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Pete Buttigieg Campaign Raises $7-Plus Million in 1st Quarter; Democratic Contenders Kick Off Campaigns with Apologies; College Student Murdered after Getting into Wrong Car. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired April 1, 2019 - 11:30   ET



[11:32:58] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: It's a big-money boost for the once little-known mayor of South Bend, Indiana. Mayor Pete Buttigieg announcing this morning his team has raised more than $7 million since throwing his hat in the ring in January. It's like throwing your hat in the ring, sort of, kind of, maybe. He's still in the exploratory phase. He has not officially announced. What does a big money haul mean for an underdog campaign in a crowded field?

Joining me right now, CNN political director, David Chalian, and CNN political commentator, Jess McIntosh, former director of communications outreach for Hillary Clinton's 2016 campaign.

It's great to see you guys.

Jess, $7 million bucks raised in this first report. Does that tell you he has arrived? What is the message to you?

JESS MCINTOSH, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: For sure. I mean, I think for somebody who was a third-tier candidate, if even that, to have gotten the kind of coverage that he got in the last couple of weeks and had that much excitement about it, I mean, this is exciting for him. I think it is very early and we are going to see one of those primaries where everybody sort of has their moment in the front. But I do think it's a note of caution to everybody like us who talks about the 2020 race. If you spend two weeks --

BOLDUAN: As a foregone conclusion, right?

MCINTOSH: -- talking about how great and smart and substantive the candidate is, they will raise 10 points in the polls. I want to make sure we are seeing equal coverage --


BOLDUAN: You're saying don't talk about people's policy positions. I'm kidding.


MCINTOSH: I want Elizabeth Warren to get the same due for having very similar policy positions. But I feel like sometimes we get really excited about the new shiny thing and there are, in fact, a number of very good smart, qualified candidates running.

BOLDUAN: Very different people and very different personalities.

MCINTOSH: Entirely.

BOLDUAN: Personalities are one of the things that people with pointing out for with Buttigieg.

David, when you look at the field as a whole, what do these fundraising numbers tell you? What are you watching for as, obviously, more candidates are going to be reporting?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICS DIRECTOR: Right. I mean, we're going to get, unlike polls, which are not the most reliable things in the world as a metric, we're going to get a real --


BOLDUAN: Blasphemy, blasphemy, David.


BOLDUAN: Just kidding.

CHALIAN: In terms of financial strength, which, of course, matters for a long-haul race. Now, what you look for besides the top-line number, how much are these candidates spending, how much are they husbanding resources and have cash on hand. How much is coming from small-dollar donations so they can dip back into that well over and over and over again and ask those folks to donate more versus those that max out at $2800 for the donation. These are the kinds of things you are looking at. Remember, Kate, this cycle, the DNC has introduced fundraising as one of the metrics to get on the debate stage.

[11:35:28] BOLDUAN: Right.

CHALIAN: So in addition to your polling threshold. candidates need 6,500 donors from 20 different states to show that kind of fundraising appeal as a metric to get on the stage as well.

BOLDUAN: So with that, it looks like maybe -- you tell me what you think, Jess -- that Pete Buttigieg has, at the moment, a Hillary Clinton drama problem on his hands. Her spokesperson, adviser, Nick Merrill, came out over the weekend and slammed Buttigieg for -- well, this. This is what Merrill said about it. This is an interview in the "Washington Post" that was published in January. Pete Buttigieg says this, "Donald Trump got elected because, in his twisted way, he pointed out the huge troubles in our economy and our democracy." And he added, "At least he didn't go around saying that America was already great, like Hillary did."

Merrill's take is, "This is indefensible. Hillary Clinton ran on a belief in this country and the most progressive platform in modern political history. Trump ran on pessimism, racism, false promises and vitriol. Interpret that how you want but there are 66 million people who disagree. Good luck."

Do you see what Buttigieg said as indefensible?

MCINTOSH: Well, the "Washington Post" article that you just referenced was actually Buttigieg trying to clean up some comments he made about Hillary the week earlier where he criticized what he called her slogan, "I'm with her," and said it was too candidate focused. "I'm with her" is not her slogan. "Stronger together" was her slogan. Some fans adopted "I'm with her" and they went with it. Then he said Democrats focused too much on Donald Trump and we didn't have a policy based message and that was why Hillary lost, which is also not true. The "Washington Post" piece, I think, was his third attempt to explain how he wasn't going to make the same mistakes that Hillary did. I understand the impulse but it makes me nervous for him because the two biggest things that took down the 2016 campaign, the Donald Trump news cycle, and the disinformation campaign, the dirty tricks, the stolen e-mails, those things are still in play. If Pete walks out and says Hillary didn't outline a positive message correctly, I'm going to and, therefore, I'm going to win, he is not going to understand what he's up against and that concerns me as a Democrat.

BOLDUAN: He's answering to questions or bringing it up himself. David, it isn't the first time he has criticized her campaign. When I interviewed him in February, he did very much the same. Listen to this.


BUTTIGIEG: I think part of how we got here, part of how we got this president was we had an election cycle where our candidate was talking about herself or she was talking about him, and a lot of people at home were saying, OK, but who is talking about me?


BOLDUAN: What's your take, David? Is this the difference of a candidate running -- the difference a candidate from the Midwest can bring? Is that what he's trying to carve out?

CHALIAN: He tried to clean up, again, this weekend in talking to a local station in Indiana saying he's not at odds with, as Nick Merrill pointed out, the 66 million people who voted for Hillary Clinton because he was one of them, and campaigned on her behalf and expressed his respect for Secretary Clinton. But I don't think it is that unusual in American politics, even for people in the same party, to go back and criticize the nominee who lost last time around. It's always the case that the loser ends up having a terrible strategy and the winner ends up looking like a genius, no matter really the reasons behind there. Questioning the last nominee, who was on the losing end, their strategy in place, does not seem to be an out of bounds kind of thing here. But I do think what Buttigieg is learning real quickly is that he has to be real careful about separating out an attack on Hillary Clinton, the person, and maybe a broader strategy on the part of her campaign, or you're going to really raise the ire of her supporters who, as Nick rightly noted, you know, half the country or more on the popular vote. BOLDUAN: Exactly. All right. Let's see what the next chapter


Good to see you, David.

Thanks, Jess. Really appreciate it.

[11:39:22] Coming up for us, is the 2020 Democratic primary race starting to look like an apology tour? Why so many contenders keep saying sorry, next.


BOLDUAN: You don't often have to kick off a campaign apologizing, but some of the Democratic front runners have had to do just that in the 2020 race already.

Joe Biden is the latest example. Even before entering this race, acknowledging that he's shown expressions of affection to people during his years on the campaign trail, but also saying, never did I believe I acted inappropriately. So that is after former Nevada politician, Lucy Flores, said that Biden made her feel, in her words, "uneasy, gross and confused," when he touched her shoulders and kissed the back of her head at an event in 2014.

And also Beto O'Rourke apologizing for this comment that he made early on in his campaign a couple times.


BETO O'ROURKE, (D), FORMER CONGRESSMAN & PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I just got a call from my wife, Amy, who is back in El Paso, Texas, where she is raising, sometimes with my help, Ulysses, who is 12 years old, Molly, who is 10, and their little brother, Henry, who is 8 years old.


[11:45:06] BOLDUAN: Afterwards, Beto O'Rourke said that he would never say that again.

And Bernie Sanders having to apologize for his handling of sexual harassment allegations within his 2016 campaign. Listen.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST, "THE SITUATION ROOM": How has it affected you personally knowing what happened?

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS, (I), VERMONT & DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It was very painful. Very painful. And it will not happen again.


BOLDUAN: So there's that.

Jess McIntosh is back with me. And joining us, CNN senior Washington correspondent, Jeff Zeleny.

Jess, what does it mean, in your view, that you have three we will call them -- they're big names in the Democratic primary -- if you want to call them front runners or not, we can all debate it -- all white men starting off their campaigns or before they get in the campaigns with apologies and issues related to how they treat or talk to women.

MCINTOSH: I think it means we should have a conversation that lasts two or three weeks where Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar take the lead and we talk about issues and policy points that Democrats want to be making so we don't have to deal with this, but since we do I think what's happening right now is really interesting because those three men they are not accused of sexual harassment or sexual assault, this is not a Harvey Weinstein situation.


What's happening is we are having interesting conversations that are very long overdue. With Beto we're talking about a double standard. There's not inherently wrong with what he said except the fact that if a woman said it she would be reviled as something kind of unnatural, a woman saying she didn't really take care of her kids is not going to be a laugh line coming from her. We need to talk about that. What's happening with Biden is not sexual assault but treating women in a professional setting like they are your niece or granddaughter can be pretty demeaning and that's something that we should have the conversation about. So I'm glad that our side is willing to have these tough conversations. I want to make sure that we stay very focused on the fact that the other side has actually elected somebody who is an admitted sexual assaulter, so we're not comparing apples to apples here. One side is willing to have really tough gender-based conversations and the other side is pretty happy to double down on misogyny.

BOLDUAN: That's Jess' position.

I have a million questions about this. We will continue it much further than this.

But is this a generational example of a generational divide? Does this change? Does this conversation change dramatically when it's not Democratic primary and we are talking about a general election, as Jess points out, against Donald Trump? What do you think of this, Jeff?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: I think it is a generational divide in some respect. But I also think what is going on here, Joe Biden has such a long record of public life, public service and throughout the -- from generation to generation, from decade to decade, things have changed. So he is trying to, I guess, get right with the moment. And it's happening in a variety of different sideways and it will probably continue to happen if he jumps in as we still expect him to do at the end of April. But, look, I think it's -- it is something of an apology tour, I

guess, but it's also just explaining. I think you can add Elizabeth Warren on to that list as she has apologized, explained other things that she has talked about her past as well, her native American heritage. I think that it is a long list here. I think the question is the Democrats that I am talking to about this isn't necessarily divided I don't believe as much on generational lines as they are ideological lines. Are they looking for someone who can, you know, defeat the president or are they looking for someone who lines up directly with these progressive ideas and views? So I think that is much more what is happening inside the Democratic Party for the Democrats I speak to as opposed to automatically assuming that older voters, you know, are aligned with Joe Biden and younger voters are not. I think it's much deeper than that.

BOLDUAN: And what does this conversation, how does this play out throughout the primary, I think, will be interesting. And in a shrewd political way, how do the other candidates use or not use this when things -- when they're standing on a debate stage perhaps. We will see.

Jeff, thank you so much.

Jess, thank you so much.

I really appreciate it guys.


[11:49:02] BOLDUAN: Coming up for us, chilling new details about a college student who thought she was getting into an Uber but ended up being killed. We will have the latest on the investigation in South Carolina. That's next.


BOLDUAN: It's something that millions of us do every day, open an app and request a ride share, a car arrives and you hop in, and you end up going to wherever you need to be. But for one South Carolina college student, that simple act was deadly. It was her last. Police now have a suspect. But still a lot of questions about the death of 21-year-old Samantha Josephson.

Josephson's mother had this to say about the accused killer in court.


MARCI JOSEPHSON, MOTHER OF SAMANTHA JOSEPHSON (voice-over): It sickens us to think that his face was the last thing that my baby girl saw on this earth. Unlike you she has love within her heart and purpose in her life, the life he brutally ended. He took away a daughter, sister, a granddaughter, a niece, a cousin and a friend to so many. His selfish, unspeakable and violent actions have created a hole in the universe.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BOLDUAN: CNN's Dianne Gallagher is gathering information on this case in South Carolina right now.

Diane, what are you learning?

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Kate, it's exactly what you said. This resonates with just about everyone, especially in a college town. This 21-year-old senior at the University of South Carolina was trying to do the safe thing. She was getting a ride home from the bar, that's right here behind me, just before 2:00 in the morning on Friday. Again, that's the last time that any of her friend saw her.

And 24 hours later, police saw a vehicle, that black Chevy Impala, not too far from the same location. They stopped the vehicle. The man who was driving it ran off. They caught him inside the vehicle. They say they found her phone. They found blood inside the passenger compartment area, inside the trunk. And that they had noted that he had the child-lock capabilities on in the back seat for the doors and the windows. Police say that they believe that Nathaniel Rowland prevented Samantha Josephson from getting out of the vehicle after she got in, mistakenly believing that his car was her Uber.

[11:55:08] Now, look, Uber has not delivered an official comment on this. We do know that Rowland was never a driver of any sort for Uber. The belief is she thought it was her car, Kate. It's a cautionary tale for many people. You have to double check. Make sure they know your name and make sure they tell you their name, the driver, and check the tags.

BOLDUAN: That poor girl, her family.

Dianne, thanks so much. I really appreciate it. Thanks so much.

Still ahead, a new twist in the battle over White House security clearances. A whistleblower reveals White House officials overruled security concerns for about 25 people. That's next.