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INSIDE POLITICS

Joe Biden Gives First Sit-Down Interview After Entering 2020 Race. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired April 26, 2019 - 12:00   ET

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


[12:00:00] W. KAMAU BELL, CNN HOST, "UNITED SHADES OF AMERICA": Pastor Freddie Haynes who's doing the MLK version of church and social justice.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: It's really amazing. And your take on it always is what I always wait for the most.

BELL: Yes.

BOLDUAN: Great to see you, Kamau. You can see his new season, it's starting this weekend. It's great to see you. Thanks so much for joining me, everybody.

"INSIDE POLITICS" with John King starts right now.

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to INSIDE POLITICS. I'm John King. Thank you for sharing a very busy news day with us.

Strong new economic numbers today. The American economy growing at 3.2 percent in the first quarter. There are some warning signs on the horizon, but those numbers better than expected and a big boost to the president's 2020 prospects.

Plus Joe Biden day two. A national TV interview just moments ago includes his response to Anita Hill and his take on the crowded 2020 Democratic race. And we know team Trump sees Biden as a formidable challenger but the president earlier today predicts he would win that matchup and win it easily.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think we'd beat him easily. I just feel like a young man. I'm so young. I can't believe it, I'm the youngest person. I am a young, vibrant man. I look at Joe, I don't know about him. I don't know. I would never say anyone's too old, but I know they're all making me look very young, both in terms of age and I think in terms of energy.

(LAUGHTER)

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Look, if he looks young and vibrant compared to me, I should probably go home.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: We begin there, maybe that's a joke, maybe not. On day two of Joe Biden's third campaign for president, Biden just wrapping up his first national television interview just a short time after President Trump, as you heard, took some veiled pot shots at Biden's age, at his intelligence, his energy levels.

Biden sat down on "The View" talking about his time at the White House with President Obama, accusations of inappropriate touching, and why he believes it's his time this time to be president.

We'll bring you some of that long sound in just a moment. But first CNN's Arlette Saenz joins us live from New York.

Arlette, what's the biggest takeaway? This was the first national forum. Joe Biden knew he was going to face questions about his record in the past and why he thinks he's best for the future. What are the headlines?

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, John, we may be seeing Joe Biden coming out in just a short moment but really this appearance on "The View" gave him the chance to bring his message back to voters. But over the past 24 hours, you've also seen one of those controversial issues from his career back in the spotlight, and that was his handling of the 1991 testimony of Anita Hill, and the hosts of "The View," they questioned him about that.

You know, yesterday you had Anita Hill telling the "New York Times" that she felt that Biden's apology was basically saying, I'm sorry for what happened, but not accepting responsibility for his mistakes, and he was really pressed about that moment, and Biden basically was saying that he regrets -- once again this is something that he's repeatedly said over and over. That he regrets the way that she had been treated, but he wasn't offering that full-throated apology for his personal involvement since he was the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee at the time.

Now one thing he did say today was he acknowledged that mistakes were made and he said that he was sorry for those mistakes, but I think a lot of critics of the former vice president are wanting to see a more forceful answer and explanation from him relating to this.

Now on another topic, something that has also come up in recent weeks are these allegations that he's made women feel uncomfortable in their interactions, and that was something that was also discussed on "The View" and it's kind of similar to what Biden told me three weeks ago when I asked him about this. I had pointed out to him and I said there are some women who want to hear you specifically say, I am sorry for making you feel uncomfortable, and the vice president today, as he told me before, he's not sorry for his actions because he didn't think that there was any mal-intent behind that.

And this is just something that's going to come back over and over especially while he's on the campaign trail and people are going to further scrutinize the way that he interacts with people -- John. KING: Arlette Saenz, outside of the studios in New York. Arlette,

stay there, we'll see if the vice president comes out, see if he's in a mood to talk to reporters when he does.

With me in studio, here to share their reporting and their insights, Jackie Kucinich with the "Daily Beast," CNN's Phil Mattingly, Michael Bender of the "Wall Street Journal" and Laura Barron-Lopez with Politico.

We're going to go through a number of these. It's day two for Joe Biden. Other candidates might say why are we doing all of this here. But he has several issues he has to get through, one of them being the Anita Hill controversy.

Can he explain away his role as the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman? Anita Hill had a conversation with the former vice president, she's quoted in the "New York Times" today saying she didn't really think of it as an apology. She wants to hear more. Here's today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOY BEHAR, CO-HOST, "THE VIEW": So here's your opportunity right now to just say you apologize, you're sorry. I think we can clean this up right now.

BIDEN: Well, by the way, I did.

[12:05:02] I understand -- look, I'm not going to judge whether or not it was appropriate what she -- whether she thought it was sufficient, but I said privately what I've said publicly. I am sorry she was treated the way she was treated. I wish we could have figured out a better way to get this thing done. I did everything in my power to do what I thought was within the rules to be able to stop things, but look, take a look at what's happened.

What I did, we got past -- when we got through that god-awful experience she'd been through -- she's one of the reasons why we have the Me Too Movement.

BEHAR: Yes.

BIDEN: She's one of the reasons why I was able to finish writing the Violence Against Women Act. She's one of the reasons why I committed that was over, there'd never a Judiciary Committee I was involved that didn't have women on it. So I went out and made it -- got a commitment that the women I campaigned for would come on the committee.

BEHAR: Yes.

BIDEN: So she's responsible for significant changes and she deserves credit for it, and one of the things you saw is how about the last hearing?

BEHAR: Yes. BIDEN: We haven't -- there's so much more work to do to figure out,

the one important thing I know is and if there's anything in terms of mindset of Supreme Court hearings and those kinds of circumstances, Supreme Court hearing is not a trial. It's a job interview. It's a job interview. And you don't have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt anything as to why you shouldn't put so and so on the court, and so I -- look, obviously I'm grateful she took my call.

ANA NAVARRO, CO-HOST, "THE VIEW": And also, you know, knowing you, you know, for as long as I have, I don't know why it took you so long to call her. I wish it had happened earlier.

BIDEN: Well, I tell you what the deal was. I did not -- since I had publicly apologized for the way she was treated, I had publicly said it, I had publicly given credit for her, the contributions she made to change, again to change this culture in a significant way, that what I didn't want to do, and I didn't want to, quote, "invade" her space.

I didn't want to get in the situation where this became -- and then when I heard all this about, and it was legitimate, expecting a call, every time the phone rang, and so I spoke to some leading women advocates on this area, some who knew her and I said could you see whether she'd take my call.

BEHAR: Yes. But --

BIDEN: And I was grateful she took my call.

BEHAR: You know, I think what she wants you to say is, I'm sorry for the way I treated you, not for the way you were treated. I think that would be closer.

BIDEN: Well, but, I'm sorry the way she got treated, in terms of, I never heard -- if you go back and look at what I said and didn't say, I don't think I treated her badly. I took on -- what I couldn't figure out how to do, and we still haven't figured it out.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

BIDEN: How do you stop people from asking inflammatory questions? How do you stop these character assassinations outside? There was a full-blown attack on her in order to try to get the defense, quote- unquote, for Clarence Thomas. And I am --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: And so he knows, he knew for months, if not years actually, whenever next he ran for president, this is going to be an issue. How is the answer?

JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It's not a good answer. You would never know that he had as much time to prepare for that question as he had, and all you need to do is read a little bit about the Anita Hill hearings to know that Biden could have done more. There were women that wanted to testify in support of Anita Hill and they were blocked. So, you know, the thing about Joe Biden is that he -- there is an inauthentic bone in Joe Biden's body and I think that's why you're not hearing him apologize because he didn't think he did anything wrong.

LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, POLITICO: Well, that's going to be a problem for him, right? I mean, especially as I was just at the "She the People" summit in Houston, Texas, where there was a room filled with women of color, activists, operatives, voters, influencers, and they aren't pleased with his responses so far. They feel as though he isn't actually listening to them. He isn't actually listening to Lucy Flores. He isn't listening to Anita Hill. And there doesn't seem to be any kind of, look, I'm taking responsibility for this now and I do apologize for what I did, for my role in everything, which we haven't heard from him so far.

KING: Is it an example of stubborn pride, he thinks that he did the best he could at the time, getting in the way of him finding a more articulate way to say yes, I'm sorry?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I think yes, and I think to Jackie's point, that this is what he genuinely believes and I think the hard part is people might look at this as what is the political positioning here early in the campaign to be able to turn the page on this. And I think to some degree that was what the call to Anita Hill was and it kind of give the back story as why that all occurred.

[12:10:03] But to Laura's point, this isn't about a political positioning or the optics of something or what this actually means. This is about a broader issue that has come to the forefront in this country, is defining how this country operates will certainly define large portions of how the Democratic primary operates and he needs to figure out a way to assuage concerns, to make right what a lot of people think was wrong.

And I think to Laura's point from what she heard this weekend, to Jackie's point, I think when you listen to that, you feel like he's going back into the technicalities of what the Judiciary Committee was or wasn't able to do as opposed to just understanding that in this moment, at this time, in this primary, he needs to go a different path.

KING: He needs to get from his past, his past, which is considerable, and all human beings have things in their past where you weren't perfect, wasn't your best day, there's bigger issues for him, but he has to somehow try to get high up enough this hill where he's above his own clouds, if you will, whether it's the Crime Bill of the 1990s, whether it's Anita Hill, there are some others. The question is, have they thought it well enough out or they believe, to your point about the "She the People," the Biden team believes that yes, there are these activist groups and that they should be listened to and they're important piece of the Democratic constituency.

But out in Iowa, our in New Hampshire, out in the country writ large, you know, the rank and file base of the party will give him more of a benefit of the doubt. MICHAEL BENDER, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: Well,

I think part of that is you raise a good point here is that this is -- the focus here should be on Biden, but this also raises a question about the campaign he has around him. This call with Anita Hill sounded like it was several weeks ago and the "New York Times" did what it doesn't look like the campaign did, was follow up with Anita Hill and find out if she was satisfied with that conversation, before the campaign started talking about it. And watching this unfold here, I just -- I think the lesson for Biden is Jeb in 2016.

Jeb came out in 2016 as the prohibitive frontrunner. There was a question immediately facing him about his brother's decision to invade Iraq. Jeb could not find for weeks a good answer to that question. Now there are some fundamental problems with Jeb Bush's campaign. This wasn't the only thing. But this was a moment early on that just encapsulated all of those that we would see play out and eventually do him in that primary.

KING: That's an interesting point. We're going to continue the conversation, again a number of long answers from the vice president to very important questions, his relationship with President Obama, who's not endorsing in this campaign. We'll get to that.

And when we come back, remember the recent stories, several women saying they felt uncomfortable by Joe Biden being what he calls a tactile politician, touching them, respecting space. We'll bring you that when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:16:32] KING: Welcome back. Just want to let you know the president of the United States just took the stage in Indianapolis. He is speaking to the -- a big NRA, National Rifle Association meeting today. We'll bring you any news from that speech as it happens.

Back now -- see the president on stage there in Indianapolis. Again we'll monitor that speech.

The other big news today, Joe Biden, the Democrat who would like to take on the president in the 2020 presidential election giving his first big national interview after joining the race just yesterday, appearing on "The View" last hour, among the issues Joe Biden was asked about was recent reports that several women over the years have felt uncomfortable, believing Joe Biden was too quick to touch them, too quick to get too close to them personally.

Here is the vice president saying he's learned a lesson. He will now respect personal boundaries.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SUNNY HOSTIN, CO-HOST, "THE VIEW": Are you sorry for what you did? Are you prepared to apologize to those women?

BIDEN: Look, here's the deal. I have to be and everybody has to be much more aware of the private space of men and women. It's not just women, but primarily women, and I am much more cognizant of that, but I am so -- like, for example, I actually thought in my head, when I walked out here, I mean, do I --

BEHAR: I know.

BIDEN: We're friends.

BEHAR: It's too deep.

BIDEN: Do I hug? I have to be more careful, and even including whether I sit down next to somebody and is not invited to sit down. So that's my responsibility. I have to be more aware and it's totally legitimate for someone not to have to say, no, no, don't get in my private space. It's my job. It's my job to read that no, no, this is space that no one wants me to invade.

BEHAR: Yes, OK.

BIDEN: But -- anyway, I think it's legitimate and I think it is, and to -- but I don't think anyone's ever said that I invade their space in a way that was designed to do something other than making them feel uncomfortable but not anything to do with harassment.

BEHAR: Nancy Pelosi wants you say, I'm sorry that I invaded your space.

BIDEN: Sorry, I invaded your space, I mean, and I'm sorry this happened, but I'm not sorry in the sense that I think I did anything that was intentionally designed to do anything wrong or be inappropriate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: The body language there, again, he believes, I didn't -- you know, no ill-intent, but that's not, that's about him. He's not processing there's someone else --

BARRON-LOPEZ: In the equation. Yes, he sounds very flippant about it, so I invaded your space. Where this is a problem, yes, Biden is trying to run a campaign saying I can win back the states that Clinton lost. I can, you know, win in Ohio and in Michigan, and these answers may be OK to other men, but to the core constituency, the Democratic base, which is women of color, which is black female voters who consistently turn out for Democrats, they're not OK with his answers, and this is where he could have trouble in states like South Carolina, or other early primary states like Nevada, where women of color are actually starting to pay more attention to candidates like Warren and like Harris.

KUCINICH: When I think -- I just keep on going back, I think I was sitting here when he gave that speech to a group of union folks and he made a joke about this, and there is this sense that he is -- he's, as you said, Laura, he's not listening and that, you know, at the end of the day, it's like time is passing us by, guys.

[12:20:07] He feels like -- he doesn't feel like he did anything wrong, and it does feel like he's got to be careful about saying the same thing to everybody on this campaign, because Joe Biden is known for kind of speaking off the cuff. Can he keep -- I want to know if he can keep that sort of -- the first part of that answer consistent.

KING: I just -- to me, it's interesting, and often the way things are processed in Washington, are different from the way they're processed out in the country, so let's see what happens. That is an important point to make.

Let's go back to Obama can't beat Hillary, Trump can't win the Republican nomination, Trump can't be president so let's be careful. However, in the sense that he knows this is his last chance to be the president of the United States, he knows whether it's the inappropriate space whatever you want to call it, inappropriate touching, the Anita Hill, other issues he's going to be asked about, he knows this is -- the quicker he can move past these, if you're explaining in politics, you're losing. My question is, was he as prepared for that session, a friendly session, as he should have been?

MATTINGLY: Yes. I think one of the questions I have in watching that, and frankly seeing the video that he put out related to it a couple of weeks ago, is this part of the strategy, and to your earlier point of the broader country, the states that he thinks he's strong in the constituency that he thinks can he win in, not unlike when he made the comment -- when he was asked about progressives and is he progressive enough, then he made clear, I'm in my own lane. This is what I'm going to go for. These are the people that I'm going to be reaching out to, and that's the way that I think I can win.

I don't feel like I have to try and compete on the far left. I don't feel like I have to try and compete with some of the Democrats in this campaign that are going in the policy directions that I'm not willing to go to. But this is where he is and he believes this is how he turns the page on this issue and moves forward.

I think the reality is, based on "The View" interview that he just had, he's going to be asked about this day after day after day after day, and the big question is, does he change his answer?

KUCINICH: Right.

MATTINGLY: Or can he get this behind him and get into his campaign?

KING: If he could prove that right by winning or doing well.

MATTINGLY: Yes.

KING: Then that changes the conversation. But nobody votes for nine months is the issue.

MATTINGLY: Right.

KING: And so to your point, that when he does these town halls, when he does more interviews, when he goes into these states, at least 50 percent, in some states 60 percent or more, of the Democratic voters are going to women. In many of those states, there are going to be a lot of women of color as well.

So that's my question, in this time, which is one of the reasons he waited so long to get into the race. Another issue is, he was vice president for eight years, Barack Obama. President Obama is saying it's a presidential tradition, I'm not getting involved in the primaries. And that is a tradition for the most part of the American politics. Joe Biden asked a little bit earlier today about, wouldn't you like to have your former boss on your side?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BIDEN: I didn't want it to look like he was putting his thumb on the scale here. And that you know, I'm going to do this based on who I am, not by the president going out and trying to say this is the guy you should be with. So that's why I asked him not to.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: He wasn't going to, is my understanding, that he made it clear especially early. He has not ruled out President Obama, has not ruled out getting involved later. He just thought with 20 candidates in the race, you know, that it's best for him to just stay back and let the party have this debate. Do you want Medicare for All or do you want to fix Obamacare? You know, do you want the Green New Deal or do you want something else? Do you want Joe Biden and a known figure or do you want a Kamala Harris or a John Delaney or Pete Buttigieg and a new face?

The president thought stay back. I get you want to be like we're buds, and they are, but I asked him not to?

BENDER: Well, that's -- not only what you just said there, John, good spin for President Obama, that's good spin for Vice President Biden. The president is going to stand back. This is up to the voters and we're going to have a robust debate here. If the base of the party, as Laura mentioned before, is minority candidates, excuse me, minority voters, black women, what Biden is hinting there is that he didn't really want Obama's help. That's -- I mean, I can't imagine that that sounds, that rings right with anyone who his previous answers here on, you know, whether or not he was inappropriately handling invading space, you know, is not resonating either.

You know what I mean? The thing to watch with Biden I think is the earlier point about his authenticity. The best thing about Biden is him connecting to voters. Right? The risk here is the career politician trying to explain away everything. As you mentioned, if you're explaining you're losing and so far there's been a lot of explaining from Joe Biden in this past hour.

KING: We'll watch as this continues. Again it's day two. See as the vice president continues to campaign.

Up next for us, though, the president taking a victory lap after some very good economic news.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: We're knocking it out of the park, as they say, and we're very happy about that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:29:36] KING: Stronger than expected economic numbers today and the president is in a mood to celebrate. He spoke at the White House. He spoke again before boarding Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews and he spoke yet again just moments ago in Indianapolis.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Our economy is now the hottest anywhere on the planet earth. Just this morning, we learned that the GDP smashed expectations with the economy growing at an annual rate of 3.2 percent in the first quarter, always the worst quarter, for whatever reason.

[12:30:00]