CNN's Cuomo Lectures Congress on 'Leadership,' Implores Them to Plug Pathway to Citizenship

Is this the advocacy channel? CNN's Chris Cuomo begged Congress to "fix" rising student loan rates, and now the New Day co-host insists that "leadership" means Congress selling the public on a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants.

"Well that's what leadership is," Cuomo responded when co-host Kate Bolduan noted that congressmen in predominantly white districts would have to persuade constituents to support the pathway to citizenship.

Once again, CNN's New Day has tossed journalism aside in favor of advocacy. This week, the show has lobbied Congress to "fix" the student loan rate increase and on Thursday Cuomo pushed Congress to "do something" on immigration.

Co-host Kate Bolduan had noted that "the big question, of course, is, if the House passes something without some pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, is there any hope that it's going to eventually pass the full Congress? I would say, probably not."

Then Cuomo built a bizarre argument upon correspondent John King's earlier point that some congressmen hail from overwhelmingly-white districts and thus have "no pressure" to vote for a pathway to citizenship.

"Well, they have to do something. It's too important. And also, as John well knows, just because people are white doesn't mean they don't want a path to citizenship for new immigrants. Just about everybody who is white here came through immigration," Cuomo argued.

King maintained that some congressman just don't feel the pressure at home to enact the pathway: "They just don't feel that pressure back home. That problem is enough of them don't feel the pressure back home to say I'm going to give you that. They still call it amnesty and they know when they go home, they get reelected. So, they don't feel the pressure."

Cuomo wouldn't have it, however. "But that's what being a leader is all about."

Below is a transcript of the segment, which aired on New Day on July 11 at 6:28 a.m. EDT:

KATE BOLDUAN: It's also time for our political gut check, all the stories you need to know coming straight out of Washington. Pressure building on House Republicans to get on board or do something with regard to immigration reform as House Republican leaders met Wednesday to discuss the issue behind closed doors.

CNN's chief national correspondent John King is here to break it down for us. So it was kind of a marathon meeting in the basement of the Capitol, John. Amongst all – House Republicans getting together, kind of try to figure out their strategy, but it seems when they left, that they really put the brakes on doing anything quickly on immigration reform. What's your take on this?

JOHN KING, CNN chief national correspondent: Well, Kate, optimism for a sweeping bill including a path to citizenship is now fading in Washington. It doesn't mean it's over. But let me show you why the House is very different from the country at large.

We always think about this map, right? The President won re-election. He won pretty big. And he won very big in states like New Mexico, in states like Nevada, in states like Florida, I could go on, places where the Latino vote matters. So you would think the Republicans because of those states and because of a number like this, the Republicans would be thinking, maybe we want to improve our standing with Latino voters. The President got more than 70 percent.

So, nationally, Republicans say this is a crisis, and they think immigration reform is one of the ways to improve their standing. But when it comes to the House debate on immigration, forget this map, right? Red and blue America, forget it.

Look at this map, House districts are more local. And there is a lot more red America than there is blue America. When it comes to the House, most of those conservatives go home, they don't think they need to listen to the President and some of them don't think they need to listen to their own leadership when it comes to this issue.

There are only 17 Republicans across the country who are in districts carried by President Obama. Now, the same problem exists for the Democrats, only nine Democrats go home to districts carried by Romney. So they feel safe. They don't feel pressure to compromise or vote with the other guy. Let me give you a couple of examples of what I mean. And remember, look at how much red there is in America. The President won the big urban areas and the suburbs, but if you're Steve King and you're in Iowa, you're a Tea Party congressman, you're telling John Boehner, no, I don't want to give a path to citizenship. Why? He goes home to a district that's 92 percent white, only 5 percent Latino. Steve King feels no pressure to give the speaker, the Republican Party, or the President of the United States this deal.

And I'll give you one more. You come over to Pennsylvania, a blue state, right? The President carried it big, just like he carried Iowa. But look at all the red in the middle. You got another Republican Congressman prominent in this debate, Lou Barletta. He goes home to a district, Kate, 89 percent white, only 5 percent Latino.

So, when you think about this debate in the House, and you think, boy, Republicans have to fix this problem – remember, at the House level, most of them go home, they don't see it. They see politics as local. They don't see the problem. So it creates a problem for Speaker John Boehner in trying to get a big comprehensive bill. And it means the President might not get what he wants.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN anchor: Well, and then when you look at those numbers that you just showed and you also then now have the reality that Republicans came out and they're making very clear that if they do anything, it's going to be kind of a go-slow approach, they're not going to push anything through quickly. Does that tell you that this is going to be likely a big issue in the midterms then?

KING: Well, we have to see what happens between now and then. Look, the best hope for any large reform bill is the House passes something, may not have a path to citizenship. It passes something that becomes a vehicle for compromise negotiations with the Senate. This is the same conversation we have about student loans, can they get to a point where they're at least sitting in a room trying to say, here's my plan, here's yours. Let's try to figure out if you can find common ground.

But if you don't get common ground and some people think if the President can't get almost everything he wants, he's going to say no. Instead of signing something short of his goals, instead of getting some bill, he'll carry the issue that helped him in 2012 into 2014 and beyond.

BOLDUAN: And then the big question, of course, is, if the House passes something without some pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, is there any hope that it's going to eventually pass the full Congress? I would say, probably not.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN anchor: Well, they have to do something. It's too important. And also, as John well knows, just because people are white doesn't mean they don't want a path to citizenship for new immigrants. Just about everybody who is white here came through immigration. So, it's something where people --

BOLDUAN: That's the case Republicans need to make in their district, though.

CUOMO: Well, that's what leadership is.

KING: They just don't feel that pressure back home. That problem is enough of them don't feel the pressure back home to say I'm going to give you that. They still call it amnesty and they know when they go home, they get reelected. So, they don't feel the pressure.

CUOMO: Right. But that's what being a leader is all about.
 

Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro was a News Analyst for the Media Research Center's News Analysis Division from 2010 through early 2014