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Soon Joe Biden Holds Campaign Kickoff Rally in Pennsylvania; Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) Discusses Joe Biden, Presidential Campaign; Family Separations at Border; Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) Discusses Democrat Response to Mnuchin Defying Subpoena for Trump Tax Returns; Can Biden Keep Lead over Other Democrat Candidates Going; Report Details Sexual Abuse of Former OSU Students; Joe Biden Holds Campaign Kickoff Rally in Pennsylvania. Aired 1-2p ET

Aired May 18, 2019 - 13:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[13:00:45] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNNA NCHOR: Hello, again, everyone. Thank you for being with me this Saturday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

At any moment now, Joe Biden will take the stage in Philadelphia for his kickoff rally after a three-week rollout of his 2020 campaign. So far, polls show him as the front-runner in the Democratic field. He's hoping to be the one to beat Trump in 2020.

Let's check in to the rally right now.

Democrat Tom Carper became Delaware's senior Senator when Biden stepped down to become vice president in 2009.

Senator Carper, good to see you. You are with me now.

This is really unique, you know, to other presidential contender rollouts. I spoke to your colleague, Senator Chris Coons, earlier about why Biden is his choice. What do you think sets Joe Biden apart from the other 22 candidates?

SEN. TOM CARPER (D-DE): I'm a Democrat. I want to see our party unite. I want to be behind someone that will unite behind Joe. We don't just need a united Democratic Party. We need a united country.

We need somebody that's president to help restore our standing in the world. Nobody in the Senate, outside the Senate is better connected with the world's leaders than Joe Biden. They know him and trust him. That's another thing that we need.

Just at his core, he is a very decent, good, human being as well.

WHITFIELD: Do you believe that you and Senator Coons represent the establishment of the Democratic wing? When there are so many progressive Dems saying it's their turn, what do you say to them?

CARPER: The Democratic Party is still a big tent. If you look at the polling data, you find among the people who identify as Democrats, there are a number of folks are progressive. There are a whole lot of people that think of themselves as moderates, centrists. There's a surprising number of folks that say I'm a conservative Democrat. Joe is somebody who can appeal to all those elements.

We need somebody, I mentioned earlier, that will unite the party. Really, we have a president who sees the job as a divider, somebody who builds walls. Joe Biden is a bridge builder. He can work across the party, across the parties. He can also work with Republicans. We need a president who can do that.

WHITFIELD: Right now, a head-to-head poll among Pennsylvania voters shows Biden edging out over Trump. He's the front-runner in the Democratic polls. And 500 days away from Election Day. Do you worry about whether Biden can maintain this lead so early out?

CARPER: These are a long time. This is a marathon, as you know. People put fortunes in campaigns. He is a long-distance runner.

His wife, Jill, is a long-distance runner. I think my biggest concern were she not want him to do this. He told me months ago, she wants me to do this maybe more than he wants to do it.

I think he is doing it for the right reasons. Our country needs him. He has a great woman behind him.

WHITFIELD: Right now, among the 22-23 contenders, were seeing the most diverse field of candidates in the Democratic -- Democratic representation.

So what is your view on how the former vice president, Biden, responds to concerns from so many voters who still see it's white men who are at the top of the most recent polling, including Biden?

CARPER: I didn't understand your question. Just say it one more time, there's a lot of noise here. A lot of people --

(CROSSTALK)

WHITFIELD: Yes, it's a very Democratically diverse field there, when you look at these 22, 23 candidates. But leading the pack, two white men. What do you say to voters who say, you know, they want to see some diversity?

CARPER: Well, whoever is the presidential candidate is only half the ticket. There's opportunity for some diversity on the other half of the ticket. My guess is, we'll see that.

Joe runs not just among white men. He runs well among people of color. He runs real well with people who speak other languages, Spanish included. Again, he can appeal to a lot of folks.

[13:05:03] Every now and then, people say to me maybe he's too old. When people say that to me, I say, two words, Nancy Pelosi. Maybe two more words, Bernie Sanders.

Joe Biden may have the body of a 75-year-old man. He stays in shape. I try to take care of myself. This guy is in shape. He has the body, the stamina of somebody half his age. He is amazing.

WHITFIELD: All the names you mentioned, all in their 70s.

Now, if I could ask you a question that pertains to your role as a Senator of Homeland Security Committee. We are learning more than 1700 additional cases of possible family separation have been found. That's according to new numbers -- hopefully, you can hear me -- from the federal public health experts. What is your reaction to that?

CARPER: This president has focused on walls, spending a lot of money on border. I'm off the border security. I think it's important. And Joe Biden thinks it's important. (INAUDIBLE) Because you lack that kind of opportunity. There's too much corruption.

They -- we need to focus on the root causes. Joe Biden understands that. He's actually the authored something called "The Alliance for Prosperity," which focuses on the root causes. He knows we have to do more than just provide border security. We have to go after the root causes. And, unfortunately, our current president doesn't get that at all, doesn't get that at all.

WHITFIELD: Will your committee be pursuing whose fault it is or who pays a price for the fact that so many children have been separated from their families and they may never see their families again?

CARPER: For us -- there's a diverse scripture in the Bible that goes like this, when I was hungry, you fed me, when I was naked, you clothed me, when I was a stranger in your land, you are welcoming.

While it's important for us to have secure borders, it's also important for us -- when people are genuine dangers of their lives and safety back in the countries in which they lived and fled, it's important when they are genuine, in these cases that are genuine, that we give them a break and show them some kindness. Not everybody who tried to come to this country has, if you will a legitimate claim.

One of the things we ought to do is allowing people to file for asylum, not at the border, not just when they get into the U.S. In their own countries, at our consulates and embassy. That is a much better idea.

WHITFIELD: Senator Tom Carper, thank you so much for being with us. I appreciate it.

CARPER: Wish you could be with us today. It's a gorgeous day.

WHITFIELD: Looks like a gorgeous day. Enjoy the sunshine.

The rally to get under way moments away.

Still ahead, U.S. Treasury Secretary, Steve Mnuchin is defying a House subpoena for the president's tax returns. And he says the law is on his side. How will Democrats respond? I'll ask a congressman probing Trump's taxes, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [13:11:38] WHITFIELD: All right, welcome back.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin is defining the House of Representatives' subpoena for the president's tax returns. The deadline to hand them over was yesterday. Mnuchin claimed the request from the House Ways and Means Committee, quote, "Lacks a legitimate legislative purpose," and he is not authorized, he says, to release them.

But the law says Congress can legally demand the documents, the leader of the committee, in fact, and it leaves the room, leaves some room for very little negotiation. The issue now is likely headed for a court battle.

With me now is Democratic Congressman Don Beyer, of Virginia. He is on the House Ways and Means Committee.

Congressman, thanks so much for being with us.

REP. DON BEYER (D-VA): Thank you, Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: So it says with that kind of request coming from the chairman of that committee, that "they shall" be supplied, that information shall be supplied. Now, what is the recourse we have? What do you do now?

BEYER: Fredricka, it is very distressing. Because the language of this 1924 law is abundantly clear. As you said, it says "shall." It doesn't demand any legislative purpose or any special thing.

The Supreme Court, again and again, has reiterated that Congress has the right to look at things like these tax returns.

But, we -- we waited about four months before putting the request in because we wanted to make sure we had a clear legislative purpose, which is outlined in the documents, and that's to make sure that the IRS is performing the same kind of audit of presidential taxes as it's done for earlier presidents.

WHITFIELD: The White House is maintaining, as are many Republicans, saying this request for the president's taxes is really just politically motivated and would cause tax returns to be weaponized for political reasons in the future. So, how can you assure the American public that that is not what is at issue?

BEYER: I think if you look back at -- Fredricka, I think the majority of Americans have been born since the last time we didn't see a president's tax returns. From Richard Nixon all the way through, they have come forward.

This is not about weaponizing. But we are mystified about what the president has to hide and why he is fighting this so hard.

The "New York Times" last week point out they had enough of returns to see he lost $2 billion over about an 11-year period of time. I think we almost have to look back to Mitt Romney fought the tax

returns as a candidate in 2012. When he finally let them go, it was a one-day story.

WHITFIELD: It is an elective for a president or a candidate to reveal their taxes. That is what the White House is trying to remind people of that he doesn't have to reveal those taxes.

BEYER: He doesn't have to, unless the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee asks for them. Then the law is very clear that that is there.

We also -- there's so many questions the Trump administration and his behaviors raised over the last two years, specifically, why he has been so gentle with Putin and Russia in the face of lots of opposition from both Democrats and Republicans. Perhaps the tax returns will help us understand why that is.

WHITFIELD: That's at the root of why you think, why your committee believes it is necessary, important, imperative to see the president's tax returns. You are talking six years prior to his presidency.

[13:15:06] BEYER: That's correct. And many of the businesses, also. There's so much suspicious activity around there, enough that, even during the campaign, the FBI thought there might be reason to look into what was going on between the campaign and Russia.

WHITFIELD: There's been other subpoenas and requests from Congress that are also being ignored or dismissed, including, you know, the unredacted version of the Mueller report. What does it say to you that this White House or this administration is so obstinate to respecting subpoenas or acquiescing to formal requests from members of Congress?

BEYER: It's sad. It's frustrating. It clearly is part of this complete disregard of the rule of law. And it's too bad we have to go to court. And I just hope and pray that President Trump and his administration won't ignore court orders. That flagrant contempt for the rule of law is a very bad thing for our democracy.

WHITFIELD: Where do you stand on impeachment and whether that is a viable option?.

BEYER: I agree with Speaker Pelosi that we have to go down this road one step at a time. Already we are trying to dive as deep as we can into the Mueller report.

It's not easy because most Americans think, if you impeach him, he's out of office. But if you impeach him, it's like an indictment. It goes to the Senate. We have yet to have a Republican in either body say they would join us. This has to be bipartisan, at the end of the day.

WHITFIELD: What do you feel is missing to allow you to conclude more forcefully that impeachment is necessary, that there is, indeed, a constitutional crisis underway and the only solution, by way of the authority that Congress has of oversight, would be impeachment?

BEYER: I'm not on the Judiciary Committee, so I can't talk about what is missing. I do know the chairman of the Judiciary Committee and the House of Democratic leadership is trying to build the strongest possible case they can before initiating impeachment proceedings.

If we go down that road, we want to make sure it is the correct road to do and it is also successful.

WHITFIELD: All right, Congressman Don Beyer, thanks for you your time. Appreciate it.

BEYER: Thank you, Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: Still ahead, Joe Biden's campaign kickoff rally beginning any moment now. He is already celebrating a big lead over his Democratic rivals. But can he keep that momentum going? We'll discuss, next.

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[13:21:25] WHITFIELD: At any moment now, Joe Biden will be taking that stage. Right now, there's music underway and a rally about to kick off for Joe Biden's campaign, right there in the city of Brotherly Love, Philadelphia. We'll take you there live as it happens.

While we wait, let's discuss with national political reporter for the "Washington Examiner," Salena Zito, will be with us soon. Former special assistant to President George W. Bush, Scott Jennings, also with us. And former Clinton White House press secretary, Joe Lockhart, with us. And executive director for Justice Democrats, Alexandra Rojas.

Good to see all of you.

Joe, let me begin with you.

The former vice president has already said, while on the campaign trail the last three weeks or so, that his will be a campaign of unity. How specific does he need to get? Is this a moment in which to roll out policy ideas? What is this moment, this rally to be about for Joe Biden?

JOE LOCKHART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No, I think he is looking at this as sort of the end of his announcement tour. I don't expect a lot of policy proposals.

I think today's speech will be thematic. He wants to lay out very clearly in front of a big crowd what kind of campaign he wants to run. I think they have signaled very clearly that they want to run a campaign to contrast the character of Joe Biden and Democrats with the character of Donald Trump and the Republicans. It wants to be a campaign that contrasts the division of Donald Trump with the unity of Joe Biden. So, I think that's what you will hear today, rather than a laundry

list of policy proposals. That will come. We are early in the campaign. I don't think you will hear a lot of that today.

WHITFIELD: Scott, Donald Trump won Pennsylvania in 2016. But, you know, if you look at the polling, you know, and Joe Biden's popularity, how far ahead he is from the pack, the Joe Biden camp feels confident it might be able to clinch Pennsylvania. President Trump will be heading to Pennsylvania next week. How worried, how concerned might he be?

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think the Republicans know the Democrats are coming for the upper Midwest. That Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania corridor, Donald Trump swept it. The Democrats, the cold math is, could win two of those three states and still lose to Donald Trump. He has elasticity in his electoral count. But obviously, those three states will be among the three most important. And part of Biden's argument is he is the candidate best positioned to win up there.

I see a lot of similarities to what Biden is doing today to what Mitt Romney was doing in the 2012 Republican primary. His basic argument was, I'm the most electable, I give us a chance to win in the states against an incumbent president where none of the rest of these folks, they're too fringe, they're too inexperienced, they're too extreme, what have you. It's really, really similar.

In that case, it didn't work out for the Republicans. Mitt Romney fell short against an incumbent president who made an argument that the economy and the country were on the right track. That's what you are going to see Trump do.

Joe Biden needs this campaign to be about anything but the economy because the economy is, of course, red hot and Donald Trump is getting a lot of credit for it.

WHITFIELD: New FOX polling shows Biden at 35 percent, when we look at the Democratic field, Sanders, 17 percent. No other candidate has double digit support.

Alexandra, yet, at the same time, we are talking a diverse field of 22, 23 candidates. Why is it it's Biden and Bernie Sanders at the top of the field?

[13:25:02] ALEXANDRA ROJAS, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, JUSTICE DEMOCRATS: I think It's incredibly early. We are still 10 months out from the first election and haven't had the first presidential debate.

A lot of what, up until this point Joe Biden has showed up is he is making a lot of, to my colleague's point, similar steps as Romney or Hillary Clinton did in 2008. He has close ties to Wall Street. He's a bad past with trade deals. He literally was the architect of the 1994 crime bill.

I think that voters have to -- have a lot to learn about his very public record beyond just Joe Biden being vice president to Barack Obama. I think there's only so much time he's going to have to ride on sort of those coat tails.

But the Senator of energy in the Democratic Party right now is around big ideas and issues like expanding an improved Medicare-for-All, a Green New Deal, accepting no corporate PAC or corporate lobbyist money.

Joe Biden's 40-year record stands in complete opposition to this. So I think he's got to make the case that unity for the sake of unity is it. People are angry. Not for any old reason. It's because 60 percent of

Americans right now can't afford an $800 emergency room bill.

So to say that the economy is OK, even right now, is not going to cut it for the millions of people that are suffering and are hurting right now by the effects of this administration.

WHITFIELD: And, Joe, Joe Biden has name recognition. At the same time, he a record. I mean, 36 years, you know, in the Senate, vice president in the Obama White House. So, there's a lot there for, you know, fellow contenders to really critique.

Senator Kamala Harris, you know, she said this about, you know, that crime bill, that just Joe Biden can't seem to escape.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA): That 1994 crime bill, it did contribute to mass incarceration in our country. It encouraged and was the first time that we had a federal three strikes law. It funded the building of more prisons in the states. So, I disagree, sadly.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: Joe, is this going to be an Achilles heel for Joe Biden?

LOCKHART: Listen, I think the advantage to new people coming into the campaign is they don't have a record. The advantage to people who have been in politics for a long time is they have experience. The campaign will decide what the voters think are more important.

I think it's open to debate where the energy in the Democratic Party is. There's a lot of energy around big ideas and the progressive wing. But if you look at 2018, the reason the Democrats took back the House is moderate Democrats won in traditionally Republican areas. That's why we have had this swing. That's why we've had this power.

So, I think there is some tension. Neither side is wrong. I think we are not sure, yet, where it's going. There's been tension between making sure we nominate somebody who we know can beat Donald Trump and making sure we nominate someone who we think has the best big ideas and bold agenda. That's playing out in the campaign.

I think, obviously, Biden benefits from the former. You know, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, can they still get benefit from the latter?

The one thing I say about what Scott said, is I agree with him that running on the economy would be Donald Trump's best weapon and, you know, a hard thing to run against. I just haven't seen evidence that he can stick to that. What I hear is talking about witch hunts and immigration and social wedge issues.

You know, if he gets back to the economy, he is a tougher candidate to beat. I agree with that. I just don't see any evidence that he's able to do that.

WHITFIELD: Just as there are concerns, you know, Scott, among Democrats that Joe Biden, you know, has a tendency to sometimes put his foot in his mouth, the same kind of concerns can be said about Republicans as it pertains to Donald Trump, if he can be disciplined enough.

JENNINGS: Yes, look, Donald Trump, as Joe said, if he can stay on reminding people of the economy, that's his best path back to recovering the voters that stuck with him in 2016, that went away from the Republicans in 2018, these suburban white-collar voters out there.

If he can talk to them about their lives are better, their 401Ks have better, their jobs are better, their paychecks have gone up, their children's college funds have gone up, that's the path back. It requires discipline and it requires a very, very focused campaign in those areas.

[13:30:00] I think a challenge, frankly, for Biden, if you want to go on the other side of the coin, is something that our fellow panelists talk about, is if he can't motivate or inspire the younger voters in the party that are truly, in my opinion, the energy of the party, he's going to run the risk Hillary had in '16, where you had huge swaths of traditional Democrat voters that didn't turn out. Of course, that would help Donald Trump get re-elected.

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: All of you stick around.

We'll take a short break for now. And we'll be right back after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: Welcome back.

At any moment now, Joe Biden will take the stage for a kick-off rally after a three-week rollout of his 2020 campaign. So far, polls show him as the front-runner in the Democratic field. As soon as that kicks off, we will bring it live. The Triumphant Baptist Choir just now leaving the stage. We also expect that Joe Biden's wife, Jill Biden, will all be taking to the stage.

Shocking and painful to comprehend. Ohio State University commenting on a damming report detailing sexual abuse against at least 177 former students at the hands of a now-deceased doctor. It allegedly happened at the hands of Dr. Richard Strauss as early as 1979. He killed himself in 2005.

Here is what we are learning from the report, that more than 100 students report excessive groping, fondling and inappropriate physical exams. There were impromptu exams in the locker rooms and at Dr. Strauss' home, inappropriate conversations about sex. And he is accused -- the doctor, is accused of performing unwanted oral sex at least twice.

[13:35:07] The accusers say at least 50 school officials knew about the abuse, including Ohio Republican Congressman Jim Jordan. Jordan was once a wrestler and then assistant coach at the school.

Jordan's office released a statement saying, "The investigators concluded what we have said from the beginning that Congressman Jordan never knew of abuse and, if he had, he would have dealt with it."

Important to note, the school, Ohio State University, says, I'm quoting now, "We could not make conclusive determinations about each and every allegation made about a particular coach's knowledge."

Let's discuss it with our legal guys, Avery Friedman, a civil rights attorney and law professor, and Richard Herman, a criminal defense attorney and law professor.

Good to see you both.

(CROSSTALK)

AVERY FRIEDMAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Good to see you, Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: This is a very detailed, you know, report and very disturbing.

Avery, some victims are calling on the university to take responsibility for its inaction. And we should note that most of the claims are part of two related lawsuits against Ohio State that are headed to mediation. So, does this report open the school up to legal scrutiny?

FRIEDMAN: Oh, I think the report is critical, Fredricka. Ohio State University, 20 years of this kind of abuse, they are going to rename it ostrich state university. It's very serious. Mediation is one way of getting one resolved. It's actually going to burgeon to many more than two federal lawsuits.

Interestingly enough, what is being used in this is a civil rights law passed in 1972, making universities responsible for gender-based misconduct. It is that law, Title IX, which is what the federal judge is looking at right now. And believe me, with 150 athletes among that 177, Fredricka, this is an enormous and serious matter.

WHITFIELD: Yes, it is very serious.

Richard, the university issued a statement, you know, saying, in part, "The report concludes university personnel had knowledge of complaints and concerns about Strauss' conduct as early at 1979, but failed to investigate or act meaningfully."

How in the world could Ohio State defend itself on that? RICHARD HERMAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: They can't. That's the problem.

You get up there and you want to make your apology from the bottom of your heart and you come clean like the president just did this week. He's just handed over, basically a summary judgment to plaintiffs who bring lawsuits on this.

He admitted what everyone was talking about here, that the school knew about it. There were complaints made. They did no investigation. They sought to cover up and the report says that --

(CROSSTALK)

WHITFIELD: You are talking a 20-year span.

HERMAN: Twenty year. If you were at Ohio State during that period, you would have to have your ears plugged, your eyes shut and your mouth closed.

This Jordan, who, with a smug look on his face, with his rolled-up shirt sleeves there, his locker was right next to Strauss'. How could he not have heard, known or done something about the sexual predator running loose at Ohio State University?

Fred, an apology is not enough. The university is going to have to really suffer for this, because 177 students, over 20 years? How many students did not come forward? How many suppressed it?

FRIEDMAN: That's right.

(CROSSTALK)

HERMAN: Give me a break.

WHITFIELD: Again, for the --

HERMAN: This school has to pay the price for this.

WHITFIELD: Yes. Again, for the Congressman, I read the release of the statement released by the office saying, "The investigators concluded what we have said from the beginning, Congressman Jordan never knew of abuse and, if he had, he would have dealt with it."

There are, according to reporting, there are some students who were saying he was one of the staff members who knew of the abuse.

(CROSSTALK)

WHITFIELD: When you have got --

FRIEDMAN: That's right.

WHITFIELD: You know, when you have that, Avery, what is likely the road for the Congressman, whose had a statement, said he didn't know about it but then you have students who say he did, he was among those who turned the other way?

FRIEDMAN: Very simple, they are going to listen to his, they are going to listen to the Congressman's, the court will decide.

WHITFIELD: Richard?

HERMAN: In litigation, they will subpoena him to testify that the school knew --

FRIEDMAN: That's it.

HERMAN: -- nothing about it. They will catch him perjuring himself because they'll have 10 students stand up and say, I told him. So at that point in time --

FRIEDMAN: I agree with that.

HERMAN: -- he won't be found credible.

And the university -- Fred, this is really - they were -- one complaint to the medical board, nothing happened. Not one single complaint to law enforcement during those 20 years. Michigan State, Penn State, now Ohio State. It's outrageous, this conduct.

If you were one of the victims, you carry this stigma and the scars for the rest of your life. I'm profoundly sorry -- that doesn't do it, Fred. It really doesn't do it. The university can't throw it under the carpet. They have to pay for this.

[13:40:09] WHITFIELD: All right, Richard and Avery, we'll leave it there for now.

Thank you very much. Always good to see you guys.

FRIEDMAN: See you soon.

HERMAN: Take care.

WHITFIELD: Any moment now, we expect Joe Biden to take to the stage there in Philadelphia. When he does, we'll take you there, live.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: Welcome back.

At any moment, in Philadelphia, Joe Biden, the former vice president, now leading the pack in the Democratic field of 23 candidates, will be holding his first rally since announcing the candidacy some three weeks ago.

So far, polls show him, that he is handling leading that pack and in the front, ahead of Bernie Sanders, who, for a very long time, was leading the pack.

As we await Joe Biden's appearance, let's talk a little about the field of candidacy in this race for 2020, the White House.

Back with me now, former special assistant to President George W. Bush, Scott Jennings, and former Clinton White House press secretary, Joe Lockhart, and executive director of Justice Democrats, Alexandra Rojas.

[13:45:00] Good that you can all be back with me.

Joe, you first.

You know, what is the importance of a rally of this caliber, three weeks after Joe Biden announced his candidacy, formally?

JOE LOCKHART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: He's trying to show broad appeal. Most of the politics you do in Iowa and New Hampshire and South Carolina is retail politics. You are in people's homes. You're doing small groups.

I think what the Biden campaign today is attempting to do is to show they have very broad appeal in an important state. You will see a diverse crowd there, a big crowd there, at least it looks like from the pictures we are looking at. Really, as I said earlier, you know, trying to roll out a thematic vision of the campaign.

I think -- as I have said all along, since the announcement, I think the first three or four months are critical for Biden. A lot of people commit as the front-runner, then under-perform, don't meet expectations, come back in the field, and it's hard to recover from that.

I think what he needs to do here is have a solid first three months until the first debate to prove he is the strong front-runner and the rest of the field will try to sort through who is the alternative to him.

He is off to a good start. It's three weeks, but it's only three weeks. I think today is a big day in proving that, you know, he can get a crowd rallied around him, you know, show some excitement, and show, you know, the rest of the country, you know, the kind of support Joe Biden has.

WHITFIELD: Alexandra, what do you -- you are nodding your head. What do you think Joe Biden has to reveal or convey in the first three or four months in order to maintain this lead?

ALEXANDRA ROJAS, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, JUSTICE DEMOCRATS: Well, right before I hopped on, I saw some of the excerpts they released from the script of what he supposedly is going to talk about today. He pointed to, you know, being confused why people are angry right now. I think that is sort of off to a rocky start. We'll see what the rest of the speech entails the rest of the months.

But I think being president of the United States isn't about reminiscing about the time before Donald Trump or what's in our past. It's about charging a path forward for the future.

We can see the overwhelming energy of the first voters in the first state are around big ideas like a Green New Deal, taxing the rich. You know, health care is at the top of the agenda in guaranteeing health care as a right for every man, woman and child in this country. If he is unwilling to talk about the issues and talk about how they

are too expensive or that we have to be a Democratic Party that says, no, we can't, I don't think that's what is exciting to voters.

To point out, back in 2016, yes, we got more votes on the Democratic side, but a lot of the same voters that came out for Obama stayed home. That's particularly young people, that's working people of all backgrounds, and that's women of color.

If he is going -- it's not just about moderation. It's about motivation. If we want a repeat of what happened in 2016 -- the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and other again and hoping it changes.

I hope that Joe Biden, over the next three months, embraces a bold vision for what the future of America could look like. That's not just going after Donald Trump, that's not just talking about unity for the sake of unity, but is defining what a vision could look like, if we tackle existential threats like climate change.

Frankly, he's from a generation of leadership that has failed. They failed to stop Donald Trump. They failed to tackle the most fundamental issues facing our country.

People are angry for a reason. We have systemic problems in this country and it's going to take more than reminiscing about the past. We have to charge a vision for the future.

If he wants my generation to support him, he's going to have to come out strong on climate policy, on challenging income equality, and taking on the powerful, special interests that are currently halting progress on all the issues I just mentioned.

WHITFIELD: And then, less than a minute before someone takes to the stage there.

You know, Scott, how does, you know, President Trump, you know, listen to this, via tune to the fact he has to appeal to a growing audience himself? I mean, he may have won the last presidency and his committed support may have stuck with him, but have you seen that he has shown signs of growing support so that he could get back into the White House?

JENNINGS: Well, I think he's done a good job of holding what he's got, which was enough to win. Which, as I said before the break, a few minutes ago, he can lose ground over what he did in 2016 and still hold on to the White House.

I think the critical issue is, there were some voting populations that went away from the Republicans in the 2018 midterm and he's got to be disciplined enough to stay on a path to get those folks back.

[13:50:04] I also think he has to pay very close attention to whether Biden is cutting into what he did in the upper Midwest. If somehow Biden sweeps those three states, Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, then, obviously, Donald Trump has a problem. If Donald Trump is beating Biden in one or two of the states, Trump is OK.

I think that we're a long way from knowing how this is all going to shake out, whether Biden can actually go the distance here. I have my doubts. But that's what Donald Trump is looking at right now. It is really just a handful of voters in a handful of states that I need to find a path back to them from where they went from '16 to '18. That's how Trump wins.

WHITFIELD: It looks like, as we watch the crowd here, and we're looking at this jumbotron, perhaps it is Jill Biden who is introducing Joe Biden via video here before Joe Biden takes to the stage here.

You know, Joe, Joe Biden does well among women and non-whites. Why is it, in your view, that he seems to appeal more to women and non-white voters, more so, right now, early on, again, than, say, candidates, you know, Cory Booker and Kamala Harris?

LOCKHART: Listen, I think there's a myth that somehow there isn't excitement among Joe Biden among parts of the Democratic coalition, whether it be young people, whether it be people of color, whether it be college-educated or non-college educated white voters. His numbers have improved and they've improved because of that.

In fact, the confusion that Biden has talked about in the excerpts is not being confused about why people are angry. What he's talking about is, let's not confuse anger and fight anger with only anger. Why play Donald Trump's game?

Again, I think there are a lot of candidates that are -- that deserve attention here. I haven't picked a candidate.

But the idea that somehow that all of the energy in the party is at the far left is just not supported by the facts.

The campaign -- do the campaign for the sake of finding out the answers to the questions, but I think it is wrong to say that, somehow, he doesn't have that support.

The second thing is, Donald Trump hasn't held on to the votes that he had in 2016. He's actually -- you know, when you're at 38 percent, 39 percent, 40 percent, he's under water in many of the states that he won. He does have an uphill climb.

We see Dr. Biden. So I'll stop talking.

WHITFIELD: OK. That was pretty good timing, Joe.

Let's listen to Dr. Jill Biden, who will now, live and in person, introduce her husband, Joe Biden.

(CHEERING)

(APPLAUSE)

DR. JILL BIDEN, WIFE OF JOE DR. JILL BIDEN: Wow.

(CHEERING)

DR. JILL BIDEN: Philadelphia!

(CHEERING)

DR. JILL BIDEN: It's so great to be home. As many of you may know, I grew up right down Broad Street on Wilick Road (ph).

(CHEERING)

DR. JILL BIDEN: Every single weekend, my four sisters and I would pile into our family's station wagon and cross the bridge to go see my grandparents in southern Jersey.

(CHEERING)

DR. JILL BIDEN: My summers were spent watching the Phillies with my dad and waitressing at the shore.

(CHEERING)

(SHOUTING)

DR. JILL BIDEN: I love you, too.

(LAUGHTER)

I watched the mummers parade and took class trips to the planetarium, the Betsy Ross house, and the Liberty Bell.

(CHEERING)

DR. JILL BIDEN: I am an Upper Morland (ph) Golden Bear and a Villanova wildcat.

(CHEERING)

DR. JILL BIDEN: I ran the Broad Street 10 miler. And forever, fly, eagles, fly!

(CHEERING)

DR. JILL BIDEN: So, as you can see, this city is part of who I am. No matter where I go, or where I am, I will always and forever be a Philly girl.

(CHEERING)

DR. JILL BIDEN: Over the last two years, so many of you have come up to me at events, in airports, in the grocery store, even on the streets, and said the same thing, please tell Joe he has to run.

(CHEERING)

[13:55:19] DR. JILL BIDEN: People have said that they miss his statesmanship, his ability to find common ground. (SHOUTING)

DR. JILL BIDEN: They miss his diplomacy and his deep experience working with our allies around the world.

(CHEERING)

DR. JILL BIDEN: They miss his courage to confront issues that matter when no one else seems to care.

(SHOUTING)

DR. JILL BIDEN: Like his life-saving work on the Violence Against Women Act.

(CHEERING)

DR. JILL BIDEN: But it's not just that they miss his leadership. They miss his kindness. The way he inspires us to keep believing that our best days are yet ahead of us.

(CHEERING)

DR. JILL BIDEN: His ability to face tragedy and not give in or give up. His character, his love for our nation. Again and again, people have told me, Joe is the one who can move us forward. Joe is the one who can bring us together. We need him.

(CHEERING)

DR. JILL BIDEN: You know what? I agree.

(LAUGHTER)

I miss that feeling of hope and optimism, too.

You know what, Philly? Today, we begin to restore that feeling.

(CHEERING)

DR. JILL BIDEN: This moment defines who we are. It's a moment that we need to hear your voices. It's a moment when we need leaders with vision and character. It's a moment for someone who can bring us together. It's a moment for Joe Biden!

(CHEERING)

DR. JILL BIDEN: We are starting an enormous journey today. The Biden family is ready. We will do this, as we always have, as a family. We know that all of you are with us, too.

(CHEERING)

DR. JILL BIDEN: We know that every person who told me they wanted Joe to run is going to do their part. We know you're going to talk to your neighbors, text your friends, knock on doors, get them to the polls. We need you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You got it.

(CHEERING)

DR. JILL BIDEN: All of those little things add up. Together, we will build this movement and, together, we will win.

(CHEERING)

DR. JILL BIDEN: For as long as I've known him, Joe has never given up, never failed to see the possibilities, and never had any doubt about who he's fighting for. As long as he has the privilege of serving this nation, I know, from the bottom of my heart, that he will continue to fight for you every day.

So let's do this!

(CHEERING)

DR. JILL BIDEN: Please welcome my husband, Joe Biden.

(CHEERING)

(APPLAUSE)

(MUSIC)

(CHEERING)

JOE BIDEN, (D), FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES & PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Hello, Philadelphia.

(CHEERING)

JOE BIDEN: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

(CHEERING)

[14:00:00]