This is a rush transcript from "The Story," June 18, 2019. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
ED HENRY, HOST: Bret, good to see you, and happy birthday to that vet.
Breaking tonight, have you heard about thousands and thousands of Americans bursting with excitement? Waiting in line for hours to hear a speech from Democratic frontrunner Joe Biden? No? Well, we haven't either.
But this is a live look in Orlando, where some people camped out on the rain overnight just to get a prime spot to hear President Trump officially kicked off his reelection bid less than an hour from now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We saw on the news. We saw -- you know, they already starting to line up. We had a flight coming in today, so, I called and canceled that. And gotten earlier one, so we can get here in line.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I could not be more excited and I pray to God that he comes us in again in 2020.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: More partying, there's trucks playing music. It was awesome.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is the greatest thing that he's doing. He's not just a president, he is family to me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HENRY: Well, those are just a few of the thousands and thousands inside and outside the arena who will be cheering him on in the state that could very well hold the key to whether or not the president gets four more years.
Good evening, everybody. I'm Ed Henry, in for Martha MacCallum. If you listen to many in the mainstream media, the enthusiasm is supposed to be all on the Democratic side. Just like the Mueller report was expected to tee up the president's ouster. Yet, did you notice that pro-impeachment rallies all around the country this weekend? Well, some of them drew dozens.
And while the president's critics keep citing everything from tariffs that have hit farmers in the Midwest, to struggling poll numbers of the president in some battleground states to make their case he's on the ropes, he keeps fighting back. And don't forget the polls in 2016 did not quite catch the movement that was building and building on his behalf.
In moments, Marc Thiessen, and former DNC chair Ed Rendell, to over whether the president is in a stronger position than Democrats think. And as we get closer to the rally, we'll hear from Victor Davis Hanson, who, in a recent op-ed refer to the president as the Democrats "Great white whale under constant attacks that only seemed to make him more indestructible."
But first, let's turn to the professor who says he's correctly predicted nine of the last nine elections. A liberal who has a warning for Democrats Allan Lichtman, presidential historian, and professor at American University.
Good evening, Mr. Lichtman.
ALLAN LICHTMAN, PROFESSOR, AMERICAN UNIVERSITY: Good evening.
HENRY: What is your -- you have these 13 keys to whether or not a party is going to stay in power. And basically, it sounds to me that you believe the president is in better shape than Democrats expect.
LICHTMAN: That's right. Democrats are in danger of going down the same rat hole they went down in, in 2016. Believing the polls, following the pundits, and thinking that they would cruise to an easy victory against Donald Trump.
My system, the 13 keys to the White House that predicted Trump's victory works because I ignore the polls, I ignore the pundits, I don't look at things like campaigns, speeches, debates, ads. Rather I probe the fundamentals that drive elections, the strength and performance of the party holding the White House.
HENRY: So, what are two of the three biggest? Pardon me. What are two of the three biggest fundamentals that you think give the president an edge?
LICHTMAN: Well, obviously he has a very strong economy, he has made policy change, there hasn't been a major foreign policy disaster or extreme social unrest. Right now, he's down only three keys. It would take six keys to predict his defeat.
But the one key that's in control the Democrats, they seem to be too afraid to invoke and that, of course, is an impeachment inquiry.
LICHTMAN: And ultimately, articles of impeachment that would turn the fourth key. The scandal key, and reduce his cushion.
HENRY: And the keys you're referring to are, is there a third party challenge, for example, he's got William Weld out there trying to launch an internal party fueled not a third party but not getting a lot of attention. I see you shaking your head, so the president is not too nervous about that. That's a key on his side.
But let's get to impeachment that you mentioned. You seem to be saying that Democrats best shot of beating the president is to go all-in on impeachment even though there are polls suggesting from 60 to 70 percent of the country says to do it.
LICHTMAN: You know, when they started the process against Richard Nixon, 80 percent of the country said don't do it. But after all of the public revelations, impeachment sentiment went up to 57 percent. His approval rating went down from 67 percent all the way down to 25 percent. And the Democrats have fundamentally misread the impeachment of Bill Clinton.
Sure, the Democrats lost a few House seats, but Republicans continue to control the House, and impeachment gave them the big prize the presidency in 2000 when George W. Bush campaigned on restoring integrity, and honesty to the White House.
LICHTMAN: And a quarter of the voters said, the scandal was very important in their decision-making.
HENRY: So, but, final question --
LICHTMAN: Democrats have just wrong once again.
HENRY: OK, but, final question. And I hear a lot of viewers asking me this question. What is the high crime and misdemeanor that this president committed that leads you to say go for impeachment, because that's what can beat him?
LICHTMAN: Remember, go for an impeachment inquiry which is going to reveal any transgressions. Number one, a thousand prosecutors who serve both Republicans and Democrats said that the Mueller report established a clear case of obstruction of justice.
Something for which every Republican virtual in the House voted an article of impeachment against (INAUDIBLE). The Southern District of New York --
HENRY: The outside folks -- that you're right. Mueller himself did not go there as you know, whether or not, it was because of the Justice Department precedent or not, but Mueller did not go all in. But please make your last point.
LICHTMAN: But Mueller said very clearly, it is now the responsibility of another branch of government, the U.S. House to pick this up.
HENRY: Professor Allan Lichtman, we appreciate you coming in.
LICHTMAN: Thank you so much.
HENRY: Thank you. OK. Here now live, Tim Murtaugh. He is director of communications for President Trump's reelection campaign. He's live on the scene. As you can see, Marc Thiessen, American Enterprise Institute scholar, a Fox News contributor. And Ed Rendell, the former governor of Pennsylvania, former DNC chair. Welcome, all.
MARC THIESSEN, CONTRIBUTOR: Good to be with you.
HENRY: Ed, I want to start with you and give you a fair crack at what Allan Lichtman was just saying. The man who says he's predicted nine of the last nine presidential election says, your party is in worse shape than people think.
ED RENDELL, FORMER CHAIRMAN, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE: Well, I think we're not into this good shape as we think we are, but for different reasons than the professor. First of all, Donald Trump 2020 is going to have two advantages that Donald Trump 2016 didn't have.
One, he's going to have far more money than us. He's already bankrolled a tremendous war chest, and he's going to maintain that lead all the way through. Hillary Clinton had far more money than Donald Trump did in 2016. And number two, he's president presiding over a good economy. And although that hasn't shown up in the polls yet, that still a factor as people go vote. So, I think he's stronger than we think.
The polls can be wrong. For example, the Donald Trump's internal poll showed he's trailing in Pennsylvania 55 to 39. There is no way he's going to lose Pennsylvania by 16 points.
HENRY: Right, he's made that one.
RENDELL: I think, he has a real good chance of losing Pennsylvania, but not by 16 points.
RENDELL: So, we Democrats at our peril underestimate candidate Trump.
HENRY: Tim, I want to go to you there live on the scene in Orlando. As you just heard from a Democrat and Ed Rendell, you do have a strong economy. On the other hand, it was J.P. Morgan this week saying they now have upped it to a 45 percent chance of a recession next year in an election year.
Are you -- are you perhaps guilty that you have the potential of being guilty of irrational exuberance on the economy?
TIM MURTAUGH, DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATION FOR TRUMP'S REELECTION CAMPAIGN: We would actually be very happy if the Democrats continue underestimate Donald Trump's strength. As for his reelection goes, the economy is strong. It's one of the strong states in the -- in the case for his reelection.
And we sought job speaking added every month (INAUDIBLE)
MURTAUGH: In fact, that's the -- that's the strongest part of our reelection (INAUDIBLE). Is that the strong economy, the Trump tax cuts are feeling that. And that we're happy if the Democrats underestimate us. That's what happened in 2015, 2016.
MURTAUGH: And if that's happen again, and all the polls are wrong, that's fine.
HENRY: Well, Tim, we can hear from the music and the crowd behind you, are certainly is some exuberance whether it's rational or irrational. I want to bring in Marc Thiessen.
HENRY: And I want to do this by playing a sound from the Democratic frontrunner. A sound bite where Joe Biden seems to think he can reshape the entire electoral map. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, D-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If I'm your nominee winning Georgia, and North Carolina and South Carolina believe it or not. And I believe we can win Texas and Florida if you look at the polling data now. I have no intention of walking away if I'm the nominee.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HENRY: Marc, it sounds like he thinks he might get all 50 states. And I remember Hillary Clinton in 2016 going to Arizona in the final days not winning there and failing to go to Wisconsin. Are they going to suffer the same mistake?
THIESSEN: They very well could. I mean, first of all, he's got to win the nomination which is not locked up yet. So, he's a little bit premature in talking about where, how he's going to beat Donald Trump.
But look, at this very time -- so we're like now at the four-year -- five- year anniversary of the walk down the escalator. At this time, in June of 2015, Donald Trump was trailing Hillary Clinton by 25 points. And he actually did not catch up to her at all for another year until July of 2016. And he only -- and he only passed her by two points, and then, went down again and didn't -- and she held the lead until Election Day.
THIESSEN: So, the idea that these polls are somehow dispositive of the president's strength and relative to her to whatever the Democrat nominee is just simply ridiculous.
THIESSEN: And Barack Obama, by the way, only had 46 percent approval at this time in his presidency before the 2012 elections. So --
HENRY: I want to get around the horn one more time.
HENRY: Ed, real quick. Your state of Pennsylvania, Axios had a focus group recently where basically they had, I believe, eight Obama voters who flipped to Donald Trump in 2016. And all eight said that while they had some concerns they were sticking with Donald Trump for now.
How do you flip those Obama voters who went Trump, and make them Biden or another Democrat?
RENDELL: Well, you've got to talk issues to them. You've got to talk about the promises that Donald Trump made and its failure to deliver on almost all those promises. And, for example, the tax cut, the tax cut has turned out to be extraordinarily unpopular because it gave all the money to the top one percent.
So, if you point out facts what Donald Trump has done and what he's failed to do for the people he promised he would help, I think that changes minds.
HENRY: Tim, last point from you. Ed Rendell is trying to make the case of the tax cut hasn't helped middle-class families. What you say?
MURTAUGH: 90 percent of Americans have seeing their paychecks get larger as the result of those tax cuts. So, that's just a fallacy. One thing I would also say about Joe Biden making claims to say win Texas, we don't know for sure that Joe Biden's going to be our opponent. In fact, he can well be sitting home in his own living room during the general election next year.
MURTAUGH: So, I think he's probably getting a little bit ahead of himself.
HENRY: Marc Thiessen, the president tried to call that big group of Democrats a motley crew. What say you?
THIESSEN: Well, you know, it's -- we'll see how it shakes out. The -- but I think, Ed is -- Ed is a little bit wrong about winning back those voters. Because if you think about this, Joe Biden is probably the worst person to win back those Obama-Biden voters because those voters are doing better under Donald Trump than they did under Obama-Biden. Under Obama-Biden, they lost 200,000 manufacturing jobs.
THIESSEN: Trump has brought back half a million of those manufacturing jobs.
RENDELL: And Marc, and Marc, explain --
HENRY: Ed, last point. Ed, last point.
RENDELL: Marc, explain why this tax cut is so unpopular.
THIESSEN: And also -- and also -- let me finish Ed.
HENRY: Hang on. Let's --
THIESSEN: And also, those voters voted for Donald Trump because they were upset with the political establishment of both parties.
HENRY: OK. Ed, last point. OK, last point for that, Marc.
THIESSEN: Empty establishment and Joe Biden has been a part of the establishment for 46 years. He's a swamp creature.
HENRY: There you, Ed.
RENDELL: The last point is you can't deny the tax cut is vastly unpopular with American.
HENRY: OK. Ed, Tim, Marc.
HENRY: This is the beginning of the case for everyone to make. We got a lot more politics in two months. Thanks for coming in.
All right. The president arriving in Orlando. Outfitted in the full grandeur of the presidency. Descending the steps of Air Force One. Bit of a contrast to the launch of his first presidential bid, when he famously rode down that escalator in Trump Tower, mentioned a moment ago.
Starting off his run in politics on his own terms, defying conventional norms. In an iconic moment, we now know that almost didn't happen. Dana Perino, standing by with details and analysis next.
HENRY: President Trump is about to take the stage in the key battleground state of Florida kicking off his 2020 reelection campaign. It's a state he won by just about 1.2 percent last time. But a Quinnipiac poll out today shows he's trailing Joe Biden by nine points, obviously a bigger margin than last time.
Here now Dana Perino, host of "The Daily Briefing," co-host of "The Five." Good evening.
DANA PERINO, ANCHOR: Thanks for having me.
HENRY: First of all, a lot of Republicans tonight are saying in that poll the very same poll had Andrew Gillum, the Democrat winning for governor in 2018 by seven points so that poll may be off. But I also want to mention these impeachment poll in Florida that says should Congress begin the process to impeach Donald Trump. Florida voters say 62 to 32 percent no.
PERINO: Right. And that's about where the country is if you do a national poll. I'm actually surprised that it's as high as 62 percent -- or I mean, that it's not higher than 62 percent --
HENRY: Saying no.
PERINO: -- saying no. And also I think that also gives Nancy Pelosi a little bit more ammunition to go back to her caucus, the ones that are saying we got to impeach and she's saying if we want to keep the majority, this is not a good thing to do. She keeps saying it would be very divisive. In Florida, it's one -- there's a reason President Trump is in Florida tonight to announce his reelection bid officially.
Because Florida is key for the Republicans. Republicans have to win Florida. I think it was Calvin Coolidge that was the last to not actually win Florida. So I mean, the last Republican to win the White House without winning Florida.
HENRY: Without winning Florida.
PERINO: So you had -- so Florida is going to be so important. It's always important. I also think all of these polls, all of them are very premature -- but they're snapshots in time at what they are today.
HENRY: I mentioned the escalator a couple of moments ago. Washington Post had this big profile of the escalator moment, the beginning of the campaign, and basically, every Trump advisor said do not go down the escalator. It's not going to look presidential. And there was one man Donald Trump himself who said I'm going down the escalator.
PERINO: Well, I think the best politicians know when to follow their instincts and he certainly is one. Plus, he knows how to produce a moment, right. And he -- and he knew that that video of him coming down the escalator with his beautiful wife Melania Trump, that was going to be the moment. And everyone thinks about that. That's where it all started.
And even -- it might not have been the thing that they thought looks the most presidential, but he wasn't worried about that. He wanted to show people that he was an outsider and it's why Corey Lewandowski and Dave Bossie wrote the book Let Trump Be Trump, and that's what he's -- you're going to see that tonight I think in full force.
HENRY: What about let Biden be Biden because on the other side, he said -- you know, he's still on top of the Democratic polls and he's just put out a statement in fact. Donald Trump is launching his campaign for re-election and the American people face a choice. We can make -- take Trump an aberration or let him fundamentally and forever alter the character of this nation. He's had a rough couple of weeks.
PERINO: Yes. So a lot of people thought especially on the Democratic side that his first day of announcing would be his best day. That wasn't true, right. He saw his poll numbers actually go up and up and up, but he is the tallest oak in the yard and there are a lot of Democrats that want to figure out a way to chop him down.
And next week at the debates when they start for the Democrats, you will see the shots being taken not just at Donald Trump because there will be -- they'll all do that. But there's going to be a movement for example like a Pete Buttigieg who's trying to say that we want the party to go forward, Biden wants to take you backward.
And most Democrats, the ones that have done very well -- just think in the past, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, what were their big campaign slogans, hope and change, moving forward, and for everyone to look forward.
HENRY: Looking for a bridge to 21st century.
PERINO: And going backwards is rarely a good idea. Look at John McCain.
HENRY: Absolutely. Great insight tonight from Dana Perino as always. Thank you for coming in.
PERINO: Thanks for having me.
HENRY: Up next, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez ignites a bitter feud with House Republicans after likening migrant detention centers to yes, concentration camps.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ, D-N.Y.: That is exactly what they are. They're concentration camps.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HENRY: Liz Cheney says AOC disgraced herself with those comments. She is here exclusively next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OCASIO-CORTEZ: The United States is running concentration camps on our southern border and that is exactly what they are. The fact that concentration camps are now an institutionalized practice in the home of the free is extraordinarily disturbing and we need to do something about it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HENRY: Well, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's extreme comparison between the mass exterminations of Jews in the Holocaust to U.S. detention facilities on the southern border drawing the ire of Republican colleagues including Congresswoman Liz Cheney who tweeted please, AOC, do us all a favor and spend just a few minutes learning some actual history. 6 million Jews were exterminated in the Holocaust. You demean their memory and disgrace yourself comments like this. Well, the Congresswoman clamped back. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OCASIO-CORTEZ: She used the term extermination which is co-opting the language of that. You know, that term implies the people who died in the Holocaust. It doubles down on the rhetoric that justified it. And so I think it's -- I mean, I think she's the one who needs to do her homework.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HENRY: Well, here now live exclusively is Liz Cheney, Wyoming Congresswoman of course and chair of the House Republican Conference. Congresswoman, thanks for joining us.
REP. LIZ CHENEY, R-WYO.: Thank you for having me. I appreciate it.
HENRY: Well, she says you need to do your homework.
CHENEY: You know, Ed, it's interesting. We've had a long history if you go back at people who really are left-wing zealots ignoring history, ignoring facts to pursue their causes, to try to convince people the rightness of their causes.
So it's not new that we would have this point on. You know, what is new is that we have it going on from a member of Congress who really seems to have become the intellectual leader of the Democrats here in the House. And again and again and again we see this total disregard for the facts and it's a total disregard for the facts in particular about the Holocaust.
But also you know you see the extent to which her colleagues and the people who are supposed to be leading the Democrats in the House Speaker Pelosi, Steny Hoyer, won't stand up and criticize what she's saying and condemn those comments and those statements.
HENRY: Earlier today, she tried to clarify that she was saying there's a difference between concentration camps and death camps somehow and Chris Hayes from MSNBC defended her. And I noticed that the Auschwitz Museum was on Twitter saying hang on a second, you both need a history lesson here because of all of the Jews who were exterminated during the Holocaust. What do you say about how she's been trying to backpedal a bit today?
CHENEY: I mean, Ed, it's -- at some point you just sort of run out of ways to describe how ignorant this is. You know, we're in a situation where first of all, we really do actually have a crisis at the border. And if Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortes and her colleagues are so concerned about humanitarian conditions at the border, they should have voted -- 15 times they've had the chance to vote for a bill that Congressman Mike Rogers has put on the floor to provide $4.5 billion in humanitarian aid for those people at the border.
Secondly, we should never be in a situation where somebody is bringing up the Holocaust in this public discourse particularly diminishing what happened, particularly demeaning the State of Israel, demeaning the memory the people who are lost. And we really ought to understand and come to an agreement that we're not going to do that.
And any in-depth understanding of history, and frankly it doesn't have to be an in-depth understanding of history, it could be a surface level understanding of history would demonstrate how wrong her comments were. And I just -- I'm waiting for her fellow freshman. I'm waiting for her -- the leaders of her party to stand up and say they disagree because certainly, they ought to disagree. It was really a shameful set of remarks.
HENRY: They didn't stand up to her colleague Ilhan Omar when they had that resolution. They did not even named her after those anti-Semitic comments. Let's shift gears though and talk about that crisis on the border that you mentioned. The President announcing in the last 24 hours that next week there were going to be some major ICE raids and that he's going to try to kick many, many of thousands of people who are here illegally out of the country.
Is it a smart idea though to telegraph that when the Oakland mayor as you remember of months and months ago telegraphed a raid in her city and the Republicans were pretty upset about it.
CHENEY: Look, I think what the President has done time and time and time again is demonstrate how committed he is to securing our border. You know, the Democrats say they don't believe in open borders but then you've got comments like those today from Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez suggesting that she's got a problem with anybody who's being detained.
I'm not quite sure how you control your border if you don't have a situation where you are detaining people who try to cross illegally prior to their court appearances which is exactly what we are doing.
So, we have to secure the border. We have a crisis. We've got people coming across in numbers that we have never seen before. And if a nation can't secure the borders and know who's coming here and know where they are going, that we can't keep our people safe.
HENRY: Well --
CHENEY: We welcome immigration, legal immigration. It's hugely important. But what's happening now at our border is a humanitarian and security crisis. The Democrats should stop playing politics and they ought to come to the table and actually put the resources behind what they say we need to do.
HENRY: It's the issue that in part prevailed the president to victory back in 2016.
We're looking live at the rally that's going to happen in a few moments in Orlando. You can expect he'll be talking about cracking down on illegal immigration there as well.
Congresswoman Liz Cheney, we really appreciate you coming in live tonight. Thank you.
CHENEY: Thanks, Ed. Great to be with you.
HENRY: All right. Next, a shake up in the upper echelons to the military, as United States weighs options to deal with Iran. Retired Navy Admiral William McRaven once led Special Operations command, he joins us live, next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, R-S.C.: The president has Secretary Pompeo, Bolton, he's got a good team around him. It'd be nice to have a secretary of defense sooner rather than later. But what happens in Iran is determined by the Iranians.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT: Pat Shanahan who is a wonderful person is as you know going to take some time off for family matters and I want to thank him for his service. He's a terrific person and it's a difficult time for Pat, but he's going to take a little time off for family service and for working, working things out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HENRY: Well, a sudden shake up at the Pentagon today as you saw there. Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan withdrawing his nomination to lead the Defense Department saying he wants to spare his family the pain after reports of domestic violence incidents for nearly a decade ago resurfaced.
The president naming Army Secretary Mark Esper to be the new acting secretary of defense. Just yesterday, Shanahan authorized an additional 1,000 U.S. troops to the Mideast as the American military ramps up pressure on Iran.
Joining me now live is retired four-star Admiral William McRaven, former U.S. Special Forces commander and author of "Sea Stories: My Life in Special Operations." Admiral, welcome tonight.
WILLIAM MCRAVEN, RETIRED U.S. NAVY: It's good to be with you.
HENRY: What do you think we need to know tonight about Mark Esper?
MCRAVEN: Mark Esper has got a great reputation as the secretary of the army. He's a West Point graduate who has served time, you know, as an active duty army officer, time and the guard. But I think what you need to know is that he's got a great relationship with the chief of staff with the army General Mark Milley.
And if, in fact, Mark Milley is confirmed as the next chairman of the joint chief of staff, this relationship between the possible secretary of defense and the chairman of the joint staff will be important.
I would add one other thing is that Secretary Pompeo is also a West Point graduate. So now you'll have the secretary of defense and the secretary of the state both having some kind of common background from which to build a relationship. So, I think Mark Esper is going to do a fabulous job as the secretary of defense. He's a good pick.
HENRY: Well, in fact, you lead me directly to where I wanted to go, which is Secretary Pompeo was down in Florida today at U.S. Central Command. He said this about Iran. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: We are there to deter aggression, President Trump does not want war and we will continue to communicate that message while doing the things that are necessary to protect American interests in the region.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HENRY: Admiral, how do you read that? Because on one hand I've heard a lot of analysts, even some who don't normally support the president saying his maximum pressure campaign on Tehran with the sanctions is working. And that may prevent war.
But on the other hand, there are concerns tonight about more U.S. troops being sent to the Mideast and the possibility of war. How concerned are you with that we could be headed for a hot war?
MCRAVEN: Yes. I'm not that concerned. The fact to the matter is, as Secretary Pompeo said and frankly as the president has said a number of times, he does not want to go to war in Iran. And the Iranians certainly don't want to go to war with us.
But these attacks on the tankers and the attacks in the green zone and some of the other attacks that the Iranians and the Iranian proxies have executed here in the last six months. I think the Iranians sending us a signal that they still have some influence in the area, but I'm not overly concerned that we're going to go into a hot war.
Now, as acting Secretary Shanahan had said earlier, the biggest concern we have is about a miscalculation. If a republican guard officer miscalculates and comes a little too close to an aircraft carrier, if somebody shoots around into the green zone and it hits the embassy, these are miscalculations that will not go well for Iran.
HENRY: Well, in short of a hot war, we have Republican Senator Tom Cotton who you know serves on the Senate armed services committee on the program last night saying that he may be in favor of an attack on Iran if they keep this up, not a full-scale war but that we may need to have some sort of a military strike to send a message. What say you?
MCRAVEN: Yes, I'm not in favor of that. I think one, what we've got to be able to do is to make sure we have confirmed the intelligence that our allies are behind this, you know. And the United States policy in the past has really been to attack only when we are threatened.
And so, I think we've got to make absolutely certain before we conduct a strike, you know, on the Iranians that we think this through. Again, the Iranians don't want war with us, the president doesn't want to go to war. If the Iranians attack us then we need to have a proportional and a measured response to that attack.
HENRY: OK. Admiral, last question, I'm going to keep you out of politics because of your long service. But on the other side of the screen there is a rally that's about to happen with the president of the United states kicking off his reelection.
And at these rallies he typically talks about how he ripped up the Iran nuclear deal. So not focus on the policy but the substance of it which you know so well.
President Obama had one approach with the Iran nuclear deal. President Trump came in office and said that it was the wrong approach and has ripped that up. What's your suggestion about what should be the way forward for the United States in terms of dealing with Iran's march towards getting nuclear weapons?
MCRAVEN: Yes. Well, the JCPOA was certainly not a perfect agreement and I understand President Trump's concern over it. However, I do think what it was going to do was defer or delay the Iranian's ability to build a nuclear weapon. And honestly nobody wants a nuclear weapon in the hands of the Iranians.
However, having said that, I am concerned that by completely ripping up the JCPPOA, I don't know that we have a good plan, I don't know whether or not the economic sanctions are going to pressure them. And obviously, what you are seeing is the rhetoric between the U.S. and Iran, it's probably not helpful for relations in the area.
So, I think it remains to be seen whether or not walking away from the JCPOA was a good call. I would have preferred to stay with that but we'll see, have to see how this plays out.
HENRY: Well, you sound optimistic that that pressure coupled with some diplomacy may prevent war. That's what a lot of people are hoping for. Admiral William McRaven, we appreciate you coming in tonight with your insights.
MCRAVEN: Thank you.
HENRY: All right. Victor Davis Hanson takes on the president's media critics who were already making some dire predictions about his possible reelection. That's next.
HENRY: Well, breaking this hour, thousands of supporters of the president have filled up the approximately 20,000 seats at Amway Center seat there live as the president prepares to kick off his reelection officially.
Many more supporters outside, but a mile away a very different crowd. You see them there. Protesters are just wrapping up a defeat Trump counter rally.
Well, our correspondent Phil Keating recently caught up with some of those protesters. He joins us live. Phil, what's happening?
PHIL KEATING, CORRESPONDENT: Hi. Well, where the 45 fests for Trump has been feast -- super hyper excited. Well, here at the anti-Trump rally it was equally festive today, you can see they've got the big inflatable baby Trump and people are still on the stage speaking to the crowd here, what's left of the crowd because the rain just came about 10 minutes ago.
But for most of the past two hours, two and a half hours at times there are about a thousand people packing into the street here with a cornucopia of protest anti-Trump assigns. Groups participating the Florida Democratic Party, Latinas United for Respect, Organize Florida, Gays Against Guns, and Alianza, a Puerto Rican activist group.
For those only one termers for Trump, certainly a big highlight was when the big diaper wearing baby Trump inflated right in the middle of the street, at one point there was almost a clash as a small group of Trump supporters made the way about six blocks away from the Amway Center where Trump is having his rally at eight o'clock and tried to crash this anti- Trump rally. Orlando police on hand kept that from happening. The universal opinion here, Trump has got to go.
SAM SINGHAUS, ANTI-TRUMP PROTESTER: He needs to go. We put up with him for long enough and he has broken too many laws and told too many lies. And it's time for him to go.
BRANDON WOLF, ANTI-TRUMP PROTESTER: It's divisive. It's hateful. I think about his response to Charlottesville and how repulsive that was to the contrary that he could excuse or makes excuses for white nationalist murdering people, that's really where we are. And when you see the anger and the vitriol between two sides in this country, it's amp up by Donald Trump.
KEATING: Well, the party is also continuing up there in a stonewall bar which is the basically headquarters of this anti-Trump rally sponsored by the Win with Love group organization which is an ad hoc organization.
They do have TVs inside the bar (Inaudible), one thing they will not be showing on those screens at eight o'clock is Trump having his reelection rally just down the street at the Amway Center. Ed?
HENRY: All right. Phil Keating. It's looks a little bit smaller than the crowd the president has, but pretty interesting just like in 2016. The president had plenty of media critics as he prepares to kick off another round.
You might remember one day after his victory in 2016 The New York Times columnist Paul Krugman predicted we were headed toward a, quote, unquote, "global recession."
Now he has another dire prediction. Writing, quote, "If Trump is reelected next year, that could mark the end of America's Democratic experiment." And here's the thing he writes, "white working-class voters seem to have noticed that Trump is not working for them."
Well, joining me now, Victor Davis Hanson, author of "The Case for Trump." Good evening, sir.
VICTOR DAVIS HANSON, AUTHOR, THE CASE FOR TRUMP: Good evening.
HENRY: How do you respond to Mr. Krugman?
HANSON: You know, I've never felt, at least in my experience I've never felt that former Ivy League professors have their fingers on the pulse of America, they just, they're kind of out of touch. They have this what's the matter with Kansas, you know, dilemma that they can't figure why the American people don't do what they think it's a logical thing.
But when you look at these rallies that Trump attracts, the people in it they're not -- they don't wear tweed coats, they're not academics there. And they are the people that the left not the right, it's the left who says calls them deplorables and irredeemables, clingers as Obama did or as Joe Biden that drags up society.
HANSON: Or bureaucrats like Peter Strzok or CNN reporters who make fun of the way they look. So, all of that disparagement comes from the elite left. And when you look at the issues that this Democratic field seems to be embracing, whether it's the New Green Deal or abortion as infanticide or reparations, they don't appeal culturally to 51 percent of the people.
HENRY: Yes. I'm reminded when you mentioned the FBI agents about those text messages about how I could smell the Trump supporters in Walmart and the disdain, the elitism and all the rest. And as we look at that crowd live building there in Orlando, you're right. I don't see a lot of tweed coats. I see a lot of red hats.
And I wonder the counter protest or the protest at the counter rally that we just heard about from Phil Keating, one of the people he spoke to said the president has committed so many crimes. That was the allegation. And we hear Democrats in Congress saying, maybe it's time for impeachment. Where is the high crime, misdemeanors? They haven't seemed to named that yet.
HANSON: You notice they always use the generic crime; they never specify a particular felony because there isn't any. I mean, we've seen in the prior administration the weaponization of the FBI, the CIA and the DOJ and even the State Department.
We had Lois Lerner public creating felonious crimes, we had a lot of scandals in the GSA, the Secret Service, the V.A. and nobody ever said that Barack Obama should be impeached.
So when people use these generic high crimes or felonious behavior and they don't specify and they don't specify because we spent 22 months, $35 million with Robert Mueller and they couldn't find a specific crime to charge the president with, and so we're left with this boilerplate, or Trump did this or that, but there's nothing to that. It's about politics rather than legality.
HENRY: Speaking of politics, you are often in California, and you governor out there, Democrat Gavin Newsom had this to say about the Republican Party. He says "Under Trump national Republicans are into the politics of what California was into the 90s. And they'll go the same direction into the waste bin of history the way Republicans of the 90s have gone. That's exactly what will happen to this crop of national Republicans." What's your message to the governor tonight?
HANSON: Yes. Well, I was struck first of all that term, you know, waste bin, dustbin, all of that is a Trotskyite term Reagan used it but only of foreign enemies, not on his domestic opponents. So, it's a little bit over the top.
But Newsom has a selective memory, he is referring to CAP 187 of 1994 valid emission that cut off regular health care not emergency health care to illegal aliens. And that won by 59 percent of the people. It was a judge that nullified it three days later and it got Pete Wilson reelected as governor.
But what really changed California was not the Republican Party, it was demography and money because three things remember happened. We have about in the last quarter-century about 10 million people, many of them illegally enter the United States across the southern border. That changed the demographic and we're into the second-generation of that influx.
HANSON: And more importantly, we lost about three to five million of the middle class who were, you know, they were tired of high sales and income - - HENRY: Sure.
HANSON: -- and gas taxes and very little in return and they went to Florida and Nevada places like Montana.
HENRY: We've seen them flee for --
HANSON: And finally, we the largest --
HENRY: To the last point.
HANSON: -- concentration of wealth in Silicon Valley. Yes?
HENRY: Last point, you wrote the book, "The Case for Trump," how do you want to see him prosecute that case beginning tonight? I've got 30 seconds.
HANSON: Yes. I think he's got to talk about middle-class issues and why is illegal immigration is important because it hurts middle class jobs. It's a competition with cheap foreign labor and he wants to create deterrence abroad with Iran, and China and Mexican issues but he does not want to be preemptor here or start a war or get into a war.
So, there is a sense of balance I think that he wants to.
HANSON: And I think a little bit he need -- he doesn't need to go after people individually as much anymore because the economy is so strong and Mike Pompeo is doing a great job in foreign policy. Things are going his way if you will let the narrative unfold on their own.
HENRY: All right. Victor David Hanson, not a fan of Gavin Newsom or tweed coats. We've established that tonight. Sir, we appreciate you coming in.
HANSON: Thank you for having me.
HENRY: All right. A live update from Orlando where the president is about to take the stage. That is next.
HENRY: We are now just a couple minutes away from the president's official 2020 campaign kickoff where the vice president, as you can see is just taking the stage.
Our correspondent Kristin Fisher is live on the ground live in Orlando. And she may have a hard time hearing me. Kristin, what's happening?
KRISTIN FISHER, CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ed, Vice President Mike Pence just started speaking. He said just moments ago that America needs four more years of President Trump. The crowd here, many of whom are carrying signs that say four more years all started chanting the same thing.
And you know, hundreds of people in this room tonight waited outside in the rain, some as long as 40 hours to be able to be here tonight for this moment when President Trump walks up on this stage in just a few minutes to officially kick off his campaign for re-election.
Expecting to highlight two big things. The strong economy and the immigration. The same issue that really catapulted his campaign four years ago, only this time there are some pretty major differences, right? This time he has all the advantages of being the incumbent. He has a massive 40- million-dollar plus war chest and the full support of the Republican National Committee. Something he did not have four years ago in 2016.
But there are some signs of trouble, especially here in the swing state of Florida. President Trump only narrowly won this state in 2016, and the latest poll show him trailing behind several of the top Democratic contenders.
But, you know, those polls were wrong in 2016. President Trump believes that they are wrong again. And so, he is coming here tonight to make his pitch to Florida voters --
FISHER: -- and everybody across the country. And, Ed, the people here tonight very excited to see President Trump.
HENRY: We can hear that excitement and enthusiasm. Kristin Fisher on the ground. She will be with us all night. Kristin, we appreciate that report.
That is “The Story” on this Tuesday night. Tucker is going to be all over “The Story,” though. Stay tuned for President Trump's kickoff rally which Tucker will have in just a moment.
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