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Biden Makes Appearance After Announcing 2020 Run; Biden Enters Crowded 2020 Dem Field as Frontrunner; 2020 Dems Try to Woo Black Female Voters. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired April 25, 2019 - 12:30   ET



[12:30:00] MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: His charm work to his advantage in this type of environment right now where he's going around shaking hands, showing people his personality is something that they think that he could succeed with. Particularly in retail political states like New Hampshire, perhaps Iowa. But the question is when he gets into the town hall formats, is asked specific questions about the issues, how does he respond as he connects to voters at that point?

That's a separate task.

JULIE PACE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think this is Biden's strength actually. Glad handing, just having the sort of casual conversations. He's done this literally for decades, he's quite good at i. And to your point about stamina, one of the things that I'm told from some of his advisers is he is aware that this is going to be a question. He actually had that question about himself, and so that is part ever why he used a very aggressive strategy during the 2018 midterms.

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Let's listen. He's being asked about President Trump's tweet.

JOE BIDEN (D-DE), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Everybody knows Donald Trump.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What about the Mueller report, Mr. Vice President? Do you believe that there's a --

BIDEN: We're going to have plenty of time to talk about all of these things.


BIDEN: And I'm going to -- and I'll be available to you, but I'm just coming home to get some pizza before I head up to Pennsylvania and try them out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You want the pizza here or you want to go?

BIDEN: To go.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To go? No problem.

BIDEN: All right, (INAUDIBLE) anything that they want, on me.


BIDEN: On me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're going to pay? You have to pay.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Vice president?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Vice President, do you think you can win the money race?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, guys. Let's go. Come on, you guys, let's go. Let's go.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Vice President --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Come on, you guys. Come on, let's go. Let's go.


KING: That's the former vice president and for his staff on day one, the first couple of hours of the presidential campaign (INAUDIBLE) the reporters out of the room there. Joe Biden not in the mood -- that's, again, that's a choice. That's a choice. He was questioned about the president's tweet this morning, President Trump calling him sleepy Joe. President Trump questioning whether he has the intelligence to mount a successful presidential campaign. For me politicians, you achieve that up, they want to answer, he just said I just want you to know, it's Donald Trump deciding on this day to take a pass.

MATT VISER, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: I think if you're his advisers you like Joe Biden in that setting. His video is the thing that's largely speaking for him today which is a scripted element and not Joe Biden sort of veering off. But another thing to note there, you saw Biden in his element, but given the past two or three weeks where there's been questions over his -- the tack time politician and the touchiness that he's had with women that have made some feel uncomfortable, that's going to be a question I think how he handles that. He said that he hears what people are saying and he's going to change. In those settings, that's him, you know, and you saw the Biden that we sort of know and sort of touching people, and, you know, being familiar with them. And I think in that setting I think people like it. It's a question of going forward to how that goes.

MOLLY BALL, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: And this kind of scrutiny is the downside of being the frontrunner, right? All of the other candidates are not getting their rollout on live television with people following them around, seeing what they're going to say as they go into the pizza restaurant. But he gets that because he's on top of the polls and everybody knows him. So as much of an advantage as that is, it gives him more opportunities to slip up in that way that we all know he has a tendency to do.

PACE: We were also talking earlier about Joe Biden and how much -- how he handles questions about the past. And I think one of the things that it's going to be a challenge for him is that actually part of his argument is about the past. It's about, no, maybe not three decades ago but it is about the Obama era. It's about trying to recapture that moment in time, trying to roll back what has happened under President Donald Trump. So how does he both harken back to those moments and then also try to show this party that he has a vision for the future, that he's got a forward-looking message, that he understands that his party is different than it was even four, eight years ago when Obama was in office.

KING: And he is by no means unique among politicians, but politicians are proud and they are stubborn. And a lot like the 1990s crime bill, Joe Biden thinks he was right at the time to do that. He thinks he was responding to outrage including from a lot of mayors of African- American cities when they had a tough crime bill. And so for him, it's hard now for somebody who is so proud of the product in the day to say, times have changed, I get it, I'm in a different place now without defending himself.

That was the point David Axelrod was making as don't try to defend it. Try to say that happened then, here's where we are today, boom! But it's hard sometimes for a proud and stubborn all politicians.

RAJU: And we've seen him do that in the run-up to his announcement, he did that acknowledging that he could have handled the Anita Hill hearings differently before he became a candidate. He realizes times are somewhat different now. That's what he's going to have to continue to do.

Certainly not, you know, when to -- he'll be asked about all the votes that he's taken over the years, but explain how he will deal with things now. And, it was interesting to hear him also cites the type of questions about his views about the Mueller report. He just said we'll have time to talk about that. He does not want to get involved in the nitty-gritty of the campaign over the issues at the moment focus on the good, high, happy images of them shaking people's hands. And as Matt said let the video speak for himself because that's the message they want to push today.

KING: Try to set the tone on day one.

VISER: I think to the Obama question, Obama has been relatively void from the Democratic debate so far.

[12:35:05] And if anything Elizabeth Warren criticizes some of the financial policies or Beto O'Rourke criticizes some of the immigration policies of the Obama administration, kind of quietly, you know, they still speak well of President Obama himself. But I think Biden is going to introduce a new element of running on the Obama administration's policies, and that's going to create an interesting debate among this current Democratic field.

KING: It's a great point. A, first and foremost Biden as the candidate how he handles it but then whether another stubborn, proud politician President Obama can stay silent. When David Axelrod was making the point about let's see if this drags into next year, and if Biden is still a candidate, the challenge then becomes Biden and who. If it's Biden and two or three more and you're still seeing the picture of the selfie there with Joe Biden, this is Gianni's Pizza in Wilmington, Delaware. I'm just sneaking over a peek at the monitor, sorry for turning my head. Is Biden and who?

RAJU: Yes. I mean, look, I think it's --

KING: If it's Biden and Ber -- I was just going to say if it's Biden and Bernie, does Obama jump in?

RAJU: Maybe.

PACE: Obama's advisers have been very careful in the language that they have used. They say Obama does not intend to endorse early in the Democratic primary. They are not actually rolling out an endorsement in the primary completely. And I think that to that -- for that reason that we don't know where this is going to go. And if it ends up being Biden and a candidate that Obama doesn't think can beat Trump, does he choose to weigh in at that point?

I -- part of me would be surprised because Obama does, I think really want this to be a process that is in the hands of the voters, but I do wonder if it got down to that kind of scenario if he would --

RAJU: And he's the only person that would have that kind of clout within the party right now. Whether voters will listen to him, we'll see but at least he'll have the megaphone that fortunately no one would have if he were actually to try to stop Bernie Sanders.

KING: And remember, the first time Obama ran, everyone thought, you know, impressive young guy, a rising star in the party, no way he's going to beat Hillary Clinton. There was an establishment bias against him in that race until he started winning and then all of sudden it was like, oh, OK, we've -- there's a new sheriff in town.

Our Arlette Saenz is there in Wilmington outside of Gianni's. I think you're outside of Gianni's but that is Gianni's where we are watching the vice president --


KING: -- and making us all very hungry. I hope you at least get a slice. Give us some more flavor of this interesting moment.

SAENZ: Yes. So Joe Biden is here at Gianni's Pizza in Wilmington, Delaware. He is sitting at a counter with his sister Valerie Biden Owens who has run many of his previous campaigns. And also just, you know, shaking hands and talking to the people here. This type of retail spontaneous stops that he makes are part of the Biden brand that his team is hoping to kind of capitalized on going forward, you know.

You get a lot of really authentic moments with Joe Biden at stops like this which could be good but also could cause some problems from time to time. But, the one-on-one interaction is something that's really unique to Biden. He does bring this personal interaction with folks when he's out on the campaign trail. Of course, you have seen recently the allegations that he did make some women feel uncomfortable in their interactions with him, but this is something that he is just going to have to figure out how to navigate during this campaign season.

I don't expect that he's going to stop doing this type of events because of this and so I just trying to find out if he's actually coming out sooner or not because we don't know how soon is going to be eating that pizza. But, expect to see Joe Biden making these kinds of stops throughout his tour of the country as he's pitching this message to voters. So he'll not only be holding rallies but also doing kind of these impromptu one-on-one close encounters with people.

KING: At the moment, it looks like he's enjoying conversation and waiting for his pizza so Arlette, you're going to be there a little bit. We'll come back to you if the vice president -- former vice president decides to speak. Again, appreciate your time there.

A quick break for us, when we come back, we'll keep our eye on the former vice president, see if he wants to chat anymore with reporters.

Also, the current president in a war and a stare-down with Congress.


[12:43:35] KING: Continuing to keep our eye on the former vice president Joe Biden to see if he's going to speak any more to reporters this on day one of his campaign. And now that Joe Biden is officially a candidate, we know both of these statements are true. The Democratic field of 20 is the most diverse in history, and three white men lead the pack. Biden, Bernie Sanders, and Pete Buttigieg are the top three in the latest national and early nominating state polls.

That doesn't sit well with some party activists, including several African-American women who are involved in Wednesday's "She", the presidential forum in Houston. Texas Organizer Roxy D. Hall Williamson says, quote, I know that we have been cultured to feel that only the white man can save us. I just don't feel like Biden is our answer. LaTosha Brown says Biden's entrance doesn't really change the field at all in her view. And Memphis voter Cherisse Scott says while she thinks, quote, Biden is great and, quote, a hell of a vice president, he would not get her vote as president.

So this is one of the tensions not just for Joe Biden but also for Senator Sanders and for Mayor Buttigieg and that you have this the most historically diverse field in history coming out of the 2018 midterms where it was the women candidates, the female candidates, the Latino turnout, the African-American turnout. How do Democrats sort this out?

PACE: Those were quotes from two of my great colleagues who were at the "She the People" forum yesterday in Houston, and, you know, they talked to a lot of women who are in the audience there and there's this disconnect between where a lot of the energy in the party is which is with black women really.

[12:45:04] I mean, they have been a driving force in this party for years and the candidates that they see at the top of the field. And, you know, they have a lot of influence to change that. And I think that you're going to see some of these candidates like a Joe Biden trying to find a way to show these black women in particular that he hears them, that he wants to reflect their concerns. He just hired a former CNN colleague of yours, Symone Sanders to serve as a senior adviser. She's a prominent, young African-American. I think you will see other candidates trying to staff up.

But, you know, there's a real question, you know, adding sort of staffers around you or going to some of these forums and trying to say the right things can, you know, meet what some of these voters are really going to be looking for. There's a candidate who looks like that.

KING: Right, the other side of the challenge is, can these organizations, whether it's a predominantly white male industrial labor union or a "She the People" African-American women, latina, can they convince the voters. Listen to us, too. It's not just the candidates who have the challenge here. Some of the, you know -- you look at the -- if you look at the polling, for example, if the Democratic Party were looking for or woman then why is it Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, and Bernie Sanders. Now some of that name recognitions, some of that media attention, it's very early in the race, they all deserve a chance. But, sort of who -- who's -- where's the cart and where's the horse, I guess is the question.

BALL: Yes. And you look particularly African-American voters have been a strength for Joe Biden in the early polling in part because of the affiliation with Obama. And there's a clear -- there's always in any political process a disconnect between the activist base and the sort of rank and file voter, right? And that's quite pronounced in the Democratic Party these days because you have this increasingly forceful and loud left wing of the party. But that does still do not necessarily speak for the median Democratic voter who is older and moderate. And -- but they are influenced by the actions of these activists, and the activists are the ones who get the chance to ask the candidates questions and take them to the task and get quoted by reporters on something like, is this OK with you to have another old white dude on top of a ticket.

And so this is -- they have disproportionate influence and these are the kinds of questions that the candidates are going to have to handle. When I have spoken to, for example, rank and file African- American voters in South Carolina, they're saying this isn't necessarily a litmus test. We're not saying we can -- we'll only vote for another African-American candidate but we need a candidate who respects our place in the party and listens to us and speaks for our issues.

RAJU: It will be interesting to hear if Biden feels the need to say that my running mate is going to be a woman or some -- or a minority. We saw Cory Booker say that he's going to pick a woman, clearly an effort to try to make -- sort of deal with the fact that that's what a lot of party want is a female candidate. Will Biden feel the need to make that very clear? Perhaps he will to defray and push back against the criticism that here's hearing already.

KING: And it gets back to the question of nimble in the sense that can you keep good relations with some of the activist interest groups in your party without alienating some of the more moderate rank and file voters in your party? How the candidates strike that balance? Let's just listen to some of the candidates at this forum, the "She the People" forum yesterday in Houston. Here are some of the other Democratic candidates making their case.


SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Because of my track record of my entire life of focusing on women of color, I would stake my reputation in terms what have I will do going forward based on what I've done, and I believe you can judge me that way.

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I can't pretend to be in your shoes. I'm in one of your shoes as the first woman in many of the jobs I've had. And I know what it's like to be in that room when people aren't taking you seriously.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My campaign is about not just winning the nomination, not just defeating Trump. It is the understanding that we cannot transform this country unless millions of people, black people, white and Latino, Asian-American, Native American stand up.

SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Women of color can trust me as someone for my entire career has been rooted in the communities that have empowered me to be who I am today.


KING: All right, we're going to watch here, vice -- former Vice President Joe Biden leaving Gianni's Pizza in Wilmington, Delaware. Let's listen to see if he talks.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Come on, you guys. Let's go. Come on! Come on, you guys. Come on, let's go.


BIDEN: As we going to go in these shows, you're going to hear a lot of (INAUDIBLE).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you have a message to sleepy Joe?

BIDEN: Yes. America is coming back to like we used to be, ethical, straight, telling the truth, (INAUDIBLE) in a way, supporting our allies, all those good things.

Anyway, I've got to go.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, guys, let's have a way. Let's have a way.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Vice President, thank you very much.

BIDEN: OK, thank you, guys.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you, guys. Let's have a way.

BIDEN: Hey, man. How are you feeling?


BIDEN: Good to see you.


BIDEN: Hey, man, where were you? Where did he go? Hey man, I'll catch you later, bud.


BIDEN: Well, this is the president of NAACP in Delaware with my Beau.


BIDEN: It used to be but --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sir, can you let Valerie out. Thank you.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How does your family think about it? Does everything (INAUDIBLE)?

BIDEN: Everybody's for it.



[12:50:00] BIDEN: OK.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you so much.


BIDEN: God bless them. I hope this doesn't hurt your reputation. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you.

BIDEN: Great to see you.


BIDEN: Great to see you. Hey, tell (INAUDIBLE) I said hello, will you? By the way, he was so good to my Beau.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And we love you too. Thank you, sir.

BIDEN: Thank you.


BIDEN: See you guys. Keep the faith.


BIDEN: How are you, man?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I miss you, man.

BIDEN: Good to see you. Thank you.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you the best candidate?

BIDEN: That will be for you all to decide.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- with major executives and (INAUDIBLE).

BIDEN: Ready?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why do public events first before a fundraiser, Mr. Vice President?

BIDEN: Nice to talk to you guys. You're a wonderful crowd.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How was the pizza?

BIDEN: Well, I got it to go. The soda was good. We're going to take the pizza home. There's folks over there.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hey, guys. Can you guys get out of the street so you don't get hit? Sorry. Thank you. Can you guys get out of the street, please?

BIDEN: I can hear the story now. Biden runs over the press or something.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm trying, sir. I'm trying.

BIDEN: Thank you.



KING: All right, the former vice president pulling away there from Gianni's Pizza in Wilmington. We just gotten a few good plugs during the hour. I hope it's good for business.

It's interesting, every candidate is a little different, every candidate has their own threshold and their triggers if you will. He would not take a question at the end there. He's going to a fundraiser tonight at the corporate executive, Comcast CEO. Asked there, he wouldn't take the question there. Somebody said, isn't Bernie Sanders the frontrunner? He didn't take the question there.

The one time he stopped and I should say also paid tribute to, it was a wife of a general. I'm sorry, I don't know her name or know the general, and he said say hello to the general. He said he was always good to my Beau, his son Beau, the late Beau Biden. The vice president stopping there.

But he was asked in the reporter scrum where he wouldn't take any questions, I assume from an international network or some just very smart reporter asked him what about America's place in the world? That is where the former chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the former vice president of the United States decided to stop and talk, said, America will be back, we'll be telling the truth again, we'll be straight again, and we'll be good to our allies.

So every candidate is a little different. Young reporters out there, you want to get Joe Biden to stop, ask a foreign policy question.

VISER: Which has not been part of the debate.

KING: Right.


VISER: That's another thing that I think Biden being introduced into this race changes a little bit the issue complexion or what animates him, you know. I think foreign policy is now something that I think will be much more part of the debate because Joe Biden is in the race.

PACE: And I do think -- I was in South Carolina most recently and I talked to a bunch of voters who -- they didn't have a singular foreign policy concern. It's not Afghanistan or terrorism necessarily, but I did hear from a lot of voters this concern about America's role in the world. The fact that they don't feel -- Democratic voters don't necessarily feel like we are respected, they don't feel like Trump is representing America well on the world stage. And I do think that Joe Biden will really try to tap into that concern among Democrats.

KING: And it can be if he handles it right, it sort of a double for him in the sense, on the one hand, you're making the case against President Trump but on the other hand you're just sending the message I'm the president. Which in a crowded Democratic field, a lot of them untested on the national stage, now Barack Obama was untested on the national stage, he went on to become president. Donald Trump was untested on the national stage, he is the president. So, that doesn't necessarily work but it is part of their strategy that when people look at Joe Biden if you close your eyes you can say, OK, that could be -- that's a president.

BALL: And it also -- you know, the themes that he laid out in that video about values and about American goodness, I think that is a big component of it, right, as Julie was saying. The feeling that the Democratic voters have is that the American ideal is being trampled upon by Trump and that he's changing what America stands for. And so the more Biden can make himself the sort of standard bearer for that projection of American idealism and this sort of, you know the JFK style, the lofty rhetoric, the idea -- he talked about, you know, America being an idea. And that is something that Democratic voters have a lot of angst about under President Trump.

RAJU: And I think also --

KING: Let's talk quickly but the two questions he didn't answer starting with Bernie Sanders. He was asked, is Bernie Sanders the frontrunner. Bernie Sanders is a frontrunner, a leading candidate, I don't know if we want to use the term frontrunner in this crowded race. Is Joe Biden going to get in the race and say, I'm sorry, Medicare of All is a bad idea? Let's fix ObamaCare. I was at Barack Obama's side, it's working, let's fix it, let's not do this. Will he do that?

RAJU: That will be a fascinating thing to see how he navigates that. How he navigate things like the Green New Deal, how do -- does he say that we are not a socialist party because that is clearly how the Republicans are trying to brand the Democrats heading into the general election. He's going to have to deal with that. And will he confront Bernie Sanders directly?

My sense is that he'll probably was going to wait to go into that, but he will be asked this on the campaign trail. (INAUDIBLE) remark right there is that Joe Biden, we talked a lot about whether he has discipline or not, he tried to -- he bit his tongue. There were many opportunities to take a whack at his opponents or say something.

[12:55:03] He decided not to despite his -- perhaps his best instincts. He wanted to weigh in but he's trying to show at least to voters that, yes, he can bite his tongue when he needs to.

BALL: On the other hand, he got in that car with the window rolled up.

RAJU: And he could have pulled away.

BALL: And then he rolled down the window.

PACE: Classic Joe Biden.

KING: He was tempting and trying. OK, we're going to end the show on a personal note. Come on over here, dude. It's bring your child to work day here. And we're about to run out of time.

Come on up here. Can you read a teleprompter?

Come here.

This is my little dude. Thanks for joining us in the INSIDE POLITICS. Brianna Keilar starts --


KING: No, after a quick break. You got to read the teleprompter, buddy. Come on, be Ron Burgundy.

Have a great day.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: After a quick break.