenda like donald trump has. >> that economic nationalist word again. it was something that kept popping up throughout the address. it's something to watch in the future. the reality is, they are clearly, simply, setting themselves up against the media, essentially saying they're not giving you facts you can believe. they're really kind of creating their own alternate universe.
>> thank you. turning to congressman tom cole, a republican from north carolina. thank you for taking a few minutes with us here. the administration's action here on transgender access to bathrooms, an order put in place originally by the obama transition. trump administration says, we are not going to adhere to the order. here is sean spicer, a little bit more of how he defended that action. take a listen. >> the president was asked at one point if caitlyn jenner was in trump tower and he said that's great. that's consistent with everything he said. it's a states' rights issue. that's entirely what he believes. that if a state wants to pass a law or a rule or an organization wants to do something in compliance with a state rule, that's their right. it shouldn't be the federal government getting in the way of this. >> so congressman, the term "states' rights issue." the other side says this is a civil rights question. which is it to you?
a civil rights issue or a states' rights issue? >> i actually would say it's a local rights issue, quite frankly. when this order, quote-unquote -- it wasn't really an executive order. it never went through the process. it wasn't a rule. it was an opinion issued by two attorneys in the department of education civil rights decision. it impacted thousands of school districts across the country. i actually agree wretch with the president. these decisions need to be made locally. the threat at the time was, if you don't do what we say in every school district in america, we'll take away federal funding. what's federal funding for in local schools? it goes for the free lunch program, for needy kids, special needs children with disabilities. are we really going to take away money from needy or hungry children or kids with special challenges because we disagree with the bathroom policy in some local school? it was a ridiculous federal overreach and i think the president did the right thing. >> supporters of what the obama
administration put in place to begin with say, look, this is a matter of fairness. statistics out there, studies out there showing that transgender students say they feel bullied. many saying they feel bullied. as a simple matter of fairness, fwif th give them access to the bathroom of their choice. it shouldn't vary by local community or state. >> bullying is never acceptable under any circumstances. i don't think this would have dealt with it so much. the people who can deal with it best are the teachers, local administrators and school boards. i don't think they're in sympathy with bullying either. i think there is an effort here to relate something that's unrelated together. and i just, again, to me, these decisions are much better made locally. again, this didn't go through a rule-making process. it was stopped by the courts, frankly, even before the president took his action today. so not everything needs to be
decided in washington, d.c. if you want to be a local school board person, run for the local school board. if you want to make these cases and decisions, they should be made there close to the people. they shouldn't be dictated by a bureaucrat 2,000 miles away that may not have any practical experience whatsoever in running a school. >> also some news today from john kelly, the secretary of the department of homeland security. he is offering his opinion, his view, of the role out of donald trump's new regulations, new order, i should say, on deportations. he says this does not amount to mass deportation. let's listen to that. >> let me be very, very clear. there will be no, repeat, no mass deportations. everything we do in dhs will be done legally and according to human rights and the legal justice system of the united states. >> do you agree with that? because what critics have been saying here is, hey, look at the new guidelines on deportations
that are put in place, at least theoretically, if somebody is stopped for something as simple as driving without a license, could be subject to deportation. do you agree with the characterization this will not be mass deportation or do you have a concern about that? >> i do. i have a lot of respect for general kelly. he and his family served this country with great distinction. i think he tends to speak with great clarity. i think this is something that's been whipped up. the president has said we're going to focus on people who have committed crimes, the kind of people we wish had never come here in the first place. i think folks are overreading what he said. now, he's going to be a lot tougher on enforcement. i think most americans agree about border security. there is not a big disagreement. adding extra barriers, putting extra, you know, i.c.e. officials in place are things i think most americans agree with. once americans think their borders are secure i think they'll deal with the rest of the problems associated with
illegal immigration. until you reach that point we're going to continue to have a political discussion and dialogue in the country. >> i am curious what you -- you used to run the republican congressional campaign committee. all the members of congress back in their districts greeted by large crowds, upset about the direction the country is moving under donald trump. what's your advice to a republican member of congress going home and facing this? >> i think, first, that you actually are polite and nice and listen to people that have a legitimate concern. they're exercising their rights. you hold a town hall, anybody is allowed to come. you have public meetings, obviously people are going to come to those and they should. take a listen to what they have to say. on the other hand, don't be afraid to push back if somebody is rude. stand your ground on issues if you disagree with a particular point that's made.
but do it respectfully and politely. these town hall meetings are not any tougher than the ones that happened during the tea party summer of 2009. and i can tell you as a guy who went through that, again, those were not easy meetings no matter which side of the issue you happened to be on. again, at the end of the day each member knows their district well, they operate in it pretty well and have a pretty good idea how to handle these situations. >> congressman tom cole, republican from oklahoma. thank you for the time. >> thank you. two more days until democrats cast their ballots for the next chairman of the democratic party. one of the candidates actually dropped out today, making that announcement right here on msnbc. >> before i became a party chair, i was also the floor director in the whip operation for the majority whip. i know how to count votes. and at this juncture, the votes are just not there for us and our campaign. i am going to lend my support and my vote to tom pérez.
>> joining us now from atlanta, one of the seven remaining candidates, currently the mayor of south bend, indiana, running for chair of the dnc. thank you for taking a few minutes with us. this issue of transgender bathroom use. this was something that was started by the obama administration with these new guidelines. now the trump administration going in the opposition direction. i was looking at the polling on this today. i saw nationally it seems like an issue that divides the country in half. you've pitched your candidacy for chair of the dnc as a voice for the flyover states, you have the blue areas on the coast and red areas in the middle of the country. is this one of these issues where maybe the consensus in the blue areas is getting out ahead a little bit of public opinion in the red areas of the country where you are from? >> well, it doesn't have to be. you know, this is -- this latest action seems like a solution in search of a problem. the policy was just intended to make sure that kids were able to get through their high school lives a little better.
meanwhile, you have a president who promised to focus on jobs and the economy, which is what people in my part of the country tend to care about most when they're going to the ballot box and seems to be concentrating his efforts on making a vulnerable group even worse out. >> i think the voters in the rust belt, midwest, whatever you want to call it, who were for obama and who switched to trump in the 2016 election, the one your party really has a shot to win back at least in theory. the case that's being made by the trump administration. you heard steve bannon say it today. this guy made serious promises in the campaign and is keeping them. specifically on immigration and and a new one coming in the next few days. do you think the voters who switched from obama to trump feel he's keeping at least some of his promises from the campaign? >> i think voters will hold him accountable for his promises.
he promised basically rainbows and unicorns. one month in there have been a lot of sweeping and divisive actions. i don't know about the results to show for them. i don't see any indication that people in my midwestern town are better off because he is president. >> if you become the chair of the dnc, i'm curious what your role will be. what i hear from rank and file democrats is the idea of resistance. the idea of the democratic party to be reflexive opposition to every trump action, proposal and nominee. is that what you see the role of democratic national committee chair is? we have to resist every time he does something wrong, things that make real people in our communities worse off. it's not resistance for its own sake. one of the things that excites me about the energy in the party and the movement, is the flavor
is largely about supporting each other. saw it the first day of what you might call the resistance in the women's march. it was actually fun to be part of that. people of all ages, they were resisting what they see as wrong, but doing it by supporting each other. that's the flavor, the sense of being a happy warrior is what we need to carry forward. it's not about opposition for its own sake. it's about being for our values, standing up for the people affected in our everyday lives. whether it's being able to get health care, the risk of having that taken away, people in the military concerned about whether we might be sent back into a conflict for a reason that didn't have to happen. it's about how this affects people's actual lives. and every time they do something that's going to hurt people we're going to stand up to it. we're not going to let it trap us into thinking about nothing other than donald trump. that's the trick for democrats. to continue talking about our values and policies and not just his. >> not making it trump centric.
leads me to my next question. keith ellison said yesterday, donald trump's actions so far, quote, legitimately raise the question of impeachment. a month into the trump presidency. lieding candidate for chair of the dnc saying impeachment may need to be on the table. >> there are serious legal and constitutional concerns emerging. let's face it. we democrats don't like to admit this. he won. yes, there was russia. yes, there was comey. we won the popular vote, but he still won. i think the dnc chair more than anything else needs to concentrate on winning elections. they're coming up. 2018 will be on us very soon. here in georgia we have a special election for congress that's a few weeks away. we have to concentrate our efforts on making sure that democrats are winning at every level, from school board all the way up to the white house. that is the number one way we can make sure that our values, our policies and our candidates have the upper hand going
forward. >> candidate to be the chair of the democratic national committee, thank you for the time. >> thank you. on the other side. more congressional republicans facing packed crowds at town hall meetings across the country. more playing out as we speak. when we come back we'll go live to north dakota. that's where one congressman and trump supporter got an earful from his constituents. >> question. questions. >> questions. >> questions. plus, president trump's treasury secretary giving his first tv interview since taking office today and using it to make some very big promises. he says americans will see a, quote, very significant tax reform plan by august. not too many details yet. up next, what this would mean for the average american if congress delivers. un on intel? that means you can take a universe of data -
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we are committed to pass tax reform. it will be very significant. it's going to be focused on middle income tax cuts, simplification and making the business tax competitive with the rest of the world, which has been a big problem and a lot of the reasons why companies are leaving and cash is sitting offshore. that's really our focus. we want to get this done by the august recess. >> treasury secretary steve mnuchin, in an exclusive interview this morning on cnbc, making quite a prediction on tax reform. he says the plan will be ready, done and going into effect by the summer. that is a tough deadline, at least according to the
traditional congressional timetable. mnuchin outlining things we heard on the campaign trail from donald trump. tax cuts or the middle class. so far the details of the tax reform plan remain unclear. for more, i want to bring in cnbc contributor ron ensano. let me ask you about the timetable you heard there. basically saying we can get this done by the summer. do you think it's possible? >> i do. i think, to a certain extent if budget reconciliation is used in which you don't need much democratic participation in the crafting and/or passage of a tax reform bill, it is possible. there are a couple sticking points, steve, with respect to the so-called border adjustment tax that house speaker paul ryan favors. the president indicated he would accept some version of it. as you said, the devil is in the details. we don't know exactly what the president wants versus what the house and senate want. there will be negotiation.
but the timetable is not entirely unreasonable. >> this is long-standing priority for paul ryan. one of the things that strikes me, thinking back to the early days of the obama administration four years ago. it felt like there had been a coordination with obama and the democratic leaders, here is what we're doing day one to get legislation moving. so far it doesn't seem like there is that level of coordination and advance planning. >> remember when president obama came in and we were at the depths of the economic crisis, the first thing that passed was an $800 billion stimulus package that the president effectively let congress write. so that went through rather quickly. and i think you could see something similar take place here insofar as house speaker paul ryan has his better way plan effectively written in legislati legislative language.
if they negotiate a border adjustment tax that some want and some don't in the energy patch, they'll have to get through those land mines. i do think it's closer to reality and in some ways mirrors the stimulus president obama got passed. >> how about the goal, the big-picture goal that trump has articulated and mnuchin did again today, emphasis on middle class tax cuts and not on taxes for the wealthy. sounded like he left wiggle room in there when it came to tax cuts for the wealthy. >> when you look at the plans floating around right now, whether it was the plan trump put forth when he was a candidate written by larry kudlow and steven moore. it tilts towards the wealthy. it's hard to argue under any set of circumstances middle class taxpayers would get as big a
percentage break in their taxes if any at all relative to wealthier individuals. that remains to be seen. i have seen nothing otherwise. how it boosts economic growth is something else. steve mnuchin said they're looking for 3% growth in 2018. so the dollar blanched at that a little bit. it weakened because it pushed off the 3% growth target into next year. quick break. on the other side, more on the growing outrage at town hall meetings across the country. republican lawmakers heading back to their districts during the recess, facing quite a bit of heat. we'll go live to north dakota where a crowd just erupted at congressman kevin cramer. and we'll head to battleground ohio and talk to voters in a part of that state that flipped from obama in 2008 and 2012 to trump in 2016.
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it is time for a check of the headlines at the half hour. white house says president trump is sympathetic to transgender children but it's up to states to decide what bathroom a transgender student should be allowed to use. the administration issuing an order yesterday saying that schools do not need to abide by obama administration guidelines. secretary rex tillerson and homeland security secretary john kelly are meeting with their mexican counterparts today discussing tensions between the two countries over immigration and border security. tillerson says the u.s. and mexico will keep talking about their disputes while kelly says there will be no mass deportations. ruth bader ginsburg sticking up for the media as president
trump accuses journalists as being dishonest and delivering fake news. ginsberg telling the bbc she reads newspapers every day and says reporters are trying to tell the public the truth. authorities in north dakota saying they've officially cleared a protest camp that's been occupied for months by people trying to stop construction of the final phase of the dakota access pipeline. most protesters leaving the camp yesterday. this was after authorities closed it because they feared heavy spring flooding. in 17 years -- i love this story -- 17 years after throwing his final nfl pass, football legend dan marino has officially retired from the nfl. marino and five other legends in the dolphins organization, including hall of famers bob griese and larry little signed one-day contracts yesterday so they could officially retire as members of the franchise. i like that story a lot. wish more teams would do that. back to politics. a busy week for members of
congress, holding town hall meetings with their constituents back home. and some of these meetings, as you have been seeing, are getting very heated. voters questioning the members on issues ranging from president trump's consecutive actions to efforts to repeal the affordable care act. not all lawmakers are showing up for the events. one of florida senator's marco rubio constituents caught up with him and asked if he would be holding a town hall meeting. >> senator i thought you were in europe? i saw all these missing child posters over town. are you going to host a town hall? i'm glad you're okay. are you going to host a town hall? has a constituent town hall today. we need to hear from you, senator. senator, we need to hear from you. your constituents. >> one lawmaker who did show up today, north dakota republican congressman kevin cramer. he had an event in fargo. cal perry was at the event. it's cleared out.
cal still there. was this another one of the raucous scenes we've been seeing and hearing about? >> it absolutely was, the newest, most popular spectator sport, american politics. it was as we've seen in the past, a lot of democrats came out here, this coffee shop was packed. usually only holds 100 people. there were 200 people here at least, some spilling outside, the major ticket items as you said, the affordable care act. here planned parenthood, a big topic of discussion as well as donald trump's potential relationship. president trump's potential relationship to the russia government. we spoke to people and asked them if the congressman gave them satisfactory answers. >> i feel like he gave us some things that we wanted to hear but we don't have anything concrete. >> i felt that he wasted a lot of time. he filibustered in answering questions and sometimes he never even got to the answer.
>> now, all of those folks that you just heard from also told me, look, we give the congressman credit for coming out here and holding the town hall, for opening up a discussion. the congressman is an old hand at these. he has held 415 town halls since 2013. that's 170 more than any other member of congress. i asked him after wards. he indicated during his talk that he thought some republican members of congress were getting distracted by the town halls, that it may hold back the legislation. i asked him about that specifically. he said while the town halls are important it's important that the republican party pushes forward with the reforms. meanwhile, how did donald trump become president in the first place? the crucial element of his strategy of winning on election day, he flipped rust-belt cities and towns that president obama had carried twice. one of those places, in the heart of what you could now call trump country, nelsonville, ohio, had 60 miles from
columbus. barack obama won nelsonville by huge margins in 2008 and 2012. in 2016 donald trump carried nelsonville over hillary clinton. trump carried ohio and a number of other states and is now president. ron mott joins us from nelsonville, he's been talking to the voters there. i think they're the most interesting voters in the country. they were with obama and switched. a month in, the chaos and controversy, what do they make of it? >> it's no controversy here, steve. to a person i think the folks who voted for donald trump felt like he spoke directly to them. they thought the democratic candidate, secretary clinton, was speaking around them. that's why a lot of these life-long democrats, not folks new to the democratic party. they're generational. they had families, grandparents, who voted democratic and they decided to vote for donald trump in the past election because
they felt he connected to them especially here in nelsonville. hillary clinton did carry the county, but the folks who voted for donald trump felt he was the right person for the job because they need jobs back in this community. they're not all 100% convinced that what he is doing is the most effective way to go about being president. here is one voter in particular, life-long democrat who switched this past election. >> he says a lot of things on telephone with whatever he tweets or whatever he does. probably he could do without. gets him in some trouble, i believe. and the other thing, he cares too much about numbers. nobody cares how many people was at the inauguration. he won and he should go forward with what he said he would do. >> i asked one voter what sort of grade he would give donald trump at this point 30-plus days into the white house. he says i give him 100%, a plus. steve. >> ron mott in nelsonville,
ohio. ron, thanks for that. what a difference a year makes. despite their chilly relationship during the campaign, putting it mildly. donald trump and paul ryan have learned to embrace each other. >> he is like a fine wine. every day goes by, i get to appreciate his genius more and more. if he ever goes against me, i'm not going to say that, okay. >> on the surface things are mostly fine between them, but there is still an undeniable edge to this relationship. the question, who, when push comes to shove, as the upper hand in washington. our most important number of the day? we'll answer that straight ahead.
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that's going to sign it. i really, really love paul. they're doing very -- i want to let the world know, we're doing very well together. we agree. >> this has been one of the most fascinating, luong running soap operas. donald trump and paul ryan. no secret paul ryan didn't think much of trump in the campaign. didn't think donald trump would win. guess what, he did. now they have to work together. they say they are. if it comes to it, who has the upper hand? it takes us to our most important number of the day today, and that is 52. as in, how about this, brand-new poll here. republican voters were asked, if an issue divided your party, who would you side with? would you go with trump or ryan and the congressional leaders? by a healthy margin donald trump is the answer. republican voters say, look, if i have to choose between them, i take trump, i don't take ryan, i don't take mcconnell.
fascinating, though. look closer inside the numbers. there is a generational gap among republicans on this question. you can see it right here. the youngest voters, those under 40, they actually side by a lop-sided margin with ryan, with the congressional leaders over trump. it's when you get out here to older voters, 40-plus, that's where trump has the core of his support among republicans. so it's older republicans who are the bedrock of donald trump's support. we could also show you on the flip-side. what about democratic voters. what do they want in terms of how their leaders interact with trump? nearly three-quarters of democratic voters say their biggest worry is that democrats in congress won't do enough to stand up to trump. only 20% say they're worried they'll go too far in opposing trump. democrats want more opposition. republicans want to go trump's way. that's the recipe for a real clash there, and it is our most important number of the day today. 52. quick break. before we get to the other side, which includes a larry kudlow
interview you won't want to miss, i have to say hello and introduce you to a few people. students from rutgers university. a couple professors there too. they're visiting today. when you visit world headquarters of msnbc, what happens? you get a cameo on television. there it is. back after this. look closely. hidden in every swing, every chip, and every putt, is data that can make the difference between winning and losing. the microsoft cloud helps the pga tour turn countless points of data into insights that transform their business and will enhance the game for players and fans. the microsoft cloud turns information into insight. i did... n't. hat? hey, come look what lisa made. wow. you grilled that chicken? yup! i did... n't.
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pearson with a cnbc market wrap. >> a mixed close. overall with the markets, dow rising 34 points, as you mentioned, for a record close. the s&p was only up by a point. the nasdaq lower by 25 points. that's it from cnbc, first in business worldwide. then she came to louisiana as a slave. i became curious where in africa she was from. so i took the ancestry dna test to find out more about my african roots. the ancestry dna results were really specific. they told me all of these places in west africa. i feel really proud of my lineage, and i feel really proud of my ancestry. ancestry has many paths to discovering your story, get started for free at ancestry.com that gives you better taste and better nutrition in so many varieties. classic. cage free. and organic. only eggland's best. better taste. better nutrition. better eggs.
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>> that was ted cruz last year at the conservative political action conference. as he highlighted there, the rise of donald trump seems to be throwing the definition of conservativism wide open. trump, of course, ran on a populist platform. against free trade deals. for protection of entitlements like medicare and social security. things that may fly in the facial of what's long been associated with conservativism. these are the values at the heart of cpac and the conservative movement for decades. the president set to address the convention tomorrow. all sorts of republican leaders there today and through the weekend. what, with cpac convening its convention in the age of trump, what does conservativism mean anymore? here to help us answer the question, larry kudlow, cnbc senior contributor and someone i think of as a mr. conservative. i think that's a label we could throw on you. let me ask you, as somebody who has been part of the movement for so long, i think of the
pillars of conservativism, anti-tax, small government, pro free trade, pro democracy. reagan saying mr. gorbachev, tear down this wall. this president said, i don't want to touch medicare, social security. those are benefits i think people earned and deserve. i want them on the books. is this still a small government republican party? >> i think president trump is sort of of two minds on this stuff. republican party loves to talk about entitlements and fixing them but never do. they have that in common with the democrats. they never do. trump has stayed away from that. but on the other hand, i don't think he is a big government guy because he is a tax cutter and a deregulator, and he has a budget plan which will come out soon that purports to put about $10 trillion outside -- out of the budget in the next ten years. that's a very big number. he wants to get rid of a lot of agencies.
he is a frugal business guy. i think the entitlement thing is not necessarily definitional. i think your point on trade is more interesting. i think in general trump is, you know, more a populist guy. populists can be conservatives. the biggest split in the party, i would say, may well be trade and protectionism. >> we know where trump is on trade. where is the rest of the party? i was thinking back to the nafta debate 20 years ago. bill clinton got it through. it was republican votes in congress. i remember bob michael, the republican leader, saying this is a republican thing. we all ought to be on board with this. that wouldn't be the case nowadays, would it? >> probably not. look, i am a free trader. i am against protectionism. there are some bad deals out there. trump is right. you need to renegotiate some deals or make some new deals. there is a lot of roncrony capitalism in some of the deals.
sometimes he goes too far and starts talking about border tariffs, punishing this company or that company. accusing china of this, and that and the other. as treasury secretary. mnuchin was pretty good on china today. wanting to negotiate, not attack. i think donald trump is taking a more populist view. linking back to his folks. he won with the northern states, the rust belt states. he says trade deficits are the big evil. i don't share the view. i think it's poor economics. i don't know how he'll implement it. that remains to be seen. i think there will be big splits in the gop and conservatives about trade. >> what about foreign policy? let me ask specifically about russia. look, the iron curtain is a thing of the past, the cold war is in a lot of ways but putin is a cold-war figure in many ways. former kgb. john mccain said, when i look
into his eyes, i see kgb. mitt romney saying one of our top foes, russia. >> it was during the campaign and to some extent during the transition. i don't know. i am not sure i understand his position on russia. secretary of defense mattis has been out and about saying something quite different than president trump is saying. mattis regards russia if not an evil empire, certainly an enemy. with regard to syria, isis and so forth, russia always backs the bad guys. president trump has not commented on that. he has not agreed nor disagreed. it's a policy in flux. i'm not sure what's going to come out. many people were baffled and confused by his statements on russia. >> i saw a poll, too, the other day that asked americans do you view russia as a friend or an adversary, and the movement
mooning republic movement among republicans voters, 49% said foe. democrats close to 80% saying adversary. the party, the conservative movement, ronald reagan saying it's an evil empire, the soviet union. a generation later and this is where republican voters seem to be on russia. >> it's an odd switch. i agree with you. i don't share it. i don't regard russia as a friend now. should you negotiate with them? absolutely. that's what reagan did and conservatives criticized him for negotiating with gorbachev. mattis is singing a different tune. we haven't heard yet from tillerson at the state department. we'll see what he has to say. my sense is american russian policy will move back towards traditional. skepticism. cynicism, hostility. if we're going to destroy isis -- trump has been good on
that. to destroy isis we'll have to be at loggerheads with russia at every turn. i presume the president is learning that or already knows that, but i think it's not going to work for him. what he's been saying so far. >> cnbc's larry kudlow. >> we're still supply-side tax cutters and so is mr. trump. i need to add that. >> that does it for us. "mtp daily" starts rirn. right now. that's thursday. a very different cpac kicks off. tonight, team trump takes over cpac. but whose conservative movement is it anyway? >> what we were starving for was somebody real, somebody genuine. >> i think that is the power of this movement. plus. sidelined? why rex tillerson only seems to play cleanup but never is on the inside before big decisions are made. and game