Return to Transcripts main page
AT THIS HOUR
Kamala Harris Announces Presidential Run in 2020; Democrats Running in 2020 Mark MLK Day; Teen Speaks Out after Viral Video with Native American Elder. Aired 11:30-12p ET
Aired January 21, 2019 - 11:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[11:30:00] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Senator Harris joins a growing field of Democrats who have announced they are officially running for president in 2020 or have formed committees to say they are looking into it, which means they are going to be running including two other female Senators.
CNN's Kyung Lah joins me now, live from Washington.
Kyung, the Senator, Senator Harris said she was honored to announce her candidacy on MLK Day. What are you learning about the announcement --
KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: All of this was carefully timed, not just for MLK Day. It was 47 years ago this week that Shirley Chisolm, the first black woman to run for president, launched her campaign. So steeped in the symbolism, Senator Kamala Harris jumped into the race.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. KAMALA HARRIS, (D), CALIFORNIA: That's why I'm running for president of the United States.
LAH (voice-over): Senator Kamala Harris announcing her campaign on Martin Luther King Day.
HARRIS: Truth, justice, decency, equality, freedom, democracy. These aren't just words. They are the values we as Americans cherish and they are all on the line now.
I intend to fight --
HARRIS: -- for truth and transparency and trust. I intend to fight.
LAH: California's junior Senator is notable both in biography --
HARRIS: I do.
LAH: -- and her two-year tenure in the Senate.
Supporters hail Harris's rapid-fire questioning in the Senate from Supreme Court nominees --
HARRIS: Can you think of any laws that gives the government the power to make decisions about the male body?
BRETT KAVANAUGH, U.S. SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: I'm not aware -- I'm not thinking of any right now, Senator.
LAH: -- to Justice Department officials.
ROD ROSENSTEIN, U.S. DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL: He has -- he has --
HARRIS: Yes or no, sir?
ROSENSTEIN: He has the full independence as authorized by the regulations --
HARRIS: Are you willing to do as has been done before?
UNIDENTIFIED SENATOR: Will the Senator suspend?
LAH: Making more than one of them squirm.
JEFF SESSIONS, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: I'm not able to be rushed this fast. It makes me nervous.
HARRIS: A lot of the work I have done has been inspired --
LAH: The native of Oakland says she embodies everything California stands for and what the president is against. She is the daughter of immigrants, a father from Jamaica and a mother from southern India, both active in the civil rights era.
HARRIS: It was about fighting for justice. It was about fighting to make sure that all people had a say in their future.
LAH: Harris graduated from Howard University, returning to Oakland to become a prosecutor. As a San Francisco district attorney, Harris crafted innovative programs to reform the criminal justice system at a time when other prosecutors were taking a tough on crime approach.
LAH: And despite political pressure from her own party, she refused to seek the death penalty against the killer of a police officer, sticking to a core campaign pledge and personal belief.
HARRIS: I am humbled to be chosen to be the next attorney general.
LAH: But she would defend the death penalty as California's first black woman attorney general, still personally opposed, but upholding state law, coming under fire from activists.
HARRIS: I now declare you spouses for life.
LAH: When the Supreme Court allowed marriage equality to stand in California, she officiated the first legal same-sex marriages in 2013.
HARRIS: Any day that justice is delayed, I would suggest that justice is denied.
LAH: All part of her pledge to be a progressive prosecutor.
HARRIS: It is a false choice to suggest that one is either in favor of the Second Amendment or in favor of reasonable gun safety rules. We can be both.
LAH: That history is both an asset and an opening for attack.
HARRIS: We are so brave -- and we are so --
LAH: A question that may follow her to the campaign, as it did on her book tour, is it possible to be both a top cop and a reformer for progressives?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you say to those who hear that and read that and still say you are anti-police?
HARRIS: It's just not true.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I had to add that.
HARRIS: That's why I say we have to have the truth. It's not true. It's not true. It's not true, period.
LAH: And her race is off and running. She heads to South Carolina this week and then home to Oakland for a rally officially launching her campaign. And then the following day, Kate, she will head to Iowa where she will be having a town hall, hosted by CNN, moderated by Jake Tapper, where Iowa voters will be able to directly ask her questions -- Kate?
BOLDUAN: Jump in the race and you hit the ground running.
It's great to see you, Kyung. Thank you so much.
LAH: You bet.
[11:34:45] BOLDUAN: So coming up for us, as Kamala Harris jumps in the race for 2020, does that mean the pressure is mounting for anyone who is going to do the same to do it now? And does today offer any hints of what the Democratic field will eventually look like as Democrats have fanned out across the country to mark Martin Luther King Day.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BOLDUAN: That sweet music is back. Election on its way. It's not just Kamala Harris. Just about everyone who has announced or thinking about announcing a run for president is out and about on this day that we commemorate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Take a look at this map of today. Former Vice President Joe Biden, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, they're at an MLK breakfast in Washington. Senator Elizabeth Warren is attending a King memorial breakfast in Boston. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has an event later today in her home state of New York. New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, they are both in South Carolina marking the day's events.
CNN's Rebecca Buck is in Columbia, South Carolina, where a lot of this is playing out.
Rebecca, what are you hearing there?
[11:40:21] REBECCA BUCK, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: That's right, Kate. Bernie Sanders, Cory Booker, neither have announced that they are in the race for president yet but they will be speaking on the capitol steps behind me sending an unmistakable message that they are taking South Carolina and the African-American vote very seriously as they prepare for potential campaigns.
South Carolina is home to the first-in-the-south primary. And 61 percent of the electorate was African-American during the 2016 election. Bernie Sanders and Cory Booker in very different places when it comes to cultivating their relationship with this community. Cory Booker, an African-American candidate, spent the weekend with civil rights icon, John Lewis, in Georgia, talking about Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement. He often talks about the civil rights movement in stump speeches as a core part of who he would be as a candidate. Bernie Sanders struggled in 2016 with African-American voters. We spoke with Congressman Clyburn here today and he said Bernie Sanders had challenges but he believes he is working to fix them and this appearance today sends a strong message in that regard -- Kate?
BOLDUAN: Important to hear from everyone on this day.
Great to see you, Rebecca. Thank you so much.
Joining me now, Mark Preston, CNN senior political analyst, and also Maeve Reston, CNN national political reporter.
It's great to see you guys.
Mark, if there was any question of the dominant role African-American voters will play in the Democratic primary, does this non-campaign campaign stop answer that for everyone?
MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: They always have played a role. The question is where will they play the role? You are absolutely right, if you look at somebody like Kamala Harris who is looking at starting her campaign in Iowa but the idea is that it can sling shot her to New Hampshire, which can then sling shot her down to South Carolina, where she could perhaps find a very friendly constituency. We are going to see the calendar change and we are going to see African-Americans play a big role in states, such as California, which will be voting on March 3. Kate, this is a big deal. That is why we are seeing everyone across the country right now, at least those seeking the Democrat nomination, attend these events.
Maeve, you have been covering building up the Kamala Harris campaign closely. She is heading to South Carolina on Friday. Does her path to victory go through South Carolina rather than Iowa and New Hampshire?
MAEVE RESTON, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: South Carolina really is what she wants to be her launch pad. They are looking at trying to get a strong finish in Iowa and New Hampshire that would give her momentum to go into South Carolina where she would hope to consolidate that African-American vote. And particularly, with her strong appeal among African-American women, who, as we know, are the key to the Democratic nomination and some of the most reliable voters for Democrats. Beyond that, as you look at the calendar, and Mark just mentioned that this could change, what they see as their path is this swing through the southeastern states that dominate the early calendar, states like Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama. A lot of those states where she potentially could talk to voters about her unique appeal as the daughter of immigrants. Her mother is from India and father from Jamaica, someone who grew up with the strollers-eye view of the civil rights movement. That's the image she's trying to put forward. It's why she announced today. And clearly, that is what they hope her path will be -- Kate?
BOLDUAN: Mark, a week from today, CNN is hosting a town hall just announced with Harris in Iowa. What do you think the big questions are that she will be facing there?
PRESTON: A couple of things. Can you imagine that we are talking about doing town halls for a presidential race in Iowa?
BOLDUAN: It's so unusual.
PRESTON: It was like just yesterday, wasn't it? She is going to get a lot of questions about her past and her history and her work as a D.A. in San Francisco as well as attorney general. Was she tough on sentencing? Was she somebody that could have taken a greater stand against the injustice that we have seen? Certainly, you would think that that will be a lot of the questioning that she will receive, not only next week but throughout the campaign.
BOLDUAN: We all love a one-on-one interview, says every journalist everywhere. I do love the town hall format. It is really illustrative I how they handle the questions coming out and interacting with voters and caucus goers. It's a great opportunity.
[11:45:00] BOLDUAN: Totally wild, totally wild, Maeve.
So, Mark, just hit on it, Maeve. Part of the background that Harris talks about is her history as a prosecutor. But it is that history that some in her own party have questions about. She was asked about it this morning on ABC. Let me play you what she said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC ANCHOR: She said the left has to get over its bias against law enforcement. What did you mean by that? Do you think that will be a problem for you in the Democratic primaries?
HARRIS: I think it is a false choice to suggest that communities don't want law enforcement. Most communities do. They don't want excessive force. They don't want racial profiling. But then, nobody should.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: There was a lot of political energy around Black Lives Matter in 2016 and beyond. In the movement heading into 2020, how is that answer going to play?
RESTON: I think, Kate, that this is the biggest question facing her candidacy because her background as a prosecutor is her double-edged sword. It is the reason why she has been so effective in drilling Trump nominees, from Brett Kavanaugh to John Kelly, all the way down the line. People love that idea of toughness, that she would stand up to the big banks as attorney general and wouldn't be bullied by Trump. At the same time, she has a long record. There are a lot of cases that cut both ways. She was overseeing the crime lab when there was a huge scandal in San Francisco about evidence being tainted in drug crimes. She took a position on the death penalty, she personally opposed it, but then defended it as attorney general out of professional duties. So a lot of activists will have to come to grips with that and decide whether she can be their nominee -- Kate?
BOLDUAN: Some of the questions she'll get one week from today in the CNN town hall.
Great to see you guys. Thank you so much.
BOLDUAN: CNN is hosting the town hall with Kamala Harris in Des Moines next Monday 10:00 p.m. Eastern. Jake Tapper moderates. We'll all be there.
Coming up --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: -- outrage after a video of a standoff between a Kentucky teenager and a Native American elder went viral. But there's more to the story now. That student is now speaking out. That's next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[11:51:17] BOLDUAN: In the social media age of instant outrage, there seems no time ever for back story or context or a full view of any story. That could be the case with this most recent viral video that's proving to be more complicated than first thought. A Kentucky teenager wearing a Make America Great Again hat seems to be staring down a Native American elder Friday in Washington. That student is now sharing his side of the story.
CNN's Sara Sidner has been looking into all of this.
There's a lot more to that video, Sara, than just that moment that most folks saw on Friday. What are you learning?
SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There almost always is, Kate. He was, indeed, staring down into the face of a Native American elder but the elder was doing the same. What we've seen in an hour-plus-long video is what happened before that and how the two groups came together and how nasty things were before they even came face to face. The video that went viral.
SIDNER (voice-over): The Catholic high school student who comes face to face with a Native American elder in a viral video is now responding. In a statement, student, Nick Sandmann, says the viral video does not reflect the true nature of events when the students arrived at the Lincoln Memorial.
"When we arrived, we saw four African-American protesters who were also on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial." He said, "The protesters said hateful things."
Indeed, a small group of black men who identified as Hebrew Israelites did say hateful things to seemingly everyone around them, including a priest.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A bunch of child molesters --
SIDNER: And the students. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: See how you got those pompous bastards around here
in the middle of a native rally with they dirty ass hat on?
SIDNER: When a black visitor tried to stand up against their rhetoric, he faces hate, too.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You got all these dirty ass crackers behind you with a red Make America Great Again hat on and your coon ass, you want to fight your brother.
SIDNER: At first the Catholic students, there for the March for Life, are still in small numbers but more and more show up, watching but not engaging. The small group of men continue taunting them.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A bunch of incest babies. A bunch of babies made out of incest.
SIDNER: Sandmann says the rhetoric was startling. "Because we were being loudly attacked and taunted in public, a student asked one of our teacher chaperones for permission to begin school spirit chants to counteract the hateful things that were being shouted at our group."
And they do. At one point, a student removes his shirt and the chants drown everything out.
Two minutes later, you hear a drumbeat. That is Nathan Phillips, an Omaha tribe elder, and another drummer. Phillips said it was their attempt to thwart potential violence. The kids danced to it. They began chanting along.
NATHAN PHILLIPS, NATIVE AMERICAN & VIETNAM VETERAN: I realized I had put myself in a really dangerous situation, you know. It was like, here's a group of people who were angry at somebody else, and I put myself in front of that.
SIDNER: Phillips, a Vietnam veteran, walks around. Other students avoid him, until you see him come face to face with a student who has now gone viral.
In a statement, the student says he was the one trying to deescalate the situation, not Phillips. "I believe by remaining motionless and calm, I was helping to defuse the situation. I realize everyone had cameras and perhaps a group of adults was trying to provoke a group of teenagers into a larger conflict."
Sandmann has every opportunity to move back. So does Phillips. Neither do.
While they faced off, kids face more taunting from the Hebrew Israelites.
[11:55:09] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a bunch of future school shooters.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's right.
SIDNER: While Phillips maintains he felt the kids were mocking him and being rude, Sandmann says it was the adults using hateful words and trying to provoke the kids, not the other way around.
SIDNER: Now, the diocese that oversees the Covington Catholic High School, after the initial viral video came out, said they condemned the students' actions towards Nathaniel Phillips, the elder there, and towards Native Americans in general. They still have not rescinded that condemnation saying there's going to be an investigation. The mayor of the city also condemned.
But a congressman, Thomas Massey, who represents the district, says he actually backs these kids and believes they were the target of bigotry and hatred. And he wanted to make clear he stands with them -- Kate?
BOLDUAN: Sara, thank you for taking the time to give more context to this. I really appreciate it.
Coming up, Democrats stands their ground, rejecting the president's new plan for border wall money and to reopen the government. So how much worse does it have to get before they all start talking? That's coming up.
[12:00:00] JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Welcome to INSIDE POLITICS. I'm John King. Thank you for sharing your day with us.
The partial government shutdown now entering its second month. No end in sight as the second missed pay day for federal workers looms.