Priebus on Trump picking Pence as a running-mate "shows maturity and a pivot to the general election"
July 17th, 2016
11:55 AM ET

Priebus on Trump picking Pence as a running-mate "shows maturity and a pivot to the general election"

Today on CNN’s State of the Union, Chairman, Republican Party, Reince Priebus ,joined anchor, Jake Tapperto discuss Trump picking Pence as his running-mate, their differing views on the Iraq war and TPP, Trump’s previously proposed ban on Muslims and more.
For more information, see http://cnnpressroom.blogs.cnn.com/. Also, text highlights and a transcript of the discussion are below.
MANDATORY CREDIT: CNN’s “State of the Union”
Contacts: Lauren Pratapas — Lauren.Pratapas@turner.com; 202.465.6666; Brooke Lorenz-Brooke.Lorenz@turner.com

 

CNN STORY

 

TEXT HIGHLIGHTS
Priebus on Trump's level of certainty choosing Pence as a running-mate: [TAPPER]  So, let's start with the big scoop that Dana Bash reported a couple days ago, that other newspapers and publications, media organizations have also reported, which is that, up until midnight Thursday night, Mr. Trump was asking his top aides if there was any way, theoretically, he could dig out of the Pence pick, and that he seemed to be sort of resentful of the fact that people were urging him to go with his head, instead of his gut. Was Trump's heart not in the Pence pick, do you think? [PRIEBUS]  No, not at all.  It was in the Pence pick, and it had been in the Pence pick for quite a while.  I don't think - with respect to Dana, I don't think that report was accurate.  I think it was coming from places that...[TAPPER]  It wasn't just Dana.  It was "The New York Times," "The Washington Post."  Everybody reported it. [PRIEBUS]  Right, but sources not really with knowledge can spin multiple, multiple places.  And that's not just where - where Trump was at.  I spoke to him, I mean, multiple times that day.  I know what he was thinking.  He certainly didn't want to make an announcement on the heels of the disaster in Nice.  And so he decided to announce on Saturday.  And no time in between that was he skeptical of the Pence pick. [TAPPER] But we know that, in between the time that he offered the job to Pence and Pence arrived in New York on his plane, Donald Trump went on FOX and said that he had not made his final, final decision. [PRIEBUS]  Because Donald Trump - because he wanted to make - he wanted to keep people guessing.  He wanted to make it more suspenseful. And the fact that everything was coming down and people were talking, I think that frustrated Donald Trump.  But he was with Pence.  He knew Pence was the right pick.  And that's where his head and heart was at for - for quite some time before that point.  [TAPPER]  Is that who you wanted him to pick?  [PRIEBUS]  I thought it was a great pick.  I mean, I think it's a good juxtaposition of Donald Trump.I think he's a different personality.  They don't agree with each other on everything, which is - actually, I think, shows maturity and a pivot to the general election.  I think it's a perfect pick.  

 

Priebus on Trump's previously proposed Muslim ban: [TAPPER] Speaking of not agreeing on everything, take a listen to Donald Trump talking about his Muslim ban, his proposed Muslim ban, back in December. ...Now, the very next day, Indiana Governor Mike Pence tweeted: "Calls to ban Muslims from entering the U.S. are offensive and unconstitutional." So, help me understand what's going to happen here.  Is there going to be a total and complete ban on Muslims entering the United States until we can - quote - "figure out what the hell is going on," or is there not going to be one? [PRIEBUS]  No. What Donald Trump - but if you have seen the last few weeks, his position that he's put on the table in his position papers that are on his Web site and what he's been talking about is a temporary ban of immigration from countries that harbor and train terrorists, until we get a better vetting system that is consistent with House bills and Senate bills.That's Donald Trump's position.  There is no religious test on the table.  It is simply limited to countries that are harboring and training terrorists.  And that's really where 75 percent of the American people are at...It is a good position to be in. [TAPPER]  But that proposal that you just enumerated is different than what he said in December. [PRIEBUS] Right. [TAPPER]  And he has said that he has not backed off or changed his position. [PRIEBUS] No, no, no.  He has pivoted to this position. [TAPPER] That's your interpretation.  That's not his interpretation. [PRIEBUS]It's what I have seen him say in person at events. [TAPPER]  I agree that it seems like a pivot or a change. [PRIEBUS] Right. [TAPPER]  But he says he hasn't changed. [PRIEBUS]  He - he - no, he has said he has changed.  And he has put the position on the table.  And that is his position.  It is not a religious test.  It is a ban on - from immigration from countries that harbor or train terrorists.  That's what I believe in.  And that's what 80 percent of the American people believe in.  

 

Priebus on Trump and Pence differing views on the Iraq war: [TAPPER] Another issue where they have disagreed is the Iraq War. Mike Pence stood shoulder to shoulder with George W. Bush.  He voted for the war in Iraq when he was in the House.  He stood by that vote.  Donald Trump calls the Iraq War a - quote - "big, fat mistake." For voters who care about foreign policy and want to know where the Trump-Pence ticket would take this country, is this a ticket that would have supported the Iraq War or not?  [PRIEBUS]  You would have to ask them.  I mean, look, I think that what it does show is that Donald Trump is willing to be challenged by other people.  It shows that he's not looking for someone - for yes-people around him.  And he's also willing - he also wants to show the American people that he is going to put a person on the ticket that doesn't agree with him on everything. I think that shows a lot of maturity.  I think it shows an understanding of the electorate and an understanding of what the job is to defeat Hillary Clinton.  I think it's very good.  [TAPPER]  Except that - I guess the question is, does it muddy what Donald Trump stands for?  Because I think what a lot of voters who voted for him find appealing is the fact that he opposed the war in Iraq - or he says he did, anyway, although there is very little evidence that he did before it actually happened. But that said, let's just say he is anti-Iraq War, and Pence was pro.  Trade is another big issue where Donald Trump is attracting a lot of voters.  He said about the Trans-Pacific Partnership: "The Trans-Pacific Partnership is another disaster done and pushed by special interests who want to rape our country, just a continuing rape of our country" - very strong words, some might say offensive, rape victims.  

 

Priebus on Trump's stance on the TPP: [TAPPER] Take a look at what Mike Pence has said about TPP.  He tweeted: "Trade means jobs, but trade also means security.  The time has come for all of us to urge the swift adoption of the Trans-Pacific Partnership."Well, I mean, if I'm a Republican voter or a Democratic voter looking - who is not married to Hillary Clinton - and I look at this and I'm like, this guy thinks the TPP is rape.  This guy thinks it's the best thing in the world. [PRIEBUS]  You would be surprised.  This is a not a - this is a split issue in our party.  Not everyone is crazy about TPP.  I can tell you, these delegates aren't crazy about TPP.  I can tell you, a lot of the base in our party isn't crazy about TPP.  Some of other folks in Washington...[TAPPER]  Yes, but your vice president is. [PRIEBUS]  Listen, not - not - not as wildly crazy as you may think. [TAPPER] "Trade means jobs, but trade also means security." [PRIEBUS] Understood. [TAPPER] "The time has come for all of us to urge the swift adoption of the TPP." [PRIEBUS]  Listen, this is not... [TAPPER]  Which Donald Trump thinks is rape. [PRIEBUS]  No, listen - well, that's true. And what I'm saying to you is that some folks in our party like TPP.  Some don't.  The fact that we have two people together that have a different opinion on TPP is not - is not some sort of stunning, startling news.  Now, overlaying all of this, Donald Trump's basic position on trade is that he wants to cut better deals.  He wants to look at the deals that are in place.  [TAPPER]  That's everybody's position. [PRIEBUS]  And he wants to do a better job.  But that's his job.[TAPPER]  Everybody wants better deals.  [PRIEBUS]  Right, and Donald Trump believes and a lot of people believe that, if you are going to have someone on the other end of the negotiating table, he would be the guy to have on the other end of the negotiating table.  His strength and his negotiating ability and his desire to do better is his most important position on trade.  And that's what he's always said.  And, again, I don't think it's a bad thing that we have got two people that have different opinion on TPP.  

 

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

 

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: I'm Jake Tapper, live in Cleveland for the Republican National Convention, where the state of our union today is, frankly, in turmoil.  
 
With the major security event about to get under way here, the global landscape is quite turbulent.  Eighteen people are hovering between life and death in France after that deadly attack in the coastal city of Nice that killed 84 other innocent people.  French officials now saying that the man who murdered them all texted an unknown recipient just before the attack, saying - quote - "Bring more weapons.  Bring to C" - unquote.  
 
Four of his associates were arrested over the weekend, this while Turkey is roiling after a violent and confusing weekend.  Turkish President Erdogan saying he is back in control after an attempt to overthrow his government in the middle of the night.  
 
He claims his rival Fethullah Gulen, who is living in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania masterminded the entire thing.  He says that without preventing any evidence of what now he's demanding, that President Obama turn him over.  
 
Gulen responded by suggesting that the coup may have been staged by Erdogan himself.  It is a messy situation in a country that is a vital U.S. ally in the war against ISIS.  
 
And joining me now is Secretary of State John Kerry, who is Luxembourg, on his way to Brussels.  
 
Mr. Secretary, thank you so much for joining us.  
 
Let's start with the attempted coup in Turkey.  More than 200 people have been killed since the uprising began.  Operations at the U.S. air base have been halted.  Power's been cut.  Our troops there are operating off of military generators.  Five military facilities in Turkey have been placed at the highest alert level.  
 
This seems to show a huge level of disrespect.  Who is responsible for this?  Is it Erdogan?  
 
JOHN KERRY, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE:  Jake, we don't have all the details of what has happened with respect to the coup.  
 
What we do know is this.  I talked three times yesterday with the foreign minister of Turkey.  They assure me that there will be no interruption of our counter-ISIL efforts.  It is a fact that there were difficulties at Incirlik.  
 
But, apparently, there may have been some refueling that took place with the Turkish air force with planes that were flying in the coup itself.  And I think that has something to do with what's taken place there.  It's not focused on us.  
 
They have absolutely assured us of their commitment to the fight against Da'esh.  Their foreign minister will be coming to Washington with their defense minister in three days for a major conference that we have with 45 countries, foreign ministers, defense ministers, to keep pushing forward on the strategy against Da'esh.  
 
So, Jake, I expect that operations will get back to normal very quickly.  But we don't know the details of the coup.  And I think the Turkish government itself is trying to figure out the full measure of who was involved and how.  
 
TAPPER:  Has this affected the fight against ISIS, or, as you call it, Da'esh?  
 
KERRY:  No, it has not.
 
According to our commanders, there might have been a minor delay here or there or something, but it has not affected the fundamental direction or commitment to the fight.  
 
TAPPER:  As you know, on Saturday, the president of Turkey, Erdogan, demanded that the U.S. arrest or hand over one of his enemies, Fethullah Gulen, the person he is holding responsible for this coup, who is living in self-imposed exile in the Poconos in Pennsylvania.
 
Is the U.S. going to comply with this demand for extradition?  
 
KERRY:  Well, first of all, we have not had a formal request for extradition.  That has to come in a formal package.
 
It has to come with documentation for the request and go to the Justice Department.  And we will deal with it.  I made it very, very clear to the foreign minister of Turkey yesterday, the United States is not harboring anybody.  We're not preventing anything from happening.  
 
We have never had a formal request for extradition, and we have always said, give us the evidence.  Show us the evidence.  We need a solid, legal foundation that meets the standard of extradition in order for our courts to approve such a request.  
 
So, we're waiting for that.  They tell us they are putting it together and will send it to us.  But we think it's irresponsible to have accusations of American involvement, when we're simply waiting for their request, which we're absolutely prepared to act on if it meets the legal standard.
 
TAPPER:  Did U.S. intelligence have any idea that this attempted coup was about to happen?  
 
KERRY:  I don't think anybody's intelligence had information, particularly the Turkish intelligence.  The answer is no.  
 
This is - the nature of a coup, you rarely have indicators that something's about to happen.  
 
TAPPER:  Let's turn now, if we can, sir, to the terrorist attack in Nice on Saturday.  ISIS claimed responsibility for inspiring that horrific truck attack that killed 84 people, wounding more than 200.  
 
Does the U.S. have any intelligence to back up this claim by ISIS that it, at the very least, inspired the attack?
 
KERRY:  Well, there is public information that has been leaking out from France from the investigation itself regarding a - quote - "very rapid period of radicalization."
 
We know, obviously, what everybody now knows publicly, that he was a Tunisian who was given permission to live in France.  But we have - we had no knowledge of him as a radicalized individual.  And, at this point in time, we're waiting for the investigators, and we're helping the investigation in any way that is possible.  
 
Our hearts go out to everybody in France.  This is the third major terrorist attack in France.  It's very, very difficult for the French people.  We understand that.  There are 85 people in the hospital now, 20-plus in the intensive care unit.  
 
So, we are working with the French to try to put the pieces together, but, you know, this is one of those things, Jake, it's worse than the needle in a haystack.  If you have no indications of somebody, and you don't have any track record of radicalization, and, all of a sudden, over a week or in some period, somebody with apparent mental problems anyway decides to go do great harm to people, it is not hard to do that.
 
And governments and law enforcement have to be able to get this right every hour, every day, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.  If you're a terrorist, and particularly of - of, you know, one or two days' vintage, you can just go out and do something very easily.  
 
What we believe this indicates, however, is that Da'esh, ISIL, in Syria and Iraq is under great, great pressure.  And people are acting out in various places.  But they are not growing in their ability to do things.  They are shrinking.  
 
We have taken back 40 percent, 45 percent of the territory they held in Iraq.  We're squeezing town after town.  We have liberated communities.  We're making progress now advancing on Mosul.  In Syria, likewise, they're not able to attack and hold towns.  They are on the run.
 
And I believe what we're seeing are the desperate actions of an entity that sees the noose closing around it.  
 
TAPPER:  Well, with all due respect, sir, I'm not sure that it looks that way to the public, that ISIS is on the run.  In just the last few weeks, we have seen...  
 
KERRY:  Well, obviously.  
 
TAPPER:  ... a series of ISIS-inspired attacks, 49 killed in Orlando, 45 killed in Istanbul at the airport, more than 200 killed in Baghdad, 84 in Nice.  
 
This is just the last five weeks.  I don't think ISIS is on the run.  They might be expanding.  
 
(CROSSTALK)
 
KERRY:  Well, Jake, it depends on where you mean ISIS.  
 
I don't know if this guy was actually ISIS, and nor do you.  And we don't know that the guy in Orlando was fundamentally ISIS, nor even told what to do by ISIS.
 
If people are inspired, they're inspired.  But ISIL, which is based in Iraq and Syria, is under huge pressure.  And that is just a fact.  Now, there are thousands of fighters, some of whom left the area of the fighting years ago.  And they are sitting in some community somewhere in the world.
 
And if you're saying that one person standing up one day and killing people is a reflection of ISIS moving in Iraq and Syria, I think you're dead wrong.  
 
Now, are - is it capable for people to be inspired by them and go out and do great harm to people?  I said that.  I acknowledge that.  Yes, there is that danger.
 
But the core of ISIS is in Al-Raqqa, and it's in Manbij.  It's in Syria.  It's in Iraq.  And we are doing everything in our power to put additional pressure them.  And I believe their days are numbered.  
 
TAPPER:  You are doing everything you can do?  
 
I mean, I think there are a lot of people in the United States, in the Pentagon, in the national security apparatus who have a number of suggestions as to what more could be done to put pressure and to eliminate the threat of ISIS.  
 
KERRY:  Correct.  And we - a lot of people have talked about American troops going in, et cetera.  
 
Congress displayed absolutely zero willingness to vote to do that.  And if people have a willingness to show that now that has changed, the administration will listen to any legitimate plan, any legitimate way to do more.
 
But I believe that the pressure is mounting on a steady basis, with more and more being done on a consistent basis.  And we welcome additional thoughts from members of Congress, from anybody in the intel community, in the defense community who knows or suggests.  President Obama is open to any legitimate ways of moving faster that meets the test of our security needs and of what the Congress is willing to support.
 
TAPPER:  Mr. Secretary, I'm being told that you have to go, that you have a meeting with the prime minister.
 
We always appreciate your time.  Thank you so much.  And good luck out there, sir.  
 
KERRY:  Thank you.  Thank you, Jake.  Appreciate it.  
 

 

###END INTERVIEW###
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