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2020 Race In Texas Tonight; Another Disaster For Boeing After A Flight Carrying More Than 150 People Crashes Overseas; Final Assault On ISIS In Syria Has Begun. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired March 10, 2019 - 18:00   ET


[18:00:02] ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York.

The 2020 race deep in the heart of Texas tonight as Democrats vying to take on President Trump descent on the south by southwest festival in Austin. It's also the site of three CNN presidential town halls tonight with the contenders you see there on your screen. Former Maryland congressman John Delaney, Hawaii congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard and south bend Indiana mayor, Pete Buttigieg.

And in this very crowded field, brand new polling shows that two of the party's most high-profile members, Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders leading the pack nearly one year before the critical first in the nation Iowa caucuses.

Dana Bash is CNN's chief political correspondent and the moderator for one of tonight's three town halls.

Dana, what clues do we get from the polling when it comes to, a, breaking out as the candidate to beat Trump and b, escaping the shadow of Joe Biden?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: It's going to be hard to escape both Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, according to CNN's new poll. I mean, it's really remarkable, you showed sort of the top line number of just how well both Joe Biden who, by the way, is not even an official candidate yet, and Bernie Sanders are doing, then there's everybody else. I mean, it's almost quite literally that way.

But the other really noteworthy thing that I found in this poll, there are a lot of really interesting tidbits, but one that I think is interesting given the fact we are going to see some candidates tonight on CNN's town hall who are definitely on the young -- skew younger, that there is a divide between Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden among potential caucus goers by age and by generation.

And Bernie Sanders, who, by the way, is the oldest candidate, 77, he by far has the younger crowd more locked up and Joe Biden has those who tend to be a little bit older.

So there's a divide not only in terms of how the voters see themselves on the political spectrum, but also how they land in terms of the timeline spectrum of their age. CABRERA: That is interesting, Dana, thee candidates who don't enjoy

the name recognition of Biden and Sanders who weren't on that slate that we put up because they didn't make that level. And in terms of the percent of voter support, they will be our town hall tonight where the world, the nation, will get a chance to learn more about them. What can they hope to accomplish with a national stage tonight?

BASH: Introducing themselves to the country. Introducing themselves in a way that certainly in a place like Iowa, which you were just talking about, the first in the nation caucus date, the expectation is to see these candidates in their living rooms.

But before a caucus goer even decides with this huge field that they want to go to somebody's living room to hear Pete Buttigieg or Tulsi Gabbard speak, they have to at least get a little bit of interest in them. And that's what these town halls are about. They each get an hour. They get questions from audience members who are here in Austin. Voters who are going to be participating in the Democratic primaries across the country and they are going to get asked questions about the issues.

A lot of the issues that we ask about at these polls, the issues that caucus and primary voters are saying are really determinative to who they're going to support as the candidate that they hope will go up against and beat Donald Trump.

CABRERA: Dana Bash, thank you. We look forward to seeing you in action tonight.

I want to bring in CNN's senior political analyst and former adviser to four Presidents, David Gergen.

David, I want to play you something that newly elected congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said this weekend.


REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D), NEW YORK: What people think will win is wrong. They will say, oh, I believe x, y, z, but I think the thing that will win is something other than what I believe.


CABRERA: David, her message about people maybe voting for who they want to win, versus who they think will win, and then you look at this new polling from Iowa, Biden leading with moderates and conservatives and Sanders with liberals and hear what Ocasio-Cortez is saying, do you see Biden versus Sanders as a battle for whether Democrats are ultimately comfortable putting their most progressive candidates up against Trump?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, at the moment, Ana, but it's very, very early. And there are these other candidates who are just being introduced to the public. And, you know, some are doing better than others. But I just think it -- yes, is this representative of what we are

seeing during the race? Yes. We are going to see a moderate wing of the party conflict with a more progressive wing of the party. I do think that there are people in the progressive side whose views are such they may live in, say, a Massachusetts or Rhode Island or a Connecticut or something like that, whose views are quite liberal, but they think -- if the race were range were only at the national level in their states, their progressive views would dominate and would win.

But the fact is, you still got to bring in the Wisconsins and the Iowas and the Pennsylvanias and the Michigans. They are pretty in. You got to get in the Midwest. You got to build to win Ohio. And to do that, we do know that the voters there are more conservative and more moderate. And then when you get price tags on these big programs, people begin to realize how much they are going to cost.

You are going to see some real movement away from them, I think, although, you know, the idea, Medicare for all, is very, very appealing to the base, a majority of people in the Democratic Party. The idea of doing something dramatic about climate change is very appealing to a big majority of people on the Democratic side. But there is this fear among some progressives and a lot of centrists if they run somebody too far to the left that Trump will win again.

[18:06:00] CABRERA: CNN's senior White House correspondent Jeff Zeleny also with us here.

Jeff, this was a big week for people to announce they weren't running, Sherrod Brown, Hillary Clinton, Michael Bloomberg, Eric Holder, Jeff Merkley. How does that change the dynamics of the race moving forward?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, there's no question that the race is crystalizing. It is taking shape really week by week. And I think this was a big week because had mayor Bloomberg gotten into this Democratic race, yes, he would have had an uphill climb, no question. Largely because he is not seen necessarily by some activists in the party as a Democrat. But, boy, had he gotten in, he would have been spending a lot of money and that would have impacted everything.

Particularly, as the race goes on. California has moved up its primary to just the month after Iowa and New Hampshire. So had Bloomberg gotten in, he would have had an impact on the race. But since he is going to be on the outside still trying to influence the dialogue, that is significant.

But I thinker Sherrod Brown is the biggest development of this week. I traveled around with him when he was doing an exploratory tour in Iowa. And he was visiting the counties that President Trump won that Barack Obama had carried in 2008 and 2012, making the explicit message that Democrats need to go after these Trump counties, if you will.

So by having Sherrod Brown out of the race, I think that leaves an opening for some, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota probably first and foremost. Also vice president Biden if he gets in as we expect him to. We always talk about who gets in, having a big impact, but also we should point out who is not getting in also shapes the race.


ZELENY: So the race did come together more this week. And Beto O'Rourke, we mentioned him as well. He was here in Austin over the weekend. Everyone close to him tells me they expect him to get in pretty soon. That will be another potentially -- we don't know if it will be a game changer but will help define this race, no doubt.

CABRERA: When you said his name, I started to kind of giggle because I think, God, he is leaving a big cliffhanger out there since he announced ten days ago, I have made by decision, you will learn what it is soon and the nation waits.

David, do you think some of the candidates who made their decision not to run were impacted by the idea that Biden is supposedly 95 percent committed to run?

GERGEN: I think it has held some people back who we haven't heard from Terry McAuliffe, for example. If Biden does not run, it's widely expected that Terry McAuliffe of Virginia who's very close to the Clintons but also was governor of Virginia, an effective governor, that he would get in and be competitive.

But to go back to this, you know, and agree with most of what Jeff said, to go back to this, I don't think it's shaped up that much. This is still very fluid. For example, Kamala Harris has gotten off to a very good start. She is rising in the polls. But having that California primary early gives her a leg up, and, you know, for going after delegates, it's going to be extremely important in how this all shakes out.

CABRERA: Senator Tammy Duckworth made an interesting comment this week about the race when she said, "I just wish there were more Mid- Westerners. I'm more depressed by the news that Sherrod's not getting in than anything else."

Jeff, back to you, we do have Amy Klobuchar from Minnesota, Mayor Pete Buttigieg of Indiana. But overall, do you think they are well positioned to court that part of the country?

ZELENY: There's no question that's a central question of Senator Klobuchar's message. Also part of the message for other candidates who aren't from the Midwest. I mean, Bernie Sanders has a strong populist message.

Now, there are limits to that, of course. We saw one other interesting development in "the Des Moines Register"/CNN poll that we have been talking about. Even among liberals, some 44 percent of liberals in that poll say Senator Sanders is too liberal for them. So I think that's an important dynamic as David was talking about earlier to watch in this race, is the party drifting too far to the left?

But geographically, there is still an opening for, I think, someone from the middle of the country which, again, why I think the decision for Sherrod Brown not to run was certainly a significant one. We will see if Mayor Pete Buttigieg can sort of fill that lane. He is running as a generational candidate. Not necessarily as a candidate who is, you know, from, you know, going to talk to a lot of these voters in the Midwest.

[18:10:21] CABRERA: Right. Can't get over he is only 37 years old.

David, go ahead.

GERGEN: I was going to ask Jeff what he felt about Joe Biden's popularity in the Midwest. Can he fill that lane with Sherrod Brown now out, is Biden, who does well in Pennsylvania, for example?

ZELENY: I think there's no question at all to that, David. And we know that President Trump talks about Joe Biden. I'm told with one word, "Pennsylvania." they believe Joe Biden can carry Pennsylvania. So I think in a general election, Joe Biden without question is the strongest candidate, as we see right now.

But campaigns allow candidates to grow. We will see who grows at the end of this. No doubt, Joe Biden has that lane. His challenge, of course, is navigating this obstacle course of a left-leaning primary. We just don't know how he will do in that. But the only way to find out is for him to jump into the race which we believe he will do in April. But, again, he has to make that decision and he has not up until yet.

CABRERA: David, you mentioned a couple of times just how early we really are still in this process.


CABRERA: And on that note, we heard an optimistic tone from Presidential hopeful Julian Castro earlier today. Listen.


JULIAN CASTRO (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I can tell that as I spend time in Iowa that I'm going to gain traction. And as you know, if it we were to look at any presidential cycle over the last 40 years, oftentimes, it's people that have started off at three percent, one percent, two percent, including Donald Trump, at one point was at one percent right before he announced, that can win the nomination and so there's a long road, a long journey, and I'm going to go out there and make my case.


CABRERA: Does he have a point?

GERGEN: Absolutely, he has a point. And, you know, we have seen time after time somebody starts with one percent or two percent. You know, look at Barack Obama, came out of nowhere, you know, and nobody thought he was going to win Iowa and that was stunning. And that victory really propelled him to the nomination. Had he lost Iowa, he would never have won the nomination. So it -- you can do it. We have seen that before. I do think you

have got to have a spark. You have got to have something that makes people say, wow, I really am more impressed -- I looked at the field, this person really, really impresses me.

I come back to Kamala Harris. I think she's had more of that spark early on than most of the other candidates and helped get her into a more favorable position. But --

CABRERA: I like to think that the CNN town halls have something to do with the movement that we have seen in polls.

GERGEN: I'm sure they did.

CABRERA: After the town hall with Kamala, you see her numbers go up. Bernie Sanders had his town hall. His numbers went up. What do I know? David Gergen --

GERGEN: Well, people -- OK.

CABRERA: Quickly.

GERGEN: People are hungry. The Democratic Party, most of all, is hungry to get a new party in the White House.

CABRERA: All right. David Gergen, Jeff Zeleny, thanks. Good to have both of you on with us on this Sunday.

GERGEN: Thank you.

CABRERA: It's a CNN exclusive.

Going to take you across the world right now. Ben Wedeman has been witnessing an all-out battle to capture the last ISIS enclave in Syria.


CABRERA: CNN is the only U.S. network on the front lines. We will go live to Ben in Syria next.

Plus, another disaster for Boeing after a flight carrying more than 150 people crashes overseas. Several Americans are among the dead.


[18:17:54] CABRERA: Plane crash investigators from the U.S. are heading for east Africa right now, this after a commercial airliner crashed today near the capital of Ethiopia. One hundred fifty seven people died. Everyone onboard when a Boeing 737 belonging to Ethiopian airlines went down just a few minutes after takeoff. Passengers from 35 different countries are among those killed, including eight Americans.

Journalist Robyn Kriel is at that crash site for CNN.


ROBYN KRIEL, JOURNALIST: The sun is setting in the area where this plane crashed, a really large sort of cavernous field in amongst mountains south of Addis Ababa, the area of (INAUDIBLE). It is an incredibly remote area. It was difficult to get to.

Across this about 500-meter crash site, there are debris strewn from pieces of the plane's fuselage to burnt out newspapers in French, to Ethiopian airlines paper napkins, business cards, and even pieces from what looks like flight maps that would have come from the cockpit.

As I said, the sun is setting. A couple hundred people mostly from the surrounding villages have gathered here to witness what is an incredibly horrific crash site, at the same time it is a real blow to Ethiopian airlines. They are extremely proud of this -- of this airline.

Robyn Kriel, CNN, near Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.


CABRERA: Mary Schiavo is with us now. She is a former inspector general at the U.S. department of transportation and our aviation analyst.

Mary, we know that an NTSB team is on the way to Ethiopia, on that crash site right now. What happens when they get there? What's priority one?

MARY SCHIAVO, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Well, priority one, obviously, secure the site. There seems to be a lot of people milling about. And they have to secure it. But the NTSB is there because they are among a few other countries really the world experts on black box data downloads, reading, figuring out what's on there.

And that, and I believe in this crash, b ISIS going to have the answers. Because this is 737 max. It has the newest models of black boxes. It records approximately a thousand lines of data from different parts of the aircraft and the instruments, the speed, everything about the aircraft and the cockpit voice recording is 25 hours long so they would have prior flights on it as well. So that will be the NTSB's primary interest and obviously Boeing's on its way, too, and it's a big issue for Boeing. If this is the second one related to this controller system, it is trouble.

[18:20:29] CABRERA: And so on that note, Mary, because the specific model of airliner, again, it's the Boeing 737 max 8. A new aircraft for Boeing. An identical model that crashed just a few months ago back in October in Indonesia. I mean, what does your gut tell you, is this coincidence or could there be an issue with this model of airliner?

SCHIAVO: Well, an air crash investigation, there really is no coincidence. You are looking for new clues and you always look to crashes of the past to see if they give you any light, shed any light as to where to start here. And so, obviously, they will be using the Lyon air crash, looking at

the similarities both on takeoff, both they hadn't made their cruising altitude, both when they started getting in trouble, they were at the exact same speed, according to flight radar. And it could be wrong. But I think it was 383 knots. Both planes at that speed. At this point, they might have just been taking off the flaps, maybe not. And the pilot reported a problem with air speed indicators, according to other pilots that heard it on the com line. That could be wrong, too.

So the similarities go far beyond just the same kind of plane on takeoff. There are just a lot of similarities that investigators should not overlook and write off as coincidence.

CABRERA: Talk to me about the flight data recorders, and what you and other airline safety experts to want to see when those recorders are found. What exactly will you be listening or looking for?

SCHIAVO: Well, two things. Most -- the first and foremost thing that give you a lot of clues is what the pilots were saying to each other. If other pilots on the communications line heard something about an air speed indicator problem, that the two air speed indicators weren't matching or they had a problem with what they believe was a faulty air speed indicator, that's a huge clue right there. And the pilots most likely were struggling in the cockpit trying to do everything they can to save the plane. And the things that they tried in troubleshooting will be immediately apparent to the investigators, what they were trying to do.

And the flight data recorders will show you exactly what went wrong and whether this system called the MCAS, which is this computerized system that Boeing put in this plane, not in any other 737s that pushes the nose down despite the pilots pulling up. It will push the nose back down. That's going to be the big issue here because, obviously, that was what was at play in the Lyon air crash, but pilots that fly the 350, 737 maxes out there in the world today were all supposed to be trained on what to do if this MCAS system kicks in and puts the nose down when you don't want the nose down.

CABRERA: Wow. Interesting information. Thank you for providing that.

Mary Schiavo, we appreciate you joining us.

Coming up, on the front lines.


CABRERA: The final assault on ISIS in Syria has begun, and CNN is the only American TV network there.


[18:27:54] CABRERA: Breaking news now overseas. Very intense heavy fighting in Syria that military officials say might result in the end of ISIS as we know it.


CABRERA: Eastern Syria, near the Iraqi border, a full-scale military air and ground assault on the tiny piece of real estate that ISIS fighters were able to claim as their own. It is now surrounded. U.S.-backed forces are hammering it and the ISIS members there who chose not to surrender have nowhere to escape.

CNN is the only American TV network in this area. And our senior international correspondent Ben Wedeman is not far from those explosions and the machine gun fire.

Ben, it's after midnight there where you are. Are you hearing anything from the front about casualties or what kind of progress these U.S.-backed rebels are making against the ISIS holdouts?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: No, we actually haven't gotten any updates on the progress in this battle so far, but we have our eyes to see that the bombardment went on quite intensely for quite some time.

At the moment, it's relatively quiet. Earlier in the evening, there were fires burning in various parts of that encampment which is only about half a square mile. So as we have seen in the past, because this is actually the third such operation and attempt to retake this land square -- half square mile of territory.

The other two times they had to stop to allow what ended up to be an exodus, almost more than 30,000 people including many ISIS fighters who surrendered, the civilians leaving, many of the civilians, it's worth noting, also are family members of the ISIS fighters.

But this time, the Syrian democratic forces, those U.S.-backed forces, said this is it, we will -- everybody who wanted to surrender has been able to surrender. And, therefore the operation is going ahead. They do understand, they do acknowledge that there are still civilians inside, but, clearly, they have no intention of leaving.

And those ISIS fighters still left inside -- their numbers are completely unknown -- are clearly those who are willing to fight to the death. And given the ferocity of some of the bombardment we've seen this evening, that's probably what they're going to get, Ana.

ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Ben Wedeman in eastern Syria. Again, thank you for your continued hard work on the ground there, keeping us apprised of the situation.

Coming up, the border battle heats up with the President set to demand more than $8 billion from Congress to build his wall. This is a new request. So what does it mean for the bigger national emergency fight?

And we have live pictures now from Austin, Texas, the site of three CNN presidential town halls tonight featuring Democratic contenders John Delaney, Tulsi Gabbard, and Pete Buttigieg. It all gets started at the top of the hour.


[18:35:05] CABRERA: President Trump launching a fresh fight with Congress over his border wall as he is set to request at least $8.6 billion for it in his 2020 budget proposal tomorrow.

Now, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer reacted this way, saying in a joint statement, Trump hurt millions of Americans and caused widespread chaos when he recklessly shut down the government to try to get his expensive and ineffective wall. Congress refused to fund his wall. The same thing will repeat itself if he tries this again. We hope he learned his lesson.

And that brings us to your weekend presidential brief, highlighting some of the most pressing national security issues the President is facing as he starts the week. And with us, CNN national security analyst Samantha Vinograd. She helped prepare the Presidential Daily Brief under President Obama.

So, Sam, now that we're learning Trump will ask for more than $8 billion for his wall in the 2020 budget that he's proposing, what does that mean for national security?

SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, maybe he thinks the third time's a charm. He didn't get this money during shutdown negotiations, and the government stayed closed. The national emergency is tied up in the courts. And now he's seemingly doubling down and asking for this money again.

But doubling down is doubly dangerous. As Pelosi and Schumer pointed out, this could lead to another intractable set of negotiations that maybe shut the government again. He's going to waste government resources and time.

And he is not fighting, Ana, for resources that could actually mitigate the root drivers of migration up toward our southern border. Recent data shows that there is an uptick in migration from countries like Guatemala, and that's because of rampant poverty. President Trump has threatened to cut off foreign assistance to Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador rather than increase it.

There is also data showing that there's been an uptick in migration more generally. So it's clear that his policy is the wall, separating families, just aren't working. Policy considerations, not politics, should drive fiscal requests. And by doubling down this time around, the President is yet again putting our national security at risk.

CABRERA: The President has allocated money in this proposal for humanitarian assistance in Venezuela. But the situation there doesn't seem to be improving, does it?

VINOGRAD: It doesn't. It seems to be getting worse. And I just have to point out here, there's such a double standard. All lives don't seem to matter equally to President Trump.

As we just discussed, he threatened to cut off funding to Central America, which would result in more humanitarian suffering, poverty, and instability.

But he is increasing suffering to ease the suffering of the Venezuelan people, which I fully support, but the only differentiator here is that Nicolas Maduro is a socialist, and President Trump is focused on unseating him and has given a whole speech about the threats that socialism poses in Latin America and, Ana, here at home, based upon how he describes the far left of the Democratic Party.

But there's a dangerous game of chicken going on, on the ground in Venezuela. Maduro is calling efforts to unseat him a coup. He's blaming us for a blackout. At the same time, Guaido, the interim president, is upping the ante. He is essentially going to declare a national emergency tomorrow to get more funding in, and he's even said that he's willing to consider letting foreign military missions enter Venezuela.

What all this tells me is if we really want to avoid violence, President Trump should get on the phone with Putin and Xi, two of Maduro's backers, and try to negotiate a peaceful end to this, what could be a very, very violent conflict.

CABRERA: We've been covering the recent developments involving North Korea, the satellite imagery about some activity at missile or satellite launch sites. What will you be watching for this week? What can we expect?

VINOGRAD: Well, national security policy should be driven by more than a feeling. President Trump said last week after this open-source imagery came to light that he was very disappointed in Kim Jong-un. Even though, Ana, this imagery is now public, we should assume the intelligence community briefed him on it weeks ago. At least before he went to the summit with Kim Jong-un.

CABRERA: And some of these pictures apparently were taken before his summit.

VINOGRAD: So he knew this before he went. I think that that's a pretty clear indication of how he went into Hanoi. But his response was to express disappointment and to give Kim Jong-un a yearlong hall pass.

He said, well, we'll see in about a year. That means Kim Jong-un can keep nuclearizing and taking these kinds of steps for at least a year. He's giving Kim Jong-un the room to continue this malign behavior.

And what we need to do is consider a response. Kim said that he would freeze these tests in exchange for us freezing military exercises. But if Kim pushes the envelope on these tests, we should reconsider, perhaps, a calibrated military exercises.

CABRERA: Samantha Vinograd, good to see you.

VINOGRAD: Thanks, Ana.

CABRERA: Thank you. Coming up, the inside story on America's most powerful political dynasty and how they put two U.S. presidents in the White House. A preview of tonight's brand-new episode of "The Bush Years," next.

But first, CNN's Alison Kosik on the big factors that could move markets this week. Here's your "Before the Bell" report. Alison?

[18:40:04] ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Ana. Analysts say until the trade dispute is resolved, we could see stocks stuck at a tight range. Since January, the market has soared on hopes of a trade deal. But last week, stocks seemed to hit a wall with no fresh developments on the China trade front. The major averages suffered their worst week of 2019, capped off by a disappointing jobs report.

This week, keep an eye on Tesla. The electric carmaker is expected to unveil its Model Y SUV on Thursday. CEO Elon Musk says it will be about 10 percent more expensive and 10 percent bigger than the Model 3.

It's been a rough ride for Tesla so far this year. Shares are down about 15 percent. Last month, the company announced it will close most of its stores and shift vehicle sales online. Analysts are worried that's a risky move.

In New York, I'm Alison Kosik.


[18:45:36] CABRERA: It's a family that's given America one senator, two governors, two first ladies, and two presidents. Tonight, the "CNN ORIGINAL SERIES," "The Bush Years," follows the rise of George H.W. Bush and how he became the 41st president of the United States. Here's a preview.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: George H.W. Bush arrives at the Republican convention having swept aside his rivals.

GEORGE W. BUSH, SON OF GEORGE H.W. BUSH: Texas cast all its votes for her favorite son and the best father in America, George Bush.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: George H.W. Bush makes his pitch to be elected leader of the free world.

BUSH: I fought for my country. I've served. I've built. And I'll go from the hills to the hollows, from the cities to the suburbs, to the loneliest town on the quietest street, to take our message of hope and growth for every American, to every American.

I will keep America moving forward, always forward, for a better America, for an endless, enduring dream, and a thousand points of light. This is my mission, and I will complete it. (APPLAUSE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just remember being inspired and moved and proud of him. We talked about how he wanted to call upon the greater good in all of us to serve our nation.


CABRERA: Joining us now is presidential historian Mark Updegrove. He's also the author of "The Last Republicans: Inside the Extraordinary Relationship between George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush."

Mark, this episode follows the emergence of George H.W. Bush onto the national political stage during the 1980 presidential election when he ran against Ronald Reagan during the Republican primaries. What type of politics did Bush represent during that time, and how did that impact his prospects for winning?

MARK UPDEGROVE, AUTHOR, "THE LAST REPUBLICANS: INSIDE THE EXTRAORDINARY RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN GEORGE H.W. BUSH AND GEORGE W. BUSH": You know, I think in 1980, he was the moderate conservative. He was not the conservative that Ronald Reagan was.

He was more or less a throwback to what northeastern Republicans once were, and he was battling against Ronald Reagan. And it was a nip and tuck battle initially, and then Ronald Reagan overtook him in New Hampshire.

But really, the battle between the two marked a change in their relationship. They -- the two men, I think, went on to respect each other a great deal. And it was a great surprise when Ronald Reagan tapped George H.W. Bush to be his Vice President at the convention in 1980.

CABRERA: And what type of Vice President was he?

UPDEGROVE: You know, I think he was marked by his loyalty and his discretion. One of the ways that George Bush earned the trust of Ronald Reagan was after the assassination attempt on Reagan's life in 1981. Reagan was in the hospital and Bush was here in the state of Texas and was brought back to Washington.

And it was suggested that he land on the south lawn of the White House. And George Bush said, look, only the President lands on the south lawn. He, instead, went to the Vice President's residence and then drove to the White House from there. And that bit of discretion was much appreciated by Ronald Reagan.

CABRERA: George W. Bush played a big role in his father's 1988 presidential campaign. What did that signify for his own political prospects?

UPDEGROVE: You know, I think it showed the trust that his father had in George W. Bush. When they were kind of planning the campaign, the 1988 presidential campaign, the Bushes met with political advisers at Camp David.

Ronald Reagan had made Camp David available to the Bush family to talk about the coming campaign. And it was suggested by Lee Atwater, George H.W. Bush's campaign manager, that George W. Bush come to Washington to help oversee the campaign because there was -- there will be nothing better than family ensuring that George H.W. Bush was being taken care of by those around the campaign.

And George W. Bush showed himself to be an able and trusted adviser to his father. And I think it informed his view of Washington and of national politics.

[18:50:04] CABRERA: And so George H.W. Bush achieves his lifelong dream. He was elected president in 1988. What does that mean personally for him, and how do you think it impacts the trajectories of his children in their political ambitions and careers?

UPDEGROVE: Well, it was a lifetime aspiration for George Bush. Since he launched his candidacy for the Senate, a failed candidacy, as it happens, in 1964, he had his eyes on the White House. That's what he really wanted.

This is an extraordinarily able and ambitious man, so to garner anything but the greatest political prize was going to be too little for him. And he was able to do so after two successful terms as Vice President, before achieving the presidency. It also meant a great deal to his family, Ana, who had been behind him from the very beginning in his political aspirations.

CABRERA: Mark Updegrove, good to have you with us. Thank you.

UPDEGROVE: Good to be with you.

CABRERA: A new episode of "The Bush Years: Family, Duty, Power," airs tonight at 10:00 p.m. right here on CNN.

One columnist called him the smartest presidential candidate you've never heard of. Former Maryland Congressman John Delaney has staked his long-shot bid for the White House on speaking truth to progressive power. But can he speak out and break out in a crowded 2020 field?


[18:55:37] CABRERA: All right. We are just moments away now from three back-to-back CNN presidential town hall events with Democratic hopefuls. The first features former Maryland Congressman John Delaney, who is actively resisting the party's pull to the left by running for a middle lane. Take a listen.


JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Do you wonder if the party is moving so far to the left that that will ensure the re- election of President Trump?

JOHN DELANEY (D), FORMER MARYLAND CONGRESSMAN: I do worry about that. I mean, if the party starts embracing kind of, if you will, socialism in a pure form, I think that's a really big mistake, right? Because it's not good policy, and it's definitely not good politics.


CABRERA: Let's bring in CNN senior Washington correspondent Jeff Zeleny live at South by Southwest, the site of tonight's town halls.

Jeff, Delaney has been running for president now for nearly two years. Two years. And yet when he steps on that stage just moments from now, it will be as a virtual unknown. What is his strategy tonight?

ZELENY: Ana, there is no question that John Delaney, the former Maryland congressman, simply wants to introduce himself to a wider audience. He has been doing it in smaller audiences all across early voting states. He is the only presidential candidate to visit all 99 counties in Iowa, a feat that is usually left to people running for senator or governor there.

But he has been making his case. He's quite frankly just trying to break through. Not only people don't necessarily know who he is, but his middle of the road moderate politics is certainly different, you know, from things we're hearing from other Democratic candidates.

But when I sat down with him earlier this week, he was talking about this pragmatism that he believes that Democrats need to focus more on solutions that can get done. Focus more on a Medicare for all but smaller versions of that, perhaps Medicaid for -- or Medicare for more, not the big sort of pie in the sky, in his words, proposals that they're talking about.

So I think you'll hear someone who is talking from a businessman's point of view. But first and foremost, Ana, he's trying to introduce himself to a wider audience and trying to essentially go down the middle. We'll see if that lane is available in this primary.

CABRERA: Yes. Currently, one percent of people in that latest Iowa poll are picking John Delaney. So at 8:00 p.m. then, we'll see Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, whose campaign got off to kind of a rocky start, Jeff.

It included headlines regarding her 2017 meeting with Bashar al-Assad in Syria, also the controversy surrounding her previous work for an anti-gay group that backed conversion therapy. Can she use tonight as a national reset?

ZELENY: Well, she certainly is trying to introduce her candidacy as someone talking about foreign policy -- that is essentially all that she is campaigning on -- and drawing on her service as a military veteran. She served in Iraq. So that is what she is bringing to this conversation.

And I can tell you, there is not a lot of foreign policy conversations going on in the Democratic field, so this is something that she is pushing on voters. She has been traveling, as well, to Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina. Again, not well-known, but tonight she'll be introducing herself as a veteran with these ideas, Ana.

CABRERA: And then finally, at 9:00 p.m., we have South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg who, at 37 years old, is the youngest candidate in the race. Let's take a listen.


ZELENY: How can you make the argument you're ready to be president?

MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG, SOUTH BEND, INDIANA: So I know you don't expect to hear this from the youngest person in the conversation, but my simplest answer is experience.

I know there's more conventional path that involves marinating in Washington for 10 or 20 or 40 years. But I actually think we want Washington to begin looking more like our best-run cities and towns, not the other way around.


CABRERA: Jeff, how is the Mayor touting his age as a virtue in this race?

ZELENY: Well, he is touting it as a virtue because of generational leadership. He says, over and over again, that it is time for a new direction, and he touts his age as someone who has new ideas.

But interestingly, Ana, he's not necessarily going after younger voters. He's going after their parents and their grandparents and trying to draw inspiration. He says he draws his inspiration from John F. Kennedy who, of course, was 43. But at age 37, certainly the youngest candidate in the field -- Ana.

CABRERA: All right, Jeff Zeleny in Austin, Texas, thank you. That's going to do it for me. I'm Ana Cabrera.

Stay tuned because we are live from South by Southwest there in Austin for three CNN presidential town halls back-to-back.

[18:59:59] Again, it's former Congressman John Delaney at 7:00 p.m., Representative Tulsi Gabbard at 8:00 p.m., and Mayor Pete Buttigieg at 9:00 p.m.