This is a rush transcript from “Your World with Neil Cavuto,” February 19, 2020. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
NEIL CAVUTO, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: All right, and thinking up that record jackpot for Wall Street, it is Vegas, baby.
You’re looking live at the Paris Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, five hours from now, the top Democratic presidential candidates squaring off. Bernie Sanders is still surging, now with a double-digit lead in a new national poll, and Joe Biden is still hoping to pull off a win. He’s not surging.
Michael Bloomberg, meanwhile, still getting slammed from all sides. Democrats pounding the money he is making, while President Trump is just pounding.
Welcome, everyone. I’m Neil Cavuto. Glad to have you. We’re all over that, all over some new records at the corner of Wall and Broad in just a second.
But first with Peter Doocy if what happens in Vegas will stay in Vegas, and Jonathan Hunt with the president in Bakersfield, California, where Vegas is still very much on his mind as well.
We begin with Peter — sir.
PETER DOOCY, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Neil, Michael Bloomberg is not competing in Nevada, but he’s going to be on the debate stage this evening. And there’s a ton of buzz about it.
Look at this, front page of The Review-Journal, “Debate Debut for Bloomberg,” with a big photo. And while we don’t know exactly how he’s going to get along with the other candidates on stage, we do know a little bit about the kind of opposition research that his campaign is cooking up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOSEPH BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Mike has what every public officials should have, passion matched with principle. Your legacy extends well beyond the five boroughs.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOOCY: Part of the point there is that Joe Biden obviously has a very long record, but so does Michael Bloomberg.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: Been a Republican his whole life. The fact of the matter is, he has — he didn’t endorse Barack or me when we ran.
This is a guy talking about — he’s using Barack’s pictures, like they’re good buddies. I’m going to talk about his record.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOOCY: But Joe Biden is not the man to beat, according to an internal Bloomberg campaign memo that we got our hands on. And it concludes this at the end.
It says: “The bottom line is that if Biden, Buttigieg and Klobuchar remain in the race, despite having no path to appreciably collecting delegates on Super Tuesday and beyond, they will propel Sanders to a seemingly insurmountable delegate lead by siphoning votes away from Bloomberg with no upside for themselves.”
And it’s interesting because Amy Klobuchar’s strong debate in New Hampshire is credited with helping her finish a surprising third place in the first- in-the-nation New Hampshire primary, so she might have some things to say tonight about Bloomberg’s campaign gurus saying that she should drop out — Neil.
CAVUTO: It’s amazing.
As you remind me, we’re 3 percent into all the delegates that you need to win this thing, and they’re already wrapping it up and concluding everything.
All right, thank you, my friend, Peter Doocy.
Now to Jonathan Hunt. He is in Bakersfield, California, where the issue for the president right now may be water, but he is not taking his eye off what’s happening in Nevada — Jonathan.
JONATHAN HUNT, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: That’s for sure. Neil.
The president is expected here in about 45 minutes. We are here in the heart of California farming country. And as you take a look at the audience behind me, it’s a very enthusiastic reception that awaits the president when he gets here.
You might notice the desk on the podium there as well. That is because the president will be signing an Interior Department decision that is related to water rights. But the president began his day today, Neil, heading from Vegas, where he overnighted, to the Palm Springs area for fund-raising, millions of dollars, in fact, raised during a reception at the estate of Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison.
So he was among the wealthy there certainly in the Palm Springs area. A lot of supporters as he drove from the Palm Springs Airport to the Rancho Mirage estate of Larry Ellison.
Also a couple of protesters on the hand. Unlikely to be an issue when he gets here, where Mr. Trump will be seeking the support and, of course, the votes in election 2020 of ordinary farmers. As part of that, as I just mentioned, he’s expected to sign off on an Interior Department decision that rolls back endangered species protections that have essentially curbed water deliveries to Central Valley farmers.
So that’s going to be a very popular move the president will make with the audience here. It will be very well-received. But as you were mentioning, Neil, as he makes this Western swing, the president very much is keeping his eyes on Nevada and that Democratic debate stage, which will be full of the candidates tonight.
Mr. Trump over the last few days has certainly seemed focused on the candidacy of former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg. And the president has been happy to echo some of Bloomberg’s Democratic opponents concerns about the possibility or the accusation, at least, that Bloomberg is — quote — “trying to buy the nomination” away from the front-runner, Bernie Sanders.
Also, not unrelated to what is happening tonight in Nevada, the president will leave here, Bakersfield, California, and head to Phoenix, Arizona, where he will hold what will no doubt be another of those sold-out and raucous campaign rallies.
It is absolutely no coincidence, Neil, that that rally is scheduled to begin at exactly the same time the Democrats take the stage in Nevada. Mr. Trump knows better than anyone how to troll his opponents — Neil.
CAVUTO: Or to steal some thunder.
All right, thank you, my friend, Jonathan Hunt, in the middle of all that.
So say it ain’t so, Joe? There’s a new report via CNBC that claims several Joe Biden fund-raisers are jumping ship and are now supporting Mike Bloomberg. All this as Biden is hoping to revive the campaign with tonight’s debate in Nevada and obviously get things going again in South Carolina.
He is not on the ballot in either state, I might point out.
With me now is former Obama economic adviser, much more than that, Robert Wolf, GOP strategist Joseph Pinion, and The New York Post’s Kelly Jane Torrance.
Robert, you’re well-connected with a lot of these same folks. Is it your sense that financial types are backing away from Biden? Aren’t they going to wait this out or what?
ROBERT WOLF, FORMER ADVISER TO PRESIDENT OBAMA: I think they’re going to wait it out.
He was here next week — last week. The events were sold out.
CAVUTO: He didn’t get as much as he hoped, though, right?
WOLF: That — I don’t know. I mean, what I heard from the campaign is they had a great first week post-Iowa.
CAVUTO: I think you know everything.
WOLF: You have to pay me more.
WOLF: I think the best way to look at it is, unfortunately for us Democrats, there is no one coalescing around one moderate candidate.
They’re all somewhere between 10 and 20 percent. And whereas Bernie and Elizabeth Warren that take up about 40 to 45 percent of the party, right now coalescing around Bernie, which is around 30-plus percent.
So I think we talked about the other day I certainly feel like the moderate side is a silent majority. But as long as we’re doing what Obama said not to do, that good old circular firing squad we have going on right now…
CAVUTO: Well, it’s alive and well.
WOLF: It’s no question about it.
CAVUTO: So, when you look at it, Joe, I mean, how — the president is planning just to sort of steal their thunder. Usually, he plans an event right up to that moment. No different this time.
But it does steal their thunder, and I think he’s enjoying their disarray.
JOSEPH PINION, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Yes, look, I think he likes to give the side-by-side comparison.
So you have President Trump over here with six million new jobs, with wages going up, and you have Democrats over here. Iowa, they can’t even count the votes. Now it looks like they can’t even pick a nominee.
CAVUTO: But how is that even comparable? All right, so you have a problem in Iowa. It’s not the same as the economy.
PINION: Well, I mean, again, I think that’s the point, though.
We’re over here running the country, and they’re over here not even being able to take care of basic political business.
CAVUTO: What is their biggest worry right now? It always seems to me it could be Bloomberg. It was once Biden, because they really are pushing Bernie very hard.
PINION: Well, look, I think — again, I think Republicans have to be careful what we wish for. Again, I think that when you look at somebody like Bernie, all the symptoms and signs are there for the same things that people said about President Trump, that he’s only getting 30 percent of the vote, that there are more people voting for somebody…
CAVUTO: You know who the first person to remind me of that was you.
CAVUTO: No, seriously, be careful jumping the gun on it.
So, I guess, Kelly Jane, what I’m looking at here is maybe a snapshot where it could be like a prize fight tonight. I don’t — sometimes they never live up to those expectations.
What do you think they’re going to try to do to Bloomberg?
KELLY JANE TORRANCE, NEW YORK POST: I think it’s very interesting that people have been talking for years about how there’s this battle for the heart and soul of the Republican Party with Donald Trump and what happened.
CAVUTO: There’s always a battle going on for the heart and soul of parties, though, right?
So, right now, the two front-runners apparently are people who aren’t even Democrats until very recently.
And I think that we’re seeing a lot of what they’re going to bring up about Mike Bloomberg with all of the different audio that’s been leaking on stop and frisk, on women, on people in the workplace.
CAVUTO: Have any of those been reflected in these polls that show him rising? Or is lot of that polling done prior to the release of these tapes?
TORRANCE: I think most of it is done prior to the release.
I think also, though, I mean, stop and frisk, what he said on the tape was pretty awful. But people have known that he’s been for that. And I think a lot of Democrats have already been worried about how he’s going to respond to that.
He apologized for it when he got into the race. But, for many, it wasn’t enough. And let’s face it. Joe Biden really needs something tonight, but he has never performed that well in any of the debates. And, in fact, most people who have done well in the debates did so when they were targeting Biden.
I’m thinking of Kamala Harris, of course, on the busing thing.
CAVUTO: That worked out like a charm, right?
TORRANCE: Temporarily. I mean, Biden’s still going. She’s out.
So, I say don’t count him out. But, at the same time, right now, Mayor Pete Buttigieg is the one, of course, who has the most delegates. But nobody seems to think he can keep taking it in.
But, again, don’t count him out. Everybody was surprised by his strong showing in Iowa.
CAVUTO: No, you’re absolutely right.
Now, with the focus right now on Bloomberg tonight, he might regret accepting the invitation. Right? Or does he — because it’s been so widely telegraphed that he’s going to be a pinata, what?
WOLF: I mean, you and I spoke about it the other night. We thought that his best possibility was don’t go to the debate.
But now I think we’re at a point where he’s had so many ads. You got to bring Oz behind — in front of the curtain, all right?
CAVUTO: Right. Right.
WOLF: I mean, we used to say with President Obama, you know what, get in front of the rope line, not behind the rope line.
He has to start getting out and making sure people know what he stands for.
CAVUTO: And Bloomberg is better than people think.
I know he has this intellectual approach to everything and sort of non- emotional. But he got elected three times in this city.
WOLF: And it’s not a debate. Right? I mean, it’s question and answer.
PINION: Look, I mean, I think you look at somebody like Bloomberg, I mean, to me, I mean, there is a danger. I think somebody should still try to convince him not to go.
He’s running the best funded art project in the history of American politics. And right now, he’s basically the quarterback that held out of training camp, and he’s showing up in the middle of the season, and everyone else is in midseason form.
So Amy Klobuchar is champing at the bit. You have individuals right now who are going to try to characterize him in ways that…
WOLF: I know a bunch of Democratic strategists that will hire you right now.
CAVUTO: He’s been very prescient on a couple of key developments here very, very early on.
WOLF: Yes, very sharp.
CAVUTO: So, when you look at this and the media story, how is the media going to cover tonight?
They’re going to be looking to see if Bloomberg stumbles badly, right?
TORRANCE: They are.
I mean, all eyes are on him. And I have to say, I’m interested to see which candidates really go after him. We know Elizabeth Warren already has on Twitter calling him an egotistical billionaire like Donald Trump, she said.
But how hard are they going to hit him?
CAVUTO: How is he going to respond to that? What did she again? Like…
And that’s — I think you have to worry about egging and being condescending. Secondly, how hard are they going to go after him, when they all want his money? Even Bernie Sanders didn’t say that he wouldn’t take that $2 billion that Bloomberg is promising to spend, no matter who wins.
CAVUTO: Yes. We will see. We will see. They have to make nice for that.
All right. They can’t go too far. We will watch it later on.
Meanwhile, just to let you know, again, for those of you just tuning in, we hit some records today at corner of Wall and Broad. I’m sure the Democrats will be mentioning this tonight, Nasdaq and the S&P at new highs, the Dow getting closer and closer to one.
But are the candidates in tonight’s debate really promising to deliver something very different, something that has nothing to do with those market numbers?
CAVUTO: All right, well, they hike, and the strong economy just takes a hike — that is kind of the message behind the Trump campaign in The Las Vegas Review-Journal, slamming the Democratic rivals over their tax plans, which to a man or woman, mean at least trillions of dollars more in taxes over the next 10 years.
The only differentiator is how many trillions.
Vince Coglianese is with us, Susan Li. We got Scott Martin.
You know what’s interesting, Scott, about the way the president’s positioning it, whatever you think of me, maybe whatever you think of my tweeting or whatever, take a look around you. Take a look at this strong economy. And just go with that. What do you think?
SCOTT MARTIN, KINGSVIEW ASSET MANAGEMENT: I love it. And he’s right.
And it kind of is one of those situations, Neil, where the numbers and the results are speaking for themselves, not these grandiose, hopeful plans of how things are going to work out so great for everybody, when we all know, I mean, in economics, there are winners and there are losers, not everybody wins, but people strive to win.
And that’s really the key behind a lot of the policies that Trump has introduced. And I think you just look around the Democratic side of things. We’re going to learn more tonight. I mean, Mike Bloomberg alone on Wall Street, a major beneficiary of Wall Street, he was, and now he’s got all these ideas that seemingly are going to take down Wall Street and penalize Wall Street for being as successful as it has been over the years.
CAVUTO: Susan, the big drive for Democrats is, find us a winner. Find us someone who can beat Donald Trump. So they kind of put their passions aside in favor the candidate who can most and likely will embody that.
They’re not quite sure about Bloomberg. How is that going down?
SUSAN LI, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, on Wall Street, people are a little bit surprised, because, as Joe Biden pointed out, Bloomberg has been a Republican most of his life, meaning that he’s a proponent of capitalism, lower taxes, less regulation, the trickle-down wealth effect, and now he’s talking about a transaction tax on Wall Street, expanding the Volker rule, meaning more oversight for the banks.
And this is counter to what he said 10 years ago, so they’re hoping that maybe this is just before the primaries and he will move closer to the middle when the general election comes around, if he’s still around.
CAVUTO: How do you think it’s going to go for him, Vince, on that idea? I mean, Bloomberg is moderate in terms of some of the other candidates.
And I think his costs are a few trillion dollars over 10 years, with Wall Street transaction taxes and the like, higher taxes on the upper income, but they’re all going to raise taxes. So how does Bloomberg try to differentiate himself? Or can he?
VINCE COGLIANESE, THE DAILY CALLER: Yes, I don’t think he’s going to satisfy the left-wing base at all with these policy positions.
Even announcing tax raises of any kind on Wall Street, it’s going to fall on deaf ears, because he’s a — he’s not a credible communicator on that subject. He is seen in the Democratic Party as a guy who got filthy rich off of the finance industry.
And the big problem for him is convincing Democrats that he in any way deserves to be a part of this race, when the DNC clearly rolled out the red carpet and the velvet rope line for a guy who didn’t even participate in the two first contests in this Democratic primary.
That’s what he needs to overcome. Saying anything about going after Wall Street, it’s going to fall on deaf ears.
CAVUTO: All right, the president is fine with continuing to quote the markets and what they’re doing.
Scott, it’s something that’s very, very important to him. It’s hard to gauge where these markets go the rest of the year and all of that, but normally, normally they’re kind of indicative of what’s happening in the economy.
All seems pretty stable right now, the coronavirus uncertainties notwithstanding. Will that continue to be the wind at his back?
MARTIN: I believe it will.
Now, you make a good point, Neil. Things seem eerily OK, don’t they? And this is after a lot of things that this market and economy have had thrown at it. I mean, tariff wars alone, the Federal Reserve just about a year or so ago that was hiking rates, instead of cutting them.
But, yes, overall, I think the economy has the wind at its back. And I think one reason we’re seeing these record highs day after day, and we’re going to see him probably tomorrow, too, after tonight’s debate, you’re going to see the Democrats continue to fray, and that’s why the markets like it, because it gives Trump a better chance in November to pull this out.
CAVUTO: Susan, when you talk to traders, what’s their biggest worry like these days?
LI: These days.
CAVUTO: I’m sure it’s not a focus on the campaign. I’m sure it’s the virus, right?
Well, Goldman Sachs just came out with a note saying that the market isn’t really accounting for how big of an impact coronavirus might have, especially when you have China talking about an economic crisis.
That’s where they’re equating the epidemic to at this point. There are some concerns that people are not really pricing that in properly, with these record markets still.
CAVUTO: When you talk about record markets, and you talk about Michael Bloomberg being front and center, he’s Mr. Market, he’s Mr. Wall Street.
And, of course, he made the terminals that became ubiquitous and made him a guy worth $60 billion-plus.
So, Vince, how does he handle that? Because he could end up sounding an awful lot like the president talking about Wall Street.
COGLIANESE: Well, of course.
And he is transparently an oligarch. The dictionary definition is a guy who uses his financial resources to control political conversations, and that’s what he’s doing around the country.
In fact, tonight’s debate will be interesting, because this is a liability for him. This is an opportunity for him to actually have to answer questions, instead of controlling the airtime that he has by way of the many ads that he’s purchased literally everywhere.
I feel like when I go to sleep at night, my dreams just start with a Mike Bloomberg ad. He’s done everything.
COGLIANESE: Yes, it’s unbelievable. I don’t even know how he got to that. But that’s what he’s done.
MARTIN: Are you OK?
LI: Do you sleep well then?
COGLIANESE: No, not at all.
CAVUTO: Well, that’s the difference between your dreams and mine. Mine involve a Grand Slam meal at Denny’s, but whatever works, whatever works.
CAVUTO: Guys, thank you all very, very much.
Meanwhile, all these remaining cruise passengers are now off the ship and, well, shipping out to their home countries. They have been cleared of the coronavirus, but my next guest and her husband, so far, they’re not that lucky. And they’re not that happy.
CAVUTO: All right, now more than 2,000 are dead from this coronavirus, experts saying there could be undetected infections sort of morphing around the world.
Jonathan Serrie has a lot more on that — Jonathan.
JONATHAN SERRIE, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Neil.
Today, Japanese health authorities began allowing passengers to disembark from the Diamond Princess, which had been under quarantine. However, Americans on board the cruise ship received letters from the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo informing them they will not be permitted to return to the U.S. for an additional 14 days after leaving the ship, which is now tied to more than 600 confirmed cases of coronavirus.
The letter explains the CDC has concluded that, despite efforts of quarantine, there was a high risk that passengers currently on board the Diamond Princess have been exposed to COVID-19.
An 83-year-old American woman who became ill after disembarking another cruise ship, the Westerdam, which finally docked at Cambodia, is in stable condition at a hospital in Malaysia. Her 85-year-old husband insisted on staying by her bedside. Malaysian authorities agreed to grant his request.
And Iranian media are reporting that COVID-19 has claimed the lives of two elderly citizens in that country. If confirmed, that would bring the death toll outside of China to five — Neil.
CAVUTO: All right, Jonathan, thank you very, very much.
My next guest was evacuated from that Diamond Princess cruise ship before she and her husband were put under quarantine in Nebraska, where he has actually tested positive for the virus.
Jeri Seratti joins us now on the phone, Jeri Seratti-Goldman, I should say, with that story.
Jeri, thank you for taking the time.
How are you holding up?
JERI SERATTI-GOLDMAN, QUARANTINED: I’m holding up really well so far.
CAVUTO: And how is your husband?
SERATTI-GOLDMAN: He — we’re so thrilled, because we got here Monday.
And he had a very high temperature getting off the plane and into the night, and then it broke and then it came back. And now last night he went through the night without a temperature, which is a huge blessing.
CAVUTO: Oh, that’s great.
I’m curious. How are they handling you in Nebraska? Are you at a compound? What kind of a facility? Can you say?
So we thought we were being taken to an Air Force base. That’s what they told us.
CAVUTO: Right. Right.
SERATTI-GOLDMAN: We were on our way after we were picked up at the airport, that’s Carl that you’re seeing right now on the TV.
So, we were being taken away, and because, where we were, we thought we were on an Air Force base. We were not. And as we’re driving, I said, this doesn’t seem like an Air Force base. They go, oh, no, you’re going to the Nebraska Medicine — Medical Center.
SERATTI-GOLDMAN: And so they took Carl to the hospital portion of it.
And I’m in a — I think there’s only three in the country — a specialty quarantine unit. And that’s my room.
CAVUTO: How does it compare to the ship?
SERATTI-GOLDMAN: Not as luxurious. The luxury is not there, but I’m doing really well, really well.
CAVUTO: Are you ever able to visit your husband?
SERATTI-GOLDMAN: No. I cannot leave my room. I cannot leave my room.
And I still have tested negative and have no symptoms, so very blessed for that. And we were traveling with friends of ours from St. George, Utah. When she got — she was the first to test positive. And the night before they called her, she had a temperature for a few hours.
And that was the only sign she has had. And then she’s been testing negative since she got to the hospital that she’s in, Fukushima, Japan.
So what we’re understanding, after talking to doctors here, is that you’re either one and done where it shows up and you have no symptoms, or, like Carl, who had underlining symptoms — he has Guillain-Barre syndrome.
So his immune system was already compromised. And that’s why he has had a temperature a couple times.
CAVUTO: Well, I hope he’s going to be OK.
I mean, how are you holding up just with the meals and the difference on the ship? I mean, they’re delivered to you. You’re locked in that room. Doesn’t sound like a whole lot of fun.
Well, we’re business owners. We actually own a radio station in our hometown of Santa Clarita, California.
CAVUTO: Oh, all right.
SERATTI-GOLDMAN: So we’re still working away.
And I have a treadmill and workout equipment in my room, so I’m able to get up and kind of do my morning routine.
CAVUTO: I have a treadmill too. I just don’t use it that much.
CAVUTO: But, Jeri, I wish you well.
SERATTI-GOLDMAN: Well, when you have nothing to do…
CAVUTO: No, I understand. Hang in there Jeri.
And my best to your husband. You’re a trooper. You both are.
SERATTI-GOLDMAN: Thank you so much. OK.
CAVUTO: This is a book. You have a book in the making, young lady, so be well, Jeri Seratti-Goldman.
Can you imagine that?
Meanwhile, pardoned by the president and now thanking the president, and, all of a sudden, the press goes nuts.
CAVUTO: All right, some exclusive new video just coming in of Roger Stone at Fort Lauderdale Airport. He’s headed to Washington for that sentencing hearing tomorrow, this despite concerns the foreperson on that jury was biased against him — after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROD BLAGOJEVICH (D), FORMER ILLINOIS GOVERNOR: He’s a Republican president. I was a Democratic governor. And doing this does nothing to help his politics.
President Trump is a man who is tough and outspoken. But he also has a kind heart. And this is an act of kindness. And I also believe it’s the beginning of the process to actually turn an injustice into a justice.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAVUTO: Of course, that’s former Governor Rod Blagojevich thanking President Trump for commuting his 14-year prison sentence. He had been in there eight years. So he missed eight years of seeing his daughters grow up.
So, given all of that, you would think just the reunion with his family would be enough for everyone to be happy. Not so.
The president is getting it from both Democrats and Republicans slamming some of his clemency and pardon decisions.
Let’s go to “Media Buzz” host Howard Kurtz on this.
Howard, I think what stands out — it’s always good to have you.
HOWARD KURTZ, HOST, “MEDIA BUZZ”: Thanks.
CAVUTO: Is that normally presidents of all party types do this more near the end of their term, in the case of Bill Clinton, a busy final few hours of his term.
But this president has been consistently doing these in spurts and in waves. I don’t know what the issue is with that. He can do and pardon and commute to — anyone who wants.
But it gets an unusual amount of press. What do you think of it?
KURTZ: Well, this is an action by the president that is causing him to be absolutely denounced by the media.
And I understand this part about Blago, because, as you say, even some conservatives and Republicans are upset about this.
Rod Blagojevich is the guy who not only sold Barack Obama’s Senate seat, famously caught saying it was blanking golden.
KURTZ: But he shook down a children’s hospital for a $50,000 donation in exchange for millions in state funding, and never showed a smidgen of remorse.
But this has been portrayed by many in the media, Neil, as a dark, nefarious Trumpian assault on the criminal justice system, rather than controversial moves in the Constitution similar to those of other past presidents.
CAVUTO: And what’s interesting about it, you can argue whether the term that he was given, up to 14 years, was justified.
CAVUTO: But many have looked at that and said, all right, for the crimes, it doesn’t fit, and it hearkens back to something the media seizes on, the time that the judge might want to slap Roger Stone, a person that got prosecutors looking at a higher number.
The president obviously looking for a lower number. What do you make of that?
KURTZ: Well, I make of that that, obviously, the president is not shy about intervening, whether it’s Twitter or talking to reporters, about people who are sometimes friends of his or former associates like Roger Stone, who thinks have been treated unfairly.
The reason that the press is connecting these pardons and commutations, not just the Stone case, but saying that Trump is — he now says he’s the nation’s chief law enforcement officer — is because of The Washington Post story saying that Bill Barr’s threatened or at least has told people he might resign as attorney general if the president doesn’t stop the tweets.
KURTZ: And the president is not stopping the tweets about the Stone case.
CAVUTO: All right, so what happens if Barr were to resign? Then, all of a sudden, the narrative becomes there’s a palace revolt, right?
KURTZ: Right, but probably the Justice Department would be without a head for the remaining time in this election year, and then some people will be nostalgic for Bill Barr.
Suddenly, all the people on the left who have been attacking Barr since the day he took office would be saying, oh, he was a man of great principle, he’s our new hero, he’s the new Mitt Romney and all that.
But you got to look back. I mean, Bill Clinton pardoned his half-brother. He pardoned Marc Rich, who was a fugitive who had fled the country. George H.W. Bush pardoned Caspar Weinberger in the Iran-Contra scandal.
And Barack Obama commuted the sentence of Chelsea Manning, who had endanger American lives…
KURTZ: … by dumping a ton of classified military secrets out there.
So I wish that this president and the others had just gone through the normal Justice Department system, rather than, in this case, the president relying on friends and family and allies. But he does have the power to do that.
CAVUTO: You know, the president is going, with this big fund-raiser with Larry Ellison, there are thousands of Oracle workers who were very annoyed about it.
I don’t remember this kind of a big stink when other CEOs have given to Barack Obama or whatever. They can do what they want to do, but what do you make of the dust-up over that?
KURTZ: I think it’s hypocritical, because, obviously, President Obama, other Democrats have held fund-raisers or used the homes of rich guys, CEOs, people who run companies.
KURTZ: And if most of the employees were all with it, even those who might have been conservative Republican, you didn’t have this big stink.
But somehow the employees of a big tech company like that feel like it’s a personal affront that their CEO happens to support President Trump. And, of course, the press just loves to jump on that.
CAVUTO: They do, indeed.
All right, Howie, thank you very much. Good having you, my friend.
KURTZ: Thanks, Neil.
CAVUTO: That — we told you about that Larry Ellison event.
By the way, Larry Ellison is even richer than Michael Bloomberg. He’s worth about $69 billion, Michael Bloomberg about $60 billion.
But it’s that kowtowing and that relationship that gets a lot of attention. Should it?
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) CAVUTO: Well, President Trump greeted by protesters in Rancho Mirage, California, today.
The president there for a fund-raiser with Oracle founder Larry Ellison. Some Oracle employees, in fact, thousands of them, not too happy about that visit.
Hillary Vaughn in Rancho Mirage with more — Hillary.
HILLARY VAUGHN, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Neil.
Well, Palm Springs is called the president’s playground for its history of attracting high-profile politicians to high-dollar fund-raisers.
And, today, it was the scene for President Trump’s latest campaign cash haul at Ellison’s invite-only golf resort Porcupine Creek. This ritzy rendezvous in Rancho Mirage comes at an opportune moment for the Oracle founder, because his company is challenging Amazon in court over the bidding process for a $10 billion cloud computing contract with the Pentagon that they ended up losing.
So, today, Ellison got some valuable face time in with President Trump, along with donors, some who paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to golf with the president.
Tickets for two starting at $100,000 for a tee-off with Trump. Supporters who shelled out over a quarter-of-a-million dollars got to have some alone time with the president at a roundtable. Ellison has hosted other presidents at his exclusive resort here in Rancho Mirage.
But this was unique because it sparked a revolt at his own company; 5,000 Oracle employees signed a petition trying to stop this fund-raiser from happening, and several of them logged off and walked out of work today in protest — Neil.
CAVUTO: All right, Hillary, thank you very, very much.
Speaking about support that Hillary just raised, we’re learning now from Politico that casino mogul Sheldon Adelson is throwing his financial weight and support behind the president’s reelection campaign.
He’s a multibillionaire, probably one of the Republican Party’s most prolific givers. He’s going to be holding a March 12 fund-raiser for the president at his Las Vegas home. It’s apparently a very big home, so they can invite a lot of people.
Meanwhile, another royal pain for Harry and Meghan. Let’s just say they have a brand new problem.
See what I did there? It’s about the brand.
CAVUTO: OK, fine.
CAVUTO: All right, we’re told that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are announcing their royal duties will officially end come March 31.
Now, this amid reports Queen Elizabeth herself took those duties away by saying the Sussex royal title that goes with their names will no longer go with it.
I have no idea what that means. But I know one of my favorite guests on this subject does. She is an encyclopedia on all things royal.
Charlie Lankston, the DailyMail.com editor.
What does this mean, that they can’t use the royal what?
CHARLIE LANKSTON, EDITOR, DAILY MAIL: Yes, so they have basically Brown branded themselves as Sussex Royal.
It is the name of their very popular Instagram account and it’s also the name that they wanted to use for their business ventures. So we know that they trademarked Sussex Royal for everything, from bandanas to notebooks. It’s also what they wanted to call their charity venture.
So, effectively, it was their business. It was going to be that brand. And the queen has now said, no, absolutely not. You will not be…
CAVUTO: So, she personally made that decision?
LANKSTON: She personally, yes — well, she will have had advisement from people within Buckingham Palace.
CAVUTO: All right.
LANKSTON: But, yes, she is the one who has said….
CAVUTO: Boy, you don’t mess with the queen, do you. Yes.
LANKSTON: Absolutely not. She’s a very foreboding lady. You do not mess with her.
CAVUTO: All right.
Does any royalty attach itself to their names though? I mean, how big a deal is that? All right. We know your royalty, though, right?
Well, if you think about it, William and Kate’s Instagram account is Kensington Royal. So Harry and Meghan kind of followed that pattern, but no other royal has tried to create a personal brand for themselves. They haven’t needed to.
CAVUTO: Do you need that name, that label to profit off?
LANKSTON: I don’t think you need it.
But I think, for Harry and Meghan, it’s a bit of a kick in the teeth, because they have invested a lot of time, a lot of money, tens of thousands of dollars in creating a very shiny new Web site, in trademarking Sussex Royal with all of these different products.
And they now effectively have to go back to square one as far as creating a personal brand for themselves, so that they can gain financial independence, which is what they were so keen to do when they split from the royal family.
CAVUTO: Are they going to be worth more money or make more money in this role than as full-time royals?
LANKSTON: I mean, yes, we understand that they — we’re talking Obama levels of finance here. They could be worth hundreds of millions of dollars, if they capitalize on everything.
CAVUTO: With what? Doing what?
LANKSTON: Book deals, private speaking engagements, which they have already done, potential production deals with companies like Netflix, with Apple TV.
CAVUTO: I see.
LANKSTON: And then they also have the opportunity to kind of release merchandise, like they’re talking about.
I can’t imagine how many people would actually buy a hoodie that says Sussex Royal or whatever it is that they end up putting on their merchandise in the future.
CAVUTO: But does their flame ever fizzle out a little bit?
If they’re out of the public eye — and I guess you were reminding me they will always be in the public eye — but do they lose their allure the longer they’re away from the throne?
LANKSTON: I think they’re playing it very well, in that they’re teasing the public.
Yes, they have retired from kind of public life, as it were. But we see glimpses of them every now and then. We had photos of Harry stopping by the grocery store to pick up his lunch today.
So, we get the…
CAVUTO: By the way, that was so staged. Stop. Just stop.
LANKSTON: Yes, I can’t imagine — yes, I can’t imagine that he didn’t think that there would be photographers.
But I think they…
CAVUTO: Right. Did he money with him to pay for it? Because I didn’t…
LANKSTON: He had staff with him. So I think — I mean, if it was me…
LANKSTON: … in the grocery store, I would have said, the sandwich is free.
LANKSTON: You take it, Prince Harry. It’s all on you. You aren’t earning money anymore. So, here, have a sandwich.
CAVUTO: All right, so they’re going to do well.
Where are they going to settle? Canada? What is that?
LANKSTON: So, right now, they’re in Vancouver on the very exclusive Vancouver Island.
They have been looking at properties there to buy, because they’re currently renting. But they have also been looking at properties in Malibu and New York, our sources tell us.
CAVUTO: Oh, wow.
LANKSTON: Now, obviously, her family is in California.
I think, if she wanted to get back into that celebrity lifestyle, California would make sense. But who knows? Right now, they aren’t making any promises. But they still have four more official royal engagements in the U.K.
They will not…
CAVUTO: So, they go back to…
CAVUTO: Where do they stay?
LANKSTON: They will stay at Frogmore Cottage, their home that they still have.
CAVUTO: That is the one that looks like Hogwarts, right?
LANKSTON: Yes, exactly, the stunning property.
CAVUTO: So, they still have that.
CAVUTO: It is stunning. And they had the whole thing redecorated and done for them.
LANKSTON: They did, but they have had to pay that money back.
CAVUTO: I got you.
LANKSTON: So they have technically paid for these amazing refurbishments.
So they now get to put them to full use whenever they’re in the U.K.
CAVUTO: So, how do Brits feel about all this? I mean, they’re like, a finger to the homeland. Right?
LANKSTON: Absolutely. People are applauding the queen.
CAVUTO: Is that right?
LANKSTON: There were tweets the wazoo, people saying, well done, they should lose their royal titles. They’re no longer members of the royal family.
LANKSTON: And a lot of people are actually delighting in poking a bit of fun at them and kind of saying, like, well, you wanted to put Sussex Royal on a pair of underpants. Sorry, you can’t do that anymore.
CAVUTO: Yes, yes. Regular pants maybe.
LANKSTON: Regular pants, yes, down the side.
CAVUTO: So, the brothers, are they getting along? Or are they fighting?
LANKSTON: They’re doing better than they were.
LANKSTON: I don’t think that their relationship has gone back to the closeness that it once was, but they are speaking. They are communicating.
And William is supporting Harry in this new lifestyle that he’s trying to pursue.
CAVUTO: That sounds like they’re not getting along.
LANKSTON: I mean, I don’t think they’re as close as they once were, which is a shame.
CAVUTO: All right. That was very judiciously put.
Charlie, you are the best at this. Thank you very much for taking the time.
LANKSTON: Thank you for having me.
CAVUTO: A lot more on this and the ramifications of a bigger issue here at home when we come back.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) CAVUTO: All right, looking live in Vegas, baby.
The Democratic candidates will pitch their plans just a few days ahead of the Nevada caucuses, which wrap up on Saturday.
What’s interesting here for Republicans who say Democrats are just wasting their time, they hope to succeed on issues like health care, which galvanize their takeover of the House in the midterms. They think it can repeat here.
Beverly Hallberg joins us, The Independent Women’s forum, and Jason Nichols, the Democratic strategist.
Beverly, the one thing you hear is that health care worked for us. It wasn’t a wedge issue. It became the issue. And so, this way, we don’t have to spend a lot of time talking about the jobs gains and everything else going on in the Trump economy. They’re noteworthy. They’re hard to argue again. So we’re going to focus on this stuff, and maybe do better.
What do you think?
BEVERLY HALLBERG, INDEPENDENT WOMEN’S FORUM: Yes.
Well, I think health care is becoming that economic issue, because what voters really care about is for their costs to go down in health care. I thought it was very fascinating this week, when Bernie Sanders went around touting his Medicare for all plan, that even the Culinary Union said they weren’t going to endorse him and even said, we like our health care, and we don’t want you to take it away.
So I do expect, on the debate stage tonight, in addition to the billionaire Bloomberg bashing that is going to be an abundance, for them to talk about, some of the so-called moderates to talk about their alternative to Medicare for all. This is what Amy Klobuchar is talking about.
But, regardless, Republicans are going to have to start talking about their plans for health care moving forward.
CAVUTO: Another thing that’s interesting, Jason, from the Democratic perspective — you’re the expert here — that the idea that Michael Bloomberg has not to really pick apart the economy and the numbers and the jobs gains and the markets, but to talk about, with that success and the money you can raise from these who’ve done very well, to get to these other goals.
How is that going to go?
JASON NICHOLS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, I think Bloomberg is going to struggle tonight.
He has a whole lot to answer for, as we know, with so many issues in terms of stop and frisk. And one of the things that he’s got to argue on Super Tuesday coming up is to convince African-American voters that he’s on their side.
And it’s going to be very difficult, when you recently said that you supported redlining, which basically destroyed African-American wealth. And then you say, OK, well, I have got a plan for that.
I think that it’s going to ring hollow for him. But I think health care is a winning issue for Democrats across the board. We know that the president’s handling of health care, he’s at about 30 — in the 30 percentile area in terms of approval for the way he’s handled health care.
We know he’s supported federal lawsuits that basically will take away protections for preexisting conditions.
CAVUTO: No, you raise a good point about how this could all sort out.
But I wonder, Beverly, if there will be a limit to how aggressively they go after Bloomberg. After all, this is the same guy who has promised to write a check to help the nominee, to help the party. They don’t want to go too far, right?
HALLBERG: He’s bought a lot of influence over the years, not just with local communities across this country, but some of those individuals he’s going to be debating.
What is fascinating is, his team has already come out and said that this isn’t his forte. He’s not great at public speaking. So they’re already downplaying the expectations just a little bit. So, hopefully — they’re hoping, even if he doesn’t have a super strong showing, it won’t hurt him too badly in the polls.
But, from a messaging standpoint, I do think he needs to be on that more moderate level. But he is going to be attacked tonight, because he has been gaining in the polls.
CAVUTO: No, I think you’re right. And keep the expectations low.
On that, Jason, I built a career on it. So maybe he should try.
CAVUTO: But I’m curious.
How do you think it ends up tonight? I mean, they’re fighting with each other, screaming at each other. They just endured the Iowa craziness and all. How are Democrats feeling?
NICHOLS: I think people are feeling optimistic.
I think some people are a little worried that Bloomberg is going to buy this thing. But I think, Bernie…
CAVUTO: Well, if he did, would they support him? In the end, would they live with that if he were the nominee and support him?
NICHOLS: I think that there would be an exodus of Bernie Sanders supporters, people who wanted to see Bernie Sanders, especially if he has the most delegates and the most votes at the end of the primary season.
CAVUTO: But most doesn’t mean a majority. Right? You have to get that 1,991. If he doesn’t have that, it’s not a birthright. Right?
NICHOLS: It’s not a birthright. But, still, in elections, the people who have the most votes should win.
And it seems like most of the party, I think, would support Bernie Sanders over somebody like Mike Bloomberg, who’s really just pumping money into it.
CAVUTO: All right, we will see. It’s still early in the going. That’s a whole ‘nother show, a whole ‘nother discussion.
Guys, I want to thank you both very, very much.
So, the big debate tonight.
“THE FIVE” now.
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