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Buttigieg Confronts Lack of Black Voter Support; Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) Discusses McConnell Saying Obstruction is "Case Closed," White House Tells McGahn Not to Testify, Changing U.S. Poverty Calculation; Oregon Bill Would Remove Religious Exemptions for Vaccines; Study: Sunscreen Chemicals Enter Bloodstream after 1 Day; Heart Failure Deaths Increasing for Younger People. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired May 7, 2019 - 13:30   ET



[13:33:52] BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Presidential candidate, Pete Buttigieg, admits he needs help. The South Bend, Indiana, mayor is having trouble attracting African-American voters. And it's an issue that he confronted during a rally in South Carolina with this question from a local college student.


CHARLES C. PATTON, STUDENT, SOUTH CAROLINA STATE UNIVERSITY: Mayor Pete, are you for us? If so, what exactly does that entail when speaking in regard to black and brown lives?

PETE BUTTIGIEG, (D), SOUTH BEND MAYOR & PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you. First of all, the answer to that question is yes. My deeper answer is I need help. So the black voters who know me best, the people of South Bend, helped return me to office by an overwhelming margin. But out here, people are just getting to know me. And trust, in part, is a function of quantity time, and we are racing against time.

There are folks who will find their way to me anywhere I go, and there are folks who I will never connect with unless we reach out to them.


KEILAR: Charles C. Patton is the 21-year-old physics major at South Carolina State University who asked Buttigieg that question.

Charles, thank you for being with us.

PATTON: Thank you for having me.

KEILAR: You're joining us from Columbia, South Carolina. And I want you --


KEILAR: -- to tell us what you thought of the mayor's answer to your question.

[13:35:06] PATTON: Yes. I thought that it was very profound that he actually was aware of his problem that he had been the black community. I feel that it is very necessary for the candidates going forward to know that the black vote is something that they really need for the Democratic primary. Because, in 2016, we were a very strong ever had hold -- we had a very large strong hold within the vote, and it is necessary for us to have the vote. And with him, I felt like he was being very genuine with his answers, and he felt that the only -- the only way that he can actually get the vote within the black community is to spend quality time with us, is to hear our issues and what we need to -- what we want to happen and what needs to happen within our communities for each candidate.

KEILAR: And so you got some quality time with him, right?

PATTON: Yes. Yes, I did, yes.

KEILAR: Tell me about that. He actually came to your school to meet with you --

PATTON: Right.

KEILAR: -- to meet with some students. Tell me about that meeting. And tell me about what was discussed and what questions he had and maybe what questions you had.

PATTON: Right. So it was a privilege for him to come to South Carolina State University and speak with the students and faculty and staff. And some things that we talked about was, of course, funding, federal funding to the HBCUs around the nation and the lack and disparity of the funding that we receive. And also certain issues within the black community such as criminal justice reform, restorative justice, and especially with funding with not only the HBCUs but the educational system and around the community in low- income communities.

KEILAR: You know, I wonder, when you look at, for instance, even the event you were at, the one where you asked the question, the audience tends to be mostly white, right?


KEILAR: And when you see Buttigieg -- yes, it's pretty startling in a state that's 60 percent African-American, right, that's 60 percent black?

PATTON: Right.

KEILAR: If you go to New Hampshire and Iowa to these audiences, maybe it's not as surprising that they are white, but they are in South Carolina, and that is sort of startling. That's not necessarily what you would expect.

PATTON: Right. BOLDUAN: I remember covering Bernie Sanders in 2016. He had a

similar issue. Do you think that Mayor Pete Buttigieg can turn this around because Bernie Sanders, for instance, wasn't able to?

PATTON: Right. I think that it is possible for him to. Again, there are several candidates within the race right now that are more familiar with the black voters, like Bernie Sanders, like Joe Biden, Cory Booker, Senator Harris. And it is -- he's real an underdog within this race. But I do feel like he has a genuine atmosphere or aura about him. And he has policies put in place that he's going to put in place when he's in office to access the black community and real be for us, and not only the black community but also the LBTQI- plus community and that's something he's very sure about. And asked him several questions about what he's going to do about hate crime and especially with black trans women.

We know that is on the rise in our nation and has always been. So he's very aware of the issues and that's very telling for the candidate. The only problem that he has is we just don't trust him. It's been in our history that the candidates that we do put in the office, and they say that they are going to do things for our community, they seem to just forget us once they are in office. And we here not going for that anymore with the candidates that we're going to elect for the presidency.

KEILAR: You're saying you don't trust him?

PATTON: I'm saying that he doesn't have the trust within the black community because he is a white male. And we've seen that so many times within our history with white men being in office and just dismantling everything that we have in our -- in our communities. So I -- I think that that's something that he has to get by. And the only way for him to do that is actually to come into our communities and speak to us like we're regular people. Don't speak in terms of with this little language and talking about certain issues that we might not understand.

Not saying that we aren't comprehensive because we do understand the issues. But coming into our communities and speaking to us like we're people. And I think that's something that he needs to do. And he has been doing that so far. So I'm really excited for him and to see it exactly how he's going to further his campaign as well as the other candidates.

KEILAR: So real quick, because I know you've been to a Beto O'Rourke event and a Kamala Harris event and Cory Booker event as well as well as a Pete Buttigieg event.

PATTON: Right.

KEILAR: Have you narrowed it down? Are you more impressed by one of these candidates than the horse?

PATTON: I will say that I'm keeping my options open because it is pretty early. And I know that we still have more candidates to come in and spoke to us, and I have a lot more research to do with the candidates. I'm going to keep my options open but I do like what I'm seeing so far with the candidates.

[13:40:08] KEILAR: All right. Charles Patton -- and I just want to give you a shout-out as Mr. South Carolina University, one of the top ambassadors for the university.

PATTON: Yes, ma'am.

BOLDUAN: Thank you so much for joining us.

PATTON: Thank you for having me.

KEILAR: Of course.

And the new president of the NRA says that the only reason that Congresswoman Lucy McBath won her election is because she's a minority woman. Hear her response, next.

Plus, we're following breaking news on Wall Street. The Dow falling fast over the trade war between the U.S. and China and fears that talks have fallen apart.


[13:45:35] KEILAR: Senator Mitch McConnell with a message to Democrats, telling them it's time to move on from the Mueller investigation. Listen.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): Seriousness is not what we've seen from the Democratic Party in recent days. Not serious. What we've seen is a meltdown, absolute meltdown. An inability to accept the bottom-line conclusion on Russian interference from the special counsel's report, which said the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.


KEILAR: Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton represents the District of Columbia. She's also a Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

Thank you so much for being with us, Congresswoman.


KEILAR: So Mitch McConnell says the Democrats just want to relitigate the 2016 election of Donald Trump. What is, in your mind, the finish line for investigating the president?

HOLMES NORTON: Well, the finish line will come when we have, indeed, gotten ahold of the report, called in Mr. Mueller, been able to speak with him about what he meant, and clear up the confusion that exists. But we're an oversight body and we have as much right to see the report and we've not seen it as the president has. And -- and until we see that report, have an opportunity to question all of those associated with that report, this case is still open.

BOLDUAN: You had said, I just want to be clear, as we ask a lot of Democrats who come on the program, where are they on impeachment. You've been very clear. You've said that it's, quote, "a road to nowhere, a useless of energy, not worthwhile." And some of that you said after the Mueller report came out. What's the objective, then, of these investigations if, for you, this idea of impeachment is you foreclose that?

HOLMES NORTON: Yes. When you have an event as momentous as this and there's a report from an attorney and no opportunity for the members of Congress to dissect the report and tell the public what it means to them, then the report has not truly been discusses and has not truly been aired. We don't want to go to impeachment. Impeachment involves and indictment and a conviction. Even if you indicted in the House, you couldn't convict in the Senate. So that is why I said it was a road to nowhere. But oversight is a road to where the American people want us to go. What does this mean? We don't understand what it means, especially when it comes to the collusion - especially when parts of the report are still open to questions on both sides.

BOLDUAN: You're referring to the obstruction piece of the report, obviously, where


BOLDUAN: Mueller didn't come to a conclusion. But Barr came to his own.


BOLDUAN: I know that you, among many Democrats, have certainly questioned about Barr's conclusion on that.

The White House is not going to let former White House counsel, Don McGahn, turn over subpoenaed documents. They may also stop McGahn and Robert Mueller from testifying. The president is ignoring congressional subpoenas. He is suing to stop testimony about his personal finances. What can Congress really do?

HOLMES NORTON: Well, the president may ignore subpoenas and force us to go to court, but if I was Don McGahn, I wouldn't put myself in the same position as the president. The man doesn't work for the president any more. He has gone on record about what happened. He has no special standing to refuse to come before the Congress. And he creates a personal liability for himself if he doesn't. Now maybe he has the funds to do what the president is going to do and litigate this all the way up to the Supreme Court. But I wonder if that is wise for a layman to do -- for someone who is not a layman at all -- but for someone who is not a public official to do.

[13:49:58] KEILAR: I want to ask you about something while I have you here. The Trump administration may change the poverty calculation in the U.S. This would make it harder for low-income Americans to qualify for welfare programs, like Medicaid and food assistance. This is something that many people in the District of Columbia depend on. And it's a calculation that hasn't changed in 40 years. President Obama proposed a similar change to Social Security calculations but it was abandoned after objections by fellow Democrats. What would this proposed change mean and can Democrats fight it?

HOLMES NORTON: I wouldn't equate Social Security with changes in poverty and how we determine who is in poverty. Social Security is something we all pay into. And, yes, there's some agreement there would have to be more money put into Social Security. But when it comes to poverty in this country, food stamps, the likes of how we determine how we distribute to the needy, that is a different kettle of fish and that is a stab in the back to the poor in this country. We have even middle-class people, most of them, that recently graduated from college, are finding it hard to succeed in this economy. Suppose you are poor, then it is even harder to succeed in this economy. And we shouldn't base everything on the fact that, yes, for many of us, the economy isn't doing bad after all. But if you are poor and not skilled, would depend on some help from the government, why fool with them? We are a generous enough country and a good economy to be able to take care of our poor.

KEILAR: Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, thank you for joining us.

HOLMES NORTON: My pleasure.

KEILAR: Amid a nationwide measles outbreak, a new bill in Oregon is seeking to revoke religious and philosophical vaccine exemptions. And it's just the first of nearly 10 states looking to do the same.

We're also following breaking news from Wall Street. The Dow dropping over the trade war between the U.S. and China.


[13:56:52] #; As the U.S. is grappling with a major measles outbreak, Oregon is moving to close loopholes that allow parents to opt out of vaccinating their kids. A new bill passed by the statehouse says parents can skip vaccines for documented medical reasons. Up until now, some people used religious or philosophical reasons for opting out.

Let's bring in Elizabeth Cohen to talk about this.

We're in the middle of this measles outbreak, the worst, Elizabeth, that we've seen in the U.S. for decades. This is stepped-up government intervention, of course. Is this going to help?

DR. ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: It helped in California. And this outbreak is, as you said, large, ongoing. More than 760 cases this year. It's been going on since October in some parts of the country. And officials are trying to figure out what to do.

So let's look at what happened in California when they told parents you can only exempt your child from vaccines if you have a medical season. So religious and philosophical vaccine exemptions went away in California between these two dates. So looking at kindergartners in the 2014-15 school year, 2.5 percent of them had religious or philosophical exemptions where the school said you don't have to vaccinate. But when you look at the 2017-2018 school year, it is less than .1 percent. Those are tiny numbers and a tiny difference, but it's a big enough difference to make a different. Just that little difference, just that many more children getting vaccinated can really make a difference. Because little babies cannot be vaccinated, so the more of us who get vaccinated, the better we can protect those little babies.

KEILAR: Another story that's getting a lot of buzz that I want to ask you about is this sunscreen story.


BOLDUAN: Because a new study found that some of the chemicals commonly found in sunscreen enter the bloodstream at high enough levels to trigger a government investigation. What is happening here?

COHEN: We're told use sunscreen and reapply often and use it when you are walking around in the sun and not just the beach and that has been ingrained in our heads. So this is very surprising for a lot of people. What they found was that three of these chemicals stayed in people's bloodstreams even 24 hours after applying the sunscreen. Now the big question is, do the chemicals do any harm. And that, Brianna, that is a topic of debate. So some people would say, it might, and others might say, no, we don't think so. So that is why they're having the investigation. And while they're figuring this out, every doctor that we talked to said, look, the sun is real enemy here. Use sunscreen. Skin cancer is such a big risk for so many people. Use the sunscreen and don't be scared off by this news.

KEILAR: I was at the beach this weekend and was wondering, as I was reading this as I came home. It is important to note that is the takeaway.

COHEN: Yes, for sure.

BOLDUAN: You have to wear your sunscreen.

And I want to ask you about the rise in heart failure-related death, especially -- and this is so alarming -- among somewhat younger adults. What is behind this?

COHEN: Right. It is interesting. If you look at heart failure rates from 1999 until 2012, what you find is that they were going down. And so that was actually a good thing. Those are deaths from heart failure going down from '99 to 2012. And they started to creep back up. And unfortunately, it is in relatively young people about the ages of 35 to 64, especially among African-Americans. The thinking is that obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, those are the culprits.