Return to Transcripts main page


Democratic Presidential Fund-Raising Numbers Revealed; Joe Biden Under Fire. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired April 2, 2019 - 16:30   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: That tops the $12 million that California Senator Kamala Harris pulled in for her campaign and the $7 million of South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

Fund-raising, of course, is not the only measure of a candidate's success, but, as CNN's Jessica Dean now reports, such figures are significant for campaign viability and in terms of the number of contributors, how widespread his or her appeal may be.



JESSICA DEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Let the numbers game begin. Today, Senator Bernie Sanders announced he raised $18.2 million from 525,000 unique donors since entering the 2020 Democratic primary in February, the average contribution, $20.

That haul topping two rivals, who released their first-quarter totals Monday. California Senator Kamala Harris raised $12 million from her 138,000 unique donors, her average donation, $55. And South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg brought in $7 million from his 158,550 unique donors, his average donation, about $36.

PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's definitely ahead of what people thought we would be able to do.

DEAN: While the full fund-raising picture continues to shape up for Democrats, President Trump's reelection bid, which has benefited from a two-year head start, has raised $130 million so far, spending most of those funds, leaving $19 million in the bank. As the money piles up, so do the policy proposals.

Today, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro became the first Democratic candidate to unveil a detailed immigration plan. Castro proposes a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants living in the United States, as well as dreamers, those brought to the U.S. as children.

Castro would also reverse Trump-era policies like the Muslim travel ban and funding for a wall on the southern border. JULIAN CASTRO (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We need to, of course,

ensure that we have secure borders, but we need to demonstrate compassion and humanity to the people who are already here who are undocumented and people who are seeking asylum.

DEAN: Meantime, he's still not an official candidate, but former Vice President Joe Biden continues to find himself in the spotlight, after two women accused him of unwanted touching. Biden issued a statement saying it was -- quote -- "never my intention to act inappropriately."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi today addressed the allegations.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I don't think it's disqualifying. It's important for the vice president and others to understand this. It isn't what you intended. It's how it was received.


DEAN: A source tells me team Biden is not denying the seriousness of the moment, but that they are -- quote -- "very much full speed ahead" in the process of considering his potential 2020 campaign -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Jessica Dean with a nice Phillies jacket there, I appreciate that.


TAPPER: Thank you so much.

DEAN: You're welcome.

TAPPER: Let's dive into this.

First of all, let me just say, Jen Psaki, Bernie Sanders, of declared candidates, overwhelmingly leading in fund-raising, leading in polls nationally and in key states, the largest number of individual donors and small-dollar amounts, I think it's just -- you can't even deny it -- he is the Democratic presidential fund-raiser, of declared candidates.


TAPPER: April 2, yes.

PSAKI: April 2 -- sorry -- of 2019.

I also think 2020 percent of his donors were new. And that's an incredibly impressive number, and one that I think exceeds most people's expectations of what would happen here.

I think many Democrats thought that he hit his high water point in 2016, that he'd come back in the race, he would be leading in the beginning, and then he would kind of fizzle out. That hasn't happened. So, there's a reality about the strength of his candidacy, the amount

of money he raised, $28 million cash on hand. He's going to be in this through the long haul, no doubt about it.

TAPPER: Oh, yes.


KEVIN MADDEN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Can I make one more point too? He has one other asset, too, experience. He's actually run a presidential campaign before.

Now, Joe Biden might get in, and he will have that same experience. But when you're on Capitol Hill, like a lot of these other folks that are senators that are running for office, your worst day up on Capitol Hill is like every day on a presidential campaign.



MADDEN: And so when you run for a second time, like, things slow down. You don't sweat, like, a lot of the little bumps that will ultimately come up during the course of a campaign. And that experience is really another asset that he has.


TAPPER: And both Biden and Sanders did not win their campaigns, but Sanders came a whole lot closer than Biden did.

DAVID URBAN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I was just going to say, just to put the money thing in context, Kevin McCarthy, who is the minority leader, not running for president, raised 23 million bucks first quarter, to put the dollar chase in context.

TAPPER: For his reelection or for the NRCC?

URBAN: For the NRCC. But my point is, he's out. And that's a whole more money than any of these candidates raised so far.

TAPPER: So, Karen, take a look at this.

The Sanders campaign said 99.5 percent of their donations were $100 or less, the average donation, around $20. Most donors, most of them were younger than 39 years old. Those are great numbers for Bernie Sanders.


KAREN FINNEY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. They're fantastic numbers, because those numbers also represent volunteers.

They represent voters. They represent people who have their own networks that you can ask them to tap into to bring in more dollars and more volunteers. I think one of the stories, frankly, of this first fund-raising round

is that, actually, I think both Kamala and Mayor Pete also had a relatively small size donation, which means these are people you can go back to more than once or twice, and that's really important, right, because you want to also -- as Jen pointed out, you want to continue to grow the number of people who are giving, but you also want to make sure that you can continue to get some money out of those original donors.



URBAN: They're now invested.


FINNEY: They are invested.

MADDEN: Campaigns never run out of reasons to run. They only run out of money.

TAPPER: Right.

MADDEN: And when you have these small donors that you can mine all the way through it, no matter what, no matter who else is winning or trying to consolidate the Democratic field, Bernie Sanders is going to have the resources and probably the enthusiasm from these small donors to stay in.


TAPPER: We should point out, only three of the 16 candidates, Democratic candidates, have given their fund-raising totals. We're still waiting to hear from Beto O'Rourke, and we still don't know if Joe Biden is going to run.

The campaign manager for senator Elizabeth Warren said that her campaign has met its fund-raising goal. That's the only information.


URBAN: Were there air quotes around that?


MADDEN: That's called managing expectations.

TAPPER: And the campaign of Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is touting that, according to the Associated Press, she's done more public events than any other candidate.


TAPPER: What do those statements from those two campaigns say to you?

PSAKI: That is all about, as Kevin just said, managing expectations.

URBAN: Downward.

PSAKI: The only thing that's important, really, about fund-raising numbers at this point is kind of where you fall and what people expect you're going to raise.

So, Mayor Pete, that's big news, because he raised a lot more than people thought he would raise. Kirsten Gillibrand, I would say, Elizabeth Warren even more so, she came into this race as somebody who was perceived as a major front-runner.

TAPPER: Yes, and a national figure.

PSAKI: As a major national figure, she was somebody in the Democratic Party two years ago, she was the person you would go to, to sign off on your e-mail to go out e-mail marketing to raise money.

That's no longer the case. And I think the reason she pulled back from doing high-dollar fund-raisers is because she wasn't having success with that group of people and she could use it as a messaging ploy. So, you know, she's in a tricky place.

If she doesn't come close to Kamala Harris, that's going to be an expectations issue for her. If Kirsten Gillibrand raises less than Mayor Pete, I think that's an expectations issue for her.

FINNEY: But, in fairness, I think, at this point, it is about just raising enough money to get yourself to the first debate, or, better yet, the second debate, which happens to be the CNN debate, of course.

PSAKI: True.

TAPPER: The CNN debate.

URBAN: July 30, 31, for those of you watching.

TAPPER: Thank you so much.


FINNEY: That is going to really going to be the first real test of viability.


PSAKI: And I fully expect they will. And I think all of those candidates will.

TAPPER: So, I do want to talk about candidate who has not yet declared, but we all expect him to. That is former Vice President Joe Biden.

Today, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi talked about these women who have come forward and said that he got in their space too much, not -- again, not sexual harassment, not sexual assault, not violent, but invading their space and inappropriate.

She said, it's not disqualifying, but she did also say this:


PELOSI: I do think this is about communication in general, beyond -- I'm a member of the straight-arm club. I'm a straight-armer. I just pretend you have a cold and I have a cold.


PELOSI: But I think that it's important for the vice president and others to understand is, it isn't what you intended. It's how it was received.


TAPPER: What's fascinating about that is, Joe Biden, even though he hasn't declared, he's still a front-runner and people do expect he's going to do well when he comes into race.

That's actually -- even though she's saying it's not disqualifying, even she said a whole bunch of really nice stuff about him, that's actually kind of harsh, like, in a way, that she was saying like, you know, learn to respect women's boundaries. That's what she said.

MADDEN: It is.

And they -- a lot of these other Democratic officials all have to say this, right, particularly given the environment. But I think the main thing here is Joe Biden has made a huge tactical mistake by waiting this long, because what he's done is, he's created a void about his reasons for running, how he would run, and having it being a campaign that's much more focused on the substance of what he would do.

And, instead, it's on his past, on his personality, and a lot of the criticism of his past and his personality. And that is, you know, that -- he needs to get in the conversation and reshape people's views of him, because, right now, it's only critics and pundits that are doing it.

URBAN: He's bleeding out right now in front of our eyes, right?


URBAN: That's what you're watching. Every day that he's not in talking about issues and they're having these debates about him giving Eskimo kisses to campaign staffers and putting hands on people, it's not good for him.


FINNEY: But it is, I think, for him and his potential campaign to be understanding this is the dynamic that you will enter into, that running for president...


MADDEN: This was always a guarantee.


FINNEY: But also running for president in 2020 is nothing like 2012.

MADDEN: Absolutely.

FINNEY: I can tell you, even just from 2016, it's dramatically different.

MADDEN: Absolutely.

FINNEY: And so can they understand? And I think that's part of what Pelosi was speaking to, right?


The way we look at this sort of dynamic, this physical dynamic is different than maybe you might have even 10 years ago, right?


TAPPER: Even two years ago.

FINNEY: Even -- yes, even two years ago.


MADDEN: It's like the Daytona 500. They get faster and faster every year.

FINNEY: But can you understand that and can your campaign and can you as a candidate adapt? That's why, as you have heard me say, Jake, it's not just, I'm going to listen. It's, are you going to change your behavior?


And let me ask you, because you worked in the Obama White House. You were communications director. He was the vice president. What did you think about his touchy-feeliness and did you ever think this day would come that he would be called on it like this?

PSAKI: Well, I think it's so important that we're having this conversation, because the truth is, I worked around Joe Biden, the vice president, for 10 years.

I never worked directly for him. I am certain he kissed me on the back of the head. He would hold your hand in a meeting to make you feel comfortable.

URBAN: That's disconcerting.

(LAUGHTER) PSAKI: To make you feel comfortable. It wasn't disconcerting to me.



TAPPER: It's about the individual woman.

PSAKI: It's about the individual woman.

And where that was coming from was,I remember being nervous in a meeting with the economic team, and he kind of grabbed my hand and said, that's right, that's right. That's his style and that's who he is.

That does not take away from the experience of the women. And this is an education for him at his age. And I think it's important we hear from him. And I think we will, because he can also be a face for men who think this is OK. And they look at him and...


URBAN: It's not OK, and he needs to get in and -- but needs to get in...


PSAKI: I understand, David. But I'm saying, he can be an important voice in this, because he's understanding in real time that this is not OK.

TAPPER: Right. Yes. All right.

Everyone, stick around.

We do have some breaking news. A Chinese national is being charged after officials say she illegally entered Mar-a-Lago and was carrying some really concerning items with her.

That breaking story is next.


JAKE TAPPER, ANCHOR, CNN: We have some breaking news for you now. A woman carrying two Chinese passports has been charged after she allegedly entered the President's Florida Country Club, Mar-a-Lago, illegally over the weekend. She was, according to law enforcement, carrying a thumb drive that contains malicious software. And we know President Trump was staying at Mar-a-Lago that day.

CNN's Jessica Schneider is bringing us this breaking story. What are you learning about the incident, Jessica?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Well, Jake, this woman now charged with false statements to the Secret Service, as well as gaining unlawful entry into Mar-a-Lago. This all happened the same weekend that President Trump was at his property down in Florida in Palm Beach. We know that it happened at about noon on Saturday. We do know that the President was not at the property at that time, between the hours of 9:00 and 4:30. That's when he was actually at his golf club, Trump International.

So let me run down for you what exactly happened. According to this criminal complaint, this woman, we don't know her age, but we know she was carrying two Chinese passports. She actually gained entry through the perimeter of Mar-a-Lago. She got through the first checkpoint that was guarded by a Secret Service agent. She said her name. They allowed her entry after thinking that maybe she was a relative of one of the members of the club.

But then when she actually got into the reception area of the Mar-a- Lago Club, she was further questioned by a woman at reception, and that woman flagged that something was wrong here. This woman who has been arrested, she said that she was there for an event that wasn't actually happening.

Well, that's when special agents for the Secret Service finally intervened and they questioned her. They said that she actually got belligerent and quite angry, and Jake, this is what that woman said upon questioning. She said that she claimed that her Chinese friend "Charles" told her to travel from Shanghai, China, to Palm Beach, Florida, to attend this event -- of course, that wasn't happening -- and attempt to speak with a member of the President's family about Chinese and American foreign economic relations.

So that was her cover story. She was questioned by the Secret Service. We know that she was arrested. Interestingly, Jake, she also had several things in her possession. They included a total of four cell phones, one laptop computer, an external hard drive-type device and one thumb drive.

So a lot of questions here in this criminal complaint. It's about seven pages. It lays out the timeline of her gaining the entry to Mar-a-Lago, but we do know it doesn't appear that she was there for very long. They caught on to this pretty quickly. That's when Secret Service intervened. They questioned her, they detained her, and we know that she had her initial appearance in Florida.

But again, Jake, the president, while he was there at Mar-a-Lago for the weekend, he was at his golf club at this exact time -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Jessica Schneider, thanks. CNN's Kaitlan Collins is back with us from the White House. And Kaitlan, you've been to Mar-a-Lago, the President was there on the same day as this incident. I has always seemed to me as an outsider that Mar-a-Lago is a place that is a little bit more freewheeling than any other place that President Trump goes to on a regular basis in terms of who can get access to them, if they go get access to Mar-a-Lago.

KAITLAN COLLINS, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Right, it's not that easy to get into the club. Typically, the people who have the simple access to the President when he's there are the people who are members or invited by members to the club. So this notes that this woman came in, she went through that Secret Service checkpoint, which is actually pretty far back from actually when you get into where the club is, and it says that she told them she was going to the pool, despite the fact that she had a number of devices on her.

But it's not that easy to get through the Secret Service checkpoint. Typically, you go through a magnetometer, and then they separately go through your belongings, check out your laptop, whatever kind of devices are in there. That's pretty standard for any event you go to that the President is going to be at, especially for reporters who are traveling with the President.

But this notes that the woman not only got through this checkpoint, because she made she was going to the pull and apparently, shared a similar name with a member.


COLLINS: But also, she made it all the way to the receptionist who is the one that figured out that she wasn't on any kind of a list to be invited and what not. Now, it is important to note that Jessica said that the President wasn't there. He was actually about a ten-minute drive away at his golf club, which he left, I'm looking at the notes, around 9:30 that morning and returned around 4:00 because had a round table with a fundraising club later on that afternoon.

She he wasn't there when this happened, but it does seem pretty striking that this woman got through the security perimeters so easily.

TAPPER: All right, Kaitlan Collins, thanks so much. Joining me on the phone right now CNN law enforcement analyst, Jonathan Wackro, he is a former Secret Service agent. Jonathan, first of all, what are your impressions upon hearing about the complaint and this woman apparently had some sort of thumb drive containing malicious malware, according to the Secret Service.

JONATHAN WACKRO, FORMER SECRET SERVICE AGENT (via phone): Yes, well, actually, Jake, that's really concerning to me and you know, the forensic analysis of all of her devices, whether it's the cell phones, the thumb drive, the external drive are going to reveal a lot more information as to her intent for being there. But I think it's important to note just to take a step back about, you know, the way that the security program is run at Mar-a-Lago.

The Secret Service methodology is to operate in concentric rings of protection. So where the individual, she did access the most outer ring. At that point, she was screened for any physical security threats. So guns, explosives, et cetera.

So I think it's important to note at no point in time was the President at any danger, in any danger whether or not he was there or not. So the physical security threat was reduced.

Again, I think that the methodology of the concentric rings of protection worked in this instance, because whereas she did get through the first and even up to the second level, which is the reception area, she -- her behavior was so anomalous that it triggered a U.S. Secret Service agent to go and basically conduct a field interview with her.

Upon that field interview, the agent made a determination that this individual does not belong here, that her statements were misleading, and that she, you know, actually had, you know, tried maliciously to -- with malicious intent to access the property and thus the arrest followed.

And so I think in terms of the security planning, everything worked as accordingly. You know, that outer ring is not supposed to protect against national security threats. It's supposed to protect against physical security threats. So now the question is, why was she there?

What was the means, opportunity, and intent for her to cause harm? What was, you know, the forensics -- what do they look like on the thumb drive, the telephones, et cetera? And we're going to see this, you know, develop shortly.

TAPPER: Thanks, Jonathan. Really appreciate it.

WACKRO: Thanks, Jake.

TAPPER: Coming up next, many things have changed in the halls of Congress, but there is one thing that has stayed the same and some of the freshman lawmakers are saying, enough already. Stay with us.



TAPPER: You might think with a record number of women serving in the House and Senate, Congress's old ways of doing things would be changing, but a handful of freshmen Congresswomen say that sexism actually remains alive and well on Capitol Hill. CNN's Sunlen Serfaty reports.


REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D), NEW YORK: And it's systemic and it has an impact.


SUNLEN SERFATY, CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN (voice over): New freshman members of Congress are pulling back the curtain on what many see as a pervasive culture of sexism on Capitol Hill.


REP. KATIE HILL (D), CALIFORNIA: I guess I would say it's archaic sexism. You say hi to them and they'll say "Hey, beautiful," or "Hey, darling," and that's just like every day that kind of thing happens.

(END VIDEO CLIP) SERFATY (voice over): California Democrat, Katie Hill revealing a

conversation she had with a male member of Congress about one-minute speeches on the House floor. He joked to her that he can be a Mr. five-minuteman or Mr. Whatever-minuteman you want.


HILL: And I'm like, "Oh." He needs to know, people need to know that like you can't say that kind of thing.


SERFATY (voice over): These freshmen women coming in with record breaking numbers on Capitol Hill say they are confronting what needs to be changed by calling out the old ways directly.


HILL: The only way it can be broken down is as by seeing women as your peers, over and over and over again, and having those kind of behaviors not be accepted.


SERFATY (voice over): Georgia Democrat, Lucy McBath facing comments from outside the Capitol, sexist attacks from this conservative radio show.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're there to knock Lucy McBath back into the kitchen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get the hell out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, go back to sewing stuff and needlepoint and things like that. That'd be great.



REP. LUCY MCBATH (D), GEORGIA: I laughed. I thought, this is just so archaic, these kind of sentiments about women.


SERFATY (voice over): McBath firing back and raising money off of it online.


MCBATH: It just fuels the fire for me and for all the numbers of women and grassroots organizers that are women that have been standing up.


SERFATY (voice over): New York Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, too, has been no stranger to hitting back. When criticism of her work attire spread online like wildfire, within her first few days on Capitol Hill, she was quick to label pictures being taken of her clothes and backside as misogyny.


OCASIO-CORTEZ: Just those little things kind of add up to a larger culture, but I do think that things are different now, because we feel empowered to call it out and say, "Hey, that's not cool."


SERFATY (voice over): A huge part of that empowerment, their very powerful social media platforms that these women are weaponizing, as they call out bias.


SERFATY (voice over): Highlighting a lot of the stuff that we've been dealing with that hasn't been okay, but we've just been told to grin and bear it.


SERFATY (on camera): And all of this comes, of course, in the wake of the #MeToo Movement that has just been a wave hitting Capitol Hill, Jake, over the course of the last year.

TAPPER: All right, Sunlen Serfaty on capitol hill, thank you so much. Our coverage on CNN continues right now. Thanks so much for watching.