Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union,” while discussing the ongoing feud between Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and his opponent Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) about their wives, Trump adviser Stephen Miller said a more important women’s issues is American women being at risk of female genital mutilation.
According to Miller, important women’s issues are being ignored as the focus has been on this back-and-forth between Trump and Cruz.
One of those issues includes the half a million U.S. girls that “are at risk of female genital mutilation.”
Miller was citing a statistic featured on Newsweek’s website on Feb. 6, 2015 from Equality Now, an international human rights group, which warned of the threat to women that have immigrated to the United States from African countries face regarding female genital mutilation.
Partial transcript as follows:
TAPPER: That was Ted Cruz going after Donald Trump for retweeting a less-than-flattering picture of Heidi Cruz next to a nice picture of Melania Trump this week. It sparked a war of words on both sides. It all started after an anti-Trump super PAC used suggestive photographs of Melania, a former model, in ads targeted at Mormons ahead of the Utah caucuses. Let’s talk it all over with the panel, who joins me now.
Stephen Miller is a senior adviser to Donald Trump. Neera Tanden is president of the Center for American Progress and a former senior adviser to Hillary Clinton. Former Ohio State Senator Nina Turner supports Bernie Sanders. And also with us today, Doug Heye, former Republican National Committee communications director. Stephen, I’ll start with you. You’re an adviser to Donald Trump. He stands by his decision to print this — to tweet this, my wife is hotter than your wife tweet. Do you think this is presidential?
STEPHEN MILLER, SENIOR ADVISER TO DONALD TRUMP: I think it says a lot about the conscience of Washington D.C. How many hours we spent discussing a retweet and it would be nice if one tenth the outrage that has been spent and indignation over this retweet had instead been spent this summer when Kate Steinle was murdered in cold blood by an illegal immigrant in San Francisco. I was working in the Senate in the time. Congress did nothing when an American citizen was murdered and died in her father’s arms in cold blood. We get wrong about what we’re mad about in America. We don’t get mad when Americans are murdered by illegal immigrants. We don’t get mad when people have their jobs taken by cheap or foreign workers here on visa programs. We don’t get mad when entire cities are crushed by our trade policies to send jobs overseas.
TAPPER: I understand why you want to change the subject.
MILLER: A big part of the Trump campaign is that people want to get mad about the right things. That’s what I am saying.
TAPPER: We’re talking about something that your boss tweeted and he could have tweeted something about Kate Steinle that moment but he chose to tweet something about
MILLER: Nobody has brought more attention to the issue of sanctuary city and Kate Steinle (INAUDIBLE) Donald Trump and if you look at his twitter account he tweeted about Brussels all day long and we’re not talking about that.
TAPPER: We just did a whole segment on Brussels. Doug, let’s go to you. What was your take? I know you’re not a big Trump supporter. What was your take on the, my wife is hotter than your wife tweet?
DOUG HEYE, FORMER RNC COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: … a retweet of — I’ll never be a Donald Trump supporter. I think you’re right. We should have paid more attention to what happened in sanctuary cities and that murder in California, but we also know this is part of how Donald Trump has run his campaign from day one. Create another (INAUDIBLE) whether it’s my wife is hotter than your wife or some scandal in the “National Enquirer” or Lindsey Graham’s cell phone or Carly Fiorina’s face, it’s create an outrage (INAUDIBLE) so that we do anything but talk about the fact that Donald Trump doesn’t have specific answers on specific questions. The emperor doesn’t have any clothes and he doesn’t have any answers.
TAPPER: Let me get your take on this, Neera, because I know that Democrats think that this type of story is going to help them in November when it comes to winning over women voters. Do you think that’s the case?
NEERA TANDEN, PRESIDENT AND CEO, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: Well, if you look at polls today (INAUDIBLE) Donald Trump is doing very, very poorly. A lot of women voters find him repulsive and it’ precisely because of these attacks he makes on how women look and judging their appearance, et cetera. It’s not one tweet. It’s what he has done this whole election cycle. Two other Republicans including Carly Fiorina. So, you know, I think the challenge for the Republican Party is that their debate every day is an embarrassment. It’s an embarrassment to Republicans. They’re embarrassed by these debates. And you see that and how many Republicans saying they’re getting turned off. It’s not just women. It’s Democrats, independents and Republicans who are repulsed by, this is like junior high school. In fact, I’m sorry. It’s below junior high school debate.
TAPPER: Stephen (ph) I’ll come to you in a second. I do want to have you weigh in here. It does seem though in Stephen’s defense — in Donald Trump’s defense it does seem that no matter what he says or does that defend the likes of us around panels, tables in Washington D.C. the voters, his supporters don’t care and he continues to win.
NINA TURNER (D), FORMER OHIO STATE SENATOR: Jake, you hit a very important point. I mean, Mr. Trump said, he can go out and shoot somebody and still get elected. You know, he said that a few months ago. So that might be true. I just wish him and Senator Cruz just go ahead and duel it out and let us all — put us all out of our misery. They just go out there and have —
TAPPER: Hamilton and Burr —
TURNER: Exactly (ph) just get out there and duel it out.
TAPPER: Go to Weehawken, New Jersey?
TURNER: In terms of women, you know, it’s obvious that folks are still voting for Mr. Trump and that is the point that it’s easy to point the finger at him and absolutely he is wrong. Senator Cruz is not much better but folks are voting for Mr. Trump and it’s not just men. Women are voting for Mr. Trump as well. And so we’re going to have to deal with that.
TAPPER: Stephen, you would like to be talking about sanctuary cities. You would like to be talking about immigration policies. Mr. Trump is the one who has set this table.
MILLER: I think it’s a choice that the political class makes in D.C. (INAUDIBLE) what they want to focus on. Again, if you looked at his Twitter account he was talking at length about Brussels, about immigration, about assimilation, about the problem of radical Islam and how that relates to our immigration policies. The political class in D.C. — and I’ve seen this. I’ve worked here for years. The political class in D.C. works itself up into a feigned indignation over the things that don’t really affect the lives —
TAPPER: I don’t think anyone is feigning anything to be quite frank.
HEYE: There’s nothing feigned here. I watched the interview with Kate Bolduan and God bless her for being as tough on you as you (ph) was (ph). When you said let’s agree to disagree on sexism.
MILLER: You know what? I didn’t say —
MILLER: You want to get into an argument. Then we’ll get into an argument. If that’s what you want you want to get into an argument then we will get into an argument.
TAPPER: Stephen, let him finish and I’ll let you talk.
MILLER: You said you’re going to talk over me.
HEYE: We’re not going to agree on sexism.
MILLER: You interrupted me —
HEYE: We’re not going to agree on —
TAPPER: Stephen, hold on one second. Let Doug —
MILLER: He just accused me of standing up for sexism…
MILLER: … and that is absolutely — that is absolutely inappropriate, sir.
HEYE: I am not yelling at you.
MILLER: That is inappropriate.
HEYE: If you want to yell at me that’s fine because I watch what you said.
MILLER: I will because you know what?
TAPPER: Let him finish.
MILLER: You misquoted me. That is a lie.
TAPPER: What did you say?
MILLER: I said in that interview what I’m saying right now which is that it is a trivial issue to be debating retweets when it is a fact that you have Americans dying every single day as a result of immigration policies. That’s what I was saying. You said that we don’t have real solutions to problems I just spent the other day in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, a once great American town, a thriving hub of industry. The steel industry shut down and the town is dying. Do you know why the steel industry shut down? Because the political class in D.C. didn’t care about product dumping. They didn’t care about foreign shooting just like Americans all over this country see their communities destroyed by uncontrolled migration. This is not a joke.
TAPPER: I don’t think it’s a joke.
MILLER: You want to talk about women’s issues?
MILLER: You want to talk about women’s issues? Here’s something we should be talking about. This is a fact. As a result of uncontrolled migration into this country, you can look this up. It’s a statistic from a Equality Now — half a million U.S. girls in this country are at risk of female genital mutilation.
TANDEN: Oh my God.
TANDEN: This is exactly what happens. He says something outrageous —
MILLER: I’m not saying something outrageous.
MILLER: You don’t think that statistic is correct?
TANDEN: No. I don’t think so.
MILLER: You don’t think that statistic is correct?
TANDEN: No. I don’t think — I don’t think…
TANDEN: … girls.
TAPPER: Let Neera —
MILLER: You don’t think — that is a statistic.
TAPPER: You let Neera finish first.
TANDEN: Do you mind if I respond?
TAPPER: Go ahead, Neera. Go ahead.
TANDEN: The fact is that we actually want to fight sexism in America I agree with Doug that the wrong way to go is Donald Trump who judges women on their looks, who says terrible things about women in every way he could possibly do. And the reality is that the reason why he is losing women in the general electorate, the reason why independent women, young conservative women say they will never vote for Donald Trump is because of what he does every day. Not a retweet. Just the things that come out of his mouth regularly.
Follow Pam Key on Twitter @pamkeyNEN