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Biden Makes Joke Referencing Allegations in Speech to Union; Biden on 2020 Run: "I Am Very Close to Making Decision"; U.S. Adds 196,000 Jobs, Unemployment Stays at 3.8 Percent; U.S. Manufacturing Jobs See A Slight Dip in 2019. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired April 5, 2019 - 12:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[12:30:00] JOE BIDEN (D), FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: -- to make sure that if you embrace someone, you can touch someone, it's with their consent regardless of your intention, even if you're trying to bring solace, if you're trying to welcome them, and it's my responsibility to do that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's your reaction to President Trump taunting you on Twitter? What do you have to say to him?

BIDEN: Well, it doesn't surprise me. He doesn't have time to do his job. But -- look, everybody knows who Donald Trump is. So I don't have to say anything more, I don't think.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Vice President, (INAUDIBLE) forward and say they felt uncomfortable at your presence?

BIDEN: Say again?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you expect a lot more people to come forward?

BIDEN: Well, I, you know, I wouldn't be surprised, but I've had hundreds and hundreds of people contact me and -- who I don't know and, you know, say the exact opposite. Look, it is important that I and everyone else is aware that any woman or man who feels uncomfortable should have the right to just say, hey, I was uncomfortable with that. Or hopefully, we'll get to the point even before that to say I'm uncomfortable, no matter what. And I really do understand that.

And -- so -- but it's -- you know, one of the things that -- like, for example, what made me say it, I wasn't joking. The president of the union put his arms around me. Well, that's how it's always been. I've been coming here for a long time, you know. That's how people react.

And --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But do you think you owe them a direct apology who have come forward (INAUDIBLE)?

BIDEN: Well, look, I -- the fact of the matter is if I made it clear that if I made you feel uncomfortable, I feel bad about that. It was never my intention ever. Ever, ever. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But as some who want to go directly I am sorry. Are you sorry (INAUDIBLE)?

BIDEN: I'm sorry I didn't understand more. I'm not sorry for any of my intentions. I'm not sorry for anything that I've ever done. I've never been disrespectful intentionally to a man or a woman.

You know, because that's not the reputation I've had since I was in high school, for God's sake.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Vice President, you always said you're not changing your brand, you're not wearing any funny hats. Is this full episode of the past week, is this going to change how you campaign?

BIDEN: Well, I think it's going to have to change somehow how I campaign. It's just like, you know, the new thing is a selfie. Everybody wonders why I take the selfie. So they don't put it on Instagram., you know.

So, it's always not put -- I mean, if I had the camera, at least I make sure it's a photo and I'm not doing something else because you have to wonder, you know, what are these being used for. And so it's all changed. And it's changed even with you guys.

Come on. You're -- each of you is aware when your personal relationships changes. And it's not a bad thing. It's a new thing. It's important. And I'm sure it's going to take a while for it to settle out. But it settled out for me.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When are you going to be entering the 2020 race?

BIDEN: I'm told by the lawyer that I've got to be careful what I say so that I don't start the clock ticking and change my status, but it is -- I am very close to making a decision to stand before you all relatively soon.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How relatively soon? Within weeks? Days? Weeks?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's the holdup?

BIDEN: What's the holdup? Putting everything together, man. Putting everything together. Even if I knew for certain that I was going to run for president back in Thanksgiving, my intention (INAUDIBLE), if I were to run, would be the last person to announce. I -- and -- so -- give everybody else their day and then I get a shot and then we're off to the races.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Would the lack of a formal operation this week make your response trickier?

BIDEN: No.

(INAUDIBLE)

BIDEN: I'm sorry, I didn't hear you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is Herman Cain is qualified to be on the Federal Reserve?

BIDEN: I would pick someone else.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Vice President, you said --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- two weeks ago that you are the most progressive person in the Democratic Party. There's a lot of candidates in this race that --

BIDEN: No, I said liberal. I didn't say progressive. Did I say progressive? Well, here's the point. That's changing too. For my whole career, I wish I had been labeled in Delaware the seven times I ran as a moderate.

I was never labeled a moderate. If you look at my record at ACLU, you look at my record with all of the traditional liberal organizations, I have never walked away from --I'm not sure when everybody else came out and said they're for gay marriage.

[12:35:04] I'm not sure when everyone else came out and talked about a lot of the things I've talked about. But my point is, the definition of a progressive now seems to be changing. That is, are you a socialist? Well, that's a real progressive.

Or do you believe in, you know, whatever? I mean, so I was talking about up until this last time around, the traditional judgments of whether or not you were, quote, a liberal was whether or not -- what's your position on race, on women, what's your position on the LGBT community, what's your positions on civil liberties. You know, I'll stack my record on those things against anybody who's ever run, who is running now, or who will run.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But sir, are you suggesting that the party is moving to the left? And you think you can win in the primary?

BIDEN: Look, we'll find out whether I can win in the primary.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right, thanks, everyone.

BIDEN: But, you know, let me say one last thing. Here's the deal. I think you guys if you look at all the polling data and look at all the actual results, the party has not moved to the way whatever how you -- I don't want to characterize it, whatever characterization you just made.

The fact to the matter is the vast majority of the members of the Democratic Party are still basically liberal to moderate Democrats in the traditional sense. And you look at those -- I went into 65, 66, 67 races ground, I campaign I think for virtually everyone and the 41 people who won. Show me the really left, left, left-wingers who beat a Republican, a Republican.

So the idea the Democratic Party has stood on its head, I don't get. And by the way, we should welcome, the party should welcome this -- I don't know how you want to characterize it, the progressive left. You should welcome it. We should have a debate about these things.

It's not a bad thing. But the idea all of a sudden the Democratic Party woke up and, you know, everybody asked, you know, what kind of a Democrat -- I'm an Obama/Biden Democrat, man. And I'm proud of it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you. Thank you, everyone.

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: The former Vice President Joe Biden speaking with the reporters outside of a union meeting here in Washington D.C. ending with the I'm an Obama/Biden Democrat and I'm proud of it. The vice president holding court there for several minutes. The topic of most of the conversation, the controversy over several women who've come forward recently and said that the former vice president made them uncomfortable by touching them, putting his hands on their shoulders, touching their arms, in one case, kissing the back of her head.

Those women said they feel uncomfortable, the vice president saying there that he gets it, that he will be more respectful, that he feels bad, and that he's sorry if anyone was offended by his conduct but also saying repeatedly that never did he have any ill intent in showing affection to anyone there.

Let's talk about it around the table. Answering questions after if you're with us at the top of the hour, the former vice president at the top of his speech made what he thought to be a joke. He embraced a union president, a man, walked over to the microphone and said, I asked permission beforehand.

Now, I've watched the vice president in dozens of these union gatherings. They do hug, they do embrace. He has known them for years. They are friendly, they are supportive. The joke about it seemed really off tone, tone deaf.

I'm being kind when I say that. He was trying to say after, come on, it's not a joke. I'm just being familiar here. What you saw there was actually one of those traits of Joe Biden, standing there, holding his own with reporters, he's conversational, he's friendly, he's -- he says he's relishing the debate once he jumps into the race. What else?

JACKIE KUCINICH, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, THE DAILY BEAST: I think it was Eliana who said this. He just -- it's the discipline question. It's a question of this political tone deafness which is exactly what you said the last time we talked about this a few minutes ago. Yes, that's a Joe Biden who would probably do very well on the campaign trail. It's just whether he can help himself from this other -- just him be Bidenisms.

KING: If he hadn't said something that sounded tone deaf at least to some people, I suspect many women, especially the women who have been in the news in recent days, I bet that they at least found that tone deaf. If he hadn't done that, if he'd given a speech and they come out and talk to reporters like that and said, yes, I feel really bad about it. Yes, I'm going to behave differently. Yes, if anyone took offense, I'm sorry, I didn't mean it, I never meant it. He said all the way back to high school, you could see how passionate about this. You know, goddamn, and all the way back to high school, I'm a respectful person.

Then, we'd be having a different conversation today.

Yes. He was joking around on stage but it just wasn't funny. It didn't land the way he intended.

ELIANA JOHNSON, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, POLITICO: The other thing is, if coming out and talking to reporters is one of his strengths, why did he wait a week to do it? There was a week of this silence where his campaign was putting out these statements that were ineffective and ultimately he put out a video with poor production value that looked -- it looks like it was shot on a GoPro that also didn't quite seem to do the job.

[12:40:01] And so he really let other people control the narrative for a week and I think to his detriment. And finally when he did get out and talked to reporters just now, he handled it very well, but that's something he should have done seven days ago.

TARINI PARTI, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, BUZZFEED NEWS: I also think it's worth noting that even when he is apologizing and sort of defending himself in addressing the issue, he does keep pointing out that he had hundreds of people who've reached out to him who said the exact opposite. So, you know, even when he's trying to apologize, he's still defending himself and some of his actions. And I think that balance as he's addressing this issue more and more could get frustrating for some people if he continues to say, oh but there are hundreds of people who do like it when I hug them.

KUCINICH: And just one more thing, I think, you know, one of the things you hear particularly from people who worked for Joe Biden, who've worked with Joe Biden, women, has talked about all the good things Joe Biden does, what a good man he is, all the good works. When he does stuff like that joke and the two jokes during that speech, that just undermines because that's what we're going to talk about.

ANA SWANSON, TRADE AND INTERNATIONAL ECONOMICS REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Yes, I think that's a great point. The former vice president said that was never my intention. Maybe it's not a question of intent. Maybe it's a question of actions and these actions are playing out.

KING: And we can look at his record, the Violence Against Women Act and other -- when he was in Congress. He's right about the progressive record, about he nudged President Obama to come out in favor of same-sex marriage by getting ahead of him there. So his credentials on many of these issues are important but the question is, does he really get it or is he just being told to get it?

JOHNSON: This is something we've been through before not only with Bill Clinton but now with Donald Trump. Where women advocates said, you know, Bill Clinton's personal behavior is one thing but his public policy proposals are really pro-women. And with Donald Trump, pro- lifers and sort of moral majority look at him and they say, well, his personal behavior might be one thing, but he's right on the policy.

And it's something that -- it's very easy for people to be I think hypocritical about because they look at public policy intents with your personal behavior.

KING: With the vice president is CNN's Arlette Saenz who is at the event, and she's now outside of the event. She was just among those asking questions of the vice president. Arlette, the big question coming into today was how much would he address this controversy, and would he as his team hoped, build to move pass it or would he stirred it again. Take us inside those conversations.

Arlette, it's John King, can you hear me? (INAUDIBLE) there.

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: That's right, John. You know, he came out -- sorry about that, John. Yes, he came out on stage and, you know -- you heard him make those jokes and then immediately kind of surprised reporters right after that speech and came out and talked to us. And just right off the top there acknowledged that perhaps that those jokes had been misinterpreted. And he said that he was not trying to make lights of anyone's feelings in their reactions with him. And trying to make it clear again that he gets it.

And one thing that I asked him directly was, you've heard a lot of the women, at least Lucy Flores has come out and said that yes, his statement was a good start but that she did not hear him say I am sorry. And I asked him directly that question, does he want to apologize to these women. And what the vice president told me was that he apologizes for making people feel uncomfortable in their interactions with him but he doesn't apologize for his intentions. That he never meant for him to -- he never meant to make these women feel uncomfortable.

Now, one other thing that I also got the chance to ask him about was, when is he going to enter the 2020 race. And Biden was very careful in his response even noting that the lawyers have advised him to watch his words, to not trigger any early type of announcement. And he said that he's hoping to be addressing reporters in the near future and addressing the American people in the coming weeks about a possible run. But right now, it's really going to be a matter of time as we see how all of this is going to play out, and whether he's going to be able to overcome these allegations.

KING: Arlette Saenz outside of the event. Appreciate the live reporting. Stay close. See if the news changes as we go throughout the day.

To the last point -- or to a couple of points. Number one, the vice president coming out, this was not announced. It's not unexpected that occasionally candidates stop by and talk to reporters. Of course, the president of the United States does it all the time which is a good thing. We want transparency.

And we want transparency from elected officials and campaigns often kept the candidates away from reporters which they think is the right thing to do. To your point, that might have been a mistake in this case for Biden. Why didn't he address this more quickly? They clearly decided we're going to go right out there, we're going to talk. If people took offense at those jokes, we're going to try to deal with it.

That's number one. Number two, this whole dancing around when I'm going to get into the race. It's clear he's getting into the race and he is not deterred. There are legal things if he says I'm a candidate, then fundraising and all these other rules kick in.

KUCINICH: Good luck being the last person to announce. Who knows? Is there a bottom? OK. Is there a --

KING: Seventeen already. Two or three more still waiting out there. His point is, I'm the former vice president, I want the stature of being last, I guess or?

KUCINICH: I guess. I mean -- but, I mean, how much damage could be done between now and then.

[12:45:02] There's -- or, you know, it just -- it's there much uncertainty now where there wasn't at the beginning of Biden's -- it was sort of -- there were other considerations, and now it seems like there are -- there's vetting going on, there are problems building up, and he doesn't -- the campaign infrastructure kind of clicked in this week. But to Eliana's point, it's not quite -- it isn't clicking in like it would if he was an actual candidate.

KING: He has remarkable strengths, he also has some, shall we say, weaknesses or question marks. We'll see if he get in.

All right, next, we'll get back to the news we were trying to discuss before the vice president came out to speak. Great economic news today for the country and for the president. Will it help his re- election hopes?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:50:13] KING: Back now to the other big political news today, the unemployment report. The Labor Department reporting the economy added 196,000 new jobs last month. That's a big number, especially after an anemic jobs report in February. The unemployment rate still 3.8 percent. Good news for all Americans.

Wages also went up a bit last month, and the wage growth has been another positive sign in the economy. It's good for the American worker, also good for the American president who's about to ask you for four more years.

Let's get back to the conversation we're having before when the former Vice President Joe Biden came out to speak. When you look at the numbers, is it all yea, all strengths or is there anything in the (INAUDIBLE) about?

SWANSON: Well, it was a pretty solid jobs report and as you mentioned it does allay concerns about that weak number last month for February suggesting that that was just kind of a blip rather than the start of a recession. I think that recession risk still really is in the background, but, you know, overall, we're in one of the longest economic expansions on record. It's a pretty good report.

There was one item that I find worrying and that is the slowdown in factory hiring. It suggests that the president's trade war and effort to help manufacturing might not be going as planned, that the tariffs the president has put on to help those companies are actually weighing on them.

KING: And so he's talking about tariffs again in the case of Mexico but he's also saying he hopes to get within the few weeks a big deal with China, maybe that's part of it. We know number one, trade is the issue in which the president has been most consistent. Maybe immigration right up there with it.

But to the manufacturing jobs, I just want to put this up. Since the president took office, remember, he won Pennsylvania, he won Wisconsin, he won Michigan, he won Ohio, he told (INAUDIBLE), I'm going to bring back your factory jobs. Four hundred and 53 thousand growth since the president took office. This is what Ana is talking about here

In the last couple of months here, let me just get this to work. In the last couple of months, you see this decline, 5,000 down since January. So the overall number is still good for the president but as you get closer to your re-election, you want that red arrow to flip.

PARTI: That's right. And we have seen warning signs for that with the automobile industry and factories closing down. We know there was one in Ohio. And I was in Michigan last week, the president talked about the economy a lot. And I talked to voters there who were at the rally, many mentioned the economy and specifically manufacturing jobs as a reason they voted for the president. And gearing up for the 2020 election we know Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, these are the states that are going to matter a lot.

JOHNSON: And the president is very proud of the performance of the economy during his tenure. It's one of the reasons I think you saw him back away from his threats to close the southern border this week. He was warned pretty profoundly by his advisers that closing that border, we do over $6 billion of trade with Mexico annually and it would have had profound effects on the economy. And I think that's something that concerns the president.

Similarly, at the end of May, he's going to be facing the decision on whether to impose auto tariffs. And I think he'll hear similar warnings from his advisers. So he's torn I think between fulfilling campaign promises on getting tough on immigration and getting better deals with allies and keeping the economy strong.

KING: Keeping the economy strong because, like any incumbent president, he's going to look the American people in the eye, he already is but he hasn't officially announced and say, are you better off -- he'll question, are you better off now than you were four years ago. And to that, let's just look at some of the promises here. The president can, he said he would bring back manufacturing jobs. They have come back. But again, a little bit of a warning sign in the last couple of months. We have to watch that.

He said he would cut taxes, he did that. You can have a debate about the impact on the deficit. You can have a debate about whether they all went to businesses or to the middle class. But he did cut taxes.

Here are two where he's -- hasn't been able to do. The trade deficit. The president said it would be easy to make the trade deficits go away. No, it's not easy. And growth. The president promised he would have four percent growth, gangbuster's growth. That is a struggle.

SWANSON: Yes, that's right. So actually we did see recently the figures for fourth-quarter GDP also revised downward and suggest the president really isn't quite meeting that goal of three percent growth. And when you look out to the future, that goal looks even harder to sustain with the effects of the tax cuts kind of working their way through the system. Growth will naturally start to slow and you just don't see the firepower in terms of stimulus for the president's tax cut to pay for itself as he's promised.

KUCINICH: Oh, and with this president, there's always the question of whether he can stay focused on the economy, no matter how good it is. And we saw that was a huge problem in 2018 because you never know what else is going to come up.

KING: To that point, he's apparently watching television because he's on his way to California for this border event and he tweeted out, I've employed thousands of electrical workers. They will be voting for me."

And that just after the former Vice President Joe Biden spoke to the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers here in Washington D.C. And so he -- this one is actually the economy but you're right, the president's impulses are, let's get involved in it, the current fight, let's keep stirring things up.

[12:55:02] Sometimes it takes him away from the economy. In this case, he wants to have an argument with the vice president.

JOHNSON: It is interesting. It shows one of Biden's strengths which is that he can compete with Trump for these white blue collar and mostly male workers that switched from becoming Obama voters to Trump voters. Biden can play in that field. And I wonder which of the other Democratic candidates might be competitive with those voters. But Biden is a threat to Trump because he can eat into Trump's base.

PARTI: We saw the president say that he doesn't think Biden is a threat but clearly from his Twitter feed, it seems like he does consider him a threat.

KING: When they look at the Democratic field (INAUDIBLE), again, that would be the one. OK.

Up next for us, the Supreme Court asked for the third time to weigh in on the bump stock ban.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Topping our political radar today, the Supreme Court saying just this hour it won't step in, won't stop the Trump administration's bump stocks ban from going into effect. The court denying a request from some gun honors and gun rights groups trying to block that ban.

Bump stocks you recall allow shooters to fire rifles continuously with one trigger pull. If you remember a gunman massacred 59 people in Las Vegas because with the aid of a bump stock.

Michael Cohen wants to stay out of prison, and he's asking Congress for help. President Trump's former lawyer and fixer say he's discovered files on a hard drive that might help investigators. He wants more time to review them and for that, his lawyers wrote to lawmakers asking them for a reduced term and a delay in reporting to prison. This morning President Trump said Cohen's hard drive is, quote, old news.

And was it a fluke or is it a serious threat? The president and the secretary of state think very differently about a Chinese national lying her way past the Secret Service to enter the president's Mar-a- Lago resort compound. Wednesday, the president dismissed the security breach as a one-off slip up. Listen though, this morning, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says this episode tells us a lot more about China's intentions.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: I think this tells the American people the threat that China poses, the efforts that they're making here inside the United States not only against government officials but more broadly.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Senator Elizabeth Warren wants to eliminate the Senate filibuster. A method the minority party can use to block and delay by debating indefinitely. It would mean a drastic change in Senate rules and it would allow Democrats to pass sweeping bills with only a simple majority if they controlled the Senate in the future.

Thanks for joining us today in the INSIDE POLITICS. Hope to see you back here Sunday morning 8 a.m. Eastern. Don't go anywhere, a lot of news today. Brianna Keilar starts right now.